Becoming at Odds With the Law

“Joy doesn’t just happen: It develops through a combination of effort and understanding.  It is a process.”

This quote is taken from Zane Parker Nelson PhD in his book “The Road Most Traveled.”

Judith Campbell has said, “When your heart speaks, take good notes.”

It is with these two thoughts I have felt driven to write this particular post.  There are only two people I know who will understand the significance of this post and so it is to them that I write.scales of justice

The federal justice system feels like a large vortex.  You can be grabbed by the outer edges and begin to spin through a landscape of increasingly surreal experiences.  For those of us with no legal history whatsoever, the result is a protracted and progressively intense disorientation.  Each new pass around the circle moves you through terrain that is unknown and almost unrecognizable.  Values and beliefs are tested, and often found wanting, as the system operates completely differently than you have ever been led to believe.  As you get pulled through the process there is a sense of inevitability that builds.  You realize that the power you are fighting is almost like a natural force, one that you can simply never resist.  You feel like flotsam in a giant drain and in the background you can hear the sucking sound.

In the book, “The Tyranny of Good Intentions” Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton write, “Americans of all stripes increasingly feel that getting in trouble with the law is a random phenomenon, bearing little apparent relationship to guilt or justice.”

They continue on, “There is good reason for this long-standing consensus that crime requires intent.  It is both unjust and inefficient to punish actions that are unrelated to criminal intent.” Or when guilty by association only. “Punishment implies moral blameworthiness, and the stigma of a criminal conviction is undercut when no distinction is made between intended and unintended behavior.  It is inefficacious to devote law enforcement resources to punishing conduct that is not intentionally criminal.” Or being found guilty of a crime a person didn’t even commit.  “If no crime was intended, punishment does not serve as a deterrent against future criminal behavior or protect society from a socially dangerous person.  It merely diverts scarce resources from the pursuit of those who intentionally commit criminal acts to those who unintentionally stumble over the law……Few things are more despicable in a free society than public officials who misuse their power and abuse citizens.”

And now some statistics to back up that view:

The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the second-highest per-capita incarceration rate.  In 2013 in the US, there were 698 people incarcerated per 100,000 population. According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in US federal and state prisons, and county jails in 2013 – about 0.91% of adults (1 in 110) in the U.S. resident population.[2] Additionally, 4,751,400 adults in 2013 (1 in 51) were on probation or on parole.  In total, 6,899,000 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2013 – about 2.8% of adults (1 in 35) in the U.S. resident population. With those kinds of numbers the odds of every family in the US having a family member or close friend incarcerated are high.

 

 

And finally just one more quote.  This one by William F. “Bull” Halsey,” There are no great men” (or women) “just great challenges which ordinary men,” (and women) “out of necessity are forced by circumstance to meet.”

For me, personally, herein lies the joy:20120301133743!MayflowerHarbor

When the Pilgrims finally left the Netherlands for America they sailed on the Mayflower which was designed as a cargo vessel as was most sailing ships at the time. The Pilgrims were housed in the gun deck, sometimes referred to by the Pilgrims as the “tween deck” or the area “betwixt the decks”, for most of the voyage.  Occasionally they ventured to the upper deck, especially during calmer weather when they would be less likely to get in the way of the seamen and there was less danger of being swept overboard.  The gun deck had about four gun ports on either side of the ship for cannon.  Even though the Mayflower was a merchant ship, it needed to be able to defend itself from pirates and ships from countries hostile to England.  The ship also had to be prepared for possible conscription–the King or Queen had authority to turn merchant ships into military vessels during a time of war.  The height of the ceiling of the gun deck was only about five and a half feet, so tall people could not have stood up straight.  I know humans were a little smaller than we are today but 5 and a half feet isn’t much room to stand up in so their voyage was not a leisure cruise by and stretch.

The Mayflower sailed for 65 days finally arriving in the new world November 9, 1620.  It wasn’t until December 23rd 54 days later that they were finally able to leave the ship. During the time they lay at anchor but still confined to the ship William Bradford’s wife fell over-board and was drowned. To make matters worse they had left their only child, a young son, back in the Netherlands to be sent for when they had settled in the new world.  He was now alone.  During his sorrow he penned these lines, “ Faint not, poor soul, in God still trust, fear not the things thou suffer must; For, whom he loves He doth chastise, and then all tears wipes from their eyes.

