Monday, October 28, 2013

High Definition: To Have or Not to Have ADHD, and Does It Matter?

"I have ADHD HD. I've got it in High Definition" (Matt Walsh).

The following is a response to this blogpost written by Matt Walsh.

Here is his POST.

First off: I need to acknowledge that I think ADD and ADHD are real and that many people have benefited by being able to have modern day medication to help them function more normally and live happier, more meaningful, and productive lives. This goes for both children an adults. I also think that it was a catch-all 20 years ago, and has been over-diagnosed. I hope that you can read my response with a grain of salt, because I do not want to belittle your own situation. We all need to follow our hearts and our heads and do what we consider to be the best for our children. Then we need to evaluate and reevaluate over and over again as we put their best interests at the forefront of our lives.

Following is my response to Matt's post:

I like it. While I think that ADHD and ADD exist, I think they are over-diagnosed, and over-treated with drugs. I’ve read many good books on this subject, and exercise and diet are actually the best things that both children and adults should use to help them concentrate better. Many who have to sit at desks, walk or run on their lunch breaks.

I really liked the book The Edison Trait. Because if you think you have ADD or ADHD, but you are still capable of getting A’s and B’s, even if your teacher gets upset because of your exuberance, you don’t have it, and you don’t need medication. When something becomes debilitating, then parents should be concerned about finding out how to best help their child.

Also, parents need to be teaching their children responsibility and accountability, and not letting them think that they don’t need to learn these things, because somehow they are different or exempt; and they also need to let their children know that not having medication is no excuse for bad behavior. Parents should also help teachers know that they support their children being children.

We have had exceptionally bright children. And public school is not always the best place for bright children. "No one left behind" also means, "no one moves ahead." (Even though three of our children skipped grades, this really isn't the same as moving ahead according to one's real talents and interests. Plus, it really isn't dealing with their needs, just passing the challenge on to somebody else.) Yes, smart children will get bored. Finally, we decided to homeschool our last one. Best move ever. She could enjoy learning in a comfortable environment that suited her, and I was blessed to be involved in her education and see her flourish.

We actually did medicate our two sons for a time. Again, in most cases there is no way of knowing if it helps or not, unless you have a child that will chart how they feel from day to day to tell you. It might subdue them to make a teacher’s life more comfortable. But a child should only be medicated if its for his best good, not for his teacher, not for his parents. Exercise, diet, dealing with allergies, and allowing each child to be his unique self is by far more important. In some cases, it is apparent right away that medication is helpful. But it needs to be monitored, the child needs to have medication holidays, and the situation needs to be reassessed again and again.

If medication is even considered, the child should have part in the choice. Our oldest son was very angry about being medicated. And you know what, he had a right to be. It's his body. And he is smart, and creative, and delightful. And he didn't appreciate being told something was wrong with him. So if you choose to medicate, be educated about it, and also help your children be educated. Don't just do so because a teacher thinks your child needs it and passes that information on to your child's doctor.

Thanks, Matt Walsh, for your creative style in High Definition. I am one of those people who could be classified as ADD (probably not ADHD), but I’d rather keep my creativity than always have perfect order. Some days I am on top of it all, and other days, I have to let things go and get in touch with me again. I think the thing that makes us as people least like God is that we are not consistent yet. And maybe we don’t need to be quite yet. Maybe developing our own talents and our own style is what will bring us to our own consistency in due time. And shouldn't parents be supportive of each child becoming his or her best self?

Strong Will is Better than a Pill

Strong Will is Better than a Pill

I am overweight. There are times in my life that I have been the correct weight, but I have had to be diligent about getting a couple hours exercise every day and eating between 1200-1500 calories every day. To lose weight I've had to eat between 750-1200, plus really boost the exercise. I've felt great when I've done this, but I haven't always been diligent about taking the time to plan healthy eating or extra exercise.

Each of us metabolizes food differently. Fad diets and pills, supported by doctors and clinicians, will keep appearing. Ultimately, anything can work if you lower your calorie intake and increase your activity. It's important to get to know your own body and what foods might hold you back. Many today find that they feel better if they cut out fatty and sugary food and if they limit or cut out gluten altogether.

I think that this life was given to us partly so that we learn how to manage ourselves, including bridling our passions. Americans, generally, want a quick fix today. Consider how many months, or years, it took for you to get to the weight you are. If you desire to lose 20-80 lbs, you can't expect to do that in a week or a couple of months. Another part of this life is to learn to be patient with ourselves, forgive ourselves, and not to give up on ourselves. So if you want to lose weight, you should develop a realistic plan, chart a course, and stick to it. As you do so, you will find that your extra weight will not continue sticking to you.

