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On July 7, 2016, five officers were killed and nine others injured in Dallas, TX. It happened following a Black Lives Matter protest. The cops were ambushed by a US Army veteran who was angry about police shootings of black men. He said he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers.

The following day, I had just returned home from dropping Rob off at the airport. He was headed off on a trip for work. I was on my bed doing some work on my computer when a cop, gun drawn, quickly moved past my window. He was hugging the exterior wall of my house. It was such a surprising sight, I almost didn’t believe I had seen it. It looked like a scene from a movie.

I thought two things: 1. Maybe there was some sort of fugitive that the cops were after. I mean, it happens! Although there were no helicopters overhead, and when someone is running away from police, there are usually helicopters and sirens and such. We also lived on some acreage in Fort Worth, so it was conceivable that someone would cut through our property. 2. I had heard enough stories of being in the wrong place at the wrong time with armed cops that I really didn’t want to surprise them in any way.

I got up from my bed and went into the hallway. Our house was small and after a recent remodel, the living room, dining room and kitchen were all open and surrounded by lots of windows. All the exteriors doors also had windows on them. I felt like I was in a fishbowl. Dang open concept. The only safely shielded spot was in that hallway. My phone, of course, was in the kitchen. I would have to make my way across that fishbowl to retrieve it.

While I contemplated racing across the entry/living room/dining room to get my phone, I heard someone, a cop I presumed, knock on the glass on the door leading out to the patio. My dog, Rusty, was sitting at the door watching the activity outside. Calmly. I nervously peeked around the corner at the door. No one was there. The cop had moved on.

I quickly raced across the room, grabbed my phone, and went back to the safety of the hallway. I called my neighbor, J.D. “Hey, J.D., this is Tori.” And he says, “Man, there are cops all over your property…” I asked him if he knew why. He said he didn’t. They had pulled up into his driveway, and when he went outside to ask them if something was wrong, they said, “Get back in the house, sir.”

Holy cow.

My next call was to 911. Hello, my name is… I live at… Why are there cops all over my property?

The person on the phone said I needed to come out of the house. I said, that’s fine, I will, but would she please let the police know first that I was in the house and coming out? Like I’m going to just casually walk out the door when their are police racing around with guns drawn.

After she notified the cops that I was in the house and coming out, I stepped outside the front door (with Rusty, of course. He wasn’t about to miss all the fun!), and four cops, two men and two women, came running up to me, guns still drawn.

First question out of their mouths: Do you know Robert Black?

Oh my gosh, what the heck?!

Yes, he’s my husband.

Is he here?

No, I just dropped him off at the airport. He’s a pilot. He’s going to work.

May we look through your property?

Help yourself!

They proceeded to go through every room of the house. And our vehicles.

I was allowed back in the house and I sat at the kitchen table. My trusty four-legged companion parked it right by my side and never left me for the duration. What a good dog.

The police said they had received a report about my husband. That someone on a phone with him heard someone else in his background say something about some dead cops in the trunk of a car. They had looked Rob up on Facebook and chose to focus on one photo, a black and white, that he took after returning from a camping trip. He was scruffy and sinister looking. (Let this be a warning: think twice about the photos you put on Facebook.) Yes, that is my husband, but let me show you a more benign photo of him. Really, he’s just a harmless, middle-aged dude with thinning hair.

I told them he may still be at the airport. I checked my Find Friends App. (Thank you, Steve Jobs, may you rest in perpetual peace.) Yup. There he was in Terminal A. Did they want me to call him?

Yes. We will tell you what to say…

So I called him and put him on speaker phone.

Hi honey, I need to ask you some questions. Will you state your name?

Robert Black.

And your address?

Honey, what’s going on?

Everything is fine. I just need you to say your address.

He complied.

And where are you right now? Please, just answer the questions.

I told him I would call him back in a little while and hung up.

Rob immediately called J.D. “Man there’s cops over at your house. I think they broke the door down.”

Rob called 911: What the heck are you doing at my house?

At which point the person my husband was talking to started talking to the cops over their radios strapped to their chest –

We’ve got the husband on the phone.

They’ve got the husband on the phone.