Joy comes when we can look past our sorrow and remember that our loving Savior is there.  He has paid the price for our suffering and as such has earned the right to succor us and our loved ones.  Not only does He have the right He willing blesses us because He loves us.

When we trust in the Father and the Son, we are confident that they love us perfectly.  That they want us to be happy and that they will help us grow spiritually.  We keep the commandments, we seek to know their will and so what they require even when we desire something else.  Or prayers for relief are accompanied by the understanding that Heavenly Father will not resolve matters immediately; that He may allow us to wait so we can continue to learn and to grow.  Through it all, we find comfort in the assurance that the Savior understands our trials perfectly.  We learn from scripture as part of the Atonement, “he took upon Himself the pains and sickness of His people.  He took upon Himself their infirmities, that He may know according to the flesh how to succor His people according to their infirmities.”  Because He has experienced our pain, He knows how to help us.  Isn’t that great comfort! Isn’t there not joy to be found in those words?

All sorrow will pass.  If you have ever experienced real sorrow, you know that to be true.  Real sorrow can be followed by real joy.

My thoughts in this post are not meant as a bromide to drop in your mind and everything will be all right.  I certainly know that sorrow and heartache don’t work that way.  They are real feelings and have to be worked out in our own way.  My thoughts are just mine and I share them as a point of references only.

A Personal Conflict Resolved

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I am in the process of writing an instructional course for an online learning center which will eventually be available in 11 languages.  The overall title is Leadership and the whole premise of the course is to help a person establish a rock solid foundation upon which he or she can build leadership qualities.  The outline is finished and I am about 25% complete with the content.

This is one of the most difficult projects I have worked on to this date.  I struggle at every turn, what to include, what not to include, why everything I want to write seems so obvious and so elementary.  I continue to use my habit of prayer as I work on this project and after offering my habitual prayer this morning and sitting down at my laptop the thought came to me to go pull a book of the shelf by Sterling W. Sill entitled “Leadership”.  Mine is an original course, why would I want to refer to someone else’s work especially when the copyright date is 1958!  I opened the book to the fly leaf and found these words;

“ To Brent,

1965 High School Graduation.

May you continue to develop those qualities of Leadership which you have shown during High School years,

Love.

It was signed by my aunt, her husband and children.

I had forgotten that this book which I have referred to many times in my life was a gift and that the giver referred to leadership abilities demonstrated in high school.

I opened to the next few pages and it became clear to me why I was directed to this book at this time.

In the preface Elder Sill writes:

“Henry Ford has suggested a helpful method of attack by his statement that ‘there are no big problems. There are just a lot of little problems.’  And one of the most helpful success procedures is to divide up what seems to be the big problem into its parts and deal with each, one at a time.  Any problem may be reduced in size by division and subdivision until each part is small enough that we may obtain mastery of it.”

After further reading I have decided that two things have occurred as I researched and then began writing about leadership. (1) I have already divided and subdivided the topic to the point where each is so small they seem of now consequence and yet when added together will make the whole once again and (2) When re-reading Elder Sill’s book I have realized much of what I know about leadership has come to me over the years of active participation in my church, which happens to be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In the Church as in all Christian churches I believe, we are taught the laws of leadership and don’t even realize it.

We are taught or at least Jesus tried to teach us these laws in simple terms; we call it the Golden Rule, or the Law of The Boomerang; others have called it the Law of Retaliation, but whatever you call it the law says, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.”is-jesus-real5-740x405

Elder Sill goes on to help us understand how to apply these 15 simple words in our lives.  And in so doing develop those qualities of strong leadership the world is looking for.

“If you want someone to punch you on the nose, you don’t need to make a formal request or argue or reason with him about it.  The quickest and most certain method of getting this response is simply to punch him on the nose.  I you want someone to send you a Christmas Card, all you need to do is send him a Christmas card.  If you want him to invite you to his house to dinner, you invite him to your house for dinner, and very shortly you will receive and invitation to his house for a little better dinner than he received at your house.  If you want someone to like you, all you have to do is to like him.  If you want him to trust you, trust him.  We are all human magnets.  Our deeds, our attitudes and even our thoughts attract in kind.  There is a great power placed in your hands if you choose to use it.  Just figure out what you want, and then give accordingly.”

