Friday, November 18, 2016

A Discussion on the Electoral College and the "Good Life"

Below is a link to a Hillsdale college video clip that begins the kind of discussion I would enjoy having with each of you... The kind my Dad helped my 8 siblings and I begin having around the dinner table of our youth.  The question here is "How do you personally define the 'good life' and is your definition the best or only  one the country should have?  

Watch the clip:  (It is only a few minutes).  

For me,  I most highly prize a private life where I am free to focus on my own family, community, Faith and work, with just enough awareness/involvement of the public or politics of my community and country to serve others in need and make choices that will most closely allow me to continue to pursue my chosen "good life".  In other words, I define my good life as one in which I feel most free to "pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", with as few political distractions and especially interferences as possible.

Why am I writing about this?  Good question.  Here is the answer.  

I have twice since the election had thoughtful discussions with one of our children and an elderly friend, who, while not necessarily disappointed with the outcome of the election, think it is likely "unfair" that the "majority" did not get their chosen candidate, as it appears the popular vote did go to the losing candidate.  I invite us now to "counsel together" on the following topic.

Should the Electoral College be eliminated?  

Take your time to read it.  I hope it will invite consideration, research and especially discussion in your own homes.  BYU-Idaho, a private church university where all of our 5 children studied, has invested much in what they call Foundation Classes, where many topics are discussed "Socratic" style. It is a tool for learning that I believes has great value in both true learning and understanding and which I believe is emulated when we "counsel together".

Certainly this would be a good research topic and paper for many of our children. 

I love reading history and have been studying the American Constitution on and off much of my adult life.  Somewhere along the way I studied about this very topic.  Unlike my brilliant husband who retains details of countess books and subjects, my brain holds on to only the "jist" of many...or the viewpoint that the study led me to hold.  That is the case here.  I was left with a conviction that it was an inspired form of voting but could not pull out the details with which to defend it. I encourage us all to research it better for ourselves.

However, for those who are less interested in this than that study might require, the "jist" of those past studies, as I have pondered on the current circumstance, has over the past days and nights, began again to distill with just  enough clarity for me to begin to defend my position in a basic way that may be helpful for some of you.  I hope it will begin to plant more firmly in each of you the belief and knowledge that nearly every aspect of our original founded government was penned in ink after months of just such discussion as we could have here, and guided by divine inspiration, and then ratified by eventually EVERY one of the states/colonies then in existence.  Every state added since, has joined of their own free will and choice, feeling that the best chance for the most free "self governance" came in cooperation and alliance with the larger protections of a limited federal government. 

There are numerous side questions we could get side-tracked on here... Why not just have each state be its own "country"? Or why have states at all, and not just be one huge 'state' encompassing our whole country?

Answers in part at least are encompassed in the general discussion we will have, but largely those will have to be for you to discuss on your own.  I will stick as closely as I can to the question of electoral votes.

That begins by clarifying the great misnomer that has been perpetuated by our public education system:   The United States is NOT a democracy. 

I hope that does not shock you.  But it is true.  Every True democratic government (where one man = one vote) throughout history failed miserably, and our founders knew it.  They wanted something more fair (WHAT?!!  How can you get more fair than every vote being equal?) and more enduring. 

They provided for us a REPUBLIC.  This is a Representative form of democracy, where the public, selects from among their local, known, trusted, peers, someone whom they trust to go and represent them at decision making times and places, and make laws and policies that will be in the best interest of the values of those they represent, leaving the citizens more free to go about the business of providing for their families and being involved in the things that are of most interest and value to them.  It is in this way that our populace has been free to go about creating the largest and most successful economy in the world that then has been the most peaceful and generous with its resources to bless the rest of the world.  This does not mean Americans are perfect... But freedom to pursue our own goals has largely brought good things for the world. 

