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.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Why Are Stick-Together Families Happier?


            Families that stick together are happier and stronger and can bring strength to their communities and nations. I feel certain that there are some – maybe many – families that would not agree with my opening sentence at this time. We are well into the second week of the fifteen-day order to shelter in place, and some families may be a little too crowded together. I saw this poem by Edgar Albert Guest titled “The Stick-Together Families” and thought that it may help all families feel better about their sudden togetherness.



The Stick-Together Families  

The stick-together families are happier by far
Than the brothers and the sisters who take separate highways are.
The gladdest people living are the wholesome folks who make
A circle at the fireside that no power but death can break.
And the finest of conventions ever held beneath the sun
Are the little family gatherings when the busy day is done.
There are rich folk, there are poor folk, who imagine they are wise,
And they're very quick to shatter all the little family ties.
Each goes searching after pleasure in his own selected way,
Each with strangers likes to wander, and with strangers likes to play.
But it's bitterness they harvest, and it's empty joy they find,
For the children that are wisest are the stick-together kind.
There are some who seem to fancy that for gladness they must roam,
That for smiles that are the brightest they must wander far from home.
That the strange friend is the true friend, and they travel far astray
They waste their lives in striving for a joy that's far away,
But the gladdest sort of people, when the busy day is done,
Are the brothers and the sisters who together share their fun.
It's the stick-together family that wins the joys of earth,
That hears the sweetest music and that finds the finest mirth;
It's the old home roof that shelters all the charm that life can give;
There you find the gladdest play-ground, there the happiest spot to live.
And, O weary, wandering brother, if contentment you would win,
Come you back unto the fireside and be comrade with your kin.




            I encourage you to make these days of togetherness in our homes the best possible memories for your children and teens. Do your best to make these days into happy memories for your posterity. My siblings and I grew up in a house that was too small for our family, but the togetherness we felt keeps us close to each other in our old age. I know that being a stick-together family brings great happiness and strength and prepares children and teens to make a difference for good in their communities and nations.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Are Our Efforts Sufficient to Stop the Coronvirus?


            The number of cases of COVID-19 and deaths continue to climb in the United States. This nation now has the most confirmed cases in the world, higher even than Italy or China. This situation could be the result of more tests being given or greater spread of the virus. Two members of my family indicated that they went for tests today. My sister works in a school lunchroom and my great-nephew is a nurse in a nursing home. We will not know the results for several days as is the case with many other people.


            On March 16, 2020, President Donald Trump a new program with the title “15 Days to Slow the Spread.” The initiative was put in place to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19. There were certain actions that the President asked Americans to take.


·         Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.


·         If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.


·         If your children are sick, keep them home. Contact your medical provider.


·         If someone in your household has tested positive for the Coronavirus, keep the entire household at home.


·         If you are an older American, stay home and away from other people.


·         If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition – such as a significant heart or lung problem – stay home and away from other people.


            These guidelines were in addition to recommendations to practice strict personal hygiene, wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, wipe down surfaces in the home often, and practice social distancing. The goal is to protect Americans of all ages but especially the most vulnerable segments of sick and/or elderly. Additionally, I used a Lysol wipe on all the groceries brought into my home and on all pieces of mail.


            My husband and I are now in our eleventh day of sheltering in place because we started on March 16. However, our governor asked Alaskans to shelter in place for two weeks beginning Sunday night, March 22. That two-week period will not end until April 5, and we may choose to shelter in place for extra time.


            I was hoping to see some changes in the trajectory of coronavirus cases, but that is not the case. Are the increasing numbers of people getting sick caused by them not sheltering in place, or were they infected before March 16? The answer is probably “both.” We may start seeing the numbers decrease now that spring breaks are over for college students, cities are closing places of recreation where crowds gathered, and more businesses are closing their doors. 


            We are told that symptoms start to appear sometime between three and fourteen days after infection. This leads me to believe that we will start seeing a decrease in cases about three days from now nationally but ten more days for the Alaska program. It stands to reason that the sooner people stay home, the sooner we can defeat the virus. So, STAY HOME!


            From the vantage point of my front balcony, it appears that my neighborhood is taking both the national “shelter in place” initiative and the Alaska “hunker down” program seriously. The quiet in my neighborhood reminds me of the quiet of the skies after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I see very few vehicles driving on my street and fewer individuals walking or playing. My husband and I took a short walk up the street this evening just to get some fresh air – our first time going further than the mailbox – and saw no vehicles or people on the street.


            President Russell M. Nelson has issued an invitation for all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to hold a day of fasting and prayer for the Lord’s blessings on the people of the world. He invited all non-members of the Church of Jesus Christ to join us if they wish and are healthy enough to fast. We can see from the evidence that mankind does not know how to stop the virus, but we know that God is all powerful and all knowledgeable. If we humble ourselves sufficiently and ask with faith in Jesus Christ, I know that God will bless us.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Why Has the Prophet Not Called for a Day of Fasting and Prayer?


            Why has the Prophet not called for a day of fasting and prayer? This question did not originate with me, but it did cause me to ponder. On March 21 I received an email from my stake presidency, which began: 


On Sunday, March 29, we have the opportunity to join with church members across the globe to fast and pray together for a successful resolution of the COVID-19 outbreak. We as a stake presidency invite you to join with fellow saints in fasting and prayer, keeping in mind the five-fold purpose of this fast as outlined in the invitation letter from our North America West Area Presidency…. Please consider this invitation our second witness to the inspiration of our Senior Church Leaders and the love our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, have for all of us…. [The email included a copy of the mentioned letter.]

