Greetings, Gentle Reader,

In all my years I have never heard of a candidate for President of the United States failing to produce a legitimate birth certificate. Why would anyone do such as astonishing thing?

Supreme Court Justice Souter has given Barack Obama until December 1st to produce an authentic birth certificate, so he legally can be sworn in as President. It is impossible for me to say whether the birth certificate he has shown online has, indeed, been visibly altered, as it has been reported. I’ve never seen it, and I am surely no expert, but if he has no problem producing a legitimate birth certificate, why has it not yet happened?

It makes no sense to me that his paternal grandmother would have produced a tape in which she stated that, not only was he born in Kenya, but that she was in the delivery room when it happened, unless it is true.

When Obama went to school in Indonesia, where only Indonesian citizens could attend, he was registered as Barry Soetoro, Indonesian citizen.

Many decent Americans have become so neurotic about being called racist, that they would rather have a President, whom they know is foreign-born, and therefore ineligible to be President, than to pursue this issue, because of the risk of being tagged a racist, but it is imperative that this be thoroughly explored. Can you imagine what a stink there would be if he were sworn in as President, only to be proven ineligible, when all the leads have been followed and examined? It is such a horrifying thought that I am overwhelmed by the possibility.

If Joe Biden is correct in saying that Obama will be tested by some power, what would happen if it was discovered that he had no authority to deal with either that power or the attack, whatever it is? One cannot help thinking it might be a terrorist attack, such as the one on the World Trade Center. That was so terrible that we desperately needed a strong, stable President to take charge and deal with the aftermath. Fortunately, we had President Bush and he did precisely that. But he was the legitimate President of the United States. What would we have done if we had been in a situation where we actually had no legal President?

Either this guy is legit or he isn’t, and we citizens have a right to find out without any further delay, because the Electoral College is due to convene on the 15th of this month to confirm him as the new President of the United States of America.

Time’s a wastin’ guys. Let’s get on with it!

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Greeting, Gentle Readers,

Thanksgiving Day is often referred to as "turkey day", now. I had never heard it called that until somewhere in the 1980s. Now I hear it all the time.

When my husband heard it called that, he told me how much it hurt him. He was one of those who spent World War II in Europe. He was only a small child when the war started, but he lived in Amsterdam, Holland, and the Germans roared into that city on May 5, 1940. He says he was awakened in the wee hours of that day by the roar of German tanks, as they took over Holland.

That war was a horrifying experience for a young child. He was completely dependent on his mother, since the Dutch men began to be taken captive right away. Any man who fought back was shot, immediately. If anyone took part in any resistance, all the men left in that block of houses were brought downstairs at gun point, lined up against the wall of the building, and machine-gunned down. That tactic worked most successfully to keep the populace docile.
By the time the war was over, those who had not starved to death were, nonetheless, so badly starved it took the Red Cross about six weeks to get individuals to be able eat food, without dying from the simple act of eating.

During the war, especially toward the end, the starvation was so ubiquitous that every morning a flat-bed, horse-drawn wagon came through the streets of Amsterdam, and the people would carry their dead down the stairs of the apartment buildings to be carried away for burial.
When my husband was 21 he came to America. He was so overwhelmed by the degree of freedom we, and now he, enjoyed in this country that Thanksgiving Day was a truly sacred day to him.

The first time he heard it referred to as "turkey day", he was horrified. He couldn’t believe so many of our people had come to recognize and revere their freedom so little, that they would call this day, which was so important to him, anything but Thanksgiving Day.

When he died, I suspect one of his first acts was to visit the founding fathers of this nation and express his deeply-held gratitude for the gift of freedom he had found in this country. He probably spent time with my several ancestors who fought to make this country what it came to be, letting them know how he valued their struggles and sacrifices.

Now, if only those of us left here could come to recognize what an aberration our freedom is in this nasty old world. Perhaps, the only ones of us who can truly do so are those who have served in our armed forces, and especially those who have seen combat.

There is one thing I would love to see, and that is for our people to express their gratitude for their freedom to those who have fought for that freedom. Those who have done so have seen how life really is in the nastier places on this tired old planet. They have seen the viciousness to which a great deal of the inhabitants of this globe are subjected every day of their lives.

Please. This Thanksgiving Day, if you see anyone who has served, thank them. They deserve that and more, but anyone of us can do that much. Next, please thank the God we worship for this gift. That is what the term "thanksgiving" really meant. It was not meant as thanksgiving to anyone else, even the Indians who helped the pilgrims. Only our God can preserve our freedom. No other force on this earth can do so, so lets remember just what this day is really all about.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

Perhaps all Americans saw and heard the woman who ecstatically exulted that she would no longer have to worry about putting gas in her car or paying her mortgage. Why? Because Obama had been elected President of this country. She said if they took care of him–meaning if they elected him–he would take care of them.

Is it our President’s job to put gas in the cars and pay the mortgages of his constituents? I don’t remember being taught that in school. In fact, it says nothing about that in my copy of our Constitution. It talks about his providing for the common defense and general welfare of the citizenry, but I can’t find anything about gas in cars and paying mortgages.

So, how did this weird reading of the President’s job come to pass? It may have been a result of his telling people who don’t pay any taxes that they were going to get a tax cut, which, subsequently, has been correctly defined as a welfare check. Then, again, it may have been something they were explicitly told by those trying to get him elected.

It is impossible for someone, who was not where that lady was at the time she learned that he would give them money–provided they elected him–to really know how this reading of his intentions was communicated. Were they actually told he would give them money, if they elected him? We will never know, because no one is going to spill the beans.

Is it correct and proper for Americans to elect a President, in order to get money on which to live from day to day? No. It is not. It is the President’s job to keep the country safe and keep all government departments functioning as well as possible, but to allow people to think they will get money if they elect him is tantamount to bribery, and bribery is very illegal.

It is past time for Americans to return to the level of honor most of us were taught as children. Honor and/or dishonor is a step higher than legal and/or illegal. Legal refers to how people behave when others are watching. Honor refers to how people behave when no one is watching but God and their own conscience. It means giving back the extra change accidentally given you by a young, inexperienced clerk, even though no one but you knew a mistake had been made.

Many years ago my children and I were left alone and destitute. I applied for welfare and got it. Soon, I was able to get a job that supported us, but I did not cancel the welfare we were receiving. Instead, I just put the checks in my purse and left them there, that way we continued to have health care. At the end of that year, I was called into the welfare office and told I would have to pay back a goodly portion of the money we had received, since I was now making enough to support us. I pulled those checks out of my purse and gave them to the lady, telling her I had not cashed them because we did not need them. She looked at them in astonishment. Then she realized some of them were more than six months old, and she absentmindedly said they were not good anymore. Then she told me not to worry about it; she would take care of it, and she did. I never heard another word about having to pay back money.

She had not been used to people living by a standard of honor that said the American people should not have to support those who could support themselves. She knew we were still dirt-poor, but were getting by. That was close enough for us; we were perfectly happy to scrape by, just barely, and she had no intention of allowing a technicality to harm us.

It is still true that Americans should get by without government handouts, if it is possible for them to keep food on the table, and I am not referring to take-out food bought at a fast-food place.

No, our Presidents are not our financial keepers. It is not their job. It is up to us to work hard enough to support ourselves. Nor is it proper for union members making staggeringly high hourly wages to refuse to live on the level of wages the common everyday American receives, if their company goes broke. Incidentally, many companies go broke precisely because their unionized workers demand salaries and benefits that the company cannot truly afford to pay.
No. The new President is not going to take money from working Americans to put gas in that woman’s car, nor to pay her mortgage, nor should she think such a thing is proper, because it isn’t.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

As a man discussed the problem of teens being more inclined to take advice from their friends than from their parents, he said they must be taught to be "source critical."

