Sunday, September 30, 2012

While I Was Reading Sunday- John 3

 While I was reading in the Gospel of John I especially enjoyed the many references to light and dark. John makes use of these symbols almost like a theme to his entire account of the Savior's life. In chapter three Nicodemus comes to the Savior in the dark, perhaps to avoid other Jews from seeing him with Jesus. Nicodemus will be leaving enlightened by the message of everlasting life through a spiritual birth.

    John 3:3 "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
   A natural man or woman, being in spiritual darkness, cannot even see the kingdom of God around them. A change must occur much like what occurs during mortal birth in order for us to see and enter.
   John 3:5 "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
   A baby, in an environment of darkness, must come out of the water, out of his mother, who spills her own blood to bring him to life. So we at baptism come out of the water, with the assistance of the Savior, Jesus Christ, through his spilled blood, to enter a pathway which eventually leads to life with Him and like Him
 Enoch, citing the teachings of Adam, elaborated on the doctrine: “As ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, … even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood … ; for by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified and by the blood ye are sanctified” (Moses 6:59–60). So I take this to mean that our spiritual rebirth starts with baptism,  then upon receiving the Holy Ghost, His influence starts a change within us that makes us "right" or justified, and finally the atonement cleanses the complete inner vessel. 
   After having given the greatest gift of his Son, the Father provides a sequel, the next greatest gift: everlasting life—his kind of life—for all his children 
   John 3: 16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
  Why would we pass on this amazing gift? Here John comes back to the contrast between light and dark.
 John 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. "
  As much as seeing my inadaquacies and weaknesses makes me feel vulnerable, being in the light is preferable. I come to Jesus like Nicodemus, hiding my sins but needing to be with Him more than protecting myself.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Search Or Organize

    I thought of a new seminary game this morning to support learning key words of the Scripture Mastery and learning the books of the New Testament. The game is called Search or Organize. Divide into two teams. One team receives key word clues and the other team tries to put the cups listing the Books of the New Testament in order. When all the members of the Search team are on the mastery scripture page the round ends. 

                                  Who was first to finish? The Searchers or the Organizers?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Visiting Teachers

     This morning as I was searching online I glanced up from the screen and these beautiful flowers came into focus. They were from my Visiting Teachers and I am so glad they came to see me. Visiting Teaching is a program in my church for every woman, eighteen years and older. Two women come together to visit and lift my spirits. They come every month, or so, and I look forward to the time we spend. I am very selfish when they come because I have fun things to share with them. The discussion is usually about me, how I'm feeling, what I am doing, or what I might need. My two friends really want to know and I have learned to trust them. There is an art to being a Visiting Teacher and it starts with being open and interested in others. There is also an art to being the recipient of Visiting Teachers. It can be a vulnerable thing to have others in your home and "checking you out".  Really it is all about looking for the best in others and validating each other as women who care.

                                                                What is not to like about that?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Serendipitous Event (Or Two)

   Sometimes in the meanest of places you can find serendipity. I have a real mess in my front yard. It could have been a weeding job but now it may require excavation. Blackberries are a conundrum here. We hate them, they are the meanest weed, but we love their fruit.

                                    I walked by there and noticed some pink peeking through.

                              What is this bulb rising up at the end of September. Who planted it?

                     Well, what a sight to behold and what serendipity to have blossoms now.

                    For a second even more fortuitous event click here. You won't believe it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

On Being Creative

My daughter brought home a bunch of garlic and left it on the kitchen table. Not knowing what she had planned for these bulbs I grabbed a vase and plopped them inside. Stepping back I thought how marvelous they looked as a harvest bouquet. 

   I have a nature theme going on my fireplace mantel and they fit right in. The older I get the more I trust my eye and I find that I appreciate my own creativity. I remember wanting others to validate that I was artistic and I copied more than created. The time has come for me to turn off the "others" and enjoy what I see. I have no need to be cool, just inspired.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More Seminary Readiness Activities

   I believe in having readiness activities everyday. Here are some more I'm using in my class. Adapt them to your lesson or use them as is.
 1.Hidden Word Game-  Can you find the hidden word in this sentence?
           Rubarb apt. is my favorite location.

   2.Scanning- Assign to each student upon entering class a section, paragraph, page etc. for reading or looking at material quickly to gain an overview of the content. Can note, share with a partner, or discuss with class

   3. Surveys- Hand out a mini-survey at the beginning of a unit, topic, etc. that asks for opinions and knowledge concerning the subject material. Topic: Temptations of Christ.
                                                            Mini Survey

           1. Which would entice you away from reading your scriptures at lunch?
                   a. The Candy Machine
                   b. The People Watching You
                   c. The Chance To Talk To Friends
                         100% picked C

           2. What would make you turn off an inappropriate movie?
                    a. Your Mother Bribing You With A Treat     
                    b. If The Girl Next To You Asks You To
                    c.  Knowing That Others Around You Feel They Should, As Well
                            100% picked C

