Saturday, April 9, 2016

On Dusty Temple Lights and Seeing Things for What They Really Are


Last month, I spent several weeks out of town – traveling to Disneyland (for my 7th birthday!) and then to Reno, (to visit my family while Squire was on an away rotation in Boise.) While we were there, I had the opportunity to go to the temple with my mom. Her ward was in charge of temple-cleaning duty that week, so she signed us up to go and help. Our plan was to go through the last Endowment session of the evening, and then stay after to clean.

I was excited. I had never helped clean the temple before and I was looking forward to the experience. As I sat in one of the rooms during our session, dust on the light fixtures on the walls caught my eye. This wasn’t just a little dust – this was dark, grey, and caked on over large parts of the fixtures. I was sincerely bothered. Hadn’t anyone noticed this sooner? How did these light fixtures get this dirty?! And in such a sacred space? I took a breath and relaxed as I turned my focus back to the session at hand, knowing that I could personally do something about this later.

As we gathered to meet for our cleaning assignment, the temple patron informed us ladies that we would be vacuuming. I rose my hand, informed him of the dusty light fixtures, and asked if I could clean those while we were vacuuming. My mom, made a joke about how while visiting her home I hadn’t made any such offerings to dust her light fixtures to which I (and everyone else) laughed. I rolled my eyes, and said something not nearly as witty in my defense. He told me he would get me the duster and that I could take care of it.

When I got into the room to dust the light fixtures, I anxious to get the work done and to do it right. As I got close, I rubbed the duster over the outside of the light and saw no change. I got closer and brushed my hands on the affected areas, even scraped lightly with my fingernails to see if I could unpack the dust – on both sides of the fixture. But to my surprise, the “dust” wasn’t really dust at all. The fixtures were made out of some sort of translucent glass that had some variegated coloring and the darker parts were just veins of variation in the material. They were clean. Perfectly clean. Every single one of them. And believe me, I went and inspected every single one just to make sure. And I laughed to myself and told God, “OK, this is significant, isn’t it? What am I supposed to learn from this?”

I was instructed that the lights were symbolic of God’s chosen servants. I had the impression that these lights specifically were symbolic of Prophets, apostles, individuals in fixed and high ranking positions in the church throughout time. Then, I felt a little guilty. “Father, was it presumptuous of me? To think that the physical lights in this room were dirty in your house? And is it presumptuous of individuals who question the authority of your chosen servants to do so?” He answered, “If the lights were dirty, it would indeed have been good for you to have taken action to make sure they were clean. Now that you know that these light fixtures already were, let it be known that you could question and inspect my chosen servants, with careful, close, detailed examination and you would find the same – that they are clean before me. The light shines through them more clearly in some portions than others, but they are clean, they are mine, and they are worthy to be where I have put them to serve.”

Wow. Isn’t God amazing? I love Him. It warms my heart to be known by Him and to hear His voice. He speaks so personally to each of us, and this one really spoke to me.

This experience came at a particularly good time for me. I am going through what I would call a questioning time, right now. I’m making efforts not to throw out babies I know are babies out with the bathwater so to speak, but I am also digging a lot further in my questioning of institutions at large – some that have been near and dear to me for a long time. (Political, national, cultural, medical, and even some religious - traditions, policies, and actions.) I’m doing this because I’m interested in Truth, and being aligned with it wherever it is. I think God was just lovingly reminding me with this experience in the temple, that His chosen prophets are not bathwater. That, if I need to put on my spectacles and look closely I can, but that my esteem of them and trust in their counsel is not worthy of going down the drain (unlike many old beliefs I have harbored and have recently re-examined.) And I appreciate that very much.

I thought of this experience over and over again as I listened to General Conference this last weekend. I am looking forward to studying all these words further over the next 6 months.

Here were my top three favorites talks, from men I know are called of and clean before God:

Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins, By: Elder David A. Bednar – An answer to a question I have been ruminating on for a while, the relevance of ordinances and their connection to repentance, salvation and sanctification.

He Will Place You on His Shoulders, and Carry You Home, By: President Dieter F. Uchtdorf – I have been pondering on the spiritual law described in Doctrine and Covenants 130:21 and how that works with God’s grace. This talk was at least a very significant portion of the wonderings of my mind and  heart on the question.

Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You, By: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland – This talk gave a significant portion of an answer to the same question I mentioned above, but also with some great encouragement. I highly recommend this talk to everyone!

