Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Freshmen Day

    We invited our incoming Freshmen to seminary this week. This gives them a way to acclimatize to the culture of early morning scripture study. We taught them how to FEAST (Find, Explain, Apply, Share, and Testify) in the Standard Works.

                                                      These are the incoming brethren.

   After a day reading the visions of Zechariah we reviewed what we learned the next day using one of our favorite games called Scripture Man.

                        The winner was Michael who was thrilled to win another chocolate croissant.

   Next year should be much more animated and energetic. I love taking before and after pictures so here is what they look like when they first arrive.

And here they are all perky and filled with the light of the gospel.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lose It! App

My very favorite tool to losing weight is an app for my phone called Lose It! It records my goals and monitors my progress,

It lets me log my exercise and gives me the info on how many calories I have burned. 

   With this app I record the food I eat and the snacks I have during the day. It adds up my calories and let's me know how many I have left in my day.

It gives me a visual to see how many calories I have worked off and how many I have taken in.

    In the week view I can see how many days I have stayed within my budget and when I have exceeded my budgeted calories.

This app is for the I-Phone or the android and I recommend it highly.; best news of all, it is free. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Scarcity or Abundance

   When changing eating behaviors I find I must make a decision to see my choices stemming from a place of scarcity to abundance. It is all in my head and my head must see the abundance around me and learn to see all the choices of food which I can eat without reservation. Gone are the days of hanging out in bakeries, now I find eye-candy in places like this.

   Our Farmer's Market is brimming with huge radishes, bok-choi, chard, turnips and so many varieties of salad greens. Trying to decide which farmer to buy my produce from gives me some anxiety. Too much stimulation makes me hurry to make a decision. I find I need to prepare to go to the market. Get some cash, look at everyone's stuff first, decide what I want on my table this week, choose one new thing, and enjoy the abundance of food and people.

   Next time I am going to get brave and take some pictures of the produce, up close. I feel shy about snapping pictures right in front of someone's face but I don't think the turnips will mind. I suppose they could turn-up their noses at me.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- 3 Nephi 1-5

    Ninety two years after King Benjamin the sign of the coming of Jesus Christ to the earth as a infant finally appeared. Those who had been faithful rejoiced and those who scoffed and even desired to kill the believers, felt afraid. All the people in the New World had time to discuss and marvel at the signs given them and for a while their collective experience brought them peace.

    3 Nephi 1:26 "And thus the ninety and second year did pass away, bringing glad tidings unto the people because of the signs which did come to pass, according to the words of the prophecy of all the holy prophets."
   But as time passes, memories fade and the rising generation, not having had the spiritual experience, is tested as to whether they will believe in their parents words.
    3 Nephi 1:30 "And thus were the Lamanites afflicted also, and began to decrease as to their faith and righteousness, because of the wickedness of the rising generation."
    The Gadianton's had a strong hold on the economy and many were led astray by their provocative claims to power and influence.
    3 Nephi 2:2 "Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people; and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing."
   The only way the Nephites could come out from the bondage placed on them by the Gadianton's was to unite and form a central body of saints. They had to repent and with faithful hearts call upon God the deliver them. 
    3 Nephi 3:25 "And they did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and in one body, and they did fear the words which had been spoken by Lachoneus, insomuch that they did repent of all their sins; and they did put up their prayers unto the Lord their God, that he would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down against them to battle."
   The words "in the strength of the Lord" are pivotal in the success of these people. The Gadianton's had much mortal strength and could only be defeated by the power of God.
   3 Nephi 4:10 "But in this thing they were disappointed, for the Nephites did not fear them; but they did fear their God and did supplicate him for protection; therefore, when the armies of Giddianhi did rush upon them they were prepared to meet them; yea, in the strength of the Lord they did receive them."
   Surely these tested saints would be some that would bath the Lord Jesus Christ with their tears when he appeared to them in a few short years.
   3 Nephi 4:33 "And their hearts were swollen with joy, unto the gushing out of many tears, because of the great goodness of God in delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; and they knew it was because of their repentance and their humility that they had been delivered from an everlasting destruction."
   Mormon, who is editing this story, writes his own testimony in Chapter Five. The records he has been guarding must be like a panoramic view right back to Lehi. His gratitude for Lehi and his sons spills over into the pages of history, the history of his own people.
  3 Nephi 5:20 "I am Mormon, and a pure descendant of Lehi. I have reason to bless my God and my Savior Jesus Christ, that he brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, (and no one knew it save it were himself and those whom he brought out of that land) and that he hath given me and my people so much knowledge unto the salvation of our souls."
  And we are not left out of this panoramic view, since Mormon sees into the future, as well. As the Old Testament prophets, Mormon, sees in vision the great gathering starting with the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This view must be a beacon as he struggles in a war-torn world where destruction is coming in the short term.
  3 Nephi 5:26 "And then shall they know their Redeemer, who is Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and then shall they be gathered in from the four quarters of the earth unto their own lands, from whence they have been dispersed; yea, as the Lord liveth so shall it be. Amen."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Back to Walking