            3. What Would Stop You From Fasting?
                   a. Hunger
                   b. Your Father's Hounding You
                   c. Being Told You Have To By Your Seminary Teacher
                          40% picked B and 60% picked A 

              4. Why Would You Choose To Miss Seminary?
                   a. You Need Sleep
                   b. Your Friends At School Think It's Lame
                   c. You Want An A In Algebra
                          40% picked C and 60% picked A

   4. Word Splash- Prepare a collection of key terms from a written passage which the students are about to read and give as they enter the class. The terms selected represent important ideas that the teacher wants students to attend to when they actually do the reading later, but initially the students' task is to make predictive statements about how each of the terms relates to the title of the reading. Display selected terms randomly and at angles on a visual (overhead or chart). Students brainstorm and generate complete statements (not just words or phrases) which predict the relationship between each term and the topic. Once students have generated statements for each term they turn to the printed material, read to check the accuracy of their predictive statements and revise where needed. "Splash" refers to the random arrangement of the key terms around the topic at the start of the activity.

    We are using journaling on a regular basis. I try to teach how to journal by giving note tips once a week. On that day we fill out a page together, write in scripture references, and take time to add thoughts and feelings. I use the journal notes as quiz questions every two weeks to show the value of taking good notes in seminary.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Woodpile

   So yesterday I woke up with a large rash on the trunk of my body. I had been down sick with chills and a cold the two days before. A little flag went off in my head and brought up the word "Shingles". I googled it and found I had all the pre-conditions and many symptoms. So, I started the process of getting hold of the doctor, which is difficult on a Monday morning. While I kept trying the phone, I doctored the rash myself with Lavender oil and ointment. The pain and irritation went away and two hours later, still no doctor, I listened to my body and it whispered, 'Peace".  What futurizing I had been doing, thinking I might be in pain with chicken pox breaking out everywhere. What I learned from this experience is don't start burning wood until the weather turns cold.

    I am facing the prospect of starting the wood stove up. We burn with wood because our electric base heaters are really old and cost an atrocious amount of money. So we gathered our wood through the summer and it is dry now. Soon I will build the first fire and it will be fun at the beginning but then the fun will turn into a chore. A daily, ongoing, chore which warms the toes and keeps us happy through the winter.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Need For Coolness in Phoenix

    My grandchildren in Phoenix are required to have extra coolness to overcome the heat there.

                                                        Not a problem, they just are cool!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

While I Was Reading Sunday- Mark 1 and Luke 3

       The Path or the Way of the Lord-

     I like walking the trails through the woods in my hometown. Many trails are well kept by the forest stewards who promote the natural wilderness and want the community to enjoy the wilderness. Walking a well kept, or prepared path, is especially enjoyable when the weather is inclement, when many are walking, and when you have a toddler with you. While reading the accounts of John the Baptist in Mark and Luke of the New Testament I saw with new eyes the importance of his mission to prepare "the way of the Lord."
    Mark 1:2 "As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
   Since symbolism is always side by side with the word, I will throw out some symbolic meanings to the words in the passage above.
   Messenger- a mortal with authority from God (Priesthood) is sent to deliver a message and is a type of Christ.
    Thy way- a plan provided by God to enable God's children to return into His presence.
    Wilderness- out of the main body of the the known church.
     Straight- to illuminate what men and women are to be and do to walk on the path of the Lord.
   So, John the Baptist, comes out of the mainstream church, dressed like a humble shepard,  and declares that the Messiah prophecied in the Old Testament is coming, and announces that to prepare for him everyone must repent of their sins and be baptized.
   How did the people respond? Many came out of Jersusalem and went to him and asked for baptism as well as how they should be different.
   Luke 3:10 "And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?
He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise."
   John begins to lay out the higher law, a law intent on changing the heart, and this will rock their world.
  I am trying to walk the path of God and often I find stumbling blocks in my way. That is when I know I need to repent. To ere is human but when I stumble over the same failing again and again I know I need to stop and do some maintenance. His grace gives me the strength to (pardon the cliche) make those stumbling blocks into stepping stones. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

More End of Summer and Grandchildren

I have 7 grandchildren in Germany, 7 close by, and 2 darling sisters in Arizona. Summer was fun for them all and I was glad to spend some time with half of them. 

Do you think James is glad to visit?

    We met up with the cousins at the park and had a delightful free magic show by the Circus class students.

The bars and swings work out ever so much energy and I love to watch.

                   I see physical ability grow every time we hang out together.

     There is always one who has to find the very top of the world. "I'm not coming up to save you!"

            The littlest moonbeam wants to do everything, but, that can get her into trouble.

       Amazing Grace spotted the stage set up for a festival. She remembered the summer before when we went to a Techno Dance and we all took the stage.

                           The only boy who didn't make it into the pictures just slid too darn fast.

                                                             I'll miss you summer!!!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Time for Plum Cake

     My son's family brought me some plums they picked. I knew it was time to make Oma Titze's Plum Cake, Pflaumenkuchen. Most of us loved it and it reminds us of her so here is my recipe which comes pretty darn close to the original minus the feisty German.
    This recipe has a yeast cake bottom which is why I particularly love it.

