Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Fertilized Eggs

With all this talk about Colorado's Amendment 48 giving rights to fertilized eggs, I wanted to post a photo of my fertilized eggs.

Can you see their individual personalities just from this photo? Can you see they have different physical features? Some love to sing, some love soccer, some (most) love to perform on stage, and some love to collect salamanders and lizards. They all have different talents and strengths. They all have different struggles and trials. Each of these "fertilized eggs" is an individual that cannot be reproduced or copied. Each is a unique person that will contribute in his or her own way to society.

When we talk about giving rights to fertilized eggs, we are talking about human beings--people endowed with gifts who can make this world a better place.

At one time all of these people lived inside my womb. I heard their hearts beat, I felt their feet, knees, arms, elbows, and heads move inside of me, and I bonded to each one long before they took their first breath.

People. Human beings. Amendment 48 will protect the unborn and give them the chance to grow into wonderful people, just like my children. Every child has the right to live.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Doing Good

“We believe in . . . doing good to all men.” (13th Article of Faith).

As members of the LDS Church, we believe that we should follow the command by the Savior, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35).

Love is the best motivator. When we love others, we seek to serve them and to do good. When I was younger and would hear people say in church, “I just love all of you so much,” I’d think to myself, “How can that person love me? He doesn’t even know me.” As I’ve aged, both physically and spiritually, I’ve come to realize that it is possible to love my fellowman without actually knowing each person. When I try to help others, I am showing my love for the Savior.

When we love others, we “ . . . are willing to mourn with those that mourn, yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort . . .” (Mosiah 18:9). A friend of mine recently lost her teenage son. When I heard the news, I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. I imagined how I would feel if I lost one of my children and I spent the following days thinking about her and her family. I tried to figure out how to serve her and let her know of my love and concern. Since my sister is much closer to her, I volunteered to watch my nieces and nephews so my sister could travel and be there in person to comfort her. As I thought about this tragedy, I felt this scripture come to pass because I felt that, along with his mother, I was mourning the loss of this young man.

I remember well watching the news when the Twin Towers fell. I remember the aching I felt inside for all of the families directly affected by this enormous tragedy. I did not know any of the victims personally, but I still felt such sorrow. I cried tears of grief with them and prayed for them.

We believe in doing good to all men, regardless of whether or not they deserve it. This can be especially true when we donate to charities or give to others. When we were traveling back from Arizona one night, we stopped at a gas station. A very drunk Native American man approached the vehicle while my husband was inside a convenience store helping some of the kids with a potty break. The gentleman slurred as he spoke and told me how he had no money. As he looked around our van and saw some Cheetos on the floor he said, “I ain’t got no chips.” I quickly handed him the bag. When he then said, “I ain’t got no woman, either,” I apologized and told him I couldn’t help him with that problem, but would gladly give him more chips.

Doing good to all men means we try to help one another. We see a need and we serve. We try to be kind and generous with our time and our resources. We show respect and try to empathize with those around us. When we do our best to help our fellowman, we are doing good and we are showing the Lord that we are his disciples. If we are truly trying to become like the Savior, we will be anxiously engaged in a good cause and looking for opportunities to do good to those around us.

Return to the neighborhood.

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Friday, September 26, 2008


The 13th Article of Faith continues with, “We believe in being . . . virtuous . . .”

Virtuous can be defined as living a morally upright life. It means having moral and ethical values and standards. It can also mean living a chaste and morally clean life.

Remaining virtuous and chaste in today’s society is extremely hard, especially for teenagers. So much peer pressure is placed on our youth to succumb to immoral and unrighteous behavior. Good is called evil and evil is called good. Instead of respecting those who choose to remain chaste, peers taunt, ridicule, and otherwise humiliate them.

My daughter was enrolled in a health class at the high school. She learned valuable information about eating healthy food and about diseases. Of course, the class also included Sex Education. Most of the time was used by Planned Parenthood to push its own agenda. While abstinence was mentioned, it was lip service at best.

In Colorado, state law permits Planned Parenthood to distribute birth control to minors without parental consent. Our previous principal (who was reprimanded, but not fired for downloading and sharing pornography on school computers) instituted a student health center at the high school. While the health center offers physical exams for kids participating in sports and testing for strep throat and other ailments, it also offers pregnancy testing, birth control, and counseling (translation: abortion counseling). To receive regular care from the health center, a parent must sign a permission form, but any student can access the health center one time without parental consent and without informing the parents.

Promiscuity is so rampant that my daughter has only one friend who is not sexually active. In fact, she knows girls who regularly go to Planned Parenthood and even obtain the “morning after pill,” which is a form of abortion. No one thinks anything about it. These teenagers are exchanging partners, participating is lewd acts, and then going to Planned Parenthood to get rid of any child that may be created by their behavior. The worst part is the general acceptance of this behavior.

