Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Disguises

This is the day for dressing up and disguising ourselves. Are you a super hero or a creature of the sky?

                                                       Or did you forget your costume entirely?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

While I Was Reading Sunday- Matthew 14 and John 6

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would have 16 grandchildren I would have said, "I might as well be able to walk on water".
And I do.

                                 "You Might As Well Ask Me To Walk On Water"
  This phrase is a quote from Michael Wilcox from his book "Walking On Water". It is an introduction to the story of Peter attempting to do just that. I have been reading and thinking about that incident.
  John 6: 17 "And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew."
   It had been an exhausting day for Jesus. He found out the news that John the Baptist was dead, his cousin and friend, beheaded by Herod, the Roman ruler. The scriptures say he had intended to take some time for himself but the crowds followed him and he could see their needs. The crowd was bigger it being the Passover week. As people gathered around him he questioned whether there was enough food available to feed the multitude. It would be customary to share a meal and celebrate the Passover in the evening. At this time he performed his miracle of enlarging the seven loaves of bread and two fishes to feed 5000 people. As the night came Jesus finally found some time to commune and recharge. But his apostles were on a ship in the middle of the Sea of Gallilee. A storm arose and they were anxious to have him with them safe and secure.
  Matthew 14:24 "But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear."
  The reaction of Peter is surprising to me. In wanting to know if this phantom was truly the Lord he asked if he could walk out on the water to him. Peter seems to have an " I can do all things" attitude.
  Matthew14:27 "But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, "Come". And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus."
   Can we really do all things in Jesus? I remember well being asked to teach religion to teenagers during 0 hour every week day. You might as well ask me to walk on water, I thought to myself. I teach 30 piano students, two music and movement classes once a week, all I do is prepare for the next class. I told them I would team teach but never accept the assignment alone. I started the first two years with another teacher and managed to survive. Then the request came to go it alone. By now I had learned to love these teenagers and I prayed to have faith and strength to do it. Six years later I am here every morning and it sometimes feels like walking on water. I testify that we can be magnified with faith in Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Magic Moment

   As I was teaching my music and movement class yesterday I was fortunate to experience a magic moment. Mothers, caregivers, and children were settling back on the floor after some fun movement around the room. I was teaching alone, my partner was off on a short vacation, and I needed to settle this group of 22 down. We are doing a cooking theme and so we use a food song at this point in the class.

   Thank-you for the food, the food, the glorious, glorious food!
   For the animals, for the vegetable, for the minerals that make it possible.
     We sign as we sing. At that moment inspiration struck. I started signing without sound.

    In silence all the children and adults signed together. Then very softly I started singing and heard, to my delight, little voices joining together. To be unified, as a group is powerful and doing it with 2-3 year -olds is memorizing. I will always remember it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Birthday Memory

  Today is my birthday and I have been remembering. I have one more year until I reach the sixties. That opens a brand new decade with a hope for a happy, working life. I have been remembering 25 years ago when I first moved to this town. We came because our friends paved the way by moving here first and enticing us to follow. Here is the story………..

    This first  house had some beautiful amenities which I may not have totally appreciated. I remember my birthday and my daughter's third, they are 4 days apart, in this house. We were very happy.

                            I think back on the blessings we received while living under this roof.

    It is a house that has aged well and right now we have friends who happen to be renting there. On a recent visit, I took a few pictures to remind me of a few things.

  •      The lovely fall foliage 
  •      The front view which looks down on the house
  •      The wrap around porch
  •      The lovely wood front door
  •      The back porch swing
                                                 These memories are well preserved by loving hands.

    Did I mention the water view? You can see it in the reflection of the window.  I am happy for all the homes where we lived our messy, imperfect, but joy filled lives.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Easiest Ever Artisan Bread

   I have tried recipes from magazines and Pinterest to make crusty Artisan bread before, but now I am perfecting the easiest ever! I heard about this book from a blogger friend and waited some weeks for it to come from the library.

Written by Jim Lahey, founder of Sullivan Street Bakery, this book made me want to be a bread baker. You need one utensil for sure, the Dutch Oven with Lid. It must be able to withstand 475 degrees in the oven.

   I pay $4-5 a loaf for this bread at the grocery store. It has only four ingredients. I could buy a lot of flour for the $40 I will save per month.
                                                                No Knead Bread In A Pot

                                                               3 cups flour-500 grams
                                                                1 1/4 teaspoon salt- 11 grams
                                                               instant or active dry yeast 1/4 teaspoon- 1 gram
                                                               cool water 1 13/4 cups- 390 grams
   To the dry ingredients add the water and mix until flour is incorporated. The dough may be sticky. Shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warmish place for 12-18 hours. The longer the better.
                                       (That's my cranberry walnut dough starting it's long rise.)

