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, December 31, 2016

Our Testament

                The Doctrine and Covenants is the course of study for 2017 for adults and teenagers in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though are numerous study helps to assist us in learning the doctrine in this book of scripture, our first source should be the scriptures. The revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants were given for people living in our day. It is our book of counsel.

                 Ted Gibbons considers the Doctrine and Covenants to be “our testament” just as the Old Testament is the history and teachings of people in ancient times, the New Testament records the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles, and the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ contains the teachings of ancient Americans. This comparison helps me to see the testament or covenant of the Doctrine and Covenants with new eyes and gives me added reason to study it.

                Gibbons quotes Elder Wilford Woodruff as saying, “I consider that the Doctrine and Covenants, our testament, contains a code of the most solemn, the most godlike proclamations ever made to the human family.” Then he states, “There are eternal lessons to learn from every chapter and nearly every verse of scripture. But these revelations are to us and for us and about us. They really are our testament of Jesus Christ and His involvement with us.”

                The Doctrine and Covenants is a different type of scripture from the Bible or Book of Mormon in that there is no story line to follow. Gibbons explains that we must “be aware … that the lesson outline for the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History is not chronological. It does not examine the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants or the events of Church History in the same order they appear in the scriptures and our histories. The lessons this year are thematic, pursuing concepts and doctrines through the years and revelations that have come since the restoration. Thus, for example, the lesson on the gathering will speak of Kirtland and Missouri and Nauvoo and Salt Lake and the present-day gathering to the stakes of Zion.”

                I am excited at the opportunity to learn more about the Doctrine and Covenants and history of the Church. I hope you will join me in studying this great book of scripture in 2017. Gibbons will apparently write a column about each lesson to give further ideas and concepts for us to consider as we study “our testament.” The Gospel Doctrine teacher’s manual can be accessed at this site

Friday, December 30, 2016

Set a Goal to Read the Book of Mormon

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals know how to set goals and achieve desired results. It is one thing to set a goal; it is another thing altogether to actually meet that goal.

                I have known about the importance of setting goals for many years, but I learned how to set SMART goals last year in my first Pathway class. I felt that I had revolutionized my life because all of a sudden I was achieving much more than I had previously accomplished. I had several lessons over the year about setting goals where the instructor would tell us to set a SMART goal to achieve something significant in the following week.

                I quickly learned to set a goal for something I had to do any way but was failing to accomplish. For a lesson on finance, I chose to set up a new filing system for my financial file. My finances were in order, but my files were almost unusable. Because I set a SMART goal – and had to report to my instructor, I was able to accomplish something really important that had a great effect in my life.

                SMART goals have clear and reachable goals. To be a SMART goal, each goal must meet the following qualifications: (1) Be specific (simple, sensible, significant). (2) Be measurable (meaningful, motivating). (3) Be achievable (agreed, attainable). (4) Be relevant (reasonable, realistic, and resourced, results-based). (5) Be time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

                Setting SMART goals is very simple but can make a big impact in one’s life. I know that setting SMART goals has made a significant difference in my life. The main reason for this change is that I now set specific and significant goals that are relevant, can measured, and must be accomplished in a given time period.

                As you consider your goals for 2017, may I suggest a goal that can have the greatest impact in your life? I suggest that you obtain a copy of the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ (or go to this site for an online copy) and set a goal to read it. Your goal may be to read a chapter or part of a chapter every morning and be finished by the end of the year. I know that this goal is completely attainable because I usually read the Book of Mormon twice every year using this method. As you consider making this one of your goals for 2017, please pay attention to this counsel given to us by a living prophet of God, even President Thomas S. Monson. 

