Faith in others

TODAY’S MUSINGS: I’ve been thinking about faith today. Faith is widely criticized in today’s world and yet we all exhibit faith in something. I might have faith in God. You might have faith that there was a Big Bang at some point that created the universes. Another may have faith in Jesus and yet another have faith in herself.I absolutely have a deep faith in my Heavenly Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ. This faith has been tried and tested over the many years of my life. I realized that sometimes, even though I have faith, I didn’t always have trust. My sister, Andrea, taught me a great deal about trust. Her faith was active — knowing that God was in charge and that she would trust Him with the outcome no matter what. This trust was hard-earned for her through many serious challenges. After going through some serious challenges of my own, I better understand that trust. But as a certified control-freak, it is still a challenge.I cast my burdens on the Lord but then I’m sometimes guilty of taking them right back and worrying–as if to say, “Well, I asked you for help but I’m not really sure you’ll do it.” Dumb. But also the challenge of a controlling person who has been plagued with worry. I have to consciously say, “No, I prayed about it and I trust Him and I will stay there and let the worry go.” Not easy for me.But another aspect of faith has grown (and been challenged) with having adult children. That is faith in other people–particularly my adult kids. It is hard to pivot from running their lives to stepping back and letting them take over. My kids are now in their 30’s (yes, I’m that old!). And they are terrific people. I’m so proud of my kids and their spouses. Each one is trying very hard to be a good person. So as they face challenges in their lives and make their own choices, I have repeatedly and consciously made the choice to have faith in them. I say it out loud – “I have faith in my son.” or “I have faith in my daughter-in-law.” That has been an interesting experience. As I say it out loud, I pause and think, “You know . . . I do have faith in them!” And I step back and watch them manage their own lives. (And try very hard not to be controlling :))Fundamentally, I have faith in people. Not everyone does, I know. But I believe that most people are good, caring, well-intentioned people who are trying to do their best every day of their lives. I have faith in people to make good decisions. I have faith in people to help others. I have faith in people to learn and change and grow. They may do things differently or believe differently than I do–but I still have faith in them.And I have faith in my self. Not always easy, I know. But I say (yes, I talk to myself out loud quite often) “Merrilee, I have faith in you. You can handle this.”Faith is so empowering. Faith in God is central and essential. But faith in others and their inherent worth and goodness is also very strengthening.

Fighting the urge to turtle

FIGHTING THE URGE TO TURTLE: I have to admit, I am feeling the urge–strong urge–to turtle. What do I mean by that? Bear with me as I talk about this. So for most of my adult life I’ve been a community activist. I see a pothole, I make some calls to see that it’s fixed. I see something going wrong at the schools, I speak up. I work to save unborn babies. You name it. I’m a firm believer in my motto from Gandhi, “YOU must be the change you wish to see in the world.”But sometimes it’s really hard. In fact, most of the time it’s really hard. I deal with yucky stuff — horrible things being taught to our children, unborn babies being killed at the rate of 8 per day just in Utah, children being rendered sterile–the list is long. And sometimes it seems hopeless.And I want to “pull a turtle.”When a turtle is threatened, they pull in their head and limbs into the protective shelter of their shell.And my “shell” is so peaceful. My home is beautiful and clean and organized and so peaceful. Spending time with my sweet husband and children and grandchildren is heavenly. Visiting with friends and neighbors is lovely. My shell is a great place to be–quiet, peaceful, supportive, and grounded in my faith. I’d love to spend all my time there. I’d love to just quietly play the piano, learn to quilt, work on my personal history, go out to lunch. I could stay in my shell forever.Honestly, I’ve been largely in my shell for the last few months following my campaign. Getting everything in order. Gathering strength again. Hunkering down during the pandemic. And it’s so nice.And when I see or hear things going on in the world, it’s like getting stabbed. I recoil. I think, “Oh, I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want to stay home.” It’s a whole lot easier in my shell. And the bad things going on in the world intrude on my peace daily.It’s tempting to think, “I’ve been doing this for 40 years, someone else can have a turn fighting it all.” But I just can’t do it. As hard as it is, I have to stick my neck out. The only way a turtle progresses and moves is to stick its head back out and its limbs and start moving, even if it’s slowly.I see so many things going on around me that need courageous turtles to work on them.So I’m sticking my head out again and again now. Time to move more courageously. Time to BE the change again. Time to step forward. And yes, I hate having to do it. And yes, it’s hard. And yes, sometimes the hope is thin. But I must.If I don’t, how can I face my kids and grandkids and say I made the comfortable choice? If I don’t, how can I face God and say, “You blessed me immeasurably but it was easier to just sit and enjoy my blessings”? If I don’t, who will?The pandemic has created a kind of de-energizing phase that will cripple us far more than any other kind of adversity. It is draining our energy to interact, to do good out in the world, to step out of our “shells” (i.e., comfort zones).But we MUST. We all must stretch out our necks and generate that energy to move forward and improve the world around us.So join me, fellow turtles. Today is a great day to stick our necks out.🙂

