Change is in the Air

20151124_141035-1The world around us is changing, as it does each year. The sun rises later and sets earlier, temperatures fall, flowers fade, and trees drop their leaves. Autumn brings these changes.

This year, as it does every four years, our country is in the thrall of elections. I think the election cycle is worse this time than ever before, at least in my memory. The ugliness of the rhetoric and awfulness of the diatribes against opponents overwhelms the airwaves. In our family we mute the commercials in an effort to ignore the political advertisements. We often resort to putting in a movie or turning to Netflix or a movie channel.

Rarely does the advertisement include anything positive about the candidate, the good things they have done, the proposals they make for the future of our country, how they propose to help the voters. It just isn’t there. How can we take any of them seriously?

I’ve been finishing my (hopefully) final edits on my book, Eve, First Matriarch. As I’ve read through her story once more, I yearn for the quiet days without politics. I dream of a day in the near future when we are once again led by men and women who have our best interests to direct them, who pray for guidance, and who trust us to do the right thing. That day will come once more, though I fear not soon enough.

Perhaps this is the reason apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic books are so popular today. We fear for our future, we feel a change for the worse, we sense our political leaders have everything except our best interest as directions, and we sense the worst for the future of our country and planet. What if it happens? What happens then? It drives our fears and books and movies that are produced.

I believe some of this worst will happen, though I refrain from predicting when that will occur. Perhaps that’s why I read and watch some of the post-apocalyptic stories. However, I believe the ending will be different, the resolution happier than predicted by these stories. I believe in the hope foreseen by Eve and her beloved Adam. All will be well in the end. The great Jehovah’s plan will be completed as envisioned.

Until then, I don’t watch or read political advertisements.

Gone, But Not Forgotten

It’s Fall, already!20151124_141035-1

This summer has been tough for me and this blog. Between physical therapy, surgeries, for both me and my husband, and unexpected travel, I haven’t been very consistent. Now the days are cooler and shorter, and quieter. My plan is to resume writing on a weekly basis.

Eve, First Matriarch is closer to publication, as are books 2 and 3 in the series, Ancient Matriarchs. I (hope) I am on the last edit before preparing for publication. It takes longer, almost, than the original rough draft.

I am working on a short story to give to followers of my newsletter. When it is ready, everyone who is a current reader will receive a copy, as will any who subscribe in the future.

I look forward to sharing with you. Those who receive my newsletter receive news of publication first. If you haven’t subscribed, go to the top right corner of this writing and share your email address with me. Then, look for the short story and regular Weekly Musings.

See you there!

Should Kaepernick Kneel?

20150914_185748Last week the news was filled with outrage that Colin Kaepernick would choose not to stand for the National Anthem at the beginning of football games. He stated that he refused to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” In my city, many were outraged at his lack of respect.

Today, another sports figure chose to take a knee during the National Anthem in solidarity with Kaepernick. I’m certain the outrage will continue.

I do not agree with his reasons for not standing. I admit there continues to be some bias towards people of color. The media has highlighted excessive force, especially that force directed toward black people.

Excessive force is not appropriate, no matter who the offender is, no matter the color of their skin. Unfortunately, it happens to offenders of all nationalities. Though some say that the best way to avoid excessive force is to obey the laws, that is not always true. Some are treated badly, regardless of their actions.

I suspect refusing to stand for the National Anthem is a more responsible action than targeting random police officers for murder or participating in riots and destroying property belonging to others.

One of the benefits of living in the United States is the right to choose. We cannot choose which laws to obey or disregard, but we do have freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We all have the right to choose to stand,or not stand, for the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem. Kaepernick has a right to show his frustration by not standing.

Eve and Adam carefully protected the rights of their children to choose, even when those children chose things they did not like. As I wrote about their struggle with this, Eve and Adam discussed what they could do.

Though they wanted to insist, to force their children to obey the commands they were given when leaving Eden, they could not. Forcing them would be acting like the Destroyer, taking away their rights to choose. In order to allow agency, they had to accept alternate choices.

