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The Case of the Disappearing Frenchmen

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm

France, street sceneWhat will the population of France look like in 2050?  Some Frenchmen might be surprised.

By Suzie Trepanier

My last name is Trepanier (tray-pin-yay). When pronounced correctly it is a beautiful French name. It is my married last name and although I have some French heritage, mostly my ancestors came from Scotland and Ireland (my maiden name being Riddle). My mother is an avid genealogist and because of that I feel pretty knowledgeable about my heritage. My husband, however, has not found time nor an interest in finding out about his people and where he came from. With a name like Trepanier, undoubtedly, his people are French.

Recently, I have felt a compulsion to learn more about his heritage and I found some interesting stories. Most of his ancestors are from Quebec, Canada. Indeed, the name Trepanier is as common there as “Smith” is in the U.S. The more I traced, however, I finally found the ancestors who originated in France and they were not ordinary people. They were dukes and landowners and courtier’s who hobnobbed with King Charles.

Another discovery was that of an ancestor named Peter Arave on my husband’s mother’s side who was orphaned and adopted by a Mormon pioneer family. His name implied that he was from England, but our discovery was that his name was changed from Pontier Aravee. He was also French. So my husband has a lot of French ancestry on both his father and his mother’s side. He has more French blood than he thought which makes him somewhat of a rarity. Alarmingly, the number of full-blooded Frenchmen is rapidly declining.

A large percent of the people currently living in France are immigrants. The majority of these immigrants come from North Africa and are Muslim in religious practice. (Table 1) This group of people place a huge value on having children, thus these families are larger. A very large majority of these children are born to married couples: among bi-national couples, the proportion is 59%; among foreign national couples, 78% (Prioux, 2005).” (Table 2) On the other hand, native French are marrying less, divorcing more, having more abortions and fewer children. Fertility rates have been steadily declining in almost every developed nation in the world, but France’s overall fertility rate is among the lowest. The combination of high immigration and low fertility among the native French leads demographers to predict that by the year 2050 the population of France will be dramatically changed and that it is not unrealistic that, in the not so distant future, there will be no such thing as an authentic Frenchman.

In fact, native populations all over Western Europe are declining at an astonishing rate. We are aware of other civilizations that have disappeared. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire is fascinating and is a popular study in history. The Roman society left remnants of influence and its people; however, it is essentially extinct. The more widely known contributors for this lost civilization are war and disease; however, something not often discussed is that low fertility contributed as well.   What will history teach about the demise of the French? The fertility rates are below replacement rates and in addition, abortion is on the rise. (Table 3) The French are essentially committing suicide.

Impact of Religion

The reason that young people in are either choosing not to marry and have children or postponing family may be explained by, at least, one rising trend. It is the decline of religiosity. “Religion is an undeniable vector of values. The results show that religious practice, even occasional, is associated with a lower probability of having only one child (Yves, 2006).” On the other hand, those who consider themselves religious, consider the ideal family to have more than two children. Overall, religiosity has dropped significantly in all of Europe. People that consider themselves to be religious put a high priority on marriage and family. They have faith in the Bible which teaches to “…cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Genesis 2:24).” Or “…happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them (Psalms 127:5).”

Secularism has been on the rise in Europe since the 1950’s and the focus of this group of people is individualism. The central truth that they live by is that of self-awareness and self-improvement. There is value in both of these attitudes for a society. Rather than one ideal combating the other, these two attitudes of family and self-improvement, when cooperating, will produce future generations that are in a position to improve the conditions of their communities, society and the world. The first step in this process is to actually procreate. Economics are driven by human capital which is defined by the knowledge, skills and information that humans acquire to produce goods and services. Sustainability for any society is dependent on births and the accompanying development of human capital.

The inevitable: we grow old

As the fertility and population of full French babies’ declines, the overall population has changed. The majority of full French are between the ages of 65 and 80. Over the next 20 years, as the full French citizens pass on, unless something changes, their numbers will not be replaced.

This change in population has economic consequences as well. There are fewer numbers born to replace the working and taxpaying adults needed to maintain the care required of a burgeoning elderly class. Frenchmen continue to age and pass on, but the young are not being born at a rate that will even begin to replace them. This trend is projected to continue over the next few decades. France will rely more and more on immigrants to maintain a working-age population.

The first Trepanier ancestor to leave France was Romain d’Discrepancy, who was born in 1614 in a church in Muchendent, Normady (pictured below). The composition of the population of France today would be almost unrecognizable to him. Now in these millennial years, his French descendants are leaving behind the religion he practiced and also the desire for posterity. The Trepanier line itself is not in immediate danger of disappearing. However, the threat of the disappearing Frenchmen to France is a real possibility. As human beings, our identity and feelings of self-worth are related to our connection to our heritage.   In order to maintain our heritage, we must produce the children necessary to promulgate and strengthen the human species.