Lessons learned from COVID

This morning I was pondering what I’m learning from this whole virus experience.  It has been interesting watching the world . . . and the US . . . after a short period of testing and trials.  One thing I see repeatedly is the clamor for the government to solve any discomfort.  Have we become so entrenched in the Nanny-State mentality that we expect someone else (i.e. the government and the OTHER taxpayers) to make it all better?  I fear we have.

So here are my current lessons learned/observations:

  1. Hard things happen.  They’ve always happened.  This is just unusual because it’s on a global scale.  But hard things have been happening since the dawn of time.  It’s part of our experience on earth.
  2. Wonderful things happen.  They always bubble up when hard things are going on.  I need to watch for them and appreciate them.
  3. Our family is where it’s at.  Not the government.  Not the schools.  Not even the neighbors. Our family is and always will be our best and primary source of support. 
  4. It’s important to build those family bonds.  Don’t neglect that.  And draw on everyone’s unique strengths.  Some are peacemakers.  Some are cheerleaders.  Some are mechanics.  Some are cooks.  Some are tender.  Some are realists.  The blend is there for everyone within the family to draw from.
  5. The schools are not responsible for our children.  WE are.  They are not responsible for feeding, educating, babysitting, or influencing our children.  These are our children.  We need to step up and take care of them.
  6. The government is not responsible for making it all go away.  Sorry, things happen.  Deal with it.  Own it.
  7. The taxpayers are not responsible for giving you/me money to make things better.  Does it make sense to go ask your neighbor for $1,000 to make your life easier?  Of course not.  The government’s money is OUR money.  It’s not free.
  8. Taking the time to slow down and calm down is such a good thing.  In our world with a frenzied pace, slowing is a wonderful blessing.  Learn from it.
  9. When God said, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” He meant it.  Being prepared is our individual responsibility.  We can keep ignoring it – but we will reap the consequences of that choice.  You think toilet paper is important?  Try living without accessible food. . .
  10. Our neighbors want to help us.  The mutual support I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks eclipses anything I’ve seen for years.  What a wonderful web of kindness we have!  We can appreciate it and add to it.
  11. Faith is everything.  In the midst of trials and chaos, the peace that comes from our connection to our Heavenly Father and our Savior is everything.  It centers us, gives us hope, blankets us with love.  They are ALWAYS there for us.  If we have that as our core, we can make it through the hard stuff.
  12. “This too shall pass” is a true saying.  Time is a healing factor.  But we should never forget that something else will also come along.  So digging into this experience and learning from it will add to our strength and ability to weather the next one.  We can grow and learn if we take the time to see and listen and experience it all.

I can afford to be generous

I learned generosity from my father. When he was old, my mom often had to call charities and tell them to quit calling and asking for donations of clothing–because he would empty his closet and donate all his clothes and mom would have to buy him a new wardrobe.

I remember one day I was out to lunch with my older sister. We chatted with the waitress who was having a hard time in life. My sister left a HUGE tip – and said, “I can afford to be generous.”

