Back to School Concerns: Ensuring Accurate History is Taught

usa-1779925_960_720The first article in this series discussed the absence of God in public schools. When belief in God is removed, another belief system must take its place, and secularism has done just that. A secular belief system posits that events have no religious or spiritual basis. This point of view is completely antithetical to the reality of our nation’s history and spiritual origins. Because of the domination of secular teachings, there is a significant concern that we are losing the divinely inspired founding principles of our country.

Consider the following quotes:

“I believe we are paying a very high price for our increasing secularism. Jefferson said, ‘God who gave us life, gave us liberty.’ Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift of God?”
– President Gordon B. Hinckley, Address given at Provo Freedom Festival, 1997

“As a result of misunderstanding the importance of religious liberty in our Constitutional order, many citizens and even some educators have come to consider it bad taste or even illegal for public school teachers even to mention religious influences or commitments. No wonder we suffer an appalling ignorance of our political and cultural origins.”
– Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, July 1990

When religious influence is not considered or discussed while teaching history in the classroom, fundamental truths are left out of our children’s education. God established this nation. He raised up the Founding Fathers for the purpose of writing our Constitution. His influence was seen throughout the Revolutionary War which was prophesied of in the Book of Mormon. Not only do we as Latter-day Saints believe this, but the Founding Fathers believed it! Prevailing wisdom today paints the Founders as wealthy, elitist slave owners who served their own interests by establishing our government. History books written by authors like self-proclaimed socialist Howard Zinn are widely used and rarely questioned. Much of the spiritual influence that the Founders felt and acted upon has been erased. History has been rewritten.

Character of the Founders
Fortunately for those seeking truth, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have said much about these great men. Here are just a few examples:

“I [look] upon the Founding Fathers as men who believed in God, as men who prayed to God, as men who recognized God and wished to do His will. What a singular and remarkable group they were! As I look across the world today, I search in vain for such a group as walked together across the stage of history when this nation was born.”
– President Gordon B. Hinckley, Address given at Provo Freedom Festival, 1997

“The Founding Fathers understood this country’s spiritual heritage. They frequently declared that God’s hand was upon this nation, and that He was working through them to create what Chesterton once called ‘a nation with the soul of a church.’ While they were influenced by history and their accumulated knowledge, the single most influential reference source for their work on the Constitution was the Holy Bible.”
– M. Russell Ballard, “Religion in a Free Society,” Ensign, October 1992

“Other nations might boast of their kings, but the King of America, proclaimed by the patriotic fathers who founded it and established it, is the great God of Heaven.”
– Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, October 1928, p. 109

“I have resolved to do all that is within my power to keep alive the same faith which existed in the hearts and souls of our early founding fathers. It was George Washington who declared, ‘The people know it is impossible to rightly govern without God and the Bible.’”
– L. Tom Perry, Conference Report, October 1975, p. 130

wilford-woodruff-82910-galleryIn the April 1898 General Conference, President Wilford Woodruff had this to say about the Founders: “Those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men.” He then goes on to relate the occasion when many of the Founding Fathers appeared to him in the St. George temple and insisted that their temple work be done. Said he, “Would those spirits have called upon me, as an Elder in Israel, to perform that work if they had not been noble spirits before God? They would not.”

From these teachings of modern prophets and apostles we can be assured of the noble character of our Founders.

Why Our Country is Unique
The next question is – why does it matter? Why is our freedom so essential to understand and maintain? The answer is very simple and Elder Mark E. Petersen explains it this way:

“Free agency is part and parcel of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, free agency was required here in America so that God’s work could move forward; and so it must, for the day of the Lord draweth nigh and the ultimate destiny of the United States is rapidly emerging.

“Here in the USA the Lord’s latter-day Zion has been established already. Here in the USA his latter-day New Jerusalem will yet be established. Here in the USA the Lord will preside during the Millennium” (BYU, 7/4/76).

This is not just one of many nations. Our Father in Heaven needed a free land to restore the gospel. Our country has a destiny to perform, and it is not finished yet. From this free land the gospel has gone forth to the world and must continue to go forth until the time when we again welcome our Savior. Freedom is essential to the spread of the gospel. Knowing this, we cannot fail to teach the rising generation the truths that they will need to carry on the Lord’s work.

Our Responsibility
It is up to us as parents to know the history of our nation, the Constitution, and how it relates to the gospel. It is our responsibility to make sure our children are taught these things. Ezra Taft Benson said:

“We must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

“Have we read The Federalist Papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it?

“As Jefferson said, ‘If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, . . . it expects what never was and never will be'” (October 1987 General Conference).

Abraham Lincoln declared at Gettysburg that ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. An apathetic and ignorant citizenry cannot possibly uphold the divinely-inspired Constitution and ensure that our freedoms are protected. We are incredibly blessed to live in this promised land, and we must remember that “unto whom much is given much is required” (D&C 82:3). The blessings of freedom come with the responsibility to preserve that freedom for future generations. We need to commit to teach our children the noble character of our Founding Fathers and the Biblical principles upon which our government is based. Most importantly, we need to teach them that our Father in Heaven was, is now, and will forever be blessing this land according to our righteousness.

Written by Stephanie Gifford
Stephanie Gifford lives in southeast Idaho with her wonderful husband, Jared, and their beautiful daughter. She enjoys horses, baseball, reading, and spending time with family.