I have just recently committed myself to try again. Some of the challenges that we have in life are ongoing. That does not mean that we are losers; it just means that we haven’t mastered them yet, and that there are many things that we can learn along the way, if we have the right attitude and if we are humble and seek appropriate help.

What do I consider appropriate help? First off, you need to be able to count on yourself; so you need to be honest with yourself. I have found that paperwork is important. President Spencer W. Kimball said that a goal is not a goal, but only a wish, until it is written down. Well, if you want to lose weight, you might have a specific target in mind, but break that up into smaller increments, so that you can readily reach smaller goals that will lead you to your ultimate goal. (Losing 1-3 pounds per week can be a healthy and doable choice provided that you are increasing your vegetable and fruit intake and getting plenty of exercise. If you lose 5 pounds the first week, do not expect to continue that way, but keep it realistic. If you can a little the first week, you might actually be improving muscle tone, so do not get discouraged.)I have found that to be honest with myself, I must write everything down. This time around, I am writing on a paper tablet that I can carry with me, and then I am transferring the information to three different Excel documents. One is titled, Food Intake, and I need to let you know that I plan on having at least 5 fruit or vegetable servings each day and a minimum of 8 glasses of water (which usually becomes 10); other than that, I am NOT cutting out sweets or junk food altogether this time around, but they are being truly limited so that I can eat the 5 necessary servings, plus other healthy meals and still keep my calorie count below 1400. (I realize that this is higher than what I said earlier in this post; but I am much more overweight than at earlier times in my life. After I have met a target weight, I may have to adjust calorie count to continue to lose, but I am hopeful that I’ll be more energetic and can boost my activity instead.)

The second chart is entitled Measurements. So I took key measurements when I began my “diet” or “change in life-style.” I measured my neck, bust, under bust, waist, belly, hips; then I measured upper arms, lower arms, wrists, thighs, calves, ankles. I am planning on measuring 4 times each month. I really haven’t done this before, but I feel like it will help me in seeing results that the scale might not always show. I’ll measure again on Friday, so we’ll see what that information holds.

The third chart is entitled Daily Activity. Right now I am using a glider (while I listen to the Book of Mormon), a Ab Lounge, and a stationary bike (while I watch Dr. Who). I also count minutes walking, either outside or while shopping. (Disneyland days will be great walking days.) As I lose some, so that my legs will not have to be supporting so much weight, I will start my outdoor walking on a regular basis again. A year or so ago, I was walking 2-8 miles a day, about 4 days a week. (Not everyone that is overweight is incapable, like so many believe. But I know that I can be capable of so much more.)

What else is appropriate help? Look to your Heavenly Father. Pray to Him morning, all through the day, and again at night. He knows your desires, and he can help you obtain your goals better, more quickly, and more long-lastingly than anybody or anything else. I think as you prioritize your day and your life to meet your food and exercise needs, you will find that the Lord will help you prioritize other things in your life that will help you feel more in control and more successful. After all, He glories in your happiness and success.

If it is possible also find a mentor or an inspiration. If you have a spouse, child, parent, of friend that you can trust with your goals, tell them. Those people can kindly help keep you on track. They can encourage you and even exercise with you. They can be your personal cheer team. Maybe you can find a walking or a running partner or group. Make sure that whether or not you have someone to report back to that you always report back to God.

Now, I need to give my son credit for being so inspiring. In his young adult life, he had gotten really overweight. Before his mission, he was overweight, but he was still pretty fit. On his mission, he lost a lot of weight, and returned home looking fantastic. He was involved in BYU’s swing dance team and he played a lot of soccer just for fun. Then he hurt his knee, and he gained a lot of weight again. (Family genes.)

Well, this determined young man decided that this was not going to define him. Upon graduating BYU, he came home, took the CBEST and began student teaching. Then he enrolled at LaVerne and earned his Master’s in Education degree and his teaching credential in English. While being a student and either substitute teaching or student teaching, he developed a plan. And he saw it through.

Since he had hurt his knee, he began with weightless exercise. He used our exercise bike, cranked up to the fullest tension, and would pump hard for two hours while watching a movie. To kick off his diet he was only eating between 600-800 calories a day (which I would not suggest to any 6 foot man). He had determination, and he got results. Then he started playing basketball at the ward on Tuesday nights, first with the older group, then with the younger. So he was playing 5 hours straight from 5 to 10 p.m. Yeah, he was losing the weight quickly. Then with his busy schedule, he also started doing Dance, Dance Revolution on the Wii to get a quick workout when he didn’t have time for longer ones.

