Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

I Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

            I remember singing the hymn “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” as a child. It was just a song at that time, just words in the hymnal. Now that I am older, I understand better what it means to have a living prophet to guide us, and I am truly grateful to live in a day when a living prophet of God walks the earth.

            This week The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that President Thomas S. Monson will not attend General Conference this weekend due to problems with old age. I am saddened at this news but not surprised because I know that he is 90 years old and have seen the effects of old age creeping up on him.

            I know that he has curtailed his speaking assignments in the past few years. Whereas the prophet usually opens and closes the conference as well as give two longer talks, President Monson gave an abbreviated talk to the priesthood brethren and a short talk to the general membership in the past two conferences. I miss the opportunity to hear directly from the prophet.

            In preparation for conference I listened to several talks given by President Monson in recent conferences. In the October 2016 General Conference, he first spoke to the priesthood brethren about the importance of living the Word of Wisdom. 

In 1833 the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith a plan for healthy living. That plan is found in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and is known as the Word of Wisdom. It gives specific direction regarding the food we eat, and it prohibits the use of substances which are harmful to our bodies.

Those who are obedient to the Lord’s commandments and who faithfully observe the Word of Wisdom are promised particular blessings, among which are good health and added physical stamina….

Brethren, may we care for our bodies and our minds by observing the principles set forth in the Word of Wisdom, a divinely provided plan. With all my heart and soul, I testify of the glorious blessings which await us as we do.

            The next morning President Monson spoke to the general membership of the Church on the topic of “The Perfect Path to Happiness.” 

Our Father’s plan for our happiness and our salvation is shared by our missionaries throughout the world. Not all who hear this divine message accept and embrace it. However, men and women everywhere … recognize its truths, and they plant their feet on the path that will lead them safely home. Their lives are forever changed.

Essential to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. Without His atoning sacrifice, all would be lost. It is not enough, however, merely to believe in Him and His mission. We need to work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve. We need to know God’s laws and live them. We need to receive His saving ordinances. Only by so doing will we obtain true, eternal happiness.

We are blessed to have the truth. We have a mandate to share the truth. Let us live the truth, that we might merit all that the Father has for us. He does nothing save it be for our benefit. He has told us, “This is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

From the depths of my soul and in all humility, I testify of the great gift which is
our Father’s plan for us. It is the one perfect path to peace and happiness both here and in the world to come.

            In the April 2017 General Conference President Monson spoke to the priesthood brethren about the importance of having “Kindness, Charity, and Love.” He quotes Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as saying, “Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions … especially in our homes. Jesus, our Savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion….” Then President Monson says following.

The scriptures teach us that the righteous exercise of the priesthood is dependent upon our living the principles of kindness, charity, and love….

Brethren, let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. And as we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home.

            The next morning President Monson also spoke to the general membership of the Church on the topic “The Power of the Book of Mormon.” He gave some powerful counsel in his short address.

This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives. The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated.

We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. What will protect us from the sin and evil so prevalent in the world today? I maintain that a strong testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you will read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you. If it is true – and I solemnly testify that it is – then Joseph Smith was a prophet who saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Because the Book of Mormon is true, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church on the earth, and the holy priesthood of God has been restored for the benefit and blessing of His children.

If you do not have a firm testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one. It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far. However, once obtained, a testimony needs to be kept vital and alive through continued obedience to the commandments of God and through daily prayer and scripture study.

            As I am writing this post before General Conference starts in a day or so, I do not know if President Monson has prepared remarks to be read by someone else. However, I discovered that he prepared the First Presidency message in the September 2017 Ensign titled “Prophets to Guide Us.” In his article he first shares an experience of sitting in the Salt Lake Temple and gazing on the portraits of his “predecessors – from the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805-44) to President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) – I thought, `How grateful I am for the guidance of each one.’” He proceeds to share what he learned from each of his predecessors and then adds the following.

The Savior sends prophets because He loves us. During general conference this October, the General Authorities of the Church will again have the privilege of sharing His word. We approach this responsibility with great solemnity and humility.