Suzanne TrepanierSuzanne Trepanier is the mother of four grown children and has been married to my good husband for 27 years.   She lives in the beautiful city of San Diego, but is currently a full-time online college student at BYU-Idaho pursuing a degree in Marriage and Family Studies.  She is  passionate about protecting children through advocacy for marriage and traditional families.

 

Church, Europe

 

TABLE 1

Immigration, Europe, ChartTable 2

Foreign born births

References

Prioux, F. (2005). Recent demographic developments in france. Population, 60(4), 371-399,401-414. Retrieve from http://search.proquest.com/docview/196964556?accountid=9817

Stout, R. (2010). The New Economic Reality: A Demographic Winter. Retrieved from http://theneweconomicreality.com

Yves, L. (2006). Trends in Religious Feeling in Europe and Russia. Groupe Je Sociolgie des Religions et de la Lacite, 59-6. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/2098796/accountid=9817

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We are Family”

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2014 at 11:01 am

grandpa and grandaughter

Rebecca Mallory

If you remember this great number 1 hit from “Sister Sledge” in the ’70’s, then that dates us both!  (I always thought it was “The Pointer Sisters” who sang that. Nope!)  We are family. Sometimes I sit in church looking at the congregation. Sweet and loving families behaving perfectly, and dressed in Sunday’s finest. Is this what perfect families look like? Or is this an illusion?

What does the “perfect” family look like? I have no idea. In fact, I’m pretty sure they don’t exist! We’ve all heard talks, read stories, or have even known families that were darn close though, right? Do you notice common themes in these families?  I recently heard an interview between Glenn Beck and Bruce Feiler, that I found most fascinating about successful families. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at what they discovered.

Bruce Feiler is a nationally recognized author and TV personality that writes about contemporary life. He is one of “only a handful” of writers to have six consecutive New York Times nonfiction best-sellers in the last decade. He writes the “This Life” column in the Sunday New York Times and also hosts a show on PBS. It was his latest book, “Secrets of Successful Families,” that he was discussing with Glenn on his morning radio show one day.  Fieler’s findings were pretty amazing.

There are common threads that run in most successful families.  Some of these include:  Successful families learn to adapt all the time. They talk and communicate. They often discuss what it means to be part of a family. They go out and play together. Very simple things but with our ever-increasing crazy busy lives, easy to let slip.

Feiler lists three typical family narratives:

1) Ascending: “We started with nothing, we worked hard and climbed to the top. Now we have everything.

2) Descending: We started off with everything. We had it all. But then our house burned down, my wife died of cancer, we lost everything.

3) Oscillating: grandfather was president of a bank, then the bank collapsed. His son was a professional baseball player but was killed in a plane crash, etc. Life ebbs and flows. We have ups and downs. Those who understand that most families fit into this narrative, take comfort in knowing that they’re not alone; that past family members have dealt with similar problems and have just plain figured it out and weathered those storms.

Understanding these crucial solutions is vital but, the number one indicator of a successful family was that they knew their family’s history. Isn’t that interesting? Feiler referenced a test that was done by Emory University and administered to hundreds of children. They were asked questions like,

“Where did your dad grow up?

How did your parents meet?

Did you ever have a relative that overcame a serious illness or other tremendous odds?

Where was your grandmother born?

The children who were best able to deal with stress and difficulty in their lives were the ones with the highest scores on this test -those who knew their family history. These children believed that they could control their own lives; that they could figure life out and come up with viable solutions to their problems. These were children that when in “crisis” mode, they figured it out instead of continuing, and thinking that life would surely end with this seemingly insurmountable  problem. In fact, Emory University went on to say that compared to most other psychological tests given to these same children, knowing their family history was the # 1 predictor of a child’s well-being and ability to adapt to different situations they faced through life. Everyone has these oscillating life experiences. They are what build our character and prepare us with the “armor” we need as life gets even more challenging.

What kind of a parent are you?

As a parent it pained me deeply to see one of my little girls “walking into a fire” or heading straight for a cliff otherwise known as a potential problem. I realize now that I was probably the poster mother for “helicopter” parent before that term was popular in describing one who flies to the rescue to save their little darlings from every potentially harmful situation.

WHY Do we do that? Obviously, we do not want to see our children hurt but these valuable life experiences are what they personally need to learn, gain character, stamina, and be able to face a tough world on their own someday.

Feiler strongly warns against stepping in to bail out our children in these situations. Like when they fail to study for a test or choose not to do their homework or fulfill an assignment. Let them suffer the consequences for their actions. Otherwise, you could be teaching your kid, “Hey, nothing is your responsibility. Mommy will take care of everything and protect you from all the boo boos and owies in the world.”  How unrealistic is that?