I can afford to be generous.

That echoed in my soul.

I can afford to be generous with kindness. As you may remember, I’ve been working on that for a couple of years (and being back in running a campaign and being under attack has made that a challenge!).

I can afford to be generous with smiles and compliments and expressing interest in those around me.

I can afford to be generous with compassion and empathy.

I can even afford to be generous with understanding–even for those who violently disagree with me.

I can afford to be generous with just flat out paying attention to others around me and their lives. That is hard for me because I’m ridiculously busy and overwhelmed–but that is SO important because I need that from others as well.

I can afford to be generous with second chances–and thirds, and fourths, and on and on.

I can afford to be generous with my time –even when I don’t have much.

And yes, I can afford to be generous with my money. I can generously send money to those doing humanitarian work in Africa (Mothers Without Borders) and those saving unborn babies (Pro-Life Utah and Save the Storks) and those fighting for my freedoms (Libertas Institute) and those spreading the love of Jesus (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and more . . .

I can even generously sprinkle good – be it money, time, excess clothing, ideas, support, etc.

I can afford to be generous. I pray that I will and that we will all choose to be a little more generous this week.


I love to work hard. I must have gotten my work ethic from my dad who was a hard worker. I just love it. I must admit, working so much now is a challenge. I told my husband you’re not supposed to work 60 hours a week in your 60s! But I just flat out enjoy working. I have to force myself to stop and take a break or play.
And I realized that I love meaningful work. On any given day, I’m helping in the fight to protect families, protect unborn babies, helping families get their estate planning together so they save money and make things easier for their children, tidying up my house, you name it. All meaningful work.
And I admire people who do all kinds of honest labor — I admire the UPS guy that just came by, I admire the construction guys building homes, I admire the father who works day after day to provide for his family, and I admire the mother who works hard in the home caring for the family (or both!)
There’s something just so rewarding about starting a task and persisting until it’s done. I love the rewards of work — the clean counter, the folded laundry looking just right, the estate plan all done, the article I finished writing, and I love looking at the lines in the lawn after Steve mows it. Just signs of accomplishment.
I think some parents are afraid to make their kids work — like it’s damaging. But I’m truly grateful for parents who taught me to work. I have fond memories of laying a tile floor and painting the house with my dad in the rain under plastic (he was also a workaholic). I have memories of sweeping up the leaves with the whole family, pulling weeds with my mom, you name it. I’m sure I grumbled and complained–but now I look back with gratitude to parents who recognized it was important to teach all of us to be hard workers.
I absolutely adore having a to-do list and checking things off. Facing a project and seeing it through. And I love, love, love finishing things. I’m a big finisher.
So kudos to all you hard workers out there who work day after day. Congrats to all the good moms and dads teaching the next generation the value and importance of hard work.
Hard workers have built our nation. And I’m truly grateful.
(Now I’m headed back to work — you knew that was coming J)


I love mornings. I love watching the sun rise and natural light bathing the earth. I love the opportunities awaiting each new day. This morning as I watched the sun come up I thought, “What do I have to do today?” And into my morning, one by one, come the things I carry. Today I carry concern about two of my children who are working on their lives, I carry caring for my husband who just had knee replacement surgery, I carry thoughts of my mother-in-law who had a health challenge this week, and I carry a big concern for the unborn children out there who will lose their lives today.
That is why I begin my day with love and light and joy. I pray to God and hand all those concerns right over to Him. I read the scriptures to realize that many have carried burdens and that God is always there to help. I exercise to wake up the gift of a body God has given me. I think of all the blessings I’m so grateful for. I never face my day alone.
And I recite my personal mission statement:
“I am a source of love, light and power reflected from Jesus Christ. I am a loving teacher who inspires and motivates others to do good, be good, and turn to Christ. And I defend the Father’s plan of happiness for His children.”
Then I am armed with light and love and power and ready to greet a new day of possibilities.
Good morning!!