Back to School Concerns: Addressing the Absence of God in Public Schools

School busesSummer is coming to a close and it’s almost time to send our children back to school. This is a perfect time to think about education and what it means for our children. What is true education? What do we want our children to know and to be by the time they leave our homes and go out on their own?

My favorite definition of education comes from Orson F. Whitney: “[Education] is the expansion of the soul – the body and the spirit – to the fullness of its capacity” (“What is Education,” 6/19/1885). What a beautiful way to look at it! This is education from an eternal perspective – allowing the mind and the spirit to expand in wisdom and knowledge to the fullness of their capacity. Education needs to include our whole soul.

What is the goal that we have for educating our children? Certainly we want them to learn and gain skills that will allow them to provide for their future temporal needs. Financial stability is important. However, there are other areas of life that deserve even greater attention. Isn’t the ultimate goal to give our children a strong spiritual foundation so that they can help grow the Kingdom of God in these latter days? All of our spiritual and temporal learning should work to serve that goal in some way.

Usually when we speak of education and learning, our minds go to the learning done in a classroom. Approximately 90% of school-aged children attend public schools – usually for about seven hours a day, five days a week, for nine months every year. That is a significant chunk of time to send our children anywhere, and parents should be keenly aware of how the time spent there can affect them. The public school system is not perfect and we need to take an honest and open look at it. This series of articles will examine some of the concerns of public school and how parents can deal with them.

The Absence of God in Public Education

The biggest concern I see is the absence of God in public school. Through Supreme Court decisions and the misapplied doctrine of separation of church and state, prayer, biblical teachings, and discussion of God are not allowed in school. How do we balance sending our children to school to learn the secular things they need to know with also ensuring that their spiritual needs are being met?

With God removed from education, a vacuum is created which must be filled by another belief system. Our schools now embrace a secular viewpoint which posits that God and his divine influence are of no consequence. Ezra Taft Benson explains why this is a concern: “I would have you consider soberly how this secular influence has affected the treatment of our nation’s history in the textbook in the classroom. Today, students are subjected in their textbooks and classroom lectures to a subtle propaganda that there is a ‘natural’ or a rational explanation to all causes and events. Such a position removes the need for a faith in God, or belief in His interposition in the affairs of men” (BYU, 3/28/76). The secular influence naturally extends beyond history to other subjects like science and philosophy.

Another caution on this subject comes from Bishop Keith B. McMullin: “Because secularism typically ignores the eternal perspective, it can in time lead to unbelief” (BYU, 11/5/06). This seems quite logical when you think about it. We teach our children at church and at home that God’s influence is seen in everything; that a sparrow cannot fall without his notice. We teach our children that their Father in Heaven knows us each intimately and has a grand plan for all of his children. Then they attend school and are taught nothing of God’s influence and instead given alternate secular explanations in all subjects. This will surely lead to confusion for some of our youth.

This dichotomy makes it critical that we examine what is being taught so that we can combat false philosophies and help our children find truth. Ezra Taft Benson said, “As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideas as one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members. . . It is important that you stay close to your children, daily review, if possible, what they have learned in school, and go over their textbooks” (October 1970 General Conference). We must be truly vigilant to ensure that the righteous goal of gaining an education doesn’t result in the negative consequence of having faith weakened or destroyed by those who teach theories as truth that are contrary to God’s laws.

In addition to monitoring what is taught, how can we give our children a strong spiritual foundation to support them through school? Here are some suggestions:

Pray for Discernment
Both we and our children need the gift of discernment. The adversary is subtle and cunning, but the light of the Holy Ghost will illuminate truth and allow us to navigate a world in turmoil.

LDS Seminary Class
Attend Seminary and Institute
These programs have been established to help our youth and young adults understand the teachings of Jesus Christ and how to apply them in daily life. Attendance will provide a daily source of spiritual strength for our children.

Make the Gospel a Priority
Family prayer is a wonderful way to begin our day and invite the Spirit to guide our actions. Reading and discussing the scriptures together each day will help our children learn true principles and how to apply them in their lives. Spending quality family time together is essential. We need to be available for our children when they’re home so that they can come to us with cares and concerns. It really is the basic things that can make all the difference.

Teach Children How to Recognize the Spirit
We often discuss the Holy Ghost and we know that he can communicate with us, but each person receives inspiration in different ways. We need to teach our children from a young age how it feels when the Holy Ghost is present in our lives. Point out times when you feel the Spirit. Teach them to pray to know how the Holy Ghost speaks to them. Teach them that the Holy Ghost sends feelings of peace and assurance that can help them know they are doing what is right.

Avoid Overscheduling
It is always wonderful to have hobbies and to participate in wholesome activities that build talent and character, but we have been warned against participating in these things at the expense of gospel learning and study and quality family time. In the October 2007 General Conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave this counsel: “The amount of children-and-parent time absorbed in the good activities of private lessons, team sports, and other school and club activities also needs to be carefully regulated. Otherwise, children will be overscheduled, and parents will be frazzled and frustrated. Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children’s values on things of eternal worth. Parents should teach gospel priorities through what they do with their children.”