How blessed we are that the restored Church of Jesus Christ is upon the earth and that the Church is founded upon the rock of revelation. Continuous revelation is the very lifeblood of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

May we prepare to receive the personal revelation that comes in abundance during general conference. May our hearts be filled with deep determination as we raise our hands to sustain living prophets and apostles. May we be enlightened, uplifted, comforted, and strengthened as we listen to their messages. And may we be ready to recommit ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ – His gospel and His work – and to live with renewed resolve in keeping His commandments and carrying out His will.

            The four talks and the First Presidency message referenced above contain the counsel of the living Prophet of the Lord on earth today. He gives the counsel that he believes to be most important for us to know right now. That counsel is: (1) Follow the teachings of the prophets; (2) Study the Book of Mormon to gain your own testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel; (3) Be kind, loving, and charitable; (4) Live and share the truth of the Father’s plan for our happiness, and (5) Live the Word of Wisdom.

            I thank God for the great blessing of living in a day when there are living prophets to lead and guide us in the ways of the Lord. I thank God for President Monson and the counsel he has given over the past year. I am grateful to know that he represents Heavenly Father and that his greatest desire to give me the counsel that I need to prepare to return to the presence of God. I know that President Monson is a prophet. “I thank thee, O God, for a prophet!”

Friday, September 29, 2017

Excited to Watch General Conference

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals and families watch and/or listen to the counsel of prophets and apostles in General Conference. The 187th Semi-Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will take place this weekend. The conference can be found at Two general sessions will be held on Saturday, and two general sessions will be held on Sunday. Times for both days are 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Utah time.
            I look forward to General Conference, which is held in April and October of each year. I appreciate the opportunity to listen to the counsel of prophets, apostles, and other inspired leaders, and I come away from each conference with a brighter outlook on life. I encourage all my readers to watch one or more sessions of General Conference, and strengthen their family, community, and nation.

            I found this “trailer” for General Conference that illustrates the excitement I feel for this great opportunity to learn. I hope that you enjoy it!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Freedom from Voter Fraud

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that voter fraud exists even though the lame stream media will not report the truth about it. President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity met on September 12 in New Hampshire. Ten witnesses gave “substantive and very concerning testimony” (Hans von Spakovsky) about the lack of integrity in the US election process, and yet the media calls the commission a “sham.”

            Spakovsky explains that the ten witnesses were experts in their fields and included “academics, election lawyers, state election officials, data analysts, software experts, and computer scientists.” Spakovsky discusses several of these experts and then adds:

As a member of the commission, I testified about The Heritage Foundation’s election fraud database. That non-comprehensive database has 1,071 examples of proven incidents of fraud ranging from one illegal vote to hundreds. It includes 938 criminal convictions, 43 civil penalties, and miscellaneous other cases.
Heritage is about to add another 19 cases to the database. This is likely just the tip of the iceberg, since many cases are never prosecuted and there is no central source for information on election fraud.

            Spakovsky’s bio claims that he is “an authority on a wide range of issues – including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform.” This means that he can be considered as an expert in his field. He works for The Heritage Foundation, which is a reputable organization. Heritage put together a database that includes convictions and penalties for voter fraud. This database proves that voter fraud exists; therefore, the commission investigating voter fraud is not a sham as the media claims. The media obviously does not want the truth to come out. The next question is, “Why?”

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Taking a Knee

            The National Football League (NFL) is in trouble, but it apparently does not realize how bad their situation is. The powers that be in the NFL decided to allow football players to show disrespect to the national anthem, and now they are seeing the consequences but not recognizing them. American citizens have been patient but are now fighting back.

            Breitbart posted the following statement on their Facebook page and an accompanying picture of a partially empty football stadium.

Dear NFL: We will not support millionaire ingrates who hate America and disrespect our Armed Forces and Veterans. Who wins a football game has ZERO impact on our lives. Who fights for and defends our nation has EVERY impact on our lives. We stand with the Heroes, not a bunch of rich, entitled, arrogant, ungrateful, anti-American degenerates. Signed, We the People.

