Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A whirlwind December


The month has flown by with all the plans of our trip to Utah and Arizona. The first most important event was Isaac and Rebekah's wedding scheduled for December 22nd, at the Bountiful Temple. My brother and his wife had just bought the house they were planning on moving into and let us stay there while they were on their way to Utah. We drove through Wyoming and a snow blizzard to get their as well but we all made it safely so we could attend all the festivities. A bridal shower on Monday, Bekah's endownment session on Tuesday and Isaac's groom's dinner Tuesday night then Wednesday was the big day and we saw them married at 10:30am. The president of the Bountiful temple sealed them and it was a wonderful ceremony. Then 6:30 that night was the reception with a Jewish type ring ceremony which touched everyone's hearts.

The next day we packed up and drove to Mesa, Arizona area for Christmas with Sarah and Drew and girls. It was really a fun time and there was no snow.... Bright sunny skies and warmer weather. It was a great trip and we made it home safe and sound.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Old Loxley Hotel

We are working on aquiring The Old Loxley Hotel and have made some advances this week. I am applying for a non-profit statis and will be writing for grants to help pay for the remodeling!!!! This is exciting news as we are hoping to be ready to start at the beginning of the year.

We really need to be quick as the one side of the roof has leaks and we want as little damage as possible. The first order of business will to finish that roof area where it leaks and then level the foundation!!!

Stay tuned for further news flashes......

Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Review: Stand For The Family


Everyone who was born on this planet has lived in one kind of family or another. The family is the basic unit of our society and after reading Sharon Slater’s book Stand for the Family, I am in fear that the family as we know it, will disintegrate starting at the international level.
The story of Slater attending several UN conferences is scary and a great eye-opener to anyone who is concerned with the welfare of the family. Her book takes you through many controversial topics of the day and answers many questions we as parents have been struggling with for the past decade. Why is the world so obsessed with homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, and assaulting motherhood? Mrs. Slater answers these questions and provides a way to join her team of pro-family advocates to safe-guard family rights for the future.
This book is a must read for everyone concerned with the assault we have seen on the traditional family. If our family life is weakened, then our country is weakened and if our country is weakened then we as Americans will be taken over by outside and inside forces.
From Mrs. Slater’s own words on the three main goals accomplished in writing this book.
“I felt compelled to make people aware of what is happening behind closed doors at the UN and in their own countries to undermine the family.
I wanted to equip legislators, policymakers, educators and responsible citizens with the knowledge and tools they need to defend the family, and third, it was designed to be a gathering tool to bring together good people throughout the world to stand for the family.”
Thanks to a short run that came off the press just hours before she left, Sharon was able to take some copies to the World Congress of Families in Amsterdam in August.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to the book. People flocked to our booth and many stated that the book was sorely needed,” she says.

You can buy her book in three places:

http://wwwstandforthefamily.org

http:// familywatchinternational.org

or

http://www.amazon.com/Stand-Family-Sharon-Slater/dp/0977881490/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1290796503&sr=8-1

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: True Miracles with Genealogy--Help from Beyond the Veil


If you are the kind of person who loves doing family research but gets bogged down on running into brick walls for information then this new book would be an asset to your geneology collection. Anne Bradshaw has compiled a wonderful book of stories which are inspiring to those whose family members have passed on. This unique idea of getting information from beyond the veil is not new to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which most stories are from. I have heard countless incidences of family searches which were helped by those who have passed on. It is a fascinating subject and Bradshaw has collected them for us to enjoy and be inspired so we can continue on searching even through the rough times.

Here is what Anne Bradshaw has to say about her experience:


What is your current book and how would you describe it?

I actually have two new books out, but the one I'm concentrating on right now is "True Miracles with Genealogy~Help from Beyond the Veil." Compiling it was an amazing experience.

"True Miracles" is a collection of inspiring research stories, spiritual moments as help comes from beyond the veil. It is unique, comforting, and powerful. Each account can't help but touch hearts as readers come to the heady realization that there really is a world of spirits.

How and when did you gather stories for this book?

I put out requests for stories on many social websites, including Facebook. Genealogists from all over the USA and from other countries responded. It amazed me to read so many unusual experiences—to learn of the many different ways researchers received the help they needed.

I'm sure my book contains only a tiny portion of the vast number of stories that go unrecorded every year—even every day—throughout the world. As someone says in the book, "Heaven is only a whisper away." It really is that close, but most times in the busy hours of our life, we're not in tune, or not ready to listen and act.

I began compiling seriously at the beginning of 2010. The more stories I received the more fascinating, and compelling it was to keep going. Once the initial call for stories went out, friends began telling others about the project and story gathering took on its own momentum.

There was a lot of work involved in the initial story editing to make each one fit the book's style. I thought about putting different accounts into categories within the book, but as stories kept arriving, I they simply didn't fit neatly into any particular groups because each experience was.

Is there a website for "True Miracles with Genealogy?"

Yes, I created a website at http://www.truemiracleswithgenealogy.com to further the book's purpose of sharing research stories. I hope many readers will send in their experiences. I realize it's unusual for most people to have more than one or two genealogy miracles in a lifetime—and many have none—but treasuring and sharing these events is so worthwhile. The website is also home to the book's reviews. These are under the Book Review tab, top of the page.

Where can readers purchase this book?

It's available in both paperback and electronic form. I deliberately kept the price low so more can afford to enjoy it. The Kindle and Nook eBook versions are only $2.99

I hope local bookstores will soon make it available. The book is on many Internet sites. Below are sample links. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free software for your computer, phone, iTouch, iPad, and more on Amazon at http://amzn.to/4nck80 .


Amazon's CreateSpace $8.99, shipping $3.61 https://www.createspace.com/3477323
Amazon $8.99, shipping $3.99 http://amzn.to/9IenR5
Kindle eBook $2.99 http://amzn.to/cqZX9P

So for all of you who love to read stories of those from the life beyond, whether you do family research or not, this is a fantastic read. Very inspiring.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Link to my writings on Yahoo!!!


http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/76889/valerie_j_steimle.html

Here is the link to my writings on yahoo!!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A New Person in the Family

My daugther just called to tell me that I will be the proud grandparent of another grandchild. It's a boy and he will arrive somewhere around May!!!!!! Very exciting.

We had quite a weekend. A movie Friday night--Morning Glory,--Saturday: Help a friend rearrange a room full of book cases, Sunday--emotional struggles at church. Very exhausting!!!

It's been raining all day today but I got my editorial done and submitted a recipe for a website and did some school with the boys. I even got a nap and finished addressing the invitations for Isaac's Grooms party to be mailed tomorrow!!!

I feel much better today. Jim got a job offer from someone at church and life is getting much better!!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Free Men and Dreamers: Oh Say Can You See


A writer friend of mine is launching her next book which is just up my alley!!!!!

L.C. Lewis is prepping for the national launch of “Oh, Say Can You See?” This book is the fourth in a series of American history stories. I love historical fiction and this is an interview which was posted about her and her book!!!!


I’m not always interested in reading historical fiction when I read for leisure but this book held my curiosity without question.  My knowledge of the history of our national anthem is not very noteworthy so with reading Oh Say Can You See, I knew I would learn something; and learn I did.

This story is weaved with the triumph and tragedy of the War of 1812 and what the British tried to accomplish in their last push to overcome the colonists.  Frances Scott Key played a great role in this era as did other patriots fighting for the freedoms of this new country.  A great epic story for the young and old alike, it ended with me wanting more. If you ever get the chance to read this series, take the opportunity!!! It is great.


Here is a synopsis:
The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is less than two years away, and America is gearing up to host spectacular celebrations of the 200th anniversary of her second war of independence. LDS author, L.C. Lewis, saw the event fast-approaching and began writing a historical fiction series to commemorate this often overlooked moment and generation. Along the way, Free Men and Dreamers has garnered an impressive array of reviews, endorsements, and awards. Though each book continues the overall story, each volume is written as a stand-alone read as well, and Lewis thinks volume four, “Oh, Say Can You See?” which weaves her characters through the events surrounding the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, may be the most timely of all the volumes.

From the backliner of the book:

Although the British raids have left Washington a devastated, blackened city, the battered Constitution has held and the presidency has survived!