Later in that talk he makes this clear statement: “Some young people are amusing themselves to death—spiritual death.” Keeping our families too busy (albeit with good things) and our priorities off-balance can certainly result in weakening the spiritual foundation of our families.

In an increasingly secular world where God is irrelevant and belief in absolute right and wrong is fading, our children need to be strengthened at home more than ever before. Kim B. Clark said, “Brothers and sisters, you and I need to be much better than we are now. The scriptures teach us that the world is now and will be in commotion. Wickedness and darkness will increase. Yet in that darkening world there will be increased divine light. The Lord Jesus Christ has a great work for us to do with the rising generation. It is a greater work than we have ever done before. The Lord is working in power to strengthen teaching and learning in His true and living Church. He is hastening His work, and He is preparing the earth and His kingdom and us for His return” (“Encircled About with Fire”, 8/4/15).

Our youth have a marvelous work to do on the earth and we have the critical role to prepare them. With so much of their time spent away from home and family, we need to do all we can to strengthen our children and provide a strong spiritual foundation so they may face the world with courage and faith.

Written by Stephanie Gifford
Stephanie Gifford lives in southeast Idaho with her wonderful husband, Jared, and their beautiful daughter. She has a passion for learning about God’s hand in American history and how it ties to the restoration of the Gospel. Stephanie enjoys horses, baseball, reading, and spending time with family.

children-with-lantern_1430582_inl

We Will Raise a Sin-Resistant Generation

children-with-lantern_1430582_inl Raising a Sin-Resistant Generation in our era is not easy. So much of what is logical and true has been corrupted. Our children are left to sift through half-truths and confusing lines of reasoning to find their way in this world.

Covenant keeping mothers would love to remove all corruption from the path our children have to take, but we realize that we cannot do it alone. Gratefully, there have been three, recent General Conference talks from President Russell M. Nelson, Sister Bonnie Oscarson, and Sister Joy D. Jones that each lay out inspired directions that will help mothers raise their children as a Sin-Resistant Generation.

From President Nelson’s talk, we find this list (bullet points added):
1- “We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and
2- who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world.
3- We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation;
4- women who know how to receive personal revelation,
5- who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment;
6- women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families;
7- women who teach fearlessly.”
8- “We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and
9- who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.
10- We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms.
11- We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity.
12- We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.” adam-eve-teaching-children-82611-tablet

Sister Oscarson Added to the list when she taught,
“It will take concerted effort to be converted and to keep our covenants. To do so,
13-we need to be girls and women who study the essential doctrines of the gospel and have an unshakable testimony of their truthfulness.
14- we need to acknowledge the centrality of God our Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, to our faith and salvation. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.
15-We need to study and understand His Atonement and how to apply it daily; repentance is one of the greatest blessings each of us has to stay on course.
16- We need to see Jesus Christ as our primary role model and the example of who we need to become.
17- We need to continually teach our families and classes about our Father’s great plan of salvation, which includes the doctrine of Christ.
18- we need to understand the need for the restoration of the doctrine, organization, and keys of authority in these latter days.
19- We need to have a witness that the Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely chosen and appointed by the Lord to bring about this restoration and recognize that he organized the women of the Church after the organization that existed in Christ’s Church anciently.
20- we need to study and understand temple ordinances and covenants. The temple holds a place at the very center of our most sacred beliefs, and the Lord asks that we attend, ponder, study, and find personal meaning and application individually. We will come to understand that through the ordinances of the temple, the power of godliness is manifest in our lives and that because of temple ordinances, we can be armed with God’s power, and His name will be upon us, His glory round about us, and His angels have charge over us. I wonder if we are fully drawing upon the power of those promises.

999334aefabbf242152c127605d16899 In the talk by Sister Jones, she carefully discusses the true difficulty mothers have in raising a Sin-Resistant Generation: “there are children who struggle to stand “steadfast and immovable” and whose delicate minds are being wounded. They are being attacked on every side by “the fiery darts of the adversary” and are in need of reinforcement and support.” Sister Jones goes on to say what all mothers are feeling about the important generation that we are raising, “They are an overwhelming motivation for us to step up and wage a war against sin in our effort to bring our children unto Christ.”

We cannot let this be the generation that “dwindles in unbelief”. Gathering Families encourages all to become part of a movement of mothers and fathers who are dedicated to raising a Sin-Resistant Generation. We invite you to join with us.

-Jenny Baker: Gathering Families

(Art by Annie Henry, Del Parson and Minerva Tiechert)

13166058_609409039221880_4996146699076551943_n

A Call to Action for Latter-Day Saint Families

13166058_609409039221880_4996146699076551943_nThere is one area to which we as Latter-day Saints must pay greater attention – protecting religious freedom. Did you know the Church has a website (https://www.lds.org/religious-freedom) dedicated to teaching how we can stand for religious freedom? Did you know that members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak multiple times per year all over the world on this critical topic? Why is this such a vitally important issue?

Let’s go straight to the Savior’s own words to find out more. He said that He established the Constitution and raised up wise men – the Founding Fathers – for that very purpose (see D&C 101:80). That alone shows us that we should revere the Constitution and the Founding Fathers because they were given to us by the Savior himself! Joseph Smith set an example for us all to follow when he said, “I am the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth” (Documentary History of the Church, 6:56).