As I thought of this, I realized that a member of our family had done precisely that. He had trusted his friends advice more than that of his parents, and the cost was incalculable. His friends had told him his parents didn’t know what they were talking about, when they warned him of the dangers of using drugs. But his parents had been right, and acting on his friends advice cost him decades of extreme drug addiction, a stretch of time in a penitentiary, his family and his health.

To use the words of the speaker, he had definitely not been source critical, when he had chosen to accept advice from his friends, rather than his parents.

The speaker also addressed the ripple effect of accepting advice, whether bad or good. As I think of our children who followed our advice, they have made happy, fulfilling lives for themselves. They have become a positive force in this world, and a tremendous blessing to themselves and the families they have created. The ripple effect has been a reward to all involved.

As I look at famous people, some in Hollywood, some in real life, I realize the ripple effect caused by their behavior goes on and on. If they behave in a destructive manner, the damage continues down through the generations. Their children are more self-destructive than they are, and it gets worse with each generation.

If they are solid citizens, living in a responsible manner, their families tend to be the same. Not all of them, but many.

One cannot help thinking their children developed positively by being "source critical" as they sought advice. As they grew and developed, they made sure their freedom to choose the behavior that suited them did not lead them into self-destructive paths, by being careful when choosing their advisors.

For many young people in this modern day, the power of self-determination is a burden their lack of mature wisdom cannot handle. They lunge from one self-destructive behavior to another, and the ripple effect almost guarantees the next generation will do the same.

We parents and grandparents hurt when our offspring hurt themselves and others, but the only power we truly have is the power of persuasion. If it were not for that and the power of our love, we would have no way to stand between our loved ones and potential self-destruction. Fortunately for us, with most of our offspring, we are the source to which they turn for wisdom, especially if we have been successful in teaching them to be source critical when seeking that wisdom.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

When activists want to change laws, but haven’t a chance, they turn to activist judges, who do their dirty work for them. That is what has happened in three states, Massachusetts, California, and now, Connecticut. In each of these states, courts have struck down laws confining marriage to a man and a woman, and have made marriage legal between two women or two men.

The citizens of California have overturned that court ruling and have, if we understand correctly, returned to the original law, permanently. They put it in their constitution, which should keep the courts from having the power to override.

Too bad I don’t have much faith in their success. Somehow, I think the activists will find a way to get around the will of the people.

So, what is our job? Let’s not wimp out! The citizens of California have shown us the way. They have paid the price, and they won. We must do the same from one day to the next, in one circumstance or the next. While it won’t always be easy, that is our task. When we are convinced something is right, we must be willing to fight for it. If we are short on money, as many of us are, we can write letters to the editor, we can get online and talk to all who will listen.

Most of us have friends, who have friends, who have friends, etc. Personal contact is the most successful way of fighting a cause.

We have entered into a particularly tricky time in our country’s existence. We have some politicians who do dumb things and cause terrible problems. Then we have others who deliberately work to overthrow the will of the citizens, as happened in California.

We live in the one country on this earth that allows its citizens to overrule their government, by passing laws to protect their own interests. So, what is our weak point? Those citizens who should be working to pass laws to protect our interests. Huh?

It’s this way: Too many of our people allow themselves to be manipulated by organizations and individuals who definitely do not have their best interests at heart. It is easy for such types to misrepresent their goals. All they really have to do is convince us they are our good buddies and want only the best for us. They tell a good story, but if we are alert and watchful, we can see through them and circumvent their devious machinations by working with other like-minded people, especially those who are real experts at seeing through these types and their tricky games.

Let’s gird up our loins and diligently watch our elected officials and others who just might not care about our wishes, especially if our wishes are contrary to their wishes. Somebody has to be the grownup in this old world of ours, and I vote that we take on the job!

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

When Brigham Young used this saying, he was simply repeating it. He had most likely heard it from birth. It was a common attitude in the earlier years of our country’s existence.

The difference between America and the countries of the old world was that, in America, if a person worked, he could earn enough to eat. That was not the case in the countries our ancestors left, when they came to this land. Only in America could you truly benefit from your own labor.
While this was not universally true, particularly where slaves were concerned in the early years, it was a more correct principle in America than in any other country. When most men married, they made sure they had a way to feed, clothe and house a wife and the children they assumed, indeed hoped, would be born to them. And they knew that "them as works eats."

My ancestors, most of whom were weavers, farmers or ranchers, depending on the family background, usually grew their own food, which is called engaging in "labor of first intent," meaning they grew or raised what they ate, rather than simply working for money with which to buy their food from someone else. When you work for money with which you then purchase your necessities, that is called "labor of second intent."

Somehow, that business of growing your own food by your own hard labor and by the sweat of your own brow makes you understand the outrage experienced by all farmers and hard laborers in whatever field, who are told they must give the fruit of their labors to others, who do not work as hard or as long as they do. I get up and go to the barn at about 6:00 in the morning, to start my morning chores. When the weather is great and the sun is peeking over the eastern mountains, I go to the barn at 6:00 AM. When the weather is horrendous and that chicken-hearted sun is still shivering under the covers, I go to the barn at 6:00 AM. Why? Because my sense of integrity tells me that "them as works eats." More to the point, "them as works have every right to eat."

I have a heated milking room and my chickens have a warm, lighted sleeping room, but my ancestors, including my own father, went to the unheated milking shed at about 5:00 AM, no matter how awful the weather. Why? His wife and little ones needed milk, whether for butter, cheese, or just for drinking. Then he went to work at his job to earn money for the rest of our needs. When he got home in the evening, the cow was waiting, and not at all patiently.
He raised a calf from that cow, regularly. Then he raised sheep and pigs. Why? Because he knew that we needed meat.

Never once did I hear him say that the government owed him a living. In fact, he regularly expressed his disdain for those who did think the government owed them a living.
When the older members of the family could no longer raise most of their own food, their offspring provided for them. That is the way America used to operate, and in the Amish communities, that still is how it is done.

Too bad the biggest portion of our people don’t think that way, anymore. Many of our people are waiting, in this election cycle, to decide for whom they should vote, according to the number of goodies the candidates promise. The guy who promises the most will get their vote.
There is a serious lack of a sense of fair play in that attitude. Why? Because they are not waiting to see which candidate will work hard to make available the largest number of jobs, by his monetary and regulatory policies. Many of them aren’t looking for jobs; they are looking for freebies, because they have been trained to think that is perfectly acceptable. And those freebies have to come by someone else working to provide them, someone who actually has a right to keep the money used to provide those freebies, for his own family, rather than for strangers, many of whom could provide many of their needs for themselves, if they chose.

All Americans should have a code of honor that says no one should forcibly take the fruits of one man’s hard labor and give it to another. Those who work hard to provide for their own and their family’s needs learn the meaning of, and the satisfying feeling that goes with, developing personal honor. It just feels good.

Best of all, we simply would be a much more fair people, a people of greater personal integrity, if we remembered that "Them as works eats."

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

With the great uncertainty families face in today's economy, it can be well understood why many have allowed themselves to be caught up in despair and sorrow. We have one of the most divisive presidential elections in our nation's history, the economy is failing and people are losing their homes, businesses and jobs. This could easily be a time where Americans could be mired down in the negatives and forget what we really should be concentrating on.

Our prophets have counseled us for ages to prepare for the future. They've urged us to prepare for all types of economic downturn, whether they be the byproduct of natural disasters or man-made? Many have listened and many have not. If you have been unable to get food storage and a preparedness plan in place, it is my recommendation you begin by purchasing Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury, one of the foremost experts on preparedness, both disaster and provident, in the nation.

With all that being said, let's take a moment and focus on what is really important today. God and family.

Do you take time to sit down to the dinner table with your family and night? Do you visit, laugh, talk and catch up as you eat, or is the evening meal endured in sullen or distracted silence?