I remember playing an unsuccessful game of “chicken” on icy Utah roads with a high school friend until we hit head on and wrecked both cars. I was way more afraid of my dad than any policeman. He was in no way abusive but demanded respect and a certain behavior from his daughter. Especially when behind the wheel of a car! I paid for that one for a while. Guess what? It never happened again. I was held responsible. I love my dad for teaching me that life lesson. And I’m grateful that I know his history of hard work, success and failure in business, and that he managed to pull himself up by the bootstraps to figure it out. I also felt loved and secure in who I was and what was expected.

They won’t know unless you tell them

This Christmas season I would challenge all of us to give the gift of family history to our children and families. I do a “12 Days of Christmas” with my children and grand children. Last year I typed up a little story about how their Papa and I met. They loved it! I was mildly surprised at the reaction. Some things you just assume your kids know. Pretty sure they weren’t there at the time! They won’t know unless you tell them. These are valuable and priceless stories.

So let’s return to good old American ingenuity and rugged individualism. Let your kids know of your own successes and failures and the faith and hope that got you through. What lessons did you learn through child and adulthood that got you to where you are now? You’ll be giving a priceless gift to them as well as yourself. Hey! Get out your platforms and bell bottoms and boogie down to “We are Family!” The kids will dig it.

Family Favorite Read Aloud

In Child Development, Education, Families, Media, motherhood, Parenting, Schools, stay-at-home mom, The Family, Uncategorized, Values on September 9, 2014 at 8:12 am

mother reads to childrenNathalie Bowman

Well, things got away from me this week as I began homeschooling and going back to school myself, so somehow I didn’t give myself enough time to create a thoughtful and meaningful “Part 1” to follow up last week’s post. Please forgive me – that will be coming next week. For today I want to share with you one of my family’s favorite books.

We love to read together. When our oldest four children were young, and our family was growing, I would sit and read to my children for hours. Never underestimate the power your children have to love listening & learning while you read to them! While I read, my children do fun activities that don’t make much noise in order to keep their hands occupied. Little ones need movement, and I have never required my children to sit still while I read to them. They color mandalas, build with legos or other blocks, do their phonics workbooks, math facts, play with cars, etc. Sometimes, in good weather, we go out on the grass in the front yard, sit on a blanket, and eat popcorn while we read together. Children are capable of absorbing the story while playing and doing other things. Give it a try!  Reading is a wonderful way to create family memories, traditions, and a love of learning together.

One of our all time family favorite books is “Little Britches” by Ralph Moody. It’s an autobiography of his childhood and many challenges, adventures, and family bonding. Ralph’s father is a very wise man who teaches Ralph some valuable lessons such as “my character house”. Ralph’s mother is a woman who gives much to her children and takes pride in her children and loves them deeply. Ralph is 8 years old when the book begins, and there are 7 more books that follow him into adulthood as he becomes influential as an entrepreneur and has many powerful life lessons and crazy adventures to share! We have learned so much from Ralph and his family, and every time we read these books we enjoy them more.

Happy Reading!

 

 

Do Try This at Home: Good Critical Thinking

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Good Critical Thinking:  Do Try This at Home

Critical thinking“A good critical thinker always asks where the author is coming from, and why.”

That was good advice from one of my recent “Family Studies” professors, as he urged us to carefully examine the research studies we were analyzing. Did the researchers use a random sample?  Who were the participants, and how were they selected? How do the results compare with other studies?

And what about those shady “lurking variables”–hidden factors that can impact the outcome without the researcher’s awareness? One classic example used in the classroom is that of increased ice cream sales causing an increase in homicide rates. Before we all scream to ban ice cream, consider the “lurking variable” that both ice cream sales and murder rates have in common. . . such as warmer weather.

So when we see headlines about a recent Australian study claiming, “Children of same-sex couples are happier and healthier than peers,” a good critical thinker would ask some of these questions:

Did the researchers use a random sample?

RandomGood research depends on good methodology. Since no one can study an entire population, researchers use sample groups to represent the whole.  But only a random sample is representative of the whole population. Only a random sample can allow the conclusions to be generalized to the population. “Only a random sample will guarantee an unbiased result.”

The Australia same-sex parenting study did not use a random (probability) sample. Participants were gathered through a convenience (non-probability) sample.  Although there are some things we can learn from non-probability samples, “we cannot make valid inferences about the larger group from which they are drawn.”  In other words, we cannot claim that “children of same-sex couples are happier and healthier than peers.”

The researchers admit that the sampling method limited the study.  “The self-selection of our convenience sample has the potential to introduce bias that could distort results.”