My daughter did not want to attend Planned Parenthood’s agenda in her health class so she left each day to go to the library. How did her peers react? They called her names, made fun of her, and told her she was being ridiculous and “missing out.” Fortunately, my daughter has stood firm in her decision to retain her virtue.

In my own experience in high school, I was also ridiculed for being virtuous and having morals and standards. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to look at our society and see that it’s ripening for destruction because we have lost our moral compass. Nothing is wrong anymore. We condone homosexuality. We think nothing of teenagers engaged in sexual activities. We allow innocent babies to be sucked from a woman’s womb simply because that baby is inconvenient.

Most of the ills of our society can be traced back to our apathy toward virtue and chastity. What has happened to being virtuous? When did being moral become bad? Why has our society lost the values we once cherished?

An immoral society can’t survive forever. Until we, as a society, once gain embrace virtue and chastity we will suffer the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hug Says it All

My husband heard this same caller when he called into the Sean Hannity Show.

Limbaugh and guest call in.
RUSH: Kurt in Pittsburgh, hello, sir. Nice to have you on the EIB Network, and how
About the Steelers defense?
CALLER: How about those Steelers, huh?
RUSH: How about that?
CALLER: Hey, listen, Rush, longtime listener, first-time caller, one of those Bible, family, gun clingers from Western Pennsylvania.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: And I wanted to share a story with you. A week ago last Saturday we went to the Palin-McCain Rally in Washington, Pennsylvania, was the day after he announced her, and we have a five-year-old daughter With Down syndrome, and we made a sign that said: 'We Love Kids with Down Syndrome.' So when they pulled in in their bus the sign did catch their, McCain and Palin and the rest of their family, it caught their eye, we could tell, they gave us a thumbs-up from the bus, so we were all excited just by that --
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait. Who gave you the thumbs up, McCain and Palin?
CALLER: McCain, Palin, Cindy McCain, we could see them from the bus. We were in a position where we had eye contact with them --
RUSH: Oh, cool!
CALLER: My wife was holding our daughter.
RUSH: Very, very, very cool
CALLER: It was really cool, Rush. I was like, 'Wow, that's awesome,' because I love Governor Palin and so I thought that's really neat. So then we moved around as the bus was getting ready to pull out, we kind of positioned ourselves so we could just wave them on and a Secret Service agent came .up to us and said, 'Hey, can you come with us?' I was like, 'Do we have a choice?'
RUSH: (laughing) You shouldn't have worried. It's not the Clinton administration.

CALLER: Right. So we accompanied them up the hill, we went right to the bus, where it was, and Governor Palin, Senator McCain, Cindy, Todd Palin, they're all standing there. We're in this inner circle with just us and Them, and the Secret Service agent, and they came right up to us and thanked us for coming out, said they loved our sign, and Governor Palin immediately said, 'May I hold your daughter?' and our daughter Chloe, who's five, went right to her, and I have some pictures I'd love to send you maybe when I'm done here, but Governor Palin was hugging Chloe, and then her little daughter brought their baby Trig who has Down syndrome from the bus, he was napping, and Chloe went right over and kissed him on the cheek, and my son Nolan who's nine, he thanked her.
RUSH: This is amazing.
CALLER: I will send you all the stuff, Senator McCain was talking to my son, and we thanked him for his service, and he asked my son if he wanted to see the bus, and we were hanging out and it was very surreal. I felt like we could have had a pizza and a beer with them, they were so warm.
RUSH: You know what? I want to put you on hold I want Snerdley to give you our super-secret, known-only- to-three-people here, e-mail address.
CALLER: I will send you everything, Rush.
RUSH: And then could you send us these pictures? Would you mind if we put them on the website?
CALLER: I would be honored, and my main thing is they are warm, kind, genuine people, and they represent the best of this country.
RUSH: That's right. And when you send these pictures, make sure you identify them I mean, we'll know Palin and McCain, of course. Identify yourselves.
CALLER: I will, I will identify everybody in the picture, Rush, and God bless you for being a beacon of hope and truth in this country.
RUSH: Oh, no, no. It's nothing, it's nothing. You're doing the Lord's work.
CALLER: Well, we're very blessed and I want people to know what a blessing it is to have a child with Down syndrome. These kids, they're angels.
RUSH: That's the thing. There's always good to be found in everything that happens. It may be a while before it reveals itself.
CALLER: Absolutely.
RUSH: Right, and when she hugged my daughter I said, here's the difference, this candidate embraces life and all its limitless possibilities.
RUSH: All right.
CALLER: That's what she is.
RUSH: Terrific, okay, I gotta run here, but I'm going to put you on hold.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush.
RUSH: Thank you, Kurt. I really appreciate it.

I love the photo of Sarah Palin holding his daughter and giving her a hug.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Santa Letters

The Santa Letters, by Stacy Gooch Anderson, is a tender and sweet story about how a young family copes with tragedy. It really tugs at the heartstrings and makes you stop and think about what Christmas means and what the Savior's message is to all of mankind. I found myself wiping away tears as I read this book and recommend it to anyone who believes in miracles and wants to experience the healing gift of Christ-like love. (You might also pick up a new Christmas tradition).