            The statement about being able to “join with church members across the globe to fast and pray together” caused me to think that all church members worldwide were receiving the same invitation. Today I discovered that my assumption was not true. Family members in the North America West Area received the same invitation, but a family member in the Utah Area did not.


            This realization brought several questions: Why did the invitation come from the area presidency instead of the prophet? Has the Lord told the prophet not to call for a day of fasting and prayer? Why would the Lord (who commands us to pray always) not want us to pray for a resolution to the coronavirus? I do not pretend to know what the Lord would do, but that possibility does not make sense to me.


            At any rate, I am sharing the invitation with all my readers no matter which area you live in or who sent the invitation. I am a firm believer in prayer, and I believe that many prayers going up to Heavenly Father will bring about great blessings. Let me share the invitation from the North American West Area presidency with all of you. I hope that you will join in fasting and prayer on Sunday, March 29, 2020, for the Lord’s blessings to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Edit March 26, 2020: Today the Prophet issued an invitation to join him in fasting and prayer, so there was obviously no need to be concerned.


            Dear Brothers and Sisters,                 

We extend our love to you and want you to know we are praying for your safety and well-being.

We are entering a very critical phase in the COVID-19 outbreak. The next two to four weeks will determine whether the extensive efforts of national and local leaders to stem the rate of community spread of COVID-19 will be successful. The personal health of millions of people and the economic well-being of all nations hang in the balance. The next few weeks and months will likely be an unprecedented period of challenge and economic struggle for many. These are extraordinary times. There has never been a greater need in our lifetime for all people to turn to God for help and peace. We assure each of you that our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, are mindful of us and our individual needs. We can turn to Them for peace and comfort.

Sunday, March 29, 2020, is a fast Sunday. It is also the weekend just prior to April General Conference. As an Area Presidency, we invite you to join us in a Special Day of Fasting and Mighty Prayer. The purpose of this fast is five-fold:

            1. To ask the Lord to bless and inspire our leaders and their efforts to protect the health 
            and well being of all people and to find solutions to address the challenges we are facing
            in all nations.

            2. To pray for all those who are suffering the physical, emotional, and economic impact 
            of COVID-19, that they will be blessed according to their needs.

            3. To pray that the hearts of people everywhere will be softened and turned toward the 
            Lord in humility and that faith in Jesus Christ would increase on the earth.

            4. To pray for spiritual strength to overcome fear and anxiety, for inspiration to protect                         ourselves and our families, and for the awareness and ability to minister to those in need.

            5. To pray for increased understanding and personal revelation in preparation for the 
            prophetic guidance and messages regarding the bicentennial of the restoration.
            Like the prophet Enos, we too can turn to the Lord in mighty prayer in behalf of ourselves,                   our families, our nations, and those in need. He will hear and answer our humble prayers.

We hope you will invite others of faith to join with us in uniting our faith and prayers. As you do, please consider a generous fast offering and, based on your personal circumstances, a donation to the Humanitarian Fund. As an Area Presidency, we will be looking for significant and meaningful ways to address the immediate and growing humanitarian needs of our area. We encourage you to listen to and share President Russell M. Nelson’s recent media posts on hope and love with your family and friends.

We invite you to join us in a Special Day of Fasting and Mighty Prayer and to unite with others as we pray for heaven’s help and blessings.

Sincerely,

The North America West Area Presidency

Monday, March 23, 2020

Why Does It Take an Emergency to Unite the Nation?


            My VIP for this week is the American people. The Chinese coronavirus came to America and attacked many innocent individuals and families. Americans said, “No, you cannot do that to my friends, neighbors, and countrymen. I will not let you.” Then we proceeded to do what Americans always do in a crisis – unite and work together. This is true for all Americans except for the Democrats in Congress who always follow their own agenda no matter what happens to America and Americans!


            Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals form one group who makes extraordinary sacrifices in this battle. They put their health and possibly their lives on the front line of battle day after day. They have seen the enemy face to face, and they have fought in hand-to-hand combat with it. They are frightened at its power to destroy lives, but they will not back down. They work long hours doing their best to preserve the lives of their countrymen and often take risks to help others. Then they isolate themselves at home to protect their families.


            Another group is the truckers and railroad workers who keep the supply lines moving. Even though toilet paper and hand sanitizer are gone long before the store closes, there are trucks bringing more each day. Drivers are at the wheel for long hours each day because they know that the goods in their trucks are essential to the comfort and health of their countrymen.


            Store managers and employees form a third group. They serve customers all day long. They stock shelves and clean the stores after hours to protect customers who come to buy food and supplies day after day. They put up with rude Americans who treat them with disrespect. They see the hoarders who buy out the essential supplies and try to increase their bank account by creating shortages. Eventually, the stores personnel declare that there are limits on supplies, and then they must enforce their rules. Many stores are seeking more employees to handle the additional services being provided.


            Another group is formed by the farmers and ranchers who provide food for our tables and the restaurant and fast food industry who prepare it for us. When the government shut down all inside meals, workers in food outlets quickly adapted to make it a takeout and/or delivery service only. They continue to feed Americans and keep the economy humming at the same time.