We also learn in Doctrine and Covenants 101 why the Constitution was established. In verses 77-78, the Lord says that He suffered the Constitution to be established and maintained “for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man may act . . . according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.”

Agency is one of the greatest gifts we have from our Father in Heaven. We are here on Earth to prove our worthiness and character and we need our agency to do that. Oppressive governments have the power to severely limit our agency and our ability to practice our religion. When that happens, we lose the capacity to be fully responsible for our actions at the day of judgment. That is not what our Father wants for us! As Latter-day Saints, we understand the essential role of agency in the Plan of Salvation. Knowing that, why do we hesitate to become involved in governmental affairs in order to preserve maximum agency? Why do we let apathy get the best of us?

Let’s face it – in our world today, everything is a hot-button issue. Various political parties battle nonstop and it can be completely exhausting. Anyone who dares to speak up is immediately written off as being ‘political’. When did that label become a bad thing? Being involved in politics means being informed and involved in government. That should describe every one of us. The fact that we keep electing dishonest, corrupt officials that give politics a bad name is really our own fault. If we were more involved and sought for honorable men and women to fill public offices, we could be proud of our government instead of being largely ashamed of it and reluctant to be associated with it. Informed voting is key.

Since so many issues today are controversial, perhaps we are afraid to voice an opinion outside of the mainstream. Once you do, after all, the labels come fast and furious. Hater. Bigot. Out of touch. Religious zealot. Old-fashioned. Intolerant. When we are willing to stand up for our religious values – and our freedom to practice what we preach – in the public square, ridicule is a distinct possibility and no one would take pleasure in joining that firestorm. The good news is that we have comforting words from the Savior: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19).

My goal is to be strong enough to choose the Savior’s side over the world’s side each and every chance I get.

Religion and freedom go hand in hand. We can’t expect to have full use of one without the other. Therefore, if religion is something we value, it is incumbent upon us to take an active role in defending our freedom. The first step is to understand the principles upon which our country is based. We are based on Judeo-Christian values! We need only read the Declaration of Independence to understand that. It talks about what we are entitled to by the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. It affirms that we are given rights by our Creator which no earthly government can take away. Freedom is not given to us by man. It is given to us by God, and man, in turn, creates government to safeguard their freedom. How far removed we are from that principle!

In the coming weeks and months we will have posts on our Gathering Families Facebook page to teach about principles of religious freedom and actions we can take to be involved.
Ezra Taft Benson once said, “If America is destroyed, it may be by Americans who salute the flag, sing the national anthem, march in patriotic parades, cheer Fourth of July speakers. Normally good Americans, but Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free. Americans who have been lulled away into a false security.” May we be counted among the number who refuse to be lulled away into a false security! May we rise to the challenge of defending our freedom as we have been urged by leaders of the Church. May we worry less about being labeled ‘political’ or ‘controversial’ and worry more about being obedient. By doing the small and simple things of learning and working together, we can make great things come to pass in defending our religious freedom.

Embracing the Hood of Motherhood

17392132_10155051590777432_514946661_n
My husband Shayne is a master falconer. When he wants to protect and settle the falcon, he covers the falcon’s head with a hood, which creates in the bird a feeling of safety from predators and threats.
We talk of Sisterhood and Brotherhood, of Fatherhood, Childhood and Motherhood. We live in a wonderful Neighborhoods. It means something to us to belong to these “hoods”—we feel a sense of belonging to something that is good and safe; and in return, we feel a sense of responsibility to uphold and contribute to it.

Sheri Dew said, “Motherhood is more than bearing children. … It is the essence of who we are as women.” All of creation requires the life-giving, nurturing, saving, protecting acts of MOTHERHOOD to reach its potential.

Rachel Janovic said, “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in, it is what God gave you time for.” (blog post, Desiring God)
Mothers are not only women who have given birth, but also women who haven’t. I have numerous women in my life who understand what Motherhood means. Grandmothers, aunts, cousins, friends, and neighbors have mothered us.

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in, it is what God gave you time for.

I’d like to share some personal stories:

· When I first learned to ride a bike, I thought I would ride it to school, which was just six blocks or so from home. On my way, my foot got caught in the spokes and I fell. Unable to untangle myself, this kind sister came from her home and rescued me. She cleaned and bandaged my foot and called my mom. She was not my mother, but she felt like it that day.

· In junior high, a teacher, who wasn’t married and didn’t have children, wore various colored wigs to class, which was quite a spectacle to me. Yet she instilled in me the power of poetry. She had us memorize poems and recite them in front of class. They had strong messages about character, motivation, and living well. She was not my mother, but her influence felt like it.

· A woman known as Grandma Hall would invite her primary class to her home for, what I would call, tea time. She would have pressed white linens, homemade lemonade, and fresh cookies. She was always old to me. She was not my mother, but her genuine smile and personal warmth made me feel there was more love to go around and the world was filled with good.

· Most of my vacations and summers were spent with extended family. So many hours, days, even weeks together have created a trail of loving memories for what I learned from my grandmothers, aunts, and cousins. I learned how to

* pick citrus and squeeze grapefruit juice,
* perform skits and music in front of others,
* plan reunions that bring us together,
* pitch in for family meals with cooking and washing dishes BY HAND, and
* have REAL conversations with REAL people, face-to-face.