One year ago on Christmas Eve, William died. For Emma, the hit-and-run driver killed more than her husband; he killed her joy in life itself. Now, as Christmas approaches again, Emma Jensen finds herself sinking into a depression that nothing can breach; not her job, not her love for her children, and certainly not the season. Money is tight, and emotions are taut, and this year Christmas will be a meager, empty, and painful experience. Only six-year-old McKenna believes in miracles and the magic of Christmas. The rest of the family knows that Christmas can never be the same. But when a mysterious package and an ornate letter arrive on the doorstep, things begin to change. Each day, a package and a letter signed Santa arrive for the family, and together they come to understand that the joy of Christmas does not have to be lost forever, and that God s love can heal any wound, no matter how deep. The Santa Letters will take the Jensens on a journey through a Christmas experience that will have the power to heal them all.

To learn more about Stacy Gooch Anderson and The Santa Letters visit the website http://www.thesantaletters.org/. You can also read the beginning to The Santa Letters here.

It will make a wonderful addition to your library.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Save the Family

The song was written by Joy Lundberg and Janice Kapp Perry.

Our nation is only as strong as our families. We must do our best to strengthen our families.

Enjoy the video and feel free to pass it along.

Friday, September 19, 2008


The 13th Article of Faith continues with, “We believe in being . . . benevolent . . . .”

Benevolent can be defined as being charitable, helping others, expressing kindly feelings or goodwill, and something that’s intended for benefits instead of profit.

When we moved my daughter up to Provo, we were unloading boxes from our big van. I took in some boxes to her apartment and when I returned to the van, I saw several young men and women all helping us unload things. I remarked that all the years doing service projects at church had made these young people ready and willing to pitch in.

Recently, our high school added a service requirement for graduation. All students are now required to render at least 20 hours of service in the community in order to graduate. To me, this addition to graduation requirements signals a concern that our youth are not involved in enough charitable service. In speaking with my daughter’s adviser, though, the adviser commented that she wasn’t at all worried about my daughter meeting the requirement because she was aware of all of the service that we do in the Church. Isn’t that a great way for the Church to be recognized?

Benevolent isn’t just a word to us in the LDS Church. We practice being benevolent by participating in service on a regular basis. In my community, we clean the highway twice a year. It’s amazing what people throw out their windows as they drive down the road. In Mutual, we regularly serve others by cleaning the cemetery, building ramps, painting, cleaning, and moving others. My husband and my son spent 10 hours one Saturday, moving two different families.
This week for our Mutual activity, we will be going to different houses in the area and doing a Service Scavenger Hunt. The girls will clean or do other service for a community member in exchange for points. At the end of the activity, we will add up the points and see who did the most service. It’s kind of a fun twist on service.

The Church has been involved in service projects for areas of the world affected by storms, hurricanes, fires, drought, and poverty. We regularly have humanitarian projects where we assemble school kits, newborn kits, and kits for homeless shelters. Local wards assemble the kits, send them to Church Headquarters and then the Church delivers them throughout the world. The Church is as visible as the Red Cross during times of disaster.

Once each month, usually the first Sunday of the month, we fast for two meals. We are encouraged to donate what we would’ve spent on those meals, or more if our circumstances allow it, to a Church fund called Fast Offering. These funds are then administered to people in our local communities who are in need. As members, we do not know who benefits from our donations, we only know that our donations go to help people within our own communities.

The Lord has blessed us with everything we have. None of it belongs to us. Learning to donate our time, talents, and finances to help others is a small way to show our gratitude to the Lord for His many blessings.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Video from Iraqi War Vet

This video brought tears to my eyes, especially the ending. It wasn't funded by McCain. It's powerful.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Amendment 48

Here is the full text of the proposal for Amendment 48 which will be on Colorado's ballot in November.

Amendment 48

Definition of Person

Ballot Title: An amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term "person"
to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as "person" is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law.

Text of Proposal:
Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Colorado:

SECTION 1. Article II of the constitution of the state of Colorado is amended BY THE
Section 31. Person defined. AS USED IN SECTIONS 3, 6, AND 25 OF ARTICLE II OF

From the Colorado State Constitution Article II:

Section 3. Inalienable rights. All persons have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

Section 6. Equality of justice. Courts of justice shall be open to every person, and a speedy remedy afforded for every injury to person, property or character; and right and justice should be administered without sale, denial or delay.

Section 25. Due process of law. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.

I see nowhere that this amendment will prevent birth control. It is not meant to prevent babies from being created, but rather to protect babies after they have been created. How does this amendment prevent in-vitro fertilization? How does it prevent the birth control pill? How will it allow government to search our homes and our bathrooms to see if a fertilized egg has been cast off during a regular menstrual cycle?