He got in shape and he looked buff. People were awed. But then he went on to even bigger goals, He started running. And he is fast. While working on his master’s, he was running about 30 miles a week. Usually, this was broken up into 4 days: two 5 miles, one 8, and one 13. He has participated in many ½ marathons.

When our ward ride bikes to the beach, he decided to run. But he just decided the night before, so he hadn’t stored up on carbs. I’m glad that he had the sense to stop when he knew he should, but he almost made a marathon that day. (He would have made it if there were people handing him drinks along the way.) I think he ran about 20 or 21 miles, then he walked of the trail for another to find a convenience store. He bought a Gatorade and a large fountain soda. When he paid for them, he asked the clerk if he could pay for a refill on the drink right then. She looked confused, and he said, “’Cause this one will be gone in a couple of minutes.”

I know this wasn’t supposed to be a post about my son, but I am pretty proud of him. He is now an officer in the Air Force and he is currently in flight school. He is training as a CSO (Combat Systems Officer). The CSO is way more than the navigator; he needs to know everything about the system, the weapons, and the crew, and, essentially, oversee it all.

Anyhow, this post was in response to the many fad diets and pills that circulate and show wide controversy on the Internet. I don’t believe in them. But I believe in myself; and I believe in God, and I know that He will be my help as I put my trust in him. I admire many people who are meeting the challenge of living healthy lives in unhealthful environments and against odds stacked against them. I’m thankful for the challenges that God has given me that of necessity help me to be humble, and also give me understanding into the lives and hearts of others who have weaknesses and sadness. “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27) The Lord’s promise is that He can help our weaknesses become our strengths. No pill can promise that.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I am Passionate About Education

I am passionate about education. My greatest joy in life has been watching my children learn and sharing in that experience, and learning right along with them. Watching a child’s eyes light up when he learns something new, especially when he is sharing with you what he learned, is an incredible experience. Parents who think that they are not smart enough to teach their own children are WRONG. Parents, of necessity and by right, are their children’s first teachers; and, you are their most important teachers, along with the Holy Ghost. You must teach your children to recognize the Spirit so that they can learn truth for themselves.

Living in today’s world is a huge plus for education. There is so much light and truth and goodness, and there are so many resources available for teaching and learning. Never, at any time, have we been blessed with so much light and learning available. Also, never, at any time, have we been bombarded with so much darkness and potentially corruptive material. In most places in the world today, parents have the choice on how and where to educate their children. Ultimately, parents are responsible for the teaching and training of their children, and they should be supportive and involved in the educational path of their choosing. If they aren't, it is time to make a new choice and then be involved.

In ages past, many communities had families, churches, and schools all working together to help children become moral and productive members of society. Today the schools blame parents for all societal ills, and parents blame schools; and, most leave religion and God out of the equation. Without our children being taught about God, His love for them, and what He expects of them being first and central in their training and education, they are NOT receiving the education that they need most--the path and plan that can lead us all back to our Heavenly Father’s presence. Parents cannot rely on schools to teach their children to live godly lives; neither, can they be dependent upon churches to do so. In the same breath, I must say that parents cannot rely on outside sources to solely educate their children in the three R's and beyond. It is ultimately the parents' responsibility to follow through and make certain that their children are learning. Sometimes this requires extra help from outside sources; all the time, there should be parental support and involvement.

You cannot know what is happening in your child’s education, if you are not present. Your young child lacks the necessary skills to impart to you what is going on at school. Also, he has most likely been taught at home and at school to have respect for adult authority; and, therefore, if he is belittled or reprimanded at school inappropriately, he most likely will not tell you about it, because he is confused and fearful. I can personally attest to many incidences where my own children were treated inappropriately at school; and, as a result, they were confused as to what exactly is appropriate. In saying this, I am no way claiming that nothing inappropriate ever happens in the home; but, in the home, there is usually constant love, and acceptance, forgiveness, redirection, and respect for a child’s age, learning style, and learning capacity. I also am not saying that all educators lack respect and the desire for our children’s best good. You, as parents, just need to be involved; be alert, be watchful, and know what is going on in your child’s school. If you are present and seek to establish rapport with the teachers and school staff, you can become a necessary link as a mediator in your child’s educational experience. If you don’t think you have time to do so, you better rearrange your priorities and make time.