These women smiled because of the goodness and truths they lived by. While they have faced challenges of every kind, they have held their ground and come through brighter and better. They were not my mother, but they increased my desire to be part of this Motherhood.

The Motherhood in my neighborhood has blessed our family for more than 25 years. They have saved our children from danger, fed them when they said they were hungry, invited them to join in your adventures, reminded them of their responsibilities, taught them how to serve others, shared your testimonies, and fasted and prayed for them. They live with mother hearts.

The world is shouting rather loudly now that Motherhood is of little importance, and even that there are more important things to spend our time on. It is quite distracting. While the noise has intensified, it isn’t new. It’s a battle that’s been going on since the beginning of time. Even then, Eve was called “The Mother of all Living” and approved by God before she birthed a child. (Moses 4:26)

The title of Mother belongs to every female–that’s every female who has or will ever live. It is our finest title, our finest work, and our finest blessing, and will ultimately bring us to our finest joy.

Motherhood is the basis of eternity—past, present, and future. Motherhood doesn’t put us on a pedestal, but it does put us in the presence of angels. Through it, we are partners with God. Through it, we have the right to be guided and helped, to feel love, peace, and safety, and to reach our potential. Through it, we have the responsibility to provide guidance and help, to create and share love, peace and safety, and to help others reach their unique potential.

· It means we are women who embrace all the good that Motherhood is—
* divinity,
* holiness,
* caregiving,
* suffering,
* forgiving,
* selflessness,
* teaching,
* leading,
* serving, and
* loving

No influence is of greater value and no title should be more acknowledged, adopted, and adored by women of every age.

Someone has said, “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother.” Giving life is a miraculous process— We learned this more deeply through our experience with our daughter Kristen and our granddaughter Sara Kate, whom we lost after 5 days of miraculous living.

This divine process of a woman giving life cannot, has not, and will not be usurped or changed by even the brightest scientists and doctors. It is worthy of every “Wow”, “Oooo” and “Awwww” we can say. There are no words to describe its wonder.

This is where we all begin—with a miracle. And then our days are spent in a home. My home was a true “hood” of faith, security, and peace. My mother embraced Motherhood. She fought for it during the 70’s. She withstood public pressure, even ridicule as the debate raged on. She went on to represent families and mothers in the national arena, where those pressures intensified. I know where she stands. I know she has a Mother Heart. I know she knows that Motherhood is divine.

Our very hearts teach us that Motherhood is the best in us, if we listen. Motherhood in all its forms is our most ennobling title, our holiest work, and our most cherished opportunity.

Now is the time to go back to the wells of truth and remember what we have always known. Then, we will have the power, the courage, and the resolve to live it and to stand up for it.

By JaLee Jackson Clarke

JaLee Jackson Clarke is a mother of 5, 17308710_10155051597362432_9133278721192595292_n grandmother of almost 11 and hopefully more,has her MBA and works as an HR Manager and Executive Administrator. Pursuing joy and knowledge, and opportunities to serve are her passions. She enjoys discussion, fabric, sunshine, fresh air, and long walks.

Glorious Burden

There are mothers at the UN working to influence proposed policy that diminishes families and motherhood. This is my statement to those UN policy makers – let them hear from the mothers they seek to replace.

17352203_10154491320242217_5709368134985003240_nA societal movement to diminish motherhood has been in the propaganda mills of elite central planners for generations. This is spelled out in new policy being considered at the UN, and calls for “measures to recognize, reduce and redistribute women’s [and girls’] disproportionate [burden] of unpaid care of care and domestic work…”

Apparently, the propaganda has culminated to this bold moment of honesty, or, the central planners have decided they can wait no longer to win you over with spin. Bottom line: the State wants your children. For over a century, the most forward thinking elitists have prepared for victory on this point: a well-ordered State can raise a child to serve the State better than its parents can.

The State is right. If the end of raising a child is to see it serve the collective well, then the incubator of cradle to career oversight is perfect. Devoid of any real nurturing, the State can raise serfs to its service much more efficiently when love, nurturing, and family loyalty are removed.

But, if the world still wants thinkers, innovators, and people with a sense of humanity, they still need homes with mothers and fathers. Children still need to see adult human beings – appropriately sacrificing for them – to know that this is the surest way to have a life of purpose and joy.

The elitists have made a fatal mistake: they say “burden” like it’s a bad thing. C.S. Lewis once said that homemaking was the ultimate career that made all other careers possible. Policy crafters and influencers forget something as they deride and dismiss motherhood and family life: once upon a time, someone took on the burden of raising…them.aa1a98c87515e5cac989917f20590f4c

Burden indeed. What a glorious burden to be given: the charge of shaping the heart and mind of another human being – one that exists because you loved another human being.

It’s a glorious burden to lose your figure, your sleep, your mind – so you can bring another human being into the world, sit up with her when she has croup, help him get his science fair project finished, and teach him to ride a bicycle. It’s a glorious burden to lose all dignity as you leave your house in sweats that have spit up on them because you’re out of milk, and wear last year’s dress to a piano recital – your stomach in complete knots as if you were the one performing. It’s a glorious burden to read a seventh bed-time story to your children, the words slurring into near-drunken incoherence, as you are the only one who gets sleepy in this night-time ritual nearly as sacred as the family prayer.

