Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Power of Potluck

Just about 10 years ago in the parking lot of a small LDS church building sat a man waiting for his convert wife to come out of Sunday meetings. He was a rough looking character with a past to match. Tattoos crept up his arms, skulls adorned his shirt, and an unmistakable aura of cigarette smoke hung about his person. He was markedly out of place among the carefully manicured flower beds and fragrant blooming myrtle that lined the lot.

Inside, a humble group of Saints were eagerly anticipating the monthly potluck meal that was to follow the closing prayer. The smell of funeral potatoes , meatballs, green jello salad and homemade rolls with butter was wafting out of the kitchen. The aroma revealed the unmistakable hallmark of food crafted with loving care.

At meeting’s end the convert Sister was implored to stay and eat. She explained that her husband waited outside for her. She must go.

What happened next was not surprising. A ninety pound powerhouse of a woman, a widow, somewhere over the age of seventy, white hair tightly curled, marched out to the parking lot and strait up to the man in the car. She didn’t bat an eye at his appearance or the look on his face that clearly called for distance between the two of them. She greeted him warmly, told of her affection for his wife, and invited him in for dinner. He declined, but she kindly would not take no for an answer.

Disarmed, he climbed out of the car and walked arm in arm with her into the building.

Just about 10 years ago a young mother with rambunctious children and an inactive husband walked through the doors of the large established Ward she had recently moved into. She was nervous as the people there were obviously wealthier than she and seemed a close knit group that had been together for a long period of time. She had been born in the Church, had a strong testimony of the Gospel, but felt uneasy with the prospect of making new friends.

She received a few passing nods of hello and sat by herself through Sunday School and Relief Society. She observed the warm relations between the members but was not invited into any of the conversations. After the Sacrament she herded her little ones out the door. No one said good-bye.

The weeks rolled on and all stayed the same. She entered, received  nods of greeting, and once in a while would be asked where her husband was. “Not here.”  She would reply a little shamefully. “Hmm.” was the answer as they walked away. She would sit alone in her classes, would smile when while someone spoke to her, but was mostly ignored.

She began to find reasons not to attend. The baby had a stomach ache, she was too tired, no one would miss her anyway. She slipped into inactivity.

When Home Teachers were dispatched several months later to see what had happened they found the family reading scriptures together nightly and having family prayer. They could not understand why this Sister did not want to come to church in a Ward that had such good and talented people.

Back at the little branch, the man with the tattoos was welcomed and wrapped in the loving embrace of the members. No one stared at his appearance, no one asked about his checkered past. They simply and genuinely enfolded him into their family.

He came back next month only “because the food was so good” and then the month after that. One Sunday he asked his wife if he had anything he could wear to church. He only felt it right to attend if he was going to eat with them too.

Years passed, missionaries were contacted, truth was learned, old transgressions were wiped clean and the man became “a new creature”. His heart healed and softened and he found forgiveness through the atonement of Jesus Christ. He was baptized and ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood, took temple prep classes and prepared to receive the higher Priesthood. All the while he was loved and supported cheered for by the members of the little branch.

The same years passed and the less active Sister moved out of the old established Ward and found herself and her family walking through the doors of the same little Branch on a potluck Sunday. They were greeted, hugged, loved and included. They stayed for dinner and enjoyed the funeral potatoes, meatballs, green jello salad, and rolls with butter. They weren’t stared at because their clothes were different or the fact that they had a strange accent. They weren’t asked about their checkered past.

When they missed the next week there were phone calls wondering what could be done to help, was everyone alright? Did they need soup for sick kids?

Wrapped in the warmth of the Saints there, the Sister and her husband came every week and soon were in callings that stretched and taught them. Their testimonies grew and the impact on their family was vast. All the while they were loved and supported cheered for by the members of the little branch.

Two stories with the same result and potluck is the common thread. No, it wasn’t the funeral potatoes, meatballs, green jello salad, and rolls with butter. It was the members who prepared the meal each month and understood the promise of the Lord to encircle His children in the arms of His love. They knew that as members of His church they had been called to be those arms. They had been called to truly and completely love their neighbors regardless of what they looked like, how much money they had, and where they came from. They were able to see through spiritual eyes the divine potential of all of God’s children.