In the case of Kaepernick, we must allow him the same opportunity, to choose a behavior many of us would p

Olympic Swimmers Example for Selfishness

[Note: Multiple levels of chaos in my home have prevented me from writing for the last several weeks. If you looked for something new from me in these weeks, I apologize.]

The 2016 Rio Olympics are coming to a close. We have watched Ryan Phelps swim like a Merman, Usain Bolt race across the track with fleetest feet, and Simone Biles twist and turn in gymnastics in ways no human body normally moves on her way to Gold. Even beach volley ball and soccer left us in awe of the abilities of the many athletes.

Not all gold medal winners left us with feelings of awe. The men’s swimming 4x100m relay was magnificent to watch, as Ryan Lochte and his team mates swam to win the gold medal. Unfortunately, their drunken celebration led to problems at a Rio gas station, a false police report, and trouble with the police. Ryan skipped back to the U.S. out of reach of the Brazilian courts, leaving his three team mates to face the judge.

The behavior of this swimming team casts the United States in a poor light when we should be able to shine and feel proud of our athletes and their Olympic performance. It is beyond sad that the selfishness of four has hurt the respectability of hundreds of other athletes.

This behavior is symptomatic of the behavior of too many people, not only in the United States, but throughout the world. Too many people put their selfish wants and desires above those of others. I see it daily on the roads and freeways as drivers weave through traffic, putting everyone else in danger, to get down the road faster. Families are denied housing because of their financial status, regardless of their ability to pay. People help themselves to their employers financial accounts, enriching themselves at other’s expense. Others take with little thought of gratitude, expecting what is not even theirs by right.

Businesses are no better. I have seen banks take money from small account holders, attempt to steal homes using false claims of non-payment, and destroy individuals and companies as they manipulate their accounts. Other businesses compete with banks in their lack of treating people humanely.

This week in California, homes were burned along the San Bernadino mountains, and while the owners of the homes at risk for burning were forcibly evacuated, looters entered their home and stole their things, using the truck of the home owner to transport the stolen items. I haven’t heard of looters in the Louisiana flooding, but I am sure some selfish people have looted homes evacuated due to the flooding.

What is it about our world today that makes so many people so incredibly selfish? How is it that so many consider only personal wants without thinking how their actions may affect others, sometimes lots of others?

In almost every facet of life in the United States, selfishness rules. I can think of few places where altruism and free gifting of one’s self is the rule, rather than the exception. Some individuals and groups try, though none have succeeded completely.

I believe there are individuals and families who seek to be more giving and less selfish. I also believe that goodness will grow and perpetuate as the few good people work to be examples of unselfishness to the many who are unselfish.

It is a personal decision. On which side will you stand? Will you choose to stand against selfishness, showing kindness for cruelty, goodness for selfishness? Or will you choose to be a part of the problem? You cannot stand on the line, it is too thin. You must be part of the problem or part of the solution.

How do you stand against selfishness and cruelty? What will you do to be part of the solution? Perhaps you can seek to be a little less selfish, a little more grateful? I look forward to hearing how you plan to stand up for goodness.

Must We Accept the Hatred That is Reigning?

It is easy to succumb to the hatred that rages across the Earth today, especially in light of the political conventions held last week and this. No wonder—almost every day news reaches us of another shooting or terror attack. No country is immune to the terror. Whether internal or external, hatred brings violence and terror.

Some people feel compelled to express their hatred by shouting bad things about others. Others express their hatred in murdering members of an opposing culture, religion, or country. Often, the story of murdered Christians, or Muslims, or other religious sects in far away countries becomes lost in the arguments of politics or violence at home. Men, women, and children are at risk, for the hatred of others leads to violence, terror, and murder.

What can be done? How can we, as individuals, combat this trend of raging hatred? One cannot battle the large numbers of haters. However, one can set examples to others, can have an effect on those in our smaller circle. What is the answer? Love, simple love.

