Sunday, November 2, 2008

Me and Politics???

Okay, so I'm usually the last person to have anything to say politically, but on this issue, I find it hard not to feel passionate about my personal convictions.

Everyone's talking about how this issue is key in California right now. However, what's not getting a lot of attention is that it's on the ballot in 3 states this year (California, Arizona, and Florida). We had a special meeting in church a few weeks ago to talk about the implications of the proposition here in Arizona. Again, this weekend in our (regional) stake conference, we had Elder Ballard, Elder Cook, and Elder Packer reminding us of the church's stance on this political issue.

In 27 years of attending church, I have not once ever heard anything political endorsed within the walls of a church building, and yet, on this issue, our church is speaking up. Here are the reasons:

  • These propositions have nothing to do with the rights of same-sex partners (benefits, etc). They are measures to amend the state constitutions to include a formal and legal definition of marriage as being the union of a man and a woman.
  • 45 of the 50 states either have a constitutional amendment or a statute (as exists in Arizona) that defines marriage as such. This shows that the people as a whole still believe in the traditional nature of marriage.
  • In a few legal cases in states where the law exists as a statute rather than a part of the constitution, the state supreme courts have had the power to overrule that law and declare it as unconstitutional--this just happened in Connecticut a few weeks ago and, shy of supporting a proposition on their ballot to rewrite their constitution, there is nothing they can do in this election to defend the family. These propositions take that power away from the state judiciary or legislatures and give it to the people, to whom it belongs. These propositions let the people define marriage. If the people ever decide to repeal their law, that is their collective prerogative, and I pray that Heavenly Father helps us if that day ever comes.

So here in Arizona, church volunteers have been encouraging all members to be registered to vote and receive early ballots. Additionally, we've been instrumental in putting up signs, making calls at call centers, and applying some of our missionary zeal to discussing the issue with our friends, neighbors, and coworkers -- not to preach sin and repentance but to explain the intent of the proposition. And yes, that is a political sign you see in my front yard (I never thought that day would come)! It's actually sign number 2, as sign number 1 disappeared a few nights ago. We had ward volunteers delivering door hangers and in our neighborhood, the volunteer was apparently shadowed by someone taking down the fliers as they were being put up, probably the same guy who took my sign.

I've seen videos, read articles, and heard a lot of scary stories about basic parental and moral rights being challenged as consequences of legalized same-sex marriage. Parents have been denied prior knowledge of "diversity" lessons in public schools introducing children to families of all types. A bill in California calls a reference to a "father", "mother", "husband", or "wife" in a public school discriminatory. School bathrooms can be utilized by the opposite sex if that individual most associates "itself" (because I clearly can't "legally" use himself or herself) with the opposite gender. Textbooks would have to spend equal time discussing same-sex relationships or relations as any others. Churches could lose tax-exempt status if they refused to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies to be held in their places of worship. The list goes on.

It's a little scary as a father to think about the implications of public education and what morals are being legally taught these days. If my child's class can't hold birthday or "Christmas" parties because of the beliefs of religious minorities that may be in class, I can't imagine the school system not allowing parents to opt out of any moral / diversity / or sex-educational teaching that is taking place. Regardless of the world's education, the ultimate responsibility of teacher for our children lies with us as parents.

I know that there are a lot of good people out there who may not live with the same standards we embrace. God, however, will not change the standard. He laid it out clearly in a proclamation to the world a decade ago in which, almost as a prophetic warning, the Lord called upon "responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere" to promote measures to strengthen the family. Heavenly Father says, 'Hate the sin, love the sinner'. That was Christ's way and we should all emulate His example. But that does not mean that we should stand idly by and let the world around us define our morals and standards. Hence, in this case, the Lord does take a stand and has called us to actively support the legislation.

President Hinckley said, "No one need tell you that we are living in a very difficult season in the history of the world. Standards are dropping everywhere. Nothing seems to be sacred anymore... I do not know that things were worse in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah. … I think our Father must weep as He looks down upon His wayward sons and daughters."

