Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Famous People in Seminary

           If it seems like all we do in Seminary is play games your impression would be wrong, but, we do use games to memorize and remember important information. Today we played "Famous People" which has become a staple in my seminary class. I want my students to remember names and events in these people's lives because the gospel happens in the hearts of the individual.
   The game happens in three rounds, two teams. All you need is paper strips and a pencil, and a fun container.

This year my container is an over-sized tea cup. On the strips of paper write 26, or more, names of people who your players all know in your Old Testament studies. Divide into teams. Round One: one team player gives clues, the other one guesses. You may give any clues except 
the name, or any derivative of the name. Each team sets the names they guess aside to be counted as points at the end of the round.

 Round Two: you may only use three words as clues. (You are putting all the names back in the container and using the same famous people). 

Round Three: Put  all names back into container and this time no words may be used. The clues must be acted out. In each round the correct guesses are left out of  the container, so the round is over when all the strips of paper are gone. 
Today I asked the three boys if we could play girls against boys because I wanted to play. They agreed and we, the girls, felt smug. However, we failed miserably. The boys prevailed!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book of Mormon Sunday II- 2 Nephi 1-7

 The second book of Nephi begins with a reminder to the rebellious sons of Lehi that God has actually been merciful in bringing them out of Jersusalem. They don't see that and their lack of vision keeps them from having the power of the atonement evident in their lives.
 2 Nephi 1:3 "And he also spake unto them concerning the land of promise, which they had obtained -- how merciful the Lord had been in warning us that we should flee out of the land of Jerusalem."
  Lehi, unlike his two sons, Laman and Lemuel, has had the atonement change him. He sees what the future is for his own family and for the future of those that inhabit the Land of Promise. 
  2 Nephi 1:15 "But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love."
  To be fully awake to the spiritual power given to us we must first yield to the Holy Ghost. If we yield to his direction our paths will be on a higher road.
  2 Nephi 1:23 "Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust."
  To be free to act for ourselves is one of the greatest gifts of the atonement. With that freedom we prove to ourselves what we truly want. Every day this gift manifests itself to me. Somedays I wake up and I put myself in the driver's seat and I act without yielding to the Spirit.

 As the day progress I wonder why I feel so sluggish, so uninspired. As I awake to my poor choice there is always a surge in power when I move over and welcome the spirit aboard. 
   2 Nephi 2:27 "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself."
  Nephi testifies of this great gift to act and choose liberty when he laments of his own sins.
   2 Nephi 4:27 "And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?"

  His solution is to awake and put the Holy Ghost back in the drivers's seat.
  2 Nephi 4: 28: "Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul. Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions. Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation."
  If you are like me you like knowing that the benefits of yielding to the Spirit are numerous and nurturing, and they are. If the chains of captivity are not attractive then the arms of His love will certainly be motivating. To be encircled in the arms of his love and to be given the robes of His righteousness are the most sublime gifts of atonement.
  2 Nephi 4:33 "O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way -- but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy."
 We can act like Mormons, or Christians, and talk like them, but acting the part does not yield the fruits of the spirit. I know the difference and trying to light a spark with my own power is vastly different than basking in the light of Christ.
   2 Nephi 7:10 "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand -- ye shall lie down in sorrow."
  I am often sorrowful at the end of a day with only the spark of my own light. May I start out this day with the full light and be awake to the enticings of the Spirit which heals and invigorated my soul.
  Here are some sketches of my favorite scenes in this scripture block.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Potato Onion Soup

     My daughter-in-law made a great soup for us yesterday. It was a sweet potato and leek soup. It got my creative juices working. I used her puree as a last step on my own recipe. This is a potato soup with a bean puree to make it creamy. No added calories because the smooth texture is not heavy cream.

6-8 strips of bacon, diced in small pieces
1 sweet onion, diced
4-6 red white potatoes, cubed
2 cans of chicken or vegetable broth

Cook the bacon and onion together until the bacon is crisp and the onions are translucent.

                          Add the potatoes and broth and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

      Take one can of Cannellini white kidney beans and puree them in a blender or handheld blender

                           Add to potatoes along with, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

The finished product is flavorful and nutritious.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving

    The dishes are done, the food tucked or given away and dinner for twelve is a memory. I really had a nice Thanksgiving. It all started the evening before when the evening light changed into that rosy glow that happens a few times a year. I had to go out and walk in it and feel the light as well as see. it. The rain was in recess after a 24 hour onslaught and I enjoyed the crispness of the breeze.
    I can't catch the full impact with my i-phone but this is 1/2 hour before dark and the sky is overcast except for this ethereal western light.
    The light is cast with all the warm tones of the palette. While walking I met Julia, a distant neighbor, who was outdoors for the same reason, to see the light.
     My little home with lights on in the window but a warmer glow from outdoors. I wonder if Paris has this kind of light?
   This Thanksgiving we had The Knitting Queen and her boyfriend, with his two brothers. joining us for dinner in the afternoon. Together the two if them came early in the morning to make pies and stayed all day helping with the fixings. In between kitchen preparations we knitted, of course, and listened to music.
   The Music Man and family joined us promptly at 5:00pm and all twelve of us gathered for prayer. I was grateful for the abundance of good cheer and happy hearts.
   I was so grateful to see my daughter-in-law with a happier face. She has endured much pain and hardship with a physical illness.
    Steve's brothers were cheerful and content, and watched the entire Walton's Christmas with the kids.