    In the last two years my love of walking has been diminished due to my painful knees. It just stopped being worth the throbbing after every walk. Today was my first pain free walk. I was out for 30 minutes, nothing too stressful but here I am without the consequential pain. Lifting the weight off my knees has reduced the inflammation enough to ease the pain. I am so surprised and overjoyed to have back one of my favorite ways to be active.

                                                   A gorgeous flood of color on my walk.

                  A rhapsody of roddies with the water behind it brought just peace to my happy heart.

Learning to Count

  My two year-old granddaughters are learning to count and I am counting along with them. They count stairs, toys, and I count calories. Calories, what a horrible word, laden with frustration and guilt. Really it is a measure of energy which makes our bodies either purr like a cat or sputter like an engine, out of tune. As we are taught, first by our mothers, then by the medical media, fruits and vegetables are the best calories because they are packed with nutrition and are few.

   I can eat these gems anytime and they are my good friends; jicama strips and celery sticks. Dip them into a little hummus and the flavor expands.

     A breakfast meal I love uses greens in the morning. I once thought all greens tasted the same but, alas, they are quite different. Collard greens taste the best to me. I put a little olive oil in a pan and add ribbons of collards. A sush of beef broth kicks up the flavor.

   Along side the greens I fry two eggs and that breakfast carries me through the morning. Eggs, every morning is not my thing but certainly, several times a week.

  So let's count them;
     2 fried Eggs=180
     11/2 cups of greens=16
     10 celery sticks=6
     10 jicama sticks=23
A lot of food and energy and so little to count. Compare that to a bowl of cheerios 188 and milk 118, which leaves me light-headed and starving by noon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ten Pounds of Flour and Five Pounds of Sugar

   I reached another milestone today. It was so strange in Yoga class as I sat in a different body from six weeks ago.

   This is really big for me because I am entering a body weight I have not seen since 1998. Here are some things that are amazingly wonderful and those that are scary.

Amazingly Wonderful:
  1. I have a new wardrobe of clothes from the back of the closet.
  2. My knees are getting smaller as the inflammation goes down.
  3. I weigh less than my husband
  4. My green jacket, which I love, zips shut and moves across my hips.
  5. I can go to a Pilates class and jump on my mini-tramp for 30 minutes in one day and not be dead.
  6. I sleep much better.

A Little Scary:
  1. I feel cold more often
  2. I miss salty snacks.
  3. My pants are getting too big and I need to save for a clothes budget.
  4. People look at me and I feel a little self conscious.

  My truly best friends are my calorie counting app on my phone and my mini tramp. I am ordering a new one with more spring. Soon I will jumping so high that I will hit my ceiling. I should put that on my "A Little Scary" list.
   The cheaper one, of course.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Stake Seminary Scripture Bowl

   How unique is an event where teenagers come together to share their knowledge of scriptures and have some friendly competition. It happens once a year and we spend the whole year learning 25 scriptures backwards and forwards to facilitate this experience.

 In our Stake we have some stations to play games first. This year we had one room doing Old Testament Jeopardy, one room doing Mastery Matchup, and the third room doing Famous People of the Old Testament. I was very pleased with my three boys who played with enthusiasm and good sportsmanship.

   At the end all the players met in the gym to have a scripture chase with three teams competing. The clues were very different from the ones we used in class so my boys complained a bit but it made them think out of the box.

