Demi-gods and Freedom


I believe that everyone has the right to all the freedoms of the land. Because I am an American, I hold those freedoms in great honor. We are a nation built on independent men and women who braved the world and stood fast in their determination to be free in thought, religion, speech, and to do what they must to be happy. To always be forced to put society before one’s family, one’s God, and one’s independence is an abomination to most Americans. Society works because there are laws and checks and balances between the members of that society. It has nothing to do with allowing a government to force the mental enslavement of a people just because whomever is in power thinks they have the right to force others to bend to their will. Therein lies the demi-gods. It is when people are free to choose, to think for themselves, that they are at their best.

Take a look at the so called Dear Leader of North Korea. His country is supposed to be first, but he has turned into an evil tyrant because there are NO checks and balances on his behavior. He is a true sociopath whose evil knows no bounds. Were his people free to refuse to obey him, he would have long since been executed for the killer that he is. It is not all that different from what Hitler did to Germany, only his victims were Jews, Catholic Priests and nuns, homosexuals, gypsy, and anyone that he felt was sub-human. Negating the individual in favor of the society always leaves the leader of that society free to do what ever he or she wishes. All their personal hatred for a person or persons can be indulged in the most inhumane way possible. And of course, those in power will do their best to stay in power in order to control their world.

Without freedom, people have nothing but slavery to the system. Socialism, Communism, Dictatorships, all remove the individual from the formula that creates a robust society. In time, the people give up, stop trying, stop thinking for themselves, and simply plod along through life without hope of a better future. At the expense of independent freedoms, no one will ever be able to become more than what their society allows. That is why so many countries without freedom become third world countries in a few generations. Look at Cuba, and even Russia. (Russian people outside of the larger cities, and even within many of them live third world lives.) Those in power have all the money and riches, not the people. And people certainly don’t have the freedom to find a way to make more or do more unless they do it illegally.

Growth in humanity and their society happens when the individual takes the future into his or her own hands and makes something more from it. Scientist, medicine, flight, inventions, all sorts of new and impressive life saving inventions, including transportation and roads, have happened because people were free to imagine, dream, and then create what comes from that ability to dream. It is the independent individual businessman who comes up with a new idea or way to do something and then makes it available to the entire world that becomes wealthy, not the leaders or government in charge who hordes the inventions and ideas of the people and keep them for the elite or government – or even sell them at a profit and keep the money for themselves.

Because the United States is built on a unique platform of a republic, and because our country was founded by religious fanatics, criminals, and those desperate for a new start, or at least a chance at success, we have a mix of robust, determined, hard headed people who are drenched in common sense, and a dedication to individuality. It is the elite of the decidedly liberal progressive academia who want to “fundamentally change” that which is sacred to the American people. Steeped in self loathing clothed in the rhetoric of high minded tripe, they seek to tear down that which they cannot understand. It is they who must be the leaders, because they know best. It is they who must have and keep the wealth, because the sub-humans around them simply do not have the ability to understand what is best for them. All people, no matter who or what they are, happen to fall beneath their sanctimonious and bitter idea of leadership. In short, they want us to be China, Russia, or North Korea instead of the great country we were, we are, and will be.

I can pretty much guarantee another civil war if the progressive liberals keep pressing to change our fundamental and sacred rights as citizens of the United States of America. Progressive Leftists like Hilary Clinton and her ilk, have, indeed awakened a sleeping giant. Other than the elite academia, the actors from Hollywood, and those under their thrall, most of us in this country still believe and stand firm in the Constitution of the United States of America, and always will.

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A Choice To Make – If you are not religious, skip this. I will not entertain any nonsense.


I had the strangest dream last night. I tend to dream entire books, and odd things like showing up for an appointment late and in inappropriate clothing, like wearing my nightgown to the office. But this dream was different, because it was about a metaphor from the way we live life, and the way the Hebrews lived life in the shortly after the death of Moses.

All of us know the story of Joshua and the fall of the walls of Jericho. If not, here is a short summary.