If we had a true democracy, we would have a president, and no senate or congress. We would each need to be involved and informed on the details and discussions regarding every law ourselves. While there may be laws we do not like, our state representatives are at least in part accountable to us in our locations to generally represent the values of the areas in which we live and if there is enough we dislike, we have the opportunity every few years to make our voice heard about who we’d prefer to represent us, or even run ourselves.  But for each of us to understand all the details of every possible law ourselves would take us away from the production of this country, damaging significantly the amazing "production" Americans are known for, that have built a vast economy unheard of in civilizations of the past.   When Senators or representatives vote for laws that we do not like, we have the opportunity as counties and states to UN elect them every two or four years and select ones that more closely represent our values.  It's a wonderful system that on the whole, MOSTLY does a great job of representing the MAJORITY view points or values. (It may be interesting to note that living in Washington State, whose electoral votes have gone entirely against my personal votes all the years I have voted here, I still vote with passion, as my local votes here in the southeast corner of the state, do succeed in representatives that largely represent me well.  The farther from me my representatives live, the less they represent me well... even within my own state, much less the continent sized country!)

The miracle is that our system also protects the minority view points, even mine, in a small but economically huge contributing community to the coffers of our state.  This is why America has been so attractive to immigrants from its very beginning, and continues to be so today.  Every one of us at some time and in some way are in the minority.  It may be our race, origin, gender, religion even our occupation.  It may be any number of things. 

Today we have lost some of the founders loyalty to state.  We are less aware today that people usually do live and gather and work in ways that show shared values.  Perhaps we think now that we simply live where we can get work, and afford to live, but that is not really completely true.  We have freedom to choose the kind of work we do and where and how we choose to do it... (in a city, or the suburbs, or in a small rural town).  Additionally, we will choose where we live to do that work... (a long commute so we can live in the country and have land, or in a high-rise apartment so we don't have a yard to care for etc.).  So many choices and the answers to those choices gather us together with people of largely shared values.  It is just the way humans are, and Americans are so free that it is especially true here.  We gather as neighborhoods, communities, counties, and states, largely of shared values.  That is not to say we ALL share ALL values with our neighbors and states, but largely it can be true. 

Each of our states was formed in some part by people who shared some common interest in and value of the particular resources of that state and the use of those resources.  Thus, northern states, were more industrial, southern states were more agrarian.  The industrial states were more populated, but the agrarian states, while small in people were vital to the feeding, clothing and trade of the north, while the south, also wanted supplies from northern states.  Even today, each state across the nation provides resources, and access that benefits the country at large.  We choose to work in, access, and enjoy, protect, and benefit from the resources we live in.  If we did not find them tolerable, we usually work hard to relocate to somewhere more in alignment with our largest values. 

Aware that they needed each other, and could be stronger, if somehow aligned, but not wanting to give up the autonomy of their own state governance, the Founders came up with a compromise that protected the values of small states... They created the Senate, a governing body that allowed each state regardless of population TWO senators... This represents values of people who gather in ways that may be in the minority... Small rural states, that provide resources vital to the country such as food, or oil, wood, or coal.  Not everyone wants to live in small towns, live without major arts, shopping or museums, but some highly value, even prefer open spaces, quiet and community that those kinds of locations provide and  are willing to do the hard work these locations and jobs require.  It does not mean their lives matter less or are less needful.  In several cases, they are vital to the wellbeing of the city dwellers and others.  They should be enabled, even protected and are, by this method. 

But should the values of the majority not matter more?  Yes.  The Founders balanced this with a Congress, that allowed a representative for every so many people in each state.  Thus, as the population of a state increases, its representation in Congress grows and grows through the ages. The majority is largely represented. 

In a remarkable way, local view points are represented by locally elected congressmen, and thus take a voice to the table of decision making in DC... It may be only one voice, or only a few, but it is a voice, and sometimes those few voices, even if a minority,  if loud enough, or eloquent enough, persuasive enough, patient or even crafty enough, can change opinion.  This can be a good or bad, positive or negative, but it has so much of overarching fairness in it that people from all places, religions, nationalities, and walks of life have sought out the opportunities of such a voice, provided in America.

