Religious Freedom Matters: What’s at Risk

We believe in creating a space for everyone to live their conscience without infringing on the rights and safety of others. Elder Ronald A. Rasband

I have decided to share an article today that I recently re-read from an LDS magazine called the Ensign. I share it because I am concerned with the lack of understanding that so many individuals seem to have in regards to the importance of freedom – particularly religious freedom.

During my near-death experience, I witnessed that I was a part of what this article refers to as the War in Heaven. The war in heaven took place prior to this world being created and was a momentous occasion/event in heaven that we all were affected by. Some may think of this as a physical battle. Instead, what I witnessed was an incredibly important and pivotal debate that most of God’s children were a part of.  It was this debate, and our choices in regard to it, that determined our opportunity to be a part of this world.

In the United States, we are blessed to mostly take our freedoms for granted. However, our freedoms should be cherished and need protecting. We may not always agree with the beliefs of another individual or group but as long as forced coercion and physical harm are not utilized, we need to respect their ability to believe and worship as they desire.

It is because of what I witnessed in heaven and my concerns about what I now witness going on in this country and our world that I share today’s article. It includes references to scriptures and materials/individuals who are LDS (Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). However, I believe it is relevant regardless of your religious persuasion.

I hope you will read it and support efforts to protect religious freedom and freedom in general. Great sacrifices have been made by our military and their families throughout our nation’s history. I am grateful to be a beneficiary of their efforts and sacrifices. I believe that our freedom deserves their continued efforts but it also needs our efforts. If every family in America taught and practiced respect for a diversity of beliefs, not only would the freedoms of this nation continue to be uplifted and preserved, the ability for the world, as a whole, to live according to their conscience and beliefs would likewise spread and blossom.

I believe that every member of mankind inherently knows that they are meant to be free and to live according to the dictates of their conscience. If you are aligned with me in those beliefs, I hope that you will stand for and defend our right to practice freedom of religion and to live according to our beliefs and conscience. Silence will not preserve our freedoms, it will only encourage those who are intent on silencing the voices of religion and conscience.

I hope you enjoy today’s article:

Freedom to choose. That’s what the War in Heaven was all about. We couldn’t afford to lose agency then, and we can’t afford to lose it now. And that includes the freedom to “worship how, where, or what [we] may” (Articles of Faith 1:11). That’s why the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination [as for a Mormon]; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 345).

In addition to maintaining religious freedom as an eternal principle (even God will not remove the agency of any of His children), there are some potentially severe consequences if we lose the freedom to worship, speak, and live according to our beliefs.

  • You could lose your job or leadership positions for expressing religious beliefs—even outside of work. For instance, CEOs, newscasters, judges, teachers, doctors, professors, firefighters, Olympians, graduate students, and many others have been fired, pressured to resign, or intimidated for donating money or simply saying that they support the traditional view of marriage.

  • You might be required to hide your religion or perform tasks at work that go against your beliefs. Does it seem fair, for example, that a doctor who opposes abortion on a religious or moral basis be required to perform one even though numerous other doctors nearby are willing? Should you be forced to wear an immodest uniform when it’s not necessary for your job function?

  • You may be required to work on the Sabbath or religious holidays even when others are willing to take your shift and your employer accommodates other nonreligious interests.

  • Your children in public schools may be required to learn about sexual and gender theories that contradict basic Church teachings. Many public schools already teach sex education in a way that’s fundamentally contrary to Church teachings, and some have required reading lists with explicit content.

  • You may not be able to adopt children or become a foster parent because of your religious beliefs or views on the family.

  • As a business owner or professional, you might lose your license or be fined if you refuse to perform services that are contrary to your religious beliefs. You might even lose professional credentials if you don’t participate in certain activities, even if other co-workers are willing to perform them in your place.

  • You might not be able to create faith-based clubs on college campuses without being required to let people become club members—or even officers—who oppose the club’s religious beliefs.

  • Churches may be forced to employ people who disagree with or refuse to live core values of their faith, threatening their ability to carry out their religious missions.