Why I fight for life

I’d like to talk about WHY I fight for life and against elective abortion and Planned Parenthood who is the largest provider of elective abortion.

I believe in the wonder and beauty of the creation of a human life. The second that the sperm penetrates the egg, all the DNA is present telling exactly what the hair color will be, whether they will be tall or short, brown-eyed or blue—every detail is present. A new human life has been created. And the second the unique human life is created it deserves a right to live. That being has worth. That growing human life has dignity.

Also, I love babies. I love big, chubby babies, and tiny little growing babies. I love babies who have special needs. I love babies who were wanted and those who were unplanned. I love them all. I do not pick or choose who to love – that love is not dependent on whether they were wanted, planned, convenient, girl, boy, disabled, rich, poor – none of that matters. They are ALL worthy of my love and our love.

I love women. I love empowering, encouraging, and inspiring women. Women are amazing co-creators with God. They have power and strength and incredible nurturing hearts. Encouraging, convincing, or helping a woman to kill her own baby is the most horrible thing I can ever imagine. Every woman I know (and I know many) who have had an abortion and killed their baby carry that burden their entire life. They are hurt, wounded, wracked with loss and pain over their decision. This is NOT empowering or encouraging. On the other hand, I have never in my entire life met a woman who regretting giving birth. Granted, it is hard work to grow and deliver a baby. But I’ve never met a single woman who regretted it and wished they had aborted their baby. Never. We do no favors to women by convincing them that killing their baby will make everything OK. It will not. These women who are so scared and desperate need our love and support—not convincing that ending their child’s life will solve everything. I am here to love and support them. I offer that to EVERY woman who finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy.

I believe that protecting the sacredness of life is crucial for our society. We have seen many societies—from Nazi Germany to Stalin’s Communism to ethnic cleansing—who do not value life and who begin to pick and choose who is worthy of living and who is condemned to die. When we fail to protect our most vulnerable populations, we decline into a degradation and barbarism that will destroy our collective humanity.

I fight against Planned Parenthood because they perpetuate a lie. They tell women that the life they have created is an annoyance and can easily be sucked away. They tell our society that it’s perfectly OK to rip apart a living human being. They tell us that it’s all about “choice” . . . to kill and “rights” . . . to kill. They lie. And they destroy. They destroy babies – millions upon millions – and they destroy women – millions upon millions. They try to cloak it in pink and balloons and slogans – but the organization that kills millions of innocents is rotten and foul to its core.

Fundamentally, I fight for life because of the wondrous joy of a new human life. And that is worth fighting for.

You may wonder if I love you . . .

You may wonder if I love you . . .
…because you’ve had an abortion. Oh, dear sister, I love you no matter what and I grieve with you your loss.
…because you’re gay. I love you regardless. I’m straight, can you love me too?
…because you disagree with me. I love you and respect your opinion. And I admire your passion in working for what you believe just as I do.
…because you are a liberal. I liberally love you and admire your desire to help the underdog in the ways you feel would work.
…because you are Catholic, or Buddhist, or Hindu, or Muslim, or whatever. I love you as a brother/sister in faith and try to also walk the path of goodness and righteousness.
…because you don’t agree with religion. I love you as a brother/sister regardless of your faith in science or religion.
…because you don’t like Star Trek. OK, now THAT’s where I draw the line. I’m sorry . . . but that just might be non-negotiable . . .Let me think about it for a bit….

(I know – this was serious and then my brain just took a giant left turn. That’s the way I roll.)

Please know that I love you — you truly are my sister or brother. I honestly feel that way no matter what choices you make in life. That NEVER EVER changes. (well, except maybe for the Star Trek thing . .. and I might need to add in Star Wars, camping, and ice cream. I’ve got issues — ) . OK, I will love you even then – but I might not like you as much as an ice-cream loving Trekkie in a tent. . . Just being real. Oh brother, this was supposed to be serious . . . I might be a bit sleep-deprived.

