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, April 30, 2016

What Is Truth?

                There are numerous instances in our lives when we wonder what is true. We often hear differing viewpoints from people around us or on the news - from fighting children to government officials to competing politicians.  What is the truth?

                President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented a talk titled “What Is Truth?” at a CES Devotional held in January 2013.  He shared a 100-year-old poem written by an American poet who “put to rhyme an ancient parable.”  The first verse of the poem says:

                “Six men of Indostan
                To learning much inclined.
                Who went to see the Elephant
                (Though all of them were blind),
                That each by observation
                Might satisfy his mind.

                “In the poem each of the six travelers takes hold of a different part of the elephant and then describes to the others what he has discovered.  One of the men finds the elephant’s leg and describes it as being round and rough like a tree.  Another feels the tusk and describes the elephant as a spear.  A third grabs the tail and insists the elephant is like a rope.  A fourth discovers the trunk and insists that the elephant is like a large snake.  Each is describing truth.  And because his truth comes from personal experience, each insists that he knows what he knows.  The poem concludes:

                “And so these men of Indostan
                Disputed loud and long,
                Each in his own opinion
                Exceeding stiff and strong,
                Though each was partly in the right,
                And all were in the wrong.”

                “We look at this story from a distance and smile.  After all, we know what an elephant looks like.  We have read about them and watched them on film, and many of us have even seen one with our own eyes.  We believe we know the truth of what an elephant is.  That someone could make a judgment based on one aspect of truth and apply it to the whole seems absurd or even unbelievable.  On the other hand, can’t we recognize ourselves in these six blind men?  Have we ever been guilty of the same pattern of thought?”

                The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith the reality of truth:  “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come:
                “And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar form the beginning.
                “The Spirit of truth is of God…” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24-26).

                President Uchtdorf continued, “So often the `truths’ we tell ourselves are merely fragments of the truth, and sometimes they’re not really the truth at all.

                “Today I would like to speak of truth.  As I do, I invite you to ponder a few important questions.  The first question is `What is truth?’  The second, `Is it really possible to know the truth?’ And third, `How should we react to things that contradict truths which we have learned previously?’

                President Uchtdorf told a story about Ignaz Semmelweis, a doctor who practiced medicine in Hungary in the mid-19th century.  Dr. Semmelweis learned that ten percent of the women who came to his clinic died from “childbed fever” while only four percent died at a nearby clinic.  He investigated the two clinics and came to the conclusion there was only one major difference between them:  his clinic did autopsies and the doctors went from examining corpses to delivering babies.  He concluded that the doctors were carrying contamination on their hands and insisted that the doctors in his clinic wash their hands before delivering babies.  The death rate from childbed fever dropped by 90 percent, but even with this “evidence,” there were many doctors who did not believe it.

                Truth is “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.”  Truth is “true even if nobody believes it.”  There is absolute truth, and we can find it if we seek for it earnestly.  “Over the centuries many wise men and women – through logic, reason, scientific inquiry, and, yes, through inspiration – have discovered truth.  These discoveries have enriched mankind, improved our lives, and inspired joy, wonder, and awe.
                “Even so, the things we once thought we knew are continually being enhanced, modified, or even contradicted by enterprising scholars who seek to understand truth.”

                A few months ago there was a vigorous discussion about whether or not we should vaccinate children.  Even though I believe vaccinations save lives, I questioned whether I had done the right thing with my children and worried about my grandchildren.  I got caught up in the discussion and soon could feel the tension growing in me as I sought the truth.  I decided that there was only one place that I could go to learn the truth about vaccinations.  I went to the Lord to present my problem and came away from our discussion with the truth.  I had confirmation from God that vaccinations save lives, and I never worried about the situation again.

                The Holy Ghost testifies of truth.  “The Witness of truth from the Holy Ghost is available to all, everywhere, all around the globe.  All who seek to know the truth, who study it out in their minds, and who `ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, [will know] the truth … by the power of the Holy Ghost….
                “If you follow the Spirit, your personal search for the truth inevitably leads you to the Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ, for He is `the way, the truth, and the life.’  This may not be the most convenient way; it will probably also be the road less traveled, and it will be the path with mountains to climb, swift rivers to cross, but it will be His way – the Savior’s redeeming way….