Battle of Jericho – Story Summary:

The battle of Jericho featured one of the most astounding miracles in the Bible, proving that God stood with the Israelites.

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After the death of Moses, God chose Joshua, son of Nun, to be the leader of the Israelite people. They set about to conquer the land of Canaan, under the Lord’s guidance. God said to Joshua, “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 Spies from the Israelites sneaked into the walled city of Jericho and stayed at the house of Rahab, a prostitute. But Rahab had faith in God. She hid the spies from the king’s soldiers, and when the time was right, she helped the spies escape out a window and down a rope, since her house was built into the city wall.

Rahab made the spies swear an oath. She promised not to give their plans away, and in return they swore to spare Rahab and her family when the battle of Jericho began. She was to tie a scarlet cord in her window as a sign of their protection.

Meanwhile, the Israelite people continued to move into Canaan. God commanded Joshua to have the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant into the center of the Jordan River, which was at flood stage. As soon as they stepped into the river, the water stopped flowing. It piled up in heaps upstream and downstream, so the people could cross on dry ground. God performed a miracle for Joshua, just as he had done for Moses, by parting the Red Sea.

God had a strange plan for the battle of Jericho. He told Joshua to have the armed men march around the city once each day, for six days. The priests were to carry the ark, blowing trumpets, but the soldiers were to keep silent.

On the seventh day, the assembly marched around the walls of Jericho seven times. Joshua told them that by God’s order, every living thing in the city must be destroyed, except Rahab and her family. All articles of silver, gold, bronze and iron were to go into the Lord’s treasury.

At Joshua’s command, the men gave a great shout, and Jericho’s walls fell down flat! The Israelite army rushed in and conquered the city. Only Rahab and her family were spared.

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My dream picked up where the army had started marching around the city, with only the priests blowing ram’s horns. I was standing on a hillside with several other people, one of whom was a sort of teacher. As we watched, the people of Jericho stood on the wall laughing and jeering at the Hebrew Army. They were throwing rotten food and rotten meat at the men as the marched, but other than the priest’s noise, the Hebrews were silent and did not so much as look up at the wall.

I assumed this was the sixth day of the march, because after they were done, they all went back to their encampment and settled in for the night. While the people inside the walls were celebratory and such, the Hebrews still remained quiet. I asked the teacher if they knew what was going to happen the next day, and he said that some did, but most did not. However, they trusted that Joshua and God knew what to do, so slept peacefully.

At that point, I pondered about following God’s plan, even if it didn’t make a lot of sense. Soldiers are trained to fight, it must be a very frustrating thing to be prepared to do so, and yet being told to simply march and stay quiet. I know that every soldier I know would be frustrated at not being able to do what they are trained to do. Then, a metaphor sparked in my mind about how we, like the soldiers, often have to slog through miserable times, not knowing why, but trying, with all our inner strength, to keep moving – even if stopping and taking a different route would make us feel better.

Because we are trying to follow God’s plan, and not our own or that of mankind, we know we just have to keep going. Some of us will, but some will simply walk down another path because it is easier. They think that eventually they will go back to the path they know God wants them on, but what they don’t know is that the further they go down the path of man, the further they diverge from the path of God. The apex never comes back together and they will have to find a way to cross from one path to another – and that will mean a long hard battle across no mans land. Each crossroad will be a decision that can take a person further away or toward the main path, and those decisions will make all the difference in their lives.

The next day when the horns started blowing and the Hebrew Army started circling the city, the citizens of Jericho were on the walls, as usual. But when the army kept marching after the first time around, they sensed something was going to happen, however, until the army showed signs of a willingness to fight, they wouldn’t do more than throw things and jeer. After the seventh round, all of us held our breath as the great shout went up from the soldiers, and the walls fell, allowing them to enter the city and slay all but the prostitute and her family.