Tell me, how has God spoken to you lately? 
Did you tune into LDS General Conference this year? 
If so, what spoke to your heart?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hepworth Home School Resources


 
Background Image Credit: Curis Perry on flikr, Edited with text boxes over picture
Now that you know a little bit about why we are homeschooling, and my personal approach to education, here is a list of resources I have found. Many of these are resources I currently use, many will be incorporated more as my children get older. Check them out and research them for yourself! I don’t know if they will be the right fit for your family, but hopefully this list of resources can give you some ideas and material with which to begin your search.

*Full disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links. Feel free to buy from them if you want to tip me for my recommendations, or search around for an even better deal! It doesn’t matter to me what you choose, just that you know!*

General Home School Resources:
This book is a true gem. It reviews subject materials by age as well as covers what is developmentally appropriate by age. I highly recommend it.
This is a great set for parents interested in the TJEd approach. What is that approach? Start here to find out more. I got their whole set of books for cheap on a deal a couple years ago.
  • "The Parent Teacher Handbook" By: Joel and by Marilyn Skousen
If you want the whole 41 page document, you can email Joel for it. It costs $10, joel@joelskousen.com. It was very helpful to me in recognizing what my true goals are for educating my children, it suggests resources, and very helpfully, outlined principles of education with which I whole-heartedly agreed.
  • Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd) facebook group
  • LDS Mothers: Holistic Home Education facebook group
  • Free Range Learning facebook Page
Purchasing Resources:
Reference Books:
History/Geography/Culture:
  • The Story of the World Vol.1, 2, 3, 4 (Make sure to get the Revised Volumes 1 and 2) By Susan Bauer
These books teach world history in a story format. It is all broken up into 2-4 page increments.
  • The Story of the World Activity Books Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4
I think these activity books are a really important part of the Story of the World set. They ask questions about the reading to help improve comprehension, they give narrations of what was read so the student(s) can practice speaking clearly, they also have suggested activities and further reading resources. This set is very versatile and adaptable for kids as young as pre-school age to middle school age. It is a great "family school" option for history. My kids love the coloring pages that go along with the readings we do.
  • Puzzle Maps – I have found an American map puzzle I really like. Still on the hunt for a world map puzzle (and a globe!)
  • Family Culture Nights – cultural events in town, cooking at home, documentaries online, etc.
  • The Making of America By: Cleon Skousen (This is what we will use for teaching American history and the constitution when they get older!)
Math:
I chose Saxon because it is abundantly clear, repetitive and it has proven results. If you do the Saxon program, you know math! Some find it a bit boring, but I am ok with boring from time to time if it is effective, teaches discipline, order, and correct math principles.
This is a great set! My kids love to play with different elements inside it as part of their free play each day.
I got this to add a fun element to our math studies. I don’t think it is enough to stand alone for math instruction, but it is a well-loved supplement within the homeschool community. We have not started to use this yet, but we are getting there soon.
  • Side note: I have also heard great things about Singapore Math and Math-U-See!
  • I am looking for math facts memorization tools set to music for the future.
Reading:
So far was have used this book to learn two poems which have taught my kids all their letters and their sounds. My kids have spent time, on this book’s suggestion,  searching out the letters learned on packaging every day. I like this resource A LOT better than the “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons . . .” book which got really old for Lincoln and me both, though I do think it helped him learn to blend words together when reading. It is nice because it breaks everything down into bite-sized chunks. Teaching reading is simple.
                The first time reader classics! So great, and pretty funny, too.
  • Hooked on Phonics Program (I have not used this with my kids yet, but my mom has a set I will be borrowing soon. This is how I learned to read!)
  • The Public Library
Writing:
Site where you can print up handwriting sheets for free. I have one for each of my kids with their names on them. They are laminated so they can reuse them as often as necessary.
  • Dry erase writing books from Costco. Inexpensive, useful tool for helping kids develop writing and tracing skills.
  • Draw. Write. Now.  (I recently discovered these books and I LOVE them. I will be buying the whole set as soon as I save up enough pennies to get them.) I love how they combine stories, art, writing, history and other subjects into one.
Science:
  • Magic School Bus Chapter Books (Scholastic) and Complete DVD set (DVD set from Costco)
  • Squire’s science textbooks on the body and other subjects, as interested
  • An Old Science Encyclopedia my mom gave us (I don’t have access to publisher right now!) which we read and do experiments from, time to time
  • Documentaries on youtube.com as needed (life cycle of frog, silk worms, owls, etc.)
  • "Grow your own" farms - frogs, butterflies, lady bugs, silk worms, ants, etc. (We will do all these as time and budget and interest allows)
  • Dissection kits as needed (we recently did owl pellet dissections with my friend Katie and her kids!)
Herbal:
This cooperative board game is excellent! Has helped my kids start to recognize plants visually, by name, and what they are useful for medicinally.
  • Herb Fairies Book Club (I will be starting this book club with my kids this year!)
Electronics:
  • Snap Rover (This was Lincoln’s 5th birthday gift!)
  • Snap Circuits (I will be incorporating this in a couple more years)
Food/Nutrition:
  • Regularly cooking at my side in the kitchen
  • Helping me can food
  • Watching documentaries on food as a family
  • Grocery shopping, and talking about packaging, differences between different foods
  • Gardening together
  • Chickens and Bees (will be getting these in the Spring)
Moral Education:
Physical:
  • Regular Hiking in good weather
  • Park visits and play dates
  • Dancing around together at home
  • Doing my workout videos alongside me
  • Lots of outdoor free play 
  • Cosmic Kids Yoga Videos
Art/Creativity Resources:
Field Trips (Some ideas):
  • Friend's Houses (dissecting owl pellets, making body products, ethnic food cooking, different lesson topics)
  • Fish Hatchery
  • Police Dept.
  • Fire Dept.
  • Post office
  • Local Art or history museums
  • Grocery Stores (including International/Ethnic food grocery stores!)
  • Farmer's Market
  • Local farms/orchards
  • Bakeries
  • Local cultural events and parades
  • News Station
  • Dental Office
  • Doctor Office
  • Local Zoo
  • Aquarium
  • Local Children’s museums
  • Coming with mom or dad to vote!