                “I ask you to spare no efforts in your search to know this truth [that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God] for yourself – because this truth will make your free.”

Friday, April 29, 2016

Children of God

                Individuals, communities, and nations are strengthened when we understand that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us and watches over us. Heavenly Father has a plan for how His children can gain experience here in mortality and prepare to return to His presence.  He also has a plan for each individual and can help us reach the potential in us.

                The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
                “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).

                Paul understood that we can qualify to be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ in inheriting all that the Father has.  He also knew how we can qualify – by keeping the commandments of God.

                In the spring of 1840, Lorenzo Snow, who later became the fourth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, received by personal revelation the following idea:  “As man now is, God once was:  As God now is, man may be.”  He did not publicly teach the “sacred communication” until he knew the Prophet Joseph Smith was teaching it. 

                The Prophet Joseph taught:  “God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret.  If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make Himself visible, - I say, if you were to see Him today, you would see Him like a man in form – like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another….”

                When one prophet quotes another prophet, we should pay attention.  The Prophet Joseph Smith taught nearly the same words as those of President Lorenzo Snow; President Spencer W. Kimball and President Gordon B. Hinckley quoted the statement of President Snow. Four different prophets have taught the truth that we are children of God.  I know this is a true teaching.

                In the October 1994 General Conference President Hinckley said, “On the other hand, the whole design of the gospel is to lead us onward and upward to greater achievement, even, eventually, to godhood.  This great possibility was enunciated by the Prophet Joseph Smith… and emphasized by President Lorenzo Snow.  It is this grand and incomparable concept:  As God now is, man may become!”

                President Kimball said in the April 1977 General Conference, “God has taken these intelligences, given to them spirit bodies, and given them instructions and training.  The he proceeded to create a world for them and sent them as spirits to obtain a mortal body, for which he made preparation.  And when they were upon the earth, he gave them instructions on how to go about developing and conducting their lives to make them perfect, so they could return to their Father in heaven after their transitions.  Then came the periods of time when souls were to be placed upon the earth and born to parents who were permitted to furnish the bodies.  But no parent has ever yet on this earth been the parent of a spirit, because we are so far yet from perfection.  Remember what was aid a while ago, that `As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.’ They came with the definite understanding that they could return to become like God and go forward in their great development and progress.”

                Every person who has born onto this earth – and upon other worlds without number – is a child of God.  Each of us has the potential in us to become like our Father in Heaven. He has a plan for our eternal happiness and wants us to reach that goal. As part of His plan, God created this earth in order for us to gain physical bodies and experience needed to become like Him.  I know the plan of salvation is a true doctrine of God. I know we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by believing and teaching that we are all children of God.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Freedom of Speech

                Some states are fighting back against protesters who attempt to shut down speakers on college campuses.  I say, it is about time.  Education facilities, of all places, should be open to all ideas.  How can one become educated without hearing opposing ideas and having the opportunity to choose between them?

                North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest submitted a proposal that will affect all 17 of the state’s public university campuses.  He wants to create a policy that would include punishment for “those who interrupt the free expression of others.”  Six other states are proposing policies to protect free speech on college campuses.

                Forest’s office issued a statement declaring that no one has “the right to interrupt the speech, shout over the speaker, or otherwise prevent others from listening to the speech” of any speaker invited by a student group to speak on campus. 

                I applaud North Carolina and the six other states that are making a stand against campus bullies who have been shutting down freedom of speech.  I hope other states will follow their lead and shut down the bullies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Love the LDS Church

                What do you know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?  Would you like to know more?  Greg Trimble wrote about one “concept” of the Church that earned his love.

                Trimble wrote, “There are a lot of reasons why I love the LDS Church but there’s one concept in particular that I love more than any other.  This one concept that I’ve fallen in love with in Mormonism is foreign to all other Christian churches and religions.  This concept is doctrinally denounced by the Christian leaders of the world.  Pastors and priests don’t teach it at all.  In fact they teach against it based on their traditions and understanding of the scriptures.  But I learned by experience … that this concept, this doctrine, this truth, is burning bright in the hearts of those people who attend those churches.”