I had wished for a Magic Show but Shea declined. The Music Man stepped in to do some amazing tricks with disappearing scarves and coins. 
I could not have asked for more and I am so grateful for my life. The cherry on the top was Grandpa Burgess calling to say hello. He is almost 92 years old and still gets excited when I say "Hi, Dad".

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book of Mormon Sunday II- 1 Nephi 15-22

  So, I think having the Liahona appear from no where is a powerful strengthening tool from God. When it appears outside their tent Lehi is astonished but there is no mention of what he thought it was and what his children thought it was. The process of getting to know how to use the Liahona is not written about until the broken bow incident. 

    1 Nephi 1:28 "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them. And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things."
   "Small means" is a theme in the Book of Mormon. Nephi uses the term here, it is picked up by Alma, and Mormon uses it to make commentary. The Liahona must have been small in size but not small as to it's divine source, nor to it's effect. Not unlike the gift of the Holy Ghost, it goes unnoticed by the world but it is a divine miracle to the recipient. Many times I have been on my knees and felt the gratitude for the guidance of my heavenly gift.
   The strengthening power of the atonement is testified of by Nephi countless times.
   1 Nephi 17:2 "And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings. And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness."
   The key to this strengthening power is keeping the commandments. And that is logical and understandable. Spiritual growth is more consistent when we learn to respect and even love the commandments He offers.
   1 Nephi 17:13 "And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led."
   Those words sound so much like Jehovah in the Old Testament, and rightly so. He is the same God with the same purpose to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Nephi testifies that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the same God who was taken and crucified.
 1 Nephi 17:10 "And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel."
  These prophets mentioned by Nephi are unfamiliar to us but their prophecies are clear. The God, Jesus Christ, who atoned for the sins of mankind and was crucified to insure our resurrection, is the same God who strengthened and supported Abraham and who strengthens and supports us. This is the main message of the first book of Nephi. He receives help and assistance throughout the book and he testifies that he knows the source of this help and it is Jesus Christ. 

                             Here are some sketches I made of this block of scripture.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mister Shea

  Today was a magical kind of day for me as we spent some time together on your birthday. You are eight years old and where did the time go? Eight years ago we were waiting for you to come and you were reluctant to make an entrance.
  Crowds are not your thing but we love when you make an appearance. You are a snake-wrangler, sharp-shooter, Harry Potter impersonator and now we might add magician to the list. With your new Magician's kit you can try out your skills in making things disappear.
                                        Here is your magician's magic bag, empty clear through.
                                   Now you put in the scarves and we see the last one go in.
                                                                  The bag is now full.
                                     Abracadabra! What? The scarves disappeared. Is this magic?
                                                           Shea, the magician, happy birthday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Harvest Squash Bread

  Some years ago a little bakery opened in my town called Macrina. The big mother bakery was in the big city but this little store sold their wonderful stuff. On my way home I would stop and get some bread or better, some little pastries. In the fall they sold slices of Harvest Squash Bread, three-fifty a slice. It was delicious. I bought their recipe book to cut down on the overhead and found I could reproduce some of their goodies.
  Yesterday was the perfect day for baking, blustery and cold. The bread is a bit labor intensive but worth it. First I bake a big Kabasha Squash for an hour and let the flesh cool. Meanwhile I roast the pumpkin seeds, pecans, and walnuts. Roasting makes all the flavor difference, let me assure you. After an hour and 10 minutes the bread has filled the house with cinnamon and nutmeg. Hmmm!
    It is very satisfying to have two loaves, one to freeze, and one to cut into and spread with just a thin layer of butter. The bakery left town, I tried to support them as best I could, but now it is a rare experience  to visit them in the city. Next month I'll make up some applesauce for Monkey Bread. Stay tuned......

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Huck'n Lucky

  There is never a dull moment early in the morning with my guests. We are trying to memorize, find, and understand 25 great Old Testament scriptures. Last Thursday I decided to play Huck'n Lucky one more time since we had an almost complete class. So, here is how it plays out. There is some hucking, into a trash can, by one student.
                     There is some skill involved since the beanbag must be hucked some distance.

         From the living room into the kitchen, the beanbag must make it into the can to get a point.

  The hucker may keep tossing until everyone else has found the scripture. I could tell we did not really know where the first 10 scriptures were because there was a lot of huffing and puffing by the hucker who had to keep running to get the beanbag out of the can. Hurray, H. for getting the best score!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Colors I Love

While in Phoenix I reacquainted myself with the music of Kira Willey. The Pandora station which Emmaline listens to often plays her music. 
    I love her colors song and listening to it made me think of the colors I love best. My top three right now are spring green, Robin's egg blue, and beige. It boggles my mind to think that color only exists as light rays. I don't really understand it but I am grateful for the rainbow of colors around me all the time.
  Here are some photos my I-Phone captured which are special to me because of light and color.
  This is my Hydrangea bush right outside my door. I love these blues and purples together.