Love, as exemplified by the Savior of the world, accepts each person, In a Worldregardless of that person’s political beliefs, their religious beliefs, their sexual activity, their gender, or their so-called race. All are sons and daughters of God. All have redeeming qualities. He cares about us and wants us to return to His presence. His love is unconditional.

Can our love be like His? Can you love someone who is different from you? Someone who behaves in a way you do not like or believe in? Someone who has hurt you?

I believe you can. Loving the person does not mean loving a behavior. I have friends who participate in behaviors I do not agree with. I have had my trust broken and been hurt by those close to me. I have learned that I can love these people as long as I remember who they are, children of God, not the behavior that I disagree with or that hurt me.

I am working to be more charitable, to have love for others, regardless of their actions and beliefs. It is difficult, but as I think at them as Christ would, I can succeed.

What has all this to do with Eve and the books I am writing? Much. For I believe the things she told me about their lives. She and Adam looked forward to the coming of Christ in the meridian of time. She knew Christ’s love, though she called Him Jehovah. She knew of His willingness to forgive. She, more than any, knew we are all His children, and all her children. Eve continues to weep for our actions and our hatred for others.

Will you join me in my personal challenge to learn to love others for who they are, not what they do? We can change the world, one person at a time as we love those around us.

I’d love to hear your stories of love for those you thought unlovable. Please share.

Independence Day, How Will You Celebrate?

20150914_185748Independence Day is next Monday. Will you go to a party, swim, or shoot off fireworks? Will you watch a parade or join in community picnics and celebrations? All of these are great ways to celebrate.

We celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, in remembrance of the great men and women who declared independence from England in 1776, and then fought to secure that independence. They argued about their beliefs and finally compromised, creating the Constitution. These documents allow us the freedoms, 240 years later, to live in the way we would choose.

Unfortunately, politicians, foreign influencers, and citizens argue that safety is only found in giving up the freedoms our ancestors fought so hard to acquire. Each time there is a disaster or a terrorist attack, more freedoms erode. Those of us who argue for basic freedoms are chastised and criticized.

One of these basic freedoms is the freedom of religion, not just the right to worship as we please, but to freely exercise our religion in our daily life. One leader who stands for religious freedom spoke this week in a Freedom Festival Patriotic Service. He said, “There are concerted efforts to shame and intimidate believers who have traditional moral values and to suppress religious viewpoints and practices regarding marriage, family, gender and sexuality. Worst of all, government sometimes joins in these efforts.” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

We are all entitled to freedom of speech, both believers and non-believers. We have the right to stand for the things we believe in, without being taunted by those who don’t believe as we do. Each of the other rights guaranteed in the Constitution are important to fight for.

As you celebrate Independence Day next week, decide what you can do to support our freedoms. What can you do as an individual? What can you do as a small group? We may be few, but we can do something to support and defend our freedoms. What will you do?

Could This Be Changed?

I was chatting with a good friend today. She asked me what I thought happened to the spirit of a child after a miscarriage. She has had a few, as have I. We shared our thoughts and then she said something I think is profound. “Why don’t any religions have a rite for families who lost a child to miscarriage? If they did, there would be less abortions.”

Though I understand my religion’s reasoning for not having a rite for the loss of a miscarriage, I see her point. Thousand of children are murdered every day in the name of “women’s choice,” because a child is inconvenient, or uncomfortable, or will make the woman ‘fat’, or any of the multitude of excuses for using murder as birth control. If the early loss of a child was mourned by religions, perhaps there would be less abortions.

Eve was fortunate. In her time, women and men were still perfect, with little cellular degradation. I doubt she suffered, as my friend and I have, from miscarriages. Yet, as I have stated many times, I believe she and Adam were given to know what would happen in our time.

They must have been excited to see the many technical advances of our day. Imagine their delight in seeing our advances in transportation and communication. For instance, the ability we have to travel around the world in a day, and receive messages from the other side of the world immediately. News, and other presentations are instantaneously available.