Oh, for heaven’s sake. Truly, it would have been comic if it weren’t for the nervousness of the cops and those drawn guns.


The person who called and reported my husband’s “suspicious background conversation” was someone in Colorado.

Well, we just ordered something from a company in Colorado. I know he intended to call them about arranging the delivery. He’s been at the airport. He can’t control whatever noise is going on around him. There are TV monitors on all over the place. And the story on all the TVs is the shooting in Dallas.

Here’s the phone number of the company we have been dealing with.

Do you think that everyone is just a little on edge and letting their imaginations run wild?

Rob, in the meantime is telling his FO, we gotta get off this plane. The cops have broken down the door to my house.

Long story short…everyone realized this was much ado about nothing, but also the result of something that was much ado and far from nothing – the death of five officers who who had gone to work the evening before and been assigned the job of ensuring the right of citizens to peacefully protest.


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With better gear, firefighters no longer surround and drown a fire – they go in.                – Bill Dedman


I feel like it’s time I recorded this experience. The setting: September 13th, Rob and I are visiting in Los Angeles, going to the beach, relaxing. Rob is recovering from an accident with a table saw and has just gotten cleared to return to work. Emma is at home in Utah. She has just started her MSW program at BYU.

It’s late afternoon and we receive  a text from the city: Pre-evacuation order for the community of Elk Ridge. We have never lived in an area with a wildfire danger, but we had heard that pre-evacuation orders can last for weeks. Don’t panic. Get your stuff in order and be ready. Just in case.

So we called Emma. Told her to grab the photos, genealogy, computers and financial records, put them in my car, take Rusty (our dog) to Holly’s to be on the safe side, and just go about life as normal. Don’t worry. These things happen next to the mountains all the time. So she did as advised and then went to a grad student banquet on campus. Two hours after the first text: Evacuation order. Everyone leave immediately.

Rob had flown over this fire – twice –  a week earlier when it was just a small thing that started from a lightening strike. He assumed the forest service would put it out. No. They felt that there had been enough rain recently that they could leave it be and that it would burn itself out. And maybe it would have if the winds hadn’t picked up. But high winds and drought conditions turned that little fire into a raging inferno overnight, and then it came up and over the mountains to the south of our community.

Emma raced home from the banquet. A friend and classmate let her park my car filled with the “important stuff” at her home, then took her up to the house so she could gather clothes and shears (so she could continue to work), and her own car. Left behind was Rob’s classic VW bus, our camper trailer, and a 4000 square feet worth of household belongings. Emma spent the night at her friend’s family home in Spanish Fork.

Rob and I got on the first plane back the next morning.

As we drove towards the south end of Utah Valley, we could see the smoke billowing up from behind our homes. The winds were coming from the south and driving the smoke and the fire north into the valley. The closer we got, the crazier it got. Cars were stopped at the side of roads with passengers looking at the fire through binoculars. Ash was raining down around us. It was hot and the smoke enveloped everything.

We were able to get up to our house. There were barricades up, but they were unmanned. We got inside and worked quickly to gather some more clothes and to stock the trailer – in case it became our only shelter – and drove it and the bus down to the high school where other people with RVs and trailers were staying. That also became the Red Cross headquarters.

Emma and Rob elected to sleep in the trailer. I went to Holly’s overnight. The next day, our home was still there. Rob went back to the house. Our neighbors across the street had elected to stay in their home for the time being. Rob decided to stay with the house as well. Emma and I went to Saratoga Springs and stayed at the home of our friends, MaryAnn and Joe Mardesich, while they were out of town.

At the community meeting that Sunday, we learned that the first night of the evacuation, the local firefighters were convinced that the fire was going to consume the town. The winds were just too strong and there were too few of them and not enough equipment to stop it. But miraculously, the line held. Over the next few days firefighters, planes, helicopters and heavy equipment from around the country came to fight the fire. Eventually there were close to 1800 firefighters up there. They would pack up their backpacks with gear and hike up the mountain to  set backfires, make dozer lines (bulldoze breaks in the brush), then head back to camp, sleep in tents and do it all over again the next day. Planes and helicopters dropped fire retardant on anything that hadn’t burned yet. And the line continued to hold.