  My favorite part was seminary choir where we practiced for Seminary graduation. This year we are singing "His Mission", a song I wrote for my students this Old Testament year. What a joy for me to hear these youth singing together about leaving Babylon and submitting to the spirit to be taken to higher ground. You might like to view the tune and words here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Helaman 13-16

   The missionary work started by Nephi and his brother continued with a greater part of the Lamanite people converting to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  Helaman 13:1 "And now it came to pass in the *eighty and sixth year, the Nephites did still remain in wickedness, yea, in great wickedness, while the Lamanites did observe strictly to keep the commandments of God, according to the law of Moses."
   A Lamanite missionary called by the Lord is visited by an angel and given a vision of what will befall the Nephites if they don't repent. He, acting in great courage, testifies of what is in his heart. I marvel at the strength he receives to tell in his own words what he has learned from the angel and to be bold enough to risk death.

   Helaman 13:3 "But behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart. And it came to pass that they would not suffer that he should enter into the city; therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart."
  Samuel has been charged to give glad tidings. It seems at first that all his news is destruction and woe, but really his message is the hope of the atonement. 
Helaman 13:7 "And behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me, and he did bring glad tidings to my soul. And behold, I was sent unto you to declare it unto you also, that ye might have glad tidings; but behold ye would not receive me."
   The Nephites are deaf to glad tidings largely because of their obsession with riches. Trade, speculation, and investments take all their time and commitment. 

Helaman 13:31 "And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them."
   The slipperiness of their wealth sounds so much like the debacle of our own times as investment banks reveal the losses of billions of dollars due to fraud and mismanagement. The timely message of freedom from sin is overdue in the lives of these Nephites as it is in my life and the world today.
   Helaman 14:30 "And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free. He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you."
   And behold, some people hear and obey. Nephi is very busy thanks to Samuel and his bold message.
    Helaman 16:4 "For behold, Nephi was baptizing, and prophesying, and preaching, crying repentance unto the people, showing signs and wonders, working miracles among the people, that they might know that the Christ must shortly come --Telling them of things which must shortly come, that they might know and remember at the time of their coming that they had been made known unto them beforehand, to the intent that they might believe; therefore as many as believed on the words of Samuel went forth unto him to be baptized, for they came repenting and confessing their sins."
  The opposition shores up their position by coming up with a philosophy which is askew but which gives them ample rationalization to combat Nephi and other religious leaders.
   Helaman 16:21 "And they will, by the cunning and the mysterious arts of the evil one, work some great mystery which we cannot understand, which will keep us down to be servants to their words, and also servants unto them, for we depend upon them to teach us the word; and thus will they keep us in ignorance if we will yield ourselves unto them, all the days of our lives."
   Notice how this reasoning is void of a knowledge of God. These Nephites see only the" dog eat dog" world in which they survive. Without his grace we cannot make sense of our situation. It takes divine inspiration to "understand things as they really are." 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Putting More Energy Out and Less In

    My last six weeks have been filled with finding ways to burn more calories, or putting more energy out and less in. My nature is rather sedentary and I have to plan for the hours that I work my body. Here are some ways I spend my energy:
   -Pilates with Arlette on Mondays

   - Yoga with Jen and friends on Wednesday

   - Meetings with my mini- tramp every day

   - Walking down the road to get an extra 100 calories to burn

   - Hiking around the zoo with the Grands-bi-monthly

  You know, it is much easier putting energy in that working it off.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Peonies for Mother's Day

    I had a wish for Mother's Day, a wish for a bouquet of Peonies. They are more voluptuous than roses and open up bigger than I can possibly describe.

     These lush flowers grow on a bush and flower in May as one of the last spring gifts.

 I can't say exactly why I wanted them this year but they are making me happy every time I walk into the kitchen.
                                          Thank-you, Knitting Queen for making my wish come true.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Change is Happening

    In the Aladdin Disney movie the genie makes the crack, "He can be taught!". That is how I feel about myself in the area of physical discipline. I can be taught and put off the natural woman who wants to rebel against the rigor of eating modestly and exercising like "Crazy".

Today the scales told me I have lost the first 10 pounds. That is a whole flour sack, whew! Month two started yesterday and I believe, yes, I believe I can do it and maintain it. I don't blame you if you are skeptical, I certainly would be. But, nevertheless, the difference is remarkable. Knees feel better, clothes don't cling, and I officially weigh less than my husband for the first time in our married life. I suspect that says something about his Hagen Daz fetish. Change is good!