I believe that same goes with our relationship with ourselves; wallowing in self-pity and struggling with self-doubt will accomplish nothing except pity and doubt.  Strong leaders of men are first strong leaders of self.

This post is meant for therapy I guess.  If you didn’t catch it let me explain my dilemma.  The very foundation of leadership both external and internal can be found in the teachings of the Savior.  This morning it has become clear to me that the reason my course material is appearing to be quite basic and also not very original is because I was taught all of this at my mother’s knee or to be more precise in my parent’s home.  I was taught all of this leadership stuff by their example, by their gentle persuasion and when needed a firm hand.  I was taught this in my Primary and Sunday School classes.  I never listened to a single lesson but I learned from them.  That is how a goof-off high school student could show leadership qualities and not even know it.

How to convey that to a world-wide audience?  That is my dilemma!

A Day to Remember and Honor

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My Dad served in WWII as a Merchant Marine on a Liberty ship transporting troops to various theaters in the Pacific.  As I consider the following I can only imagine what he and my mother felt as he embarked on his service.

Merchant ships faced danger from submarines, mines, armed raiders and destroyers, aircraft, “kamikaze,” and the elements. About 8,300 mariners were killed at sea, 12,000 wounded of whom at least 1,100 died from their wounds, and 663 men and women were taken prisoner. (Total killed estimated 9,300.) Some were blown to death, some burned to death, some drowned, some froze, and some starved. 66 died in prison camps or aboard Japanese ships while being transported to other camps. 31 ships vanished without a trace to a watery grave.Liberty ship on fire

1 in 26 mariners serving aboard merchant ships in World WW II died in the line of duty, suffering a greater percentage of war-related deaths than all other U.S. services.

It was only natural for me to observe my parents making a big deal out of Veteran’s Day each year.  In my earliest days we would buy plastic poppies to wear and it was assuring to me for some reason to see how many people were wearing a red poppy as we shopped in our small town.

Growing up in a home of a WW II veteran family I learned a great deal about that war and for me, at the time, that was the only war that mattered.  I knew that we celebrated V-E Day on May 8th and V-J Day on September 2nd.  Those two facts caused me to wonder why we celebrated Veteran’s Day on the 11th of November.  My parents explained how this all worked out.  In case you have forgotten I offer this definitive answer.

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”vfw-buddy-poppy

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

It wasn’t easy being a veteran in the Vietnam era. While I never experienced it personally I know of those that were spit upon, called “baby killers” and in other ways abused for their service.  I remember flying home from Seattle while still in uniform and felt the stares from fellow passengers as I made my way through the airport.  It brings joy to my heart to see how veterans now are treated with respect and gratitude.  No one loves war, if we did just imagine how many more there would be.  Since war is ever present I am so grateful for those who are willing to give it all in order that we may continue this life of freedom that we so freely enjoy.

Veterans

On Veterans Day, I think we should also remember the strength and fortitude of those who give our heroes their strength, and recognize that this too is service to our country. Think of the mothers who face sleepless nights and numbness during the day, anxiously awaiting a phone call to say, “I’m okay”.  Moms who kiss their sons at the airport praying that it won’t be the last time.

Fathers who perhaps served in combat also and now must see their sons and daughters thrown in harm’s way; experiencing things that will forever change their thinking, attitudes and desires

Siblings, whose graduations, weddings, and so many other milestones are missed.

The children who most often are too young to understand why mom or dad has left.  Older children who now know where their parent is and instead of wondering where they went worry that they won’t be coming home.  I think of the spouses. I think of the ones left behind, entrusted to keep it all together. I think of the ones who kiss the tears, console the mothers, reassure the fathers, keep in touch with the siblings, and do their very best to put one foot in front of the other, when their hearts are aching too.

Yes, Veteran’s Day is a day to honor all of those who have served, who are now serving and those who, though not in uniform serve also.  Especially think of those with great reverence that gave their all for us and this great country that we enjoy.  It is truly a land that is choice above all other lands.

And finally, Ronald Reagan said on more than one occasion, “Some people wonder all their lives if they have made a difference, the Marines don’t have to.”  And I would add “all military personnel” don’t have to.

