Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Proud to be an AMERICAN

Not a Norwegian-American; not an English-American; not a German-American - - - although I *do* descend from immigrants from all of those countries. All of whom came to these shores with a dream of a better life, and a determination to work hard to make their dreams come true.

But, because all those diverse peoples came here with the same goal, they set aside the past, and became ONE NATION, even as the original 13 colonies, despite their differences in culture and economics and belief systems, worked to come together as UNITED STATES.

You can make a beautiful building with stones of all sizes, shapes, and colors as long as they are all united with the same mortar. But, when the stones begin taking honor unto themselves, and working themselves lose from the wall in an attempt to prove that they are better than the rest of the wall because they are green or blue or have yellow specks in them, the wall will quickly crumble. We can, and should, honor our heritage; we should always remember the wonderful blessings we or our forefathers came here to realize. But, now we are here, it is time to put the past aside and be AMERICANS. Because we cannot effectively be loyal to more than one country/cause/conscience at a time. As Pres. Lincoln so eloquently put it, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

At the risk of letting on to how old I am, I must confess to having sat with my grandfather's arm around my shoulder watching TV when I first heard Red Skelton give this moving presentation:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

"I - Me; an individual; a committee of one.
"Pledge - Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.
"Allegiance - My love and my devotion.
"To the Flag - Our standard; Old Glory; a symbol of Freedom; wherever she waves there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, Freedom is everybody's job.
"United - That means that we have all come together.
"States - Individual communities that have united into forty-eight great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose. All divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that is love for country.
"And to the Republic - Republic--a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern.
"For which it stands- And government is the people; and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
"One Nation Under God - One Nation--meaning, so blessed by God.
"Indivisible - Incapable of being divided.
"With Liberty - Which is Freedom; the right of power to live one's own life, without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.
"And Justice - The principle, or qualities, of dealing fairly with others.
"For All - For All--which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.

"Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under God. Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer, and that would be eliminated from schools, too?" - Red Skelton

I remember the sense of peace and security I always felt near my grandfather; I remember the feeling of joy and pride in my country, the greatest nation on earth, as I heard Red recite and explain those stirring words.

I can't help but wonder if our current national climate of appeasement will leave anything for my grandson to find pride in. . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Convincing Statistics

From Top MSNBC Headlines: "If you smoke, start thinking of yourself as a decade older than you really are. A 55-year-old man who smokes has almost the same chance of dying in the next 10 years as a 65-year-old who's never smoked — a stark example from newly published charts that aim to put some of Americans' biggest health risks into context.

"The charts — intended for posting in doctors' offices — stress age, gender and smoking status, not more personal risk factors such as a history of cancer in the family. Among the charts' bottom-line messages:
"Risks change with age. Accidents, for example, are the single largest cause of death for men who don't smoke until age 45. Then, accidents are tied with heart disease until 50, when heart risks take over.
"Smoking overwhelmingly worsens chances of survival. For example, 7 of every 1,000 women will die of breast cancer between ages 60 and 70 — but 14 of 1,000 will die of heart disease in that period, the charts note. Among smokers, however, the charts show 31 of 1,000 women will die of heart disease between ages 60 and 70, and another 41 of 1,000 will die of lung cancer."

To read the whole article, go to:

Which all goes to show . . . well, several points:

1. Isaiah 55:8, 9

2. We need God's guidance as much, if not more, today than at any other time in the world's history.

3. Amos 3:7

4. Joseph Smith was a true prophet of a Living, Loving God, Who knows all things and cares enough to warn us in advance so we can be prepared and/or avoid today's pitfalls. In 1833, he received this revelation, known as The Word of Wisdom:

" Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—

" That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

" And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.

" And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.

"And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

" And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—

" Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

" Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

" And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

" All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;

" And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

" All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—

" Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

" And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

" And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

" And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

" And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen. "

The more time goes by, the more science "catches on" to the wisdom declared here.
This new "Headline News" is just the latest example.

Friday, June 6, 2008

God Loves Orchids Just As Much As Poppies

My dad used to scare the hell out of me by quoting scriptures about the direst prophecies he could find relating to the Last Days. And then, when I was a blubbering puddle of goo, terrified out of my mind, I would say something like, "You make me feel like the vilest creature that ever walked on the face of the earth." And he would inevitably reply, "Well, there's no smoke without a fire." And then he would turn and walk away, leaving me to try, somehow, to pull the pieces together.

I guess he was trying to "toughen me up." Because when I left for college, I heard him tell my mother, "She's a hot house flower that's been coddled and protected all her life. The first cold wind that blows is going to shrivel her up and destroy her."