If you are not passionate about education, change your mind and your heart, and become passionate. Assess the pros and cons of each educational choice. Why do you want your children to attend public school? Why do you want them to go to a private school? Why have you chosen to school at home? Are you are sending your children to public school merely because you think that this is the best environment for socialization? Think it through again. You should be aware with whom your children socialize and how they are being socialized. Are you sending your child to private school because you think there are fewer problems there than in public school? Think it through again. Have you thoroughly checked out the school your student attends, with your presence, and assessed its strengths and weaknesses? Have you checked out the private school to see if it has anything better to offer? Sometimes parents move children with extra disciplinary needs to private schools. Are you schooling at home? What is your motivation to do so? I believe that if you are going to teach your children at home, you should be doing so for some extremely good reasons. Do you want your children to have a cutting edge in the world? Do you want your children to be taught correct Christian principles all throughout the day? Do you want your children to be able to do extracurricular activities that do not extend their workday into many additional hours beyond the regular 6 ½ hour school day? Do you want more productive and bonding family time? Are you listening to what your child wants, plus teaching him to make his choices through prayer and the power of the Holy Ghost? Are you also seeking the Holy Ghost’s guidance in relation to your family’s educational choices? Most importantly, you must realize that you can make your own choices about education and you should rely on the Holy Ghost to direct you in doing so. You do not have to send your child to a brick-and-mortar school just because it’s a tradition. Follow what is best for your child and your family.

My children all learned how to read at home and how to enjoy learning. I guess I'm selfish that way. Why would I want someone else to hear my child read his first words? That would be like having someone else watch him take his first steps. If you must send your children to public school, you needn't let them take away the bonding moments of joy that rightfully belong in the home. Read everything with them: scriptures, fairy tales, library books, etc. Sing with them; talk with them; discuss everything; listen, love, learn together. One of my adult daughters gave Bob and me the greatest compliment. She said that we had a humanitarian house, because it has been filled with good books and music and parents and children that shared these things together on a regular basis. In other words, realize that you must become home-schooling parents even if you send your children away to school for 6 ½ hours every day.

While I am passionate about education, I am also passionate about agency—the right to choose. This right to choose properly belongs with the parents and the families. We should all respect each other’s rights in choosing our educational paths, and we should realize that most parents love their children and want what’s best for them.

My four oldest children attended public school, but that does not mean that they were not schooled at home. We always had magazines and workbooks that interested them. We took advantage of the year-round-school schedule and had many fieldtrip days filled with fun and learning. The month periods where they were off-track always helped to put our family back on track. Overall, these four had a great educational experience at home and in the public school. They were all honor students, and two of them were Valedictorians. Even so, there were some tragic happenings along the way that were not consistent with our beliefs or methods. And many times, our children were not afforded due process that should have been their right as U.S. citizens.

Our youngest attended public school for Kindergarten and 2nd grade; she skipped first. Since she was the youngest, I was extremely involved at her school. Here I observed “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” She had two really fine teachers. But, when she began 3rd grade, and because of the year-round-schedule, she hadn’t turned 7 yet, it became apparent that this was not the educational environment that she needed or that was best suited to her learning style. Her 3rd grade teacher is a wonderful lady, but we decided to school our daughter at home. It was the best decision. (By the way, her principal and many teachers also told us that they thought it was a great decision.)

My daughter just graduated high school this past June. She graduated as a Valedictorian from California Virtual Academy’s 2013 Class. Since 7th grade (and maybe earlier), I have asked her what she wanted to do at the end of every school year concerning the upcoming year. She chose to continue schooling at home, and she was happy doing so. This afforded her the opportunity of volunteering two mornings a week at the environmental learning center in a library close by. She wouldn't have been able to do that had she been in regular public school. She was also in a church youth group. So she had plenty of socialization. Do I regret that she didn't have some of the positive experiences I had, or my other children had, in public school? Of course, I do. But she may not have had any of them anyhow. Am I glad for the extra family time and bonding and moral teaching that were available to her in our home? Yes. That counters any negative.

My children all attended an early morning religion class throughout high school as well. I am thankful that they had the opportunity for spiritual instruction and were empowered thereby to deal with the battles that they faced in high school. I believe that if you choose to send your children to public school, you must be diligent in supplying them with the tools that they need to fight the battles of the day. You must also develop great communication skills so that your children will be able to tell you what is happening in their lives. You might find it necessary to take time to try to undo the things that shouldn't be taught or happening at your children’s school. In other words, know what is going on in your child's life. You must be intimately involved in his or her education, whether that takes place at home or in a building we call school.

I think that too often we think that we can change the system while we are molding ourselves to the system. It doesn't work well. So you need to know your values, stand up for your values, teach your children your values, and teach them to stand up for their values. More than anything, whether you send your child to school or school at home, realize that you must be a home-schooling parent! You MUST. Also, realize that you must take a lead in the proper socialization of your children. Pay attention to the friends they choose from the time they are small, and help them make good choices. Build your own co-op of support with your adult friends and their families. Take your children to church and help to strengthen your own family and other families. Wherever your child attends school, wherever your child goes, be involved. Be a teacher. Be a parent.