  • Churches could lose their tax-exempt status by maintaining doctrines, policies, and standards that conflict with secular beliefs regarding marriage, family, gender, and sexuality, resulting in a huge increase in costs to build houses of worship or to purchase and provide goods for humanitarian aid.

  • You might lose tax exemptions for charitable donations like tithes and offerings if the Church loses its status as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.

  • Churches may not be able to access government lands for camps on equal terms with other groups, limiting youth conferences and camps.

  • Housing units, such as dorms, at religious colleges could be forced to abandon moral standards that protect privacy, modesty, and morality, denying people the right to room with those who uphold the same standards.

  • Religious schools that maintain honor codes may lose their accreditation and be denied research funds and even federal student loans and grants, diminishing the value of their degrees, undermining the quality of their education, and making it financially impossible for many students to attend.

There’s a lot at stake, and this is just a sampling. As society continues to move away from eternal truths and God-given commandments, we can’t predict all the consequences that may result if religious freedom and the right to act on our beliefs are taken away.

So we need to raise our voices to defend religious freedom. If we don’t raise them for the protection of religion now, vital religious freedoms will be lost.

When we join the cause together, we can make a difference that will protect religious freedom not just for Latter-day Saints but also for followers of all religions.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/07/religious-freedom-matters-whats-at-risk?lang=eng

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Spending Time with Family and Loved Ones…You Will Never Regret It!

Happy family of father mother son and daughter smiling looking out wall isolated on white background with copy place

I am blessed with a husband that taught me the importance of making memories and spending time with family and loved one. I hope that you are able to spend time with your family and loved ones this holiday season. If not, I hope that you will make sure that they know of your love for them!

Today, I want to share a story I love!:

by Stephen on October 14, 2008

After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said, “I love you, but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.”

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie. “What’s wrong, are you well?” she asked.

My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news. “I thought that it would be pleasant to spend some time with you,” I responded. “Just the two of us.” She thought about it for a moment, and then said, “I would like that very much.”

That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary. She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel’s. “I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, “she said, as she got into the car. “They can’t wait to hear about our meeting.”

We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. “It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small,” she said. “Then it’s time that you relax and let me return the favor,” I responded. During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation – nothing extraordinary but catching up on recent events of each other’s life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, “I’ll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you.” I agreed.

“How was your dinner date?” asked my wife when I got home. “Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,” I answered.

A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have a chance to do anything for her. Some time later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: “I paid this bill in advance. I wasn’t sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son.”

At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: “I LOVE YOU” and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till “some other time.”

Story shared from the following website: http://academictips.org/blogs/give-time-to-our-family/

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What is the Purpose of Family?

A family doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to be united. AnonymousAlthough I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I don’t often share material that is exclusively issued by my religion. However, my heart is telling me today that this information needs to be shared.

During my near-death experience, one of the things that has affected me profoundly was the spirit of love and devotion we had for each other in heaven. Also, family was (and is) of prime importance.

Recently, I have had many extended family members, who I have never met before, reach out to me. It is in the spirit of family that I share this today! 🙂

 

Families are where we connect ourselves in relationships to past, current, and future generations.

Our families are where we experience our biggest triumphs and our deepest vulnerabilities—and they are where we have the greatest potential to do good. We believe the family is divine in nature and that God designates it as the fundamental building block of society, both on earth and through eternity. As such, it becomes the foundation for civilization and a sanctuary for the individual. It is where we learn the social graces of loyalty, cooperation, and trust. It is where we learn to love ourselves and each other, to bear one another’s burdens, to find meaning in our life and to give purpose to others’ lives, and to feel the value of being part of something greater than ourselves.

There is a universal desire for oneness among people—we want to belong. It’s why we collaborate, support common causes, cheer for sports teams, feel nationalism; it’s why we build villages, towns, and cities. For the fortunate among us, that desire began with loving parents and siblings in a home that was equal parts refuge and laboratory for experimenting with our potential, our beliefs, and our identity. Those who had less than this ideal situation growing up still have the capacity to forge families of their own making. We can create places where children feel loved and supported, where they’re taught that this life reflects what we previously had in heaven, and that our families will be ours through eternity if we accept Jesus Christ’s Atonement and follow His commandments.
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Why is the family important?
Imagine a newborn baby: small and beautiful, but unable to eat, stay warm, find protection, or even move from place to place on his or her own.