These stories can be (and are) replicated in all sorts of congregations; large or small, wealthy or poor, talented and educated or not. And as much as we like to think that “if folks know the church is true they should just show up even if the members are less than loving” it is not the Lord’s way. Zion equals unity and unity is only achieved through love, kindness, concern, patience, and effort.

As missionary work increases worldwide and Ward and Branch Councils pray over the people in their areas my hope is that we all take a page from the lesson of the potluck. That we find the lady sitting alone in Sunday School, the teen who is a little different at school, the father in our neighborhood who is struggling, and we enfold them in the arms of love the Savior has promised them. It will make a difference in their lives and in ours. This is the work we are asked to do, so let’s do it.

“I believe we members do not have the option to extend the hand of fellowship only to relatives, close friends, certain Church members, and those selected nonmembers who express an interest in the Church. Limiting or withholding our fellowship seems to me to be contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Savior offered the effects of his atoning sacrifice to all mankind. He said, ‘Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.’ (D&C 18:10.) Can we justify doing less?” -Russell M. Nelson



Friday, October 4, 2013

TMI: Testimony Meeting

"There is a great responsibility in bearing pure testimony. Sometimes I think too little of it is done in the Church." – Elder Boyd K Packer

There are perks to living just west of nowhere. Wide open spaces where the deer and the armadillos play, sunsets that would make Monet fall over his paintbrushes, traffic jams that consist of a tractor and  three horse trailers all showing up at the stoplight at the same time. 

With all this country wholesomeness and fresh air comes the blessing of going to church in a little Branch of the Church. Best of all is fast and testimony meetings in that Branch.
Once a month Mormons observe what we call “fast Sunday”. Generally on the first Sunday of the month the members forego food and drink for two meals and donate the equivalent cost, or more, to the Church to assist the poor and needy. The congregational meeting on each fast Sunday, called fast and testimony meeting, is devoted to the voluntary expression of testimony by members.

This means anybody can get up and share their testimony with the congregation and in my Branch it is a faith filled incredible meeting every single week. I think that may be because we are so small and everyone feels like family. These are humble, loving, and awesome people who go to church not because it is expected, not because it is the social center of life or that it is easy, but because they know the Church is true. They bear simple, sweet, short testimonies and tell what they know. That’s it. I’ve learned what “pure testimony” is by associating with them.

When we lived in other areas of the country this was not always so. Testimony meetings were uplifting, sometimes entertaining, and other times made me want to crawl under my chair and hide from embarrassment. 

I remember well one sister who would get up each month and give the congregation a rundown on all the marital problems she was having with her hubby who was sitting there three rows back. How he told her she was going to get fat if she kept eating chocolate and what went on in her therapy sessions. There was also the brother that would get up and give a sermon every week on some historical fact for 15 minutes at a time. He had to be escorted from the mic several times by the Bishop.

Then there were the well-meaning parents who exactly 30 seconds after hearing a letter read from the First Presidency asking that two-year-olds not give testimony in the main meeting, escorted those same kids right up to the pulpit and did exactly what they had just been asked not to do. This was followed up by folks giving travel logs of their trip to Branson and detailed information on the mole they had removed that week with the added bonus of taking off the band-aid so we could all see.  

Mixed in generously with all that were the hoards of thank-a-mony givers. I was a part of that group. I got up, thanked my family, thanked God for the Gospel, thanked my friends, thanked a guy named Earl who happened to drive by the church that morning, and then sat down. And while being grateful is imperative to being a disciple it is not a testimony.

Said Elder Dallin H Oaks:
“A testimony of the gospel is not a travelogue, a health log, or an expression of love for family members. It is not a sermon. President Kimball taught that the moment we begin preaching to others, our testimony is ended.”
Hartman Rector, Jr. -Member of the First Quorum of the Seventy:
“Bearing testimony has to do with bearing witness to that which we know to be true. Much of what we call testimony bearing is not really testimony at all—it is a statement or expression of public thanks. It is good to be thankful, but public thanks is not testimony.
Testimony comes from the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of Christ, which John testifies is ‘the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ (Jn 1:9), will lead a man to Christ and help him get a testimony, and if followed will lead to baptism in Jesus Christ’s church.”