It’s a glorious burden to be given a necklace made of macaroni, a sloppy kiss that smears spaghetti sauce on your cheek, and a tiny wad of a love note that says, “I love you, Mom – you are the BIST!” It’s a glorious burden to wander, sleepless, through a darkened house, stopping at the beds of each of your sleeping children, pouring out wept prayers of gratitude and pleading that God will watch over them when you can’t.

Here is what the elitists don’t know, or have forgotten, so far removed from such realities as humanity can be: the very thing that makes motherhood glorious is the fact that it is a burden – a back-breaking, mind-wracking, heart-stretching, soul-forging burden. It’s a glorious burden because it turns us into better, higher human beings for having taken it on.

Every human on this planet started life with a mother and a father. Not everyone takes to parenthood, and tragically, there are still too many children who don’t have the love and sanctifying sacrifice of present parents. But through the millennia, there is no alternative way of raising children that can hold a candle to it. To buy the lie that this is a burden that should be “recognized, reduced, and redistributed” is absurd and dangerous. The glorious burden of motherhood is most definitely to be recognized – as the highest thing a woman can choose to do with her life. Motherhood should be recognized, but it should be reverenced – and protected – for the endangered species that the central planners are trying to make of it.

In spite of the spin, this is the cold hard reality: in spite of the imperfect execution, there are still more parents, around the globe, that freely choose to take on parenting, because it is a glorious burden worth shouldering. Civilization depends on it.6fde27d4da1fda2a55097874defd1e9b
#MomStory
#EmpowerMothers
#LoveIsNotABurden
#CSW61

by Laureen Simper

Learn how you can tell the United Nations that Love is Not a Burden at this link.

My Value As A Mother

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It’s been a long day full of appointments, piano lessons, soccer practice and Church activities. Everyone is in bed and I am grateful for the quiet. I make my rounds checking in on each of my boys. But tonight it’s different. Tonight I wonder about my value as a mother.

I see my oldest. I smile as I watch him sleep. So easy going and carefree. My mind goes back to the times he has laid across my bed to talk about his adventures with his friends. I smile as I remember that those talks often led to him asking me for advice. How grateful I am for those talks! God knew I was the mother for my oldest during one of his hardest trials.

God knew I was the mother for my oldest during one of his hardest trials.

Next I go to the room shared by my younger two. I watch my youngest and remember his smile and laughter. He is so curious about everything! I laugh as I think back to a couple days ago when he asked if he could have one of my laundry pods to break in his hand. He was so excited when I handed him one that he ran yelling, “Dad! Dad! Mom said I can bust this!”. God knew I was the mother who could take that curious boy and turn his MANY messes into some sort of experiment.

God knew I was the mother who could take that curious boy and turn his MANY messes into some sort of experiment.

I look on the bottom bunk and there is my strong willed middle son. I remember when he and his brothers decided to hike around on the rocks with grandma. His two brothers ran ahead but he stayed with his grandmother walking patiently next to her, helping her along the rocks. God knew he needed a strong willed mother to help him navigate life. Oh how we have learned from each other!

God knew he needed a strong willed mother to help him navigate life. Oh how we have learned from each other!

Three boys with very different personalities and interests. They were sent to me by my Father in Heaven because I was the best mother for them. This realization brings a smile to my face.

I walk back to my room and see my sweet husband. He is snoring lightly and I laugh remembering how he claims that he never snores. He has given me a wonderful life! I can see that my value as a wife and mother is priceless. I do not need a day off to realize that, I only need my family.

by Michelle Boulter

  1. Michelle Boulter is very active in various efforts to protect parental rights and local education control. Im March of 2015, Michelle attended the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women where she became aware of atonal and international policies that are being created to undermine the natural rights of mothers and fathers She co-founded two pro-family organizations: Return to Parental Rights and Gathering Families in an effort to encourage local policy leaders to uphold the family as the fundamental unit of society.

    Michelle is opposed to Federal Education Standards and regards it as an unconstitutional usurpation of power and a denial of state and local control. She firmly believes that no government or program should put themselves between parent and child. She believes that strong families are the key to preserving local education control.

    Michelle is married to Blake Boulter and they are the proud parents of three boys. She is currently homeschooling her youngest two and was recently elected to the Utah State Board of Education.

A Day Without Dividends

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After looking at my do-to list this morning, I seriously considered joining the national women’s strike, “A Day Without Women”. I could use the day off… and let’s face it, I’ve fantasized more than once how it would be if I truly stayed in bed all day. So, why not join with the other women in our country and let my family see what it would be like without THIS woman???

There’s only one problem…. I am a mom. I don’t work with corporate bosses, excel sheets, project reports and paid sick leave. I answer to a much higher authority…..the future of humankind!

Mothers who nurture children literally shape the future. This is not hyperbole. It’s absolutely true…. and we all know it! Why do you think there are so many special interest groups and investors who are willing to spend the big bucks to get a say in your child’s education? They KNOW the future is in your children and they want a say in how they are raised and taught.