                What is the doctrine?  Why do members of other churches believe the doctrine when their pastors and priests teach against it?  The doctrine is that families can be sealed together for all eternity if sealed by proper authority in the House of the Lord – or temple.  Why do people believe this doctrine even though they hear speeches condemning it?  They believe it because they are children of God.  They heard this doctrine in their pre-earth life, and the belief is still a part of them.  Almost all people want to be with their loved ones forever.  The Lord has provided a way for us to do so.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Work Is Better Than Handouts

                What happens when states stop handouts and require residents to work for what they get?  More than a year ago we learned that Maine acted in favor of work over entitlement.  The state instituted a work requirement and watched its caseload plummet by 80 percent.  There were 13,332 recipients in December 2014 and only 2,678 in March 2015.

                Now another state has reinstated work requirements for food stamps.  Before Kansas changed the requirement, "93 percent of food stamp recipients were in poverty, with 84 percent in severe poverty….
                “Once work requirements were established, thousands of food stamp recipients moved into the workforce, promoting income gains and a decrease in poverty.  Forty percent of the individuals who left the food stamp ranks found employment within three months, and about 60 percent found employment within a year.  They saw an average income increase of 127 percent….” 

                The experiences in these two states prove that people will take entitlements without work but will be better off financially by working for what they need.  I hope more states wise up and reestablish work requirements.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Spring Has Arrived!

                Spring is on my mind!  I cannot seem to think about anything else and decided I might as well write about spring and why I love it so much.

                #1 I love escaping from the confines of the house.  Winter in Alaska is cold and dark.  Each fall I have the desire to fill my tummy and hibernate for the winter.  I try to stay busy, but I do not go outside any more often than needed.  I do not like the dark, and I hate being cold.  Spring causes me to shed my heavy coats and boots and enjoy being outside.

                #2 I love light and warmth.  I feel myself coming to life again in early March as I can feel the sun returning to the northern skies.  I find it interesting to recognize that light has an actual physical effect on my body.  I remember my childhood on the farm and the freedom I felt as I ran through the fields still wet from the freshly melted snow.  The March winds were still brisk and chilly, but they could not stop me from coming to life again.

                #3 I love seeing the various signs that spring has arrived.  I enjoy watching the birch trees outside my kitchen window as the buds start to swell and the leaves emerge.  An old sourdough expression is that Alaskans can plant when the leaves of the birch trees are the size of a squirrel’s ear.

                #4 I love to see growth.  I planted daffodils by the foundation of my home where the returning sun warms the soil.  This is the first place that I see growth each spring.  Sometimes the leaves get nipped by cold temperatures, but the flowers are always beautiful.  These bright yellow flowers are my sign that spring has arrived!  I love to see the grass turning green and other plants start to grow.

                #5 I love working in the soil.  I remember the first spring I lived in Alaska and the snow in the backyard was still several feet deep.  One day I noticed a spot of bare soil located in the corner where the deck met the wall of the house.  I could not resist the urge to feel the soil.  I knew at that time that I have “farmer’s blood” running through my veins, and I understood how Scarlett felt in the novel Gone with the Wind when she returned to her family’s plantation and felt the soil of Tara in her hand.

                I will most likely write more about this topic at a later time.  For now, this is enough to satisfy me because I am driven by the urge to get outside and work in my yard.  Happy Spring to you!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Second Amendment

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” 

                Liberals continue to insist that the Second Amendment does not give Americans the right to own and use guns.  Chelsea Clinton is currently claiming that the Second Amendment will be “gutted” now that Justice Antonin Scalia is no longer on the Supreme Court to protect the law.  The threat to the Second Amendment is real.

                Mark Alexander at the Patriot Post posted an excellent article outlining the dangerous situation involving the Second Amendment.  He reminded his readers that the current occupant of the White House “announced his primary objective for this last year in office:  undermining the Second Amendment on the pretense of `solving’ America’s `gun problem’” and “directly referenced confiscation of guns as the centerpiece of that agenda.”  Later he accused the gun lobby as “holding Congress hostage right now, but they cannot hold America hostage….  We can find the courage to cut through all the noise and do what a sensible country would do.”

                Why would any sensible person want Americans to be disarmed? History has proven time after time that “disarming citizens has resulted in everything but civilized or sensible countries.  In fact, only one nation has ensured by its law of incorporation, that an armed citizenry is the only way to both ensure and sustain a civilized and sensible government.”