                “Brothers and sisters, have you read the Book of Mormon? Have you put to the test the promise found in Moroni chapter 10, verse 4, asking your Heavenly Father with a sincere heart, with real intent and having faith in Christ whether or not that which is found in that book is truth? …
                “You may already know that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is indeed a prophet, and that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. Some of you, however, may still be living on the testimony of others – your parents, your friends, your Church leaders. May I suggest that … you set aside time every day to find out for yourself if the Book of Mormon is a true book, for it will change your heart and change your life. If you seek this knowledge with a sincere heart with real intent having faith in Christ, I promise that you will receive an answer [emphasis added]. And once you know that the Book of Mormon is true, then it will follow that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. You will have that burning testimony and knowledge that this Church is true.
                “Such knowledge, such a personal testimony, is essential if we are to safely navigate the sometimes treacherous paths through life, with the adversary attempting to deceive us at every turn. As you keep the flame of testimony burning brightly, you will become a beacon of righteousness – even a light – for all to see. Said the Savior: `Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’”

                If you have already read the Book of Mormon and have a testimony of its truthfulness, when was the last time that you read it? When was the last time that you felt your testimony confirmed by the Holy Ghost? If you will set a long-term goal to read the Book of Mormon every single day, you will have continual confirmation of its truthfulness. I know this is true because I read and receive confirmation every day.

                Setting SMART goals is very simple but can make a big impact on a person’s life. I know that setting SMART goals has made a significant difference in my life. The main reason for this change is that I now set simple, significant, and attainable goals that I can measure and that must be accomplished in a given time period.

                As you practice setting SMART goals, I know that you will become more productive in your life and have greater self-confidence. If you will read from the Book of Mormon every day, you will receive power in your life to discern and avoid the temptations of Satan. As you become stronger spiritually, I know that you will strengthen yourself, your family, your community, and your nation.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Freedom of Religion

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns Freedom of Religion. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that Americans can worship how we choose without the government forcing any religion on us. This Constitutional guarantee has not always protected people from the religious persecution by other people.

                Several of my ancestors were early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of other Christian churches did not approve of the statements made by the Prophet Joseph Smith about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ being two separate Personages with glorified bodies of flesh and bones. My ancestors were among those members of the Church who moved from Kirtland, Ohio, to Jackson County, Missouri, to Nauvoo, Illinois, and finally to the Salt Lake Valley in order to enjoy the freedom to worship how, where, or what they chose.

                Latter-day Saints understand what happens when people decide that some religions are not as equal as other religions. One reason why some members of the LDS Church did not vote for Donald Trump was his comments about Muslims. People with common sense will not long wonder how LDS people feel about the comments that John Kerry made about the Israelis.

                In particular, we do not like the way Kerry told the Israelis that Israel “can be Jewish or it can be democratic.” He was basically telling the Israelis that they have to give up their religion if they want to have a democracy. It was an idiotic statement. Can you imagine what would happen here in the United States if any government official made this same statement to a Mormon, Catholic or Muslim – or any other religion?

                I would like to believe that the offending official would be forced to resign from his position within minutes of making such a statement. Yet, nothing anyone in the Obama administration surprises me. I often feel fear when I hear their words, but not surprise.

                Freedom of Religion is a right given to us by Heavenly Father. It does not come from the government; therefore, the government cannot take it away from Americans and should not even try to take it away from people in other nations. I will be grateful when January 20, 2017, arrives and we have a new President! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Kerry Assaults Israel

                Will the United States of America survive the last 23 days of the Obama administration? Yes, we will! Will Israel survive the administration’s “search for peace in the Middle East”? Yes, it will! Will the actions of the outgoing Obama administration make finding peace in the Middle East more difficult? Yes, it definitely will!

                Secretary of State John Kerry proved today that he is just as anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and evil as Barack Obama. Kerry spoke for approximately 70 minutes “with a clarity and harshness almost never heard from American diplomats when discussing one of their closest and strongest allies” as he too assaulted Israel. He claimed to be “driven by a desire to save Israel from `the most extreme elements’ in its own government.’ With his voice “animated,” Kerry said, “The status quo is leading toward one state and perpetual occupation.”