What are some great educational resources YOU have found?! 
Please share in the comments section! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A New Non-Profit: BABIES ARE NOT PRODUCTS!!




I have a dream, and I need your help to make it come true.

I can’t unsee the Planned Parenthood videos that came out last year. I have become fully awake and righteously angry about the fact that babies are being (electively aborted) murdered, and in turn are being used for research in multiple areas: some current vaccines, future vaccines, food products, body products, and a variety of pharmaceuticals.

This disgusts, saddens and enrages me! BABIES ARE NOT PRODUCTS! But what can I do? I’m just a lone homemaker living in a small town in Idaho. Small as I am in the grand scheme of things, I do have American blood in my veins, and that counts for a whole lot. The independent charitable actions of Americans have been weaving the warm fabric of real, powerful answers to complexing social/moral problems for hundreds of years now, and now I feel it's my turn to contribute a thread to the tapestry.

Part of the push-back on facebook I have seen, especially with regards to the vaccine issue, is that for staunch pro-vaxxers (For the record: I am sympathetic to both sides on this issue), there is a lack of knowledge about the fact that there are actually ethical alternatives for most vaccines which already exist, a lack of information or resources to obtain them, or easy-to-obtain information on the safety of these ethical alternatives – obstacles I can see being removed and leaving them without excuse to get on board from a moral standpoint.

The resources to combat this problem are scattered, and therefore ineffectual at moving a booming biotech industry which has taken quite a hold on us.

My dream is to start a non-profit organization, which:

Provides information about what products use technology derived from electively aborted babies, provides in depth information about ethical alternatives for these products, and also facilitates modes of action we might take to move the industry. By educating and empowering people with information, they can be the change they want to see. I also want my site to promote and help people become aware of the players in the biotech industry who pledge to only use human tissue acquired in ethical means for their research. And if there are pharmacies out there which only use ethically-acquired pharmaceuticals out there, I want to promote them too. I think it might also be useful to provide further access to pro-life resources for moms considering abortion.

For this project I need:

  • Business savvy people
  • Campaign/marketing gurus
  • Non-profit experts
  • Digital artists
  • Website developers
  • Clear, objective thinkers
  • Researcher warriors
  • Scientists from the biotech industry
  • Writers and editors
  • Secretary types
  • Facebook group moderators
  • Doctors and pharmacists
  • People with money to make a lot of this possible! ;)
  • Above all: parents, grandparents and individuals who care and will spread this cause by word of mouth, on social media, in their neighborhoods, and from whatever platforms they have to speak!

This project is bigger than me, my skills, or funds alone can manage, but together I KNOW we can do this, and I am committed to pledging my time, heart and effort in making this project a reality! If you have any of the skills, abilities, money, or desire to help me in this project, please contact me at abitbackward@gmail.com, or in the comments section here, and let me know!

Please, share this with your friends and contacts, and pray for the right people to be guided my way, so that we might build this righteous project together!!