But the struggling government has no home. The British saw to that. Gone is the Capitol and her magnificent library, the chambers of the Supreme Court, the President’s House, and every relic and document not secreted out of the city.

Next on the list of British prizes—the rebellious port city of Baltimore! A victory here would assure the Americans’ defeat, but a loss would dilute the importance of the destruction of Washington.

But has the raid on Washington stiffened the backs of the Americans? This is the question gnawing at the leaders on both sides.

The Willows women are mourning their absent men—gone to war, or wounded, or captured—as they await the birth of a blessed child.

Mere miles away, attorney Francis Scott Key embarks on a diplomatic mission that will leave an everlasting mark on America. Proving that a pen can be more powerful than a sword, Key records his fears and hopes—the fears and hopes of his embattled people—as he watches the bombardment of Baltimore while detained in the midst of the British fleet.

What changed in this noble man’s pacifist heart, empowering him to pen the powerful anthem, known today as “The Star Spangled Banner,” an epic poem that rallied a shattered nation to rise from its knees to claim the dream of “one nation under God?”

Experience the personal sacrifice of five families placed in the firestorm of the War of 1812, citizen heirs of the sacrifice of the Founding Fathers.

View the trailer at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQYHvfQeZvE&feature=player_embedded

INTERVIEW:
Steimle: This all sounds very exciting! You’ve mentioned that “Oh, Say Can You See?” may be the most timely of all your books. What do you mean by that?

Lewis- I could lump volume three, “Dawn’s Early Light” in there as well because it surrounds the British attack on Washington. In my opinion, the devastation there really culminated in the writing of the Key’s epic poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which we know now as the “Star-Spangled Banner.” But what I meant is this, America is enjoying a renewed reverence for the Founding Fathers and their brilliance in designing the government they did. Sadly, many of us know less about the Constitution now than we did in sixth-grade, but that is changing today. There is a sense of patriotism sweeping across the land that resembles that passion and urgency felt in 1814. Remember the American political landscape was changed after the British attacked us. The iconic buildings Americans were beginning to identify with their nation and government had been destroyed. It was then that the flag rose from being a mere fort marker, to an emblem of this nation. Key recognized that as he peered across the Baltimore harbor, praying to see one of the last surviving symbols of America—that star-spangled flag flying above Fort McHenry. I think most Americans can identify with those feelings.

Steimle: I’ve read that your research has been extensive. Why did you choose to write the events of this period as historical fiction rather than just as straight history?

Lewis: There are some spectacular historical accounts of this period, many of which I reference, but as I read reviews of those authors’ brilliant work, I recognized that there was an entire audience of people who didn’t enjoy that format, but who learn history best when it is personalized and wrapped around a compelling storyline. So I researched this period and created characters readers can invest in, and had them experience these events. By doing this, I can place them anywhere and in the midst of any event I choose.

Steimle: What was the hardest part of writing “Oh, Say Can You See?”

Lewis- Since this volume thrusts our characters into the pivotal Battle of Baltimore and the events surrounding the writing of the "Star Spangled Banner," I really wanted readers to feel the emotions experienced by the families as well as the soldiers and sailors during that "perilous night" with "bombs bursting in air.”

Steimle: The cover is beautiful! Did you have a hand in designing it?

Lewis- I had input. I knew I wanted an image of the bombardment of Fort McHenry with the focus on that splendid flag. Amy Orton, the cover designer at Walnut Springs Publishing presented a concept and we tweaked it together. I hope it will make readers hungry to tear into the book.

Steimle: You’ve already received some beautiful endorsements. I'm posting a few listed on the book’s back cover:

"This book touched me deeply, causing me to reflect on the countless lives that have sacrificed freedom and happiness so that I could pursue my own. Lewis has written a compelling, almost epic, novel, full of themes that span from 1812 to 2010—and beyond. As her characters wrestle with the dislocation and trauma of a war, they come to realize what it means to be Americans, what it means to be free—and ultimately, what it means to be human." Braden Bell, author of "The Road Show."

“Master storyteller L C Lewis weaves her tales using well researched American history facts as the warp and masterful plotting and characterizations as the woof. (The word might be weft. I'll try to check if the wireless persists.) Oh Say Can You See carries all the threads of the previous three books in her Free Men and Dreamers series and presents a rich tapestry of life, love, conflict and triumph during the War of 1812.”. Liz Adair, award-winning author of “Counting the Cost.”

Once started, I had to read the whole thing through, and many parts brought tears to my eyes. (Ernest Runge, a Viet Nam veteran and history enthusiast)

Lewis- I love reading the early reviews. I sent unedited copies to some colleagues and readers and I was deeply, deeply touched by the warm reception the book has had so far. I especially love hearing that whole families are reading the series and writing to tell me how much they’ve learned about America. I can’t wait to hear their reaction to “Oh, Say Can You See?”

Steimle: Tell us a little about your research for this volume.

Lewis- Aside from tons of reading, and visits to Frederick and other sites, my research for this book took me to Fort McHenry where I spent time with the expert on the Battle of Baltimore--Scott Sheads--who not only heads the staff at the fort, but who has served as the curator of the "Star Spangled Banner" exhibit at the Smithsonian. Like most historians with whom I've had the pleasure of chatting, Sheads is generous with his research and observations, offering me tidbits of little-known information about the perilous battle upon which the hopes of a battered nation hinged, and about the principle characters like Francis Scott Key who observed it as a detainee in the harbor, including details about the days surrounding the writing of the poem that became our nation's anthem.

Steimle: I hear one more volume is planned after this one. When will it be released, and tell us about the other volumes.

Lewis- Book five is set for a spring 2011 release and it will carry us forward, as we see how the events of this period shaped America and affected the next generation. We’re toying with two titles—“The Morning Breaks,” and “In God We Trust.” Right now, we’re all leaning towards “In God We Trust.”

The other three books in the series are:

Volume 1, DARK SKY at DAWN, introduces the complex story of our six lead families--three American, two British, one slave--and the devastating prelude to the war.

Volume 2, TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING, carries readers into the harrowing events at Hampton, Virginia, and illustrates the toll the war takes on civilians--women and children. But through it all, a new tenacity begins to strengthen the young nation's spine as Americans rally to the cause of their nation.

Volume 3, DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT, throws our characters into the attack on Washington and the events that proved the mettle of the the Constitution and the Presidency.

Steimle: Tell us a little about L.C. Lewis.

Lewis- Well, many readers will be surprised to hear that I’m a grandma and not a grandpa! Publishers tend to obscure female historical fiction authors behind a pen name because some readers just expect the authors of these books to be male. I write women’s fiction under my real name, Laurie Lewis. My most recent release was in April—a women’s novel titled, “Awakening Avery,” which is currently nominated for a Whitney Award. (http://whitneyawards.com/wordpress/about-the-whitney-awards/)

I’m a long time resident of Carroll County where my husband and I still reside. The past few years have been consumed by these books, but as soon as volume five is released I hope to pick up some of my old hobbies—genealogy, cross-stitch, the guitar and gardening. I’m dying to learn to play the piano and my brave daughter has offered to teach her uncoordinated mother the ropes.

Steimle: Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your book with us today. Let’s just remind readers that OH, SAY CAN YOU SEE? is set for an November release but autographed copies can be pre-ordered at http://www.thisistheplace.com/store?start=Product&wid=15166.

L.C. Lewis is beginning pre-release promotional activities readers can participate in by visiting her web site and blog at www.laurielclewis.com, and www.laurielclewis.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Not Quite Halloween

It's a few days before Halloween and we are doing our normal daily routine. School, work and church. Thursday is the Foley Fall Festival and we will have a booth set up there for our XS Energy Drinks. Friday is party day with three of mine going to two different parties and Saturday is the Ward Trunk or Treat activity with a Spooky Spaghetti dinner. Sounds like fun!!!

Sunday is the actual day of Halloween. I'm not sure if we will have any trick or treaters but I'll be prepared.

I rotate working on three things every day besides homeschool and my callings. First, I write articles for internet websites. Second, I work on getting closer to aquiring the Old Loxley Hotel and Third, I work on Amway sales with XS events. Very busy and satisfying but we seem to be going very slow on Amway sales and the hotel. The article writing is coming along great.

Hoping that one of the TV news stations does a PR interview and tour this week for the old hotel, that will be my kick off to fundraising to get the Old Loxley Hotel remodeled.