When was the last time you got up on Saturday morning, rousted the kids out of bed and took them outside and worked with them side by side?

When was the last time you gathered your family together and read to them in the evenings from the scriptures? When was the last time you read a book together as a family? Just a chapter a night before you start your scripture reading.

When was the last time you made sure that your family did not begin their day without prayer and end it, gathered together, the same way?

This is what is important. Gordon B. Hinckley, many years ago, spoke of four things which woud effect a change in society within a generation or two. I have just listed them for you:
  • Pray with your families.
  • Teach goodness to your children.
  • Read good books together.
  • Teach your children a good, solid work ethic.
These four simple things implemented into family life will turn society around within a generation or two. That is no small thing?

And so I ask you to not focus on all the chaos going on around us right now and stop, assess your families as they function right now and ask yourselves, are you doing these four things?

May I suggest, with all the humility and love for my fellowman in my heart, that you begin to follow this wise counsel. You will find happiness in the smallest acts. Joy in the laughter of your family. Peace in the quiet stillness of the house as family prayer finishes and you hear "Goodnight, Mom and Goodnight, Dad" as your children disappear into their rooms at the close of day. And at that moment, when the house settles down and you are sitting there quietly on the couch, that is when you bow your head in gratitude and love to your Father in Heaven for trusting you with your precious children and spouse.

That, my friends, is what is most important.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

What does America have that makes it different from other countries? We have good weather. So do most of the other countries around the world. We have beautiful views. So do other countries. We have some really good people and some really bad people. So do other countries. So what’s the big deal?

More and more Americans are being taught to think that America is not an exceptional country. We even have large numbers of college students who are being taught that we are a bad country. They are being taught that Marxism and Communism, for instance, are superior system of government to the one we are guaranteed in our Constitution.

They are being taught that America is a racist country, where minorities are oppressed and abused. They are being taught that their country is selfish, though no other country on earth gives to others, especially in catastrophes, as ours does. They are being taught that we abuse the people of other countries. They are, in fact, being taught to hate the land of their nativity. Why?

I cannot explain evil. I can’t comprehend it, and I can’t explain it. My generation was taught to honor our country, to revere those who died to create it, as we did those who died in subsequent wars defending it and us. We celebrated all the special days that had to do with being American. That changed in the 60s, and this is how it happened:

About 20 or so years ago, a man who had been a revolutionary, a devout Communist, one who belonged to a radical group that tried to take our government down, wrote a book explaining the thinking of those with whom he had been associated.

He said that when their leader realized they would not be able to destroy the government, he instructed them to go into the colleges, high schools and junior highs and begin to teach the rising generation to think as they did. They tended to be well educated, often in Ivy League colleges (these people were neither poor nor mistreated), so it was easy for them to follow his instructions.

Today, we see the results of their efforts, and those results are not good. We have judges who make decisions that would have made our forefathers grab their muskets and go to war. Our kids have been hauled off to jail for praying. Workers can and have been fired for wearing a flag pin or a cross. The Ten Commandments plaques are being removed from our parks. The attempt to take Christ out of Christmas is ongoing. Our college kids can tell you what a great guy the ruthless, truly monstrous murderer Che Guavara was, but they don’t know all that much about the founding fathers, except maybe some scandalous behavior in which they were supposed to have indulged.

In a Boulder, CO, high school, kids were taught in a mandatory assembly that sex of any type was perfectly alright for them to experiment with, as was drug use. When some of the kids reported the outrage to their parents, both the kids and their parents were excoriated. Why? Because all educated people knew these behaviors were perfectly acceptable, and surely no one could disagree with that, unless they were knuckle-dragging neanderthals, and, oh yes, Christians, which is worst of all.

The result of this indoctrination is a wave of crime of every conceivable type, children being exploited or even killed, families being deserted by both fathers and mothers. We have a level of drug use that threatens our country’s sovereignty. We even have openly unpatriotic leaders of all types.

All of this, sadly, is part of the reason why Sarah Palin is being attacked so venomously. She is unabashedly good, and yes, Christian. In today’s world her goodness is viewed as both suspect and repulsive. The fact that she and her husband refused to kill their baby is considered unforgivable. The only thing more unforgivable is her Christianity.

Parents, we must inoculate our children against this type of indoctrination, by teaching them to be proud of their country, to revere the good in our people, and to work to overcome the bad. College kids tend to idealistic, so let’s teach them about all the good their country and its people have done over the centuries, and how they can take part in such activities, themselves. Let’s not be shy or humble about it.

We have so much to be grateful for in this country, but our children will not know it unless we make a point of looking for it and sharing it with them and their friends. Let’s go out of our way to keep them from harmful teachers. They are out there, but we don’t have to let them indoctrinate our children.

We can remind our young of the sacrifices made by both the noble and the common people of this land. We have so much to tell them, and time’s a wastin!" Let’s do it!

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

Our financial situation in this country has become downright dangerous for some of our people. Though we almost (but not quite) understand where we are now, how did we get there? It seems to have happened this way: Politicians in very high places got involved in some things they did not understand and started a destructive ball rolling down a pretty steep hill. As it rolled, it pick up a little bit of financial this and a little bit of financial that. By the time it hit the bottom, it had become wrapped up in a staggering percentage of most of the world’s economy.

Let’s begin at the beginning, a very good place to start, to quote a delightful song: During the Clinton presidency, there arose a tremendous political outcry against mortgage lenders who seemingly discriminated against minorities. Minorities were denied loans more often that whites. Instead of analyzing the data to find the reason for the denials, newspapers trumpeted their own interpretations of the problem: racial discrimination. When I say trumpeted, I really mean trumpeted. They raised a stink that rose to the skies. They continually abused lenders, never letting up.

In 1992 the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston did some statistical analysis, which turned out to be based on data that was ridiculously inaccurate. It’s not that they could not have done a better job of getting the data; it’s just that for some weird reason they did not. (It almost seems as though they didn’t want to get the real facts.) The result was a declaration of verifiable racial discrimination. When challenged, the bank refused to accept the factual data, which showed it’s declaration was in error.

Then the same Boston bank produced new standards for lenders. They said special care should be taken to insure that standards were such that "urban, lower-income, and non-traditional consumers" could buy houses. That started the ball rolling that turned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into buyers of loans made to people who either could not or would not pay their mortgage. That was just the first step. It goes down hill from here.

The Clinton White House wanted everyone to own their own homes, then Bush followed suit. The ownership society became all the rage, even though too many of those buyers should never have been given mortgages.

Then just to sweeten the pot, "prime borrowers" began buying and selling houses as a business. It became known as "flipping." They were buying them with as little down as possible and with the lowest adjustable rate mortgages they could get.

House values were being inflated so rapidly by the tremendous increase in demand caused by the easier-to-get mortgages, that builders were putting up new houses at an incredible pace and in huge volumes, creating a monstrous housing bubble. The more houses were sold, the higher the prices climbed. Then the housing bubble popped, and values began to come down. Now those who had bought and sold houses as a business couldn’t sell at those inflated prices. They had to pay mortgages on houses that were hugely overpriced, and then to make it worse, the interest rates began to reset.

Let’s say a person had bought ten monster houses with low down payments and with mortgages that reset to an interest rate that made the monthly payments out of sight. Then with the crash in home sales, these buyers were stuck with them. Those were actually prime mortgages, not subprime, but they began going into default in large numbers. Actually their numbers were 69% for prime mortgages, as opposed to 39% for subprime mortgages going into default.

This all came about because banks were pressured into making loans to buyers who could not pay them. It started with subprime and moved to prime. I guess it was a case of "what’s good for the goose is good for the gander." Unfortunately, it also seems to have been a case of "what goes up must come down." That’s a natural law, and should never be ignored.