            Manufacturers form another group. Some manufactures provide food and supplies that are still needed. Others recognize that Americans are not shopping for new furniture and vehicles, so they retrofit their manufacturing equipment to make medical masks and ventilators instead of couches and cars.


            Teachers are gaining new respect from parents who have had home schooling thrust upon them suddenly. Many parents will most likely discover that their children are not willing pupils, and they may stop blaming the teachers for the poor report cards brought home by their children. However, teachers are not vacationing but are learning new skills as they hold class with their students using Zoom and other technology.


            Quilters and other crafters are putting their sewing skills to good use in sewing medical masks for nurses, doctors, and home health providers. Patterns and instructions for masks are put on the Internet and freely shared.


            Patriotic Americans of all ages and groups are following instructions to isolate ourselves socially. Elderly folks and others who have underlying health problems are staying in our homes. Others are serving us by bringing groceries to us and serving in other ways. Families are staying close to home, and teenagers are sacrificing time with their friends to protect their grandparents. Couples are postponing or changing wedding plans. Seniors in high school and college are sacrificing championship games, drama and other competitions, and even graduation ceremonies to hunker down with their families.


            The Chinese coronavirus has done for America in two weeks what the Trump administration has been trying to do for nearly four years. Americans – other than congressional Democrats and virus deniers – are united in fighting the invisible enemy that has invaded our nation. Americans are always powerful, but we are invincible when we are united. The Chinese coronavirus is discovering the same thing that the Japanese discovered during World War II and the terrorists discovered after 9/11. America is a sleeping giant that awakens with a roar when provoked! 


Even though we often bicker among ourselves, most of us come together and fight as one when we are faced with a common enemy. We will fight this war and win it battle by battle until we have defeated the enemy. Then we will celebrate together before moving forward to the next crisis. May God bless America. May He heal our people and our nation and help us to come through this war greater than ever!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

What Is the Connection between Discipleship and Good Citizenship?


            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Americans are guaranteed many rights and freedoms simply because we are citizens of the United States of America. Many of us insist on claiming our rights but are not concerned about the responsibilities that are part of those freedoms.


            We have duties that go along with each freedom, and we must fulfill those duties to be good citizens. For example, the first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights is Freedom of Religion. This means that we are free to think and believe as we choose, and it also means that we are free to express and act upon those thoughts and beliefs. It means that we are free to live our religion privately and in public. The duty that goes along with this freedom is that we must allow all other people to exercise their freedom of religion in the same ways.


            Another freedom given to Americans but not listed in the Bill of Rights is the freedom to choose our own political parties and political leaders. We are free to choose the policies and platforms that we will support. The duty that goes along with this freedom is the duty to exercise our right to vote. As good citizens, we will study the issues and problems facing our community, state, and nation, and we will exercise our agency to choose those people who we think will do the best job for us. Part of this duty is to allow all other people to make their own choices and vote in the way that they choose. The final duty in this regard is to accept the will of the people and to support the people who win the election.


            Disciples of Jesus Christ understand His teachings to “render under Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Luke 20:25). Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates and in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith 1:12). We also believe that the Constitution was written by good men who were raised up by God to perform that task (Doctrine and Covenants 101:80). We believe that God expects us to honor and respect the Constitution and to be good citizens. We believe that good disciples are also good citizens of their nation. Therefore, discipleship and good citizenship go together.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

What Is the Difference Between the Latter Days and the Last Days?


            I studied Articles of Faith 1:10 this week wondered if I was living in the last days. A novel coronavirus is sweeping across the earth. It is making tens of thousands of people sick, killing several thousands, and destroying economies. Is it the desolating sickness that is prophesied to cover the earth prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? It is a terrible sickness, and it is covering the earth!


We are now at the end of the first week of a fifteen-day period of isolation. My husband and I have not been out of the house since Monday afternoon except to pick up our mail. Our children have basically ordered us to stay home because our age and health make us particularly susceptible to the virus. Maybe it is the isolation causes me to think that we may be living in the last days, and maybe it is the combination of missionaries returning from numerous foreign countries. Whatever it is, I am convinced that we are moving rapidly towards the last days.


Article of Faith 1:10 says, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.” 


            The doctrines in the tenth Article of Faith covers four main events: Israel will be gathered literally including the return of the Lost Tribes, Zion will be built in America, Christ will return and reign on earth, and the earth will be changed. Israel is gathered as people learn about the gospel and are baptized. The gathering takes place in stakes of Zion located worldwide. Doctrine and Covenants 29:1-11 tells us that Christ will gather His elect and that His coming will usher in the Millennium. We know the signs of His coming because He shared them with His Apostles in Jerusalem and again through revelation to Joseph Smith. 


Doctrine and Covenants 45:15-35 tells us that Elders will be sent forth to cry repentance and to prepare the world for the Second Coming. The Lord calls to us by His own voice, by the Elders, and by the forces of nature. How we hear his voice depends on our own spirituality. Verses 24-38 tell us that there will be a “desolating sickness” that will cover the land prior to signs, wonders, and the return of the Savior. Doctrine and Covenants 101:22 tells us that all who call on the Lord and worship Him are to gather and stand in holy places. Verses 32-38 say that the Lord will reveal all things and that the people will not fear death but will care for the soul as they seek the face of Jesus Christ. Doctrine and Covenants commands us to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. So, as we gather to the stakes and live the gospel, we are gathering Israel and perfecting the Saints. These two events help us to prepare for the coming of Christ and the Millennium. I found several insights during my studies.