                The Obama administration caused a great break in the relationship between Israel and the United States. This break is “a breach rarely seen since President Harry S. Truman recognized the fragile Israeli state in May 1948.” Mr. Kerry said, “Some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles – even after urging again and again that the policy must change…. Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.”      
                Most people expect President-elect Donald Trump to strengthen the relationship with Israel. As a starter, he plans to nominate David M. Friedman as the new U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Friedman “has broken with even the pretense of supporting a two-state negotiated agreement and has helped fund some of the settlements” denounced by Kerry.

                Even though on vacation, Mr. Trump rejected Kerry’s speech even before it was delivered by posted two messages on Twitter. After the Security Council vote last week, he posted, “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” This morning he posted, “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.”

                Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Kerry’s speech a “deep disappointment.”  He later released a video message stating: “The entire Middle East is going up in flames, entire countries are toppling, terrorism is raging and for an entire hour the secretary of state attacks the only democracy in the Middle East…. Maybe Kerry did not notice that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christmas can be celebrated in peace and security. Sadly, none of this interests the secretary of state.”

                Mr. Netanyahu was not the only one lambasting Kerry’s assault. Senator John McCain calls it a “pointless tirade” while Senator Charles Schumer, the incoming Senate Democrat leader, thinks that Kerry “emboldened extremists on both sides.”

                Senator Ted Cruz also issued a statement condemning the speech. His statement begins, “Like bitter clingers, President Obama and Secretary Kerry are spending every last minute of this administration wreaking havoc domestically and abroad. With their last breath in office, they have struck at Israel, through the United Nations and through today’s disgraceful speech.
                “These acts are shameful. They are designed to secure a legacy, and indeed they have: history will record and the world will fully understand Obama and Kerry as relentless enemies of Israel. Their actions were designed to weaken and marginalize Israel, and to embolden its enemies….
                “Kerry’s speech drew a stunning moral equivalence between our great ally Israel and the Palestinian Authority, currently formed in a `unity’ government with the vicious terrorists of Hamas. Secretary Kerry declared the Hamas regime in Gaza `radical,’ in the same way he declared the duly-elected government of Israel `extreme.’ He declared vicious terrorism sponsored by Hamas equal to Israeli settlements in West Bank. And he equated Israel’s celebration of its birth with the Palestinian description of this event as the `disaster.’ …
                “All Americans who understand the value of the U.S.-Israel alliance must immediately and unequivocally reject their [Obama’s and Kerry’s] false and dangerous narrative, and reassert our fundamental commitment to Israel’s security….”

                Senator Marco Rubio issued his own statement on Kerry’s speech:  “The greatest immediate threat to the future of Israel is not a stalled peace process, or settlements, but the abandonment of the Jewish state by the current U.S. administration at a time when it needs America’s support more than ever.”

                There are only 23 days until there is a new President of the United States. I have no doubt that President Donald Trump will strength the U.S.-Israeli relationship, but I know that the Obama administration has made his job more difficult. With senators like Cruz and Rubio – and even Senators McCain and Schumer speaking out against the administration, President Trump should have no problem defunding the United Nations until a change is made. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Obama Did Israel Wrong

                On Christmas Eve, also the eve of Hanukkah this year, the Obama administration left Israel to stand by itself against the entire world. Barack Obama has not been a friend to Israel during the past eight years, but he stabbed Israel in the back last week. He made the Middle East situation for more difficult for the in-coming President Donald Trump, and he might have kindled the flames that will erupt into World War III. 

                Israel has been the only true, dependable ally of the United States in the Middle East for many years. Now the Obama administration has let our faith ally down. Last week the Security Council of the United States passed Resolution 2334 with Samantha Power, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, abstaining. It was an anti-Israel bill that the United States could have stopped but did not.

                Resolution 2334 basically condemns Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, considering them to be occupied territory. More importantly, it deems the western wall, one of the most sacred places in Judaism, to be occupied Palestinian territory.