Much of this came about because politicians stuck their noses into something they didn’t understand, and at least some of them did it for political gain. That is a common and incurable disease afflicting politicians, but the public should always be on guard against such political stupidity, refusing to be roped into the destructive messes politicians create.

Now we are being told this all came about because of subprime mortgages, sold by greedy lenders to make a quick buck. Wrong. The subprime mortgages came about because of idiot politicians pretending, not believing, just pretending, the denials of mortgages were all caused by racial discrimination.

Now the whole world is taking a financial hit as a result. This is going to get nasty.

Do you suppose it is too much to ask that we get a president and some senators and congressmen who are not phonies? How about just a garden-variety person with no hidden agendas? Do they make those anymore?

In the meantime, we had better do all we can to get the most honest, straightforward politicians out there. And, yes, some are more honest than others. We just have to look at their past actions and companions, so we can make a good guess about their future actions and companions.

Now the buck has stopped at our door. Let’s try our best to pick it up and behave with honor and integrity. That is not only our privilege, it is our responsibility as Americans.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

As I watched a man discussing this upcoming election, he bowed his head and asked Heavenly Father to give us wise leaders. So what responsibility do we have in this "wise leaders" business? Do we just ask for them and automatically get them? I don’t think so. Why? Because we have to do the actual voting that brings those wise leaders into office. Too bad there are so many "slips twixt cup and lip". Let’s examine a few.

Let’s say a very wise man runs for office. He should be an automatic winner, right? Not really. Why? Because he must run the gauntlet of political assassination, before he could get into office. Think I have overstated it? I haven’t. Let’s use the newest celebrity as an example. Let’s discuss "Joe the plumber."

Joe Wurzelbacher, an aspiring small business owner, asked Obama about getting his taxes increased if Obama was elected. Obama responded that such an increase would be necessary to "spread the wealth around." Wurzelbacher objected, saying that was socialism and he didn’t think it was right.

The media firestorm that followed this particular minor event was, and is yet, beyond any normal human being’s expectation. His personal records were examined, giving those who chose to attack him because of his views enough information to begin an immediate smear campaign, which reached preposterous proportions. Their attacks were grossly dishonest, but who cared? They were made anyway.

Let’s say a quiet, shy, but unusually competent potential candidate watched this venomous circus, before making up his/her mind whether or not to run for office. An ornery, tough old buzzard would ignore the attacks, but how about the quiet shy type? If the tough old buzzard is less competent than the young shy candidate, which of the two will end up winning that office, the tough but less competent one, or the quiet but more competent one? Is there anyone who does not know the answer to that one?

My question is simple. If we have a choice to vote for a superior, as opposed to an inferior, candidate, will we make a wise choice? You see, it doesn’t matter how wise our potential leaders are, if we refuse to vote them into office. The bottom line of all this? It is of no consequence how wise our potential leaders are, if we are too dumb to vote for them.

The simple fact is, the buck stops here, with the voter. Unfortunately, our voters are becoming more and more swayed by unions and organizations to vote for candidates and/or proposals that are either less than good or downright destructive.

Our top government officials have put several "bail out" actions into effect. None of these things would have been needed, if we had put wise leaders into office, but we didn’t do that. Several elected officials forced lending agencies to grant loans to people who either could not or would not repay them. It was known ahead of time that these particular borrowers had a very high probability of defaulting on their loans.

Next, the lending organizations put huge numbers of these loans out to be bought by banks around the world. Normally no banks would have bought these types of loans, so they bundled them and labeled them "triple A." That tricked the potential buying banks into thinking they really were good loans, made to people who typically almost never default on their obligations.

Our President and several of our elected officials have been saying for years that these things were happening and were going to "hit the fan," given enough time. They have tried repeatedly to make necessary changes, but those in Congress who were being given millions of dollars by these lending agencies insisted there was no problem. When it became obvious the President and the various worried senators and congressmen were right, they were venomously attacked by these lending agencies’ congressional supporters. They were accused of having caused the horrific problem, even though they were the ones trying to stop the inevitable "financial train wreck."

How important is it that we elect wise leaders? We are learning the hard way that it is very important to do so, but will that change our behavior when we are in that voting booth? It could, but it rarely does.

So whose fault is it that we are in big trouble? It is our fault. We consistently choose the guy with the most appealing line, even when he is a consummate con-man.

We have made our own bed, and now we are being made to lie in it.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

yourLDSneighborhood Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

We have always referred to the election season as "The Silly Season." We had good reason for this bit of levity. Seemingly sane people can be persuaded by the smoothest talker in town to vote for the worst, dumbest, most crooked guy in town. They will vote themselves a tax increase without a second thought. All it takes is smooooth packaging, by a smooooth talker.

Somehow, this year the silly season has ceased to be silly. It has become fraught with a level of danger to which we are unaccustomed. Voting for someone who says he is going to cut our taxes, when his history says he will raise them, is silly, but not dangerous. Voting for the guy who says he will give us the moon all wrapped up in shiny paper is silly, but not dangerous.

Now we are being persuaded to vote for a guy, some of whose cohorts think and say is Jesus Christ. That scares me. Neither of today’s candidates is Jesus Christ, but we are being encouraged to think one of them is precisely that. I may be overreacting, but I think this is dangerous. It wouldn’t be dangerous, if everyone knew he was just a plain, garden-variety politician, but many seem not to know that.

I may have little clout in this situation, but I want to tell all my readers that we have two choices. One the one hand, we have a crusty old coot, who is a dyed-in-the-wool American. He would go to war, personally, to defend us if he had to do so. He isn’t all we could wish, but he is what we have, and he will not give away the "store", so to speak, in order to persuade our enemies (and we have a lot of them) not to attack us.

On the other hand we have a smooth talker with no experience, one who has voted "present" a great deal of the time, no matter how important the question at hand. When/if Vladimir Putin tries to do to us what he did to Georgia, he will come up a few body parts short, if we have the war horse in power. If we have the other guy, we and he will discover you cannot vote "present" if the bombs are raining down. Nor can you vote "present" when a tank has you in it’s sights. That being the case, we Americans just might be the ones who will come up a few body parts (and a few cities) short, if we are attacked by a powerful enemy.

This all sounds very much like high drama, but it is an ever-present danger in today’s world.

Just to name a few of the leaders who wish us ill, we can start with Putin, Ahmadinejad, Castro, Chavez, Morales, Assad, Qaddafi, Kim Jong Il, and China’s top guy, whatever his name is.

During this last two weeks, in the last 30 minutes of each trading day, there came what was called a "flurry of activity." It was said to be done late enough that no one could respond. Was it economical warfare? Maybe. Has it had a gruesome effect? Absolutely. Who did it? We don’t know. We haven’t been told.

These are the types of things we are facing today. Some are very dangerous to us as individuals and as a nation, so let’s be wise. In fact, let’s not be so naive as to fall for a charmer, who is equally naive. We need a ornery old war horse, not a popularity contest winner.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Greetings Gentle Reader,

As I was spending some time this morning in prayer and contemplation, it occurred to me that the candidate for whom we should vote in this election is dependent on whom Vladimir Putin, Ahmadinejad, China’s leader, Kim Jong Il, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Columbia, etc., want to see elected. For whom would they vote if they could vote in our election?

Would it be the old war horse, who would bomb them into people-paste if they attacked us (and they know it), or would it be the dimpled darling of the anti-America university professor set, the hero of the pathological Bush-hating set, the world citizen?

It will be one or the other, and we need to consider carefully the ramifications of getting the wrong one. We may get the wrong one anyway, no matter for whom we vote, but we must not help to elect him.

We should remember that James Madison, president during the war of 1812, genius of the Virginia Plan that became our Constitution, was the worst one we could have had in the White House during that time. He had brains to burn, but what we needed was a tough, obnoxious old war horse, someone who knew how, when and where to fight, not a genius who didn’t know anything about war and its dangers and consequences.