            Among the commenters on this post, this writer saw calls to boycott the NFL. There were also calls to boycott the sponsors of the NFL, stating that the sponsors will pull their support from the NFL if their investment stopping paying dividends.
            These commenters seem to know what they are doing. Kim Smith at Conservative Tribune posts two pictures of stadiums in Los Angeles and San Francisco with many empty seats and shares the following thoughts. 
Nevertheless, with the NFL seemingly encouraging players – or at the very least giving a pass to players who protest the national anthem, that trend may be diminishing. Many fans have expressed their frustration with the league by turning off their televisions and choosing not to attend games.
Last week was the first week of the league games, and one of the first things people noticed was empty seats in the stadiums.
Empty seats in stadiums indicate a serious problem for the NFL. When stadium bleachers have gaping holes where fans should be sitting, it looks especially bad. It indicates that fans do not care enough to pay for a ticket and watch their favorite teams play.
Empty seats also hit the multi-million dollar franchise where it hurts – the pocketbook.

            People were staying away from the games previously, but now President Donald Trump has called for a boycott of NFL until the players stop the disrespectful behavior.

 If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our country, you will see change take place fast….Fire or suspend!

            Is the President right? Would the disrespect of the anthem stop if the owners and coaches made a stand? The Dallas Cowboys team is a good example of what happens when the owner and coach set the appropriate example in word and behavior. The owner and coach of the Cowboys shared their feelings last season, and as far as this writer knows, no Dallas player has taken a knee during the anthem. Last September Cowboy owner Jerry Jones made this statement.

We strongly, strongly support the flag. In every way, we support – it’s almost ridiculous to be saying it – the people that for generations and generations have given it all up so we can get out here and show off in front of millions of people on television. We respect that so much. That’s the real business.

The forum of the NFL and the forum on television is a very significant thing. I’m for it being used in every way we can to support the great, great contributors in our society and that’s people that have supported America, the flag, and there’s no reason not to go all out right there. For anybody to use parts of that visibility to do otherwise is really disappointing.

At the Cowboy training camp held in Oxnard, California, in August 2017, Jason Garratt, the Cowboy coach, held a news conference at which he spoke about the national anthem protests.

There’s no question in my mind. The national anthem is sacred. Our flag is sacred. And our team has demonstrated that….

We’re so fortunate to live in the country that we live in. It’s a great tradition. It’s a great song. In a lot of cases it can become an emotional situation for all of us. You think about all the people who have fought for our country and allowed us to raise that flag as proudly as we do, to live in the greatest land in the world. It’s a special moment for all of us. We want to make sure we handle it the right way.

            The Cowboy players are standing out of respect for the anthem, the flag, and those who have fought to protect and preserve our freedoms, or they are standing to protect their jobs. Either way, the Cowboys are showing a good example to the rising generation, and they are being rewarded by the fans who are filling their stadium. Other football franchises could learn from the Cowboys – or they can continue to bleed fans as a result of having no spine.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Righteous Women

            I attended the worldwide broadcast of the General Women’s Session of the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, September 23, 2017. The four speakers represented the First Presidency, the Relief Society (organization for women), Young Women (young women ages 12-18), and Primary (organization for children ages 3-12 and nursery). All of the talks were interesting and appropriate to the problems women of all ages face today. I particularly appreciate the talk given by Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.

            Sister Eubank based her text on “a remarkable prophecy written by President Spencer W. Kimball.” He had prepared his remarks and titled them “The Role of Righteous Women,” but his wife read his talk because he was in the hospital at the time of the meeting. Sister Eubank reminds us that September 1979 was only the second time that General Women’s meeting was held and that it happened nearly 40 years ago. Sister Eubank’s talk emphasizes the following information from President Kimball’s talk.

Finally, my dear sisters, may I suggest to you something that has not been said before or at least in quite this way. Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of Church are seen as distinct and different – in happy ways – from the women of the world.

Among the real heroines in the world who will come into the Church are women who are more concerned with being righteous than with being selfish. These real heroines have true humility, which places a higher value on integrity than on visibility. Remember, it is as wrong to do things just to be seen of women as it is to do things to be seen of men. Great women and men are always more anxious to serve than to have dominion.

Thus it will be that female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days.

            Sister Eubank says that she had met many of those good women as she travels throughout the world and that she appreciates their friendships, and she shares a story to highlight each item. She suggests that all of us know good women who live in our own communities and neighborhoods, members and non-members of the Church. She then proposes five things that women can do now to fulfill our part in building the kingdom of God on the earth right now. Those five things are: (1) Be righteous – “doesn’t mean be perfect.” (2) Be articulate in sharing thoughts and feelings about “what Jesus Christ means to you.” (3) Be different by using the “spiritual gifts of innovation and creation.” (4) Be distinct or “recognizably well-defined” in living the gospel. (5) Be sincerely happy while doing number 1-4 – “keeping the laws of God and building and lifting others.”