What I love about my Branch is that they instinctively follow the example of Joseph Smith in this area. Joseph bore powerful pure testimony over and over again throughout his life on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the miracle of the Restoration of the Gospel, but most significantly he declared: 
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).

He testified simply what he knew, that Jesus Christ lives. We can do the same by testifying about what we know. That the Gospel has been restored, that we are led by a prophet today, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Jesus Christ lives and loves us. I testify that if we do this in our meetings and cut the other junk they will be filled with the Spirit and fast Sunday can be a joyous spiritual feast for everyone. Besides, nobody wants to hear about your mole.



“…Personal testimony is the foundation of our faith. It is the binding power that makes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints unique in the lives of its members, as compared with all other religious denominations of the world. The doctrine of the Restoration is glorious in and of itself, but the thing that makes it powerful and imbues it with great meaning is the personal testimonies of Church members worldwide who accept the Restoration of the gospel and strive to live its teachings every day of their lives.” -Elder M. Russell Ballard

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Proper Etiquette for Young Ladies

Oi vey people. This whole Miley Cyrus circus of repulsiveness lately has led to thought on my part. Dangerous I know.

In this post I will not lament on how as a culture we are sexualizing children or have located ourselves squarely on the deck of the Titanic as a civilization because of our collective nastiness. That has been done much more effectively and eloquently than I can manage. Instead I find myself wondering what happened to good old social convention, you know manners and such. It used to be important, so much so that way back people even wrote books about it, and other people read that and adhered to some of it. Were any of those old rules based in something deeper?

On meeting a lady on the street

I found myself wondering what such a literary work would look like today, so I humbly submit the following with current social standards in place.

Here are just a few of the things a lady must keep in mind:
  • Proper young ladies should indulge in cosmetics, hair-dyes or other forms of insincerity in their personal appearance. Make-up should be applied so that the wearer is indistinguishable from a 45 year old truck stop waitress. Tattoos should be acquired as soon as possible without regard to the fact that as they get older that beautiful flower on the lower back will start looking like a dead bloated dog carcass.
  • Ladies should wear bling at all times possible and loudly broadcast how much the said bling was purchased for.
  • Under no circumstances should an unmarried young woman be accompanied by a chaperon when she goes out. There is no need to ensure that she is innocent or to compel others to respect her innocence. Girls as young as grade school should be dressed like adults and encouraged by parents, media, and other sources to date and become intimately active as soon as possible.
  • The primary mode of communication should be text message. Most especially when standing directly next to another person this technique should be employed. When cell service is unavailable a good conversationalist should be possessed of much information on the latest Boy Bands and Perez Hilton gossip. Acquired keen observation, attentive listening, a good memory, and logical habits of thought are unnecessary and unattractive.
  • Characteristics of a well-educated lady include demeaning men and using all possible strategy to emotionally destroy any other young ladies deemed competition. She uses vulgarisms, flippancy, coarseness, triviality and provocation in her speech.
  • A lady is unsympathetic, selfish and has no patience listening to others unless they are speaking about her. To show any interest in the immediate concerns of other people is very uncomplimentary. She must maintain herself as the only acceptable topic with one exception. Embellished and salacious stories about celebrities and classmates is required in all polite conversation.
  • A lady publicizes all exhibitions of temper before others. Whether grief or joy, emotions should be recorded and posted on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. The performance must be as dramatic as possible to get an acceptable number of views.
  • At a dance, a lady may refuse to dance with any gentleman who invites her by shamelessly snubbing him and then making comments about him to her friends. However, should a lady take interest in a young gentleman she should approach him first and then proceed to gyrate like a pole dancer once the music begins. An unattached lady must pair off immediately and spend the rest of the dance in a dark corner with her beau.
  • A lady is never seen in a ball-room with sleeves. Attire must be covered in sequins and short enough to leave nothing to the imagination. A spray on tan and heavy make-up must also be acquired to fulfill social protocol.

I could go on but you get the point. And yes I am a middle-aged fuddy duddy but for Pete's sake just because an idea has been around for a while doesn't make it any less worthy. This is not a call to return to corsets and girls who can't vote or speak for themselves. Obviously, there were problems back then too but there was something else buried under all the bowing and curtsying. There was a respect for oneself and others.