That is where we are now in our country’s history. We have a tough, obnoxious (Oh, yeah!) old war horse, who understands war in all its horrors, dangers and consequences, and we have a brilliant novice, who thinks he can use his considerable communication skills to charm those who hate us and everything we stand for.

We have never been in a more precarious situation. We have enemies on all sides, and more than one of them is nuclear armed, and we must keep this firmly in mind as we vote.

The confusion of the election season, bad enough as it is, is compounded by the news media. They have chosen the young charmer as their candidate, and they have the power and opportunity to help him in his campaign. Though this is reprehensible, it is a fact. Okay. So be it. It is not our responsibility to cater to their wishes and goals. We have wishes and goals of our own, and they are more important than all the foolishness put out by the various media.

Since we don’t owe the media anything, let’s make up our own minds. We have perfectly good ones. They work just great, so since we have them, we might just as well use them.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Greetings Gentle Reader,

Honesty has become an endangered species in our country, assuming one can label honesty a species. How did this happen? It’s not just the usual level of dishonesty; it has reached a level I haven’t seen before.

Part of it is surely because of the election, but it seems to have become acceptable to make a statement that is diametrically opposed to a politician’s position taken a week ago. That’s bad enough, but I hear those in the news media doing the same thing.

This has always been true in countries where the government is definitely not "of the people, by the people, and for the people." That is to be expected, but in Americans, it is inexcusable.
Now, if it only were true in our politicians and in Hollywood, we could live with it, because those two sets of people have always been that way. What is worrying me is the everyday people who seem to be learning from the denizens of Hollywood and the inhabitants of the seats of political power.

More than any other group in the world, we LDS should never stoop this low. We are, and should be, held to a higher standard. We hold it as an article of our faith that we are honest in our dealings with our fellow man. So why do I hear LDS politicians and their fellow travelers, of both parties, telling out and out lies?

Our responsibility as citizens of the greatest country on the earth is to strive for honesty, for decency, for fairness, for virtue. We are to teach it to our children and grandchildren, but unless we practice it ourselves, we will discover our children repeating what we do, not what we say. Worse, they have every reason to do so.

The only way we will make the change toward honesty is by watching ourselves, watching what we say at home and abroad in the community. We must begin to examine everything we say, until we find ourselves returning to verbal honesty. It may seem useless, since "everybody is doing it." But just think how you will feel if you stand before your Maker, and you will, and have to explain to Him that you became a lowlife liar because, "everybody was doing it." The only thing worse than that will be to stand before Him and explain that your children are liars, because that is what you taught them to be.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Subscribe now!

Greetings Gentle Reader,

Considering the financial news of the day, this might be a good times to discuss finances: We have been reminded on a regular basis that there always have been, and there always will be, tricky times in the financial world. The ticket for us is to be prepared. Unfortunately, that can be more easily said than done.

A good man of my acquaintance said that he had put himself through college by being a janitor, and now, he was putting his children through college by, once again, being a janitor. That dear man always had at least as many expenses as he had money. He will probably never become rich, but he has always had enough for his and his family’s needs. Such people learn to be frugal, and that frugality stands them in good stead, when the financial world gets the hiccups.

So, how about the rest of us? Have we learned to keep ourselves out of financial deep water, or do we tell ourselves (regularly and often) that it will be okay. After all, we know how to swim.
The one thing we may have forgotten to tell ourselves is the unpleasant fact that financial deep water tends to be full of sharks, and sharks really like naive swimmers. They make a tasty tidbit, and few of them have the financial expertise to recognize a shark, especially if he has a sufficiently charming smile, and a genteel manner.

Many sharks have promoted types of mortgages that are close to impossible to repay. Others are true professionals at convincing couples, especially young couples, that they really need new furniture. It’s not simply that they want it, but they truly need it.

Once upon a time, a friend told me their neighborhood had become so dangerous, with regular home invasions and the like, that they had sold their house and moved to a safe neighborhood. Unfortunately, the deteriorating circumstances in their original neighborhood had caused property values to drop, so they didn’t have enough money to buy their new house outright. That was unfortunate, but they compounded the problem by convincing themselves that their nice, new house needed nice, new furniture.

As a result they ended up with such an increase in expense that they continually struggled to avoid financial ruin. All other expenses were cut to a bare minimum, and still, they barely made it from month to month.

The temptation to declare bankruptcy is ever present, but it should only be indulged in the most extreme circumstances. A loss of employment can create conditions of dire poverty, as can catastrophic illness, but it is imperative that we avoid declaring bankruptcy, unless all else fails. The most important element in avoiding bankruptcy is a determination not to spend more money than we have. If we have ten dollars, never spend more than eight.

In today’s America, luxuries have become necessities, so we are going to have to retreat to the values of our parents and grandparents. They were pretty simple: If we can’t pay cash, we can’t afford it.

That may seem too simplistic, but it actually works, and nothing else does.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

What do you think is the most destructive force or event, so far as the health of your family is concerned? There are a lot of candidates. Bad friends, drug and/or alcohol addiction, inattentive parents, an irresponsible parent, abusive parents, an unfaithful parent, predatory friends or relatives, etc.

Actually, it is probably none of the above. The most destructive thing I have seen in my years and in my experience is divorce of the parents. Now, I have to qualify that at least a little bit. The actions of the custodial parent are tremendously important. If that parent is stable, supportive, constructive and in charge, the children may not do too badly, but if they end up with the least responsible of the two parents, they are in for a very rough ride. Even worse, they are probably in for a rough life, as are their own future children and marriage partner.

Unfortunately, if the non-custodial parent is disruptive, irresponsible and demanding of visitation by the children, and if an uninterested and/or irresponsible judge forces the children to visit that parent, then those children are going to suffer extreme and usually permanent damage. It is not uncommon for such children to rebel against both the custodial parent and society in general during their teen years, and this is especially the case if the non-custodial parent is a deliberate instigator.

If the family has been a stable, nourishing family during the early years of their various offsprings’ childhood, the older children may not do too badly, but the younger ones often become self-destructive and/or predatory.

When these children grow up, it will be very hard for some of them, perhaps most of them, to be a responsible partner in a marriage. Perhaps the worst thing they have learned is that divorce is the proper solution to difficulties in marriage. Instead of determinedly sticking it out when the going gets tough, and it will, too many of them will head for the divorce court. Then one more generation of innocent children, their own, will become the victims of that parent’s destructive attitude toward the vicissitudes of life, especially married life.

We parents must realize how real and destructive the effects of divorce are on children, then we must make sure our behavior toward our mate is not such that it will cause the tragedy of divorce. Our words are the most destructive in the early stages of a marriage, so we must learn to speak kindly and respectfully to our mate at all times, and we must learn the words, "I’m sorry."

Then we must concentrate on being unselfish, because selfishness tends to be the root of so much marital unhappiness. Next, we must work on being responsible. That is something that will grow as we go through the years. It just seems to be a part of becoming mature, but the sooner we start it, the sooner we will get there.

If we want the best for our children, and almost all of us do, then we must make sure to be the best marriage partner. That way our children stand a very good chance of growing up secure, contented, steady and responsible in their own right. Most parents can’t ask for more than that.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

Greetings Gentle Reader,

'Tis the season of harvest, a time that almost has been lost in our urban culture. The paved streets and parking lots of big cities have little interest in harvest time. The only problem is falling leaves, then slick streets and snowy parking lots as the season advances, but nothing else really matters. Yet it would be unwise for us to lose our understanding of the Law of the Harvest. And that is? Simple, if you don't sow, you won't reap.