What does this have to do with the Electoral College?  
Simply that the Electoral College is made up of those same Representative votes.  Each state gets the number of electoral votes equal to the total number of Senators + Representatives that each state qualifies for.  Each state may choose how to allot those electoral votes.  So far, all but two states, say that the popular vote, the candidate who wins the majority vote in the state, takes all the votes.  The remaining two have a system for dividing electoral votes based on the percentage of each candidate.  Once again the view of the state is manifest in their own rules, on the matter. The candidate with the majority of Electoral votes wins the election.

It is in this way, that nearly always the popular vote will win the election.  However, it is possible if not common, that a candidate CAN win the electoral vote, but not the popular vote.  IT has happened only five times in over 200 years.  Interestingly, it has happened twice in my voting lifetime.

Usually, almost always, the majority or popular vote will also win the election.    But lets examine and consider the make up of our country, its states, and allotment of  electoral votes of the states they represent.

33 States, have less than 8 electoral  votes EACH, 7 of those having only 3 each, even with their 2 Senatorial votes included. That means that 7 states, if population were all that counted, they would qualify for only 1 electoral vote each, and the remaining 26 states having only between 2-4 votes.  But these 33 states,  represent the values and resources of perhaps MORE than 2/3 of the country (NOT population).  With this minimal representation in the vote, the values of a massive, even huge MAJORITY of land mass and its values would be nearly completely unrepresented. Would it be right for them to be so poorly represented?

On the other hand THREE states, together California, Texas and Florida, have between them 122 of 538 total votes or 1/4.  Does the populations of THREE states, truly represent the values and perspectives of the entire United States?  

It takes in fact 24 states (almost HALF of the rest of the states!)  with the lowest numbers of electoral votes .. (Each 7 or less) to even come close to matching the influence of those top 3 states... (116 electoral votes ALL together.). But again, these 24, equal a very large majority of the land mass, and resources that fuel and support the other smaller land mass and values of the country.  The inclusion of their senatorial electors, regardless of population gives a possibility that minority view points, may have an influence. Also, keep in mind, having two senators and thus two electoral votes, who are elected by the majority of their state, does NOT guarantee that they will represent a minority view point in the country.  They may well aid the majority view of the country, as is usually the case.  

If majority mattered more than any thing else the popular vote of the top 11 most populous states,*** could theoretically decided every value and decision that affects the rest of the country... 11 states... Barely 1/5 or 20% of our states,....Yes, it would be the majority of people, it may be the majority of view point. But do I want east coast, crowded city values to determine how I use my beautiful Columbia River, it's fish, and dams, power and irrigation?  Do you in Utah or Idaho want those same values to solely determine your access to wilderness, forests, or to develop mines, or grazing for cattle? Even those in California, Colorado, Minnesota or the Dakotas, I doubt would want all the influence to come entirely from some distant centralized place.  I suspect, if you studied it, or if it affected your business, your property or your invention, you'd want a bigger local voice than just your population may allow.  Is it fair?... It is when you see that the majority IS represented the MOST, but the minority always gets a chance to sit at the table and be an influence.

*** From largest population to least, the top 11 most populous states are California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, and New Jersey.  Is it right that these states, largely separated by a continent from the climate, resources, and problems, concerns and thus values of the center, resource rich, and people few, states, choose and determine all our American laws, our policies and leaders because they contain the Majority?  To me it seems a miraculous protection from peasantry.

Lastly,  a note of interest, and reminders that the Majority DO get their way, the Majority of the time… ONLY 5 times in more than 200 years has an American president been elected without the popular vote.  As I mentioned earlier, two times have been in my adult, voting lifetime.  The first time was in the highly contested election of 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore, where the Supreme Court was involved.  With discord again about us, I recommend some fun reading as an informative distraction; an exciting history book for young adults called Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin.  It takes place during another highly contested election that involved lots of rioting afterward etc.  Our time is not so unusual really, and somehow I find it comforting.  We have survived turmoil before and if we are informed, and wise and involved as good free citizens should be, we can contribute to the protections of our freedoms for generations yet to come.

