Friday, May 31, 2013

Last Messages From John The Revelator

Vigilant-Keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties:
Valiant-Possessing or showing courage or determination
Virtuous- A pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards, including chastity
Victory- An act of defeating an enemy 

1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"

Alma 53:20 "And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all -- they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted."

Phillipians 4:8" Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Revelations 15:2 "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God."

John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

   Showing the V sign may have loaded meanings for some cultures but in Seminary the V sign, palms out, reminds us to continue the good work we embarked on this year. It will be carried into the new year where I hope we find numerous stories of vigilant, valiant, and virtuous women and men of God.
   "Come on guys, look engaged! Arg….."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Can See What You Value

I was looking at a home in Australia online admiring their large kitchen table when the floor to ceiling bookcases caught my eye. The thought came past my mind that I could see what this family valued. Ironically my eyes lifted to the view in my own kitchen. I saw what we valued, as well.

    In every room we have floor to ceiling bookcases to house the hundreds of books we love and read.

        Is it time to purge? Which decade should be the first to get pruned? I remember my friend Fran, who passed away from breast cancer, who had a library to meet any need. I would visit and lose myself in her volumes of history, religion, and humor. She couldn't thin her thick tomes and I so understand.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Images From Revelations

Even though the Book of Revelations is not meant to be interpreted visually I find that exploring the images gives lasting insight.
For example, when you place the image of the dragon next to the woman and child you see the vulnerability of the Church of Jesus Christ with her offspring, Zion. Yet she is made strong by another diminutive image.

    What could be more vulnerable than a lamb? Yet, The Lamb of God has power to crush the head of the Dragon. While the dragon looks frightening, his power is over the world. The Lamb has power to change and hold the inner man and woman and that, is eternal power. No image, no words, and no experience is as powerful as our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. This I know to be true.

   I am sure the images of Babylon were decadent to the view of John and our Babylon is just as glitzy, with promises that can never be met and the lure of something for nothing.

   My students could see the counterfeit tactics of Satan as we visualized the "other woman".

    I shall not forget the contrast between the chains of hell and being encircled in the arms of everlasting love.

           I don't fully understand Revelations but each time I read it I come away with more appreciation for this marvelous vision.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Last week was a week of performances. I had some tickets to community events and I invited a few grandchildren along. Miss M. and I attended Cinderella by the the Dance Academy. We both laughed and cheered because it was such a great show.

Then a few days later, Al and I went to see the Percussion Ensemble. I was impressed with the capabilities of this group and learned that they have been honored on a State level.

   Lastly, I sent a craft project for Miss Madilline to finish for her third birthday. She worked hard….

 And celebrated in style at her birthday breakfast. Wish I could have hugged my three-year old princess.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Community Supported Agriculture

My daughter, The Knitting Queen, put down a nice lump of change to buy into a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, subscription this summer. When she asked me to pay half I started doing math to see if this was a good deal. I received a rather stern lecture about the importance of supporting local farming. Yes, I had to agree that the produce was superior to anything trucked into our community. It tasted velvety and firm at the same time. Yes, I had to agree that having local farmers was a smart move in a unstable economic time. Yes, I had to agree that knowing how my vegetables were grown and who was doing the hard work was comforting. And yes, I wanted to support the young and energetic farmers who have committed to learning and understanding how to responsibly till the earth.
With that lecture internalized I received the first "bag of vegetables" from Stitchdown Farm.

    The Kale was superb and almost convinced my husband, who hates Kale, to eat a bit more. He prefers the taste of spinach. To my surprise a goose egg lay hiding in the delivery. Wow! That will make a nice omelet.

    The salad mix was so fresh and flavorful. I am convinced that these two farmers will add to the joy of this summer. If you are not growing your own vegetables this year or would like to augment what you have in your garden, contact Stitchdown

                                     PS, Don't you just hate getting lectures from your kids?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Teaching As Service

   I teach all day long. My weekday starts at 6:30am when My Early Morning Guests come and continues most mornings with before school piano lessons. Then back on the piano bench at 2:00pm until 6:30pm. It is my job but many days it is also a service to fill the need of a young person at just the right moment. Often the lesson learned goes far beyond the music bench.