            I remember hearing and later reading this talk by President Kimball, but I did not realize that it was so many years ago! In addition to the above quote discussed by Sister Eubank, I particularly like the following quotes from his talk.

[Quoting the late Elder John A. Widtsoe]: “The place of the woman in the Church is to walk beside the man, not in front of him nor behind him. In the Church there is full equality between man and woman. The gospel, which is the only concern of the Church, was devised by the Lord for men and women alike” (Improvement Era, Mar. 1942, p. 161). …

Remember, in the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to. You are accountable for those things which long ago were expected of you just as are those we sustain as prophets and apostles!

Even though the eternal roles of men and women differ, as we indicated to you a year ago, this leaves much to be done by way of parallel personal development – for both men and women. In this connection, I stress again the deep need each woman has to study the scriptures. We want our homes to be blessed with sister scriptorians – whether you are single or married, young or old, widowed or living in a family….

            I am grateful to live in a day when I can hear the words of a living prophet. I am also grateful for those who remind me of the words spoken by the prophets of God, both living and dead. I know that God lives and that He values both men and women and loves us as His sons and daughters. I am grateful for the encouragement and the reminder to do my part as a righteous woman in building the kingdom of God on earth.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Giuseppe Verdi

            Although there is some question about the specific date in October 1813 that he was born, Giuseppe Fortuninto Francesco Verdi celebrated his birthday as October 9. He was born at his parent’s home in Le Roncole, a village near Busseto. His parents Carlo and Luigia were listed on his baptismal register as an “innkeeper” and a “spinner.” He was their oldest child and had a younger sister who died at age 17.

            Verdi began his education at age 4 with private Latin and Italian lesson by the local schoolmaster and entered the school at age 6. His “gift for music was already apparent at age 7 when he sang in the church choir and started taking organ lessons. When he was 8 years old his old school master died, and Verdi “became the official paid organist.”

            Verdi’s parents came from families of landowners and traders and were of moderate means. They were always supportive of him and gave him ample opportunities to develop his musical talents. When he showed an interest in music by learning to play the organ, they purchased a spinet for him. They arranged for various educational opportunities for him. He, however, later claimed that they were “illiterate peasants” who did little for him. He later broke off his relationship with his parents, although he did arrange for their financial resettlement.

            Verdi was an Italian opera composer who dominated the Italian opera scene. His works were influenced Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini. His masterpieces include his opera Aida (1871), his Requiem (1874), his opera Othello (1887), and his opera Falstaff (1893). His most popular operas include Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata.    

            Verdi was married twice. His first spouse was Margherita Barezi (m. 1836-1840, and his second wife was Giuseppina Strepponi (m. 1859-1897). He died in Milan, Italy, on January 27, 1901. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Religious Test for Public Office

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the ban on religious tests for public office. The third paragraph of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly states: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. (Emphasis added.)

            There should be little question about the meaning of the above statement. Gerard V. Bradley at The Heritage Foundation gives the following information. 

The original, unamended Constitution contains one explicit reference to religion: the Article VI ban on religious tests for “any office or public trust under the United States.” Despite much litigation over the constitutional border between church and state, there have been no judicial decisions involving the religious ban. The clause has been entirely self-executing. We do not know whether the Framers intended the clause to apply to every federal officeholder, howsoever minor; but no federal official has ever been subjected to a formal religious test for holding office.

            The lack of “decisions involving the religious ban” seems to be a thing of the past. In recent confirmation hearings for federal appellate-court nominees, some Senators appear to be giving tests on religion. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif) and Dick Durban (D., Ill.), appeared to be giving a religious test to Amy Coney Barratt, a law professor at Notre Dame and a Catholic. They suggested that she is not qualified to be a judge because of her Catholic faith.

When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you…. And that’s a concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.