Sounds sufficiently boring to be ignored by almost everyone. Right? It shouldn't, it is extremely important. Let's run through a little of it: If you don't lovingly train your son, he will go out into the world unloved and probably a menace to both himself and the rest of humanity, untrained and both incapable and unwilling to live with the guidelines of civilized society. That's the Law of the Harvest in action. A little more complicated than it seemed, isn't it?

If I plant carrots, I will not harvest lettuce. If I do not educate my child, I will have an uneducated child, who cannot feed himself or the family he will probably start. If I do not teach him to treat holy things with reverence, he will grow up mocking sacred things and concepts. If I teach him to be gentle with those he loves, he will rear children who know they are valuable human beings.

How do I know these things? My father loved me and was gentle with me. He treated me as though I were the most important little girl in this world. The result? I knew my Heavenly Father loved me. I knew my Savior loved me. I knew I was a valuable human being.

He didn't treat me as though I were a little princess who had greater value than others, but like his much loved and valued little daughter. As a result, I knew I had value as a person. I knew I was lovable and worth loving.

How many of today's children know they are lovable and worthy of love and respect? Too many do not. Girl's who do not know these valuable facts are vulnerable to abuse of every type, and somehow the abusers can see them coming. It is a rare unloved girl who escapes them.

At least as sad is the man who grew up unloved. He will often become the one who abuses the unloved girls. He may join a gang, because of his intense need for acceptance.

Parents, we know how to solve this problem. Let's put our backs into it and get it done every day of our lives. We can do so. We simply need to recognize its importance and move forward. Your little girls and boys trust you to do so. Don't let them down.

There's more to the Law of the Harvest than we thought, isn't there?

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

yourLDSNeighborhood Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

Gentle Reader,

As a result of unusually foolish monetary policies on the part of our federal government, we are seeing financial dominoes fall one after another, and the pace is picking up at an alarming rate.

Many of our citizens have lived their financial lives just as our government has done, and their financial chickens are coming home to roost, one after another. Those chickens are looking a little ragged, as though they have flown through a whirlwind, and some of them have been picked clean. If they were put in a pot for Sunday dinner, the family that owns them would have mighty lean pickings.

Now that we have exhausted the chicken dinner metaphor, lets use some real language: We Americans have been spending like 19 year old sailors on shore leave, and we have the bills to prove it. Not only is this not good, it is very bad. Families fall apart over this sort of thing, because the stress can get pretty intense.

The old American saying, "I’m going to talk to you like a Dutch uncle," is now in play, because I really am going to talk to you like a penny-pinching old Gramma, which is how I think Dutch Uncles must talk.

Our families are spending more money than they have. That’s the bottom line. They are going out to dinner, and going to fast food drive-ins, and when they do cook, half of it ends up in the garbage disposal. Why? Because it didn’t come from the family’s favorite fast food place, and, besides, almost none of the last two or three generations of Americans have been told, "NO!"

It’s a perfectly good word. Try it out. It may never roll off the tongue with the grace and dignity of a Frenchman ordering wine, but it’s a good word, and, most of all, it works!

American kids have too many clothes, and they don’t value them. Why? Because they don’t have to pay for them; all they have to do is ask. Worse, the money that goes to buy those clothes doesn’t have to come out of the fast-food-restaurant bill, because many of them are bought on a credit card. Worse yet, Mom or Dad will pay the credit card, so their offspring can and will buy more clothes than they can ever wear, and they will still be totally irresponsible where money is concerned. It grows on trees, right?

We parents have caused this problem. Why? Because most of us have never gone hungry. The Americans who settled this country and those who lived through the depression and went without a great deal, including adequate food, are either long dead or mostly in their last decade or two of life, so kids can’t imagine how those still around can know anything about life in the 21st century. So why should they listen to them?

Parents, it’s time for us to clean up our act. We have let our kids down by not teaching them to go without, by giving them too much and asking too little from them.

Now to our government: it has almost run out of credit cards, which is a very good thing, but there is a very bad side to this: Countries that consider us their enemy are the ones who own those credit cards, and they may demand payment anytime. That is unusually risky. For right now, it pays them to let us get into financial trouble, because it means they own part of us, but they may demand payment whenever they want, and we don’t and won’t have the money to pay them back. We have squandered it on social programs that turn our citizens into irresponsible, dependent children, standing around with their hands held out for more goodies.

America was not created for governmental goodies. It was created so our ancestors could have freedom and self-determination. All that was required of them was hard work, responsible behavior and sacrifice. Modern Americans fall short on all three. It’s time for us to grow up. Our ancestors had to do so, now it’s our turn.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletter brings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDS interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

How often have parents heard that plea? Perhaps I should be a little more specific and ask, "How often have 20th or 21st century American parents heard that plea?" I’m not sure how common it is in other countries where there is and has been less affluence, so I will confine the question to Americans and, perhaps, Canadians.

Back to the subject at hand: Why do I ask this question? Because, I think this circumstance is indicative of modern families, who may have more money than wisdom. It is not uncommon for Mom to get a job, after the kids are mostly grown, so that often means there is an increase in household money. It happens about the time Junior learns to mount an effective petition. In fact, the latter follows the former as dependably as pimples follow double chocolate fudge sundaes!

Junior has a lot of expenses, and some of them are actually legitimate! And Oh, my, wouldn’t it be just great if Mom and/or Dad would underwrite them! As I have previously, and perhaps infamously, declared, teenage boys are 95 parts testosterone and foolishness and 5 parts good sense. Now, they don’t agree with me, but I stick to my position, and I defy anyone under the age of twenty to prove me wrong. The poor beleaguered parents of this world are nodding their heads so vigorously they are in danger of losing what few marbles they have succeeded in squirreling away during these trying years of parenting modern teens.

But I digress. Back to the discussion at hand: We modern parents have become patsies. The kids see us coming! Even worse, they have lived with us so long, they have our number! They know just how to get around our defenses. But are we being wise to let them get away with it? I’m not sure we are being wise, or even being kind. Sooner or later they will have to start living in a real world, and it is better for them if it happens sooner, rather than later.

Why do I say that? Because they have to learn how to handle money, and they have to learn that saving it is wiser than spending it. They have to learn how to differentiate their wants from their needs. Perhaps the hardest part for them to learn is that food, four or five articles of clothing and a roof to keep off the rain or four walls and a roof to keep out the cold are their only true essentials. Shoes are nice, but a large percentage of the world’s people have none. Soap is great and showers are better, but they won’t lose their lives if they have neither. Just ask GIs who have seen combat.

Unfortunately, American kids think McDonald’s is a necessity, or is it Burger King? And then there is that thing of movies every night. Neither is more than a modern luxury, and they must learn to finance their own luxuries, otherwise they will continue to think of them as necessities.
We parents can do this, and, for our kids sake, we must. By the time they leave home, they must be able to stand on their own two feet, but they never will, unless they learn the difference between necessities and luxuries. Teaching them is our job, and we must not abdicate that responsibility.

Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletter brings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDS interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

When that first little bundle of joy comes into your home, you know he/she is going to be perfect, because you are going to be the perfect parent. Oh, how would it be!

Somewhere along about that first year, you discover that this little creature, for whom you would give your very life, is a totally separate human being. No matter how perfect you are as a parent, he doesn’t always respond as you expected him to do. When you are kind and loving, even adoring, he is supposed to respond in kind. But he doesn’t. You walk him; you feed him; you rock him; you sing to him; you snuggle him, and what does he do? He shrieks bloody murder!

Later on, you tell him not to pull the cat’s tail, so he pulls it. You tell him not to hit the dog, so he hits it. You tell him not to climb up on the table and break the china, so he climbs and he breaks. You tell him not to throw his food on the floor, so he throws it. You get the picture. Somewhere, somehow, someone chucked a monkey wrench betwixt your dreams and your reality, and it landed with a tremendous splash, all over you, yet!