My first insight came from President Russell M. Nelson’s quote from his address to the youth in June 2018: “… these surely are the latter days, and the Lord is hastening His work to gather Israel. That gathering is the most important thing taking place on earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty….”


President Nelson’s quote supports an earlier statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith: “[The] subject of the gathering … is a principle I esteem to be of the greatest importance to those who are looking for salvation. … All that the prophets … have written … goes directly to show that it consists in the work of the gathering” (History of the Church [1991], 2:260].


If the gathering is this important – and I believe that it is, then it stands to reason that Satan would pull out all his tricks to stop it. I believe that one of his tricks could be the coronavirus that is shutting down the world. Whether it is by the evil designs of men or an accident of nature, the coronavirus has slowed or stopped the work of the gathering on both sides of the veil. 


Missionaries have been sent home to protect their health. Other missionaries have lost the advantages of being trained in the missionary training center (MTC). Missionaries are being returned to their home countries, and some are being released early. Missionaries in the field are self-isolating as much as possible. This slows the missionary work a lot.


Then there is the situation at the temples. Many of them are closed, and the rest are closed for all proxy work. This action has stopped all temple work for people on the other side of the veil. However, the work of indexing and finding people may be quickening.


General Conference “attendance” will be by technology only, and sacrament meetings and stake conferences are cancelled. Will these changes make a difference in the perfecting of the Saints, and what kind of difference will they make? General Conference will be no different for me because I usually use technology to watch it, and my home sacrament meeting yesterday was wonderful. The Church of Jesus Christ has prepared us for years for such a trial.


I have been pondering God’s ability to take something terrible and turn it into something wonderful. An example of this ability is when Joseph was sold into Egypt and the great good that came from him being there to prepare for his extended family. What wonderful things will come out of this terrible scourge of sickness that is sweeping the world? I suppose that depends on how all of us handle the isolation and what we do with our added time at home! 


My second insight comes from the video, which points out that Article of Faith 10 consists of four great events: the gathering of Israel, the building of Zion, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and the millennium transformation of the world. Two of the events are happening at the present time with the first consisting of missionary work and temple work, and the second being the perfecting of the Saints. These events will continue until the work is done. The last two events are still in the future. There is something about the way that the video mentioned the four events that helped me to understand how the first two events work together to prepare the world for the last two events. It is in the process that we can become Zion with “one heart and one mind, and [dwell] in righteousness” with “no poor among [us]” (Moses 7:18).


My third insight is how God sent revelation about the gathering of Israel and the building of Zion in small packets. Doctrine and Covenants 29:2 tells us that Jesus Christ “will gather his people… even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me and call upon me in mighty prayer.” Doctrine and Covenants 38:31-33 tells us that Christ will gather “a righteous people, without spot and blameless,” so they can “escape the power of the enemy.” He tells the Saints to go to the Ohio to receive “my law” and to “be endowed with power from on high” before going out “among all nations.” Then Doctrine and Covenants 105:1-5 the Lord says, “were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now…. They have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands … and are not united…. Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom….”


These scriptures tell me that God is working with us and doing all that He can do to redeem us, but we are not as obedient as we should be. The Brethren have spoken for years about our need to keep the Sabbath day holy. We are now in a situation where there are no Sunday meetings. How many members used the day to draw closer to God and family, and how many used the day to sleep in or to have fun? The Lord has provided the Come, Follow Me program to help us to study the scriptures at home. How many of us are obediently following the guidelines to study the scriptures? Remember, the Lord was upset with the church as a whole and not with individual members. I know that He has sent numerous little nudges to help me in my studies. Have I missed any promptings? Am I doing all that I can do?


I applied the doctrines in this Article of Faith to the real-life issues of racial strife and hatred in the following way. Heavenly Father is the Father of all mankind, and He loves all His children. He wants all His children to learn the gospel and to gather to the Church of Jesus Christ. The missionaries take the gospel to all people who will listen to them. As people accept the gospel and are baptized, they are gathered to the Church of Jesus Christ. As we live the gospel, we become better people. As we become better people, we bring Zion a little closer. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is seeking to prepare the world for the coming of Jesus Christ. His coming will usher in the Millennium.


            I believe that the amount of racial strife and hatred in the world would decrease if more people listened to the missionaries and gained better understanding of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and how They work “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). The better we understand that we are all God’s children, the more we love and serve our brothers and sisters of all races and nationalities.


            There are other blessings of the gospel that could decrease racial strife and hatred, and they include God’s ability to bless His righteous children in ways that cause them to prosper in the world. Gospel principles help people to overcome poverty, and more equal economic situations cause less stress between races and nations.


            The principles of work and self-reliance help many people to throw off the shackles of poverty and to raise their standard of living. I think that it was President Ezra Taft Benson who said that the gospel takes the slums out of people and the people take themselves out of the slums. The gospel of Jesus Christ makes us better people who are more capable of dealing with the trials of life that we face.