I hope this is simple enough, yet complete enough for you to understand my perspective on the miracle of fairness the Electoral College system is.... or at least to pique your interest in studying it out for yourself.   

I love this great country and am awed by all that was done to lay a foundation for its success and greatness. 

Hope you enjoyed our "discussion" and that it begins some engaging and enlightening ones around your dinner table.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fifty Years and Friendships

This week I turned 50!!!  Wow.

 It was a lovely day, with a little bit of clouds, and cool and then plenty of warmth and blue sky... pretty much like my life... a bit of trouble now and then, but nothing too severe or life shattering, and mostly pretty terrific.  It was also a day of work, enjoyment, time at home with my husband and best friend,(who took me on a bike ride, fixed me up a cute, and super fun hand-me-down e-bike, and also cooked Mongolian for me in our back yard!)  calls, texts and phone messages and songs from far away loved ones who remember me even if they can't be with me.  It too was like my life, filled to overflowing with things that matter most but without the exotic.  No cruises, foreign travels, or expensive jewelry.  Happily, I'm good with that.  I'll keep what I have and everything else will be icing.

  I have attended an aqua (water) exercise class quite regularly for much of the last 5 years.  I am pretty sure I am among the youngest if not the youngest class member but began attending due to a knee and foot injury that was preventing from me from doing other activities.  When I started, I had nearly all our children still living at home,  but in that five years time, all graduated from college, got married and have begun to have children of their own.  I have tried other exercises and other classes since my injuries healed, but I always come back to this one because of the class members.  How I enjoy and admire them!

Many are widowed, most retired, some have health challenges that provide excuse for minimal activity, yet, most are so consistent in doing this good thing for their mental and physical health and much more as well.   They are so welcoming, inclusive, humorous and fun!  I loved just eavesdropping in on their conversations for many months at first.  Their playful banter and jokes among each other drew me in.  I enjoyed the witty, teasing these ladies gave to one of their friends, Leah (in her 70s) as she began dating and becoming more serious with a man she had met through  another friend.  They all told her they would come and be her "brides maids"... or "brides -widow's" at her wedding, they quipped.  They also added that likely they'd all have to come dressed in swim suits or no-one would recognize each other in real clothes out side of swim class!  When Leah did in fact become engaged, they held a large and really fun bridal shower for her.  Truly, their cheer and mutual support and other examples of community service, involvement and activity whether in golfing, caring for aging parents, library volunteering, or reading with underprivileged elementary school children was and has been a source of inspiration to me.  Their inclusion of me as well has been an answer my prayers.  They have been my "mothers", sisters, and friends.  Today they met me for lunch at a local diner to celebrate my birthday and presented me with cards, and small gifts.  But I wished they could know that it is their friendship and influence that is the dearest gift to me.

Leah and I have become close friends.  We share the same church and our paths have crossed outside of class over the years.  How I love her.   Tomorrow she will also become my piano teacher!  I am thrilled and excited and hope she will become proud of me!  (That is the best motivator for practice, I believe.) Today at Leah's suggestion, they each shared what they were doing 50 years ago.  One was 15, and being a challenging teenager... I'm not surprised.  She's still a bit of a spunky spitfire! All the others were between early 20's and mid 30's, beginning life, starting college, or as young mothers, young wives.  Several were brand new to the  Tri-cities; one was new to the country itself having just moved to Pittsburg US from Germany after the war.  She intended to stay in the US only one year, 7 years later she was still here, met her husband and then stayed for good.   One was living in the Middle East running a bowling alley of all things!  Their stories were fascinating and inspiring.   Even my own mother is younger than most of them, yet I feel no unpleasant "generation gap".