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Doctrine of the Family

                Have you ever heard of the doctrine of the family – sometimes called the theology of the family? The doctrine of the family is carefully and plainly explained in “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World.” Anyone reading this document should be able to see clearly the importance of the family in this world and in the world to come.

                When President Gordon B. Hinckley read the proclamation in a general Relief Society meeting in September 1995, he said that the proclamation was “a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices” that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had always taught.  Joseph Smith understood this doctrine when he was only 17 years old.

                Prophets and apostles have taught these “standards, doctrines, and practices” at various times throughout the history of the Church. In 1980, President Spencer W. Kimball said, “From the beginning, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has emphasized family life.  We have always understood that the foundations of the family, as an eternal unit, were laid even before this earth was created!  Society without basic family life is without foundation and will disintegrate into nothingness.
                “Therefore, whenever anything so basic as the eternal family is imperiled, we have a solemn obligation to speak out, lest there be critical damage to the family institution by those who seem to be deliberately destructive of it.” (See “Families Can Be Eternal,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 4) 

                The “family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”  (See “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World.”)  God has a plan for us and it involves marriage between a man and a woman and their family throughout eternity.

                In Genesis, we read that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them,” and then God commanded them to be “fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (1:27-28). This was God’s first commandment to Adam and Eve, and it remains in force today.   God created us as male and female in order to provide bodies for His other spirit children.

                God’s plan for the eternal happiness of His children was created for eternal families.  Otherwise, there would be no reason for the Creation of the earth, the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  We are taught that “the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming” (Joseph Smith – History 1:39) if families are not sealed together for eternity.  The family cannot possibly be an “accident” or a “mistake” because it is part of God’s plan for our eternal happiness.  This is the doctrine of the family.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Proclamation to the World

                Families, communities, and nations can be strengthened by studying and following the counsel given in a document known as the Proclamation on the Family.             I am taking a course titled “The Eternal Family” for my religion class this semester and will be studying this Proclamation in depth.  As is my usual practice, I will share what I learn with my readers.

                The official title of the Proclamation is “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World—The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  This document was presented to the women of the Church in September 1995 and published to the world in November 1995.

                President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency delivered an address titled “The Family” to the Brigham Young University student body on November 5, 1995.  He discussed each part of the Proclamation in his talk, beginning with the title.

                “Three things about the title are worth our careful reflection.  First, the subject:  the family.  Second, the audience, which is the whole world.  And third, those who proclaimed are those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. That means that the family must be as important to us as anything we can consider, that what the proclamation says could help anyone in the world, and that the proclamation fits the Lord’s promise when he said, `Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same’ (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38).
                “Before we start to listen to the words of the proclamation together, the title tells us something about how to prepare.  We can expect that God won’t just tell us a few interesting things about the family; he will tell us what a family ought to be and why....”

                I found this proclamation interesting for several reasons:  (1) The Church has issued very few proclamations to the world in its 186 years of existence.  I believe this proclamation was number five or six.
(2) It was issued in 1995, more than 20 years ago and previous to the destruction of the family that has taken place in the past 5-10 years.  (3) It contains two warnings, one to individuals who fail to fulfill their marriage and family responsibilities and one about the effects of the disintegration of the family.

                I will be sharing what I learn about the Proclamation over the next three months.  I know this Proclamation is the word of God. I hope my readers will pay attention to the words of prophets and apostles and use their influence to strengthen their own families and those of others.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Five for Freedom

                According to Glenn Beck, Senator Ted Cruz would do the following five things if elected to the office of President of the United States.  Beck claims that President Cruz would establish more freedom by activating his “Five for Freedom” plan.  This is the plan:  (1) Abolish the IRS, (2) Abolish the Department of Education, (3) Abolish the Department of Energy, (4) Abolish the Department of Commerce, and (5) Abolish the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

                I went to the Ted Cruz site to get more information and found this quote:  “We should shrink the size and power of the federal government by every and any means possible.  What does that mean?  That means eliminating unnecessary or unconstitutional agencies.”  (Ted Cruz)