This brought to mind the issues of following commandments, even when it seems there is no purpose to do so. Everyone else is breaking the rules, and seem to get away with it on a regular basis, but if we break the rules, we will fail at the task set before us when we came to earth to gain our place in eternity.

I think the whole issue of, “it isn’t fair” needs to be tossed out of our lives. Nothing was ever said about fair, as each of us is supposed to be on an individual path. Since we are not competing against anything but ourselves, what does fairness have to do with anything? There are people in the church, however, who feel that they must qualify as experts in everything including how others live the gospel. You know them, the members who complain because things aren’t done their way, or the Utah way, or the way we have always done things. It is those kinds of people who drive off a lot of members with their constant criticizing and finger pointing. God sees us as individuals with individual lessons to learn, and individual paths to explore. Why can’t other members remember that?

At the end of the day, those who survive turn themselves over God and live His plan. Our obedience and willingness to take the harder road to redemption and salvation keeps us in play for our full potential being accomplished. Those of us, myself included, who wander from the road God set before us, just add to our difficulty by trying to take the short cut, or easy way, in life. And end up at the crossroads filled with peril and discordance with The Lord.

The adversary wants us to suffer that discord because chaos in our lives gives him power to overcome the rules set before us as children of God. He wants us to take the path of least resistance so he can put obstacles in our way, tripping us with every step forward. Although the path may look smooth, the pitfalls are well hidden until we fall. Strict obedience to the laws of God help us to remain strong within the perils of life. But straying too far will leave us unprotected and destitute in spirit.

In my dream, I stood with Joshua and his army on the hill over Jericho, seeing the thousands of people who had died in defiance of the laws of God, and the debauchery that brought about the downfall of the wall. That wall represents the Lord’s protection from the things that would harm us, it also represents how living with in it can tear away our decency and let us be burdened with blood lust and hate.

We must stand firm in what God wants us to do, follow orders, stick with the plan, and deal with the bumps and dips in the road before us, even if it feels constricting. We may want to do it the easy way, but there is no easy way, only God’s way and the adversary’s way. Our choices are what makes the path in front of us straight, crooked, or short. Are you obeying God’s commands, or are you doing to try to do it on your own? Make a choice.