Preach the Ideal

Preach and teach the ideal!
So often in my work I have people who want to disagree or fight with what I do. They use the argument, “But what about .. . . .”
We see it in our work on families – “But what about those who have bad families?” Um, OK. Keep preaching that the ideal situation for a child is in an intact, married mother/father, family. All the social science data abundantly proves that a child is safest, healthiest, happiest, and most successful in this family. So preach and teach the IDEAL.

We see it in our work on parents rights – “But what about those who have bad parents?” Um, OK. Yes, there are some bad parents out there. So help the child, help the parents improve, keep helping them move to the safe, healthy ideal. So preach and teach the IDEAL.

We see it in our work on marriages – “But what about those who never marry?” OK, for most men and women the safest, healthiest, happiest and most successful situation is to be married. Most will, some won’t. But we preach and teach the IDEAL, knowing that not everyone will have that.

We see it in our work to protect unborn babies – “But what about the 12 year old who is raped?” Again, this rare – extremely rare – circumstance does not justify the wholesale murder of millions of babies on the planet. Yes, we provide help, support, love, and healthcare to the child. But again, we preach and teach the IDEAL – knowing that millions of babies will LIVE if we choose life.

That doesn’t make us insensitive to so many out there whose lives don’t fit the best of situations. We love them and care for them and support them. But we continue to teach what is the best circumstance so that our society will strive for the healthiest, safest choices and outcomes. We strive for the best–while knowing that not everyone will reach that. But we know that in reaching for the best, everyone will be better.

We do not teach to encourage unhealthy, unsafe, less-than-ideal choices. Why would we ever do that? We want our society to be a thriving, encouraging, growing society aiming for the best for all of the men, women, and children who want to be safe, healthy, happy, and successful.

So we will continue to teach and preach the IDEAL.

Planned Parenthood

A legitimate question – and here is my answer:

“I have paid attention to you being in the news as a devout supporter of pro-life in Utah. You have said that you would really like to see Planned Parenthood shut their doors. Whenever I see this, I am saddened. And I would really like to know what other solutions there are for women who use Planned Parenthood for their medical needs.

As some background, I am an LDS mother of 3 and have lived in Utah for the last 11 years. When we first moved to Utah, we were opening a new business and struggling to make ends meet in a very real way. Our children qualified for state medical benefits, but my husband and I did not. For years, I went to Planned Parenthood for my yearly checkup and birth control prescription. I was never required to pay anything, just donate if I could. I received excellent care. I saw the same physician each time and she was knowledgeable and respectful. I also noted that I was always asked if I needed help getting out of a dangerous relationship and if I was being allowed to make my own reproductive choices by my partner. I had never and still have never been asked that at a traditional women’s health clinic. Maybe it is assumed that if I can pay for insurance I am in a safe relationship? I don’t know, but that always struck me as interesting.

What other options would someone like me have had? Planned Parenthood was an incredible blessing me for when my life was harder. Of all the stresses I had of raising 3 little kids and having no where near the sufficient amount of money to do it, PP took a huge amount of stress off my plate. I had no intention of an abortion, I just needed great medical care and birth control. If Planned Parenthood hadn’t been around, I have no clue what I would have done. Is the solution for the abolishment of abortion the shuttering of Planned Parenthood?

I am not trying to start an argument, I truly want to know.”
Concerned Mom

Here’s my answer:
Good question – if you go to Pro-Life Utah’s website, you will find many other options.
Bottom line, we do not support an organization that kills babies – plain and simple. Whatever they do that may be good is completely eclipsed by the death of even one child — wouldn’t you agree? So we cannot support them in any way—they kill almost 2,000 babies a year in Utah. That horror cannot be justified because they give out free birth control.

So I would urge you to find somewhere else to go to get your care. There are many options. (Interestingly, my own OB said they would not turn away a woman who needed care. They would care for her . . . so sometimes it takes asking.)

We are saddened every day when we think of Planned Parenthood of Utah killing 6 babies a day. And we will be much happier when they are closed down as we think of the thousands of unborn children who will have a better chance to live.

Hope that answers your question.