            Were the senators concerned that Barratt would not uphold Roe v. Wade due to her beliefs as a Catholic? Apparently, Feinstein and Durbin believe that Christians do not qualify for public office because of their strong religious beliefs. I am certain that their attitudes would not be approved by the men who debated and approved Article VI. They obviously do not understand that the nominees’ legal experience and judicial philosophy are the only areas that should be questioned.

            Since Barratt is not the only one currently being questioned on beliefs and there are sure to be some in the future, Conservatives are fighting back against the religious ban. This is another area that needs to be watched if Christians are to be allowed to serve in public office.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Receiving Answers from God

            Some time ago my friend Chris was seeking answers to a big problem in her life. Her dilemma was about decreasing her monthly expenses to a level where they met her income. She was in the awful spiral of withdrawing retirement funds in order to meet ongoing expenses, and she realized that this pattern could not continue.

            Christ had been in this situation for several months, and we had discussed it numerous times. One day I asked her if she was praying for enlightenment from God on what she should do. She indicated that she was praying, but she said that she was not receiving any help.

            I assured my friend that she was receiving answers and suggested that she wasn’t recognizing the answers when they came. I then reviewed two of her experiences that she had previously shared with me and told her that I considered those experiences to be answers to her prayers. I do not remember the particulars about the events in her life, but I was able to open her eyes to how God speaks to her. She eventually sold her home and moved to another state where her money will stretch further.

            While assisting the Prophet Joseph Smith in the translation of the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery desired the gift to translate. Oliver began translating but doubted his ability. Heavenly Father then revealed the following to Oliver through Joseph at Harmony, Pennsylvania, in April 1829.   
2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3; emphasis added). 

            We learn from this scripture that God speaks to us in our minds and in our hearts. This means that we receive His communications through our thoughts and feelings. We can be sure that the information is from God if we receive a sudden thought – one that is foreign to our normal thought pattern – and the feeling that it is from God. No one but God knows our thoughts and feelings, and He knows what we need before we ask Him for help.

            As I was thinking about what to write, I remembered a scripture in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ that may be helpful to anyone seeking to receive communication from God. 

3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.

5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do (2 Nephi 32:3-5; emphasis added). 

            This scripture tells us that we must study the scriptures in order to know what God has already revealed for us to do. They – the words of Christ – will “tell” us the commandments and doctrine of God. Nephi says that we must include prayer with our scripture study in order to understand the words of Christ. Then he gives a very important piece of counsel: The Holy Ghost will “show” us how to apply the words of Christ to our personal circumstances.

            Another Book of Mormon scripture keeps coming to my mind, so I will share it with you. “For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3; emphasis added). This scripture tells us that Heavenly Father knows the best way for each of His children to learn and that He teaches us in that way in order for us to understand what He is telling us.

            For a lot of years Heavenly Father taught me by dreams. I usually recognized that the dreams were from God, but I did not always understand them or interpret them correctly. I will give some examples. In late spring I had a couple of dreams about my mother. I recognized that both dreams were basically giving the same message, but I did not understand the message. She died a few days later, and I then understood that the Lord had been preparing me for her death. If I had understood the dreams before she died, I would have called my mother when prompted to do so and expressed my love instead of saying, “What would I tell her?” I passed off the inspiration because telephone calls from Alaska were so expensive and I had nothing particular to tell her. I missed a great blessing because I lacked understanding.

            Sixteen years later I awoke one morning after a dream about my father. I immediately knew that he was dying, but I received no thought or prompting to call him. Instead, I worked all day long to prepare myself, my home, and my family for a quick trip out of state. I received “the” telephone call that evening and was on the airplane the next morning. This time I understood what the Lord was telling me, and I was prepared.

            Another example happened when my older son was on a mission. Heavenly Father knew that I was having a difficult time being separated from my son for two years, and He compensated my sacrifice by giving me dreams of him from time to time. One morning I awoke after seeing my son riding his bicycle and then flying through the air. I was certain that he had been hit by a car, and I expected a telephone call from his mission president at any moment. I dreaded the thought and cringed every time that the telephone rang. No call came, but a letter came a couple of weeks later. My son wrote that he had forgotten to tell me about an accident that he had while riding his bicycle. He did not see a board lying across the sidewalk and hit it. He went flying through the air with everything in his backpack scattered all around him. He was wearing his helmet and was okay, but he thought that it was important to share.