These are all arguments I've read against this amendment. I see the most basic argument against this amendment as limiting women from using abortion as birth control or birth selection. After all, isn't that the whole opposition to this amendment? That women and men will have to take responsiblity for their actions when it creates a child.

If you don't want a baby, practice abstinence. After all, no one has ever died from practicing abstinence, but plenty have died from not practicing it.

Honest, True, Chaste

The 13th Article of Faith is quite long so I’m going to explain it over several posts. The beginning states, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste . . . .”

Honesty encompasses many aspects from telling the truth to keeping vows and covenants to sins of omission. Being honest establishes trust. Dishonesty breaks that trust. Many years ago, a woman in my ward approached me and asked if her daughter could do some service for me since I was a young mother. She suggested that her daughter could babysit each week while I ran errands.

I allowed the young woman to babysit and I used the time to go grocery shopping and do other errands. After a few weeks, I noticed that a bottle of my perfume was missing. I figured one of my kids had moved it somewhere. The next week, I noticed that my walkman was gone. Again, I figured my kids were the culprits and I’d find it eventually. After I returned home the third week, I discovered that my bathing suit had disappeared. It finally hit me. My babysitter had been stealing from me. I was shocked, but promptly ended her service and never again allowed her to babysit. She lost my trust.

Some years back, members of my community started a rumor about me. The rumor had no basis and since I tend to confront issues head-on, I went to the sources of the rumor. Of course, the people denied any involvement, but I knew without any doubt, that not only had they been involved, but were in fact lying to me at that time as well. They lost my trust.

Honesty is the basis of trust. Once that trust has been destroyed, it’s very difficult to rebuild it. We must be honest in all of our dealings. If we’ve been dishonest, we should rectify the situation as best we can as soon as we can, but understand that it may take a long time to re-establish trust.
We must also be true to our covenants and vows. We must be true to our word. When we say we are going to do something, we need to do it. We must be true to our family and friends so that they know they can always depend on us and trust us.

The Lord delights in the chastity of women. Our society has denigrated to the point that chastity is no longer respected and in many instances is ridiculed. When I was in high school, an adult in a position of trust constantly belittled my desire to remain chaste. He told me that I was missing out on life by being such a prude. He said life was meant to be experienced and I was limiting my experiences. As I look back now, I’m so grateful I did not give in or listen to this individual because the decision that I made to be chaste before marriage has brought me great comfort.

Adherence to the Law of Chastity provides physical and spiritual protection that is so important today. Our society calls for sex education in our schools to teach our youth to be “safe.” What this education fails to teach the youth is the damage that premarital sex does to their spirits. The ability to create human life is sacred and belongs only within the bounds of marriage. When this procreative power is used under any other circumstance besides between husband and wife, catastrophic results occur. One only needs to look at the broken homes, teenagers having babies, rate of abortion, drug use, alcohol use, and divorce rate to see the effects of a society that promotes immoral behavior.

One of the greatest ills of our society today is its lack of respect for the proper place for sexual relationships. Our society’s disrespect for the sacred power of procreation will eventually lead to its downfall.

Return to the neighborhood.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Obey the Law

The 12th Article of Faith relates our belief in sustaining our government. It says, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

In the Doctrine and Covenants 58:21 we read, “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.”

In Colorado, the legislature passed a law prohibiting new drivers under the age of 18 from transporting any passengers for the first six months after they receive their driver’s license. After the six-month period, drivers are allowed to drive one passenger until they have held their license for a full year. After that, there are no passenger restrictions.

The reason the legislature passed this law was to prevent young drivers from piling the car full of other teenagers who may distract the driver and, hopefully, avoid an accident with a car full of kids. While this makes sense, isn’t it the parents’ responsibility to make sure their children are driving safely and only driving with those who the parents feel can drive responsibly? The message from our state government seems to indicate that they don’t trust parents to make sound judgments about their children.

Another problem with this law is that our high school is more than 25 miles away. Instead of being able to carpool, kids must each take a vehicle to town if they need to stay after school for activities or want to attend other school-sponsored activities like football games or theater productions. Not only is that using more fuel, but now we have four or five inexperienced drivers on the road instead of one. We also have that many more drivers looking for parking places in a city that already has a shortage of parking spaces.

This law has created problems as well as an inconvenience for many of us that live outside the city limits. Nevertheless, it is the law and it is my responsibility to obey it. If I don’t like a law, I must work to change it, not break it.

Another law that I believe actually tramples on the rights of another is the right for a woman to abort a baby. In Colorado this year, we will vote on an amendment to the state constitution that defines life as beginning at conception. Those who oppose this amendment are claiming it’s unjust and denies a woman her right to terminate a pregnancy. I have asked opponents to define when life begins, but have yet to receive any kind of an answer. When does life begin? Is it when a baby first moves? Its heartbeat can be detected? It breathes on its own? Exactly when does life begin if not at the moment of conception?

As a mother of ten, I can honestly say that after fertilization, nothing else happens to the baby inside my womb, except that it grows. Just as any living thing needs time to grow, so does a child.

