Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Tag: editorial

10 Ways to Decorate with DIY Pillows

Pillow fight!

Just kidding . . . But what is more fun that a bunch of big, fluffy pillows?

If you’ve just moved into a new apartment or home, a quick way to make your new space feel “homey” is to make some spunky pillows for any room. Currently, it is really popular to make your own pillows! Keep some of these ideas in mind:

  • Texture. Don’t shy away from texture! Flowers or frills can be sewn onto pillows to create a different effect.
  • Color. Embrace color. A bright yellow or red or pink may just be the perfect finishing touch to brighten up your room. Even think about using pastel colors.
  • Tassels. Add tassels for the sake of spunkiness.
  • Words. Add some text—a favorite quote or expression—to a pillow.
  • Round v. Square. Try your hand at making some round and square pillows! They don’t have to all be the same shape!
  • Reused Materials. Take an old sweater, and repurpose it as a brand new pillow! Not only will you be resourceful, but you will also stay warm and cozy with a snug pillow.
  • Glitter. Who doesn’t love a touch of sparkle? Glam up your room with some sparkling sequins or glitter.

Check out some fun pillow ideas below to help you spruce up your space!

—Katie, Stance: Studies on the Family

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“Let No Man Put Asunder”: A Marriage Promise

By Jerrick Robbins

My sister recently bought a new cell phone. It has all the speed, all the data, and all the memory a person could want. Her brand-new technology puts my one-year-old technology to shame. In fact, it might as well own my phone. Her phone’s screen has better resolution, its width is thinner, and its camera can even take a video in slow motion. As much as I love my phone, I plan on getting the newest model as soon as I can update next year.

It seems like our culture is going toward a “newest and best model” theology. People need the newest technology, the best car, the best job, and the newest trends. I have to admit, I want it—all of it. All the new and best things. Yes, that thought might be a little materialistic and unobtainable, but a guy can dream, right? Yes, guys can dream, so can gals. People can dream, and people can have hope that they will obtain their dreams. But there’s one dream no one should entertain.

As I write this blog post, my fiancée is sitting next to me writing “thank you” cards. Earlier today, I massaged her feet as she relaxed from a hard day’s work. I love her, I love serving her, and at this moment, I could never see me leaving her. Sadly, that’s what many couples say at the beginning of their relationship, but they end up doing what they never thought possible.

image from flickr user urbiefoto

image from flickr user urbiefoto

Too many people fall into the “newest and best model” theology when it comes to a spouse. In effect, they think that if their marriage isn’t working, if they run into technical difficulties or glitches in marriage, it’s time to trade in for a new one. Our culture’s “newest and best model” theology has been taken too far. That thinking has removed commitment from a relationship and inserted change instead. It has removed responsibility and inserted replace.

Marriage is not meant to be easy, and it’s not meant to be perfect. Even though there may be difficulties or glitches, we shouldn’t replace it; instead, we should restore it. Rather than the “newest and best model” theology, let’s go back to “let no man put asunder.” A marriage promise should be a lifetime warranty, not a money back guarantee.

The Way Things Are

by Jenna Hoffman

I was ready to move out of my parents’ house long before I actually did. By the time I was eighteen, my family was practically begging me to leave. My mom and I argued more often than not, my dad and I barely spoke, and my siblings were just nuisances to be tolerated.

When my mom dropped me off at my dorm the first day of freshman year, there was nothing in my heart but joy for my new found freedom. Although my parents only lived twenty minutes away, I can count on one hand the number of times I went home that year. I was having too much fun pulling pranks on the boys across the way and hosting spontaneous game nights with my new friends.

For the most part, this attitude continued through my sophomore year and into my junior year as well. As I had opportunities to live with and learn from a variety of people, I realized that everyone else seemed to have been raised much differently than I had. I started to make dangerous comparisons, comparisons which led to confusing thoughts and subsequent unfair accusations.

I was frustrated with the way I’d been raised. In my limited scope of life, I felt that I might have turned out better had my parents practiced “the right” parenting techniques. I might have been a better communicator and friend, a more competitive student and athlete. I might have had a stronger testimony of the gospel and a better grasp on the complexities of life.