Who were the participants, and how were they selected?

Volunteer 1Participants in the Australia study were same-sex parents who saw “advertisements and media releases in gay and lesbian press, flyers at gay and lesbian social and support groups,” and signed up to be a part of the study. They were volunteers who understood the nature and significance of the study ahead of time.

“As a result,” explains renowned social scientist Dr. Mark Regnerus, “It seems unwise to trust their self-reports, given the high risk of “social desirability bias,” or the tendency to portray oneself as better than they actually are.”

In addition, it was parents who reported their children’s well-being, rather than children reporting for themselves. It is human nature for most parents to say their children are doing well, even when there are difficulties, and especially when parents are feeling in the spotlight.

Also, many of the children were quite young.  The median age of the children with female parents and those with male parents was was age 4 and 2, respectively.  This seems to beg the question of whether more time is needed for the bigger picture to unfold regarding child well-being.

How do the results compare with other studies?

There is much we do not know about same-sex parenting because same-sex marriage is still so new.  It has only been legally recognized in the entire world since 2001, and in the United States since 2004. There has simply not been enough time to do serious longitudinal research on the outcomes of children raised in same-sex homes.

Intact FamilyBut what we do know is that we have over 40 years of research showing that children need the unique and combined gifts of a mother and a father:
•    Early research from the 1950‘s showed how essential mother love and attachment was for children.
•    Later research has demonstrated the many ways father-presence matters.
•    “Studies suggest that men and women bring different strengths to the parenting enterprise, and that the biological relatedness of parents to their children has important consequences for the young, especially girls.”
•    “Few propositions have more empirical support in the social sciences than this one: compared to all other family forms, families headed by married, biological parents are best for children.”

The Australia study’s conclusions contradict decades of research by suggesting that mothers are optional and fathers are optional.

As one commentator noted, “Nature’s purpose and design in ideally giving every child her own mother and father as parents has not been challenged by any serious studies to date, including this one. And it is unlikely any serious study ever will. No politically manufactured form of family has ever rivaled or replaced the natural form of family of mother, father and child.”

Conclusion:  

The Australia study does not appear to stand up to critical thinking questions.

But what about my professor’s other advice? Where is the author of this study coming from?  It turns out that the lead author, Dr. Simon R. Crouch, is an openly homosexual man with twin boys about 4 years of age.

So, please don’t just believe every headline or title you read. Be a good critical thinker and examine it for yourself.

With so much at stake for children now and in the future, we must make sure we get this right.     

Laura BunkerTake care,

Laura Bunker

United Families International, President

Simple Steps

In Child Development, Elder Care, Families, father, Marriage, Parenting, The Family, Uncategorized, Values on July 11, 2014 at 9:52 am

simple_steps_icecream

by Joseph Moore

One night after arriving home from a school dance, I found my parents watching old movies together on the couch. As soon as they heard me come through the door, they moved to the kitchen to listen to my stories and adventures of the night. They listened intently, laughing at my jokes, asking questions, and even sharing advice. They were genuinely interested in my life. They smiled warmly at me. I felt their sincerity and deep care. After talking for almost an hour, I said goodnight, gave them a hug and kiss, and moved on to my room to change clothes.

As I came back upstairs to the kitchen for some late night ice cream, I looked over at the other set of stairs to see my sweet parents. My mother had undergone thyroid surgery a few weeks earlier, and my father had recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Needless to say, they were both in quite a bit of pain as they quietly limped over to the stairs to go up to bed. My parents, who had just spent almost an hour listening to their teenage son’s weekend account, began the slow uphill climb to take care of their own need for a good night’s sleep. Linked arm in arm, they made their way slowly, step by step, occasionally giggling at their situation, giving each other a loving smile. Patiently they continued on. They lifted one another up every step, one foot in front of the other. Even in their pain and weakness, they found strength in each other’s arms, eventually meeting their destination at the top of the stairs.

What an impression that scene left upon my young heart and mind. This daily example of unselfishness conveyed to me a greater understanding of how simple acts and loving words between fathers and mothers can shape the emotional health and development of their children. I love my parents for what they have taught me and even more for what they have shown me through simple daily acts.

 

Today’s post and image are contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. Joseph Moore’s story was first published in Seeing the Everyday no. 24. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com.

 

Living Love for Children

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2014 at 10:38 am

mother comforting mad childNathalie Bowman

(This is the third in a three part series: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2)

For years there was a huge chasm in my marriage called parenting. Any time my husband and I would discuss discipline, behavior issues, or how to change our family culture and help our children, there would be arguments, resentment, and no solutions. Both my husband and I were committed to our relationship and to our family, but we honestly had no solutions for our differences and it was creating some serious trouble. This situation led us to a lot of study, prayer, and searching. The discovery of “Living Love” was the first step in coming together in our parenting styles, which has opened the door for healing and a complete change for the better in our family dynamic.