Powerful moms also know how important it is to invest in the future by investing in their children. They know that each hug, story, lesson, curfew, assigned chore, conversation, object lesson, etc. will play a part in creating the kind of generation that will follow us. This investment isn’t to be taken lightly. Intentional mothers seriously seek guidance and direction from God to know what to give each, individual child. Unlike the greedy special interest groups that lobby congress for a piece of your child’s future, mothers are carefully attentive to every physical and emotional change in their children. Mothers gladly sacrifice to give each, individual child the care they need.

The investment that mothers make in their children does not always provide immediate dividends. Some days it seems like they have taken a huge loss…. not the kind of downturn that hurts the pocket book, but the kind of loss that hurts your heart and brings you to your knees. You know those days…. we ALL know those days. Mothers feel absolutely helpless as we watch our children that we are so invested in go through trials, sickness, or setbacks. It is times like these that a mom realizes that SHE is the one who is truly growing…… And all that she invests in her child is also an investment in herself.

And all that a mother invests in her child is also an investment in herself.

When we invest in these young ones, we find ourselves becoming better. We learn patience, love, kindness, math, science, budgeting, organizing, etc. Everything our child learns, we learn…only on a deeper level because we are learning through our child’s eyes. There is no college class or seminar that can teach this kind of wisdom. It has to be gained organically. This kind of learning never ends and can only be had through the intentional act of parenting! A mother will continue to learn through her child throughout her lifetime. Name one other career that gives that kind of dividend!

If you want true cradle-to-grave learning, become a mom. Just remember that the more intentional you are in your investment, the greater the dividends…. Then, years from now, your investments will have compounded and multiplied to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Each subsequent generation learns, as you have learned, the eternal importance of investing in the future by investing in their children.

However, if you find that you can miss out on a day without pay in order to let the world know how important your influence is on our current economy…go for it. As for me, I KNOW how truly influential my job is….. and I don’t want to miss a moment of it!

By Jenny Baker

A Child’s Faith: More Precious than Diamonds

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Last year, I looked down at my hands and made the sad realization that my wedding ring’s diamond was gone. I was devastated and racked my brain to think of all the places it could have fallen out in the last 18 hours since I’d seen it last; I had taken a shower, done dishes and laundry, taken out the trash, vacuumed the house, driven carpool, gone to the gas station and on and on and on… My sweet, wise husband suggested we say a little prayer asking for divine help. We knelt and I offered an earnest prayer, explaining not only the monetary value, but also the sentimental value of such a loss and requested help with its return. We then set off on an adventure in search of the lost diamond.

It was never recovered.

Fast forward a few weeks, my nine-year-old daughter lost a school book which was soon due to be returned. We had checked every room, shelf, backpack, and corner of our home and even made calls to the public and school libraries in hopes that perhaps it had already inadvertently been returned. I had finally conceded to the fact that we would just pay the meager $8.69 or so back to the school for the lost book. That is, until my daughter, with a defeated spirit, made a comment which tugged painfully at my mother’s heart. “I don’t get it, Mom. On Sunday, I read a scripture promising if I ever needed help, I could always say a prayer and that Heavenly Father would listen and help me. I did pray for help, Mom! Why haven’t we found it?”

And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
-3 Nephi 18:20

I knew in that moment we had to find that old, worn out, used and tattered paperback book. I went to a quiet place and knelt, coincidentally in the exact spot my husband and I had knelt just a few weeks earlier, and pleaded yet another earnest prayer of seeking. The coincidence was not lost on me as I, again, explained the value of a lost item. This time, however, it wasn’t the monetary or sentimental value that had me concerned. This time, we had something of much more eternal value at stake. Something far more precious than diamonds: my daughter’s faith. I pleaded to find the book, not so that my daughter could finish her school assignment, not so my daughter could return the book, and not so I could avoid a replacement fee. I pleaded, as only a mother could, so that my daughter’s faith in prayer could be strengthened. I pleaded that my daughter could experience the blessed promises made to her in the scriptures. I pleaded that she would know she did have a Heavenly Father who hears and answers her prayers.

“There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.”
—President Boyd K. Packer, “These Things I Know”


Not five minutes after my prayer, my daughter found her book. She hugged it tightly as she told me how glad she was to have a Heavenly Father who listens to her prayers and answers them. She expressed the same gratitude in her prayers that morning before running off for the day.

I followed up with my own prayer of gratitude, not only for a Heavenly Father who listened to and answered each of our prayers but, also, for the ability to recognize the eternal perspective of the two lost items. Within a matter of seconds, the missing diamond’s value had dimmed to less than that of an old, worn out, used and tattered paperback book because hidden behind that lost book was the faith and testimony of my faith-filled 9-year-old daughter who wanted so desperately to believe in the promises offered her in the scriptures. It was a beautiful reminder that my child’s faith is far more precious than even the most sentimental, rare or exquisite diamonds I could possibly own.

By Shelby Rodgers

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The Link Between Family and Freedom

Do you ever look back at your life and smile thinking of how different it is from what you had once planned? I’m so grateful I’ve learned a lot since the days when I knew it all.

Once upon a time in my youth, I had life all planned out. I would have my important career in a skyscraper and live in a downtown apartment with easy access to the nearest major league ballpark. I would live an important, satisfying life in my urban oasis.