Amway sales with XS events is always there. We are always selling so we are hoping it will take off soon. I'm not one to support energy drinks, but this stuff is better than soda.

This will all be a great story when we are past the hard part. Everyone have a great weekend.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Buzzing: Save the Child



This fictional book is by Margaret Turley and has just come off the presses. Its a story about how parents have the right to chose their children's healthcare. The story is very close to real life and has the potential to touch many hearts in learning about how parents can help their own children when tragedy strikes in a health issue which is at times very overwhelming. Read the interview on Donna Hatch's blog.

http://donnahatch.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 4, 2010

“Fundamentals of Our Constitutions”

Utah’s Constitution Day Celebration

Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah

September 17, 2010

“Fundamentals of Our Constitutions”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks


Introduction

I feel very privileged to be invited to speak to this great audience on Constitution Day. I appreciate the University of Utah Hinckley Institute’s invitation and its sponsorship of this and other community events over the last 45 years.

I will speak about the written constitutions of the United States and its 50 states. As I give examples of various issues under these constitutions — matters on which respected public officials have taken controversial positions — please remember that I am not referring to the persons who hold the various offices under those constitutions. I am speaking of the “institution” of constitutional government. The principles I describe apply regardless of who holds the offices and regardless of party affiliation. Our loyalty is to the institution. If we oppose persons who hold particular offices or the policies they pursue, we are free to vote against them or work against their policies. But we should not carry our opposition to the point of opposing their offices, or we weaken the institution of constitutional government.

Some of the things said by various persons in recent public discourse cause me to urge that we be more careful in the way we throw around the idea that something is unconstitutional. A constitution should not be used as a weapon to end debate. A public policy or a proposed law that is unwise is not necessarily unconstitutional. Even if it is a stupid proposal, it is not necessarily unconstitutional. A constitution gives the people and their elected leaders the opportunity to make many decisions that are unwise or even reckless. When that happens — when the government or one of its officials engages in some kind of action that we consider to be wrong — we should engage in vigorous public debate about it. But we should not use up a constitution by attempting to strike down every ill-conceived act of government or to discredit every unwise official. A constitution is the ultimate weapon, and we preserve that weapon best by using it sparingly and carefully. If we call some action unconstitutional, we should be prepared to explain what provision or principle of a constitution it violates. In this way, a constitution can be used to stimulate discussion and to seek unity.

We should, of course, always be vigilant to insist that our governments and their executives, lawmakers and judges stay within the limits prescribed by our constitutions. That is part of the rule of law, and all of the blessings enjoyed under our constitutions are dependent upon it. President J. Reuben Clark, an honored authority on the Constitution, declared that “our allegiance run[s] to the Constitution and to the principles which it embodies, and not to individuals. All that we say about the Constitution and our reliance upon it depends upon the rule of law and not of the men or women who hold the offices under it.”[1]

There is need for public praise of our constitutions and their principles. A rising generation of influential opinion makers seems to place a lesser value on the United States Constitution. An example of that was related to me by a recent law graduate. In a panel discussion at the Harvard Law School, a professor of constitutional law criticized the United States Constitution in harsh terms. Another faculty panelist speculated that if his colleague’s criticisms were valid we might as well just take our written constitution and “roll it and smoke it.” That kind of disdain for our national constitution is more than concerning.

The United States Constitution is the oldest written national constitution still in use. It has served Americans well, enhancing freedom and prosperity during the changing conditions of more than 200 years. Frequently copied, it has become the United States’ most important export. After two centuries, every nation in the world except six have adopted written constitutions,[2] and the United States Constitution was a model for all of them. Consequently, if we abandon or weaken its fundamental principles, we betray our own national ideals and we also weaken our global neighbors.

Now I will proceed to discuss four major fundamentals of the United States Constitution. In an earlier setting, under Church sponsorship, I referred to these fundamentals as the divinely inspired principles in the Constitution,[3] and I here affirm my belief that they are. But in this setting of a community program I will only refer to these as the great fundamental principles of our Constitution.

As I speak of these great fundamentals, I wish to take the long view. I do not wish to be understood as endorsing or condemning specific actions or proposals on current issues. I know that some will apply what I say — one way or another — to issues currently being reported in the media. But I do not seek to be heard for the short term. Drawing on over 50 years of observing a multitude of controversies over the application of constitutions, I am trying to describe fundamental principles that will be meaningful for decades to come. I leave to my listeners the task of agreeing or disagreeing with my description of the great fundamentals and — if they wish — trying to apply them to the very complex issues of this day and the different issues of the days to come.

I. Popular Sovereignty
I mention first what is probably the most important of the great fundamentals of the United States Constitution—the principle of popular sovereignty: The people are the source of government power; it is they who consented to a constitution that delegates certain powers to the government. I stress this fundamental by emphasizing what are not the sources of sovereign power. Sovereignty is not inherent in a state or nation just because it has the power that comes from force of arms. Sovereignty does not come from the divine right of a king, who grants his subjects such power as he pleases or is forced to concede, as in the Magna Carta. And sovereignty does not rest in an aristocracy of self-appointed wise men who think that their high birth or prestigious education gives them the right to prescribe what is best for everyone else. Sovereignty is in the people as a whole, and their sovereignty is supreme, subject only to a few crucial limitations that I will discuss in a moment.

Sovereignty in the people necessarily implies responsibility in the people. Instead of blaming their troubles on a king, on a cabal of military leaders, or on some distant group of wise men, citizens who are sovereign must share a measure of the burdens and responsibilities of governing. I will say more of this later.

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not originate the idea of popular sovereignty, since they lived in a century when persuasive philosophers had argued that political power originated in a social contract. But the United States Constitution provided the first national implementation of that principle.

After two centuries in which Americans may have taken popular sovereignty for granted, it is helpful to be reminded of the difficulties in that pioneering effort. A direct democracy was impractical for a country of four million people and about a half million square miles. As a result, the delegates had to design the structure of a constitutional, representative democracy, what they called “a Republican Form of Government.”[4] They also had to decide how minority rights could be protected when the government was, by definition, directed by a majority of the sovereign people. Part of that effort was to resolve whether a constitution adopted by popular sovereignty could be amended, and if so how.

The government of the United States had to be ultimately responsible to the will of the sovereign people, but it also had to be stable. Without stability against an aroused majority, government could not give individuals or minorities protection against overreaching by the ruling majority, a reality most evident when an outraged public calls for immediate punishment of one accused but not yet shown guilty of a crime. Government policies should not be tossed about with temporary swings in public opinion. The Constitution had to give government the power to withstand the cries of a majority of the sovereign people in the short run, but it had to be subject to their direction in the long run. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention achieved the required balance among popular sovereignty, stability, and protection of minorities through a power of amendment that was ultimately available but deliberately slow. It required the action of very large majorities — two-thirds in the Senate and the approval of threeII. Division of Powers in a Federal System

Another great fundamental of the United States Constitution is its federal system, which divides government powers between the nation and the various states. This principle of federalism is at the heart of our Constitution. Unlike the next two fundamentals I will discuss, which were adaptations of earlier developments in English law, this division of sovereignty between two government levels was unprecedented in theory or practice. In a day when it is fashionable to assume that the national government has the power and means to right every perceived injustice, we should remember that the United States Constitution limits the national government to the exercise of powers expressly granted to it. The Tenth Amendment provides:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.”

This principle of limited national powers, with all residuary powers reserved to the people or to the state and local governments, which are most responsive to the people, is one of the great fundamentals of the United States Constitution.

In my lifetime I have seen much neglect of this fundamental constitutional principle. For example, the power to make laws on personal relationships is one of those powers not granted to the federal government and therefore reserved to the states. Thus, the ordinary laws governing marriage and family rights and duties are state laws, subject to the power of national law to govern the extent to which the law of one state is binding on others. The dominance of state law in these personal matters would have been changed by the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.) proposed about 30 years ago. The dominance of state law will also be changed if, after full review, federal courts decree that a state law on marriage is invalid under the United States Constitution. Whatever the merits of current controversies over the laws of marriage and child adoption and the like, let us not forget that if the decisions of federal courts can override the actions of state lawmakers on this subject, we have suffered a significant constitutional reallocation of lawmaking power from the lawmaking branch to the judicial branch and from the states to the federal government.