Inspirational Women


In my lifetime there have been many women who have inspired me to be a better person. It is difficult to choose one above the others, so I want to share with you, instead, several women who have inspired me.
When I was a little girl, my great grandmother, Sylvia Underwood Vandenburg, set the example of what a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother should be. She inspired me through her unrelenting work to feed, clothe, and educate her family. Grannie raised four children of her own, then raise six grandchildren in her home, when their parents abandoned them, while other grandchildren came and went on an as needed basis. She then raise three great grandchildren when her grandson divorced and needed someone to help take care of his kids while he worked.
Grannie was the finest example for sacrifice and service I have ever known. Her garden provided food for her family, neighbors, and anyone in need of food. She cooked for an army of people every day and lunch at Grannies was an event that stood until a week before she died. Because we are a farm family, lunch was the biggest meal of the day. It didn’t matter if we dropped in at the last minute, or if we brought along friends, Grannie always had enough food, and would just smile and “add another potato to the pot,” to make sure the meal stretched for everyone.
Her garden also provided flowers for everyone from new brides to the old and infirm. Her fingers sewed an unending supply of dresses, shirts, quilts, and dishtowels for all of her progeny and our friends. To have a quilt made by Grannie Vandenburg was the best wedding present any girl in the family could have. And when each of us had our first baby, and sometimes third or fourth, as long as she could see to do it, she made us a baby quilt. Those are held as sacred heirlooms by all of us.
Grannie was a small, quiet, homely, uneducated woman who was widowed at the early age of 50. Her life was hard, especially by today’s standards, but she was a tower of strength when it came to protecting her family. She always had the right advice, loving hug, or swat on the bottom for all of us children. She was wise, caring, possessed a wicked sense of humor, and she was one of the most spiritual women I’ve every known. All my life I have wanted to be just like her. To me, Grannie was exactly what a real woman was supposed to be. She could hoe a cotton field, do all the weekly wash, work in her garden, provide three meals a day, and still have time to sit quietly listening to a child struggle to learn to read at the end of a long day of work. Today, when I am sad or feeling lonely, the aromas of vanilla cookies and talcum powder bring back the feeling of unconditional love and security Grannie gave to all of “little ‘uns.”
When I was 26 I joined the church. In the small branch I attended in Harrison, Arkansas, there was a group of women who taught me what being a member was all about. Andrea Lewis, Mary Tasto, Marlene Lovelady, Ruby Essex, Eydie May Abell, and Candy Lovelady set the example for a very new and insecure sister over the six years I lived in Harrison, Arkansas. Each of them taught me in their own way. The older women, Andrea, Mary, and Marlene, who were each old enough to be my mother, gave me an ideal perspective on how to serve, teach, pray, and do visiting teaching. Mary taught me that the church was a place I could laugh, as well as shed tears and that I was too serious about every aspect of the gospel – something sacred didn’t mean something to fear. Andrea taught me that visiting teaching was much more than a lesson and a quick chat as we served together. She and her husband, Joe, were the couple I wanted Hal and I to learn to be like the most. I learned so much about service from Marlene, and those lessons still stand as my litmus test for how well I am doing. Ruby is the most spiritual of women whose calm devotion and knowledge in the gospel and in her testimony helped me to build on the basic knowledge I had as a new member. All of them are what I call prime examples, and it is my opinion that those four women are, in fact and deed, the best of the daughters of God.
The two younger women, Eydie Mae and Candy, were my first two friends in the church. For six years we raised our kids together, served together, struggled with our testimonies together, and built a friendship that still stands today. We were known for our silly antics, like the time they kidnapped me on my 30th birthday and took me to a big surprise party. We were known for being the terrible trio, because we were always up to something. We served in numerous callings together and shared every aspect of our lives.
In those years of learning and becoming a stalwart member of the church, they taught me to believe in myself, to laugh loud and long in joy, and to weep tears of sorrow without shame or embarrassment. Eydie Mae took the complex doctrines of the church and helped me see that the gospel is really quite simple, we make it hard. Candy taught me about dedication and strength. The two of them became my sisters in such a deep and meaningful way that no matter what happens, I will always stand by them.

Today they both live in Florida, and I live in Hong Kong. I miss them very much on days when I am feeling alone. But, all I have to do is wander in to my memory and find something that brings me joy, a laugh, or a comforting thought. I miss the wonderful small branch in Harrison. It is, and always will be, my home ward. The women there still set an example for me. And I will always yearn for those days when I could sit among them and feel the divine love and spirituality that makes them all so unique.

Finally, the women on the Sister’s List stand out as the most amazing women I’ve ever known. I admire their knowledge, spiritual joy, and ability to join together in the best Relief Society every created. When I am down, or angry, or hurt, or frightened, or worried, I just send an email. Within minutes, or at most, hours, I am sent words of comfort, peace, understanding, and usually a laugh or two. They even get indignant and angry on my behalf, and we all solve the world’s problems regularly, with laughter, and most of all, with compassion. I have learned the power of prayer from them, the importance of sisterhood and the ability to communicate and share our knowledge of the gospel principles. I have learned strength, and I have learned that no matter how hard things are, together we can overcome even the most horrific of worldly things. The awesome power of women who work together to accomplish miracles is proven daily by the women on the Sister’s List.
I am eternally grateful that the Lord has provided us with computers and the Internet. I am grateful that I couldn’t sleep one night and surfed into the LDSCN site all those years ago. I am grateful that my testimony has grown in leaps and bounds by the profound example of the testimonies of the sisters I have come to love even though I have never met them in person, or even heard their voices. I look forward, one day, to traveling to meet them. But if that doesn’t happen, I know I can look forward to meeting them on the other side. I know I will know them, all I have to do is look for a bunch of women who are laughing, and talking all at once.
I am so blessed.