            Gathering people to the gospel of Jesus Christ blesses lives in many ways. However, I believe that knowledge of our relationship to Heavenly Father and His plan of salvation would go far in improving racial strife and hatred in our nation and throughout the world. Heavenly Father wants to bless all His children. He wants all of us to be gathered home to Zion. He wants all of us to be there to greet Jesus Christ with joyfulness when He returns. He wants all of us to grow and progress until we reach our potential and live together in love and harmony during the Millennium.


            The latter-days is the time period that began in the spring of 1820 when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the Boy Prophet, even Joseph Smith, to usher in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and continues today. The last days is the time period just prior to the end of the world as we know it and the return of Jesus Christ to earth to reign as King.

Friday, March 20, 2020

How Does Isolation Affect Children and Teens?


            Families are strengthened by time together, and strong families strengthen communities and nations. A few days ago, President Donald Trump urged individuals and families to isolate themselves for 15 days. This situation means that most communication with friends and extended family will be by technology. While technology is wonderful, the isolation also has its drawbacks for people of all ages.


            Many parents were enjoying the last weeks of the school years before the children were home for the summer, but the school year ended suddenly. Now parents and children are forced to adjust their thinking overnight and make other plans. Not only are parents trying to work from home, but students are trying to complete school assignments. All this work must be done on the same computers in some families, so coordination is necessary.


            While families work out all the physical kinks caused by being stuck together at home for who knows how long, the Deseret News editorial board  reminded us to consider our mental well-being. Their article quoted “Jenny Howe, a licensed therapist who works with anxious and depressed teens.” She said that school-aged children, particularly teenagers” may have a difficult time being isolated from their friends. “They are recognizing that they need that in-person energy in order to feel connected to people.”


            The idea makes sense. The rising generation is used to spending “six hours each weekday learning, laughing, eating and socializing with peers. Take that away, and a phone becomes a sorry substitute for a gaggle of friends in the lunchroom.” She said that families should consider mental well-being to be as important as washing hands and wiping often used surfaces.


            Howe said that a written schedule to be “paramount” even though every minute does not need to be planned. Input by the children is important. Meals should be consistent, and assigned chores help people to be needed. Cooking and cleaning together can be fun. There should be time for just hanging out as well as personal conversation with individual children and in family setting. There are bound to be some difficult topics to discuss as well as an opportunity to show love and support. 


According to Howe, parents should never expect their children to spend 100% of their time together. Teens and children need to find an acceptable balance between being with family and personal time. The important thing is to keep all family members physically and mentally healthy. Working on spiritual health by praying together, singing hymns, and studying scriptures is also beneficial to overall good health.


Situations that are not ideal make family life a little more difficult. However, by working and playing together, families can overcome many obstacles and come through the difficulty stronger. Healthy and strong families bring great strength to their communities and nations.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

How Did the U.S. Become the Most Prosperous Nation in the World?


            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns economic freedom. Because the world is engulfed in a coronavirus pandemic, governments are responding in ways that could put a damper on economic activity. However, the crisis should not be an excuse to institute governmental controls over the lives of Americans. Our leaders must take steps to end the controls as soon as possible to allow the economy to bounce back to robust health.


            During the health crisis, The Heritage Foundation released it 2020 Index of Economic Freedom on Tuesday. According to Terry Miller, the index “shows a world more committed to the principles of free-market capitalism than ever before.” There are 180 countries ranked in the index, and 124 improved their economic freedom scores over the past year. “The average score in the index is at its highest level in history, and the commitment to free-market reform is stronger than ever.”


            Miller reported that “the world economy has more than doubled in size” and “Poverty rates have declined by two-thirds” since the fall of the Soviet Union and other socialist/communist governments in Eastern Europe. This “unprecedent prosperity” in the developed economies and the “fantastic opportunities for growth” in underdeveloped countries comes as a benefit of the “globalization of world commerce.” “Hundreds of millions of people are enjoying better lives because their governments have embraced, at least in part, the U.S. way.”


            Is it any wonder that Americans – and Democrats in particular – grew concerned with the rising of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders in the polls? Now that the Democrats are down to two contestants – Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden – it seems that everyone is climbing on the Joe Biden bandwagon.


            Anyone with eyes to see knows that Biden is senile and slipping further down the slope as time passes, but Democrats obviously think that he has a better chance at beating Trump than Sanders. This must say something about the chances of socialism taking hold in a nation that has a roaring economy – or did until hit by the coronavirus from China. 


The bare shelves in our grocery stores and the governmental controls on our ability to assemble, travel, and work make a great show-and-tell item about life in a socialist country. If you doubt what I am saying, just look at Venezuela! There is no comparison between a roaring economy in a free-market enterprise and a stunted one that exists under socialism.


Hundreds and thousands of the rising generation fell under the spell weaved by Sanders and other socialists in our nation. This fact should tell us that the education system in our nation is indoctrinating our children and youth. We need to make some changes in our educational system. Maybe the coronavirus will help us to make those changes since the children and teens are now being home-schooled and the college students have been sent home to study online. Parents and grandparents may see more of what the students are learning and set their thinking straight. No one in their right mind would choose socialism over capitalism if they knew the facts about the two system.