Post Note, prompted by discussions during the day:

I have a whole lot of respect for those who have attained college degrees, and professional degrees in education. So many wonderful teachers, counselors, and school personnel have influenced my life, the life of my husband, and the lives of our children. Two of my children actually have degrees in education. Cathy is one of them; John is the other. John's wife is also a teacher. I believe that we can all be passionate about education without thinking it's my way or the highway. We should all make educated choices about our educational paths and those of our children. When we study out what is best and seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost, we will know how to best meet the needs of our own children. And we should not feel inclined to patronize those who choose differently than we do, nor diminish the positive educational experiences we have received, because of a few bad encounters. Like I said in the above post, I am passionate about both education and agency.

Yet in my own experience, I often said when my four oldest were small, if things got worse, I would homeschool. Well, things got worse, so I did. It was the right choice for our family.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Was Taught Judgment

As I child, I was taught judgment. I was taught my colors: black and white and the full spectrum of the rainbow. I was taught that the ABC’s progressed in a certain order; and that when placed in certain situations, the ABC’s made words; words, whose combinations did not change, always remained the same words. I was taught my numbers and how to manipulate numbers in many ways, so that I could add them, subtract, multiple, divide, and later on integrate and differentiate. I learned that I had to follow certain rules to arrive at the correct answer. My world had order, because I was taught judgment.

I was taught not to run into the street, or I might get hit by a car. First, I should look both ways; and, when I was really young, I should hold an adult’s hand while crossing the street. I was taught not to touch a hot stove, or I’d get burned. Some experiences I had in life confirmed the lessons taught. For instance, when I rode my bicycle down the street with no hands on the handle bars, and a softball hit my front wheel, my bicycle stopped, but I kept going. Good lessons on inertia and cause and effect. I also learned that there were consequences, both because of my action riding the bike and my sister’s action throwing the ball, which caused me to end up with a broken collar bone. But I also learned that broken bones heal.

Because of the guidance of great parents and good teachers, I was guided, scolded, disciplined, loved, encouraged, and taught judgment. Along the way, I was able to put together the teachings and the life lessons in such a way as to apply critical thinking skills and develop better judgment, internalized judgment. I was taught to make inferences and draw conclusions based on sound principles and my own experience and the experience of others who had proven themselves trustworthy. Yes, I even was taught to judge whom I deemed trustworthy, and of whom I should remain skeptical. I was taught to listen to and respect adults IF they were asking me to do correct things or teaching correct principles. If NOT, it was important for me to NOT do what they asked me to do, to seek help, and to tell my parents. I’m glad that my parents taught me judgment. Judgment has protected me time and time again.

I was also taught empathy. I was taught that I am a child of God, and I am important. Along with that, I was taught that every human being every having lived, living on earth, or yet to live on earth is also a child of God, and each is important. I was taught that not everyone has the same privileges that I have and that not everyone has the same beliefs or understanding that I have. I was taught that we all will make mistakes, some small, some great, and that these mistakes are part of our learning process. I was taught to feel sorrow and guilt and a desire to change and do better when I did things wrong. Sometimes I felt shamed; but mostly I was taught love. I was taught that we have a loving Father in Heaven who sent His Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior of us all. I was taught to read God’s words and to internalize them and to pattern my life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. In God’s words, I was further taught judgment, and the necessity of not calling evil good or good evil. I was taught that I should abhor sin, but forgive the sinner. Often that means that I should forgive myself as I ask for forgiveness from God and feel His Spirit changing me, leading and guiding me. I have learned that the Lord has truly suffered for me and for all of us, so He is eager for us to repent, so that He can forgive us. I was also taught that we are held responsible and accountable according to the light and knowledge that we have received. The scriptures have taught me great judgment. They, along with the words of modern-day prophets, are the yardstick by which I measure what is right and wrong and the map by which I chart my course.

Now I am an adult, and I am amazed that my conclusions about the necessity of making good judgments are not shared by many of my fellow adults. I hope that the lessons on making good judgments have not stopped with my generation because judgment is needed for our success and for the success of our posterity. I believe that in Satan’s lies, which are dispersed throughout society, one of the greatest is that all variances to true Christian patterns are acceptable, or at least that we should accept the inappropriate actions of others as an expression of their individuality and that we have no right to discriminate. Many think that because we were given agency, that we are not bound by laws, cannot make judgments, and must not make anyone feel uncomfortable with any wrong that they do. In essence, the new teaching is to accept the sin as good and as a valuable choice for the sinner, because God gave him, or her, the right to choose. In refusing to acknowledge that some behavior is correct and some behavior is incorrect, some think that they are merely being non-judgmental; when, in essence, they are being very poor judges and not exercising the powers of reason that God gave to them and expects them to use.