If this amendment passes, it will then make abortion illegal in the state of Colorado. That would be a great thing. Too many women use abortion as birth control. Too many men and women want to engage in procreative behaviors but refuse to take responsibility when a baby is conceived. Too often, our society condones irresponsible behavior and encourages escape from consequences of our actions. This amendment, if it passes, will finally give rights to the child that’s been created. Those who create babies should be required to either care for that child or give it to a couple who will, not exterminate it because it's an inconvenience. It’s very simple. If you don’t want to make a baby, don’t have sex.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we value all life. We do not support the practice of abortion, but we still must honor, sustain, and obey this law because, unfortunately, the law of the land allows abortion.

I hope that Amendment 48 will pass in Colorado. Not only will we then be able to save thousands of babies each year, we will see that we can and should change bad laws through the proper channels.

Return to the neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rant on Careless Drivers

My children ride the bus each day to school and then home again. We live on a two-lane highway with no shoulder. When the bus stops to pick-up or drop-off my kids it first flashes amber lights, and then red. There is no way to pass the bus, or any car, on this highway without entering into the oncoming lane.

For some reason, a few drivers seem to think that flashing red lights on a bus means to go around the bus as fast as possible. My children and I have been almost hit on many occasions and the only reason my kids are still alive is because I'm always there to make sure they're safe. I've physically pushed my kids back when a semi-truck kept driving past even though the red lights were flashing.

One particular morning, I placed my children on the bus and walked in front of the bus to then walk across the other lane to my driveway. I began to step out into the lane, assuming drivers had already stopped, when in a flash I heard the bus horn and jumped back. A driver, clearly with more important things to do than to avoid hitting me, had attempted to pass the bus and had almost hit me. He then realized he wasn't going to get away with anything and backed up behind the bus. I walked over to his car and told him that the bus driver and I were both going to write down his license plate and report him to the state police. He replied, "I was going to stop."

I said, "After you hit and killed me in front of my children there on the bus?" I then lectured him on driving safely around children and the bus and recited the bus laws. I don't know whatever happened, but I sure hope the state police fined him.

Today another driver, in too much of a hurry to respect the lives of me or my children, sped past the bus. What is the deal? Is my life or the lives of my children not worth an extra 2 minutes of someone's time? Any driver can pass the bus after a stop and our bus doesn't stop again for a few miles. Yet time and time again, I see careless drivers who simply have no respect for people's lives. It's scary.

So, here's fair warning. I report offending drivers. If you ever speed past the bus in front of my house, I'll report you. And, if I catch you, I'll give you a piece of my mind and it won't be pretty.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

We're Sneaky--Not

Over Labor Day weekend we helped our oldest kids move to Provo. We decided to make it a little family trip so all of the kids could spend more time together, especially since my son just returned home from his mission.

We spent most of Saturday moving boxes, grocery shopping, and helping our kids get settled.

Sunday we were exhausted. In Provo, it seems as if there's a chapel on almost every corner so we decided we'd pick a time and then find a chapel. Since we were in a hotel close to BYU, we chose the chapel right across from where my dorms (Deseret Towers) used to be. (It was a little unnerving to see an open field where my dorms once stood--it was as though they never existed).

We got there right at 11:00 (punctuality isn't one of my virtues) and we rushed all of us into the chapel where we thought sacrament meeting was just beginning. As we attempted to sneak into the chapel (yeah, all 12 of us are pretty sneaky) a sister who was standing at the pulpit to say the prayer waited for us to get seated. We were a bit embarrassed that she was waiting for us but found a pew and tried to shush the kids. As we listened to her prayer, we discovered that we were not listening to the opening prayer, but in fact, it was the closing prayer. Yep, we'd snuck in just in time for the closing prayer of sacrament meeting. Since it was obviously a BYU young married ward, I'm sure they were all watching us thinking, "Wow, is that what happens when you get old and have a bunch of kids, you sneak in just in time for the closing prayer?" So, yeah, that was just a tad bit embarrassing.

We found another ward to attend and then drove to Ephraim to see family. Boy, are there ever a lot of turkeys in Ephraim.

Monday we drove home and I felt sad because I abandoned my babies in Provo. It was only the other day that they were both toddling around the house, climbing up on my lap for a story, and falling asleep in my arms. Time just goes by way too fast.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Free To Worship

“We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (11th Article of Faith).

We believe that the true gospel of Jesus Christ, as instituted by the Savior himself during his mortal lifetime, has been restored to the world. We believe that Joseph Smith did, in fact, see God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ in answer to his sincere prayer to find God’s Church on earth. We further believe that Joseph Smith translated gold plates into the Book of Mormon. We believe that the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel, and that a man will become closer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book, including the Bible. We do believe in and support the Bible, but also believe some portions have been mistranslated. The Book of Mormon serves as another testament of Jesus Christ.