Fast forward to reality. I now live in a century-old farmhouse with an amazing husband who couldn’t care less about sports. I didn’t finish college. I spend my days as a stay-at-home mom caring for my husband, my daughter, a Yorkie and some horses. There are no tall buildings in sight, and I can’t even tell you the current starting lineup for my favorite baseball team. Instead, I keep busy researching rare neuromuscular diseases and other topics that were nowhere near my radar 15 years ago.

The best part is – I wouldn’t change a thing! I have no doubt that life leads you down different roads for a reason. Every step we take builds on the one before. First, I met a man I couldn’t live without, even though he took me completely by surprise and turned out to be everything I never knew I always needed. Then I became a mom and it changed my life in every way. Suddenly I had an answer for the things I had always questioned earlier in life. I used to wonder things like: How does it benefit anyone to have children and just be a stay-at-home mom? You spend your whole life raising kids just so that they can grow up to spend their whole life raising kids. Kind of a pointless cycle, I had thought. Ironically, I was blessed to grow up with the greatest mother as an example. It just took me awhile to realize that I wanted to be for someone else what she has always been for me.

My outlook changed dramatically once I was actually a mother. Our little family had a rough beginning which – following a now familiar pattern – was nothing like I thought it would be. Instead it was infinitely better! Once you feel a love like that, you can’t go back to thinking anything is more important. I realized the purpose of “just being a mom” was eternal in nature. It became so obvious that families were created to help us learn Christlike love, to learn what it means to love someone more than you love yourself, and to be willing to do anything for them. Families are where we learn sacrifice and service and unconditional love and compassion and forgiveness and all the other traits that will help us return to our Father in Heaven someday.

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That makes the family critically important and worthy of defending. In order for our families to be a laboratory of learning as we progress back to our heavenly home, we have to have the freedom to teach our children what and how we see fit to teach them. This is why I’ve taken an interest in things like education and freedom and preserving the family. All of these issues are linked.

As a society, we’re either moving toward strengthening the family or we’re moving toward letting it fail and having government step in as the caregiver.

As a society, we’re either moving toward strengthening the family or we’re moving toward letting it fail and having government step in as the caregiver. There are many forces at work in our nation trying to pull us to one side or the other. President David O. McKay once gave a talk entitled “Two Contending Forces”. In it, he talks about Satan vs. Christ and the different ways that we see these two sides contend with each other, like selfishness vs. service and state domination vs. personal liberty. He quotes Communist leaders like Marx, Lenin and Khrushchev in saying that hatred is the basis for Communism, and Christian love is an obstacle to the development of a revolution. While they may disguise their ideology with a smile, the only unity sought for is voluntary submission to their ideals.

On the other hand, Christ teaches that the greatest commandments are centered in love: love the Lord thy God and love thy neighbor. Our works must be filled with love, and the noblest aim in life is to strive to make the lives of others better and happier. He likens this to motherhood – the noblest calling where work is done exclusively for others.

Satan would have us be captive and controlled by oppressive tyrants, so that our choices are not our own. In that scenario, we cannot develop into all that we have the potential to become because someone else is in charge of our destiny. Christ wants us to be free to love and serve and put our religious beliefs into action, thus spreading the light of Christ throughout the world and allowing the gospel to go forth. The talk ends with the counsel to sustain, fight for, and be willing to die for the light of Christ.
This is why I want to stand for freedom. Communism may seem like an impossibility to most Americans, but there can be no doubt that our freedoms are slowly being eroded and that traditional morality is being replaced by moral relativism where there is no right or wrong and people are encouraged to simply do whatever feels good. This kind of thinking will eventually erode our liberties.

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” A moral and religious people tend to govern themselves rather well as they strive to live a higher law. Our Constitution is based on principles of limited government, and a moral people don’t need government to tell them the right way to live. It’s a very symbiotic relationship. When we move away from being a moral society (like when religion is silenced and stigmatized), government has to move in with greater control to guide behavior. When you get the wrong people in charge of such a government, the effects are catastrophic.

Ezra Taft Benson said, “The cause of freedom is the most basic part of our religion. Our position on freedom helped get us to this earth, and it can make the difference as to whether we get back home or not.” That statement alone tells me all I need to know about which side to be on. If you wonder how you can get involved and where to begin, start by reading the address by D. Todd Christofferson at the 2016 Provo Freedom Festival. He gives the background of why religious freedom matters to us and to our families, and then gives counsel on how we can become informed, speak out, and get involved. Once you have a desire to do this, the Spirit will guide you from there on the specific actions you can take.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World states:

“We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

My only goal in this life is to return to my Father in Heaven with my eternal family intact. I believe part of that will require being accountable for what I did while I was here. I want to stand for things that matter in order to preserve the things that mean the most to me – faith, family, and freedom. If these things matter to you, choose to be involved. Choose to make a difference. It is marvelous that we can take part in preserving Godly principles in our society! The future of religious freedom – and the future of our families – depends on whether or not people of faith choose to stand. Let us rise to the challenge!

14718811_676212405873852_5523984483066766551_nAbout the Author: Stephanie Gifford lives in southeast Idaho with her husband and daughter. She has a passion for learning about God’s hand in American history and how it ties to the restoration of the Gospel. To share what she has learned, Stephanie has started a Facebook page – Latter-day Prophets and Patriots – which has daily thoughts from LDS prophets and apostles on government and our inspired Constitution.