    It is ready for a second rise when the dough is darkening with bubbles and thread-like strands cling to the bowl.  With a spatula or bowl scraper scrape dough onto a floured surface. Fold the dough over itself and shape into a second ball. It can be pretty sticky, use flour on your hands. Put it to rest on a floured tea towel or surface and let rise 2 hours.

   At the 1 1/2 hour mark put the dutch oven in the oven with lid and preheat to 475 degrees. Be sure to have oven mitts ready to handle the hot pot. Gently let the dough spill into the hot pot. There will be flour loosely on the top and bottom that fall into the pot. Not to worry.

                                   Put the lid on and bake at 475 degrees for 30 minutes.

For the last 15 minutes remove the lid and allow the top to brown. Total baking time-45 minutes.

Viola! Fragrant, crusty bread with a chewy, soft center. I have made 6 loaves this week. Mix it up in the evening and bake it the next day. I have tried mixing in rosemary and sea salt, rye flour in place of 1/2 cup flour, adding dried cranberries and walnuts, and tomorrow I will replace 1/2 cup flour with coconut flour and add chocolate pieces, Can't wait. With the amount of bread available I feel generous sharing with my early morning guests and friends dropping by.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

While I Was Reading Sunday- Matthew 16

      In Matthew 16 there is a multifaceted discussion between Jesus and his apostles. This is the chapter where Jesus verifies to Peter that his testimony of the divinity of his Lord came from a heavenly source not man made reason. We call this divine revelation and every man, woman, and child is invited to seek out this source of information. Peter could have come to the conclusion that Jesus was divine, he had evidence that what he did and the effects he had on others were super-normal, but to have revealed to him through the Holy Ghost that Jesus was the Son Of The Living God was as powerful as it could possibly get. This kind of revelation goes through to your very soul. 
   Then comes disclosure that Jesus warns his disciples not to share. 
    Mark 8:30 "And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
  This information outrages Peter who has just been glorying in his testimony. This is a man who should not be killed. This brings to mind the plot of a movie called "Stranger Than Fiction". Briefly, a writer is telling the story of a common man who in an effort to redeem himself changes so drastically that he by the end of the story, allows his own life to be taken to save the life of a young boy. The twist is that the character is actually alive. When the writer meets him she cannot bring herself to kill him off in her book, as everything she writes, happens to him. She says that he is a good man who should not be killed but be allowed to live. Certainly her view is focused on this mortal life and  the movie is trying to moralize about the value of our lives.

  Movie aside, Peter sees in the moment only the mortal view. Jesus does not deserve to die, he being perfect is the last man to deserve that fate. Yet, at that moment Peter is an anti-Christ. He mistakenly, denies the most important mission He has in mortality. One can understand the words of Jesus.
   Matthew 16: 23 "But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
   Those words seem harsh but the atonement and resurrection affects every child of God in this world and in others. To create and save is more important than justifying his mortal life. For Peter these lessons in discipleship will long have an impact on his own mission.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Modern Parables

     This week we studied the parables in Matthew 13 and took time to understand and outline them.

                                                We wrote a few of our own during the process.
  • Mormons on earth are likened unto a bowl into which the Master Chef has added eggs to be mixed with many other ingredients. The eggs hold together the whole mixture.
  • Being a Mormon in high school is like being a daisy in a garden of roses.
  • Being a Mormon is like being a airplane with infinite ways of reaching a destination, but only one right way.
  • Being a Mormon in high school is likened unto a candle in a propane factory. You light the candle and the party begins.
  • Being a Mormon in high school is likened to being a needle in a needle stack. No one notices the single needle until it pricks them and grabs their attention.
  • This is the parable of the high school LDS student who is likened unto a pearl of great price who is put in a bag of many pearls and makes them hard to find.  
  •        The Anatomy of a Seminary Lesson- A Steward(dess) lays a fire every weekday morning. He gathers twigs for kindling, larger logs for fuel, and of course the fire-starter with a match. The fire-starter is made of pressed sawdust and lights quick but cannot sustain a fire for the whole hour. So, kindling must follow and catch the blaze until it reaches the large log which warms the room with nice steady heat.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autumn At The Beach

I went to deliver a little plant to my friend and she wasn't home. What to do?
Lucky for me there is a beach just a few steps away. (Okay, maybe a block?)

   Autumn on the beach looks much the same as other seasons, except for the foliage along the shore. I like to get up close and really see.

   The driftwood was crazy interesting. I found several letters of the alphabet. Do you see the D?

             I almost stepped on this guy, lurking in the debris. You must walk softly on the beach.

Driftwood always gets my imagination going. Where did these nails originate? On a ship or on a dock?