LIving Love focuses on the child, not the behavior. Most parenting programs focus on correcting behavior of the child. After all, if the child is “good”, the parents look good, and parenting is easier. Alfie Kohn, author of “Unconditional Parenting” says “I realized that this is what many people in society seem to want most from children: not that they are caring or creative or curious, but simply that they are well behaved. A “good child”-from infancy to adolescence-is one who isn’t much trouble to us grown-ups.” If the parent focuses on behavior, punishing and/or praising, the child may not be much trouble (or they may push back, rebelling), but their self worth becomes based on their parent’s reaction to them, and they don’t discover the beauty and security of who they really are.

Living Love teaches the child that first, they are loved. Yes, there will need to be daily correction and guidance from the parent to the child, but punishment is not part of the daily routine. Punishment makes the child feel bad in an effort to make them do better. How often do we, as adults, feel motivated to DO better when we feel bad? There are better ways to address misbehavior. beginning with creating a foundation of love in the relationship. Here are some ideas for creating that foundation of Living Love:

Show love, don’t withdraw love.
This idea may be contrary to all parenting advice you’ve heard, but when a child is in distress, even throwing a fit, it’s not the time to send them away to “time out”. Instead, acknowledge that they are angry or upset. Offer a hug. They may act like they don’t want a hug, but if you stay calm and sincere, it may be just what they need in their moment of distress. If they don’t respond positively to acknowledgement and a hug, walk with them to their bedroom, expressing that you understand they may need some alone time to calm down. Some may say that by giving a hug or acknowledging their feelings you are rewarding bad behavior and if you do that, they will behave badly more often in order to get your love. I submit that the opposite is true. Try it and see. You may discover that in giving love and understanding rather than punishment when your child is in distress, the negative behaviors will decrease because your child feels more secure and loved.

Get into your child’s world and play!
What does your child enjoy? What do they love to learn about and do? Set some time aside to just be with your child and let him lead the way as you play together. I was amazed at what I learned about my little daughter doing just that. For younger children, all you need to do is be present and interested. They will play and tell you what to do, or they will just be content to have you watching their play and acknowledging their creative ability. If your kids are older, let them choose an activity that you do together. Let them teach you about something they are interested in. It may take getting out of your comfort zone and into their world, but what a beautiful experience it is to understand our children from the perspective of their personal talents, interests, and ideas!

Read to your family.
Reading is one of the very best ways to bond with your children. One is never too old to be read to. When I was a teen my dad read out loud to us every Sunday evening. I cherish those times together and love to remember my dad’s voice as he read great stories. I knew he loved me because of the time we spent together reading. When I became a mother, I began reading to my children as well, and now we have established a culture of reading together. Our children enjoy the time spent listening to mom or dad read aloud, and we have many good discussions about what we are reading. Reading opens many doors and it’s a great place to start showing interest in your child

There are as many ways to be in “Living Love” with your children as there are children and families in the world. Remember to show your children love-even when they are in distress, and you will create the foundation of Living Love in your family.

In ____ We Trust

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm

In God we trust 1Janaya Johnson

The well-known phrase IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on a two-cent coin in 1864. Three years before that time, Reverend M. R. Watkinson wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, requesting that God be acknowledged, in some way, on American currency. In response Secretary Chase sent Reverend Watkinson the following letter, “Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.”

This exchange of letters began the road that led to the creation of the phrase that would, in 1956, become the national motto of the United States. IN GOD WE TRUST. It’s on our coins and our paper money, it’s our national motto, and yet, it seems as though trusting in God, especially through religious devotion, is no longer an acceptable or honorable thing to adhere to in our country.

America’s founding fathers upheld the freedom of religion and extolled the benefits that it brings to society. George Washington himself proclaimed, “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”[1] Despite our nation’s openly religious and God-fearing past it seems as though expressions of faith in most, if not all, public forums have become a societal taboo.