    This is a tulip out in the garden which my daughter-in-heart planted two years ago. What a magnificent change it makes every year.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Helaman 8-12

       Helaman 8:6 "And now we know that this is impossible, for behold, we are powerful, and our cities great, therefore our enemies can have no power over us."
  The big question is, "Who has real power?" The answer lies in where we place our faith. Nephi faces a group of people who have mixed motives. Those who are caught up in the Gadianton mentality have faith in their own power and in the power of money and influence. There are still others who remember the tradition of their fathers, who hear Nephi and have a inkling that God is still communicating with them thought his prophets. Their hearts are pricked as he reminds them of the power of the coming Messiah.

   Helaman 10:5 "And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will. Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people. Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people."
   These verses testify of power beyond any that man might have. They testify of the power of grace through Jesus Christ. 
   "It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that provides both a cleansing and redeeming power that helps us to overcome sin and a sanctifying and strengthening power that helps us to become better than we ever could by relying only upon our own strength. The Infinite Atonement is both for the sinner and the saint in each of us." Elder David A. Bednar 
   In chapter 12, Mormon comments on the weakness of mortal man. He drives home the point that denying the power of God will bring destruction. God will fulfill his promises and if we refuse to repent our demise is sure. Our only hope is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
   Helaman 12:24 "And may God grant, in his great fulness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works."
   If through our sins we lose grace, (enabling power), then having it restored to us, through repentance, is the goal we should strive for. According to Helaman grace is restored as we do God's work, grace for grace. Jesus grew in spirituality this same way.
   Doctrine and Covenants 93:12 "And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace; And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;"
  Nephi grew in spirituality precisely because of his bold actions in declaring repentance unto his people. As he stepped forward in faith, grace, (enabling power), was granted, enough to withstand the threats of his enemies and enough to courageously challenge others to rethink their behavior.
  Doctrine and Covenants 93:20 "For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace."
  As I read these verses I wonder if I can have grace restored unto me. I do very little when compared to Nephi. I suspect I live far below my privileges. However, I can testify that I have been given grace for grace many times in my life. My honest labor in the vineyard of the Lord has never been without reward. 
   Mosiah 18:26 "And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God."
   In summary, what I learn from these verses is that through the doctrine of the atonement I can live the principle of gaining grace for grace by keeping God's commandments and by laboring in his kingdom. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Finnie

   I have been remembering my visit to welcome  you to the world, little Finnie, I can't believe you are a year old.

    I did like holding you and feeling the peace you you emanated when you were snoozing.

    Now you are toddling around with your brother and sister, just one of the guys.

    Your Mom and Dad love you and that means you will get through life with their support.

Happy Birthday, baby boy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What Can the Zoo Teach Us?

   Yesterday was my first visit to the Zoo this year. I buy a membership and then I can take all the Grandkids many times during the year. The Music Man's kids were the first to go. It was the first visit for my Moonbeam. She wanted to see tigers but was unprepared when he walked right up to the window and looked into her eyes.

    Going to the zoo often allows me to learn more about wild animals and the part man plays in their protection. Snow Leopards are rare and very difficult to track and photograph in the wild. There are two new cubs in residence. We watched as they played with the keepers, learning to pounce and jump.

    It was not all about cats, we watched many adventures in the aquarium. This was a handy place to go to when it rains. Sharks are fed at 11:00am and they dine fine. They get better seafood for lunch than I ever get going out to eat. I was transfixed with the many colors.

    The next day I was still thinking wildlife and I had a lesson to prepare from the Book of Ezekiel.  I noticed how this prophet was asked to use everyday objects to teach the Jews what God desired of them while exiled in Babylon. To get started I gave my early morning guests some stickers and asked them to create a gospel parable. Here are their creations:

    The laws of the jungle are not the ways of God. His thoughts are higher and you have to seek after him to live on higher ground. (Isaiah 55)

    Don't jump from the safety of your family den to hang out with just anybody. Choose who you will serve and keep your promises. (Joshua 24)

   My Sophomore said this was the most fun day at seminary. Hmm...should I teach arts and crafts?