I wish these dear gals could know what their friendship has meant to me, the hole it has filled as my own mother and sisters live far away busy lives, and our children left home and moved away.  They are reminders to me that we really all are "family", brothers and sisters of Heavenly Parents and He wants us to include and care about one another, and to seek to meet each others needs.  These women (and a few brave men in the class too!) care for one another by driving to doctors appointments, helping move and clean during divorces, or other challenging times, even aiding during and after surgeries and recoveries.  What a support system they are... from a gym class!

Thank you for accepting even embracing me in the arms of your friendship ladies!  How I hope I may do the same for some other "young" gals through the coming years, and that there will be others like you to do similarly for my son, daughters and daughter-in-law wherever they may be.

Much love, and Happy 50 to Me!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fresh Courage Take and Carry On, Carry on CARRY ON!

Come, COME ye saints… fresh courage take… …. Carry on, carry on, CARRY ON!

Jeff and I recently returned from a two week road trip, during which time we saw and personally visited with every living parent, sibling, child and grandchild in our large circle, except for two; Jeff's brother living in New Jersey, and my brother in Alabama whom we visited earlier this year in February.  With 12 siblings, 5 children and currently 3 grandchildren, this was a remarkable feat.  It was refreshing and encouraging renewing acquaintances and making memories and sharing happy events.  As we traveled, we attended church meetings in various states, and every time, I felt uplifted and edified by the spirit and the messages.  The hymns in particular seemed to remain with me.  On this beautiful fall day, the first day of school here, I have several of them running through my head.  You may have noticed the heading, which combines two.

We used our many hours in the car driving from the Northwest to Southern Utah, to read our love letters from over 30 years ago, written during the beginning of our courtship while Jeff was away working in Alaska and I continued nursing school and worked in a nursing home.  Later the letters resumed during our engagement, when Jeff graduated from the college I still attended in Idaho and transferred to continue his Engineering degree at BYU in Utah, leaving me to graduate for another semester.  Our letters prompted much discussion for many hours.  They were immature in many ways, silly, and shallow, but they were also filled with commitment, insight, occasionally great wisdom and often a value of one another's characteristics, that perhaps we have come to under-appreciate, through years  of familiarity.  It was good to remind ourselves of the  perception and perspective we had of one another then and to discuss how it has altered.  We considered the hope we had for the future, our fears and concerns and discussed how those hopes and fears have worked themselves out… We have in fact had trials, and challenges, yet, feel over 30 years to be on the whole, remarkably blessed.

On the way home by contrast, we read a book filled with hardship and suffering about a Muslim man, converted to Christianity, and particularly the LDS Church.  This too, prompted discussion of how blessed we are, and how our fears for life and the future thus far, have been so small compared to the hardships of many in the world, and of our own heritage.  My nephew Landon Winegar spoke of a few of our common ancestors at his mission farewell we attended 3 weeks ago, and truly, their faithful endurance of hardship in many ways, has made possible so much I now hold dear today.  

The circumstances of our world, with it's increasing persecution of Christians throughout the world, and certainly the rejection of moral, and Godly values, and the tremulous resulting conditions for families and our youth around us, is a source of great worry, concern, even fear for me.  My heart is regularly burdened with these fears for our children, grandchildren, and for our siblings, nieces and nephews as each use the precious gift of agency to makes his or her way in life.  Thankfully, I have yet around me, many of those same family members, and dear friends, who buoy me up when needed and remind me to "hush my fears" and focus on Christ, and His goal for each of us, and me personally.  I had that happen today during my exercise with just such a friend.  We discussed a variety of things in our lives and then this friend shared with me a talk she gave this summer based on Elder Bednars April Conference Talk, "They did Hush Their fears", on page 46 of the May 2015  Ensign.  I highly recommend you review it.  As we talked, I was reminded of an experience I had earlier this summer and in my mind it suddenly became a personal parable.  