What happened? This was your most adored little angel, and now there are times when all you want to do is put him in his crib, go out, close the door and pretend you are still a perfectly normal person, which of course, you are not. How could you be when your much adored, sweet smelling nemesis is screaming his head off behind that door, you know, that door that is supposed to be your magic carpet to sanity?

By now, you have discovered that you can be the perfect mother until the cows come home, but this little stinker is never going to be the perfect child. He is going to torment you within an inch of your sanity.

Right about then, when you are beginning to wonder how you got to be such a failure as a mother, he carries his crying little sister in from outside, sits down on the couch and cuddles and comforts her. You watch in astonishment as the little rascal who tormented her mercilessly a few minutes ago, kisses and hugs her, crooning comforting sounds that you recognize. Why? Because you have been crooning those very sounds to him since his birth, whenever he was in need of comfort.

The next day he drives you crazy while you try your best to get him to kindergarten on time. Soon, his teacher calls and tells you that your son has just stood strong and defended a smaller child, who was being picked on. She says you must be proud of having such a kind, brave boy. What is happening? Is this the boy who drives his little sister almost crazy?

Yes, this is, indeed, that boy. What is happening? That’s not too hard to figure out. The day, weeks, months and years of being the perfect mother (Oh, how would that be?) are beginning to pay off. You have been kind to him. You have been loving and protective of him, now he is mirroring what you have taught him. He is giving to others what you have given to him.

Bottom line? Keep your head up, Mom and Dad. You will get there. He will be a pain in the neck when he is a teenager, but he will outgrow it. Just train him in his duty to his Heavenly Father, while you are training him in his duty to his earthly parents and siblings. Teach him the importance of honor, of decency and virtue. Start the day he is born and never stop.

Last of all, model what you teach. Actions really do speak more loudly that words. The words are needed, but they don’t carry the weight your actions will carry.

Love him and send him out in the world. He will come back battered and scarred, but that is OK too. You are carrying a few scars of your own.

Until next time,

Return to the Neighborhood.

When our ancestors came to this continent from the old world, whether from one country or another, most of them came seeking freedom. There were those who came for riches, but most of the hard-working, laboring class came for freedom of one sort or another.

In all the countries of the old world, the class system was firmly entrenched. You didn’t move from class to class. Even if you were a lazy slug, your countrymen treated you according to your class, meaning men of honor and good character bowed down to the most worthless of the upperclass.

When our ancestors came here, they brought that system with them. But in this land there was a difference: the continent was huge, and a courageous, hard-worker could go elsewhere if he wanted. He didn’t have to submit to servitude. Even if he had come as a bond servant, meaning he would serve the man who paid his passage to this country, that was for a finite period of time. When he had paid for his passage with a period of servitude, he became a free man.

Now he could worship or refuse to worship, as he chose, because the religious tyrants were elsewhere. The Pilgrims came here for religious freedom and to bring Christianity to the Indians. They had been persecuted, including imprisoned, tortured and executed for their beliefs in the old countries of Europe, now they were free.

What have we done with that freedom? Do we still value it? Or have we allowed those who are, or want to be, our leaders to convince us that healthcare, childcare, school loans, big houses, expensive cars and money are what our citizenship is all about?

In a few short words, have we abandoned the goals our ancestors valued? Do we still teach our children that this is a country like no other on earth? Do we remember to tell them that some of their ancestors died to bring them citizenship in this free country? Do we make them understand that they must not only fight to preserve their freedom when necessary, but they must live according to the precepts required to retain that freedom?

There are certain behaviors, the indulgence in which precludes the maintenance of freedom: intemperance, laziness, failure to value that freedom and downright wickedness. In short, freedom is our reward for struggling to be a virtuous people, a diligent people, and a grateful people. When we cease to be these things, when we cease even to struggle to be these things, our very wickedness will forge our fetters.

Until next time,

Return to the Neighborhood.

We are admonished by both our present-day leaders and our modern scriptures to seek out righteous people to represent us, both locally and nationally. Sometimes we become discouraged, as we try to find the least flawed of two or more flawed humans. So, how do we make these types of decision? With prayer, of course, but we can’t stop there.

Let’s go back to the very basics; how do the two or more measure up on the most elementary levels? Let’s start with respect for the life of our little ones. We know that to play fast and loose with human life is to take our own eternal salvation in our hands. So, how do we decide when a baby is a human being? Do we have the capacity, the knowledge, to make such a decision? What would our Heavenly Father tell us, if we could ask Him; would He tell us to figure it out according to the values and convictions of those around us, or would He expect more of us How about truthfulness? Do they say one thing one day, depending on their audience, then say something else before a different audience? It is to be expected that an individual’s convictions will change, as years go by, but not from one week to the next, nor from one audience to the next.

Has the candidate we are considering ever been involved, without question, in corruption? Is this person for sale, if the price is right? What are his or her friends like? Have they been involved in corruption? It is a very correct concept that a person becomes more and more like his closest associates every day. So, who is he or she becoming like? We must know the answer to this one.

Finally, and this is very important, has this person always been faithful to his mate? And if he has not, has he defended his unfaithfulness, or has he expressed regret and shame at his moral failure? These things are of great importance, if we are to prepare ourselves to make wise decisions.

This is a perilous time in our nation’s history, indeed, a perilous time in human history. We must be as diligent as we can be in our selection of representatives, so we must not neglect the responsibility to investigate those who would become our leaders and to make wise decisions, decisions we could defend before our Heavenly Father, if we had to do so.

Until next time,

Return to the Neighborhood.

Americans must accept some irrefutable facts, like it or not. First, moral decline inevitably precedes societal decline. Next, societal decline inevitably precedes a decline in the government’s ability to make and act wisely upon tough decisions, which inevitably precedes a decline in national power, meaning a nation’s power of self-preservation. Finally, having lost the power of self-preservation, a nation is at the mercy of every other nation with the weaponry, the cunning, and the will to destroy it.

Few in this world would deny America’s power to defend itself. Few would deny its capacity to annihilate an attacker. But our nation’s foundation is being undermined by the rats of this world, both internal and external. And no foundation is impervious to the quiet, under the radar, so to speak, gnawing away of its structural strength. That is where America is today.

Let’s look at rat number one: An astonishing percentage of our young, strong men and women, our country’s foundation in reality, are drug-addicted. They are useless, self-destructive, and destructive of others. The production and/or importation of those drugs is always done by criminals. As that criminal class grows in numbers, it also grows in both the power and the will to destroy all who oppose it.

Rat number two: 44,000 non-Mexican illegal aliens were arrested last year. And many – including those from Arab countries – have been released into our population, because our immigration control people have so many with which to deal, they take the path of least resistance and simply turn them loose.

According to Congressman Norwood of Georgia, an estimated 85,000 illegal aliens, whose names and fingerprints we have, are violent criminals. That doesn’t include those already in prisons. Some illegal aliens have been discovered working for oil refineries, nuclear power plants, on Navy surveillance aircraft, in many positions for commercial airlines, and even as security

Rat number three: Even in a small town in the Rockies we have big city crime. A woman is mugged as she leaves work. A credit union is robbed at gunpoint. Drugs are "cooked" in every rural area, both here and in the Midwest, often in residences occupied by small children.

Rat number four: Our homes have fallen – and are falling – apart. Children shuffled from parent to parent by foolish judges grow up unattached and filled with rage, and as they grow, they develop the power and desire to destroy. Many are put in foster homes, and some are sexually molested by predators, who know where to find unprotected children.

Rat number five: Pornography. It destroys homes and especially the women and children who live in, and are dependent upon, those homes. It creates a sexual appetite that cannot be filled within a marriage. It is the poster child for the law of diminishing returns. Whatever level of sexual activity and perversion satisfies its consumers today, will not satisfy them tomorrow. That level must be progressively elevated to appease the sexual need created by pornography. Many of its users advance to "snuff" pornography, in which the victim must be killed for maximum sexual gratification.