  These trees are down my road. What a spectacular sight these oranges and reds make together.
  This was a small lily pond in the butterfly house at the Phoenix Botanical gardens. There is a butterfly right by the pink flower.
  My granddaughter in her tutu and leg warmers in the light. I am so appreciative of my eyes and the ability to see the glorious world around me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book of Mormon Sunday II- 1 Nephi 8-14

     Again, I am reading the Book of Mormon this time around with the intent of looking for evidence of the strengthening power of the Atonement  in the lives of the people.
 1 Nephi 10:19 "For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round."
  The strengthening power of the Holy Ghost has been available to those who seek the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout time. Whether it is the Gift of the Holy Ghost or the power of the Holy Ghost, this power is possible through the mercy of the Atonement.
   I Nephi 11:30 "And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked, and I beheld the heavens open again, and I saw angels descending upon the children of men; and they did minister unto them." 
  This passage was spoken by the angel who tutored Nephi as he was given his father's dream. Nephi saw the Savior's time on earth and he sees heavenly beings, like himself, sent to men on earth to strengthen and support them in their path back to God. 

    I Nephi 13:18 "And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle. 
  Here is power given to Gentiles to set in motion the promised gift of restoration. His strength brings to pass the prophecies made ages ago.
   I Nephi 13:34.."I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb."
   What a blessing to all people, the setting in motion to bring forth the Book of Mormon is a momentous miracle. The root of which is Nephi.
  I Nephi 14:1 And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks --
  What a precious fruit, this love of God, shed upon the the inhabitants of the earth. I wish we could all taste of it and as Lehi, offer it to all who we love.
    I Nephi 14:14 "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Big A

   My Big A is five years old and the weekend slipped away without me documenting this event. This was a special birthday for us because I told him he could have piano lessons when he turned five. Imagine his frustration as his brothers and sister went to group lessons, got special prizes and stickers, and had that weekly lesson and he was left out, not any more.

                                                          Twinkle, twinkle star let's go.
   Alvin is an energetic boy. He loves legos, Star Wars, puzzles, and bread. He always has good ideas to share when I visit. He also gives very good hugs.
       He has always had the greatest smile. It crinkles up his eyes and makes his cheeks glow.
                                      Thanks for being such a sweet boy to your old Grandma.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Nephi 1-7

This week I started reading from the beginning again. My focus will be the strengthening power of the atonement. I will read the book of Mormon to find verses which explain that power.
  Right off the bat in the first chapter, Nephi explains the visions God gave to his father, Lehi. These visions would not have been possible without the strengthening power of the atonement. 
  Nephi 1:20 "But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."
   Nephi did not have to just believe his father, he was also granted spiritual insight of his own.
  1 Nephi 2: "also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father;"
   Nephi's spiritual strength is put to the test as he accepts the command to retrieve the plates. It takes spiritual power to intercede between he and his brothers.

  1 Nephi 1:29 "And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold, an angel of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying: Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities? Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands."
   Throughout the story of obtaining the brass plated Nephi gives credit to the Lord for providing insight, direction, and strength to accomplish the mission.
  1 Nephi 4:31 "And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord, therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban, and held him, that he should not flee."
   When they return with the plates Nephi's parents are overjoyed. They had begun to doubt that they would see their sons again. Sarah is strenghtened and testifies that she now knows that the Lord is behind all these endeavors.
   1 Nephi 5:8 "And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak."
  Truly in these opening chapters there are many testimonies that the Lord provides power and strength to us, as his children, to accomplish the things he commands.
   1 Nephi 7:12 "Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him."
   Here are some sketches I made from this scripture block. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cozy Winter Home

   So, I was on a hammock down south when everything came into focus.
   I need a winter house in the sun. (Warning; all statements following may be a bunch of baloney) I have been looking at real estate options. A cozy little house near my darling grand-daughter would be just right. I found one last spring, and it is still in the running, but, oh, this one is sweet.
   Not a desert style at all, so I could be about anywhere and feel at home. 
   My reasons for feeling attracted to this house is the gardening. Wait, I don't really like gardening. Is that a problem? I'll need a gardener. As it stands now, it is a toss up between this house above or this one below. 

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Butterfly House

    Many zoos have butterfly houses which they heat to tropical temperatures and then infuse with humidity. These are wondrous creatures who are so delicate and mobile. No touching is the instruction given as we enter the house but it is so tempting, especially if you are a toddler.
 The contrast of monarch butterfly on a green plant is pure eye candy.

These winged delights opened and closed their flappers expectantly. They were once caterpillars, earthbound, but equally beautiful, if you like fuzzy bugs. Then through a process they are required to fashion a protective home which they will emerge from as an entirely different creature, one that is heaven-bound and free. This is such a beautiful story of change and evolution. 

My eyes were on contrast. I had some rich rewards.
                                          I really enjoyed the sun, the colors and the perfect company.