Eventually Rob had to go to work and emergency volunteers began to man barricades to keep out looters and people just wanting to get as close to the flames as possible.

One thing I will always remember – running in and out of the house as I loaded the trailer, breathing in smoke, blinking away ash, and watching as whole stands of trees went up in flame. It was surreal. I wondered if my home would be spared. I also knew that if it wasn’t, it was okay. We would be safe. That’s what mattered.

The Red Cross closed its center because no one needed it. Everyone had friends or family they could stay with. The people of Utah were so generous with donations, authorities asked evacuees to please take donations to the families that were putting us up.

I stayed at the Mardesich’s across the valley and watched the smoke during the day and the flames at night. MaryAnn and Joe had only recently moved to the valley, so I relieved stress by creating order in her home – unpacking boxes, organizing pantries and cupboards, and weeding the vegetable garden left behind by the previous owner.

This was not the first time MaryAnn and Joe had come between me and homelessness. Bless them.

Miraculously, truly, our homes were spared. The cities of Elk Ridge and Woodland Hills did not lose a single structure. We were able to return to our homes ten days later. We had special sacrament meetings as a stake the week we returned to our homes and struggled through the fifth verse of How Firm a Foundation

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
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In the morning, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. I could not vote for him. He is not the stunning businessman that many claim him to be – he has regularly stiffed contractors and left whole enterprises in flames. He treats those with whom he disagrees with a contempt that encourages the worst in people. He did not win a majority of Republican votes in the primaries, and he did not win a majority of votes in the general election (and yes, I still stand by the electoral college), and yet, he won.

I stayed up late on November 8 to watch the election returns. I, like most people, I think, believed that someone else would be our next president. I first was surprised when he won Florida. Then stunned when he won Ohio. And finally dumbfounded when Wisconsin went his way. That was the point at which I thought, “He’s going to do this…He’s going to win.” The networks all held off on Pennsylvania and Michigan. It’s like they just didn’t want to admit it – that Donald Trump had just won the presidency, but they finally capitulated to the inevitable.

Now, that night was not one of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth for me, because the other candidate was this woman.


Hillary Clinton. I should have been excited by the prospect of the first female president, but I wasn’t, because it was her. If I couldn’t vote for Trump, I absolutely would not vote for Hillary Clinton. The woman who tried to publicly destroy the victims of her husband’s abuse. The woman who ignored requests for additional security from our diplomats in Benghazi and then tried to blame their deaths on some silly video. The woman for whom security protocol does not matter because the rules just don’t apply to her. The woman who will defame and bully people as political payback for her friends and to cover up her own misdeeds.

So I voted third party. I agonized for weeks. I watched as friends tied themselves in self-deceiving knots as they attempted to turn Trump into a moral giant at worst, or the lesser-of-two-evils at best. When I finally came to the conclusion that voting my conscience meant voting third party, I felt absolute peace about the whole awful mess – whoever would win, would win. The funny thing is, I was condemned by my mental-contortionist friends on the right before the election (I was called the “Queen of Arrogance” and passive-aggressive  by two women – ha!), and then denounced by the left afterwards. Save for defending people’s right to make their voice heard through a third party vote, I was utterly detached from the election once I felt confirmed in my choice. It made for an interesting election night. As the results came in with Trump sweeping up electoral votes, my reaction was a mixture of shock and dismay: “Oh my gosh, he’s going to win,”  and glee, “Oh my gosh, she’s going to lose!”

And so, tomorrow, Donald Trump becomes President Trump – tacky, tweeting, bullying, destabilizing, trash-talking, misogynist Donald Trump. The left is beside itself. Sick to their stomach over it. I might be too if it weren’t for one thing they don’t understand: I, and many other conservatives, have been sick to our stomach for a long time. We felt sick when the Clintons abused their positions. We felt sick to see the presidency brought low by a man who suborned perjury to hide his intern giving him blow jobs in the oval office. We felt sick watching a left-leaning media make excuses for them both. We felt sick every time Obama, ignorant of all the facts, jumped to conclusions over and over that endangered the well-being of police officers. We felt sick when we saw our government literally stand by and watch Americans get killed in Benghazi. We have felt sick for a long, long time. To all my Democrat friends I say, welcome to our world.