            I seldom receive information in dreams now. The inspiration usually comes while I am studying the scriptures, pondering, or quietly listening. A recent bit of inspiration came while I was cutting the batting for a quilt, and it came so softly that I could have easily missed it. The prompting was nothing big or life shattering, but it was a simple suggestion to turn my fabric sidewise on the batting in order to be more frugal with the batting. I am grateful for the inspiration, but I wonder why I did see this solution many years ago.

            All this thinking and remembering came because I read an article by last week by one of my favorite speakers, Sheri Dew. I could listen to her much more often than I do because I value her counsel so much. Her article is actually an excerpt from her book Worth the Wrestle and is about learning how to receive messages from God. 

            Sister Dew admitted to a friend and mentor that she could feel the Spirit but was unable to “discern specific answers.” Her friend suggested that she ask the Lord to teach her “what it felt and sounded like when He was speaking to me.” She followed the counsel of her friend and learned several things over the years.

[She learned that] seekers have certain habits that are key to learning to communicate with God. For starters, they engage in the wrestle, meaning they work at it. They immerse themselves regularly in the scriptures, which are the textbook for the Lord’s language. And seekers listen….

Seekers also work to be increasingly pure – pure in their heart, thoughts, and motives; pure in what they say, watch, read, and listen to; even pure in what they wear – meaning avoiding suggestive or provocative attire. Purity invites the Spirit, and it increases light….

As you create a spiritual environment at home, cultivate spiritual habits, and seek to recognize the Lord’s hand in your life, there are two questions that will help open the heavens. First, ask the Lord to teach you what it feels and sounds like for you when He is speaking to you via the Holy Ghost. Then watch how He tutors you – including the scriptures you’re drawn to, the emphases in general conference message you may have missed the first time around, and so on.

Second, if you’ve never asked the Lord how He feels about you, that is a great question to ask. Over time, He will tell you, and, as He does, you’ll learn more about discerning revelation through the Spirit.

Cultivating the capacity to feel the presence and hear the whisperings of the Spirit is central to living a life based intentionally upon the Spirit. When the Lord sees that we want to communicate with Him, He will teach us how….

Searching the prophets suggests more than reading or even studying. It implies spiritually wrestling. When we are willing to work, the Lord will teach us, open our eyes to things we haven’t seen before, and lead us along as we grow in our understanding about the truths of the gospel.

            I appreciate this counsel from Sister Dew because it confirms what the scriptures say and what experience tells me. When we truly desire to receive answers from God, we will seek them. We will search the scriptures and the words of the living prophets and apostles diligently. We will ask for help from Heavenly Father. We will listen when the Holy Ghost prompts us to do certain things. In other words, we will become what Sister Dew calls seekers.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Building Resilience in Children

             Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when parents and other loving adults help children to become more resilient. The need for the rising generation cannot be overstated. Just consider the college students who need safe places from hearing a differing point of view, or think of the people who go crazy simply because they see a statue that offends them.

            Katie M. McLaughlin shared a difficult family experience: her 4-year-old son left his favorite stuffed animal in a car belonging to a friend or family member who lived in the next state. It was bedtime, and he had never gone to bed without Glenn. Her son melted into tears and began to throw a temper tantrum. He declared that he would not go to bed ever again until he had Glenn again. It was a family emergency – and all of us have been there at some time.

            Then the author remembered what she learned before becoming a parent and while providing therapy for others. She remembered “The Life-Changing Train Analogy.” She describes this analogy as follows.

Difficult feelings are tunnels, and we are trains traveling through them. We have to move all the way through the darkness to get to the – you knew this was coming! – calm, peaceful light at the end of the tunnel. It sounds simple, but it’s way easier said than done….

The problem is that we well-meaning parents and caregivers often attempt to intercept our children on their journey through an emotional tunnel….

So often when our kids are struggling with a difficult feeling – sadness, anger, fear, embarrassment, loneliness, guilt – we try to logic them out of it. We explain why they’re overeating, or how WE know it will turn out just fine in the end.

We’re trying to help our children, of course, but if we peel back the layers a bit, I think we’ll find that what we’re really doing is trying to make OURSELVES feel better. Because our children’s pain hurts US so deeply, makes US so acutely uncomfortable.
We’re the ones who want their crying to top as quickly as possible – not them.