What religion does for society

As American’s we must decide whether or not our intolerance towards expression of religion in the public square is really helping, or rather hurting our society as a whole. In Patrick F. Fagan’s report, Why Religion Matters Even More: The Impact of Religious Practice on Social Stability, we find many chilling facts concerning religiosity and society, which indicate that religious beliefs and practices are associated with:

  • Higher levels of marital happiness and stability;
  • Lower divorce rates;
  • Stronger parent-child relationships;
  • Lower cohabitation rates;
  • Greater educational aspirations and attainment, especially among the poor;
  • Lower rates of out-of-wedlock births;
  • Higher levels of good work habits;
  • Lower levels of teen sexual activity;
  • Greater longevity and physical health;
  • Less abuse of alcohol and drugs;
  • Higher recovery rates from addictions to alcohol or drugs;
  • Lower rates of suicide, depression, and suicide ideation;
  • Higher levels of well-being and happiness;
  • Lower levels of many infectious diseases;
  • Higher levels of self-control, self-esteem, and coping skills;
  • Less juvenile crime;
  • Higher rates of charitable donations and volunteering;
  • Less violent crime;
  • Higher levels of community cohesion and social support for those in need; and
  • Less domestic violence

Upon reading these findings it is hard not to see the clear advantage religion has in the lives of all individuals who practice it compared to those who don’t. All of Fagan’s findings show either higher levels of positive or highly sought after outcomes and attributes, or, lower levels of undesirable behaviors and characteristics. It is, then, unfathomable to me why, as a nation, we have worked so hard to tear down one of the few things our forefathers worked so hard to build, and then, buoy up.

church and stateSeparation of church and state?

Our nation in general has moved further towards upholding a radical separation of religion and politics based widely off of the misunderstanding of Thomas Jefferson’s phrase, “separation of church and state.” This small, but largely misunderstood statement has been taken to mean that religion should be entirely personal and private, it should be kept in one’s home, or even in one’s heart, but that it should not be allowed in public life and institutions such as public schools. The people, who believe this, work to get their government, our government, to make laws and regulations that will prohibit outward expressions of one’s religion and faith, especially in any public forum. However, they forget that an even more important statement was made, three years previous to Jefferson’s statement, concerning this idea that church and state should be separate. It is found as the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

We continue to allow ourselves to be ever increasingly governed by popular culture and whim and governed less and less by the dream our founding fathers had for America. It feels as though many believe that the practice and use of any religion in public arenas undermines another’s ability to practice their own religion, or lack thereof, because they see themselves as being forced into religious observance through the actions of the one practicing in their religion openly.

This notion is absolutely arbitrary. For instance, let’s look at it in terms of food. If there were two people sitting at parallel tables for lunch in a restaurant and one is a vegetarian and one is not, and the non-vegetarian orders a hamburger for their meal that does not automatically mean that the vegetarian must also eat a hamburger for lunch. The vegetarian is still able to order whatever it is they would like to eat. In addition, no one would ever tell the non-vegetarian that they were not allowed to order a hamburger because a vegetarian was sitting at the table next to theirs and it might upset them to see the non-vegetarian eat a hamburger. If that happened people would be outraged. It would probably end up on the news and there would be a huge uproar across this nation about why it is inappropriate for anyone to dictate what food we can and can’t eat, and when we can and can’t eat it, and in front of whom we can or can’t do so. However, people do that with religion all the time, telling people how and where and in front of whom they can or cannot worship, simply because it might offend someone of another faith.

It is hard to understand how our nation has gotten to a point where something of such great importance for our country, with such beneficial impacts on our society, as religious practice, is swept under the rug while silly things, that have little to no societal ramifications, such as food, are placed on a pedestal of importance. Our founding fathers, and many of the people who truly helped to rear this nation and bring it out of obscurity to be so powerful and so acclaimed, believed that there was an innate importance in protecting the freedom of religion in all sectors of public and private forums. They knew the importance of trusting in their God and seeking His guidance in setting up the different policies pertaining to this country.

We have gotten to where we are as a nation largely because of our willingness to protect our freedom of religion. It is my belief that if we do not work to continue this protection of freedom of religion we will see our nation crumble and fall into obscurity. We must return to our roots, we must return to the fight of our founding fathers, we must regain our knowledge of the importance of religion. IN GOD WE must TRUST.

Janaya JohnsonJanaya L. Johnson is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University – Idaho where she studied Marriage and Family. She grew up being taught that the Freedom of Religion we have in America is worth fighting to preserve.

Reference

[1] James D. Richardson, Compilation of Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. 1, p. 213.

Catching the Fish

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2014 at 6:07 am

FishingRebecca Mallory

Just when I’m convinced that the whole country thinks it’s ok to take and get as much free stuff as humanly possible, I have a day like today that has restored my faith in people. I was reminded of the old Chinese proverb about throwing a man a fish, which is easy and feeds him once, as opposed to teaching him how to fish which provides for a lifetime. I am involved in a program called “Visiting Teaching” where each woman is assigned two female “companions” to visit her once a month just to see how she’s doing and share a great message. Is there illness in the family? Could they use a meal brought in? Help with the laundry or tending the children? A simple listening ear? We simply watch out for each other.