Driftwood also becomes the home to colonies of plants, who make a new ecosystem within the crevasses.

   I'm so glad for a few stolen moments to check things out around my Island. I forget some times that I am surrounded by the sea.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Letter To Self

Dear Friend,
    You are becoming a better friend to yourself as you grow older. I commend your efforts to see more wisely and respond more mercifully. Do you remember being ten years old?  You were alone a lot and perhaps this was the beginning of the time you started the separation between your mind and body. An old picture tells the story.

     You had mixed feelings about being photographed. Papi built a swimming hole in the backyard and everyone was enjoying summer play. You wanted to be noticed but already you were feeling shame about revealing too much of your body. Boys talked about girls bodies and men, including your father, watched women and commented on their looks. You made connections that as you developed into a woman it was better to hide than to be seen and objectified. But you paid a high price of that partly true assumption. You lost the skill to be present in a body that was whole, beautiful, powerful, and wholly yours, as a gift. Eating has been a panacea to feeling inadequate as a physical being. It masked the feelings of frustration at not being able to go across the monkey bars. With food you could squash down the horrible middle school gym classes where you got C's just because you couldn't compete with the thin tiny gymnasts. The years went on and you found someone who desired you just the way you were. It didn't seem to matter to you because you listened to an old recording, stuck in your head. "You are not  enough."
   Enough with that! You are shedding those voices and choosing differently. How can I tell? When you walked by your bike last week you saw it and wanted to ride. And you went, right then. Your yoga practice is feeling so right because it reveals that you are strong and agile. You have two trainers now, thanks to piano lesson trades, and they see a new body coming out of it's shell.  Look at your success and enjoy it.

   I know, you are scared that it won't last forever. You are scared to fail and be back where you were before. It feels vulnerable and new. That is okay. That feeling is real and you may have to embrace it and let it be with you. When you feel tentative, go look outside of yourself and see someone else. Smile at them and notice their presence. See God's children and remember your own birthright.
                                             (The light within me sees the light within you)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pitter Pat

Pitter Pat, do you hear that?
I think it's going to rain.
The droplets send a plume of dust
What moisture will remain?


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Cats Are Gone

The pets people have are of interest to me. Their relationships are fascinating. My son announced this week that the cats are gone. Their long friendship with Biggelsworth and Biggalina has come to an end. They have moved out. 

   Gone to a bigger and less kid invested home, the cats should be quite happy. But I will miss their noses pressed against the screens to get some real air. Their visits to the bathroom in the middle of the night to keep me company, and I will miss hearing the food machine go off to announce chow time.

     They are beautiful creatures who share way too much of their hair and often make me sneeze. Good Luck!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Being Home

     I woke up at 3am recently unable to go back to sleep. I started thinking about my grandchildren. There are sixteen now. As I pondered their lives I was profoundly greatful that they all have a mother at home full time. It is quite a remarkable thing and it is not easy for so many reasons. I wanted to capture them in action surrounded by all the hullabaloo. To these four women I say, "Thank-you for loving my grandchildren enough to be in the trenches every day."

   "Too much of a mama's life goes undocumented and unseen. People, including my children, don't see the way I make sure my kids' favorite stuffed animals are on their beds at night. They don't know how I walk the grocery store aisles looking for treats that will thrill them for a special day. They don't know that I saved their side-snap, paper-thin baby shirts from the hospital where they were born or their little hospital bracelets in keepsake boxes high on the top shelves of their closets. They don't see me tossing and turning in bed wondering if I am doing an okay job as a mother, if they are okay in their schools, where we should take them for a vacation, what we should do for their birthdays. I'm up long past the news on Christmas Eve wrapping presents and eating cookies and milk, and I spend hours hunting the Internet and the local Targets for specially-requested Halloween costumes and birthday presents. They don't see any of that."     From the Huffington Post

      Recent comments from the Moms in my life:

          " My children follow me from room to room talking to me. Talk, talk, talk, all day long."

          "My son wants me to take him to the skateboard park every day. What do I know about skateboarding?"

           "I am trying to do painting for my son because he loves it, despite the potential mess."

             "Sometimes it would be nice to put on heels and a nice dress and go to an important meeting ,but, it doesn't add up to seeing your baby grow and change."

    These are not direct quotes, only approximations.


    To my sons and son-in-law who bring home the bacon, your kids may not appreciate your sacrifice now, but someday they will see the value of the stability you created in your home. Go forward, steadfast and with faith.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Changes

I look out my window and see the Fall leaves changing colors. I have changed over the last six months. Two dress sizes and 30 lbs. lighter and I celebrate the new and vibrant me. Now, I would like to see a little more change and it feels like I am starting at the beginning again. 
I am looking at the next level, more exercise and smaller portions. That was where I was six months ago! My body is able but it is also willing to coast and stay right here. Unfortunately, that is a lie. We never stay the same. We are always moving forward to a more whole self or we are breaking away from the goal and going toward entropy. Hmm…..