According to my young and selfish self, everything I wasn’t and everything I didn’t have was my parents’ fault.

In the following months, I put my brain through a metaphorical meat processor in an attempt to figure myself out. I wanted to dig into the vaults of my upbringing and unearth the causes and effects of the person I had become. It was a long and emotionally painful process, punctuated by intense arguments with my parents and teary conversations with friends.

During one such conversation, a friend, who was a parent herself wisely told me, “I’ve learned that part of becoming an adult is accepting that your parents made mistakes, and forgiving them for it.” This piece of advice revealed two things to me: that everyone else had imperfect parents, just like I did; and that my parents were not just parents, they were people. I could not claim perfection, so why did I expect them to be able to?

This realization was the first step in accepting my parents for who they were rather than trying to change them into who I wanted them to be. Instead of blaming them for what I felt they’d done wrong, I took a deeper look into their own ideas and experiences, and I began to appreciate them for what they’d done right. And when I really took that time to evaluate my family in a fair and honest way, I discovered that although there were flaws, and grievances, and mistakes, at the core there was only pure and unadulterated love. And that is the way things are.

Savoring the Holiday Season

1370760By Aimee Hancock

As my fingers scrape the bottom of the candy bucket (yes, it’s only a few days after Halloween, but I’m a college student who has to eat something to stay awake while studying), I feel a little sad that Halloween is over, and not just because the candy is almost gone. The pumpkins are caving into themselves; leaves are turning brown and falling, making the trees naked; the candy shelves are red and green instead of black and orange; and I can’t find Waldo anywhere on campus. However, I feel ok about it all because when I flip the calendar to the new month, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and now I can start looking forward to that holiday.

That’s the way it should be—taking this season one holiday at a time. Lately it seems like all the fall and winter holidays are squished into a giant, blurry blob of candy, pine needles, and stuffing all topped with gravy. Christmas decorations come out so early that it seems like they never even leave the store. Sometimes I feel like I can’t even enjoy the holidays because before one has even happened, the next holiday is already screaming in my face, begging for attention.

I try my best to stop the holidays from melting together in my life; I like to make sure I’m not burnt out before the holidays even start. One holiday rule I have is no listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. There are really only so many Christmas songs, and if I start listening to them too early, I find that I get sick of them when Christmas actually rolls around. I like to save that music for Christmas so I can enjoy the songs during the setting they were meant for.

So this year, I’m looking forward to a lovely Thanksgiving dinner and, after all is said and eaten, I’ll crank up my radio and rock around the Christmas tree, enjoying the untainted and timely spirit of Christmas.


A Season for Courage

2013_pacheco (1)by Cody Phillips

When the basketball court inside Brigham Young University’s Marriott Center morphs into an enormous stage—makeshift orchestra pit included—you know something memorable is about to happen.

Production crews and performers alike spend countless hours each fall preparing for BYU Spectacular a colorful and rousing display of talent held in conjunction with Homecoming.

In previous years, I’ve been lucky enough to perform in this outstanding show as a member of the BYU International Folk Dance Ensemble. This October, however, instead of taking the stage in a traditional Hungarian costume, I sported a black shirt, black pants, and black shoes—the traditional wardrobe of the technical crew.

My job was to run around with a camera on my shoulder, getting close-ups of the dancers, musicians, and singers so that the entire audience could look at the big screen and feel as though they were seated on the front row. Shooting video for live projection is a fast-paced, exhilarating task. I love it. But this year, after the adrenaline of trying to find the perfect shot had worn off; I walked away from the Spectacular with a burning desire to follow the example of the everyday heroes that were spotlighted as part of the show. Each of them had a unique story, but they all demonstrated courage in the face of some formidable obstacle.

Rebecca Pedersen overcame family struggles and personal fears to develop her talents as a singer and to go on to win the prestigious Metropolitan Opera competition. Taylor Morris courageously made peace with the feelings of guilt that haunted him ever since he fell asleep at the wheel, causing an accident that took his sister’s life. Kathy McGregor fought the battles that come with being an outstanding single mother after she lost her husband to cancer. World-renowned classical/crossover vocalist Nathan Pacheco (this year’s guest performer) spoke of the courage he had to muster when he decided to follow his dreams and become a professional singer.