Today was the day that I went with a companion to visit two other women. I am fairly new to this area and don’t know these women at all. But having attended these meetings for the past two months, I’m embarrassed to say that I judged each of them. Not bad, not good, just judged. All three are beautiful with lovely families. Probably got lots of money; a little conceited, no doubt. And they’re super young. Wow! Where did they get their money? Boy, was I wrong. (Names of these women have been changed.)

We went to the first woman’s house and it was a very pleasant visit. I discovered that she actually cheered with my third daughter in high school. Ok – so I’m the grandma of the area! She’s a darling girl with two kids and a loving husband who works nights as a policeman. The second visit was very eye-opening. Susan, my companion, and Nancy, the second woman we visited, had apparently been friends for a while; not besties, but friends. They kind of locked eyes as we talked; not ignoring me, but I sensed a definite bond between them. I’m not even sure how we got on the subject but they both shared the fact that their husbands had been out of work for a long time. Susan’s for 4 years and Nancy’s for 1 year. (side note: My son-in-law was out of work from July 2013 to February 2014 and it was horrible stress for the entire family! Can’t imagine four years!) I was intrigued as they shared a little of their experiences. “We simply sold everything we had”. We stopped going on weekly dates until we realized how crucial those times were to our marriage. We just made them more simple.

Susan shared that in the middle of being completely destitute, they were asked to teach an adult ed class on “Family finance and how to balance a budget”. She almost laughed. “If class members knew our situation, would they run?” So each week, as they were preaching to others the value of saving, surviving the recession, and getting out of debt, they were in day to day survival for their very existence. She shared the little miracles that took place during this time of trial. “People were amazingly helpful. One day we went out to the car and on the seat was $1,000 cash. One time someone left a $500 Visa on our porch. We’d go out to an inexpensive dinner and upon paying our bill, discover that a total stranger had already paid for us.”

Susan shared that over this time, her clothes were not only becoming dated but wearing out. Her husband had a habit of serious meditation in the shower. I thought that was strange until I realized that I do the same thing! You generally have some privacy and can pour your heart out while the tears mix right in with the water! Anyway, he prayed that somehow they could find the money to get his sweet wife some new clothes. Later that day Susan got a call. “This is Down East Basics. You filled out a card for our sweepstakes entry and you won a $500 wardrobe!” Susan couldn’t remember ever filling anything out at this store but somehow squeaked out a “Thank you” and burst into tears after hanging up the phone.

Seemingly small incidences like this happened during this entire time. Susan continued, “My husband went back to school to get his MBA which racked up over $70K in school debt and we lived off the small amount of the loan that we didn’t use for tuition.”  “How did you ever do that?” I asked. “We just did what we could with the resources we had. We had exhausted everything within our own power. At one point I found myself at DES bearing my soul in complete humiliation.” Side note… Remember that? When welfare used to be embarrassing? Not anymore. Our government has made it totally acceptable to “take” from everyone else which paralyzes incentive for personal responsibility. Is there a place for government welfare programs? Absolutely! Susan’s is a prime example. But the abuse from the government itself and the selfishness of those who “game” the system is criminal. Government assistance should be temporary not a way of life.

Rugged individualism is a deadly topic for the government because being self-sufficient diminishes our need for them. They must have you high on the government freebies which justifies their existence while increasing their power. Shameful. Susan kept a blog about their trial just to keep herself sane. Some people were kind, sympathetic and uplifting while others were judgmental and called me a “spoiled bratty housewife” because I didn’t want to leave my children to go look for a job. I felt that I needed to stay home and be a stabilizing factor for our terrified little family unsure of what tomorrow would bring. It may not be the right choice for other women, but it was the right choice for us.” Why do we pass judgement when we don’t know the whole story?

Nancy proceeded to tell her story. “After we bought this house which was a foreclosure, (very nice house) my husband lost his job. We were devastated. His mother gave us all this furniture to fill up the spaces. We had nothing. (At this point, I’m feeling like a heel. I was thinking that they must be doing pretty darn well to have all this nice stuff). We had people drop groceries and money off on our porch. Others helped anonymously wherever they could. But mostly, we just cut back the frivolous things in our lives.”  She laughs, “One day a cable salesman came by to tell me about their latest and greatest deal. “Well, we don’t have a TV.” “What do you watch then?” “That.” She then pointed to a painting above the fireplace where the TV should have been. “The guy just turned around and left.” Nancy went on to tell about the creative ways that she and her husband searched endlessly for jobs practically worldwide. She smiled as she recalled baking cookies to hang on the Christmas tree and then carefully storing them because those would be the decorations for next year also. Even though Nancy’s father is a well-known and successful dentist in the area, they wanted to do it themselves and get back on their feet as much as possible without assistance. So refreshing. I recently heard someone say, “If it’s fair, it’s not a trial.” How profound is that? Fortunately, trials make us stronger and better if we allow them to work for our good, and we don’t play the victim. You’re stronger than you think.