                Israel Prime Minister claims to have “ironclad information” that Barack Obama was part of the formulation and the support for the UN Security Council resolution against Israel. Apparently, some of the information came from Arab sources and other members of the international community. Of course, the Obama administration is denying any responsibility for drafting or introducing the resolution, only of the decision to refrain from voting for it. “Because of its opposition to settlement activity and concern for what it could mean for the region, the US `could not in good conscience veto.’”

                Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu met addressed the weekly meeting of his cabinet in Jerusalem on Sunday and reiterated his staunch opposition to the resolution. He met with the “envoys of the 12 nations with representatives in Israel that voted for the resolutions” on Christmas Day. He later summoned the US Ambassador Dan Shapiro on Christmas evening “to explain why the US abstained in the vote on Resolution 2334, enabling it to pass 14-0, rather than vetoing it.” Mr. Netanyahu is reaching out to Mr. Trump and friends in the U.S. Congress for help in deterring “further potential Obama administration-led diplomatic action against Israel.” 

                President-elect Trump has promised to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and to strengthen the military alliance between the U.S. and Israel. Will he stay strong in his commitment to Israel? Only time will tell.

                A dozen or more years ago my friend and I were discussing the end-time prophecy about the battle of Gog and Magog and how this battle will usher in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Ezekiel 38 tells us that heathen nations from the “north” will come against Israel “as a cloud to cover the land.” Jesus Christ appears and saves Israel.

                My friend said something about being grateful to know that the United States would always stand with Israel. I said that I was not so sure about the standing of the United States because I had never read or heard anything to support that point.

                I could not even imagine at that point how the United States would not be on the side of Israel. However, as I heard the words of Barack Obama and watched the way he sides with the enemies of Israel, I began to understand how it could happen. Now we have failed to stand with Israel on this resolution.

                I really hope that Mr. Trump can solve the problem before World War III begins. If he is unable to stop the damage, I hope that the United States stands firmly on the side of Israel because I know that God fights for Israel and no nation can go against God and survive!

Thomas Sowell

                Syndicated writer Thomas Sowell is retiring to pursue photography. He has written a column for Creators Syndicate for a quarter of a century and has certainly earned the “right to retire” at age 86. I will miss him because I feel that he has a point of view that helps our world. Here are a few thoughts from his “Farewell Column” to illustrate why his point of view is so important. 

                “Being old-fashioned, I liked to know what the facts were before writing. That required not only a lot of research, it also required keeping up with what was being said in the media.

                “In material things, there has been almost unbelievable progress. Most Americans did not have refrigerators back in 1930, when I was born. Television was little more than an experiment, and such things as air-conditioning or air travel were only for the very rich.
                “My own family did not have electricity or hot running water in my early childhood, which was not unusual for blacks in the South in those days.

                “It is hard to convey to today’s generation the fear that the paralyzing disease of polio inspired, until vaccines put an abrupt end to its long reign of terror in the 1950s.

                “Most people living in officially defined poverty in the 21st century have things like cable television, microwave ovens and air-conditioning. Most Americans did not have such things, as late as the 1980s. People whom the intelligentsia continue to call the `have-nots’ today have things that the `haves’ did not have, just a generation ago.”

                Thomas Sowell will be greatly missed by many people!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

On Guard

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the simple fact that we must be ever watchful and keep our guard up, or we will lose rights, freedoms, and liberty. The judicial system from the lower courts to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) seem ever willing to bestow rights not outlined in the Constitution and to weaken or destroy rights actually listed in the Bill of Rights.

                In recent years we have watched helplessly as the highest court in the land has legalized murder of infants (abortion) and sodomy (same sex marriage). At the same time, we have seen judges do their best time after time to deny Americans the rights to defend ourselves. Self-defense is an unalienable right given to us by God and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Yet, judges continue to water down the Right to Bear Arms enshrined in the Second Amendment.