We arrived in Fort Worth in January 1990 driving a white VW bug and a red and white bus. It was cold and flat and windy, but it was a city and not the truck stop that Del Rio had been. Rob would be flying the B-52 at Carswell AFB. We could look forward to 3-5 years there before the Air Force moved us to a new base. But something happened along the way. The Cold War ended and so did the Air Force’s need for B-52 pilots. Rob got an early out and began flying for American Airlines and what was supposed to be a temporary home turned into a permanent residence.

What I did not initially understand about the state, I came to love. The people are fiercely independent. They are part western and part southern – the best of both worlds. They love their state, something you begin to understand when you visit the Alamo. It’s hot in the summer. So hot you want to cry. And there are wild flowers, and sunsets, and thunderstorms. And then the calm after the storm.

We bought some land with a small house on it where we could have chickens and cows. We had honey bees for a time. There was a well with naturally soft water that actually tasted sweet. There was also a temperamental septic system that we often cursed. We had pecan trees and oaks, and the squirrels would leap from tree to ground to tree. There were hawks and rabbits and sometimes possums and coyotes. When the weather was pleasant, or we just had a lot of dead wood to dispose of, we would have bonfires. We lived close to the church and often used our house for gatherings – socials, scouts, youth activities.

I remodeled the house and turned it from a ranch home into a little cottage.

We lived through droughts and floods. (Literal and figurative!) We made friends. We raised our children together. We took them to the lake in the summer and carpooled to art classes and music lessons during the school year. We watched them grow up and marry. We celebrated their milestones, made food for their weddings and mourned at their funerals.

In the evenings, we would sit in our living room and look out the window to our pasture.


I have traded that view for something new and different. Not something I was expecting at all. The something new feels right. But 26 years is a lot of life to leave behind. And as I consider the new and different, I wonder what the next 26 years will have in store for me.



After the children of Israel escaped Egypt, instead of immediately going to the promised land, they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness. They were in limbo: an intermediate state or condition. I am in limbo. A little, Provo, studio-apartment limbo. My old house, not quite sold, my hoped-for home, not quite mine, and the state of both in question due to factors outside our control. So I am waiting out these 1%, first-world problems (truly, for there are millions of people displaced and suffering unimaginable pain in this world, and I think to complain?) trying to figure out what lessons I can learn from this period in my life.

Lesson 1: Politics can bring out the worst in people. If they aren’t insulting, they are condescending. If you disagree with them, you must be stupid or naive. Or both. They believe that if you saw just one more poorly-written screed, then surely you would change your mind and vote just like them. So be civil always and respect differences of opinion. That does not mean to always be silent. Sometimes we must speak up, but do so in a way that can never bring reproach. Be a light.

Lesson 2: Some things are worse than a liberal SCOTUS. I am uncertain about many things, but not about who I am voting for. When we first moved to Texas, Ann Richards was running for governor. Her Republican opponent was Clayton Williams. A more obnoxious bubba you never saw. He did not deserve to hold public office. I declined to vote for either because I disagreed with Ann Richards’ stand on most issues. The world didn’t end and Ann Richards lasted just one term. Since her time in office, Texas has been served by three good, (one very colorful) conservative governors. Hillary Clinton will become the president. She is horribly corrupt. Horribly. Her abuse of power and disregard for the lives of those who serve this country is enough to make you cry. It will not be pretty. Her opponent, Donald Trump, is an ignorant, non-conservative, misogynist bigot. His ardent followers are bullies who mistake nationalistic rhetoric for patriotism. He has a toxic effect on people – he reinforces vulgarity and coarseness in public discourse. Many who would not normally support him, do so now and make excuses for his behavior and his words and hold him up as an example of great business acumen. I fear his effect on civil society.