We attend church each Sunday for a three-hour long service which includes sacrament meeting where we partake of the sacrament in remembrance of Christ, we then attend Sunday school, and for the third hour we attend various adult, youth, and children’s meetings. During the week, we hold a meeting for youth ages 12-18 called Mutual. Twice yearly, we hold a local or stake conference for all of those residing in the area. In April and in October we have a general conference for the world in which we view or listen to a broadcast of teachings by our prophet, apostles, and other leaders.

We follow a health code named the Word of Wisdom. We avoid alcohol, drugs, and other harmful substances and try to adhere to a diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and small amounts of meat.

We believe that our ancestors who have passed through the veil to the other side must receive the ordinances of baptism, sealing, and other ordinances that they can no longer receive because they do not have physical bodies. Thus, we regularly visit one of our many temples to participate in ordinances as proxies for those who have died without the opportunity to receive these ordinances. We believe that those whose work we do always have the choice to accept or reject it. We do not judge who should or should not receive this work, we simply do it.

We pay 10% tithing on all of our increase. These funds are used to maintain chapels, temples, other Church buildings, and further the work of the Lord. We also make other contributions that are used directly within our communities to help those in need.

We fast once each month to allow our spirit to overcome our physical appetites and to feel closer to our Father in heaven.

During the early years of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many members were persecuted for their beliefs. Some were even murdered simply because they followed Joseph Smith. While we believe we have the true gospel, we will never compel anyone to follow the gospel. It is only by choice that we can return to Heavenly Father, not by compulsion.

Just as we believe in the right to worship as we see fit, we also believe that others have the same right. We may not agree with the doctrines of another church, but we certainly believe that others have that right. We do not interfere with people’s right to worship because we also want to worship as we see fit, without intrusion or persecution.

Return to the neighborhood.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sarah Palin and Down Syndrome

This is not a political post. Rather it is an examination of what Sarah Palin’s candidacy may mean for the 350,000 Americans who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome, and their families.

Each year about 5000 babies are born with an extra 21st chromosome. Shortly after an egg is fertilized, it begins to divide and change. Normally, each person has 23 pairs of chromosomes resulting in a total of 46. Individuals receive one chromosome per pair from the father and one from the mother. In the case of Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, a developing egg may have divided incorrectly or something else caused it to receive extra genetic material on the 21st chromosome. The result is 47 chromosomes instead of the normal 46. How this extra genetic material affects people can vary greatly and much is still unknown about what genes are actually replicated. It is the most common chromosomal abnormality and the chance of it happening increases with maternal age. However, most births are to women under age 35.

A statistic that I personally find appalling is that 90% of all women whose babies are diagnosed with Down syndrome choose to abort that baby. 90%. Why? I believe it is because there are still so many misconceptions about Down syndrome. After the announcement of Sarah Palin’s candidacy, one such commenter blamed Palin for causing her son to have Down syndrome because she didn’t receive adequate pre-natal care. DS is a genetic condition and has nothing to do with pre-natal care, yet this misconception survives.

I’m hoping that Palin’s candidacy will shed light on the truth about Down syndrome. I know I was completely ignorant when my son was born. I expected him to be a blob. I was so wrong. He is so not a blob (some days, though, I wish he would be a blob for just a few minutes). He constantly keeps me chasing after him and trying to stay a step ahead of him, though I always seem to be two steps behind him.

He has his own distinct personality and knows what he likes and doesn’t like. He’s a tease and loves to torture his older sister. He loves to “play” the piano and as soon as he hears the pianist begin at church, he raises his hand to “lead” the music. He performs for anyone who will watch. His favorite song is “The Wheels on the Bus” and he will do the actions, always making sure we’re watching him.

Will he have challenges? Honestly, I don’t know. In a sense, don’t we all have challenges? He may have to work harder to learn to read, but I don’t always understand, nor can I recall, what I’ve read in my scriptures and need to constantly reread and supplement my scripture study. He may have challenges expressing his feelings, but after all these years, I express my feelings far too frequently because I still haven’t learned to be patient. He doesn’t say many words, but I sure have to work hard to bridle my tongue especially when I think someone deserves a good tongue lashing. He might not understand his own needs or the needs of someone else, but I rarely think about others’ feelings because I’m not very compassionate. We all have our struggles, his may just be more apparent; though it’s likely his struggles won’t keep him out of the celestial kingdom while mine will.

I often wonder why Heavenly Father chose me to raise such a son. I feel so unworthy to be blessed with this child. It’s like Christmas every day with him, he’s a gift I can enjoy repeatedly. Of course, all children are gifts, but the world seems to shun that gift when it’s wrapped a little differently.

Will Sarah Palin change attitudes? I hope so. The world needs to realize that every life matters, every person deserves a right to live, and every child deserves respect even if he or she has an extra chromosome.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Israel: Scattering and Gathering

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

Abraham begat Isaac who then begat Jacob. Jacob worked for seven years to marry Rachel. On his wedding night, it was not Rachel who was in his tent, but her older sister, Leah, because a younger sister could not marry if an older sister remained unmarried. Jacob was not pleased that he’d been tricked into marrying Leah, but consented to work another seven years for Rachel, the one he truly loved.