Anniversaries: To Celebrate or To Dread

As we as a nation just observed the 14th year since the attacks on the World Trade Center towers the Pentagon and the downing of an airliner full of passengers in the Pennsylvania country side my mind began to ponder on anniversaries.  In this case we remember that day with reverence.  Reverence for those who lost their lives and for their families and friends.  An yet as I read the news there are those in the world who celebrate this day and even plan more attacks as a tribute to this senseless act.

When Japan staged the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor the Japanese Empire celebrated that day as a great victory.  We as a nation remember that day as a day of infamy, a day when thousands lost their lives never to return to their families.

Anniversaries are tricky that way; we celebrate our birthday every year on the anniversary of our birth.  When we are young we celebrate the passing of one more year towards goals.  Goals that are important to us and somewhat less important to our parents as with each passing year they just see us growing up and away from them.  We celebrate starting school, turning 16 so we can get a driver license and start dating.  We celebrate a volleyball win; someone else remembers it as the game they lost.11001828_10153047699228548_2105687701841886990_n

Our parents see that landmark as higher automobile insurance premiums and the beginning of sleepless nights waiting for us to come home.  We look forward to and celebrate our 18th birthday when we will be out of high school.  Our parents see that as one more step to our leaving home; that could be a celebration for them as well as us but it typically means added expenses for them as we go away to college.  When the reality of college life sets in we sometimes stop celebrating that birthday and evolution in our lives.  We won’t even go into the different emotions that a wedding anniversary may conjure up.

Romantics remember and celebrate a first date, CAM00154

first kiss,11159471_10206581964696150_4751786696529229415_n proms and other school dances.  Others remember those activities and do not want to celebrate them as they remember them as complete disasters.

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My point is this; any anniversary can be remembered with joy and look forward to with great excitement each year or depending on our frame of reference those same anniversaries can bring us remorse and as we look to the next year we approach those anniversaries with dread.

The one anniversary we all share in common is our birth; the day we first took breath.  Until we are old enough to appreciate our birthday our parents celebrated as the day we joined the family.  Earlier I enumerated some reasons we might celebrate our own birth anniversaries.  All of this rambling is leading up to the following.  First I include part of William Wordsworth’s poem Ode which I had to memorize in high school.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar:

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy,

But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy;

The Youth, who daily farther from the east

Must travel, still is Nature’s priest,

And by the vision splendid

Is on his way attended;

At length the Man perceives it die away,

And fade into the light of common day.

William Wordsworth. 1770–1850 Ode Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

 No matter our station in life. No matter the trials we face.  No matter our physical limitations we all can celebrate with great joy our anniversary, a graduation if you will from a spirit to a body of flesh and bone.  We can celebrate that we came into this life “trailing clouds of glory from God who is our home.”  Even if all those other anniversaries are not celebrated but rather remembered only with pain we can shout for joy as we celebrate who we are; even if our birth was more than extraordinary! IMG_3496 And perhaps gain a little of that heaven that was with us in our infancy.

If It Brings Joy Is It A Sacrifice?

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I have heard it said that being a parent is the hardest work you will ever do.  And if you are parents of boys and girls the work is even harder as they are the most difficult children to raise. download (1)

As they grow into preteen and teenage years, they think you’re weird and quite frankly you are; they made you that way!

images (3)It’s about this time in our progression when we may start having negative feelings associated with a sense of being a victim.  Sometimes it’s referred to as a mid-life crisis.  We start to realize that we are not going to be able to make everything happen we had planned for ourselves.  The accomplishments, approvals and acclaim we thought we would achieve may not have materialized.  maxresdefault (1)We may have feelings, uncomfortable as they may be that we have had to give up a lot of our dreams for our family.  Sometimes, if we are not careful we may slip into feelings of hopelessness.  We might even think that somewhere we were short changed.  We might even start playing the “what might have been” game.  That, “had I made different choices my life would have been better,” game.

 

It’s at this juncture in our life that we need to have a firm grasp on the scriptures.  Much can be learned about our state of mind through careful reading.  Please consider Moroni’s teachings:

 

“22 And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair: and despair cometh because of iniquity.