Lesson 3: Living close to a temple is really nice. I can see the Provo City Center temple from my apartment window. I have been to the temple almost every week. I love it. It is a refuge from the ugliness of the election and the uncertainty of my status as a resident of Utah. I ran into Melissa Dalton Bradford there. She is an author that I stumbled upon some time ago. I read her books and blog. She is a talented writer and has lived an interesting life. She lost a son in a tragic accident and her writings have given me a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the grieving process. Losing your parent after a long life is something we expect. But losing a loved one who is still relatively young or a child – that is a whole different kind of sorrow. Anyway, it was a pleasure to meet her. So glad I had lost my earrings and gone back to the temple to find them! Tender mercies.

Lesson 4: When you don’t feel like going to church, go anyway. Just. Go. Holly and Gared are out of town this weekend. Rob is flying. That meant I would be going to church alone. I was tempted to just go to sacrament and skip the rest, but I am glad I stayed. We studied Elder Holland’s talk from April 2016 conference. I needed that. He quotes Hebrews:  “Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” Now, I do not have a “great fight of afflictions”, but this whole process of being in limbo and wondering if these sale and acquisition transactions are going to actual go through, it is trying for me. I start to wonder, “Did I hear correctly the answer to those prayers? Can I trust God?” The lesson was a reminder to me that, as Elder Holland says:

the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—that’s the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life.

So, whatever the outcome of our efforts to move out of this state of limbo, God knows the end from the beginning and has a plan. And, yes, I can trust Him.


Wang Deshun

Watch this. Really.


As in “thoroughly cooked”. I received my degree on July 20, 2016. Did you know that the traditional use of the word graduate was in passive voice? One “is graduated from” university – as though the university is giving birth to an alumnus. Either way…a process begun 35 years ago came to an end at long last. So many detours. I began as a student at BYU in Provo. On a whim, I joined a young woman I had only known for a couple of months in attending a semester at BYU-Hawaii. I am so grateful for that experience. I returned at the end of the semester to a very different life and home and job. I kind of had to re-evaluate my life at that point. Continuing with school seemed monumental. I flirted with the idea of traveling, then my traveling companion had a sudden change of plans. I started going out with Rob and my life took a turn. By the time I returned to school in earnest, I had a daughter married, one in college and one about to graduate from high school. My life had taken me from California, where I though I would live my whole life, after all, there is no life east of Pacific Coast Highway, to Texas. I homeschooled my daughters all the way through high school. NO ONE homeschooled where and when I grew up. Only weirdos would do such a thing. Yup, I turned out to be one of them.

I was sooooo unprepared for college when I was 18. I remember the drive up to Utah. James Ottesen drove us in his truck. I sat between him and his best pal, Ed Formica. We left when it was still dark and arrived in Provo in the evening. I roomed with my friend from home, Saskia Scow. We lived in Deseret Towers on the same floor with Dianne Dain and Carol Stansel, also from Palos Verdes. Those dorms have been demolished and new ones stand in their place now. The next morning after arriving, while lying in bed – my eyes still closed – I could hear people moving about. I thought, “Who’s up so early?” Ha! I forgot I was at BYU! I thought I was still home. I opened my eyes and had a moment of fear. BYU was huge. And the kids that I knew there had all come from relative privilege. I was a fish out of water. I tried to live my life like them, but I really needed to have found my own way instead of adopting theirs. I just didn’t know how to do that or who to emulate. (I do better when I have examples to teach me.)

There were some things, however, that were really good for me at school: regular meals at the cafeteria – I ate pretty healthy when left to my own devices at a cafeteria; regular exercise – I took an aerobics class. I liked it so much that I would attend classes other than my own; a smoke-free, wholesome atmosphere; cheap student football tickets and on-campus entertainment.

My road to a degree was circuitous to say the least, but it ended up leading me to exactly the degree that was right for me. I remember reading my patriarchal blessing through my life and thinking, “Who is this person? I do not recognize her.” Who knew I had to wait 35 years to meet her.

I have been taking a class on the socialization of individuals. We look at the whole macrosystem’s and chronosystem’s influence. This week, we have discussed gender – that horrible construct of feminist theory. According to that theory, sex is biological, but gender is expressed. I think that feminist theory is riddled with contradictions. On the one hand, we are supposedly socialized into “male” or “female” behavior. Yet a man may choose to express himself as a female and a female as a male – and those feelings of wanting to express him or herself that way is beyond his/her control. How can that be if we are socialized into our genders and society forces men and women to behave, and view the opposite sex, in certain ways? I’m sure they have a convoluted answer for that that creates even more contradictions. That’s the beauty of feminist theory. It doesn’t have to make sense.