I agree with Miller when he said, “we live in the most prosperous country in the history of the world, and the fundamental principles of economic freedom have played a vital role in making that happen.” Parents and grandparents must be instrumental in helping the rising generation to see the truth as it really is and facts as they really are. Let us stick with the economic system that brought us to prosperity in the first place and let it help us regain our roaring economy once we beat back the coronavirus sent to us by Communist China.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Why Do Relationships Change with Time?


            Time has a way of changing all things, and family relationships are some of the things that get changed by time. There was a time – many years ago – when I was the one telling my children that they could go such and such a place or that they needed to stay home. Now my children tell me that I should not go places, or they strongly encourage me to stay home.


            Last week my husband learned that his younger brother was sent home from Huntsman Cancer Center and put on hospice. He most likely has weeks – rather than months – to live. I shared the news by text message with my children. I told them that we wanted to see him again but were a little worried about flying during the coronavirus pandemic. I immediately received replies from several of my children.


“… I don’t think it’s a good idea for you guys to travel….”


“I agree with M__________.”


“… Please don’t risk your own health.”


“I’m pretty uncomfortable with either of you two going anywhere the rest of the Spring, including the grocery store. This is going to get really bad….”


            The comments from the children were enough to convince me that my feelings about the situation were correct. I cancelled dentist appointments for both my husband and I and physical therapy appointments for him. I mentioned to the children that I was trying to figure out how to order groceries online. Today a daughter who lives locally asked if I had ordered groceries and said that she had a sore throat. I answered that I planned to go to Carrs to get groceries at 7:00 in the morning with the rest of the elderly. My children had something to say about that idea also.


“Hopefully none of the elderly are vectors.”


“Mom you can go to www.carrsqc.com and order for delivery or pickup and they’ll load into your car.”


“Please order for delivery and send the bill to me. I know you’re going to get cabin fever but if either of you get this virus the likelihood of at least one of you dying from it is about 20%. This is by far the biggest risk in your life this year.”


            I can tell you that I immediately gave up on the idea of going to a grocery store! I went to the suggested site to register. I discovered that the store does not make deliveries in my area. I decided to order online and ask someone else to pick it up. I filled out the order and went to register for a delivery date. There were no dates available in the next week and no way to register for a later date.


            I have not given up on the idea, but I have hit some snags. I went to another site to register at a store for which I already have a rewards card. I discovered that I cannot register with my email address or either of my telephone numbers because they are already being used. Of course, they are! They were used when we got the rewards card – which the store will not acknowledge. I called the local store to get an answer and was given a national number. However, that number was receiving so many calls that I was told to call back later. I had school assignments to do, so I gave up for the time being.


            It would be much easier to get up at 7:00 a.m. to drive over to the grocery store to do my own shopping. However, I will be obedient to the requests of my children and not risk my health. It is difficult for me to remember that I am one of the “elderly” people with “underlying health problems” that are being protected by everyone else staying home. I will persevere and find a way! By the way, when did those little children grow up to become my bosses?       

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Is the Coronavirus the Only Newsworthy Topic?


            I searched for a topic other than coronavirus to discuss for my post tonight, but I could not find one. However, my psychology class is studying the topic of social psychology this week. Social psychology is the study of what humans do, why we do it, and the consequences of actions. Humans are social creatures, and we need to be with our own kind.


            John McCain was a Navy Commander when he was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese. Nelson Mandela was a political activist when he was imprisoned by South Africa for 27 years. McCain was in isolation for two years, and Mandela spent six years in solitary confinement. Both men agree that the most difficult part of their imprisonments was the loneliness or lack of social support from other human beings.


            According to my lesson material, Social isolation is as bad for a person’s health as tobacco or obesity. People who are isolated from other people become depressed and/or ill and even die prematurely. The simple fact of the matter is that people need people to live normal, healthy lives.


            President Donald Trump encourages Americans to put distance between ourselves and other people. He wants us to stay away from groups that are larger than 10 people and to stay in our homes as much as possible. Older people are counseled to isolate themselves for three months. This counsel is good for people who live with other people, but not for those who live alone. People need people or their health deteriorates.


            We are fortunate in that we have great technological means to stay in contact with other people. I had the opportunity to Facetime with my youngest daughter and her family and later with three of my sisters as a group on Sunday. Today is only Tuesday, and it seems like a long time ago. Even though I normally spend a lot of time at home, there are not many days that I am home all day long and several days in a row. Staying home for fifteen days as requested by President Trump may be difficult, but I may go mad by the end of three months!


            Right now, I am trying to figure out how to do some grocery shopping. Should I risk going to the store at 7:00 a.m. along with other elderly people, or should I learn to order groceries online? The bigger question is, do I trust someone else to choose my bananas, or should I go buy them myself?

Monday, March 16, 2020

Who Is Dr. Anthony S. Fauci?


            I chose Dr. Anthony S. Fauci for my weekly VIP because he seems to be playing an important role against the coronavirus. He was appointed as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in 1984. As such, he “oversees an extensive portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis and malaria as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika.” It appears that he is the point man on infectious diseases, so it is only reasonable that we are hearing a lot from him as we fight the novel coronavirus.


            As the director of NIAID, Dr. Fauci is an advisor to the President of the United States. In fact, he advised six different presidents about “HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues.” He is “the longtime chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation” and “made many contributions to basic and clinical research on the pathogenesis and treatment of immune-mediated and infectious diseases.”


