Greetings Gentle Reader,

We are living in a day when mothers are aggressively pushed to leave their children with a baby sitter or in day care and go to work out of their homes. I suppose we should have been prepared for this, when feminists began crying so loudly that women who stayed at home to care for and rear their family were in "modern slavery."

Young Sisters, I want to tell you as strongly as I know how that the push to get you to abandon your children and your husband is from Satan. He knows that children who grow up without their mother in their home are much more likely not only to leave the Church, but, further, to indulge in a myriad of self-destructive behaviors.

This dangerous problem is exacerbated by the changes that have taken place, and are continuing to take place, in our culture. We no longer have mostly intact homes. And too many of these broken homes are in the Church.

How do we keep our marriages healthy in today’s world? Beyond being at home while our children are growing up, which is essential, it is equally essential that we treat each other kindly and with respect. That means even when the baby cried all night with colic and the garage roof caved in. Yes, these are extremes, but they happen in marriages, and those are the times when we must remember to speak kindly and respectfully.

The manner of speech between married couples that is modeled on TV and in movies is almost always destructive. It tends to be coarse and vulgar. Oftentimes, it is spiteful, and cleverly nasty. Yes, I mean precisely that: cleverly nasty. These things are said to evoke a laugh at the expense of the actor or actress who is on the receiving end of this clever nastiness.

We are being trained by such speech, not only to laugh, but to use it in our own homes, on our own spouse. After all, it is clever. It made us laugh, so why should we not use it?

We LDS must be better than this. Our number one task in this respect is to carefully avoid movies and TV shows that model such behavior. Satan knows what he is doing. That’s why we are actually being taught this behavior in our own homes, because once we see it, we are inclined to copy it.

If we learn to behave in this manner, our marriage will be harmed; it may be destroyed. If we either harm or destroy our marriage, our children will bear the scars of that harm or destruction for the rest of their lives. Worse, it will affect their journey into, and possibly, throughout eternity. If we had a way to move our culture back to about 1940, we would see the difference intact homes - where mother and father work as a team, she at home and he at work - make in the lives of children. Unfortunately, that is not possible. We are stuck in a time when our homes are under attack as they have never been in our country’s history.

There are then, these few things that are essential to a healthy marriage and home:

  • The gospel is your strength and support, don’t become lackadaisical in your level of devotion.
  • Be in your home while your children are growing up.
  • Speak respectfully and kindly to your mate.
  • Watch your money with extreme care, spending only where you must.
  • Avoid watching TV shows or movies that teach bad behavior.

Follow the Brethren: That means having family home evening and family prayer. It means regular attendance at all meetings. Most important of all, it means always speaking of the Brethren with respect. Our children will follow our lead in their attitude toward life, the Church and the General Authorities. Let us not lead them carefully down to Hell.

Return to the Neighborhood!

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

The snow is melting from the North side of the house. I can no longer sit in my chair on our wide hearth and see the piled-up snow peeking over the window sill. Yes!

We always know this day will come. We watch for it each year, but it never fails to make my fingers start to itch for the soil. I walk around the front yard and count the tulip and daffodil blades coming through the soil, and I know Spring’s days are numbered and Summer is just around the corner.

The garden catalogs are clogging the mail box, and I am beginning to plot out this year’s garden and starting to wonder if there is not some spot (almost any will do) where I can plant another fruit tree. Aw, well, there is no cure for a gardenaholic. I’m not sure that is really and truly a disease, but it surely feels that way in midsummer, when zillions of weeds are mocking my humble efforts and driving me just a little bit crazy.

So, while the snow is finishing it’s disappearing act, and the heart-nourishing song of the blackbird is making me smile a lot, let’s discuss how to keep the pole beans and tall peas from dragging their climbing nets to the ground.

Being a farmer type, I have cattle panels surrounding various pastures. For the uninitiated, a cattle panel is a sixteen foot by about five foot piece of fencing, constructed of heavy steel and almost impervious to the attacks of cattle. (Guess what? Even climbing peas cannot drag these panels to the ground! They can try, and they will, but they can’t do it!)

Let’s discuss how to place them: Always make your rows go East and West, because that way your plants have sun all day, rather than one side getting sun only in the morning and the other side getting sun only in the afternoon.