                The first thing I learned is that “Five for Freedom” is only one five reforms to “break apart the federal leviathan that has ruled Washington and crept into our lives.  Once we dramatically reduce the size of government – paired with fundamental tax reform and regulatory reform – we will reignite the promise that has made this the freest and most prosperous nation in the world.
                “To start the process of reducing the scope and cost of government, I will institute the following five reforms, which are estimated to save more than $500 billion over 10 years:  (1) Five for Freedom – abolish 4 unnecessary cabinet agencies and the IRS.  (2) 25 Federal “ABCs” – eliminate 25 Agencies, Bureaus, Commissions, and other programs.  (3) Grace Commission 2.0 – reinstitute President Reagan’s Panel on Cost Control (“The Grace Commission”) to identify waste and inefficiency.  (4) Congressional accountability – amend the Constitution to require Congress and the President to balance the budget, and enact the REINS act.  (5) Federal hiring freeze and reform – institute a freeze on the hiring of federal civilian employees across the executive branch and reform automatic worker raises.  [This would account for an] Estimated Savings of Over $500,000,000,000 in 10 years.”

                To reach his goal, make the five reforms, and save the estimated $500,000,000,000, President Cruz would take the following actions: 

1.  “Five for Freedom:  During my first year, I will fight to abolish the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  To do that, I will press Congress relentlessly.  And I will appoint heads of each of those agencies whose central charge will be to lead the effort to wind them down and determine whether any programs need to be preserved elsewhere because they fall within the proper purview of the federal government.  I do not anticipate lists to be long.”
                Senator Cruz then goes step by step through the five agencies, explaining why they need to be abolished and how much money they waste.

2.  “Twenty-five federal `ABCs’:  The rate at which we are spending is unsustainable.  And federal programs often fail to support their purported beneficiaries while instead propping up special interests.  There are far too many members of Congress who willingly hand out special favors to select industries and friends.
                “Let’s break the Washington Cartel and restore power to the people.  Let’s stop handing over billions to federal favorites.  We will sharply reduce the alphabet soup of government entities, beginning with the `ABC’s that should not exist in the first place:  The Agencies, Bureaus, Commissions, and other programs that are constitutionally illegitimate and harmful to American households and businesses.  The following 25 ABCs are emblematic of the types of government functions I will examine, downsize, and reform to limit federal overreach.  But these are just a start.”

3.  “Grace Commission 2.0:  In 1982 President Reagan brought together a group of business leaders, led by J. Peter Grace, to assess federal spending levels and evaluate areas of waste and fraud.  The members of the Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, commonly referred to as the Grace Commission, worked like `bloodhounds,’ as President Reagan described, to improve government efficiency.  The business leaders’ report recommended 2,478 `cost-cutting, revenue-enhancing’ suggestions, without raising taxes, weakening defense, or harming social welfare.  As Chairman Grace recognized then, `every dollar we can stop spending is a dollar that the government does not need to borrow.’  Never has that been more needed than today.  Grace Commission 2.0 will apply business principles to government spending, and ensure civil servants are actually doing what the title suggests.”

4.  “Congressional Accountability”
                a. “Balanced Budget Amendment:  A strong balanced budget amendment is necessary to get back to fiscal responsibility, stop bankrupting our kids and grandkids, and keep Congress accountable to the American people….”

                b. “REINS Act:  In 1996, Congress attempted to gain control over federal regulations through the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  Since then, agencies have added 60,000 federal regulations, and only one has been undone through the CRA.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates that Americans paid a total of $1.86 trillion in federal compliance cost in 2013, which averages to $15,000 of hidden regulatory cost per household each year.  President Obama’s regulations alone cost an additional $80 billion annually.
                “The REINS Act will stop giving Congress a backdoor to expanding federal expenses without as much as a yea or nay.  The REINS Act requires Congress to approve of any regulation or major rule that will have economic impact of $100 million or more and ensure that Congress does not unlawfully delegate its authority to unelected bureaucrats.  As President, I will press Congress to pass the REINS Act, and will sign it into law.”

5.  “Federal Hiring Freeze and Reform:  A Cruz Administration will institute a freeze on the hiring of new federal civilian employees across the executive branch; no vacant positions at this point may be automatically back-filled; no new positions may be created; and no circumvention will be allowed through the hiring of contractors.
                “For those agencies in which it is determined that a vacant position needs to be filled, I will authorize the hiring of a maximum ratio of one person for every three who leave.
                “I will also reduce the annual across-the-board adjustment for federal civilian pay so that rather than receiving automatic yearly raises, federal workers would have more opportunities for merit-based pay increases.
                “The federal civilian workforce exceeds 2 million workers and costs the taxpayers more than $260 billion each year in wages and benefits.  Since the 1990s, compensation of federal workers has outpaced that of private-sector workers; on average, federal workers make 78 percent more than private-sector employees.
                “Through natural attrition, and spending restraint, we can meaningfully downsize the federal government over time so that we are no longer bankrupting our children and grandchildren.  With a commitment to the common-sense prudence that any responsible family or small business must demonstrate – and a willingness to take on the cronyism of the Washington Cartel – we can reverse the disastrous spending and debt in Washington.  And a Cruz Administration will do exactly that.”