It seems that many have misinterpreted the scripture, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” There are multiple other scriptures that can be found, which talk of the necessity of making judgments. I don’t think that it’s appropriate for us to judge anyone in a hateful, condemning, or damning way, because Christ atoned for all of us; and, therefore, He will rightfully be the final judge. But we can, and we must, make judgments about what is appropriate behavior; and, then, be able to distinguish that a person’s value doesn’t decrease because he has or does engage in inappropriate behavior, or because he made a mistake unwittingly or willfully. We are not condemning a person because we acknowledge that something he did is wrong. We are acknowledging that the action is wrong. That judgment just shows that we have understanding of what is right and what is wrong. As far as discipline or punishment, we can leave those judgments to the appropriate channels in the land or in the churches. And, once again, Jesus will be the final judge.

I suppose Jesus’s warning when He says, “For with the same judgment that ye judge, ye shall also be judged,” can even be seen at work with those who have misinterpreted His scripture and counsel. Because in their own self-righteousness about not judging others who have done wrongfully, they are quick to judge those who have strong opinions over what God has declared as right and wrong. I have been the recipient of such kind of backlash many times as I have tried to express my beliefs, because society says that Christianity is unkind, outdated, and shows discrimination. Yes, discipleship is appropriately discriminatory, and it also shows good judgment.

I could show personal example upon example, but I refuse to display poor judgment here and reap the judgment of others, who would be quick to judge me as a person, even though my examples would be scenarios and not overall judgments on a person’s entire character. We can learn from scenarios and even poor examples as we judge and decipher what is wrong and what is right and what actions we will take in order to improve our own lives and become better examples in our sphere of influence. Practicing good judgment means learning from our own mistakes and learning vicariously from the mistakes of others. Good judgment also acknowledges that, while behavior can be chosen, consequences cannot; and while we can exercise good judgment, it is usually not up to us to deal out any consequences; but allow natural laws, the laws of the land, the churches, and, ultimately, God to impose disciplinary action or punishment. But as parents or leaders, or in our own sphere of authority, sometimes it is necessary for us to both make judgments and issue appropriate consequences.

So today I am not going to give examples of right and wrong. If you are a person who has not extinguished the Light of Christ which is inside of you, with which all of us were born, you are entitled to develop the ability to be able to judge what is right and what is wrong. This is a gift from God, whose laws are always just and right, and He has given us everlasting laws covering what is right and what is wrong, which man cannot annul. My witness and my testimony is a judgment that I have arrived at through the power of the Holy Ghost. I know that we were all born with the Light of Christ, and I know that the Holy Ghost can testify to us of all that is true, and I know that whatsoever is good cometh from God. I have arrived at this knowledge, this conclusion, this judgment, not on my own, but aided by the Holy Spirit. Whenever another bears testimony or adds his own witness, you can be assured that a judgment has been made. I am thankful that God has made us just a little lower than the angels in giving all of us the power to reason and to improve upon our reasoning abilities, so that we can all engage in good judgment.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Benefit of the Doubt

I believe that it is important to learn to give the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes we are so quick to judge others, even those closest to us, as a means to elevate ourselves by thinking belittling thoughts about them. How can such destructive behavior ever amount to anything constructive? It can't.

It is so much more profitable to show patience, not only in others (and what they do and say), but in our reacting to them. Pausing, to give ourselves processing time is a wise choice. We do not need to allow first impressions of anyone or any event mar our overall ability to perceive clearly. Often if we seek clarification, we are pleasantly surprised that we are all nearly on the same page after all. And it's important to not hastily spread any early doubts to another's detriment or even to our own.

Communication takes effort, but it is well worth it, in avoiding misunderstandings and judgments that leave hurts and scars that can take days or even years to heal. Pride has a way of making us hold unto our hurts in justification of our own rightness and in seeking to prove how much we have been wronged. And often this destructive cycle begins with a small infraction, a miscommunication, or a breach in understanding. Instead of being quick to take offense, we should extend to each other the benefit of the doubt.

How has giving others the benefit of the doubt changed your perspective or blessed your life? How has doing so preserved a friendship?

How has someone extending to you the benefit of the doubt affected you?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Do You Hug With Respect?