The command given specifically to Eve was to be a mother, to multiply. Much, if not all, of her life was spent bearing, raising, and teaching children—hers and those of her daughters and granddaughters. When she no longer could give birth, her daughters and granddaughters carried on replenishing the earth. Even then, I believe she taught the children and their mothers.

Knowing that, imagine her deep sorrow to learn that women would willingly allow their children to be murdered, under the guise of “women’s choice” and “my body, my choice.” I can see her weeping for many days over this knowledge. How could women so easily destroy that great gift she gave up so much for to have?

Additionally, I believe she wept when women began to struggle to bear children. It was given to women to bring life to the earth. Those of us who cannot have children, or who struggle to become and stay pregnant, feel Eve’s anguish.

Child bearing and raising children has been the domain of women. Still, men feel our pain and their own when expected children are lost. My husband grieved with me, for me and for himself, over our lost little ones. Other men ache for lost children.

I was blessed to finally deliver five healthy children. Not all couples are so blessed. We, who have lost children to miscarriage, and those for whom conception is impossible, grieve over lost children who could be ours, through adoption. We perceive abortion as selfish withholding of beautiful, healthy children from those who want children, but cannot bear them on their own.
What do you think? Should churches provide rites for miscarried children? Have you experienced the pain of miscarriage or inability to conceive? How have you managed? I look forward to your comments.

How Would You Handle This?

20150929_164617 (1)When I opened my writing program, Scrivener, today, it opened to a scene in my first book, Eve, First Matriarch. Their first two children, a son and daughter, determined to follow the Destroyer, and leave their parents to live elsewhere. Their decision caused Eve great pain and sorrow, yet she could not force them to stay. That would mean she would follow the Destroyer—to force beloved children to do something.

“They stood before us, prepared to leave and make a life of their own, all while Absalom raged at Adam and me because we ‘forced them to leave’ because we were unable to ‘understand and accept’ their position. I suppose we did, for we expected obedience to Jehovah’s commandments. Neither Adam nor I returned their insults.”

I suppose most parents with adult children will find themselves in this position at some time, their adult children choosing a path we would not have them choose. The greatest difficulty rises in deciding how to act as the parent. Do you hate and ignore them for choosing something so vastly different from your choices? Do you follow them in their alternate choices? Do you try to force them to continue in the path you would choose for them? Do you love them, regardless of their choices?

Hate and force are tools of the Destroyer. He wants all of us to be like him, hateful, angry, depressed, and resentful. He tried to force our actions from the beginning, believing it to be easier to force us to choose a path than allow us to choose our own. If we force others, even to do something we believe to be right, we are choosing to follow the Destroyer, rather than a God of Goodness.

Following a child into other paths may be a correct decision. They may have found a path that leads to happiness far beyond the path you have chosen. Or, it may be totally wrong. If you choose to follow your children, spend a lot of time thinking about the choice and be absolutely certain you are not giving up something better to be with them.

In any case, I believe it is important to continue loving your children, regardless of the path they choose, even if it is totally opposite to your choices. Love them unconditionally. Let them know you love them and will always love them. Love binds families together, draws them close, allows them to see past the differences and accept each member as someone important and necessary.

Eve loved these children, and others who left the protection of their closeness with God. When a child returned to visit, they were welcomed with open arms and great love.

Do you have a need to open you heart and offer love to a member of your family who has offended you, or followed a different path in life? How can you work to resolve the differences and draw them and yourself back into the family circle of love?

I look forward to your thoughts.

Only We, the People, Can Solve This Problem

Over the past years, we have seen things become acceptable after losing favor in the intervening years. I wore saddle shoes as a kid to help my feet stay straight. Fifteen years later, the black and white (or brown and white) oxford became the shoe to wear, though it no longer had the strength to hold an ankle straight. They come into favor every few years.

Skirt lengths have gone up and down the leg over the last hundred years, sometimes raising as high as it modesty (or not modestly) allows it to crawl.Others years, skirts fall to the floor—and all the intervening lengths between.