Our daughter Whitney was having her first baby in July, right at the time they planned to be preparing for her husband to take medical boards, and move.  She lived in LA and I expected to fly there to help them during this time of many transitions.  I live in a small town, I generally avoid driving in large cities, and unfamiliar places, and I feel challenged by weak dusk/night vision.   However, I still planned to go and to do what was needed to the best of my ability.  I was concerned… even a bit afraid, but I knew I was going anyway and chose not to dwell on the fearful, too much.  

I went, and in fact circumstances required me to drive right at dusk, from a large hospital in Pasadena, in an unfamiliar car, alone, an hour a way in heavy 6 lane California traffic, the very first night; then to stay alone in an unfamiliar house, navigate shopping, and picking up prescriptions, and then do the long drive back to the hospital in heavier daytime traffic the next day.  I really had NO clue where I was, except that I knew I was in Pasadena, and I was going to Claremont… but those were really names only… a starting place and ending place.  But I also had a GPS. It was well lit and I had made myself familiar with it over months and even years of use in the past.  I trusted it.  I placed it clearly in my window view on the first night with a prayer that it would verbally warn me in time to change lanes or take exits early enough in the heavy traffic and falling night.  I felt an almost humorous sensation that all of this was very scary…… yet, I was NOT afraid.  Things went remarkable smoothly, over all.  On the return trip I am quite sure at one point I missed an exit…. but the GPS adjusted nearly seamlessly, and in fact with out knowing at all how it happened, I ended up back at the hospital, from a totally different direction, and being amazed (and grateful!)  that there it was!  And even sooner than I expected.  

Our earth life is much like this.  We come to earth, an adventure and experience we knew was necessary, even though it contained much that is concerning, worrisome even fearful of some us.  But we came.  Fortunately,… I know where I am starting….. sort of…... in a family who loves me, and I also know generally where I am headed….I want to return to my Heavenly Father.  I really can't tell you where each of those are specifically, nor how long exactly the journey will take or exactly what I will experience on the way.  BUT, I do have a GPS of sorts, that is very reliable, even if I really can't explain how it works. I strive regularly, some times better and more consistently than others, to be familiar with it and to use it so I can trust it.   I have the spiritual GPS of the scriptures, prayer and the Spirit. Together they really do guide, and navigate me through most of the pitfalls of this journey.  Yes, like any real memorable and meaningful journey, there will be construction on the road, (growing experience that challenge but can improve), tedious slow downs, detours, even accidents.  Sometimes I only observe, or hear about the accident and pray mightily for those involved and other times I am IN the accident, and sometimes my choices create the detours, which may be long and dangerous.  But there is always available to me a way back, if I will patiently follow it, even through the dark when I do not see any way, nor do I understand at all where I am or how to move forward on my own.  The Spirit, like my GPS can guide me safely through the dark and unknown.  

I know that when we are striving to be where we need to be, doing what we are needed to do, whether nurture children, provide for families, serve in church callings or be a friend to the lonely, infirm or afraid, we will have the ability to do fearful things without being overcome by the fear we acknowledge. By feasting on scriptures daily, applying them to our own lives, and praying with faith, trusting in a mighty and Loving God to guide and aid us through the storms, and unknown paths of this life, we will receive the peace we need even crave,  and courage to hush our fears and move forward in faith.  

With the foundation of overcoming and persevering from our Pioneer heritage, or the examples of persecuted Christians throughout the world, "Why should we think to earn a great reward if WE now, shun the fight?"…. yes, I can now "gird up (my) loins, fresh courage take, (knowing that my) God will never us forsake"  

I cling to the examples of the past, (hymn 36, They the builders of the Nation second verse), ….." Courage their unfailing beacon, radiating near and far.  Every day some burden lifted, Every day some heart to cheer, Every day some hope the brighter, blessed honored pioneer."  I want to be like those then and now, who  (hymn 35, second verse) "  at the hand of foul oppressors,   have born and suffered long; thou has been our help in weakness, and thy power hath made us strong.  Amid ruthless foes outnumbered, in weariness we trod …We are watchers of a beacon, whose light must never die; we are guardians of an altar Midst the silence of the sky.  Here the rocks yield founts of courage, struck forth as by the rod;  For the strength of hills we bless thee, our God, our fathers,' God.."