“23 And Christ truly said unto our fathers: if ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me.”  (Moroni 10: 22-23)

 

We may feel like we or some other mortal has been in charge, but in this we are wrong.  Re-read verse 23; God is in charge.  We exercise our agency through the choices we make, we make possible His miracles by choices we make, however, and this is the however we may have forgotten, God retains the power to accommodate our choices.

 

There are times when an opportunity does not come to us that we thought we just had to have.  What’s our thought process?  Do we blame others?  Do we convince ourselves that it was because of circumstances other’s choices have put us in; small children to care for, or perhaps to support our spouse in his or her development?  Do we ever feel like we must have done something wrong and Heavenly Father is now withholding blessings?  Maybe we think all of the above and none of the above.  Maybe you are mature enough to say to yourself, “Now is just not the right time; maybe next time.”  See how the following fits within your thinking: “Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.  Nevertheless— whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.”  (Mosiah 23:21-22)

 

Maybe you are now saying, “Well, I don’t think the Lord was chastening me, it’s just something I really wanted, but I’m willing to sacrifice for my family, friend, spouse, church, job or whatever.”

 

What we all should be doing is shouting for joy!  jump for joy

 

 

man-praying-on-one-kneeDropping to our knees and, with a thankful heart, express our absolute gratitude to a loving Heavenly Father who loves us and trusts us enough that he knows our faith will be strengthened and our understanding of ourselves deepened as we sacrifice for someone else’s benefit.  With agency comes knowledge and with each trial or sacrifice we pass through victoriously the greater our knowledge of ourselves grows.  The greater our capacity to hear the Spirit is developed and therefore the greater our ability to be sensitive to spiritual things.

 

Our Pioneering Journey

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There is a celebration coming up that, as far as I know, is the only one of its kind in this country.  Here in Utah and to a degree in the surrounding states we celebrate July 24th.  It is a state holiday with most business closed for the day.  There are fireworks, parades, rodeos, picnics, a day at the lake or whatever a summer holiday has to offer.  As a child living in Idaho we always celebrated the 15th of June as that was the day Idaho became a state.  In Utah we do not celebrate January 4th as the day Utah received statehood nor is it even acknowledged; most of us probably didn’t even know that was the official date.  We celebrate the 24th of July because that was the day in 1847 the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley after a long and arduous trek across this great country.  The official celebration is called “The Days of 47”.
We remember these pioneers by theirEntering-SL-Valley covered wagons, lean worn out oxen, and men and women filled with faith seeking a new home in the American West.  We honor them for their sacrifice, their faith, their determination and grit.  We sometimes wonder where they found the courage to do what they did.

It has been said that if someone from that time were to view our day they would

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choose to live the life they lived, our time would seem too difficult, too hard and too demanding for them to survive.

Stories of the pioneers show that not only did they have to overcome many difficult obstacles there were also times filled with laughter and joy.  After a long, hot and dusty day they would make camp and after a less then hardy meal someone would clear some ground, the musicians would start to play and they would dance and sing together.  That was some of their joy.

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No, we are not crossing the wide and wild plains of 1800’s America, but we do travel through good and bad times. There are moments when everything seems perfect and the future is bright. There are other times when we wonder how we can go on. No one knows what the future holds, but no matter the obstacle, the weather, or the distance, we can keep going—as the pioneers did—and even find some joy along the way.

Our journey can be long and often difficult, but there are moments scattered along the trail that are filled with joy.  If we look for them and sometimes create them, just as I am sure the pioneers who settled the Great Salt Lake Valley did, joy and joyful moments can be a daily part of our journey of life.

 

 

Happy Fourth of July

 

 

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George Washington inaugural speech  April 30, 1789 Federal Hall, New York.  This day was more than an inauguration.  It was the day that a covenant between God and America was officially invoked over all the land.  I will be your God, the Almighty had declared.  This covenant and its power to heal the land said, “We will be Your people”, as spoken by George Washington.  He went on to say:

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“Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; or (divine guidance or care)

“Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”

Just before this speech he was sworn in as the first president of the United States.  The details of this ceremony bring tears to the eyes; He called for a Bible.  He raised his right arm to the square (making the sign of an oath or covenant) while placing his left hand upon the sacred book.  Then after repeating the constitutional oath, he declared, “So help me God”. Then bowed down and reverently kissed the Bible.  Then something really extraordinary happened as viewed through 21st Century eyes, he lead a procession of cheering people through the city and right into St. Paul’s Chapel.  There in the first joint session of congress with as many people as could squeeze in the offered a prayer and sealed the covenant.