                Daniel Horowitz discusses this irony in his article “An Inconvenient Right: Ninth Circuit Fails to Protect 2nd Amendment.” He writes, “Let’s be clear here:  There is only one enumerated right in the Bill of Rights for which the unequivocal language of `shall not be infringed’ is used. That language is not used for abortion or forced recognition of alternative lifestyles as marriage against the will of the states. (In fact, it doesn’t talk about those things at all in the Constitution. Yet, the courts are saying states can’t even implement common sense health regulations on abortion clinics.) The one right that is mentioned explicitly in unmistakable language, on the other hand, seems to be open to all sorts of political arguments by the courts.”

                Horowitz reminds his readers that criminals do not bother to have background checks and then writes, “Placing a 10-day waiting period is a substantial burden, especially for first-time purchasers who often make the decision out of an imminent sense of fear or need for self-defense.
                “Such a restriction is manifestly unconstitutional for those who are approved quickly by the federal background check system….
                “The same courts that nullify every legitimate state power – from marriage and abortion regulation to election maps and even adhering to natural law – are suddenly deferential to state laws that are incontrovertibly against the plain language of the Constitution.”       
                The article by Horowitz is very interest and lists two additional observations:  (1) “The lower courts are killing the Second Amendment. SCOTUS remains silent”and (2) “The courts are a one-way dead-end for conservatives.”

                The Bill of Rights has been part of the Supreme Law of the United States for more than 225 years. The guardian of freedom has done its job well. Now we must preserve and protect that law in order for it to continue to preserve our rights, freedoms, and liberty itself.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Peace on Earth

                The Christmas story begins with a family, a little family consisting of husband, wife, and child in a stable. Even though they were most likely tired from their long journey, I feel certain that Mary and Joseph recognized great blessings as they watched the newborn Child of God sleeping in the manger.

                Mary and Joseph were most likely shocked when shepherds suddenly appeared, proclaiming that they had seen angels who directed them to go to the stable to see the newborn Son of God.     
                “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
                “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
                “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
                “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
                “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
                “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
                “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8-14).

                We know that peace has seldom been on earth because wars and rumors of war are much more frequent. Yet, that same Child grew to be the Savior of the world who said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27).

                We live in a world of turmoil and tribulation, but we can still feel peace. We can feel peace as we follow the Savior in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Whether we live in peaceful environments or in tragic situations, all of us can feel peace in our hearts as we are obedient to God’s commandments and keep our covenants with Him. Peace comes to us individually as we follow the Savior and walk in His light. We have the peace of Christmas all year as we are true disciples of Jesus Christ following in His footsteps.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Story

                We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by celebrating the birth of Christ. One way to celebrate is to enact the Nativity story with our families and friends. When our oldest children were toddlers, my husband and I began acting out the Nativity story on Christmas Eve. The tradition continues to this day in our home as well as in the homes of our children. Over the years I sewed many Nativity costumes, and last year I sent numerous costumes to children living out of Alaska.

                I also collect Nativity sets and own approximately 40 Nativity items ranging from complete sets to sets with the Holy Family to the skirt for our Christmas tree. The three Anchorage stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently held an event featuring Nativities.

                I was out of town when the call went out for Nativity sets, so I did not loan any of my own sets. I was able to attend the final evening of the event. I enjoyed watching my son as a wise man in a live Nativity. I also enjoyed seeing my granddaughter take part in another room set up with a stable and costumes for children to wear while acting out the Nativity. In the large cultural hall, there were hundreds of Nativity items on display.  I enjoyed walking around the room numerous times to see the many items.

                Last year I filed an article about Nativities written by Carly Hoilman at The Blaze. The article tells of Christmas in the city of Wadena in Minnesota and includes pictures. In November 2015 city officials voted to remove a nativity display from a local park because the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) threatened legal action if they did not. The atheist activist group is based in Wisconsin, but they were offended by a Nativity in a small town in Minnesota.

                It seems that the tiny city of about 4,000 had the Nativity set up in a park but moved it to city property in a more central location last Christmas. The atheists were offended to have the Nativity on city property even though it was a city tradition for many years with no previous complaints.

                A lady by the name of Joan Anderson contacted The Blaze to share her experience of being in the town. An Illinois native, she was visiting her brother in Minnesota and decided to visit Wadena. She describes Wadena, founded in 1858, as “a blue-collar town full of the Love of God and the birth of Jesus.” There are nine churches in the small town.