Putting them up is a piece of cake, but they are very heavy, so a woman should not plan to do it by herself. They remain stiff, never sagging, but must be held up with what we call "T" posts. They need three posts, one on each end and one in the middle. The posts must be pounded into the ground, and it takes a man to pound them in sufficiently deeply that they will support the panel. Posts come in different lengths, but you will need to have about a foot of the post in the ground, in order to keep the panel upright. It is important that it remain perfectly upright, because those obnoxious (but heavenly flavored) peas will pull any weakly supported panel to the ground.

Put your panel up first - having already prepared your soil - then plant your climbing peas and/or beans about 2 or 3 inches from the panel. The panels have squares, allowing free movement of water and air, both of which are important to the plants.

Peas will make such a sturdy and abundant foliage that the panel will end up looking like a solid wall of vegetation, assuming you plant the sugar snap peas that climb six feet or more. Just be sure to plant them several inches apart.

Beans make a less abundant foliage, but will still make a goodly wall of leaves and beans. They’re just not as heavy and seemingly determined to pull their support down as are peas. You can plant them a little closer than peas, if you want to do so, but it is not necessary.

The vegetables will give you a crop that is easy to pick, because they will require little stooping, but be sure to watch the vines as they grow, because some of them may try to wander across the path between the panels, rather than climb where they are supposed to do.

Clematis also love to climb, as do certain other flowers, and can make a wall of tremendous beauty, if you choose to plant them on panels.

Hopefully, this panel planting will make your work easier this summer, so have a good one!

Return to the Neighborhood!

Greetings, Gentle Reader:

To fathers, wherever you may be: You are your daughters’ prototype of Heavenly Father and our Savior. They cannot see the Savior, but they can see you. They will judge Him by your actions, by your integrity, by your very character. If you fail them and Him, they will fail both you and Him. That is, admittedly, a heavy load, in fact, a heavy eternal assignment, but it is the assignment you shouldered the day you became the father of a brand new little girl. Your task? Don’t moan. Don’t cry or try to escape your responsibility. Just cowboy-up and be a real man. Get the job done! Be your little girls’ example of what they can expect from their loving Savior, Who actually will require much of them during their mortal life.

Did that all sound pretty cold? Sorry, but let me tell you why it’s true: Because of family circumstances, my father was in many ways my mother. By that I mean he "mothered" me each day, when he came home from work. So, perhaps, my understanding of the importance of the relationship between fathers and their little girls is more keen than would otherwise be the case. I judged Heavenly Father’s and my Savior’s love by my father’s love. Your girls will do likewise.

Dad, your little girls hero-worship you, and they will do so all your life, unless you behave in a manner that will destroy your stature in their eyes. They will eagerly trust you with their confidences, with their inadequacies, with their fears, even their very lives. They will run to you for protection, when they are in danger. You will be their pattern of manhood, when it comes time to choose a husband.

It has been said that boys marry their "mothers" and girls marry their "fathers." There is great truth to that statement. You are what men should be in your little girls’ eyes. If you are harsh in your fathering, and as a husband, they will very likely marry a harsh man, who may be brutally harsh as both a husband and father. If you are kind, but inconsequential, they stand a good chance of marrying a man too weak and too uninvolved to be a responsible husband and father. Either way, you will have established and validated their pattern of manhood, and you cannot escape that reality, nor that responsibility.

So, what is your duty? Simple. Be a man, a kind but responsible man. Be an example in your behavior, in your goals, in your dreams. You will either teach them to be strong and to have fortitude, or your will teach them to be weak and cowardly. You will either teach them to be responsible and determined in the face of adversity, or you will teach them to run from responsibility and to behave cravenly when life gets very tough, and life almost always gets very tough at one time or another.

In short, father, be the man your Heavenly Father and your Savior want you to be. If you do that to the very best of your ability, knowing that from time to time you will fall short, you will be worthy of your little girls’ hero-worship. That’s the best that can be expected of you.

One final admonition: Follow the Prophet, whichever Prophet that may be. In that you cannot fail. You will be teaching your children behavior from the finest patterns available to fallen, imperfect, humans on this fallen, imperfect Earth. If you do that, you will be able to stand before your Savior with confidence at the last day.

Surely, that is all that can be expected of any man.

Return to the Neighborhood.