What I ask is for women everywhere to realize who they are, daughters of God who make an indelible mark on the world around them. Being kind, polite, modest, and virtuous both inside and out elevates yourself and everyone around you. Fight the filth in the world, cultivate the good that is inherently a part of your being, avoid the garbage- you know exactly what it is. Anything that makes you feel like less than a fabulous, incredible, good person who could stand in the presence of God without fear or guilt is it.

Reject the plastic revolting lies that media and evil people out to make a quick buck sell to you. You do not have to take your clothes off for guys to like you. The real men worth having won't have anything to do with the Miley's and Rhianna's of the world. They respect and love women too much to put up with girls who demean themselves.

Truly beautiful is the girl or woman who walks in the knowledge of her eternal worth, who keeps herself clean, and who shows who she is in every action. Manners rooted in respect are just one way of demonstrating that. Respect is where happiness is found so let's get off the Titanic, we know where it goes.


Monday, August 12, 2013

A Word about Mormon Missionaries

Hey there Neighbor,

You may have seen some of these guys around town lately.

Or maybe girls that look like this.

I'm not surprised, they seem to be everywhere these days and you are probably going to see a lot more of them in the coming months and years. This is because the number of full time missionaries for the Church has gone from somewhere around 55,000 world-wide to 70,000 and is projected to be to over 85,000 in a very short period of time. The young people in our church are choosing to go out and serve in astounding and ever increasing numbers.

These missionaries are good, honest, talented, wonderful kids. They love the Lord and are doing what He has asked. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."(Matthew 28:19) They have a glad message and they will share it with anybody who will stand still long enough to let them.

Missionaries are completely in the Lord’s service for 2 full years for the men and 18 months for young women. They put on hold schooling, jobs, dating, and all the things that others their age are doing. Their day starts at 6:30 am and ends at 10:30 pm every day of the week. They teach, proselyte, and do service projects. It is difficult and most times thankless work.

They do this willingly; they are not paid for their service. In fact, most of them worked jobs and saved before they went out to pay their way and in most cases their families and members of their home congregations are contributing to financially sustain them.

Intense sacrifice is made by the families of these missionaries; prayers are said daily and sometimes hourly for these beloved family members who are serving all over the world. “Keep them safe. Help them to find people to teach.” Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandparents and friends, all of them are binding their hearts together in faith and love to ask for God’s blessing on these treasured youngsters.

So what I ask of you (my friends and neighbors who are not of my faith) is that when you see the missionaries out on their bikes, in the store, or on your doorstep please be kind to them. They know that this Gospel is not for everyone, but they want to give everyone a chance. They’ve seen it change lives, it has most likely changed theirs and so they are excited to tell you how the happiness that fills them can be yours as well.

When talking to them if you decide it is not for you then please just let them know. There is no need to be rude, call them names, or slam the door in their face. There is no need to get angry, or try to get them to fight with you. Try to remember that these are cherished sons and daughters, both of their parents and their Father in Heaven. So I ask you to be kind.

Also, please don’t tell them that you would like to hear more if you really don’t. Don’t make an appointment with them if you aren’t going to show up and don’t pretend not to be home if you are. They can tell you are in there, I promise. Instead just politely tell them you aren’t interested and that you appreciate their effort. They can handle it and then you won’t waste their time.

I know that you are awesome and good-hearted. I see your kindness and love as we work together in our community. Please take the same care and kindness you give to others and apply it to this situation as well. And who knows, when you chat with a missionary they may be able to teach you something that you didn’t know and you may have something to offer them.

Thanks folks and I’ll see you around the neighborhood.


P.S. The examples I've used are not the case with many of my wonderful neighbors but all of these things happen to the Elders and Sisters in our area on a daily basis. Thanks to those of you who show compassion for everyone you meet regardless of who they are.  


Friday, August 9, 2013

The Rest of the Story

Dad owned a small motor rewind and repair shop for more than 30 years. The “shop” was a place many of my childhood and adolescent days were spent. It was a family business and as such the family was expected to work. Whether we wanted to or not.