            Dr. Fauci is “ranked as the 41st most highly cited researcher of all time” in “a 2019 analysis of Google Scholar citations.” “According to the Web of Science, he ranked 8th out of more than 2.2 
million authors in the field of immunology by total citation count between 1980 and January 2019.” 


            In addition, Dr. Fauci has “delivered major lectures all over the world” and has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and “45 honorary doctoral degrees from universities in the United States and abroad. He is a member of numerous academies of science and medicine and “serves on the editorial boards of many scientific journals.”


            From all his credits, it appears that there is a good reason why President Donald Trump speaks so highly of Dr. Fauci. It seems that he is well-prepared to take the lead in the current fight against the new coronavirus that is quickly spreading throughout the world.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

When Does the Constitution Not Stand as the Supreme Law?


            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is about the Constitution and the coronavirus. America provides all kinds of freedoms and liberties, and among these many freedoms is the freedom to assemble. Yet, this freedom is being curtailed in this time of emergency with the invasion of the coronavirus. 


Various states and communities are limiting the size of groups that can assemble. Some states have said that groups must stay under 250 people, and others limited crowds to 100 people. Today the Center for Disease Control stated that groups should be less than 50 people. Do governments have the right to curtail our freedom to assemble?


The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress [and by extension all other governments] shall make no law respecting … the right of the people peaceably to assemble….” There it is in black and white! Yet, governments are limiting the size of groups that can assemble in America right now. How can they get away with infringing on American’s First Amendment rights? 


Apparently, governments can get around the Freedom to Assemble rights of Americans by declaring a state of emergency. Numerous states have issued a state of emergency and President Donald Trump declared a national emergency a day or two ago. In an emergency and for the good of the general public, governments can temporarily infringe on the right of citizens to assemble.


Currently, the United States is in a state of emergency in our fight against a novel coronavirus that is spreading quickly throughout the world. It does not kill everyone, and some people can have it and not feel sick. The mortality rate is .3 to 15 percent of those who are infected depending on the age and health of the infected person. Experts expect 40 to 70 percent of the population to get the virus. There are more than 350 million Americans, so half that number is about 175 million. One percent of 175 million means that 1.8 million Americans would die. This number is ten times higher than that of the annual flu, and this is the reason why governments are infringing on the freedom to assemble.


The government first tried to contain the coronavirus, but it got loose in the population. The most effective tool available to fight the virus now is to keep it from spreading so quickly that it overwhelms the medical establishment. The tool is known as “social distancing” – putting space between people. 


Social distancing is the reason why governments are curtailing the number of people who can assemble in one place. This is the reason why schools and universities, churches and businesses are closing or limiting contact. This is the reason why families are encouraged to stay home and limit contacts with the outside world. The fewer people who are available to the virus, the flatter the curve of infection will be. The goal is to keep the number of serious cases to less than what the medical establishment can handle.


President Trump called for the nation to observe a day of prayer nationwide today. I believe that this is a wise step. I know that there is power in united prayer. Will God hear our prayers and respond to our cries, or will He allow us to suffer the consequences of our wickedness? How can God bless a nation that allows hundreds and thousands of unborn babies to be killed every single day? How can He bless a nation that is as divided by contention as our nation is? 

I believe that prayer is a good first step. I also believe that we need to come before Him in humility and repentance for our sins, and I believe that we need to do it sooner rather than later. If the coronavirus runs wild in our nation, we will see millions of people die. My question is, is this the “desolating scourge” spoken of in the scriptures? If so, we have no time to lose in worrying about losing our freedom to assemble!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Does God Reveal Himself to Mankind?

            Articles of Faith 1:9 states one of the foundational beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Yes, we believe that God can and does speak to men, women, and children today just as He has done for centuries. The two doctrines taught by this Article of Faith are Revelation in the Church and Personal Revelation, Lifelong Discipleship. I gained the following insights as I studied the material this week.

            My first insight concerns revelation to the Church of Jesus Christ through His prophets. The reading material presented an important principle: Even though every person can receive revelation, the Lord reveals His will for the Church through His prophet (Principles of the Gospel). We sustain the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators, not only to the Church but to the world (Bible Dictionary “Revelation”). The Prophet is the senior member of the leading councils. Several people in the early days of the Church received “revelation” and thought that they could tell Joseph Smith what he should do. The Lord made it plain in two revelations that He spoke through Joseph. In D&C 28:1-7, He told Oliver Cowdery to take the following message to Hyrum Page: Joseph Smith holds the keys of the mysteries and only he receives revelations for the Church. In D&C 43:1-7, the Lord said that revelations and commandments come only through the one appointed by God to receive them. This brings us to how we should respond to the words of the Brethren, and particularly the Prophet. We should follow his counsel as closely as possible, and we will receive blessings for doing so (Gospel Principles). Since the Prophet’s “role is to speak the mind and will of the Lord,” our responsibility is to receive it as though it came from the mouth of Jesus Christ (Religion 324-325 student manual).

            My second insight concerns revelation to individuals. Heavenly Father sends inspiration and revelation to us when He is ready – or when He determines that we are ready to receive it. Revelation usually comes “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little”

(2 Nephi 28:30) and not in one big chunk. The whole concept may take years, so we need to learn to be patient and trust the Lord as well as His timing (True to the Faith). Most revelation comes in gentle thoughts and feelings and not like the First Vision (Joseph Smith-History 1:15-20) or the vision shown to Nephi (1 Nephi 10:17-19). However, we can learn from the experiences of these two prophets. Both studied the words of the prophets, both pondered the information, both sought an answer from the Lord, and both listened to the instructions given.