Friday, February 19, 2016

How Your Vaccine Choices are Connected to the Abortion Industry


**Before I get to the meat of my post, I have to inform you of what it is NOT about - this is NOT about the medical efficacy of vaccines. I repeat, this is NOT a discussion of the medical efficacy of vaccines! This post is about the morality of the use of some vaccines because of how they were manufactured. Please do not comment on the thread below unless it is within the scope of this post. For the comments to be beneficial to us, we need the discussion in the comments section to be focused on what things we might do to fix this problem.**

This post is a humble appeal to those who would consider themselves “pro-life,” but struggle to see, are simply unaware, or even willfully ignorant of how their choices on this matter actually influence the growth or reduction of the abortion industry at large. We all have more influence and responsibility on this issue than we might think at first glance.

The abortion industry is booming, far more reaching than Planned Parenthood, and we can say with great confidence they are making money off of the supply of babies coming in to be murdered within their doors. It is a lucrative, corrupt business and that is the most gentle way I could possibly say it. The hours of secret Planned Parenthood investigative videos gives us a great deal of insight into that truth. (The information in those films has not been debunked by the way, just deemed as unsuitable evidence for filing suit because of the undercover way in which it was acquired.)  Millions of babies are being electively aborted each year around the world. Check out this abortion clock to get a sense of the problem.

If you weren’t aware of the issue of aborted fetal components being used in the process of vaccine development, (and I wasn’t myself until very recently,) it’s time you heard it. These two articles talk about the issue from different perspectives, while providing a lot of information both to study and contemplate. This one approaches the issue from a more pro-vax stance, and this one from a more anti-vax stance. Looking at them together can help us to untangle what is true and false. The links connected to the second article are also very helpful.

The pro-vax article provides one bit of information for us, that I will use to inform us of our moral dilemma today, and that is this:

 In both the cell lines WI-38 and MCR-5, (the two cell lines presently being used in the manufacture of many vaccines). . .

“. . .It is quite clear that the aborted children were presumed to be healthy, and that there was no life-threatening condition or other medically-indicated reason for the abortion of these two babies.”

Want to know which vaccines contain these cell lines and which ones, don’t? Check out the CDC’s vaccine ingredient list for yourself.

We know that the toll of electively aborted fetuses used in research to develop cell lines for selective vaccines is higher than two, though the actual number is not completely clear. Additionally, the continued harvest of fetal tissue is not part of the development of vaccines we already have. That said, I will be arguing today, that there are still morally compelling reasons why we as pro-lifers should shun the use of vaccines created with the use of human cell lines WI-38 and MCR-5.

We live in a world in which the biotech industry is exploding. It is said to be “the last great growth frontier” of the business world. What we choose to do with this technology – especially at this moment in time – will determine the course of the industry and our society for the foreseeable future.

Here is how we participate in growing the abortion industry if we encourage, give, or use vaccines which contain cell lines from electively aborted fetus’.

1. If we applaud the ends of these vaccines louder than we decry the dark means that made them possible (electively aborted babies), we communicate a subtle collective message to women considering elective abortion (and those who participate in giving the abortions) that the choice to abort, in at least these limited instances, was acceptable, and therefore may very likely still be acceptable. That message assists them to lower their guard against the evil which they contemplate participating (or already give) participation, and it dulls their sensitivity to its inherent immorality. Not only could aborting and then donating the child to science be viewed as acceptable, but believing that baby might be put to some good, beneficial use for society may sear their conscience enough to let them feel as though they are actually martyrs while in the very act of electively killing unborn babies.

2. Our global economy is built on competition. Acceptance, (especially to the point of mocking, harassment, or threats directed at individuals who chooses to forgo vaccination, even for just these moral reasons alone. . .) sends the message that we would willingly accept more of the same dirty dish if it were served to us. This isn’t just some unfounded supposition, either. New cell lines are already being developed in hopes of them replacing the current cell lines used in vaccinations. They are viewed as even better than previous cell lines within the research community. Those who encourage, accept and use vaccines containing cell lines WI-38 and MCR-5, do NOT have a principled leg to stand on when new cell lines, like Walvax-2, make their way into our vaccines. (Because, who wouldn’t want better, more efficiently and effectively created vaccines?! . . .) Some argue that what is done in the past is done, can’t be changed, and so we should just graciously accept the health benefits of the vaccines and move on. But will we be able to stand in that future day against the additional unethical baby harvesting associated with creating new cell lines, if we failed to do so in the past (and by past I mean right now)? Probably not. If we are honest with ourselves, a vaccine ingredient containing a cell line from an aborted baby in 1962, should be just as abhorrent to us as one containing a cell line from an electively aborted baby in 2016.