Do You Hug With Respect?

I have been flabbergasted at how many times I have read lately that everybody wants and needs hugs, and that hugs are necessary for our daily maintenance. Some of these posts include how many hugs one must receive in order to be healthy and that the length of a hug should last for 20 seconds, so that you’re body can produce oxytocin and, as a result, blossom in rich abundance of good feelings. What?

To say that everyone needs a prescribed amount of hugs for a specific amount of time is pretty much like saying, “I will buy everyone a plastic, long-stem, pink rose for Christmas because I liked it when someone gave me a plastic pink rose, or I have read on many posts that everyone likes plastic pink roses.” I think of a hug as a more precious gift; perhaps, even as an extension of my soul. Hugs themselves lose their meaning when we attach such a silly prescription of one size fits all, to be engaged in 8 times per day.

I, therefore, would like to submit that everybody desires and needs respect. If you know someone values hugs and that hugs help to recharge their inner being, go ahead and give that person a hug. If you know that someone is not a touchy-feely person and would rather receive a handshake or even a smile and a nod, do not hug that person. You are not their personal doctor or therapist, and who gave you the right to decide that everyone wants the huggy-type of attention, just because someone said it’s what everybody needs or because you like it yourself.

I personally feel like my space is being invaded if I receive unprecedented or unwelcome physical contact. I don’t think that I necessarily hate hugs, but I think hugs mean more than, “Oh, you’re here and so am I, so let’s hug.” For me to freely receive or give hugs, certain conditions must be met. Namely, I need to feel a spiritual connection with the person I am hugging; and, if it’s a person outside of my family, I usually have not seen that person for an extended period of time; or, I see a person who is in great spiritual need, and I feel drawn to offer help to them; and a hug becomes, in part, a gift from my soul; in which case, it is like an assurance that I am available to help. In much the same way as a handshake can convey the meaning of a contract or a social bond, a hug can relay the message of commitment to extend caring and friendship.

Respect is so lacking in society. In my own home, our family rules revolved around the need to be respectful. I soon found that whenever there was misbehavior of any kind, the real offense came from a lack of respect. That certainly would often be because the children were young, and the parents were also young, and there was both lack of understanding and some selfishness involved. It is no wonder that the two greatest commandments are to “Love the Lord” and to “Love your Neighbor as Yourself.” As we learn to remember the Lord first off, and develop a love for Him, because of all the love He’s given us and the great and many blessings we receive from Him every day; it helps us to learn, in turn, to love ourselves as His children and to love our fellowmen, who are also His children and our brothers and sisters.

Our family rules consisted of having respect for God, having respect for parents, having respect for others, having respect for self, and having respect for property. Knowing that one of the greatest ways to show love is by being vigilant in showing respect, these rules seemed like the best way to teach our children. They certainly worked better than punishment for behaviors we didn’t like; these rules taught expectations for appropriate behavior. More than anything, these rules taught our children that everyone is valuable and worthy of respect and that their efforts in work and production were worthy of respect, and that rights of ownership also deserved respect. These rules should have been developed sooner and adhered to more fully, but I know that they were valuable for our family.

I am thankful that I had really great interactive, loving, lively children. But, even so, each one was different and had different needs. To think of parenting each child exactly the same would not have been respectful. To demand that each child have the same exact social behavior, meaning that each would have to value togetherness time and down time to the same degree would be unfair. I’m certain that there are things that we could have done better in some situations. But children, like the rest of the population come with a variety of characteristics on an every changing continuum. To demand an autistic child, for example, to interact in a noisy, highly active and unorganized social setting would not only be disrespectful; it would be harmful. I think for the most part parents try to learn about their children’s natures and nurture them according to what they deem is best for them.

We really should extend that same courtesy to each other. It’s pretty easy to read body language if we pay attention and if we desire to know the wants and needs of others so that we can treat them with respect. Hugging without respect is really a self-fulfilling activity at best; at worst, it is a weapon. Human contact should mean more than imposing ourselves on one another. Truly, a genuine hug, where the giver is also a recipient, and the recipient is also a giver, can produce oxytocin and endorphins that stimulate well-being; but an unwanted hug can have the opposite effect, causing a rise in anxiety, the production of cortisol, and a breach in trust that can take a long time to regain. I know that from personal experience.