I’ve got to admit that tears began to form in my eyes a few times throughout the show. (That’s a bit problematic when you need to be able to see clearly through the camera’s viewfinder.) I couldn’t help but feel inspired by an invitation that Nathan extended before singing his final song. He encouraged the young people in the audience to follow their dreams, to follow the spark that dwells within each of them until it becomes a glowing flame. As the last notes of that finale resonated throughout the basketball-court-turned-concert-hall, he and the other performers stood as living evidence of the great heights we can reach when we let courage light our way.


Running the Pioneer Day 5K

by Melissa Hart

Five. . . four. . . three. . .two. . . bang! The gun fired and the Pioneer Day Temple to Temple 5k began. I ran along the 5k route, happy to be running, loving the atmosphere of the race, and very aware of the little extra tag on my bib number that read “Minnie Irene Case.”

As part of the Pioneer Day race, we were encouraged to run for one of our ancestors. While my great grandma Minnie wasn’t a pioneer who actually crossed the plains with a covered wagon or handcart, I had learned enough about her to know that she was definitely a pioneer—a strong woman who supported her small family by teaching piano lessons and who raised my angel of a grandmother—just in a little different sense of the word.

I ran past the “landmarks” set up along sides of the Provo streets, Chimney Rock, Scott’s Bluff, Fort Laramie, and was reminded of the first time I followed a path carrying an ancestor’s name with me. It was a pioneer trek reenactment when I was a teenager, and the ancestor’s name that time was Julia Ann Phippen, Minnie’s great granddaughter (my great-great-great grandmother). Julia did cross the plains with a covered wagon, just a young girl at the time. The story I love most about her was when she convinced her father to let her pick flowers along the trail and her red calico dress caught the attention of the Indians. After holding up all the fingers on one hand, showing her father just how many horses he was willing to trade for the girl in the red dress, the Indian brave rode away, disappointed and confused. What a different life I would have if that Indian had been successful!

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I neared the next landmarks, Independence Rock, Martin’s Cove, Rocky Ridge, and continued running with the throng of people celebrating the heritage of Utah. Our mini 5k Pioneer trail was nearing the end—South Pass, Fort Bridger, Emigration Canyon, with the Salt Lake Valley just ahead. As I entered the Salt Lake Valley, I’m sure I didn’t feel nearly as relieved as Julia and my other pioneer ancestors, but I did feel a great sense of accomplishment. Not only for finishing the race, but also for becoming closer to my ancestors. I still don’t exactly understand why, but carrying Minnie’s name with me that day was an honor, not just a mindless action without any meaning. It was subtle, a very quiet feeling, but it confirmed to me that every action that I take to know my ancestors impacts my life. If I were to attempt to explain it, I’d probably get it wrong. But maybe it’s just a tiny bit of the gratitude I should feel for those who came before me finally getting into my heart


Dealing with Spina Bifida as a Family

Capture3This past spring, while chicks were hatching and new flowers were blooming, my nephew was born. Our whole family beamed with excitement as we held his tiny body in our arms. He was perfect. He still is, despite the diagnosis that came just days later; my nephew has Spina Bifida.

Because it is the most common birth defect worldwide, many of you have probably heard of this condition. However, for those of you who hDave not, here is the scientific definition: Spina Bifida (“split spine”) occurs when the spinal column does not close all the way in development, causing the spinal cord to protrude between vertebrae. Often the spinal cord can attach itself where it is not supposed to, sometimes resulting in paralysis.

About 2 out of 1000 children are born with Spina Bifida, which may seem to leave the odds in your favor, however, this is a relatively high number compared to most birth defects.The long term effects of Spina Bifida range widely from permanent paralysis, to limited physical activity, to complete recovery.