Back to the analogy: If emotions are tunnels and we are trains going through them, then we NEED to keep moving all the way through to the other side.

What we adults often do when facing our own emotional struggles is attempt to get out of the tunnel early – banging on the sides, ignoring the cavernous echo, and wondering with confusion why we can’t see daylight yet….

Then, when we FINALLY let ourselves scream and wail and bang our fists and crumble onto the floor and have a good cry, we suddenly feel so. much. better.

Same goes for our kids. We can’t teach them there’s some secret side exit when there’s really not. There is no way out except through, and it’s our job to guide them there.

            McLaughlin says that she did not even speak to her son. She just sat next to him as he sobbed and made sure that he knew that she was with him by rubbing his back and doing other comforting things for him. He cried and cried – until he was cried out about eight minutes later. Then they were able to discuss the problem rationally. She asked her son if he “wanted to make a plan.” She acknowledged that bedtime was going to be difficult, so maybe they could do something to make it less so. Her son chose “two different stuffed animals to sleep with that night, then asked if we could read two extra books before bed to help make the evening more special.” When she finally kissed her son goodnight, he said, “I’m going to be OK tonight.”

            McLaughlin’s son was okay because his parents helped him to build resilience. She explains that resilience would not have been built if she had driven to the next state to retrieve the stuffed animal or told him over and over again that it was no big deal. By allowing his “train” to go all the way through the emotional tunnel, she sent him the message that his pain was valid. She allowed him to go through the entire experience and “then come up for air all on his own.” She then tells parents how to build resilience in their children.

So the next time your child is deeply frustrated, angry, or upset, remember what the job of a parent really is. The job of a parent is to:

. Provide comfort through the frustration.

. Draw out our child’s cleansing tears.

. Show empathy to our child’s struggle.

. Allow the life lesson to be learned naturally – not through preaching.

. Support our child’s journey through the emotional tunnel.

The job of a parent is NOT to get our child to stop crying as quickly as possible. Tears are a sign of parental success, not failure.

So rub your child’s back. Sit with them in silence. Stay alongside them as they chug chug through their tunnels of feelings. And be with them when they finally reach the calm, peaceful light at the end.

            I was really impressed when I read McLaughlin’s article. It makes sense, and it works for children of all ages! I often said that kissing the bumps and hurts of little children are much easier than healing the heartaches of teenagers and young adults. However, a parent can sit by children of all ages in silence, comfort them with backrubs, and simply be with them as they exhaust their emotions and prepare to move forward with their lives.

            When parents allow their children to move all the way through their tunnels of feelings, they are building resilience in their children. Resilient children grow into resilient teenagers and adults, and resilient adults strengthen homes, communities, and nations.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Freedom from Worry

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the freedom from worry about the world coming to an end. The disastrous hurricanes in the southeastern United States, the fires in the northwestern United States, and the recent huge earthquakes in Mexico and Japan all make people feel jittery. I too am a little nervous with all the natural disasters, and I wonder if there is any meaning to them. However, I am not worried about the world ending on September 23.

            I am not concerned about this “prophecy” because I study the scriptures. I know that the world will not end until the Savior returns to earth. I also know that the Savior told His Apostles that no one, not even the angels in heaven, knows the day that the Savior would return to earth except Heavenly Father. I know these things because of this scripture.

38 Now learn a parable of the fig tree – When its branches are yet tender, and it begins to put forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh at hand;

39 So likewise, mine elect, when they shall see all these things, they shall know that he is near, even at the doors;

40 But of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:38-39). 

            This scripture tells me that I do not need to worry when someone proclaims that the world will end on a certain date. I just need to remember that the Savior said that no one will know except Heavenly Father! This means that Christian numerologist David Meade does not know what he is talking about when he proclaims that the numbers in the Book of Revelation indicate that the world will end on September 23.

            Matt Walsh is another person who does not believe what Meade is saying. He wrote an article stating his reasons for not believing Meade. The gist of his article is that the world will not end on September 23, but one’s personal world may end at any moment. This is because none of us know when our mortal lives will end, and we should be preparing for that end and stop worrying about the world ending. 
            Robert L. Millet is anotherperson who does not believe that the world will end on September 23. In a recent article on this subject he reminds us of a couple of scriptures that have particular meaning here. The first scripture is by an Old Testament prophet named Amos who declared the following.