                This all sounds good to me.  I think I will vote for Ted Cruz and hope that he can accomplish his goals.  I believe that none of these goals will be made by any of the other presidential candidates.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Time Is Now

                Four years ago Americans had the opportunity to elect Mitt Romney as the President of the United States; however, the majority of voters elected Barack Obama for a second term.  There is little doubt in the minds of most Americans that an unwise decision was made and the wrong person was elected.

                Now Americans have another opportunity to make a wise decision and put a real leader in the White House.  “America is great because America is good” (Author Unknown).  Americans can elect a leader who will bring unity to the nation, strength to our military, and support to our allies. 

                I believe that leader is Ted Cruz!  I listened to a speech he gave yesterday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I liked what I heard because Ted Cruz sounds presidential to me!  Please listen to his speech and see if you agree.  The time is now to make a wise decision and put a real leader in the White House!

Here is the transcript to Cruz’s speech, but you should listen to the speech:
Thank you so very much Carly for your incredible friendship and leadership. God bless New York and God bless the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
I am so excited to share with you what America has learned over the past few months.  And it has nothing to do with a politician tonight winning his home state. It has everything to do with what we’ve seen in the towns and faces that have been weathered with trouble, joblessness, and fear. It is what we learned looking at the factories that have been shuttered and the hearts that are closing.
We have learned that America is at a point of choosing. The media will say it is about choosing a president.
But it really isn’t. Our real choice is personal, and every generation must make the same choice. Will we continue to live in the past with what we know no longer works, or will we move forward to a new and better place?
The people in state after state have made it clear. They cry out for a new path.
This is the year of the outsider. I am an outsider, Bernie Sanders is an outsider. Both with the same diagnosis, but both with very different paths to healing. Millions of Americans have chosen one of these outsiders.
Our campaigns don’t find our fuel in bundlers and special interests, but rather directly from the people. The wide-eyed youth of any age that haven’t given up on the hope that tomorrow can and will be better.
Ronald Reagan and Jack Kennedy were outsiders.  They both represented a whole new vision and vibrancy.
A new generation of ideas. Jack Kennedy looked forward instead of back to the first half century of world war.
He knew that America could dream and build if we were set free. Not tanks for war, but rockets for exploration.
Reagan looked out – to us – the most powerful force for innovation that the world has ever known:
There we found the new tech pioneers like Bill Gates and a young Steve Jobs. They had vision and the freedom to build a new world that that at the time only THEY saw and because they were free. They challenged the way and changed the way all of us live, work, and interact.
Now it is our turn. This generation must first look inward to see who we really are, after years of being beaten down. Years of being told we couldn’t, shouldn’t, or wouldn’t.
This generation needs to answer a new set of questions. Can we? Should we? Will we?
Are we still those people? Those dreamers and doers?  Are America’s greatest generations in our past?
Or are our best days yet ahead?
We must unite the Republican Party because doing so is the first step toward uniting all Americans.
The question is not whether all Americans can or will agree on a majority of issues all of the time. The question is whether a majority of Americans are hungry to rally around a set of principles larger than any single issue that a politician may use to divide us.
Tonight, I’m speaking to you from Philadelphia. It’s natural, when we talk about our Nation’s earliest days, that we focus our attention on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. And we can learn a great deal about a path forward by focusing on the passionate disputes and disagreements among our founding fathers — differences that were put aside only because of the weight and consequence of the foundational principles they sought to proclaim and the price to be paid if they failed to rise to the task.
Today, as Republicans, we agree on a lot. And sure, areas of lesser agreement exist as well. But on the fundamental question: are we satisfied with the current direction of our country; we speak with one voice.
I call on you, as JFK did in the 60’s. And as Reagan did in the 80’s. To chart a new American journey forward.
One that isn’t led by me or anyone in Washington, but by you. And millions of others just like you.
One where we still have differences, yet we choose to concentrate on what we have in common.
One that lifts others up and believes in the rights, responsibilities, goodness, and strength of all mankind.
We have so much that binds us together: our families, our work ethic, our ability to dream and build unlike any people in history. But most of all our charity, our love for our fellow men and women and our willingness to sacrifice for those in need.
Let us unite…on the things that have always made us great. We are great because we are good.
Because over and over again we have chosen courage in the moments of crisis; freedom in the face of compromise; and hope in the face of challenges that everyone told us could not be overcome.
Our sitting president ran on a slogan that should have been a great first step…
It promised us, “yes we can.” Now is the time to take that slogan and put it into action. “Yes we can” was a recognition of the hope that we can and should recover. The problem was that Barack Obama’s prescriptions only led to more elitist control from Washington. Less freedom for the People.
But now is the time, as Americans, to once again reclaim that hope. To take another giant leap for mankind.
To speak the words with all the power and might that we can muster and use the words that have changed the world time and again. The words that the slaves yearned to hear from the American people and Abraham Lincoln when they cried out for freedom. The words, that Europe and Britain heard when they cried out for help defeating totalitarian evil in the 1940’s.The words that led two men in North Carolina to be the first in flight.
And half a century later the first man to reach the moon. And decades later, two men in their garage to come up with Apple.
They are the words that will repair our tattered spirit, lift up our economy and those who are barely making it, they are the words that will vanquish the evil of ISIS and return the rule of law. They are the words that when Americans come together and say with conviction – they change the world.
They are the vision of this campaign:  Not yes we can, but now: Yes we will. We will restore our spirit;
We will free our minds and imagination; We will create a new and better world; We will bring back jobs, freedom, and security; We will find new ways to ignite an energy revolution with more jobs and greater choices;
We will defeat the evil of Islamists and ISIS; We will live as neighbors, friends, and family in peace once again;
We will heal the sick, feed the poor, and defend the defenseless; We will restore our rightful place in the world.
We will do what Americans do best. We will live for others – we will change the world through the hope of freedom’s enduring promise. And our unrelenting spirit.
You can be empowered, and in a digital age it is all the easier for your voice to be heard. Your choices to govern your work, your education, your future. If only Washington will get out of the way.
Join me on this journey of less talk and more action because I know you. You may have been knocked down, but America has always been best when she is lying down with her back on the mat and the crowd has given the final count. It is time for us to get up, shake it off and be who we were destined to be. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
Here is the truth: You don’t need me or any politician. But we do need each other, all of us, coming together as one, as We the People, because not only do we say – yes WE can, beginning here and now we pledge to each and every one of us, yes we will. And now my friends, onward to victory.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Basic Writing