Well, Dad, I'm afraid it didn't work. But, I've now lived longer than you did, and I haven't shriveled up yet, either. But, I'm about to.

I've had to give up watching daily news broadcasts years ago. The Top Stories of man's inhumanity to man (and woman) began to so disturb me that I was unable to sleep at night, and when I did sleep, I would have nightmares. The only solution was to stop exposing myself to the source of my stress.

But, I *would* follow stores of natural disasters, because I find that floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. always bring out the best in people as they are moved with compassion to help those whose lives have been devastated.

But, even that has turned into a mixed blessing.

Perhaps part of it is because of our greater ability to get news quickly with our modern technologies; perhaps part of it is the tremendously increased number of news agencies, each vying to be the first to report something new; I tend to believe it's because we are seeing the fulfillment of all those prophecies Dad kept quoting at me . . . . As I have followed the stores of typhoons, earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, tsunamis, I have noticed a geometric increase in the number and severity of these incidents. (Outside of history books, who had ever HEARD of a tsunami 10 years ago??? Last fall, one of our favorite TV shows was interrupted by a tsunami warning!!!!! Here in California!! We don't have tsumanis - - - we have earthquakes!)

And now, the California Supreme Court, in a 4 to 3 decision, has chosen to open Pandora's Box and destroy civilization as we know it. Despite clear evidence that their flagrant disregard of the will of the people will not be allowed to stand, and in a rude gesture to half the Union who have already put Marriage Amendments in place in their Constitutions, and 10 states who begged them to hold off until an election could be held because of the legal catastrophe this will unleash throughout the country, these 4 judges have placed their opinions above law, above reason, above sanity, and have opened the door to chaos.

Well, Dad, I guess you were right. I must be a tender plant, because this has done me in. For the sake of my health, my blood pressure, and my sanity, I'm going to have to stop reading my email alerts, stop signing petitions and stop contacting senators. I've tried so hard to do what I can to support the causes I believe in. I will never give up my right to vote! And I will continue to pray that God will open the eyes and hearts of people throughout this state and this nation, that perhaps we may turn our feet aside from this disastrous path before it is too late.

But, I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I've come to the conclusion that God doesn't want a garden full of nothing but poppies and dandelions. Even in the gardens of men, there are beautiful, tender flowers that require care and protection, which some men are willing to pay vast sums of money to obtain and to care for. Some of these rare blossoms will whither if you touch them, but their beauty and fragrance is, to these collectors, worth the effort required.

If even men can find such value in a rare and tender plant, then surely God, also, has a place for orchids in His garden. And, if all the use the masses can find for flower blossoms is to strew them along the road so they can dance on them on their path to the cliff, then it becomes the duty of the flower to remove itself from the reach of the masses.

When the boys were young, and the world would begin to press a little too closely, we would "put our shields up," and play nothing but Sabbath appropriate music, and do other things to drive Satan and his minions nuts so they couldn't stand the atmosphere around here and would leave us alone. I have decided it is time to do that again, for my own protection.

Two years ago, Elder David R. Stone of the Seventy gave a talk in General Conference which resonated with my soul. I heard his words again today as I contemplated this posting:

"My involvement with the building of the Manhattan temple gave me the opportunity to be in the temple quite often prior to the dedication. It was wonderful to sit in the celestial room and be there in perfect silence, without a single sound to be heard coming from the busy New York streets outside. How was it possible that the temple could be so reverently silent when the hustle and bustle of the metropolis was just a few yards away?

"The answer was in the construction of the temple. The temple was built within the walls of an existing building, and the inner walls of the temple were connected to the outer walls at only a very few junction points. That is how the temple (Zion) limited the effects of Babylon, or the world outside.

"There may be a lesson here for us. We can create the real Zion among us by limiting the extent to which Babylon will influence our lives. . . .

"Wherever we are, whatever city we may live in, we can build our own Zion by the principles of the celestial kingdom and ever seek to become the pure in heart. Zion is the beautiful, and the Lord holds it in His own hands. Our homes can be places which are a refuge and protection, as Zion is."

(For the full text of his remarks, go to:

My home needs to be such a refuge. I need to build my own "hot house" so I can become the beautiful orchid God meant for me to be.

Sorry, Dad. I was never intended to be a poppy. Throwing dirt on a rose won't turn it into a dandelion. It's not easy, being an orchid. But, God has a use for me, as an orchid, which I could not fulfill were I a daisy. And so I shall retreat now into my Mountain Monastery to listen to the monks chant, to take the cooling waters, and to refresh my soul, and to try to ignore the raging fires burning down the forests around me.