Rat number six: The deliberate perversion of the first and second amendments to our constitution by our judges. They have been twisted so profoundly, they are successfully used to deprive citizens of the very freedoms they were designed to protect, especially those of religion and speech and the right to bear arms.

Rat number seven: Our universities employ thousands of rabid anti-American professors. And, predictably, their students become the same.

Can rats be killed? Yes, but only if their victims have the will to do so, and the strength of Americans’ will is still in question.

Until next time,

Return to the Neighborhood.

I'd like to take you back to a moment in time where character defined itself rather clearly in my life:

The character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments ... by all those times when the voice of conscience was at war with the voice of temptation ... the decisions that, piece by piece, bit by bit, developed habits of discipline or of laziness; habits of self-sacrifice or self-indulgence; habits of duty and honor and integrity — or dishonor and shame." (Ronald Reagan)

A couple weeks ago, I was on my way to an appointment and to take perishables from our place to a friend, when a huge nail flattened my rear tire. I stopped; a young man, Walt, stopped behind me and asked if he could help, confessing that he had never changed a tire. My husband had changed the only flat we had experienced in my car, and I didn’t know how to get at the equipment. We looked at each other and grinned, knowing this was going to be a learning experience.

He had found the jack and the "doughnut," when I mentioned I had a physical therapy appointment and was almost late. He immediately offered to take me into town and come back to change the tire. He said he would come get me in an hour. I was embarrassed, but gratefully accepted his offer.

He had a college friend who would put my perishables into her refrigerator and let us pick them up after my appointment. Accordingly, he dropped me off and left. An hour later, he and his friend gave me the bad news that the wheel wouldn’t come off. She had changed tires and had tried to help, but without success. It was time to call my husband.

Walt hung up the phone and said, "He told me to kick it really hard. He even told me how to kick it. (‘Don’t kick it with your toe. Turn around and kick it with your heel.’)" We laughed as we envisioned applying this high-tech advice. Arriving at the scene, he walked over, turned backward and gave the tire a tremendous kick with his heel. It immediately fell off. When we stopped laughing, he and his young friend set about finishing the job. She really had done it before, and her experience came in handy.

Putting the doughnut on my car, Walt instructed me to drive slowly; he would stay behind me with his hazard lights on. They waited outside my friends’ house while I completed my errand, then continued to follow me. As I pulled into the driveway of the tire shop, I honked and waved at them; they waved back and went on their way.

This young man and woman were top of the line. They don’t get any better. They drove all over town, willingly running me here and there, though I was a complete stranger. They changed my tire, then stayed behind me to insure that I would reach the shop in safety. If they had been my own grandkids, they couldn’t have been more thoughtful and kind, yet great fun (their good humor neither flagged nor failed).

By now they are in Fort Collins for practice, he for football and she for volleyball. I hope they have fun while they learn.

To the two sets of parents of these young people: You can be proud of them. America is safe in their hands. They have made those little choices that have led, bit by bit, to habits of discipline, self-sacrifice, duty and honor.

Congratulations. You have done well.

Return to the Neighborhood.

This is for all who remember when courts didn't turn violent criminals out on the streets to kill our little girls. It's also for those who insist that American life always has been this brutal. They're wrong. Though I can't speak for other parts of the country, that's not how it was out here. We have shed our tears, and we desperately need a break, so let's look backward for relief:

Several years ago, my husband came from the barn, announced that he had wet socks and guessed it was time to get his 5-buckle boots out of storage. He put them on the hearth to warm - last year's dried manure firmly attached - spreading that familiar barny odor throughout the house.

As we laughed over the vicissitudes of life with livestock - including the recycled hay on his boots - I remembered a story from past years.

Years ago, a family of kids, all girls, did the milking (by hand) each morning before school. They were often late, which earned them a tongue-lashing from the coach, their first-hour teacher. He railed on them mercilessly. They patiently explained that they had to milk the cows, then make their way to the school, which was some distance. It didn't help. By now, the pattern seemed set in stone.

One day, as the coach repeated his seemingly ritualistic chastisement, he added that, as a youth, he had milked cows before school, yet had made it on time. Then he made the mistake of adding a challenge. He would come to their house and help them do their milking the following day, thereby proving that there was no excuse for their chronic tardiness.

Now, is there any farm kid out there who does not know what this guy had done to himself? He should have been smarter than this!

Some animals are hard to milk, some are easy. Some are obnoxious, some are docile. Additionally, there seems to be a natural law that the worst cows give the most milk. I didn't make the law, but I can testify to its veracity.

Milking started early because they had many cows, and the route truck, which picked up the milk cans, came very early. When the truck got there, the milk had to be ready. No excuses.

The girls knew which cows were a royal pain, and they were "lying in wait," as it were, for their coach (Revenge can be sweet!). They split the cows evenly, giving the coach his fair share. He didn't know they had given him the worst, hardest to milk cows. He had no easy ones, the kids had taken 'em all!

The girls went at their task with considerable gusto, milking those easy cows in record time. The coach did the same. At least he tried to do the same. The kids finished, cleaned up and left for school. They were on time. The coach was not. He was still in their barn, milking the worst cows in the county.

After some time - considerably after the tardy bell had rung - the coach showed up. He said nothing. He made no explanations, but never again did he rail on those kids for being tardy.

It is likely he never discovered how they had sabotaged him. If he did, he kept it to himself. It would have been too humiliating to admit that they had gotten him good! To this day, those dignified ladies who were "the kids" tell the story of how they set up their coach. We always laugh, because it never stops being funny, no matter how many times we have heard it.

Ah, yes! Revenge can be sweet.

Until next time,

Return to the Neighborhood.

One day, as I flipped the TV on, I saw a psychologist addressing a large studio audience and a TV audience of unknown proportions. She was telling them that their children wanted them to be happy, and that if they were not happy with their spouses they should get a divorce... that their children would want them to get a divorce.

As the fun story goes, I am sure this woman told lies about other things too, but none of them, repeat, none of them, could have done as much damage as that one massive lie.

Divorce is one of the things which is most responsible for the monumental destruction of American society as we have always known it. Worse yet, it is very often a precursor to the other destructive factors. A divorced, therefore single, mother or father of a family is very like a football player with a well-made artificial leg; he looks great, but he is so handicapped that he will never play great. It takes two legs to play good football, and it takes two parents to play good family. Does this mean that single parents can never succeed? No, it just means that the job will be difficult beyond comprehension and that our modern societal structure will make it even harder.

Widows and widowers have, in past centuries, usually had an intact family structure as a support system. Many a family has opened home and hearth to a widowed daughter and orphaned grandchildren. Two sets of grandparents and numerous aunts and uncles and cousins have provided love, care, companionship and, especially, identity to orphaned children.

Divorce puts a new and destructive ingredient in this healthy mix. Each parent tends to become the target of great animosity from the family of the other parent. The children are dragged into this venomous mixture and are, too often, deprived of the family of the non-custodial parent.

This brings to mind a couple who have not, throughout the years of their marriage, particularly liked each other. You couldn't say that they hated each other, but there was very little liking there. Now that their children are all grown, the virtue of their staying together has manifested itself in no uncertain terms. The children, raised by two devoted and effective parents, are healthy, happy people. The grandchildren are healthy, happy young people having so obviously benefited from the solid structure of two sets of grandparents and cousins beyond number.

No, children do n0t want their parents to destroy their family. Yes, divorce does harm both children and parents.

No, divorce cannot always be avoided, especially with some TV psychologists promoting it, but should never be implemented until all else has failed, not a pretended failure, a real one.

Healthy, intact families are good and are worth fighting for. In fact, since playing good family is so important, let's work just as hard at it as a football player works at playing good ball.

Until next time,