The shop was a concrete building, a converted service station built in the early era of cars. The smell of oil and solvents and metal filled the air and counters were covered in well-used tools. There was a little transistor radio that was eternally tuned to the oldies rock ‘n’ roll station. The Monkeys and the Beatles were our constant companions.

At noon everyday dad would get his sack lunch out of an ancient refrigerator and come up to the front office. There he sat at a little desk that housed all the invoices and bills to paid, hand-written ledgers and deposit tickets. It was a wooden school teachers desk, a hand me down from a long forgotten donator which had a glass top laid over cutouts of peanuts comic strips and a small sign that read “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”.

Dad would get a couple of empty Grainger shipping boxes and prop his leg up on them. His leg had been injured years before on an accident while on his mission and never fully recovered. He would unpack his sandwich and switch the radio over to Paul Harvey.

“The Rest of The Story” was the background for countless lunch breaks spent eating peanut butter and jelly or bologna with mustard. I can still see dad there in his blue work shirt, blue jeans and red Converse all-star  high tops. Leg propped up, leaned back in his chair as the iconic voice of Paul wafted across the shop.

Over the radio that newscaster/storyteller taught us about farmers, government, and told folksy stories of every-day heroes. History and religion, composers and businessmen, the background you had never heard about George Washington and Elvis Presley. Then Mr. Harvey would sign off with “this is Paul Harvey, good day!” and lunch would be over, back to work we went.

Dad has been gone now for more than 5 years. Our bond in life had some cracks in it, especially in the early years. He had a lot of work to do when it came to family, but he did do it and by the time he exited this sphere had repented and purified himself to a degree which amazed those closest to him. And yet some of the pain of that previous life still lingered in my heart, even after he was gone.

I assumed that his death would be an ending of some sort. That no more progress could be made in our connection… at least for a time. But it has become clear that nothing is further from the truth. Dad has been around, he is actively working for the good of his family, he is mending things and occupied with healing old wounds. In experiences of all sorts I find him continuing his progress towards our eternal family and doing his best to help us along. It is amazing and I know that it is so.

President Joseph F. Smith said “I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. … We are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors … who have preceded us into the spirit world. We can not forget them; we do not cease to love them; we always hold them in our hearts, in memory, and thus we are associated and united to them by ties that we can not break. … If this is the case with us in our finite condition, surrounded by our mortal weaknesses, … how much more certain it is … to believe that those who have been faithful, who have gone beyond … can see us better than we can see them; that they know us better than we know them. … We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; … their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves."

So as I think about those lunch times at the shop all those years ago I can do it with fondness. The hurt that used to cling to my heart-strings is fading and the love I feel for dad increases every day. Dad is working for that and so am I. Relationships don’t end at death, not even temporarily. And that my friends is really the rest of the story.



“Relationships can be strengthened through the veil with people we know and love. That is done by our determined effort to continually do what is right. We can strengthen our relationship with the departed individual we love by recognizing that the separation is temporary and that covenants made in the temple are eternal. When consistently obeyed, such covenants assure the eternal realization of the promises inherent in them.” –Richard G.Scott

Here is one of my favorite Paul Harvey tributes. Best if you listen with closed eyes. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Faith of Our Fathers

A few weeks ago I accompanied the Youth of our Stake on a week-long trip to historical sites of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was a wonderful week spent soaking up the vibrant energy of the teens we were with punctuated by several powerful faith building experiences as we walked the paths of the early Saints.

Among the locations we visited were Nauvoo and Carthage Illinois. These sites are significant to members of my faith because of events that transpired there in the 1840’s.

The early church experienced significant growth in a short period time after being organized by the prophet Joseph Smith. These early converts gathered together in Kirtland Ohio and Jackson county Missouri. Soon these settlements grew to be some of the largest cities in their respective states.

Especially in Missouri the swelling ranks of the Mormons incurred the wrath of the neighbors. Their ideas about religion and the fact that they tended to vote in a united block threatened the interests of those who supported slavery at that time. Soon armed mobs were terrorizing the Saints. Homes and crops were burned, people severely beaten and killed, women raped, and leadership arrested on accusations of treason. This all culminated with an extermination order issued by the governor of Missouri which made it legal to drive the Mormons from the state and murder them if they would not go.

All this because a group of people wanted to practice their religion in the way they saw fit.