God sends each of us to earth helpless. It’s a given that we must depend on our family from the beginning. By design, we are given a family to provide for us, to protect us, and to prepare us for the challenges we’ll face in the years ahead.

We’re all familiar with a family’s ideal role. It is at home that we learn to walk and to talk. We share expressions of love. It is through family life we learn (purposefully or inadvertently) the habits, emotional responses, obligations, and values that will begin to shape our adult selves.

Being part of a family is a big responsibility. It’s humbling when we realize that our family on earth is patterned after our family in heaven.

We are children of divine Heavenly Parents who also provide for our needs with a physical world and all the bounties in it. Our Heavenly Father has the power to protect us, though just as mortal parents may do, He sometimes steps aside and allows us to learn from the consequences of our own decisions and actions. And finally, our Heavenly Father provides us with rules (or commandments) that can teach us the skills, the habits, and the values that will continue to shape our spiritual selves.
How can I help my family be strong?
Just as we need a family for physical support, we need them for spiritual support too.

Part of belonging to a family means we each step up to help each other. While our first role in a family is as a dependent child, the part we play is never small—and it continues to grow in scope and importance as we mature.

It is our duty, even a sacred responsibility, to care for those in our family. In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” God expressed that parents are “to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs.” We are also told that parents “will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).

Whether parent or child, sibling or spouse, every one of God’s children has a role in taking care of one another. And like the pattern set by our heavenly family, we must provide and care for each other with love. We can follow Heavenly Father’s example by encouraging our loved ones in their trials, listening to their worries, cheering for them in their efforts and successes, and comforting them in their sorrows.

By upholding God’s principles in our homes, we can influence those around us. Many people take pride in their family names and the heritage of honorable people they represent. Others are setting aside past mistakes and seeking to fulfill the divine roles of family anew. No matter our past, all of us can have essential roles in nurturing and strengthening our family ties on earth into relationships that can link generations in love throughout the eternities.

Today’s video and article has been shared from the following website: https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/the-family

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A Loving Perspective on Difficult Children

Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it Swedish Proverb

When 3-year-old Ian comes to visit his adoring Papa, we fall easily and naturally into joyous companionship. We play with wind-up toys. We “cook” meals with play dough. We pop popcorn and watch Robots yet again. Loving him is easy.

But what about the child who is harder—who is too loud, too negative, too demanding, or too hyper—the child who grates on our nerves? How in the world do parents get a loving perspective on difficult children?

That is where God invites us to grow. As I regularly say, irritation is an invitation. We can stay stuck in our this-child-is-a-mess view or we can choose to open our hearts to the child. We can see all the muck in a fallen child or we can see the glory just barely concealed by mortality. We can see past dirty hands and abundant mistakes to see one of God’s cherished children who comes trailing clouds of glory, who will learn and grow, will face discouragement and pain but will choose God and goodness. We can shout for him to stay out of the cookies or we can provide a glass of milk. We can see her grumpiness or recognize the difficulties of being a child.

A brilliant psychologist, Urie Bronfenbrenner, taught: “Every child should spend a substantial amount of time with somebody who’s crazy about him or her. There has to be at least one person who has an irrational involvement with that child, someone who thinks that kid is more important than other people’s kids, someone who’s in love with him or her and whom he or she loves in return.”

Research is clear: The single most important factor in the way a child develops is nurturance. Does each child feel loved, valued, cherished, and supported? Nothing matters more for healthy development.

But how do we change from irritation to appreciation? The answer is surprisingly simple: we can choose to see with compassion.