We are living in a day where there is no evil that was practiced in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that is not practiced or widely accepted in our society. If you remember the story, Abraham asked the Lord to spare the city if he found 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, and even 10 righteous living with the wicked. And the Lord could not find even 10 who had not embraced the evils of that world. The difference today is that there are many more than 10 who have not accepted the standards of Gomorrah. When the people as a whole vote to define marriage differently or to embrace any other unrighteous standard we may be ripe for destruction. But until then, we should not allow the media or the judges or anyone other than the collective people as a whole tell us what we must accept as diversity and acceptable morals. Even if that day comes, we can still safeguard our families and fight "in memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children". God bless us as we strive to wave our Titles of Liberty high.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Additions to the Family

We've had several new additions to our family this month. The first of which is Amy's new dog Cougar (give you one guess as to who picked the name!). Mike had a friend at work who found a puppy in his front yard and could not find the owner to it. He's a single guy and didn't have enough time to give the puppy the attention he needs, so he asked if anyone was interested. While we weren't really looking for a dog, Mike got really excited about it and so we went for it. Happy early birthday to Amy.

Things we have learned about Cougar:

1) He's a big scaredy cat. He spent the first couple hours in our backyard hiding in the corner. He was especially scared of Amy because she would walk right at him. She quickly won him over by bringing him food from his bowl, across the yard, and feeding him out of her hand. They became fast friends, but he's still a scaredy cat. Any time a new person comes in the backyard, he puts his tail between his legs and wets himself.
2) He is definitely still a puppy. The guy who found him took him to the vet and they said that Cougar is about 11 weeks old. Sounds young, right? Yeah... he's a black lab, so they grow REALLY fast. He's already Amy's size. He likes to jump on her and pull on her clothes and chase her around. She's still learning how to play with him without getting scratched (not that he does it on purpose, of course. He's just playing).
3) Mike loves the dog a little more than Amy does. Don't get my wrong, Amy sits by the back window a lot of the day and talks to Cougar through the glass - we don't let her got out there by herself yet because she can't control him when he gets hyper and jumps on her. They definitely are buddies, but I think Mike does love him a little more. He often takes him for walks at night - sometimes as late as 10 or 11. Mike never had a dog growing up, so this is a new adventure for him.

Our next addition has since left us, but it was here temporarily. There was a G.A.I.N. event in Goodyear a couple weeks ago (I don't know what it stands for, but it's something run by the neighborhoods) over at the Goodyear park. I have to say - BEST CITY EVENT OF THE YEAR! While we enjoy the Halloween and Christmas festivals, this event had something the others did not - FREE FOOD! And let's face it, we're all about the free food. They had several people doing shows (local dance studios) and the neighborhoods each had a booth, but the best part was that they got local restaurants to come down and give out free samples. While the word "sample" is not very exciting, let me just say that we were STUFFED when we finished. There was more food there than we could possibly eat. And we tried! It was a lot of fun, complete with bouncers and sidewalk chalk for Amy.

They also had a raffle that you could get tickets for by visiting each of the community booths. Mike, being all about free stuff, took us to each booth and we each got a ticket to enter. Lo and behold, we won! Mike, me, and Lindsey Owen (poor Richard...) each got drawn for the raffle. Lindsey and I each won a carry-on suitcase with two bags inside of it. We told Mike he won the grand prize... it's very special... he likes to tell people "It's a major award" (name the movie!)... It was George. Yeah... while my mom thinks he's kinda cute, I have to admit, I was a little less than impressed. Mike and Richard thought it was HILARIOUS though. Mike took pictures of him so he could show the guys at work, who also thought it was hilarious. He sat in my front room for about 3 days and then he was sent to work with Mike to be passed around and finally ended up in the kitchen area holding candybars. At least he was put to work. So our new member of the family, George, has left home to find work.

We do have one more addition to our family, and if you made it this far... here's the payoff. We're having a baby! Woo hoo! It's been a long year of hoping and waiting, but we're proud to announce we will have a new baby joining our family come June. The initial dute date we were given was June 10th, but we're going in again on Tuesday to see an ultrasound tech, but it should be within a day or two of the 10th I think. Amy is as excited as any 2-year old, only-child can be. However, she LOVES babies (the Owens had their baby this week and she talks about "baby cawey" (Kylee) all the time), so we think she'll like having a sibling.
As far as I go, I'm doing pretty good. I'm not anywhere as sick as I was with Amy (I lost 10 pounds in a week or two by being sick with Amy). I am still nauceous in the morning and early afternoon, but not to the point of actually being sick too often. As long as I take it easy, it's tolerable. The nice thing is that it wears off by the late afternoon / early evening, so I can still go out and have fun in the evenings because I'm not sick! That's been really nice.

Anyway, that's our news! This last picture is for my mom and sisters, because we looked like this every night growing up! Now it's Amy's turn.