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He did not learn of this covenant all at once.  I believe this understanding had come to him “line upon line, precept upon precept” through the almost 10 years of the revolutionary war.

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You are familiar with some of the stories that made up the pattern of eventual victory.  Washington and/or congress would plead for the soldiers and the nation to fast, pray and repent.  Then the miracles would follow.  Battle of Long Island (heavy wind driving back the British then the heavy fog that allowed Washington’s forces to withdraw across the east river undetected.) Siege of Boston, at the Camp at Valley Forge, Battles at Trenton, Princeton, and Yorktown.

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Is there any wonder by the time he became the first president he fully understood “Providence has heretofore saved us in remarkable manner and on this we must principally rely.”

Lincoln with quoteIn an interview with Eliza Gurney during the Civil War Abraham Lincoln responded, “I am glad to know that I have your sympathy and prayers. We are indeed going through a great trial — a fiery trial. In the very responsible position in which I happen to be placed, being a humble instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father, as I am, and as we all are, to work out his great purposes, I have desired that all my works and acts may be according to his will, and that it might be so, I have sought his aid — but if after endeavoring to do my best in the light which he affords me, I find my efforts fail, I must believe that for some purpose unknown to me, He wills it otherwise. If I had had my way, this war would never have been commenced; If I had been allowed my way this war would have been ended before this, but we find it still continues; and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe, that he who made the world still governs it.

 

And finally I include the entire prayer offered by Franklin D. Roosevelt to the nation as the Allied troops were invading German-occupied Europe during World War II.

The prayer was read to the Nation on radio on the evening of D-Day, June 6, 1944, while American, British and Canadian troops were fighting to establish five beach heads on the coast of Normandy in northern France.

The previous night, June 5th, the President had also been on the radio to announce that Allied troops had entered Rome. The spectacular news that Rome had been liberated was quickly superseded by news of the gigantic D-Day invasion which began at 6:30 a.m. on June 6th. By midnight, about 57,000 American and 75,000 British and Canadian soldiers had made it ashore, amid losses that included 2,500 killed and 8,500 wounded.

“My Fellow Americans:  Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

franklin-d-roosevelt-anouncementAlmighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

There are countless other “heroes” in this country that have fought for our freedoms and our way of life that also chose to acknowledge God in all of the endeavors; I am sure each of you have your own list.

4th of July4th-of-july-header-photo-by-ralphy-millero-fbCaptain America Family 3Our Fourth of July celebrations have taken us far from the ideals our founding fathers held dear for this country.  Our celebrations are certainly not misplaced for there is a lot to celebrate. This great land is a land of promise and has been for thousands of years, saved for the ancient righteous and for the blessed today. With all the problems we face as a nation today I find joy in the knowledge that we are still a divine nation and He will continue to bless us unless in our ignorance we drive him out. Along with our celebrating perhaps that is what we should also be remembering.

 

 

D-Day

imagesAs the troops boarded their transports and landing craft on June 3rd 1944 they were each handed their “orders of the day” from General Eisenhower.  As we recognize those who have fallen and then in just over a week recognize the heroic effort that went into “D Day” by so many allow me to share part of those orders.

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“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which you have striven these many months.  The eyes of the world are upon you.  The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. . .

Your task will not be an easy one.  Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened.  He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944!  The tide has turned!  The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle.  We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good luck!  And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

I have highlighted a few words and am just wondering out loud if those words, spoken by a Supreme Commander of military forces today would be in vogue.  images (1)

Memorial Day Tribute

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What we remember—and honor—on Memorial Day is heroic sacrifice. We acknowledge those who nobly gave of themselves, even unto death, for a purpose they believed was greater than themselves. Since the days just following the end of the Civil War, Americans have gathered in late May to honor those who died in military service to their country. In the spirit of the day, we can also recall, honor, and pray for all those we know who have lived lives of service and sacrifice for the good of others.