III. Bill of Rights

A bill of rights, the third great fundamental of the United States Constitution, came by amendment, but I think almost all Americans look upon these first ten amendments as an essential part of the original Constitution.

The idea of a bill of rights was not new. Almost 600 years earlier, King John had been compelled to sign the Magna Carta, which contained a written guarantee of some rights for certain of his subjects. Later, the Magna Carta was relied upon by the English Parliament in guaranteeing additional rights against royal power in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. In the century that followed, many of the charters used in the establishment of the American colonies included some written guarantees of citizen liberties and privileges. And in the rush of constitution-making that followed the Continental Congress’s 1776 invitation, almost all of the 13 colonies developed these guarantees further. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention were familiar with this history and made brilliant application of its principles in framing a Bill of Rights suited to the needs of the people of a new nation.

There are several supremely important guarantees in the Bill of Rights, including the freedoms of speech and press. I have chosen only one to discuss in detail.

The Bill of Rights begins with what many believe to be the most important guarantee in the United States Constitution. The First Amendment reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The prohibition against “an establishment of religion” was intended to separate churches and government, to prevent a national church of the kind found in Europe. In the interest of time I will say no more about the establishment of religion, but only concentrate on the direction that the United States shall have no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. For nearly a century this guarantee of religious freedom has been understood as a limitation on state as well as federal power.

The guarantee of the free exercise of religion, which I will call religious freedom, is one of the supremely important founding principles in the United States Constitution, and it is reflected in the constitutions of all of our 50 states. It is the first expression in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. As noted by many, this “pre-eminent place” identifies freedom of religion as “a cornerstone of American democracy.”[5] I maintain that in our nation’s founding and in our constitutional order, religious freedom, and the freedoms of speech and press associated with it in the First Amendment, are the motivating and dominating civil liberties and civil rights.

The American colonies were originally settled by people who, for the most part, had come to this continent to be able to practice their religious faith without persecution, and their successors deliberately placed religious freedom first in the nation’s Bill of Rights. So it is that our national law formally declares: “The right to freedom of religion undergirds the very origin and existence of the United States.”[6]

This principle was affirmed impressively 22 years ago when a group of prominent citizens assembled at Williamsburg, Virginia, and signed what was called the Williamsburg Charter. I was privileged to sign that charter in behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its stated purpose was to celebrate and reaffirm religious liberty as the foremost freedom in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Williamsburg Charter states:

“The First Amendment Religious Liberty provisions have both a logical and historical priority in the Bill of Rights. . . . In sum, as much if not more than any other single provision in the entire Constitution, the Religious Liberty provisions hold the key to American distinctiveness and American destiny.”[7]

The free “exercise” of religion obviously involves both the right to choose religious beliefs and affiliations and the right to “exercise” or practice those beliefs. But in a nation with citizens of many different religious beliefs the right of some to act upon their religious principles must be qualified by the government’s responsibility to protect the health and safety of all. Otherwise, for example, the government could not protect its citizens’ person or property from neighbors whose religious principles compelled or justified stealing or taking human life.

The inherent conflict between the precious religious freedom of the people and the legitimate regulatory responsibilities of the government is the central issue of religious freedom. The problems are not simple, and over the years the United States Supreme Court, which has the ultimate responsibility of interpreting the meaning of the lofty and general provisions of the Constitution, has struggled to identify principles that can guide its decisions when government action is claimed to violate someone’s free exercise of religion. As would be expected, many of the battles over the extent of religious freedom have involved government efforts to impose upon the practices of small groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Recent experiences suggest adding Muslims to the category of threatened religious minorities.

Unpopular minority religions are especially dependent upon a constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion. We are fortunate to have such a guarantee in the United States, but many nations do not. The importance of that guarantee should make us ever diligent to defend it. And it is in need of being defended. During my lifetime I have seen a significant deterioration in the respect accorded to religion in our public life, and I believe that the vitality of religious freedom is in danger of being weakened accordingly.

A recent book illustrates this danger. In Freedom From Religion, published by the Oxford University Press, a law professor makes this three-step argument:

1. In many nations “society is at risk from religious extremism.”[8]

2. “A follower is far more likely to act on the words of a religious authority figure than other speakers.”[9]

3. Therefore, “in some cases, society and government should view religious speech as inherently less protected than secular political speech because of its extraordinary ability to influence the listener.”[10]

He concludes:
“[W]e must begin to consider the possibility that religious speech can no longer hide behind the shield of freedom of expression. . . .[11]

“Contemporary religious extremism leaves decision-makers and the public alike with no choice but to re-contour constitutionally granted rights as they pertain to religion and speech.”[12]

I hope that those who might be persuaded by these arguments will consider how easy it would be over time to manipulate the definition of “religious extremism” to suppress any unpopular religion.

Religious belief and preaching must be protected against government action, even while the practice of that belief must have some limits, as I suggested earlier. But unless the guarantee of free exercise of religion gives a religious actor greater protection against government prohibitions than are already guaranteed to all actors by other provisions of the Constitution (like freedom of speech), what is the special value of religious freedom? Surely the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion was intended to grant more freedom to religious preaching and action than to other kinds of speech and action. Treating actions based on religious belief the same as actions based on other systems of belief should not be enough to satisfy the special place of religion in the United States Constitution.

IV. Separation of Powers

The fourth great fundamental of the United States Constitution and of our state constitutions is the principle of separation of powers. This principle puts our national government on a significantly different foundation than the parliamentary systems of most western governments. The idea of separation of powers came out of the English experience, when parliament wrested certain powers from the king in the conflicts of the 1600s, thus achieving some separation of legislative and executive authority. But the United States Constitution carried this separation much further.

The concept of separating the executive, legislative, and judicial functions was established in the American colonies in the 1700s. A commentary on the Massachusetts Constitution of 1778, of which John Adams was a principal author, explained the basic principle.

“The legislative, judicial, and executive powers are to be lodged in different hands, that each branch is to be independent, and further, to be so balanced, and be able to exert such checks upon the others, as will preserve it from dependence on, or a union with them.”[13]

Thus, we often refer to the principle of separation of powers in terms of the checks and balances each branch exercises upon the others.

If the idea of checks and balances is to work properly, each branch of government must preserve its independence from the others. Moreover, the powers of each of these three branches must be exercised in a good faith effort to serve the interests of the public, rather than to dominate the others or to enhance the personal position of a particular official. Politics, revenge or personal gain must never be the primary driving force in the application of checks and balances.

For checks and balances to work properly, and for the fundamental principle of separation of powers to be honored and perform its proper function, each branch of government must fulfill its duties fully, and each must refrain from attempting to exercise the functions of the others. For example, Congress should perform its duty of making the laws and specifying the principles—even politically difficult principles—and not dodge this responsibility by delegating this function to regulations made by the executive branch. The courts must limit themselves to interpreting the Constitution and the laws and not stray into the legislative function of law-making. In contrast, we are all aware that in our day the actions of courts on major issues of public policy receive great attention in the media, and are frequently represented and understood as the actions of those who make laws rather than those who merely interpret them.

These are, of course, very broad assertions, and in practice these ideas are complex and controversial. I will attempt to express my thoughts about them without getting into too much technical legal jargon. If my remarks seem to deal excessively with the judicial branch and the conduct of judges, you will understand that I choose to elaborate on that subject because the judicial branch is the one with which I have had my greatest experience.V. The Judicial Branch’s Role in Separation of Powers

There are two different views of the role of the judicial branch of government in our constitutional system. One maintains that the genius of the American system is its expectation that the courts will resolve very difficult and important questions that the legislative and executive branches of government have been unable to resolve. For example, it was the Supreme Court of the United States that compelled this nation to resolve the problem of racially segregated public schools, after many decades in which the nation’s elected lawmakers were unwilling to recognize this injustice or unable to resolve it. Other examples could be given. The important thing is that many believe the courts have a legitimate function in lawmaking when the problem is large and urgent enough and the legislative and executive branches have shown by inaction or ineffective action that they are unable to perform their functions to resolve it.