Most of all, I find myself craving, drawn with a mighty thirst to the songs with messages of hope, power unity and joy;  songs like Hymn 251, Behold a Royal Army, and I want to BE one of those " soldiers, bold and strong.  Who follow their Commander, and sing their joyful song. " The song made joyful because we KNOW victory has already been assured, "through Him that redeemed us!"

Through my savior and your savior, even Jesus Christ our Lord, and only through him, I can be as hymn 255 "Firm as the mountains around us, stalwart and brave…" others before and around me, have "raised His banner triumphant".   I will now strive to  help you hold it high during your times of fear and weakness and I trust many of you will help me hold it up when I also, feel weak or afraid. 

 Thus, together, we can be for this generation "the Youth of the noble birthright", and Carry on, Carry on, CARRY ON!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fathers and Other Great Men

Perfect Dad for Me!
I love you Dad.

 I have been  privileged to be surrounded all my life with the finest of men.  I don't know why that has been so, but I recognize and feel it deeply.  Today, on our only son, Layton's 25 birthday, and a few days before Fathers Day I choose to acknowledge it again.

Yesterday, I called home to my parents to check on details for a memorial service my mothers was putting together for an uncle that had long been lost to our family.  Dad answered and we enjoyed a good hour or so of cheerful, chatty conversation.  My Dad is interesting, funny, witty and a great guy.  I have always enjoyed time with him, and this conversation was almost as good as being with him.  He and Mom are a wonderful team, the kind I hope Jeff and I are becoming, and the kind I hope for and see in our children and their spouses.  They minimize one another's weaknesses and build up their strengths and together make up a whole that is a powerful blessing to the individual needs of all who cross their path. 

Our family and extended family has often seemed so un-notable to me… nothing famous or particularly outstanding… just good ordinary people.  However, as I listened to Mom and Dad remind me of the miracles that have occurred in the finding of a number of "lost" extended family, I realized our parents ARE more than notable!  Oddly in our otherwise uneventful family, there have been a number of family members, particularly in Mom's family, who have at times, become, "lost" to the others, sometimes for long years.   Mom and Dad's cooperative efforts over many years have "found" most of them in ways not explained to those who don't believe in Divine intervention.  They both support and seek the spirit, and in a church who preaches of family relationships extending beyond this life, it seems natural then, that our parents would also live so fully, the principles of concern and connectedness in THIS life.  We all feel it, and we all are better for it.  I have learned much, watching how, unlike some spouses who could complain or criticize their in-law relations, my parents never have.  They work together to make their home, life and choices inclusive of all, to repair breaches or hurts, and strengthen ties that have become loose or cut.  Dad has been an involved partner and participant in the constant charitable outreach all of us know our parents to live.  And all they consider it is, LOVE.

A few weeks ago, I substituted in seminary and the topic was an historical event that occurred in the church the summer I was 12.  I wondered if I would have written anything about in my journal.  Sure enough I did, and as I perused the other entries near it, I was reminded again how valuable my dad was in that tender time in my life.  He was a young and harried father with a large family to provide for.  And yet, he noticed me,  trusted me and took me as his "secretary" on trips to Boise to work with him.  I loved those outings and recorded them in detail; trips to the Capital, our lunches and how much they cost, the sights we saw and even our conversations.  I wrote about how dad always chose me to work with him on the "hard" family chores, like cleaning the garage or cutting firewood.  But I didn't mind (too much) because I knew Dad valued ME, more than just my help.
My parents and the way my family looked one year before I married.  Busy parents!
And how grateful I am  now, for every single sibling!