            My third insight concerns how to receive revelation. Revelation is the way that Heavenly Father communicates with His children (Gospel Topics), and it is the way that He has communicated from the beginning of time and will communicate with them until the end of time. (Doctrines of the Gospel student manual). Personal revelation is the way that He gives us personal help for our individual or family situations (True to the Faith). However, He expects us to study the problem, make a tentative decision, and ask Him if it is the right decision (D&C 9:8). I have found that I can better receive answers to my prayers if I ask questions that He can answer with “yes,” “no,” or “not yet.” I know that the Lord can speak to me and to you in our thoughts and feelings, and I am grateful for this great gift.

            As I reflected on the information that I was studying, I decided to divide the Article of Faith into its three distinct parts. The first part says, “We believe all that God has revealed.” This includes all revelation received from the time of Adam and Eve to the present day. “The principle of gaining knowledge by revelation is the principle of salvation” (Bible Dictionary, “Revelation”). We believe that God has revealed much information to mankind through His prophets and to individuals. “When He reveals His will to the Church, He speaks through His prophet…” (Principles of the Gospel). Some of the revelations that came through prophets to bless mankind include the First Vision, the revelation that the priesthood is available to all worthy male members of the Church and temple blessings are available to all worthy members, and the publication of the proclamation on the family. 

            The second part states, “we believe all that He does now reveal.” We believe that God has spoken to His children since the time of Adam and continued with Moses and Abraham. However, the information revealed to the ancient prophets does not give specific guidance for people who live today. Therefore, God continues to give guidance that helps us today.

            Through the experience of Oliver Cowdery recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 6, we know that God wants us to ask for more knowledge and will give it to us under His conditions. He promises that we will receive the information that we desire if it is right in God’s eyes and if we ask in faith. Doctrine and Covenants 8 tells us that we receive revelation in our minds through the thought process and in our hearts through the feeling process. The Brethren tell us that most inspiration and revelation come in bits and pieces to our minds and hearts – even to prophets and apostles. We believe that individuals can receive revelation for their own lives and for their own stewardships. Recent revelations to the Church include the new program of home-centered Church. Now that the coronavirus has caused the closure of all public meetings and proxy temple experiences, individuals and families are on their own to provide their spiritual feasts. This shows us that the Brethren are steps ahead of what happens in the world and give us counsel to help us survive our trying times. We will be blessed to the extent that we are obedient to the Prophet’s counsel.

            The last part states “we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Jacob 4:8 tells us that “it is impossible that man should find out all His ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him.” As we move closer to the time that the Savior will return to earth, we are seeing big changes in how the kingdom of God on earth is supposed to work. It was a big change for us when terms “home teaching” and “visiting teaching” were retired and “ministering” was implemented. This change took us as a Church from the level of checking a box as we completed our monthly assignment to truly loving and caring for those to whom we minister. President Russell M. Nelson has instituted numerous other changes, such as the “Come, Follow Me” program, and he promises that there will be much more. He warned us that the April conference would be different than any that we had previously experienced and encouraged us to prepare to receive more revelation. He may not have known at the time about the drastic changes caused by the coronavirus, but he continues to encourage us to study about the Restoration and to read the Book of Mormon.  
         

            I applied what I learned this week to the topic of same-sex marriage. We believe that Heavenly Father loves all His children and desires that all of us return to His presence. However, He places certain conditions on our return. One of those conditions is that we must be like Him in our thoughts, words, and actions. To help us become like Him, He has revealed His commandments to His prophets. In turn, the prophets have taught them to us. Heavenly Father will not force us to return to Him. In fact, He gave us agency and the opportunity to choose for ourselves where we want to spend eternity. 

            Long before same-gender marriage became the law of the United States and other nations, prophets and apostles were concerned about the direction that the world was heading. They fasted and prayed to learn what the Lord would have them do. Then they studied and discussed the situation and wrote and rewrote drafts. A couple of years later, they published “The Family – A Proclamation to the World” in September 1995. This proclamation states plainly that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God” and that “marriage between man and woman is essential to his eternal plan.”

            This revelation from God came through His prophet and apostles at least ten years before states started to legalize same-sex marriage. It was presented to the women of the Church first, but it is a message to the entire world. It calls upon “responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere” to promote and strengthen marriage and family. It also warns us that “the disintegration of the family” will bring “the calamities [that is a powerful word] foretold by ancient and modern prophets” to “individuals, communities, and nations.” 

            There are many problems and issues in the world that work to destroy marriage and family, such as selfishness, pride, and divorce. However, same-sex marriage strikes at the very foundation of the family. Only a marriage between man and woman can provide the proper environment for rearing a family that is striving to be together for eternity in the presence of God.

            Heavenly Father is concerned about all His children, and He wants each one of us to find joy. He knows what brings true joy to people, and He reveals this knowledge to prophets for the good of the Church of Jesus Christ and for the people of the world. He also reveals His will to individuals to help them in their personal lives. I know that I can receive packets of knowledge directly from God, and I know this same blessing is available to you.