The opposite point of view argues that the courts should stay entirely out of the domain of legislative lawmaking, leaving this function to the popularly elected legislative bodies and the elected chief executives who presumably reflect the will of the people. A generation ago a prominent legal scholar described this position:

“Outside of a few important, well-defined personal liberties set forth in the document, the Constitution allows the people to make public policy through their elected representatives. When the Court ventures into policymaking in the guise of constitutional interpretation, it oversteps the role assigned to it under the Constitution.”[14]

The differences in these approaches will not be resolved. Both will be followed in their time, with the ebb and flow of judicial appointments, politics, and legal thought. But it is important to note that we currently have widespread public dissatisfaction on this subject. The 2006 Georgetown Conference on Judicial Independence considered a Princeton survey finding that 62% of Americans say the courts in their state are legislating from the bench rather than interpreting the law. This reveals a widespread public feeling that the courts are revising the moral and cultural life of the nation by making policy determinations that should be made by lawmakers in the elected branches.

Judicial Independence

What concerns us most about this widespread public dissatisfaction is that if not attended to it will threaten the independence the judicial branch must have to perform its function in our system of separation of powers. In the last few years, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has performed a great service by leading a series of conferences at Georgetown University on the state of the judiciary. They focused on this question of judicial independence.

As I have cheered these efforts from the sidelines, I have thought of how our system contrasts with that of the now defunct Soviet Union. During my years as president of BYU (1971–80), I hosted the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union, who was touring the United States in that Cold War period. In a private one-on-one discussion, I asked him how the Soviet system really worked in a highly visible criminal case, such as where a person was charged with an offense like treason or other crimes against the state. He explained that on those kinds of cases they had what they called “telephone justice.” Judges conducted the trial and heard the evidence and then went back to their chambers and had a phone call from a government or party official who told them how to decide the case.

I am grateful that, whatever difficulties we have in our system of justice — and there are many — we are still far away from what he called “telephone justice.” What stands between us and that corruption of the judicial system — what stands between us and the destruction of a vital check and balance in our system of separation of powers — is the independence of our state and federal judges.

I speak of state as well as federal judges because in most citizen encounters with the law state judges are by far the most important representatives of the judicial branch. I thought of that as I listened to our Utah Chief Justice, Christine M. Durham, speak to a group of lawyers last month.[15] She told them that in a recent year there were 384,000 cases filed in the federal courts, but the state courts had over 47 million. This is about 123 state court cases for every single case filed in the federal courts. She reminded her audience that “state courts are closer to everyday life where the legal meanings of such elemental concepts as birth and death and family take shape.” It is in the state courts where family law issues are adjudicated, where foreclosures take place, and where injured persons come to recover damages. When we speak of the importance of judicial independence, we must not neglect the important role of state courts as a co-equal branch of government.

Chief Justice Durham cited three troubling recent developments that put the judicial independence of state courts at risk. One of these she called “the politicization of state judiciaries.” This is the subject Justice O’Connor’s various conferences have pursued so persuasively with various recommendations, including judicial selection and tenure, judicial salaries, and limits on judicial campaign contributions.

As I give my strong endorsement of judicial independence, I am conscious that many in this audience will have observed or personally experienced court decisions with which they disagreed. I have also had that experience. In endorsing judicial independence, I do not approve every court decision it makes possible. What I advocate are the conditions necessary to preserve the institution of judicial independence, which is essential to the principle of separation of powers. We must defend judicial independence. We must not tolerate existing laws or support new laws that would make judges the servants of the legislative or executive branches or of any private interest.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that there are limits. Judicial independence does not mean that judges are free to decide controversies or cases according to their personal preferences.

Our constitutions and the acts of our legislative bodies are the paramount and most obvious examples of restraints upon judicial independence. In interpreting these and in applying the common law on subjects where there are no legislative enactments, judges are constrained by the precedents of prior judicial opinions. Less obvious, and subordinate to these restraints, are those elusive but very real community and personal standards of right and wrong that comprise what we might call the moral framework that defines what is workable or appropriate for persons living in an organized society. In total, these constraints should prevent a judge from having his or her personal interests take command of the decision-making process to augment personal power, property, prominence or prestige.
Judicial Activism

Unfortunately, the constraints I have described do not always hold judges within the limits imposed by our constitutional order. The label many put on judicial decisions that break free of these limits is judicial activism. It could just as well be called judicial arrogance. It has a variety of causes, including misinterpretation of the law and excessive reliance on personal predilections in the decision of cases. But neither of these should override the framework of the law, especially in those cases where the judicial branch should make no decision, but leave the matter to popularly elected lawmakers.

In criticizing judicial activism, I am not agreeing with those critics who define judicial activism as a circumstance where a judge makes the law rather than merely interprets it. That is an over-simplified definition. Our system of law clearly contemplates that judges will make law as well as interpret it. Appellate courts inevitably make law as they interpret legislative enactments that are ambiguous or contradictory. Judges make law by giving meaning to legislative language that is deliberately vague, such as laws using words like “fair” or “reasonable” or “obscene.” Appellate courts make law gradually on a case-by-base basis as they define and apply the common law, which consists of the decisions of courts on subjects not treated by the legislature. None of these lawmaking functions of judges is subject to criticism as judicial activism, because if the popularly elected lawmakers don’t like these judicial actions, they can change them by legislation.

In my opinion, the judicial lawmaking that has been legitimately criticized as judicial activism concerns the interpretation of state and federal constitutions. This kind of judicial action is not reversible by the popularly elected lawmakers, and cannot even be changed by the sovereign people except in those unusual circumstances in which a constitutional amendment is feasible. If such judicial action sets aside laws enacted or approved by a direct vote of the people, it offends two fundamentals: separation of powers and popular sovereignty.

Constitutional adjudication is the kind of activity that requires the highest exercise of the judicial talent and should cause the greatest soul-searching on the part of judges. On the one hand, the compelling traditions of common law adjudication show that the law — even constitutional law — can grow gradually to meet the problems and challenges of a new day. On the other hand, the overriding requirements of stability in the law forbid judges from using their office to enact their own personal preferences and moral framework in the way they could justifiably do as legislators. The question that should always be asked in constitutional adjudication is, “Is this a matter that the sovereign people in our democracy ought to decide through their popularly elected lawmakers, or is it a matter that our constitution clearly assigns to judges not directly accountable to the popular will?”

In the end, the only complete remedy for judicial activism is judicial restraint. Only judges can make judicial restraint a reality. The rarest kind of power in our troubled world is a power recognized but unexercised. Yet that is what the people have a right to expect from the judicial branch, which must define the limits of all government branches, including its own. I maintain that the same branch of government that has defined the power and forged the tools of judicial activism should decline to exercise them.

VI. Citizen Responsibilities

I conclude with some suggestions about our responsibilities as citizens. We have a great Constitution whose fundamental principles many believe to be divinely inspired. Therefore what? I will suggest five responsibilities that I believe are appropriate for all citizens—whatever their religious or philosophical persuasion.

1.Understand the Constitution

All citizens should be familiar with its great fundamentals: the sovereignty of the people, the structure of federalism that divides powers between the state and the federal government, the individual guarantees in the Bill of Rights, and the principle of separation of powers among the various branches of government. We should take alarm at and consider how to oppose any action that would infringe these fundamentals.

2.Support the Law

All citizens should give law-abiding support to their national, state, and local governments. My religious faith expresses this principle in an official declaration of belief:

“We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them. . . .

“We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside” (D&C 134:1, 5).

3.Practice Civic Virtue

Those who enjoy the blessings of liberty under our national and state constitutions should promote morality, and they should practice what the Founding Fathers called “civic virtue.” John Adams, the second president of the United States, declared, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”[16]

James Madison argued in the Federalist Papers that “republican government presupposes the exercise of these qualities [of virtue] in a higher degree than any other form.”[17]

Citizens should also be practitioners of civic virtue in their conduct toward our states and our nation. They should obey the laws. They should be ever willing to fulfill the duties of citizenship. This includes compulsory duties like military service and the numerous voluntary actions they must take if they are to preserve the principle of limited government through citizen self-reliance. For example, since U.S. citizens value the right of trial by jury, they must be willing to serve on juries, even those involving unsavory subject matter.

Then there is the matter of voting. I have been alarmed at the steady decline of voter turnout in many parts of the United States, including Utah. Voting is a fundamental right and responsibility that must not be taken for granted. Political participation can be inconvenient. It requires sacrifices of time and resources, but it is essential to our democratic society. Without substantial voter turnout, the people abrogate the great fundamental of popular sovereignty.