Sunday, October 7, 2012

While I Was Reading Sunday- Matthew 5

While I was reading the Sermon on the Mount today I felt the need to focus on what this sermon says about it's author. Jesus Christ gave this sermon three times in written history. Once on a mountain with his new apostles present, once on a plain with more listeners, and once to a people at a temple in the America's. 
  " It provides a window into the Savior’s own personality and character and summarizes the essence of Christlike behavior."
   By definition, character refers to the moral qualities of an individual that are conscientiously and consistently lived. As Jesus teaches these dense characteristics we can see how he embodied them in all his actions.
   In the 3rd Nephi account, contained in the book of Mormon, there are actually more beatitudes than in the New Testament. They come at the beginning. 
   Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve” (3 Nephi 12:1). “Blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized” (3 Nephi 12:1). “More blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me” (3 Nephi 12:2). “Blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins” (3 Nephi 12:2). These "fortunate" character traits turn us to him and set the pattern of seeing in Jesus the example of spiritual progression.
    In general this sermon teaches us how to overcome our natural nature. In all of the beatitudes we see a turning outward and becoming a more whole-hearted person.

   Jesus was poor in spirit
       Poor in spirit means lacking pridefulness. Pride usually turns us inward and defensive.
   Jesus mourned with others
       To think of others who are suffering while we are going through our own battles is very difficult. How did Christ find strength to heal the soldier's ear when his life was in jeopardy?
   Jesus was meek
      Humility is vulnerable. Becoming a strong, powerful person was not really a goal for Christ. He became strong in his meekness.
   Jesus hungered and thirsted after righteousness 
        The most profound action of righteousness in Christ was his constant reference to his Father. He hungered for others to know God, our Father. He thirsted for our relationship to become one.
    Jesus was merciful
       This trait is so obvious. He is the epitome of mercy, but what of his desire for justice? Without his all inclusive striving for justice his mercy could not be protected and made available for all.
   Jesus was pure in heart
      He was perfect because he was whole. His outward man was a true reflection of the inward man.
   Jesus was a peacemaker
      The greatest peace offering he gives is his life, to make us able to be reunited with our Father in Heaven.
   Jesus was persecuted for righteousness
     Certainly Jesus was a stumbling block to those who would not accept his teachings. When he taught truth that others found hard to bear aggression escalated quickly.
   Jesus was persecuted by false accusers
      Satan is the great accuser. He entices us to accuse first, to keep the spotlight off of ourselves. In accusation, a false righteousness keeps us from seeing things as they really are.
     "Thus, the character of Christ is to turn outward in compassion and service when facing spiritual adversity or physical pain even as the natural man in each of us would turn inward in self-obsession and self-interest."
   In summary, I agree with the definition of blessed as used in the beatitudes. If we develop these characters traits we will be most fortunate.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Seven Little Words

My sister-in-law introduced me to a game on my phone called Seven Little Words. If you like Scrabble this will be fun for you and if you don't this game is still fun because it challenges your word knowledge. Of course, I saw how it could be used for Seminary.

   I like to involve my students as soon as they walk in and so this game was ready to play when the first two boys arrived. You need seven gospel words from your lesson and seven descriptions of those words. Avoid breaking up the words in syllables, that makes it too easy.

                            The descriptions or definitions of the words help lead into your lesson.

                   Although the word parts to be movable so that the student can experiment.

 I make my students get up and come to the front which keeps them from lounging in their seats and staying in sleepy mode.

   It was a hit and when one student came in late and asked if we could play games I told her she missed the game this morning. Ahh….be on time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Weekend At The Park

This Saturday, a gorgeous day, we went south to the city of Tacoma. We were going to the zoo but the park was full of wonder and delight.

      A family spilled out of this limo and we tried to guess what the occasion was. They were Hispanic so my best guess was that this girl was turning fifteen and she was celebrating a rite of passage day. The park was a photo stop for their special day.

     Autumn here is very warm so the trees are slow to change color. Contrasts were  becoming so obvious.

    I am so new to photography that I did not see the impact water had on this photo until I looked at the photo in my camera. Wow! Nature does most of the teaching in my experience.

   The ducks were sticking their entire bodies in the water to gobble up lunch. I clicked just as this guy came up out of the water.

     Even before we reached the zoo we saw creatures in their natural habitat. Who appeared in the bushes? A bandit interested in our treats.

   My only good zoo shot was this miniature tide pool. The starfish had such bright colors. Truly it was a visual delight all day long.