We all make sense of what we see. And, quite unnoticed by us, we all have default settings for our evaluation switches. We stand ready to be irritated by certain behaviors or certain personalities. But we can throw those switches from irritation toward appreciation. When a child splashes in mud, we can interpret it as stubborn disobedience or joyous exploration. When a teen asks a prickly question we can see impertinence or exploration. We can focus on the inexperience and fallenness or on the goodness and earnestness.

When little Vivi scribbled in my scriptures, the natural man wanted to slap her hand. But we love Vivi! So, when she finished her creation, I put a small notation at the bottom of the page acknowledging the artist and noting the date.

I must confess. I continue to pray for an outpouring of charity toward some children. Some children and some actions are especially difficult for each of us. They challenge us to think differently.

It will be much easier for us to offer the loving view to our children if we grew up feeling understood and cherished. Unfortunately most of us did not get nearly enough love. There is one great remedy: We can let the immense and perfect love of God heal our wounds and fill our empty places. When we are filled with God’s love, it is natural for us to be patient and loving with our children.

Just gritting our teeth with the child who irritates us will never lead to effective parenting. We need an outpouring of the heavenly gift: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure” (Moroni 7:48).

But the gift of charity is not simply imposed on us by heaven. We must cooperate. We must work with all the energy of our souls to see the goodness that God sees. We must give children the benefit of the doubt. We must be willing to understand their world and their needs. We must spend time building a relationship with them. We may need to lovingly counsel with them about how they can best manage their strengths.

In addition to loving wholeheartedly, a good parent must also set limits and impose consequences. But when these are done by a parent who is striving to parent with unstinting love, the result will be gloriously redemptive.

Invitation:

Notice irritation. As it arises with a specific child, ask God how you can build a positive relationship with that child. Based on His direction, make deliberate efforts to build a connection and strengthen the relationship.

Recommendations:

I wrote Bringing Up Our Children in Light and Truth to provide a gospel overview of parenting. You will find balanced answers to the challenges of parenting in that book.

Today’s article was written by Wallace Goddard and is shared from the following website: https://ldsmag.com/a-loving-perspective-on-difficult-children/

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How To Renew Love In A Long-Term Relationship

Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new Ursula K. LeGuin

A romantic relationship is a wonderful thing. Renewing love between couples is often neglected entirely and most will end up separating after discord has begun, before having even tried to reconnect.

The feeling of falling in love is something most will aspire to experience. The subconscious need to make that reviving connection and the emotional satisfaction it comes with has made for the most popular topic of western music at the turn of the century. With love being such a desired emotion we wish to kindle in order to form a committal relationship, why does it so often end poorly with discord and resentment? Whether these issues arise in the newly developed romance or later on, it can have an impact on the mental wellbeing of the individuals involved.

Falling In Love

Professor of psychology, Stephanie Ortigue at Syracuse University, reveals in her study, “The Neuroimaging of Love” that falling in love only takes one-fifth of a second, and once it happens, the emotions it can provoke are just as exhilarating as those that of a cocaine high. This itself should show the benefits of renewing love.

The other quintessential aspect that the experts discuss is the misconception of love coming from your heart, though it may feel so, love is actually developed and triggered in your brain and is the corresponding reason as to why one may suffer from depression at the stake of it failing.

Dr. Farzana Mohideen-Botes, a clinical psychiatrist at the Akeso Clinic in Milnerton suggests the following,

“Sometimes our yearning for idealized love, to be adored unconditionally, to be fully met by our beloved is unrealistic. Our expectations set us up to fail. Often, we demand from our partners that which we needed, and perhaps didn’t receive, as very young children.”

With this in mind the greatest task at hand is to perceive, as adults, what it is we can use to develop our relationships and form those bonds that rationalize our expectations. Renewing love requires patience and dedication from both parties.

Dr. Mohideen-Botes further goes on to explain the key components she believes are essential for a long-lasting and healthy relationship including:

Respect
Friendship
Compromise
Trust
Communication

More often than not, these modules do not come with ease and have to be taught, many aspects of what makes an adult relationship, often come from the inner child.

“We forget that we need to be playing, have fun, laugh and have a sense of humor. Just to be able to play together is really important for any relationship.”