While Leah gave Jacob four sons, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Rachel remained barren. In an effort to vicariously give children to her husband, she offered her handmaid, Bilhah, to Jacob to take as a wife. Bilhah bore Dan and Naphtali. Since Leah had not borne any more children, she then gave Jacob her handmaid, Zilpah who gave birth to Gad and Asher. Leah was then able to conceive Issachar and Zebulun and later a daughter named Dinah. Finally, after many years, Rachel conceived and bore Joseph. Years later, she conceived again and gave birth to Benjamin, the last of Jacob’s sons. In total, Jacob fathered twelve sons and one daughter.

Jacob’s name was changed to Israel when he met a heavenly messenger. Each son’s descendants were known by the tribe named for their father. Many people believe that Israel only includes the tribe of Judah, when in fact it refers to all of the sons of Jacob/Israel and all of the descendants. The oldest son, Reuben, gave up his birthright by committing a serious moral sin so all of the blessings bestowed on the house of Israel bypassed Reuben and were given to Joseph.

Because the house of Israel continued to be disobedient over the years, they were eventually scattered throughout the earth and appear in many nations, particularly in the north countries and the isles of the sea. We believe that the descendants of these tribes will be gathered before the second coming of Jesus Christ. The gathering has already begun.

We also believe that the New Jerusalem will be built on the American continent. Latter-day revelation reveals that the center place will be in Jackson County, Missouri. The Lord will return and reign in all of His glory. The earth will be cleansed and returned to a paradisiacal state as it was in the Garden of Eden.

“Article 10 tells of our belief ‘in the literal gathering of Israel,’ that Zion will be built again and Christ will return and ‘reign personally upon the earth.’ It was in June of 1830 that Samuel Smith, the brother of the Prophet, embarked on the first missionary journey to proclaim the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Thus began the gathering of Zion. The word went forth from Mount Zion to the peoples of the earth that the gospel had been restored. Today the work of uniting our Father in Heaven’s children continues as we prepare for His ultimate return, for His millennial reign over the earth. We are anxiously and personally engaged in that great literal gathering when we profess His everlasting gospel to our friends, our neighbors, and the other peoples of the earth." (L. Tom Perry, “The Articles of Faith,” Ensign, May 1998, 22).

Return to the neighborhood.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Interview: J. Scott Savage

Wow, J. Scott Savage stopped by for an interview. He's on a whirlwind tour talking about his new book Farworld Water Keep. You can read my review here.

Hi Scott,
Thank you for joining me here on this snowflake. I hope the shrinking process wasn’t too painful, and I’m glad you brought along your parka, it can sometimes be a bit cold.

You know, I'd never really wanted to ride on a snowflake until you mentioned
it, but I have to admit. It is really quite a kick. I definitely think Disney needs to make a snowflake ride.

In your newest book, Farworld Water Keep, your main characters both suffer from disabilities that set them apart from their worlds. Why did you choose to create characters that seem most unlikely to save anyone, let alone a world, especially when people generally look on disabilities with such disdain?

I like to have characters with real challenges to reaching their goals. I love a lot of fantasy, but I think a story loses something when the character who has to save the day discovers they are really the most powerful hero or magician or sports star or whatever. I believe the most amazing things are not done by the most powerful people, but by ordinary people extending their reach.

Do you really believe there’s magic in everyone?


What kind of magic?

It depends on the person. I think the happiest people are those who have discovered the magic inside them, and the unhappiest people are those who have given up hope or forgotten what their magic is. One of the greatest adventures in life is finding and using your magic. Look at the recent Olympics. Can't you just see a glow around those people who have found something they can really excel at?

Yes, you can.

Some of your character’s names are a mouthful. How did you come up with those names? When you said Thrathkin S’Bae out loud to your wife did she ever comment, “Say it, don’t spray it?”

Only when I was eating graham crackers. I like to play with sounds. Thathkin S'Bae just sounds evil.

You're right, it does.

I regularly jump between snowflakes (they melt, you know), but the idea of jumping between worlds is fascinating, especially when trouble is brewing. Did you ever wish you could jump between worlds?

Hmm I guess I should be jumping too. That explains my sopping wet socks. I would love to jump between worlds. I think everyone who likes to read fantasy is really just jumping from one world to another. Our favorite authors are the ones whose worlds we like to visit the most.

Usually, only one character is the main character, but you have two. Why did you decide to include two, and why a boy and a girl?

One of the standards of writing YA is that boys will only read about boys, but girls will read about boys and girls. I'm not sure I completely buy that. It may be harder to get a boy to try a book with a girl as the hero, but if the story is written well enough, he will stick with it.

That being said, I didn't want my story to be about a girl with a boy sidekick or visa versa. I wanted to unique stand alone heroes who can only succeed by working together. A real case of 1+1=5.