         3 3/4 cups flour
         1 1/2 T. yeast
         5 T. sugar
         1 C. milk
         1/3 C. butter, unsalted, melted
         1 egg
         pinch of salt
                                Sift the flour first and notice Oma's politically incorrect toaster cover.

Warm the milk and add 1 T. sugar and yeast. Let it bubble and rise for 20 minutes. Then pour it into the middle of the flour.

    Add the rest of the ingredients and work into a soft dough. Let rise at least 1/2 hour. While the dough is rising wash the 3 pounds of plums and cut them in half and pit them. I had unripe plums yesterday and it worked fine but ripe ones are juicier.

    After the dough has risen press into a cookie sheet with sides. I use a rolling pin to even the thickness.

      Layer the plums closely together and if you run out put some apples slices in the middle. I brushed a crabapple jelly over the plums because they were unripe, but that is optional.

     Streusel Topping-
        1 cup flour
        1 cup sugar
        1 stick butter
        1 tsp. cinnamon

   Mix this together with your hands and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees in a pre-heated oven.

   Channel Oma and realize she would be proud of you but yours would not be as good. That's just the way it is and always was.

             I had to freeze half the cake to keep from ruining my daily calorie intake. It is a bit of home.

For The Strength Of Youth Friday

  This morning was the first time using the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet as a open devotional in seminary. For a month at least we will use Tuesdays for True to the Faith and Fridays For the Strength of Youth. I am blessed with eager participants and I was surprised how strongly they felt about sharing their feelings towards several subjects. Especially music, they discussed the wording of the pamphlet for many minutes.

  The topics in this book are very relevant to their lives and they have strong opinions. One boy covered health and fitness and that started a conversation about sleep. No one in my class is getting eight hours of sleep. They all thought it would be cool to being able to live on 3-4, but we all know what the consequences are. This devotional lasted 15 minutes with the song and prayer but it really brought a spirit of participation into the class.

  Here are some analogies the students came up with this week.
      Pharisees to the law of Moses are like hunger is to food.
      Samaritans to the Jews (In the New Testament) are like virus to Helper T cells.
      Revelation is to testimony like peanut butter is to jelly.
Making up analogies is a fun way to ready students for class and review material.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Good-bye Summer

   Summer is almost over and I am reflecting on the active lives my grandchildren live. As I feel more active, I relish in doing more physical things with them.
The Crowson Family like finding activities they can do together. They found a Climbing Park in Germany, near by,  and enjoyed the zip-line experience.

Avery and Madison attach their gear.

                 Colin is prepared to be Tarzan or Indiana Jones and glide from tree to tree.

                                            Emma is looking confident to grab on and fly.

                                        Olivia is scoping out what is going on on the ground.

                        Xavier, the X-Man, is intent on doing his own hiking through the woods.

    And, Ian, just wants to be one of the pack. Gen and Matthew have the whole family with them through this school year and I know they will have many family adventures in the future.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

True To The Faith Tuesday

     Good devotionals in seminary are hard to come by. I want to improve the 10 minutes we use to come together and invite the spirit of the Lord. During a recent Seminary Symposium seminary teachers discussed how they handle their devotionals. Some give the students responsibility to choose a hymn, prepare a scripture and offer prayer. Others direct what the thought or scripture comes from. An idea I liked is choosing Tuesdays as True To The Faith. At the beginning of the class I handed each student a book and asked that they choose a topic to share. They responded positively and as we work in this little book every week it could round out our doctrinal knowledge.

    True to the Faith is like an encyclopedia of doctrinal topics. The entries are simple and concise.

                      On Fridays I am going to use For the Strength of Youth Pamplets. This gives me three days a week to offer my students choices to find scriptures or thoughts of their own.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stopping By Another Pre-School

   Still in the back to school mode, my friend Jen is another Mom who is a professional teacher. A mom of two, she also runs a pre-school. For a mom to have enough energy to welcome more children into her home it requires organization, a great space, and good help. All of these a present in Jen's school. I especially like her three dimensional displays.

                      The owls sit on gnarly branches and draw the eye to their colorful bodies.

                   The dinosaurs are prancing around the wall space looking as if they could leap off while the ferry boat is ready to take on passengers

              "In my pretty garden the flowers are nodding." Do you know that song? I used to think the words were "the flowers are naughty".  Not so, and in the school room they are nodding and invited children upward.

 Every child's space needs a place to read and doesn't this corner look cozy? Hop on and grab a book in the basket.

   Jen has divided her spaces so that activities stay in a certain area. I see some dinosaur books I'd like to read.

    If you want to create a window into another world, hang some curtains and have a great photograph or painting to travel into. It can be changed with the seasons or theme.

     Every class needs some place to cook and eat. Those are always spaces I gravitate to. I know the children look at their pictures above the dishes all the time.

     When Jen was planning her house, the school was part of the package and I am so happy that she was able to create this wonderful space for so many children. Do I hear love and laughter?