At the same time, I try to not have the common reactions, which I am wont to have, when I know that others are not meaning to be disrespectful, but are just acting according to their own make-up, personality, and cultural and social upbringing. Even though I grew up in a home with two parents both reared in Europe, who were not extremely demonstrative in hugging and physical contact, I have a sister who has always been extremely huggy. In part, we are a product of our social and cultural upbringing; but, when it comes to physical contact, some of us just like it, or need it, more than others of us do. It doesn’t mean that some of us are flawed and some of us our healthy. It just means that we are diverse in our wants and our needs, and in order to be respectful of that, we need to learn a bit about each other before we start hugging everyone. So I hope that next time you or I hug someone else, we are not only thinking of showing affection, but of extending respect. I think that all of us want, need, and deserve more respect.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Where Does our Country Go From Here?


Where does the Country go from here?

We see news; we see protests; we see ideas. But now what? Just seeing glimpses of what the government is doing, or not doing, and then glimpses of those who are acting in their own good faith to preserve, or to regain, the freedoms outlined and promised in the Constitution does little more than make us all a tad more aware of our own discontent or sleepy acceptance. What can those who have patriotic stirrings in their souls actually do? Where do we go from here?

I've followed the bikers' march and the truckers' march and their efforts are exemplary. They have shown our veterans respect and devotion. But we know that the mainstream media is ignoring them or undermining their efforts by saying that they are tea party lunatics or such. So are we going to let the liberal media and the liberal educators continue to write our history? In 20 years from now, what will the school buddy history books say about today? I'm afraid that if we all don't get involved in some logical, unified way, these efforts will be buried or be perversely documented as lunacy. So how do we help focus these efforts into true directives? How can patriots gain a unified voice and a united vote in order to change the direction we are heading? What are we willing to do as a people to preserve those things which we claim to be precious?

These marches have to be the beginning of bigger things. Who else values our service men and women? Who else values our veterans? Who else values our Constitution and the legacy of the founding of the greatest country ever? For those who think that the last statement is prideful nationalism--No, it is humble gratitude to God for helping to establish a country devoted to freedom and progress of individuals and families, who could pursue their dreams and seek happiness in their fulfillment. It is acknowledging the wisdom of our forefathers in trying to keep the federal government’s power to a minimum in order to preserve personal freedoms and state freedoms. And, it is showing gratitude to those who developed and gave us a good America and a good childhood, and having the desire to pass that America on to our children and our posterity, instead of the parallel universe that has been erupting alongside it. One has to die and the other remain. Which one are we seeking to preserve?

I can’t think about patriotism, defense of country, and preservation of country and Constitution without turning my thoughts to God. We have to be disciples of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Without His aid, we are doomed to fail. The Lord Jesus Christ is both our spiritual and our temporal salvation. We need to acknowledge Him, and we need to acknowledge that we need Him now. To become strong again as a nation, we need to become strong again individually; and that strength needs to begin with our spiritual selves.

Today, the speaker in church noted some things that we should be doing to become better disciples. These are the very things that we must also do to become better citizens, so that we can ask God the Father in the name of His Son Jesus Christ to aid us in our quest for freedom from both spiritual and physical bondage. To say that we are not in bondage currently in our nation is either a lie, or else we are too spiritually dead to notice. We are indeed in bondage to our national debt and to a government that is not representing the people who voted them in office.

Steps outlined by Bishop Johnson:

1) Have daily prayer and scripture study.
To this, I would add, study the Constitution and the history of the rise of this great nation.
2) Take time to ponder. Think about your prayers and listen to the Spirit for insights and promptings. Think deeply about the things that you read and incorporate the things that you learn into your life.
3) Don’t raise your voice. Practice diplomacy and patience. You can’t enforce your will, but you can use gentleness, persuasion, and love unfeigned.
4) Be in control of your appetites and passions. Make the necessary day-to-day choices that will help you gain self-mastery.
5) Be active in church and in the gospel. Remember that your church should help you live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Attend your meetings.
6) Be humble. Accept righteous counsel.
7) Serve others and forgive. Especially, remember the two great commandments: to love the Lord with all your might, mind, heart, and strength; and to love your neighbor as yourself.

In reviewing the above seven points, I can’t help but think that Benjamin Franklin would endorse these himself. He practiced these principles of self-discipline in his life, and his wisdom helped guide and bring about the birth of this nation.

Back to the beginning question: Where does the Country go from here? We do not have any extra time to dally and play with sin and destruction. We don’t. Individually, we need to devote ourselves to God and to Country. I know that I am going to do better. We need to seek righteous leaders and we need to constantly seek to redress wrongs. And if called upon by the Spirit of God and by the wisdom of righteous men and women, we need to be prepared to defend our Country and its Constitution. The question still remains. I don’t have the answers. But I know that our safety and our preservation lies in the righteousness of each individual citizen.

No trust for current media or government