It is also part of civic virtue to be moral in our conduct toward all people. We believe with the author of Proverbs that “righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). The personal righteousness of citizens will strengthen a nation more than the force of its arms.

4.Maintain Civility in Political Discourse

If representative government is to function effectively under our constitutions, we must have civility in political discourse. We currently have an excess of ugliness and contentiousness in our communications on many political issues. I don’t need to give examples; we have all been exposed to it, and some of us have occasionally been part of it. We all bear some responsibility for the current political polarization and the stalemates that have resulted from it. We ought to tone it down. Meaningful debate and discussion about policies, programs, and procedures is essential to a democratic society. But contentiousness for the sake of division is bad for democracy. It is bad for law observance. It is bad for neighborly relations. And it is particularly destructive as an example for the rising generation, who, if not taught better, will perpetuate and magnify its ugliness and divisiveness for generations to come.

A year ago our Church published a statement called “The Mormon Ethic of Civility.” I quote from that statement:

“The Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that renders civil discussion impossible. . . . Our democratic system [should] facilitate kinder and more reasoned exchanges among fellow Americans than we are now seeing.”[18]

Our President, Thomas S. Monson, has said, “When a spirit of goodwill prompts our thinking and when unified effort goes to work on a common problem, the results can be most gratifying.”[19]

5.Promote Patriotism

Finally, the single word that best describes a fulfillment of the responsibilities of citizenship is patriotism. Citizens should be patriotic. My favorite prescription for patriotism is that of Adlai Stevenson, the Illinois governor who was twice the Democratic candidate for President:

“What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? . . . A patriotism that puts country ahead of self; a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”[20]

Conclusion

I close with a poetic prayer. It is familiar to most Americans because we sing it in one of our loveliest hymns. It expresses gratitude to God for liberty, and it voices a prayer for continued blessings:

Our fathers’ God, to thee,

Author of liberty,

To thee we sing;

Long may our land be bright

With freedom’s holy light.

Protect us by thy might,

Great God, our King![21]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
References

[1] J. Reuben Clark: Selected Papers on Religion, Education, and Youth, ed. David H. Yarn, Jr., Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1984, p. 43.

[2] See A. E. Dick Howard, “Making It Work,” Wilson Quarterly, Spring 1987, pp. 122, 126.

[3] See “The Divinely Inspired Constitution,” Ensign, February 1992, 68-74.

[4] U.S. Constitution, Art. IV, Sec. 4.

[5] Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad to the Secretary of State and to the President of the United States, May 17, 1999, p. 6.

[6] 22 USC 6401(a).

[7] The Williamsburg Charter, pp. 11-12. The text of the Williamsburg Charter is reproduced in the appendix (pp. 127-45) of Articles of Peace, the Religious Liberty Clauses and the American Public Philosophy (James Davison Hunter and Os Guinness, eds., Brookings Books, Washington, D.C., 1990).

[8] Amos N. Guiora, Freedom From Religion (Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 27.

[9] Ibid., at p. 30.

[10] Ibid., at p. 31.

[11] Ibid., at p. 31.

[12] Ibid., at p. 39.

[13] Quoted in Gerhard Casper, “Constitutionalism,” Occasional Papers from the Law School, The University of Chicago, no. 22 (1987).

[14] Michael W. McConnell, “Four Faces of Conservative Legal Thought,” University of Chicago Law School Record, Spring 1988, 12, 13.

[15] “State Courts and Justice for All,” BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School Founders Day Dinner, Salt Lake City, Utah, August 26, 2010.

[16] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, ed. C. F. Adams (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1854), Vol. IX, p. 229, October 11, 1798.

[17] Federalist No. 55, February 13, 1788.

[18]”The Mormon Ethic of Civility,” October 16, 2009 (see http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/ commentary/the-mormon-ethic-of-civility).

[19] Ibid.

[20] Adlai Stevenson, speech given in New York City, 27 August 1952, quoted in John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1955, p. 986.

[21] Hymns, no. 339.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

An Actor's Life For Me


Caleb has found one of his passions. This past summer Caleb was cast in the musical play "The Pirates of Penzance" as the Pirate King and sang well in all of his songs. A few weeks later Glenna Grant called to ask him if he would take a part in the play "The Fantastics" as El Gallo. The guy originally cast for this part hurt his back and could not perform so Caleb would have to pick it up quickly which he did.
This is what they wrote about him in the program of "The Fantastics":
Caleb Steimle is a 21-year-old college student at Faulkner State Community College, where he is majoring in business. Caleb, a resident of Loxley and the fifth of nine children, was homeschooled through high school. He began acting at age 14 and previous plays have included: "How the West was Done," "A Christmas Carol," and "The Wizard of Oz." His favorite role so far has been as the Pirate King in "The Pirate of Penzance" at the Loxley Civic Center this past summer. "The Fantastics" marks Caleb's debut on the South Baldwin Community Theater stage.

I am so very happy Caleb has tapped into one of his talents and we are hoping for other opportunities he has to share this talent!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Our Christian Nation-Editorial

Last week my son had borrowed the second season of Boston Legal from the library and started watching the episodes. I was in and out of the room listening to the story lines but one part in particular caught my attention. In the story, a large company had decided to endorse prayer in the work place to encourage their workers to remember our precious values: honesty, benevolence, integrity and justice and in so doing one of the employees was offended and quit. He then decided to sue this company for their promotion of prayer and Christianity in the work place. During the course of the case one of the junior attorneys created a video of quotes from past Presidents of the United States and other statesmen reciting quotes of our nation under God. It really caught my attention. This junior attorney went on to say in his speech to the opposing attorneys that, “We are a Christian nation. Evolution is out and Christianity is in. We are a Christian nation.” Watching that whole scene made me stop and think: We are a Christian nation. Then why is it that our federal government seems to think otherwise?
In several speeches in the past, President Obama made the statement to other countries that “America is no longer simply a Christian nation.” This belief was disputed by many including a Congressman from Virginia. Rep. Randy Forbes, who spoke out on the House floor against Obama’s view on our religious heritage and asked “when did our nation ceased to be a Judeo-Christian nation?”
I found this wonderful speech by Congressman Randy Forbes given May 6, 2009 to the Speaker of the House and he finishes his remarks by presenting House Resolution 397, the Spiritual Heritage Resolution. It was written to help reaffirm the great history of faith in our country and with that resolution designate the first week of May as America’s Spiritual Heritage Week.
As it is written from this Spiritual Heritage Resolution, we know that “religious faith was not only important in official American life during periods of discovery, exploration, colonization and growth, but has also been acknowledged and incorporated into all three branches of the Federal Government from the very beginning.”
We need to return to our Founding Father’s roots and reaffirm the fact that “without God there cannot be any form of American government.” Most of us who do recognize Christianity as the founding principles of our country cannot ignore the fact that others are trying to remove it from our life.
We should ask ourselves the same question as Rep. Forbes: “If America was once a Judeo-Christian nation, when did it cease to be?” The answer to that question is we never have nor ever will cease to be a Judeo-Christian nation. People can remove God from statues, buildings, schools and our legal tender, but we will still be a Christian nation. We will always think: “In God We Trust”.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blessings of Family Life











This past weekend was glorious. Eight of my nine children were close by and we were able to visit for a while---swim together, eat and play games. It was really fun. My oldest was celebrating her 7th anniversary with her husband so there was a reason she could not make it.

It is great to visit with each other and really get to know one another as adults and just have fun. One of my New Jersey friends, Lani said it best:

We never know what we will become as adults and where we will go. It is a joy to have known some of you for just a moment in our youth and allow us to share your journeys as we reconnect in our mature years. I delight in your amazing, talented and productive lives. Family is forever and beauty is all around when love abides at home! I couldn't have said it better myself.
The cycle is starting all over again with children choosing spouses and having children. It is amazing.

Preserving Our History--Editorial

Baldwin County has been officially settled since 1809 and there is a lot of history in all the towns of Baldwin County. I’m partial to the Loxley and Central Baldwin areas since I have lived here for the past 18 years, but every town has its fascinating stories which happened so long ago, I’m enthralled to read about them. After all, if we know what we came from, then we know where we are going.