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).

            Millet shares a latter-day scripture in which the Lord proclaims that he works through His prophets. On November 1, 1831, the Lord revealed, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, some information to four men who would later be called to be members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Even though most of the information is applicable to all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was directed to these men. Some of it is as follows.

10 And he that believeth shall be blest with signs following, even as it is written.

11 And unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of Man (Doctrine and Covenants 68:10-11).

            Millet continues his essay by reminding us that there are cycles of times when people are positive that the end of the world is coming. He remembers General Conference in October 1972 when President Harold B. Lee chastened and warned the priesthood brethren to not stress over the economy or society crashing. He says that President Lee spoke to the students of Ricks College (now Brigham Young University-Idaho) just weeks before he passed away and said the following.

Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, … and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail. … This is the place of the New Jerusalem… This is the place … where the Savior will come to His temple. This is the favored land in all the world. Yes, I repeat, men may fail, but this nation won’t fail…. I plead with you not to preach pessimism. Preach that this is the greatest country in all the world. This is the favored land. This is the land of our forefathers. It is the location that will stand despite whatever trials or crises it may have to pass through” (Ye Are the Light of the World, Deseret Book, 1974, 350-51).

            Millet claims that the point that he is making with the above scriptures is that the prophet and apostles “seldom talk about this subject” and this fact should show us that we have no need to “panic about some impending doom or be too excited about the imminent return of the Savior.” Millett continues with his reasoning.

There are many, many things that must take place before Jesus Christ returns to earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Second Coming will not take place next week or next month! …

            Millet then discusses seven things that must happen before the Savior comes and the world as we know it will end. You can see the main points here, but you will have to go to his article to see his commentary.

1. The gospel needs to be preached to every part of the world. “This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end [of the world] come, or the destruction of the wicked” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:31)….

2. Congregations of saints must be found all over the earth. “And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 14:12; emphasis added)….

3. Baptisms for the dead need to take place in the Holy Land (Jerusalem). “It is ordained that in Zion, and in her stakes, and in Jerusalem, those places which I have appointed for refuge, shall be the places for your baptisms for the dead” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:36; emphasis added)….

4. Church headquarters must be moved to Missouri. “The place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward” (Doctrine and Covenants 57:3). Also, “Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered…. And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:17, 20)….

5. The Savior needs to appear in His temple. “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:1)….

6. The great council/sacrament meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman needs to take place. “Spring Hill is named by the Lord as Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken by Daniel the prophet” (Doctrine and Covenants 116; see also Daniel 7:9-14)….

7. The sun must be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from the sky. Before this great day shall come [before the Savior returns and the first resurrection resumes] the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall be turned into blood, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and there shall be greater signs in heaven above and in the earth beneath” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:14; see also 34:9; 45:42)….

            Millet concludes his article by stating that there are even more “signs of the times and prophetic events that have not as yet come to pass or been fulfilled” before the Savior returns. He continues with these words.

…While we are certainly closer to the Second Coming than we were a year ago, and although many of the signs of the times have indeed been fulfilled, there is yet a great deal for the Lord to accomplish on this earth before Zion will be redeemed, the Saints have been sanctified, the work of the restored Church brought to fruition, and Zion communities established throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

To be sure, we have work to do to prepare ourselves for the end of the world, the destruction of the wicked at the time of the Lord’s Second Coming in glory (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:4,31)…. Our task is to live a sane and balanced life, to proceed on the gospel path in a dignified and determined manner, to be active and involved and always in the mainstream of the Church. Therein is our safety. If we do these things, we have no need whatsoever to be alarmed.

            Both Walsh and Millet agree that we should not let ourselves become consumed with worry about the world ending. They both say that we should concern ourselves about the direction of our lives and who we are becoming. If we are living Christlike lives as well as loving and serving God and our fellowman, we have no need to worry or fret about when the Savior returns. He wants us to be busy doing His work– bringing to pass the exaltation and eternal life of man (see Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:39). If we are serving God and keeping His commandments, it really does not matter whether we live until the Savior returns or die because His return because our reward will still be eternal life with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.