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My dad is now gone as are most who served their country during WWII.  I cannot visit with him about those years but turn to his journal to get a glimpse of what life was like for those that sacrificed so much.  Today, because of those sacrifices I have the freedom and security to live a pretty comfortable life.  I don’t know who originally penned these words but to me they simply put what I am feeling and trying to say about how freedom can give us the opportunity to choose rather than to have others choose for me.  Now it is up to me to make the best use of the choices I make.

“Today comes with built in decisions, great and small.  The clothes I put on, the road I travel, the people whose lives I touch…in fact, nearly everything in my day depends on how I choose. Today I can choose to carry the blame myself, or to hold out a helping hand…to shout out loud in anger, or to wait ten seconds…to cloud someone’s mind with doubt, or to lift a heart with encouragement.

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Today I can choose to count stars or to count mud puddles.  When I go to the store, I can choose to see how much there is to buy instead of how much I have to pay.  When I get stuck in traffic, I can see, in every other car, a person just as important as me. Today, because I live in a free land, there are a thousand things I can choose: The neighborhood I live in, the friends I laugh with, the work I do, the thoughts I think, the dreams I dare. And what I will become, in spite of my fears and failures, in spite of the talents I lack, in spite of all the privileges I never had, depends on how I choose to challenge myself today. For I have power, if I choose to act instead of complaining…to speak out instead of cherishing a hurt…to seek justice instead of getting even…to love the world instead of waiting for the world to embrace me first. What I choose today may well be the cause of my tomorrow.  Today…I shall live as I choose.  Let me choose wisely and well…”

I honor those who serve and sacrifice so that I may choose; it’s called agency and we have fought since before this world was to protect it.

 

You Can Even Find Joy in Change

I attended the funeral of a good friend this past week and as the service unfolded my thoughts turned to his wife, his children and his grandchildren and how their lives will now be changed at his passing.  I was especially drawn to one grandson, about 8 or 9 years old that could not keep his emotions in check; as hard as he tried not to the tears just flowed.

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Change can seem overwhelming.  It may cause feelings of discouragement, maybe anger or frustration.  I don’t know how the passing of his grandfather will affect him, whether he will feel those emotions or others I just know he will experience a change.  Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin in General Conference, October 2008 taught us how to respond to change, “the next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead.  It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.” (Ensign, November 2008)

I don’t mean to imply that all we have to do is “put on a happy face” and all our cares will vanish.  You may not be old enough to remember the ‘positive thinking’ gurus of the 70’s and 80’s.  They would lead you to believe that if you thought about something long enough it would happen.  If you had a hole on your stomach and it hurt; if you thought hard enough that it didn’t hurt, the pain would go away.  You would still have a hole in your stomach but at least it didn’t hurt.  I think some of those folks had a hole in their head.  They taught that all we had to do was drop those little positive thought bromides in our mind every time we got ‘down’ then we could be happy all the time.

The joy and happiness we desire is much, much more than a happy face, but to ‘laugh’ rather than ‘groan’, to smile rather than frown is a good start.

“The Gospel of Jesus Christ has all the answers to all our problems.  The gospel is not a secret.  It is not complicated or hidden.  It can unlock the door to true happiness.  It is not someone’s theory or proposition.  It does not come from man at all.  It springs from the pure and everlasting waters of the creator of the universe, who knows truths we cannot even begin to comprehend.  And with that knowledge, He has given us the gospel—a divine gift, the ultimate formula for happiness and success.”  (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign, May 2009)is-jesus-real5-740x405

In attempting to share with you in the blog what I have learned about joy and happiness and how that relates to  adversity,  President Uchtdorf has now summarized, with one large brush stroke what I have learned.  He went on to explain, which more pointedly defined my understanding, that “the more we fill our hearts and minds with the message of the risen Christ the greater our desire to follow him and live his teachings.  This, in turn, causes our faith to grow and allows the light of Christ to illuminate our hearts.”  And that is when we know and feel true joy and happiness.

ChangeChanges will occur in our lives.  How sad our existence would be otherwise.  This life is a journey filled with tests.  We need these refining tests to craft and hone our character.  It is through our passing each test that our hearts become purified.  We should learn to embrace change.  Examine it. Ponder it.  What can I learn from the experience?  How can I grow from it?  Can I help someone else?  And, what can I do now to prepare for the unexpected changes that will occur?