Anyway, we had a prompt this week about gender characteristics in light of science and the Proclamation. I had these thoughts:

Many people believe that all gender differences are socialized. However, research on the brains of males and females consistently reveal structural differences in how men’s and women’s brains work. Research also concludes that in addition to biological difference, men and women also display cognitive differences. It is important to remember that not only are there differences between sexes, but there is variation within sexes, which explains things like “tomboys”. In general, males are more aggressive and have greater visual-spatial ability. In general, females have greater verbal ability. 

I believe that when the Proclamation speaks of gender differences, it is speaking more of responsibilities and not behaviors. If we look at the words we use to describe the Savior (meek, compassionate), they are descriptors that our society usually identifies as “female”. I believe that the Proclamation, in contrasting the sexes, is speaking of areas of responsibility, with men presiding, providing, and protecting and women nurturing, and not gender attributes as it relates to socialized or innate behavior.

Where the Proclamation speaks of divine nature, it does so apart from the directives about responsibilities of mothers and fathers:

ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

I think our having a divine nature and destiny has more to do with our divine heritage and destiny as “heirs of eternal life” and less to do with gender differences. And by saying that “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose”, the prophets are clarifying that gender, as it is understood today, is not something that is expressed outside of biological sex. Our identity and eternal purpose is tied to our sex/gender. Elder Ballard confirms that pronouncement: 

Men are given stewardship over the sacred ordinances of the priesthood. To women, God gives stewardship over bestowing and nurturing mortal life, including providing physical bodies for God’s spirit children and guiding those children toward a knowledge of gospel truths. These stewardships, equally sacred and important, do not involve any false ideas about domination or subordination. Each stewardship is essential for the spiritual progression of all family members—parents and children alike.

These stewardships are eternal and tied to our eternal identity as males and females, men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers.  The Proclamation declares we are an eternal, divine complement of stewardships, not gendered characteristics.



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Yesterday I officially completed my internship as a United Families legislative intern. As a legislative intern, I researched bills and issues relating to the family that were before the Utah legislature. I met with representatives (mostly) and some senators to inform them of what we knew of the various matters of business before them.


I attended committee meetings and testified in favor of bills.

Attorney General Reyes

I met with the Attorney General and shared with him bills that UFI was tracking. I attended a weekly family coalition meeting as well as a townhall for the city of Layton. I assisted at a booth at BYU-Provo’s Civic Engagement workshop. (And if anyone from BYU is reading, your Civic Engagement minor, well, it’s kind of weak. It pains me to say that because I bleed blue, but your smaller sister-school to the north has an Advocacy major with some real teeth in it. Call them up and learn something from them.) The thing I really liked was writing fact sheets. Legislators really will use the information (always backed by studies) that is on those fact sheets. We heard representatives use the information contained in them on the floor of the house. I learned a lot about tone, and I learned a lot about building relationships. Laura has been expert at that.

I also went to the UN.

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Family Studies students read A Sacred Duty as part of their Advocacy class. We become familiar with the intimidation and coercion that family-friendly countries face from the western world. We also learn that NGOs that support the natural family also face some stiff opposition.

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At the UN, UFI gives presentations, called parallel and side events, where we discuss issues concerning families and things that we can do to strengthen them. This year for our parallel presentations, we teamed up with Fight The New Drug and focused on the dangers of pornography and its link to human trafficking. Our side event featured talks about trends in marriage and child bearing, parental rights and the impact that fathers have in the lives of their daughters. That last topic was presented by Brother Rarick. He does something unique at the UN. So much of what we hear there is negative. Every bad thing going on in the world, every injustice, every barbarous act of cruelty – it can be overwhelming. And every day there are people who are trying to change and destroy that which we know to be God ordained. It’s important to remember that they are children of our Heavenly Father, and they think they are doing good, but often their efforts are terribly misguided. And too often their efforts only compound the problems our world faces. And it physically weighs on you. At least it weighs on me. But Brother Rarick comes and shows us the value of men in society. He brings the spirit into what is otherwise a spiritless space. He reminds visitors that there is something good in family and fatherhood. And people’s hearts are touched. The BYU-Idaho students that attended also bring that spirit with them. They are good and pure and guileless and brave. They are valiant warriors for the family.