                Anderson stopped for lunch at a local diner and described the local people in their familiar environment. “These were hard-working farmers, laborers, truckers working hard to put food on their table and keep Christ in Christmas.” She felt something was different about the situation, and she soon realized that none of them were using their cell phones but were instead “talking to their spouses, laughing with their children and talking about their Christmas shopping.” Many of them prayed over their food.

                Taking a stroll down the two-block-long downtown area, Anderson was delighted to see that the common folks in Wadena had gotten the best of the atheists. FFRF had succeeded in removing the Nativity from public property, but they had not removed Nativities from the town. The townspeople put Nativity scenes in “nearly every shop window” and made their town into “a regular Christmas wonderland.” Christmas music played from two speakers on top the diner, and townspeople wished each other “Merry Christmas.” There is a gazebo in the town square, which is rented by individual families who then erect a different nativity scene each day.    
                Anderson captured the hope of the city with these words, “The Atheist Grinch tried to take Christ out of Christmas but the Whos down in Whoville would not have it. Christmas came, [and] it came bigger and better than before!”

                My thought is: “You can take the Nativity off city property, but you cannot take the Christmas spirit and the love of the Nativity out of the hearts of the people.” The residents of Wadena found a way to get around the demand of the atheist Grinch and kept the Spirit of Christ in their city.

                On December 12, 1976, Jeffrey R. Holland, then commissioner of Church education and now a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, addressed the Religious Instruction faculty at Brigham Young University and spoke on the topic of “Maybe Christmas Doesn’t Come from a Store,” which was taken from Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This rather long excerpt from Elder Holland’s talk adds greater understanding for me of the Christmas story.

                “Part of the purpose for telling the story of Christmas is to remind us that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Indeed, however delightful we feel about it, even as children, each year it `means a little bit more.’ And no matter how many times we read the biblical account of that evening in Bethlehem, we always come away with a thought – or two – we haven’t had before.
                “There are so many lessons to be learned from the sacred account of Christ’s birth that we always hesitate to emphasize one at the expense of all the others. Forgive me while I do just that in the time we have together here.                                 “One impression which has persisted with me recently is that this is a story – in profound paradox with our own times – that this is a story of intense poverty. I wonder if Luke did not have some special meaning when he wrote not `there was no room in the inn’ but specifically that `there was no room for them in the inn.’ (Luke 2:7; italics added.) We cannot be certain, but it is my guess that money could talk in those days as well as in our own. I think if Joseph and Mary had been people of influence or means, they would have found lodging even at that busy time of year.
                “I have wondered if the Inspired Version also was suggesting they did not know the `right people’ in saying, `There was none to give room for them in the inns.’ (JST, Luke 2:7.)
                “We cannot be certain what the historian intended, but we do know these two were desperately poor. At the purification offering which the parents made after the child’s birth, a turtledove was substituted for the required lamb, a substitution the Lord had allowed in the Law of Moses to ease the burden of the truly impoverished. (See Lev. 12:8.)”

                As you study, teach, and enact the story of Christmas, let the Holy Spirit be your guide in order that you might learn and teach the parts of the story that are important to you and your family this year. As you do so, I know that you will strengthen your family as well as your community and nation.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Joseph and Jesus

                I believe that it is only fitting that the Prophet of the Restoration, even Joseph Smith, was born two days before we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The Prophet Joseph Smith was charged with restoring the gospel of Jesus Christ to earth to help the world prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

                In the early spring of 1820 Joseph Smith was pondering which church he should join, he was reading in the New Testament and gained some great counsel. He found this wise instruction, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

                This scripture entered the young man’s heart with great power. “It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart” (Joseph Smith – History 1:12). Joseph followed the instruction and went to a nearby grove of trees to pray. While he was in the midst of praying, he “saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above [him] in the air. One of them spake unto [him], calling [him] by name and said, pointing to the other –This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith – History 1:15).