The cause of Spina Bifida is not known and can manifest in mild or severe forms. In mild cases, the patient may not even know they have the defect until an x-ray is taken of their back for other reasons. In these cases, the defect has no effect on the patient’s way of life. In severe cases, the spinal cord does protrude and spinal fluid can build up in a tag or lump on the child’s back. In these cases, treatment is often necessary. Usually surgery is required to put the spinal cord back in place, however one surgery is not always a permanent fix and the spinal cord can be put out of place again in the future causing physical inconveniences. The most severe cases result in instant paralysis.


My nephew’s Spina Bifida was more than mild, but to the relief of all of us, not the worst case scenario. He had the little tag on his back indicating the possibility of spinal fluid, but he could move from the very first, which was the very best of signs.

While we all, immediate and extended family, lamented the possibility of future struggles this perfect little boy would overcome, we also found joy in putting our trust into his doctors and faith in God. While my nephew is still too young for us to know anything for certain about the kind of life he will lead, so far his motor-skills and physical strength have not lacked. This precious little boy is already a hero and role-model to our adoring family.

You can read stories about people living with Spina Bifida from the Spina Bifida Association here.

For more information on Spina Bifida, and to see how you can get involved, visit these links:

What I Stand For: An Editorial Response Inspired by Former President Clinton

by Alissa Strong

On Tuesday morning, Former President Bill Clinton appeared on CBS and issued a no-holds-barred statement to Muslim activists. Clinton condemned the tendency to resort to violence when the Islamic faith is disrespected and claimed that the modern world is too diverse, too grounded in the principles of free speech, and too connected socially on the Internet for groups to avoid being offended at one time or another.

He added, “You can’t react every time you’re insulted. . . . You cannot live in a shame-based world. You won’t make it in the twenty-first century.”

I do not claim to subscribe to all the beliefs held by Former President Clinton. I do not agree with all of his political ideas, and I do not endorse all of the actions he has taken. However, I do recognize true and good words when I hear them, and I will proudly announce my agreement with such a statement, no matter from whose lips the words came.

I believe that Former President Clinton’s words are true, not only for Muslims but for all people. We live in a world where, for the first time, Internet communication allows us to know what other people from all cultures all across the world are saying and thinking about us.

It is no longer a matter of if we will encounter disagreement and ridicule, but when. 

Learning to allow others the freedom of speech and action that we desire for ourselves is part of growing up. Not that taking offense is always childish—quite the contrary. When others demean us or our innermost values and beliefs, they can cut deep into our hearts. It is our natural reaction to protect what is dearest to us. But as we grow, we must learn to protect those things appropriately.

I believe that there is a difference between protecting your beliefs and reacting violently. I come from a religion that teaches us from our youth to “stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” Standing for what you believe in is an appropriate way of protecting what you value. It includes firmly but politely (also legally) doing what you can to uphold your beliefs in a situation where you can make a difference. Reacting violently, on the other hand, is an emotional and physical response that infringes on the rights of others and does not always have an effect except to harm those whom you have targeted. Such behavior is immature and unacceptable.

I believe that violent reactions are also ineffective. In 2002, approximately seventy Afghan refugees illegally seeking asylum in Australia sewed their lips and the lips of their children together to protest against the Australian government. The government did not react to their request and continued with their typical immigration processes.


Because if the government had granted the refugees what they wanted, future refugees would learn that self-harm to one’s self or children was likely to induce a wanted action. Behavioral psychology’s operant conditioning theory (introduced by B. F. Skinner) teaches that if a behavior is rewarded, we condition ourselves to continue that behavior in the hopes of gaining another reward. If a behavior is punished, presumably we will avoid that behavior in future to avoid future punishment. Thus, reacting to an offense with violence will likely make little to no difference to a cause because governments—or those we offend—are unlikely to acquiesce to such demands and encourage the likelihood of more violent protests in the future.

The world is changing, and not always for the better. But I believe that we can change for the better.

I believe there is strength and honor in turning the other cheek—in doing what we can to live and protect our beliefs, but also granting others the respect and courtesy to do the same.

I believe there is no honor in resorting to violence to protest when we are offended—be it physical violence or even simply bullying another via the Internet.

I believe that we have the responsibility and obligation either to solve disagreements like civilized adults—communicating clearly and rationally—or to look the other way and focus on the good that is in the world. To do any differently would defeat the purpose of standing for a greater good.