You’ve created some scary creatures, especially the unmakers. How did you come up with the idea for these “bad guys?”

I like to bring out real emotion in a reader, whether it's laughter, fear, tension. And I think one way to make the reader feel real concern for the heroes is to create "bad guys" that are truly scary. So I try to come up with creatures that would scare me.

You certainly accomplished that with the unmakers--they're defintely scary!

Well, this snowflake is about to melt and I’ll need to find another one. Thank you for stopping by, Scott. Farworld Water Keep will be available in bookstores in September, right?

Correct. They should actually start showing up in stores by the end of the first week of September. Thanks so much for having me. I have to remember this whole snowflake gig. It would make a great story angle.

Thank you so much for stopping by Scott. It's been a pleasure. Yes, close your eyes and jump. Time for me to jump off this snowflake, too. Until next time . . .

Learn more about J. Scott Savage and his other books

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Summer Book Trek

This is my wrap-up post for the Summer book Trek that I participated in over at the LDS Fiction blog.

This summer was crazy busy with 9 of my 10 kids at home, Wood Badge Training (for my husband--2 different long weekends in another state) for the BSA, Scout camp, drama camp, MTC camp, 4-stake Youth Conference (my husband is serving as Stake Young Men's President so he's been very involved with all stake youth activities), garden, trip to California, having my son return home from his mission to Italy, and moving that same son and my oldest daughter up to Provo this last weekend. Yep, it was insane and I'm just glad I kept my head above water :).

Here's my answers to the questions:

1. How many fiction books by LDS authors did you read? Only 2

Farworld Water Keep by J. Scott Savage
Season of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston

2. Did you read more than you would have read if you hadn't participated in this book trek?

Yes, I probably wouldn't have read anything.

3. Did the reviews posted by other participants influence which titles you read? How?

I liked reading the other reviews and will pick up other books based on the reviews.

4. Did the Whitney awards influence which titles you read? No.

5. Did the many, many virtual blog tours that happened this summer influence which titles you read? Yes.

How? I participated in the blog tour for Farworld.

6. Did you finish all the books you had planned to read? Yes.

7. Did you discover any new authors whom you now love? Yes. Love Tristi and Jeff, er, J. Scott.

8. Did you nominate any of the books you read for Whitney awards? Not yet.

9. Would you be interested in another LDS themed reading challenge either this winter, or next summer? Yes.

It was fun participating, though the other participants all put me to shame with the number of books they read. Wow, some of them must be speed readers! I really enjoyed reading everyone's reviews and I think it helped bring more awareness to LDS fiction.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Revelation is a vital part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (9th Article of Faith).

What sets the LDS Church apart from other churches is our belief in latter-day revelation. We believe that our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, communicates with God and then reveals God’s will to us.

In 1978, our prophet at the time, Spencer W. Kimball, received revelation that all worthy male members of the LDS Church were entitled to receive the priesthood. Up until that time, not all male members could receive the priesthood. The matter weighed heavily on the mind of President Kimball so he prayed to receive an answer. The Lord revealed to President Kimball that the time had come for all male members to receive the priesthood and be able to perform the ordinances of the gospel. As members of the Church, we had the opportunity to not only see modern-day revelation in action; we also had the opportunity to raise our hands in support of this revelation.

The Doctrine and Covenants records latter-day revelations to Joseph Smith as well as other prophets. In the Doctrine and Covenants we learn about the three degrees of glory, that revelation comes by the power of the Holy Ghost, that revelations for the world come only through the one appointed to receive such, that the law of tithing is instituted by God, and that we are commanded to forgive one another. We believe that the Doctrine and Covenants contains revelations given directly to the prophets from God.

Just as God spoke to and taught Adam, Abraham, and Moses, we believe that He continues to speak to us today. Heavenly Father is as interested in His children today as He was in the children of Israel. God wants each of His children to return to Him and for this reason continues to reveal His will to man.

While the prophet is entitled to receive revelations for the world, each one of us is entitled to receive personal revelation. We have the ability to know what the Lord wants for our own individual lives.

Next to the decision to be baptized into the Kingdom of God, marriage is the most crucial decision we will make in mortality. The person we decide to marry will influence our lives more than any other individual will. While I was contemplating marriage, I remember studying it out in my mind. I asked myself if the young man I wanted to marry would be a faithful husband, a good father, and willing to provide for his family. I felt the answers to these questions were affirmative, but I knew I needed to kneel down and ask Heavenly Father if this was indeed the young man He wanted me to marry.

I can still remember the overpowering witness I received as I knelt by my bed in my college apartment. I could not deny that Heavenly Father wanted me to marry this young man. Now, 23 years and 10 kids later, I am still certain he is the man for me and I love him even more now than I did as a young BYU student.

Not only can we receive revelations about our lives, we must receive them so that we know we are on the right track. Heavenly Father still speaks to His children and will continue to do so; it’s up to us to receive His revelations.

Return to the neighborhood.