Much of our time at the UN is spent on mission visits. We meet with representatives from various countries, especially those trying to maintain their values and culture, and which clash with the agenda of western nations.

One of the things that UFI does to help these nations resist the pressure they are under to conform is give them the Negotiating Guide which is a catalog of family friendly consensus language found in UN documents. Countries can use this language to protect their interests.

When we meet with representatives, we are often faced with skepticism. These people have been lied to over and over. Western women claiming to support the family come offering help, and then they pull a bait and switch. You can see their distrust in their body language. I met with a woman from a north African country – arms crossed, disbelief written across her face. You could hear her thoughts: Who are these women and what are they trying sell? It took several minutes, but when she finally believed we were friendly, she opened up and told us of the pressure they are under constantly from the west. It is not uncommon for them to say that they ask for immunizations but all they get is condoms and abortions. Because that is where modern-day feminism has brought us. Feminism believes women need to be freed from the home and child bearing, that these things keep women from living a self-actualized life. They believe that in order to have true equality with men, they must be like men and deny that which makes them uniquely female – the godly power to create mortal life.

My patriarchal blessing talks about my education preparing me to be a mother in Zion. When I resumed my education that had been put on a shelf 30 years earlier, I didn’t know how that could be realized, since I was a middle-aged woman whose children were grown and gone from the house, but Advocacy class helped me understand what the Lord meant. My call, however, to be a mother in Zion is not unique to me.

In 1998, President Hinckley said, “Now there is an added challenge for you sisters of this day. Never before, at least not in our generation, have the forces of evil been so blatant, so brazen, so aggressive as they are today…. If anyone can change the dismal situation into which we are sliding, it is you. Rise up, O women of Zion, rise to the great challenge which faces you.”

And from President Boyd K. Packer we heard, ““We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out…

“We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous…

Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world.”

Last of all President Russell M. Nelson has called us to be “women who can detect deception in all of its forms… women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity…women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.”

Something I realized while at the UN is that the work of protecting the family is a responsibility we all, male and female, share. But the work of combating radical feminism is the work of mothers in Zion. It is women that have distorted a righteous desire for equality under the law and given us modern day feminism with its slavish adherence to abortion, its denigration of men, its disdain for religion and its totalitarian tactics, and it is women that need to fix this.

“Rise up, O women of Zion, rise to the great challenge which faces you.”












I was pregnant with Caroline while Rob was at field training. It was the first time we were separated for any period of time. I was working in the shoe department at the May Co. I felt so weirdly alone those weeks while Rob was in San Antonio. I had never lived on my own before. The house was really quiet. I planned something fun every week to pass the time.  A little something to look forward to that kept me going. One of those weeks I went to Denver to visit Rob’s parents. I was rather pampered. Gretchen sewed maternity dresses for me. Something about the altitude made me extra sleepy. I took naps every day. It was also the summer of the Night Stalker. There was a serial killer in Los Angeles. I was afraid to open the windows at night. It was so hot and we did not have air conditioning. One of my cats lost the tip of her tail one day while I was at work. The other cat would freak me out by hanging from the screen on the kitchen window when he wanted to be let into the house in the middle of the night. The way the Night Stalker (aka Richard Ramirez) was caught was an exciting story. A survivor was able to give a description of him. The sketch was in all the papers and on the news. It was everywhere. He was recognized and ordinary citizens in East Los Angeles chased him down, subdued him and handed him over to the police.