                I started another semester in my Pathway studies.  My academic class is ENG 106:  Basic Writing; it is supposed to teach me how to write the basics of effective sentences, paragraphs, and short essays.  Completing this course will give me three elective credits at BYU-Idaho.  The class will run for fourteen weeks and has the following objectives.

                . Think, speak, and write critically about meaningful topics that affect your life.
                . Discover truth, beauty, and enjoyment through writing.
                . Share your thoughts and writings with fellow classmates, thus creating a real sense of audience (and                                           community) while developing interpersonal skills.
                . Analyze examples of effective and ineffective writing in order to emulate what works and avoid what                                       doesn’t work.
                . Understand how audience and purpose guides style, content, and organization in writing.
                . Generate a thesis and organize relevant support using rhetorical strategies appropriate for the context.
                . Use principles of free-writing, drafting, revision and editing to achieve polished prose.
                . Identify and correct common, sentence-level errors.

                I am a little divided on my feelings about this class.  On one hand, I hope to learn much that will help me in furthering my education and in writing better posts for my blog.  On the other hand, I hope that my previous posts have been interesting and not too difficult to read and understand.  You, my dear readers, will be the judge.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Boston Marathon

                Today was the 120th running of the Boston Marathon; both the men’s winner and the women’s winner were from Ethiopia.  There were thousands of people running in the 26.2-mile race, including 60 Alaskans.  This number most likely did not include my daughter since she no longer lives in Alaska.  I was relieved to see a picture of her after she completed the race; then I knew for sure that she had survived it!  I am very pleased with her accomplishment, but I am more pleased that the race is over and she is safe.  Right now I am hoping and praying that she finds her driver’s license and/or is able to get on the airplane to fly home!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Take Care Clause

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the “Take Care Clause.”  This clause is currently being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.

                Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times said that some scholars call this clause “the Constitution’s charge to presidents to `take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’  That clause has been read to be both empowering to presidents, emboldening them with independent authority to see through the execution of laws, but also as a check – that, in the end, he carry out laws rather than write them.”   

                Continuing, Dinan wrote, “The Constitution was ratified more than two centuries ago, and in all that time no president had ever tested the limits of executive power enough to force the Supreme Court to rule whether he has lived up to the founders’ command that the laws be `faithfully executed.’
                “Until now.           
                “When the justices convene Monday morning, they will hear what is shaping up to be the biggest case of the term, and perhaps one of the most consequential in a generation, as they consider whether President Obama has overstepped his constitutional powers by trying to grant a tentative deportation amnesty to up to 5 million illegal immigrants."

                “`In 225 years, the Supreme Court has never had occasion to ask the president whether he has reneged on his oath to take care that the laws are faithfully executed.  However, with pens and phones replacing checks and balances, the Supreme Court is now poised to break new constitutional ground in order to preserve our embattled separation of powers,’ said Josh Blackman, associate professor at the South Texas College of Law, who has followed the case from the start and filed amicus briefs opposing Mr. Obama’s claim of powers.”

                Twenty-five states, led by Texas, are “arguing that they suffered economic harm from the amnesty and that it would likely lead to even more illegal immigrants.  The states said Mr. Obama broke administrative law and immigration law, and violated the Constitution.
                “Lower courts sided with the states and halted the amnesty on statutory grounds, and never reached the constitutional questions.  But the justices, in what Mr. Blackman said was a first, asked both sides to also file briefs on the Take Care Clause.”

                You can read more details of the case here.  This sounds like a case we need to watch.  It may be a “bell weather” case in telling us the direction our nation will go.  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Chosen Leaders

                Are you among the people who wonder why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by elderly men?  I have never had this question.  I guess I have always understood what President Gordon B. Hinckley told Mike Wallace when he asked a similar question on the national television news program “60 Minutes.”  President Hinckley said, “Isn’t it wonderful to have a man of maturity at the head, a man of judgment who isn’t blown about by every wind of doctrine?” (broadcast on April 7, 1996).

                Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on this topic in the November 2015 General Conference.  He gave the above quote from President Hinckley and then said, “My purpose is to explain why indeed it is wonderful to have older men of great spiritual maturity and judgment serving in the senior leadership positions of the restored Church of Jesus Christ – and why we should `hear’ and `hearken’ (Mosiah 2:9) to the teachings of these men whom the Lord has `chosen to bear testimony of [His] name… among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people’ (Doctrine and Covenants 112:1).”

                Elder Bednar explained that he had “been the youngest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in terms of chronological age.  During my years of service, the average age of the men serving in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has been 77 years – the oldest average age of the Apostles over an 11-year interval in this dispensation.
                “I have been blessed by the collective apostolic, personal, and professional experience and insight of the quorum members with whom I serve.”

                Elder Bednar then proceeded to share an experience he had with Elder Robert D. Hales.  He said that he spent a Sunday afternoon with Elder Hales several years ago while he was recuperating from a serious illness.  He asked the older Apostle:  “You have been a successful husband, father, athlete, pilot, business executive, and Church leader.  What lessons have you learned as you have grown older and been constrained by decreased physical capacity?
                “Elder Hales paused for a moment and responded, `When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.’
                “I was struck by the simplicity and comprehensiveness of his answer.  My beloved apostolic associate shared with me a lesson of a lifetime – a lesson learned through the crucible of physical suffering and spiritual searching.”

                I was particularly touched by this counsel from Elder Hales because I find that I cannot do all that I used to be able to do.  I too have learned that I have to set priorities in my life and do those things that matter most first.  Then I can do other things if my time, effort, and stamina are sufficient to accomplish more.

                Elder Bednar shares counsel that he has learned from other members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  I gained a lot of motivation when I read Elder Bednar’s talk this week.  I hope you will also read it once again to learn from this humble Apostle of the Lord.