I’m so happy to report that both these precious women’s husbands have good jobs now. And so does my son-in-law! What a relief to know that these families are being provided for. All of us know men and women, heads of households, who are out of work and frightened about how they will take care of their families. It’s a scary world where once held American values of hard work and pride, are now scoffed at and demeaned. The takers will soon outnumber the givers. So continue to be a giver! Let’s take care of each other and be part of a productive community. Hey America dive in! Plenty of fish out there!

The Process of Forgiveness

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm

power-of-forgiveness_tKristi Kane

Many years ago, my husband worked through the sale of his company. The process of the sale lasted for over two years. During that time, my husband was the chief legal counsel for the company, and had many work hours already. Instead of the usual 60 hours a week of work, he was working close to 80. Our children were very young, and I was diagnosed with a heart condition that required surgery.

Things were very stressful at home for me, and at work for my husband. My husband took comfort in the comments one of his owners would make to him. She assured him that after the sale of this company, that my husband would be “taken care of. That he would be set for life.” She hinted at a bonus of one million dollars for all of the time and effort and travel he was putting in. On the day the company officially sold, she walked into my husband’s office, thanked him, and gave him a candy bar as a thank you for all he had done.

My husband was stunned. A variety of emotions ranging from disbelief to rage encompassed him.  He could not believe that the reward for two years of service was a candy bar! My husband stewed over that experience for 18 months. His mind was poisoned with the anger he felt at this woman for going back on her word, and insulting him with the gift of a candy bar instead of the money she had promised him. Finally he realized that he could not keep living like he was. It was consuming him and he couldn’t think of anything but how badly he’d been burned. So one day he decided to let it go. And he did. He even saw his former owner at a restaurant some time after that and told her that he forgave her for what she had done. While she didn’t care what he thought, he didn’t care. He had finally let it go. He was free.

Many have experienced the process of forgiveness. I have received forgiveness, and have forgiven. That does not mean I am a perfect person. Far from it. Forgiveness is a lesson I keep on learning. I believe that for all of humanity, it is a lesson that keeps on teaching, and that we have to keep learning.

For example, last October, there was a rash of break-ins in my neighborhood. Cars that were left parked outside on the street and were left unlocked were the targets. One of my neighbors had left nearly $700 cash in their car. The culprit, one of my other neighbors sons, was the one who was finally arrested. He had barely turned 18 in December, and had already spent six months in jail. (He has prior arrests.) In February, he was released. None of the neighbors who had been stolen from or vandalized would press charges. They asked the court for mercy on this young man. That in itself did not really amaze me. (I have incredible neighbors.) I was so pleased to see my neighbors give this young man a second chance. It was a tremendous and powerful example of forgiveness over revenge. I believe that mercy was shown to him on large part because his parents are fine people, and as a neighborhood, we know each other well. I think that had a lot to do with him being forgiven. These poor parents who were doing their best to raise this young man, were going through hell. And I saw the mother break down and weep with gratitude when she saw many of the neighbors come over and hug her son after he had been released from jail.

I don’t know how the story will end for him. Hopefully he will permanently turn his back on crime after being shown such tremendous mercy and compassion. But for my neighbors, they were able to let it go and move on. Forgiveness is always in process. We may try to stop it. We may decide to encourage it. The choice is up to us.

A Young Mother’s response to Her Child’s Brain Tumor

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm

UFI_Image_2014_01_28Nearly two years ago, Micah and Katy Lillrose’s 18-month-old son stopped walking, and, after an MRI, was whisked off to emergency surgery to remove a tumor that was compressing his spinal cord. Within a week, little Emmett was then diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive brain tumor.

 This life-altering event for the Lillrose family led them to return to Katy’s hometown in Boston, where a local medical institute could provide Emmett his best chance at life. Katy describes how being in the home where she grew up has strengthened her in trying circumstances.

 Katy says, “There are many hard things right now and many things I don’t want to do. But I try not to complain. I try not to worry. I roll up my sleeves as we spend night after night in the hospital and long days in the clinic, deal with good news and bad news, and make many life-altering choices based on little to no data. We consult with the doctors, make the best decision we can, and move forward. Instead of worrying about what might happen six months from now, we have learned to enjoy the small things day to day, like Emmett learning new words or learning to walk again or taking a bite of food. We find great joy in these small victories and take lots of pictures of him. My mom’s strength has served as an example to me to work hard and do what’s in my control, then enjoy life with a positive attitude and not focus on the elements over which I have no control.”

Today’s post and image are contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. Read more about Katy’s experience in her article, “Steadiness,” in Seeing the Everyday No. 20, pp. 80-83. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com

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