Rob and Tori December 1985

Caroline was supposed to come in January, but she set the precedent for my early births. Everything about having Caroline was a learning experience. First she was supposed to come at the end of January. Then, when I was about four months along, the doctor determined I was farther along than they had thought. I must have had a period while pregnant. So my date was moved up to the beginning of January. Everyone made fun of our lousy planning. We would miss having her as a tax write-off that year. I had cramps throughout my pregnancy. They made me nervous because I had had a miscarriage several months before. Another lovely aspects of my pregnancy: I gained 20 pounds in my fourth month. Nice. The nurse thought the scale was broken and took me to another to double check. No, it was not broken, I had just eaten like a pig. I worked right up to Christmas Eve, then started my maternity leave. Saskia and her mother-in-law planned a lovely baby shower for me. We had it just a couple days after Christmas and then I went into labor on the 29th. It was a Sunday. I was at church (we went to the single’s ward to hear a friend’s missionary homecoming talk – I can’t even remember who it was, I was so distracted with contractions). We went to dinner at the Session’s home. I didn’t eat because I hoped, rather than knew, that I was in labor. It was an odd labor. The contractions were two minutes apart from the very start, but very mild. NOT what we had been taught to expect. Finally we went to the hospital. They saw two minute apart contractions and admitted me immediately. Mistake. They should have sent me home, but I was dilated with contractions coming every two minutes. They thought I was moving quickly. Nope. I labored for over 24 hours. I’m sure things would have gone much quicker if I had been at home, but none of us realized that I was just an oddball when it comes to labor. By the morning the doc decided to administer pitocin to speed things up. Ugh. It worked. I was hooked up to every contraption. Everyone in the world started showing up to witness. Margaret dubbed it the “stadium birth”. By that afternoon I was pushing and Caroline arrived around 4 pm.

Caroline blessing day

blessing day

We named Caroline after my sister. Carrie had been named after my grandmother, Caroline (Leilani) Dias. There are very few photos of Caroline as a newborn. We did not have a camera. These days everyone has a camera on their phone so there is no missing any moment. We missed documenting a lot of early moments with Caroline until we got a camera.

We brought Caroline home to a little duplex in San Pedro. We loved that little home. It was built in true Craftsman style. It was only one bedroom, but there was a large walk-in closet off the dining room. We put her crib in there and it was quiet and warm. I had one moment of tears. We brought her home and lay her in the cradle at the foot of our bed and I cried, “I don’t know how to do this.” I was afraid of messing up. And I did. So I prayed that God would make up for my shortcomings and that Caroline would be resilient.

Easter 1986

Easter 1986

I look back on my time with Caroline, when it was just the two of us at home, with great fondness. She was a lot of fun. We played hide and seek. She made up funny words and made funny faces when you fed her things like refried beans (but she would keep opening her mouth for more!). She was a loved and welcomed first grand and great-grandchild. She loved the water. We lived in a cabana in PVE for a little while. She would strip and put on floaties and jump in the pool. Fearless. Back then, before airbags, you could put children in car seats in the front seat of the car. I would put Caroline in the passenger seat next to me and point things out to her as we would drive around the hill. She loved to see the ocean. “Wadoo” was her word for it. Zoompts for balloons (yeah, can’t explain that one).

Afternoon %22Tea%22 Amagansett August 1986

a tea party to meet great-grandma’s friends

Amagansett August 1986

cocktail hour in Amagansett

When Caroline was really little, I would put her in a baby carrier on my chest and take her to do my errands. She would get all warm and limp and fall asleep. I loved how she smelled. And she would sigh in her sleep. She was an easy baby. We also would take long walks around San Pedro. I loved living there – hearing the ships in the harbor, the Craftsman style homes, the history of a town built by fishermen and seafarers with Greek and Yugoslavian and Italian names.

First Christmas 1986

first Christmas

First birthday with ggpa and ggma 1986

first birthday with the great-grands

When I was in the hospital, my dad came to visit. He brought a gift of a white porcelain elephant figurine. It’s trunk was raised – a symbol of good fortune. I didn’t know that at the time, and kind of looked at my dad with a “most people give blankets” expression. He explained the meaning, which I found very touching, and have continued the practice with each of my girls when they had their first children.

Caroline turns 30 this year. How did 30 years go by so quickly? It just seems like yesterday that she was a baby, a toddler, a little girl with a lisp. I am so proud of the woman she has become. She is smart, creative, brave and a wonderful mother – a Proverbs 31 woman…

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


Easter 2015

Happy birthday to the woman who made me a mother.