Hats, too, come and go. There was a time no one went out without a hat, and no man would enter a house, let alone sit at a table, without removing it. The hat has blown away, though men routinely enter homes and sit at restaurant tables with their ball cap firmly stuck to their head.

There is a meme going around my face book feed.

It says a lot about our society, when a public longing for loyalty and morals makes the rounds of social media—a lot that is not good.

In my lifetime, I have seen a decline in both loyalty and morals. Time was when presidents and government were held to a higher standard of honor and loyalty—to the country and their spouses. NOT any more. Now, people hardly raise an eyebrow in the event the press comment on some government official’s lack of loyalty to a spouse. Lack of loyalty to the country causes a few groans, but little more.

There was a time when a couple cared about the one they married, children came into their lives nine months or more later. Anything earlier was a cause for deep embarrassment, for themselves and their families. This changed with the “Peace and Love” generation, who lived together and had children. But, these were the minority. Slowly, living together, one night stands, and single parenthood became normal.

Not so long ago, those who leaned toward anything but hetero-sex stayed in the closet, rather than admit to perverted sexual behavior. It was safer that way, for the penalty was death. Not so now. If I don’t condone their actions, I am “biased,” “narrow minded,” or “intolerant.” Young men claim to be girls so they can win in a girl’s race. The national argument over bathrooms continues, supported by people who should want to protect their daughters.

Imagine what Eve would think about our world today. For me, it would not take much imagination. I believe Adam saw the events of this earth past our time in it. I think Eve joined him in sorrowing for our behaviors. Some think other times were worse than ours, pointing to the days of Noah, when God saw fit to baptize the earth and wash it of the wicked, adulterous, and disloyal. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah burned, destroying the sodomites. I have read prophets say our time is worse than either of these. Surely, Eve cried when she saw what would happen to her daughters and sons.

When I saw the meme, my first thought was, “No kidding. A change is needed.” Then I thought about it again.

Loyalty and Morals, and a number of other good qualities, will only return to this country, and this world, when we, of loyalty and morality, determine to be examples of those qualities and live them.

We must band together, become leaders of the movement. We must be personally loyal and moral. We must demand that others around us be loyal and moral. We must expect loyalty and morality from our government.

What do you think about our loss of loyalty and morals? How can we turn it around? Is there another way? I don’t believe new laws will help, it must come from we, the people.

The Puzzle of Inhumanity

When I was little, we raised chickens. The bigger chicks pecked the smallest one to death, because it was different. How sad for the chick, but are humans any better? News stories abound of children who could not take the bullying another minute and have taken their own life.

I live with an historian who has studied the holocaust and World War II in order to understand the inhumane treatment of others. He hasn’t yet. Whether it was the murder of Jews, Gypsies, or the different in the holocaust, or the Japanese who mistreated American prisoners of war, or slavery, seeing photos or re-enactments of the inhumanity brings tears to my eyes. How can people treat others so badly?

Throughout history, people have identified others as “different” and taken them as slaves or used their “differences” as excuses for abuse. Whether it is gender, skin or eye color, religious beliefs, or disabilities, both physical and mental, the different person is singled out for abuse.

What about the small, the more intelligent, or the different that causes a group to perceive they are worthy only of maltreatment and persecution? From the barnyard to the schoolyard to civilized countries, it occurs.

I don’t understand it. Why would people mistreat others? Are they so unhappy or unsure of themselves they feel compelled to hurt others?

What can we do? Is it too big for the individual?

I think not.

Each time we stand up to the bullies, refuse to join the mob, or treat someone who is different better than the crowd, you stand up against inhumanity. You make a stand for goodness.

My challenge to you: Find someone this week who needs someone to stand up for them, and do it! If you find yourself in a situation where others mistreat the small or different, remove yourself from the situation or, better yet, stand up for them. See if you feel better about the situation.

Report back. Make my day.