  What a gift to society, a devoted and loving Father is!  It doesn't take a perfect one.  Just one who knows the VALUE of HIS role, and the value of his wife and children.  Dad how I love you.  I love you so much I am always trying to find time to spend it with you and Mom.  And I never regret it!  I loved our private camping trip years ago during the week I waited for the kids at AFY (Adventures For Youth), and my recent visit when Mom and I went early to ride the bus on your bus route in the morning.  No wonder all your patrons love it when you're the bus driver!  I do too!  I've always been proud of my Dad. You taught me among many other needful and vital skills, what to look for in a husband. 

Jeffery Bird, has been the man of my dreams. He too is witty, and funny, silly and sweet.  He is kind and patient, and has almost no temper at all. He is the sweetest father to little ones ever, and my photo albums and memory are filled with photos to prove it.  I believe there are very few things more attractive to women than a man who is good and kind to children.  It is the MOST manly of things!  And even now… how he worries about his children and grand children! You have only the tiniest idea how much!  Each are constantly in his prayers and conversation.

And he is VERY smart!  I never go a week, often even a day, when someone does not comment to me how much Jeff has influenced their life.  What a great thing to know about ones spouse, that he is a blessing to others.  I also appreciate all the things he takes care of in our home and life.  He is a capable and talented DO-er, and he does things well if he's going to do them.
Jeff and Me and our little 
Father and Son
Fun Daddy!
 He takes me on road trips, and enjoys the local cafes and tolerates the history and scenic stops I love, so patiently.  And he is forgiving.  One cannot minimize or underestimate the value of that quality in a marriage.  Oh how kind he has been with me and my too often pettishness. Jeffery, our children and I are so very fortunate to have you as Husband and Father!
Bird's multiplied! (Conrads, Lees, Robinson's, Bird, Bird, and Udall)

Just as my Dad showed me what to watch for in a man, Jeff did for his children. All four daughters have connected themselves to the finest of men.  They are disciplined, hard working, smart, kind, and faith filled.  We admire and love them all!

And for our son, Layton, born in the middle of 4 sisters, just before Fathers Day just like today, Jeffery was a role model. Layton was the cutest, funnest son and brother.  He was literally "in the middle" of every event with his sisters.

 Layton is fast becoming just like his Dad. We both think  he's soon ready to pass Jeff up in ability and knowledge!

 He is brilliant and capable and now, as his first tiny little daughter Emma, struggles, and grows and develops in the NICU in Idaho Falls, he too is a most devoted and involved husband and Father, just as his Dad has been.

He was  so concerned about his work that was conflicting in his desire to be all the support,  emotionally and physically he wanted to be for his wonderful wife Meredith, and to be there to help with and connect with a tiny baby girl, they cannot bring home for months.  And it was worked out.  They have not missed a day yet in 6 weeks, and likely have many more to go, but they leave one feeling there is truly nothing else or no where they'd rather be.  Wouldn't every child like to know that is how their parents feel?  Wouldn't the world be better if it were so?

To Jeff's father, and brothers and brothers in law, and to my brothers and brothers in law. You too, are part of my fabric of gratitude for the tremendous value and influence of devoted, sacrificing Fathers.  You have been mentors to us, as we have watched from a distance and tried to add into our lives, (sometimes belatedly), your best attributes.

And now, with our 4 Sons-in-law, the cycle continues. We see and expect the same great contribution to the world that we have seen thus far.  You matter!  You are loved and you DEFINITELY make the world better!  I hate to disagree with the world, (maybe I don't HATE it  at all!), but diamonds and dogs are NOT women's and mens best friends, it should be and can be and for me, has been,   a wonderful FATHER, husband, son, and brother, who are the very BEST, the most loyal and devoted and meaningful, and valuable of friends!  Thank you!

Happy Fathers Day ALL,   I love every one of you!  And feel gratitude for all like you.