The members were driven out of their homes in a brutally cold winter with barely the clothes on their backs. The suffering endured is difficult to imagine. After a period of time they settled on the banks of the Mississippi River in a swamp that no one else would possibly want.

They then toiled and built the city of Navuoo, which means beautiful in Hebrew. It truly was a beautiful city with the gleaming white temple at the center.

Then in 1845 Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred by an angry mob in Carthage which was located a few miles from Navuoo. The prophet was there under the promised protection of the governor of the state. History records that he was left to the designs of those who openly vowed to kill him in hopes of destroying the Church.

To their great surprise his death did not level the religion he had led. Once again the Saints were forced to leave their homes under threat of violence to cross the frozen prairie and move far enough west to a place they could finally live in peace.

The more you know about their situation questions begin to form. Why didn’t these people just give up, disavow the church, and go back to a life where persecution wasn’t raging around them? As I visited these sites the spirit of those pioneers seemed to imbue the landscape. There is a tangible feeling of faith and hope that penetrates your soul. These are sacred places.

It became clear to me that these people didn't just believe but knew that Gospel of Jesus Christ was a restoration of truth upon the earth. That Joseph Smith was exactly what he purported to be, just a man and a prophet called of God. They knew that God was at the head of this Church. They knew these things so deeply that they were willing to give their lives for the Kingdom. It led them from Jackson County to Navuoo and from there into the Salt Lake Valley and the thousands of graves that lie along the trail are testaments to their belief.

So what to do with this knowledge? How does their sacrifice apply to us today?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
 “Many of our challenges are different from those faced by former pioneers but perhaps just as dangerous and surely as significant to our own salvation and the salvation of those who follow us.  For example, as for life-threatening obstacles, the wolves that prowled around pioneer settlements were no more dangerous to their children than the drug dealers or pornographers who threaten our children. Similarly, the early pioneers’ physical hunger posed no greater threat to their well-being than the spiritual hunger experienced by many in our day. The children of earlier pioneers were required to do incredibly hard physical work to survive their environment. That was no greater challenge than many of our young people now face from the absence of hard work, which results in spiritually corrosive challenges to discipline, responsibility, and self-worth. Jesus taught: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

In the latest Ensign Magazine President Thomas S. Monson, the current President of the Church and prophet wrote

“A dictionary defines a pioneer as ‘one who goes before to prepare or open up the way for others to follow.’ Can we somehow muster the courage and steadfastness of purpose that characterized the pioneers of a former generation? Can you and I, in actual fact, be pioneers?

I know we can be. 

Oh, how the world needs pioneers today!”

Studying and understanding what the early Saints went through will inevitably lead one to the question “why did they do it?” Finding that answer for ourselves will allow us to follow in their footsteps and do the work God asks of us today. We can draw strength from their example and unite in heart with those wonderful people of the past. We too can sing with full purpose of heart that "all is well" even as the storms of life swirl around us. God was with them and He is with us as well.

I invite you find out for yourself what those Saints and I know. There is nothing more important. It will change your life.



To find out more or request missionaries to visit with you please visit mormon.org.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Our Day of Deliverance

The fourth of July was my dad's favorite holiday and I loved it too. I couldn't wait for the BBQ, the sparklers, the fireworks display by the city where we would lay on blankets in the local park and watch in wonder giant blooming radiant explosions of light. But every year before all of our festivities would begin dad would do something special. He would read to us from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. 

He knew that the fun and happiness we were enjoying had been won through the sacrifice and blood of patriots and it was important for us to know it. I'm grateful for his teachings.

I submit the following quotes as a reminder of the great men who God called to bring this blessed nation into being as well as leaders of our religion who knew that these things were sanctioned of God and divinely inspired. 

“May it be to the world, what I believe it will be … the signal of arousing men to burst the chains … and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. … For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”  - Thomas Jefferson

 “I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance.” – John Adams

“Hence, we say that the Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun…We say that God is true; that the Constitution of the United States is true…” –Joseph Smith

"Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshipped. 
"That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them. 
"As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, is the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see” – Benjamin Franklin

On this independence day let us remember the sacrifices of our noble forefathers who closed the Declaration of Independence with these words. "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." May we do the same.

Cheers and God Bless America,


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