                I find it difficult to imagine what it would be like to have the Father and the Son appear to me, but I have received confirmation of the Holy Ghost that They really did appear to Joseph Smith. I have absolutely no doubts that Joseph Smith really saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

                President Thomas S. Monson teaches us that “No description of models for us to follow would be complete without including Joseph Smith, the first prophet of this dispensation. When but fourteen years of age, this courageous young man entered a grove of trees, which later would be called sacred, and received an answer to his sincere prayer. There followed for Joseph unrelenting persecution as he related to others the account of the glorious vision he received in that grove. Yet, although he was ridiculed and scorned, he stood firm. Said he, `I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it’ (Joseph Smith – History 1:25).” (A Future As Bright As Your Faith, [2015], 387).

                Joseph Smith was persecuted, imprisoned many times, driven from city to city, and eventually killed because he never changed his testimony about seeing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. His testimony was sealed with his blood on June 27, 1844, when an armed mob of 150-200 people attacked them in the Carthage jail.

                Elder John Taylor was in the Carthage jail with Joseph and his brother Hyrum. He announces “the martyrdom of Joseph Smith the Prophet and Hyrum Smith the Patriarch…. Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:1-3). He then proceeds to name some of the many accomplishments of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I appreciate the words of Elder Taylor for I know Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God.  

                I close this tribute to the Prophet with this testimony words by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “I bear solemn testimony of the divinity of Joseph Smith’s call, of the magnitude of his accomplishments, of the virtue of his life, and of the security of his place among the great and honored of the Almighty in all generations of time. We stand in reverence before him. He is the great prophet of this dispensation. Let us not forget him. God be thanked for the Prophet Joseph” (Stand A Little Taller, [2001], 374).

                I honor and respect the Prophet Joseph Smith, just as I do all the prophets and apostles of the Lord, but I do not worship him. I worship Heavenly Father and His Son, even Jesus Christ. I know that the Father and the Son live. I also know that Joseph Smith is the prophet called to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ and to organize church of Christ, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I urge you to learn more about Joseph Smith and the gospel he helped to restore.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice

                December 21 is the winter solstice. For most people the day simply comes and goes as they prepare for Christmas. For Alaskans and former Alaskans as well as others who live in the north countries, the winter solstice is a very important day. It is doubly important to me as my first grandchild was born on this day.

                For me, it marks the day with the shortest amount of daylight and brings it a promise that the daylight will increase and continue to increase until the summer solstice. The darkness of winter brings an overwhelming desire to eat and sleep. I call it the hibernation syndrome, and I am very much affected by it. My energy levels decrease, my emotions tend to become depressed, and I simply want to put life on hold. I noticed the darkness much more this year because I spent October and November in the Lower 48, coming home to cold and darkness about mid-December.

                I find the effects of the increase of light on my body and mind to be absolutely interesting. As the amount of daylight increases, my body and mind seem to come alive. I have a great increase in energy with a desire to clean my house from top to bottom, shine the windows, and let the sunshine into my home.

                This “coming alive” feeling is very real to me, and I believe it is very real to other people also. With the increasing light of spring, I can hardly keep myself inside the house. The “farmer’s blood” running in my veins wills me to go outside and dig in the soil. The feeling is almost overwhelming at times.

                The light and warmth of spring affects plants and people in immense ways. A one-time president of the Anchorage Alaska Temple said that he noticed how light affects people. In the winter hours when there is little light outside, the people tend to hang around inside the temple and visit with each other in the light of the temple. As the light increases outside, people tend to complete their desired temple work and leave immediately to enjoy the natural light outside.

                One of my daughters posted a link to this article about winter solstice. I found it so interesting that I decided to write a post about the solstice.

Is It Really Over Now?

                The presidential election was held six weeks ago on November 8, 2016, and Donald Trump was elected to be the next President of the United States. His election shocked everyone, including Trump himself, because the main stream media was claiming that Hillary Clinton won the election long before most of the votes were cast. Americans, liberal and conservative, watched in awe as state after state went to Trump.