The Key Elements For An Exciting Long-Term Relationship

Intimacy

One of the first connections one often craves with their newfound partner is intimacy, however, it also seems to be the main cause for detachment and separation later on. It is easy to get distracted when a stable foundation in the relationship has been formed, ones daily routine is often stressful and tiring and time can rarely be set aside for reconnecting on a physical level.

Physical touch with another human stimulates the release of your love hormone, oxytocin. This does not only apply to sexual partners, but for all relationships, including that of your family and friends. It is a key component in renewing love for one another.

Dr. Mohideen-Botes feels that this physical connection between loved ones is often lacking and advises them strongly to reform those bonds regularly in order to maintain stable and healthy relationships:

“I tell couples and families to hug often and hug long.”

With life often getting in the way of your personal re-connections, it is stressed that making the time to be intimate is the most effective way to be together. Prioritise it as you would a meeting or doctors appointment. The dates do not have to be expensive, going for a walk, having a picnic or star-gazing are all affordable options that give you the occasion to be romantic.

“It is easier to prevent a relationship breaking down than to fix it after.”

Attraction

A frequent topic of discussion with regards to the attraction between a couple is whether or not like-minded people attract one another or rather those who are completely unalike. It has been regularly debated and analyzed as a theory, and so from there stemmed the commonly used expression today, “Do opposites attract?”

Dr. Mohideen-Botes explains how the answer is within both extremes.

“In a healthy relationship there needs to be enough difference between the partners to keep it interesting, but enough similarities to keep it safe. It’s like the excitement of a brand new world but also the comfort of your well-loved blankie.”

The bases of a stable and safe relationship allow for a platform on which adventure can grow from. Renewing love from that stage can always come with a lot more ease.

What Makes For An Unhealthy Relationship

Once communication and intimacy start to fall away, people begin to feel very lonely with their partnership.

Where healthy relationships affirm us and give us strength, unhealthy relationships break down our emotional security and leave us vulnerable. It is through that means that one will often seek comfort elsewhere, whether it is through an affair or another form of reckless behavior, the consequence of not stabilizing our emotional bonds can cause severe depression and anxiety.

If the relationship does come to an end, being surrounded by your friends and family and having the support will allow you to mourn in a healthy environment, using that time to focus on yourself and work on your own personal happiness is the most effective way to move past the hurt.

“The first thing you should do to deal with and mentally recover from a broken relationship is to commit to a lasting, kind, loving relationship with yourself.”

Renewing Love

relationship | Longevity LiveRenewing love is often overlooked, however, many committal relationships are often worth repairing says Dr. Wallace Goddard, Professor of family life from the University of Arkansas says ,

“If commitment is primarily about attraction for the couple, a helper such as a family life educator might invite them to think about the best times in their relationship. If commitment is largely based on moral obligation, a helper might invite them to think about the promises they have made. If their commitment is based on constraint, a helper might invite them to think about the effects of relationship failure on their family and friends…
Of course, there are some destructive relationships that need to end. But most relationships probably need a tune­up rather than a trade­ in.”

Relationships are a two-way street and communication is indispensable if one wants to reconstruct the fragmented bond. The ability to speak openly with both honesty and trust can allow for each partner to admit to their faults, flaws, and guilt within a non-judgemental environment.

Dr. Mohideen-Bote stresses the importance of a healthy communication platform:

“One may commit the act of infidelity and carries more responsibility, but there were also certain things in that relationship that was out of balance and which need to be addressed. Couples need to be aware that if they want the relationship to continue, both parties need to work on the issue and let it go. An affair cannot be used as a whip every time there is a problem.”

The dedication and time needed in renewing love is a commitment within itself, it requires self-exploration and understanding before it is possible to do such for another. With great persistence, it’s something that anyone can achieve in their relationships and have the lifelong love they often dream of having.

“To love and to be loved in return is a gift that should be cherished. To live a witnessed life with another frail, brave human being demands mutual respect, trust, compromise, and compassion. The best way to learn to love another is to love yourself first.”

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