There are very few old hotels in the county that are still standing. I’ve been doing a little digging into the history especially to learn the story behind the buildings we drive by every day. One building in particular has caught my attention since I have lived in Loxley and that is the Old Loxley Hotel which most people don’t know about. It sits on the corner of Baldwin and First Street in Loxley and begs to be lived in.

It was first built around 1920 right in front of the railroad which ran from Bay Minette to Foley. Wary travelers would stop to rest there. Sometimes they would stay, and sometimes they would get back on the train to make the full trip to Foley. There are remnants of railroad still around but this old relic of a building speaks volumes when you hear the stories of what went on during that time.
I’ve talked with a few residents around town when they remembered the trains running and how the potato sheds were filled up along the way to Foley from the box cars delivering food.

The problem we have with some of these old structures is that they are forgotten. Residents and owners leave or pass away and history is forgotten. Old buildings sit for so long, they become dilapidated and unsightly. Towns see it as an eye sore and unless someone saves it from destruction, it is thrown down and the property is used to build a newer building. But what have we lost in that building? Our history. Out of sight, out of mind, no one will ever be curious about what went on or the building’s significance. There aren’t that many buildings left from long ago and thankfully many of those buildings have been preserved with history intact. They are monuments to the people of the past.

With the popular interest of remodeling old homes in television shows, there has been a renewed interest in preserving the history of the older structures that have been built many years ago all over our nation. Preserving our historic buildings give us a link to our past. We learn from what happens in the past and make a better future. Preserving our history is well worth the time and effort for our children.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Old Loxley Hotel


I finally got to see the inside of the hotel. It needs a lot of work but it is a great building. Has some great history there and it is definately a great home for my family and business. This picture is of the hallway looking through the front door. A great place to restore. Very excited to get started.

Monday, August 9, 2010

New Political Party

This little essay came from a homeschool friend of mine and it is a much needed message around the country. Everyone is so tired of the trash we are getting from our national leaders---we, as a people, have the power to do something. Vote out incumbents!!!!! You don't have to do a lot of studying---just find out who is in office and vote him out!!! Read on......

New Political Party!!!!
Not Democrat!, Not Republican!, Not Independent!

*It's called the "PISSED OFF PARTY" (or POP).*

*This party is dedicated to vote every incumbent out of office in the next elections.*

*If you're Democrat, vote Democrat. Just don't vote for the incumbent.*

*If you're Republican, vote Republican. Just don't vote for the incumbent.*

*We need to send a message to all politicians, that we're tired of their B.S.*

*If the country votes out all the incumbents, the new incoming politicians will get the message.*

*It's pretty simple. Nobody needs to change parties and let’s face it, there's plenty of blame to spread around.*

*A few good politicians will lose their job but they probably have better retirement and insurance then 95% of the American public.*

*You've had to struggle for the last 5 years. Some of you have lost your job and may be working in some other sector just to feed your family.*

*I guarantee you, none of them will suffer like this country has.*

*If you like what’s going on and think this is a bad idea, delete this.*

*But if you're fed up and think this is a good idea, then pass this E-mail on.*

*If you really think this has legs, then a website and a blog could help get the word out.*

*To ALL 535 voting members of the Congress; it is now official you are ALL corrupt!*

*a. The U.S. Post Service was established in 1775. You have had 234 years to get it right and it is broke.*

*b. Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 74 years to get it right and it is broke.*

*c. Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 71 years to get it right and it is broke.*

*d. War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 45 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to "the poor" and they only want more.*

*e. Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 44 years to get it right and they are broke.*

*f. Freddie Mac was established in 1970. You have had 39 years to get it right and it is broke.*

*g. The Department of Energy was created in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. It has ballooned to 16,000 employees with a budget of $24 billion a year and we import more oil than ever before. You had 32 years to get it right and it is an abysmal failure.*

*You have FAILED in every "government service" you have shoved down our throats while overspending our tax dollars.*

*AND YOU WANT AMERICANS TO BELIEVE YOU CAN BE TRUSTED WITH A GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM?*

*IT'S NOT ABOUT THE NEED FOR GOOD HEALTH CARE, IT'S ABOUT TRUSTING THE GOVERNMENT TO RUN IT!*

So get out there and vote in November and tell those traitors to their Constitution and country that they are not wanted.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Life’s Lessons Learned at Summer Camp-Editorial

Having just returned from summer camp, I am encouraged and invigorated. Any time an organization puts youth together for a week out in nature, good things happen. Campers all learn to get along with each other as well as learn to appreciate nature; especially when they have to live without all the comforts of home. No television or video games. Even for the adult leaders, a bond is developed as we sit around the camp fire and talk.

Collecting firewood, keeping the campfire going, cooking over a fire, setting up tents, morning flag ceremony and hiking through the woods all contribute to lessons learned in life.

Collecting enough of the right kind of firewood and covering it with a tarp to keep dry helps us to think ahead in life and be more prepared for any emergency. Making goals for what we want to accomplish keeps us on target. If we forget to cover the firewood, dew or rain will wet the wood and you have a problem. Thinking ahead is always a smart way to go.

Keeping the fires going for a campfire can help you to understand the nurturing of a relationship. Staying in a long term relationship needs emotional support during the good and the bad and it teaches you patience. Just like being patient enough to stick around to keep the fire going at night, relationships will have the same benefit and it pays off in the end.

Cooking over a fire keeps you on your toes. You watch to make sure the fire doesn’t get too hot and not burn anything. It’s the way children are by the time they are teenagers. They certainly keep you on your toes.

Securing the tent stakes can remind us that we should keep ourselves grounded in life from the wicked ways of the world. It’s too easy to be swayed by what is popular. We can see the blessings of keeping ourselves unspotted against what comes along in life. Those stakes keep us anchored to one place just like we would keep our tent.

Having flag ceremony every morning reminds us that we should be thankful for our soldiers in arms from the first gun shot during the Revolutionary war to the bombs dropping on Baghdad. We are so blessed in this country for the many men who fought to keep us free and safe from the rest of the world.

Keeping on the path during the hike can remind us to focus on what is important in life. Stopping to smell the flowers and keeping on the straight and narrow even when the path is difficult are life lessons that stay with us. Some of those hills we climbed walking through the hot sun were brutal, but we kept going. We did not give up and go back. We did not stray from off the path we were to walk on.
Yes, living out in the wilderness has its insights and we can remember what we learned from our experiences at summer camp.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Another Pro-Abortion Judge

With all the summer activities going on, I haven’t had much time to stop and catch all the news of the day. One story of which I was surprised I had missed was the ongoing nomination of Elena Kagan. Born in New York as a middle child to Jewish parents; her mother, a school teacher and her father, an attorney; this woman has been questioned for the past several weeks for her ability and knowledge as a Supreme Court Justice. These proceedings have been very eye opening. If Ms. Kagan does get nominated, she will be the first justice in almost four decades without any prior experience as a judge. She has never been married nor have any children which I fear will put a slant on her views about family.

Also very disturbing to know is the fact that not only has she supported the policy to bar military recruiters from Harvard where she is the Dean of the Law School there but she also supports assertions of “executive power”. A very scary idea when contemplating the delicate balance of our nations three working powers (Legislative, Executive and Judicial) to bring peace and tranquility to the people.

I suppose that is par for the course for one with such political convictions as hers, but what really bothers me about Ms. Kagan is the fact that she is pro-choice. My mother used to have a bumper sticker on her car which read: “It’s a child, not a choice”. Those citizens who are sensible enough to know that when a child has been conceived, it is the responsibility of the parents to see that the child is born and cared for.

All those pro-choice renegades who charge into the media with the idea that women who become pregnant should be the one to decide whether they should keep the life going is short sighted of the moral responsibility of bringing children to the earth . As her record has shown, Ms. Kagan has acknowledged contributing to the National Partnership for Women and Families a national pro-choice group, and has campaigned for, worked for or contributed to candidates and public officials who were supporters of abortion rights, including Elizabeth Holtzman, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama.
As she has been quoted to say in 1980 (speaking to anti-abortion candidates and officials): “I found it hard to conceive of the victories of these anonymous but Moral Majority-backed candidates……these avengers of ‘innocent life’”. As it was noted by William Saunders, vice president of legal affairs and senior counsel of Americans United for Life, “Kagan seems to have little sympathy with the idea that the weakest among us deserve the equal protection of the law.”