                No sooner was the election called for Trump than large groups of protesters – encouraged by no other than Barack Obama - appeared in numerous cities. The protests were called “spontaneous” until knowledge spread that George Soros was paying them to dissent. The demonstrators turned into mobs and “peaceful marches” turned into riots. Private and public property was destroyed. The riots lasted several days until the protesters finally understood their protests were doing no good.

                The objections came because Clinton won more than 2.6 million more votes than Trump. She won the “popular vote” while Trump won the electoral vote. Since only the electoral votes count, the popular vote means nothing. Calls went out to eliminate the Electoral College and elect Presidents on a purely popular vote. As it turns out, if a popular vote determined the President this election, the voters in California would have determined the President of the entire United States.

                Liberals, both politicians and media and including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, continued to do everything they could to undermine Donald Trump. Recounts took place in several key states with hopes of finding more votes for Clinton and/or proving election fraud on the part of Republicans. The recounts did find voter fraud; however, it was on the part of Democrats.

                Meanwhile, Republican members of the Electoral College were being inundated by emails, telephone calls, letters through the U.S. Postal Service, and even threats calling for the electors to break with their states and vote for anyone but Trump. Members of the Electoral College met in all fifty states as well as Washington, D.C. on Monday, December 19, 2016. There were voters who switched their votes, but most of them were Democrats choosing to vote for anyone but Clinton.

                The vote by the Electoral College was the formal ending of the 2016 Presidential Election. With the exception of one or two dissensions, Republican electors voted for Trump, and he easily reached the 270 electoral votes needed and then added more votes. The results of the election will be certified by Congress on January 6, 2017, with the inauguration of a new President of the United States on January 20.

                I thought the hatred would decrease when the election results were made known. It did not, and it might have even increased. I again thought it would decrease with the vote by the Electoral College. It might, but there are still pockets of venom that are poisoning our nation. I had to unfriend an associate on Facebook because she admitted that she would continue to spew hatred. After reading her explanation, I decided that I could no longer tolerate seeing her bitterness on my Facebook page.

                No matter who we supported in the Primary or General Election, the people of the United States have selected a new President. If we do not like Trump, we should at least give him an opportunity to show that we chose wisely. If we made the wrong choice, then we need to do what we can to limit the damage he can do to our nation.

                I did not support or vote for Barack Obama in either 2008 or 2012. I listened to what he said, and I believed him. He obviously did not like the United States, and he was going to do whatever he could to destroy the nation. As soon as the announcement was made that he was the new President and Democrats controlled both the Senate and the House, I was fearful. I knew that there was no one who could/would stop him.

                The first real act of “fundamental change” was the government takeover of General Motors and Chrysler Motors. The shareholders lost their investments in the companies when Mr. Obama gave their shares to union members. Many Americans, including me, simply refused to purchase any vehicles made by “Government Motors.” The companies came very close to going under, and property values in Detroit went into free fall. People lost their jobs all over the nation, and the economy tanked.

                I was stunned at the speed and depth of the government takeover of private property, and I realized the plans had been in place long before the election. About six months later I began writing this blog with hopes that I could be instrumental in keeping Mr. Obama from a second term as President. I was very discouraged when he won a second time, and I began preparing myself and hopefully others for some really difficult times.

                Americans began to come to their senses and started voting for Republicans. Republicans took control of the U.S. House in 2010 and elected more Senators. In 2012 Republicans picked up more federal offices as well as state offices and legislatures. In 2014 Republicans took control of the Senate.

                There was lots of talk about Clinton winning the White House and Democrats taking control of the Senate in 2016. It turned out to be only talk. I have renewed faith in my fellow Americans who voted to end the “fundamental transformation” of the United States by stopping the liberals once again. I have renewed hope that we can eliminate the power of the secret combinations that have control of our government and bring peace and prosperity to our nation once again. Please join me in praying for the great nation of the United States of America.