3. We encourage the development and growth of the biotech industries in other unethical areas than just vaccines. If we don’t say, “No!” on this issue, the demand for electively aborted fetal tissue being used for research will not slow or reverse. The research using unethically sourced human tissue will continue to expand not only in health research, but in food and product development as well. (Look up information on Senomyx and Neocutis, Inc. for example.) In addition, not partaking of the “benefits” of products that may come of future research may become more difficult for us to reject if we haven’t previously rejected “benefits” of immorally created vaccines, today. Our consciences will have already been seared enough for us to be blinded to the immoral consequences our choices engender, so long as the “benefits” are good enough for us. . . The risk we take each time we succumb to choices based on false and unethical principle is shrinking character and spiritual sensitivity.

I can understand how some who read this post, might be yelling at their screen while pulling their hair out (for a variety of reasons I could imagine), or maybe even wanting to take a moral stand on this issue . . . but they find themselves filled with fear of what might become of us should we reject these select vaccines. If enough of us collectively reject the use of vaccines which contain ingredients derived from electively aborted babies, this is what I see in our future:

1. We will strengthen our character and develop greater sensitivity to truth and morality, instead of diminish and weaken them.

2. We will shut down industries using immorally-acquired biotechnology.

3. New biotech companies (like this one!) which only acquire their human tissue by ethical means, or who are finding ways around the use of human tissue for vaccine and medical developments, will EXPLODE in growth as they struggle to capture the new market; a market which is alert, awake, and just as hungry to receive the benefits of modern science as it is to know that those benefits have been acquired ethically.

4.We will collectively increase the stigma of electively aborted babies being used for research. We will not have supplied reasons for anyone else to participate in the evil act of elective abortion or its associated research.

5. We will be able to face our maker with confidence that we did the right and principled thing, even against severe social pressure to brush it off, ignore, or even defend the immorality of using the deaths of electively aborted fetuses to our short-term personal benefit, we will have done the right thing. Doing that - caring about both the ends and the means, so I’m told and so I sincerely believe, has benefits everlasting.

It has been said that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Let us not do nothing.

Please, let us do something.

What is that something?

I don't fully know yet, but I'm looking for answers. I know that if we don't get a critical mass who refuse to use the vaccines created with this technology we will not move the manufacturers because money equals votes to them. . . Perhaps the first step in this might be talking with our doctors and asking them for resources if they have any available. We may even be alerting them to the problem for the first time (like I did at my baby's last doctor visit - he was very interested and receptive to my concerns, by the way.) Next, sharing this information with our friends, family, and others in our line of influence is critical for this cause. If we want to contribute financially in some way, we might consider donating and raising awareness of biotech companies who make vaccines ethically? Perhaps there is knowledge of alternative vaccines or methods of protection? At a minimum, I think we all could take the time to write to vaccine manufacturing companies, request that vaccines they develop in the future, NOT contain cell lines from electively aborted fetuses. If you have any helpful information on what we might do to answer the question of this problem, PLEASE JOIN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW!!   

I found this article that has an excellent chart with alternative ethical vaccinations listed
It is very, very helpful.

***Just a friendly reminder: this is NOT a discussion of the medical efficacy of vaccines!*** 

P.S. If this post has gotten you hungry to read more about the ethics of this issue from a pro-lifer, I highly recommend this article. He’s a whole lot more eloquent than I am.

P.P.S. If by chance reading this article upsets you because of previous choices you have made for yourself or family, I hope you will be kind to yourself. We can't be responsible for what we didn't know. When we know better, we can do better. I find myself in this very category. 

**An important note: After posting this blog post, a friend on facebook commented that He didn't like me calling the choice to use/support/encourage tainted vaccines as "immoral" as it makes me the moral authority, and not using/supporting/encouraging tainted vaccines the only answer to this question, and everyone who chooses that path, immoral. Point taken. I will say this: Every person has a responsibility bring this issue to God and ask Him about the moral dilemma before them. Something like this, "I've been alerted to something I didn't know about before Father and it presents a dilemma before me. I feel an obligation to not be complicit with evil acts in any way, and I also feel morally obligated to care the best I can for those within my stewardship. Are there other answers to my dilemma? What can I do, where can I look, who can I talk to for answers? I know the abortion industry is heinous and the massive death toll associated with it as well as it's effects on society are horrific, but I also feel a moral obligation to protect my children and those around me from disease and its associated, effects - sometimes lifelong debilitation or even death. My instinct is to choose (fill in the blank action.) Will choosing this help/prevent (each individual child's name. . .) the measure of their creation? Is this choice thy will for this child? . . ." If we do not actually have a heartfelt wrestle with God and follow His instructions, ignoring this dilemma, and doing business as usual, is indeed an immoral act.** 

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