It is absolutely necessary for us, as citizens of the United States, to recognize the moral importance of bringing children into the world. If we are to remain free, our leaders should recognize this importance as well. Only time will tell of the outcome of these proceedings and what our Supreme Court considers to be important for our nation.

A New Adventure












Jim and I have started a process which will change our lives. As we proceed through this new adventure--I will document our progress with journal entries and picutres.
As we have started our own business, we needed to find our dream: a goal we would be determined to fulfill and the dream we want is to remodel an old hotel in Loxley. It was built in 1920 as a rest stop for people riding the train from Atmore to Foley. It looks to be somewhere between 4,000 to 5,000 square feet all together. There were two additions made on it since it was first built and we want to remodel the whole thing so we can live there.

I have included a picture of what it looks like now. It's an exciting venture and we are going to spend the next year and a half finishing all the work so we can move in by Christmas 2011.

Happy us........

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hope For The Future

Last week, my sweet mother-in-law sent this quote to me and I find great comfort in these words. Harold B. Lee, the eleventh president and our prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said these words back some time in the 70’s. Presently, we are experiencing such trial and tribulation in our country, this message gives me great hope. We will get through these troubled times where men want to destroy our Constitution and our great nation. It pains me to hear the news of what our so-called legislative leaders want to force through the infrastructure of our country all in the name of improving our welfare, when we know it will do no good at all. We feel so helpless. We do what we can in letter writing and phone calling but to no avail: our freedoms are slowly being reduced to almost nothing. Relish in these words and know that our nation will never fail.

"Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, seas may heave beyond their bounds, there may be great drought, disaster, and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail. This is the cradle of humanity, where life on this earth began in the Garden of Eden. This is the place of the new Jerusalem. This is the place that the Lord said is favored above all other nations in all the world. This is the place where the Savior will come to His temple. This is the favored land in all the world. Yes, I repeat, men may fail, but this nation won't fail. I have faith in America; you and I must have faith in America, if we understand the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are living in a day when we must pay heed to these challenges. I plead with you not to preach pessimism. Preach that this is the greatest country in all the world. This is the favored land. This is the land of our forefathers. It is the nation that will stand despite whatever trials or crises it may yet have to pass through. (Harold B. Lee, "Ye Are the Light of the World", pp. 350-51)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Flag Day and other events


Yesterday was Flag Day which marked the 41st anniversary of my baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. I find it hard to believe that I have lived that long in the Church, but it has been a great blessing in my life. I started working on a book which I would like to publish sometime next year called "A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Synagogue."

As far as Flag Day is concerned, it is important for us to remember our national symbol of the flag and how many people have died fighting for the freedom to be able to post those colors.

My week was very interesting. Last week when I saw my work schedule for the next week, I knew that I would be going to Girl's Camp. I was to work on Tuesday and Wednesday which left the rest of the week open and Kimberly Constantine had no one else who could go. I was happy to go and help the Young Woman's Presidency in our stake. Camp went very well!!! We drove about 2 hours north to a small camp with two big dorm buildings, fully stocked kitchen, pavilion and a pool. We were able to get through most all of our camp crafter assignments and bond together. The most important was that all the girl's testimonies were strengthened. It was a great time and we all came home and slept as much as we could.

For Jim and me, we slept but also had an Amway meeting that night which went very well. Our little group is growing and we are very excited. We just need to find people to buy more product.

This weekend in Father's Day and we are visiting Jim's boys and celebrating his Mother's birthday. A great weekend for everyone.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Day at the Beach

It was a great day at Gulf Shores, Alabama today. Moses and Henry went boogie boarding at the beach with the waves crashing. It rained on the way down but cleared out later on and they had a blast. Since it was a bit stormy the waves were bigger than normal.

We stayed over two hours having lunch during the rain. The air was fresh and the water was clean!!! No tar balls anywhere!!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Preparing Young People for the Future


Besides getting a child educated there are many experiences young people need to know to prepare them for the future. I participate in a lot of teaching for young people at church and in the community, so I keep my eye out for any information that will help me help them.

Besides learning to read, write and do arithmetic children need to learn life skills. How to balance a checkbook, getting a loan from the bank, people and customer relations are important life skills. How to speak on the phone correctly is another skill important in life as I have heard from parents many times when they answer the phone and a child's friend demands to speak with their child. These children just don't have the training that teaches them proper behavior.

For older chidlren, reading the paper often during the week helps to keep themselves informed. Knowing good conversation instead of talking about their love life or the parties they attended the night before keeps proper conversations clean. These skills are necessary for a successful life. Self-esteem rises and children feel comfortable with themselves.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review of Awakening Avery


I am a widow. Avery’s a widow. My husband died at 50. Avery’s husband died in his 50’s. I have nine children. Avery has 3 children. I am of the LDS faith. Avery is of the LDS faith. I have a lot in common with Avery. Laurie Lewis’s new book called Awakening Avery could have been my journal entry for the first year I lost my husband. There are many similarities and it is incredible to see how this story unfolds for Avery and her family.

This is an amazing story of one woman’s journey for peace after losing her husband too early. Avery has to deal with her life post husband’s death and then pick up the pieces of her children’s life with the grief of their father. I laughed and I cried.
It is an incredible journey of healing and love. Take a break from your life for 344 pages of travel from Utah, to Baltimore, Maryland to Sarasota, Florida and follow the adventures Avery experiences in learning to love again.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Incumbents Not Doing So Well-Editorial

Our flower bed is done, school is almost over, our vegetable garden is growing, our national pastime has once again started another season and we have more daytime to do what ever we need. So why is there an uneasy feeling in the back of my mind?

I can’t help but think about that oil spill not yet capped, the economy going south the way it has in the last year, Nashville is recovering from the biggest flood it’s ever had, and Arizona is taking flak for a new immigration law. Natural disasters and political debates are throwing a black cloud on the start of the summer but it’s the upcoming election in November that is giving me that dreadful sinking feeling. Are we going to experience the same disgust and frustration that our elected officials are not listening to what we want in deciding the laws of the land? I hope not.

News reports show that incumbents will not be doing well in the upcoming primaries according to polls taken for the 2010 election. This past Tuesday was the first primary for the Senate in four states: Arkansas, Kentucky, Oregon and Pennsylvania. The feeling of “send the same people back to Washington, will guarantee the same result” are causing Americans every where to vote for anyone but the incumbent. All over the country, polls are showing a low vote for incumbents in trying to gain the same seat they had before, proving to the rest of the world that we are not going to put up with politicians who don’t listen.

What I am beginning to see is that American citizens do remember the arrogance and total disregard for the Constitution that these elected officials seem to have and they do not want it to happen again. It doesn’t matter whether they are Republican or Democrat, if they have been elected before; chances are they won’t be again. By and large this nation is still a conservative nation and if those who are elected do not vote on bills by the will of the people, the people will find someone else who will.

I think the time for the “career” politician is over. Americans are licking their wounds from the last “change for better” election but they won’t let it happen again. Most people see these elected officials as so out of touch with the American people that it doesn’t matter what these incumbents promise, no one will believe them.

The uneasy feeling of incumbents returning to their old job makes everyone nervous including me so when June 1st comes around for the Alabama primary, (find out when your state has it's primary) I for one will make sure I vote and vote for a candidate who will follow the Constitution and not disregard what the will of the people want……and I’m sure everyone else will vote the same way.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I am grateful for my dryer.......


I am grateful for my dryer. I am grateful for my dryer........ I keep repeating this statement because as Mondays go, I do laundry and I finished off 6 loads today and on the last load, the motor in the dryer was going but the drum was not. The light went on when I opened the door but no matter what setting I put the dryer on, the drum would not go around so I was forced to hang up the last load---which is really a great thing---and call the GE guy tommorow.
This happy picture I posted is of Lydia, when she first dyed her hair pitch black and Moses, posing as if he were on the movie of Zoolander. We had a great weekend with getting much accomplished and hanging out with friends for a relaxing evening but now it's back to reality: working like crazy on our own businesses to keep up with the money going out to keep our family going........
Life will be fine soon. We just need to keep going in the career goals we have set for ourselves. I am grateful for my dryer. I am grateful for my dryer.......