    Maria was playing a difficult piece with all the right notes but she seemed unaware of the rhythm pulse. On which part of the beat did the notes enter? Her brow furrowed and her body tensed. I asked her to isolate two measures and write in the beats. A moment of fear passed her eyes. What exactly did I mean? We started at the beginning. How many counts did the quarter note get? 1 & 2 &, she squeezed the symbols under the staff and waited as the next note appeared to be tied to a following note. Where did that tied note fit in the beats? We seemed to be as far away from the flow and beauty of this song as possible. In frustration she looked at me, silently asking how this could possibly clear up her practice problem.
  The ear and the senses are remarkable tools in playing the piano but they are sometimes 
wrong. Often we must go back to the linear math of music to see how the notes are put together. Ideally that should happen the first time we read a new piece but we get seduced by the sound and get carried away, guessing instead of knowing what the notes reveal.
  Life is like that to. Quite often we do not take stock of what is happening. We "play it by ear" and find out later we are fuzzy on the details. Our experience feels out of sync and no longer holds the joy we thought possible. That is when we must go back to the beginning and count. What action should I have taken at this point in the experience. How is the moment tied to this action? As the linear processing unfolds we begin to feel the steady beat, and now we know when we are right. There is nothing as physically satisfying as being "right on the beat".

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Six Habits To Happiness- Nourish

   This habit is sneaking in under false pretenses. It is not yet a habit, but I really feel happy when I adhere to the scope of this "want to be" habit. In a nutshell, this habit is the continuous nourishing of my body with the best foods and beverages for optimal health. Eat to live, not live to eat, which has been my habit in the last 50 years.

    To gather into my home, my refrigerator, and my meals the most nourishing of foods is a spiritual pursuit for me. The temporal side of my character is tempted by sugars, fats, and starches. Truly, I am addicted to the calming influence of food, so my attempts to nourish or perish must be supported with spiritual strength.

The abundance of good food around me is so rare on this planet and I try to be ever more grateful for the variety by making fruits and vegetables my staples

Lately, my thoughts are geared to finding the dishes to add to my major vegetables, unlike the past where I planned the side dishes to augment my cut of meat. Starting tomorrow my daughter and I will share a farm subscription. Each week we will receive a variety  of the week's farm harvest. I look forward to seeing what the farm provides. In our little community we host many young farmers who come here to intern on sustainable farms. The farming crosses all ages here and there is a strong awareness of nutritious foods. I am in the best of all situations to eat healthfully but the habit is still weak and each day I make the decision again to nourish well, the body I have.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Stake Seminary Bowl

    We hosted a Stake Seminary Bowl last night. For those of you who have never attended one it is a culmination of the past year's study of 25 mastery scriptures and basic knowledge of the New Testament. Students come together to answer questions and show their skill in understanding and finding key scriptures. The evening started with dividing up students into groups. Often students were grouped with students from other units who they did not know. The groups rotated every 20 minutes. One group played Jeopardy with really cool buttons and flashing lights.

                                     The most frustrating moments were the explanation of the rules.

Others gathered in the gym where they had to pop a balloon to find a scripture clue and then race to their team to look it up.

The third group watched awesome video clips to give clues to mastery verses and each team had to be on the same page to push the button and win the round.

   One of my favorite clips was Bruce Wayne listening while Lois Lane tells him that it is what he does that defines who he is. Didn't you guess, Lois, that he was Batman? He had faith and works.

The last activity was back in the gym, all together, looking in numbered bags to find an object that harkened back to a scripture phrase. This ended up being fast and energetic as they raced from bag to bag to decipher clues.

           My favorite part was the whole-hearted engagement of each student in this worthwhile pursuit.

    Thanks to our Stake Seminary Supervisor and excellent fellow teachers, this was an outstanding event for my class and all the others who came to explore the New Testament.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Six Habits To Happiness- Create

    I simply must create in my life. Even as I write this I cringe because it sounds very lofty and artistic. We speak often about being creative and I know very few people who claim to be creative. Perhaps we narrow the path of creativity to the arts alone. With such a narrow interpretation few of us fit the term creator. But, I like the interpretation the Hebrew Bible gives of creation, which is simply to organize. Whenever we take materials and organize them into a different form, we create.
   "The creative journey is characterized not by a muzzy and hazy retreat from reality but by the continual sorting and reordering and structuring of reality into new forms and new relationships." (Julia Cameron, Walking in this World, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2002, p. 137) 

   My symbol of create is a mother and child. I love the symbol because my creations often follow the birth process.  They are conceived, grow in a fetus-like way, and finally make the painful appearance into life. In years past I was very quick to conceive ideas. I had folders full of great plans but no follow through. Now with more time to myself, I am finishing what I start and pushing through the difficult stages of production. 
   Upon choosing these Six Habits To Happiness an idea formed to create a physical representation of this concept. I wanted something in my house to remind me every day. I chose a tree and upon that I displayed representations of my fruits of happiness. I see this tree as I teach piano. I know when I have tasted of each of the fruits throughout my day. 

   My bread baking is another one of these endeavors. I wanted to learn how to make artisan bread. Several good books gave me step by step instructions and tips. I made two loaves a day for many weeks, giving away what we couldn't eat. Each time I baked I tried different techniques and finally found the right recipe with the taste and texture I like. The process is like a meditation now. I have everything memorized. It is for me, a creative outlet.
  Blogging feeds the creative soul within me. I write with an audience of loving friends in mind.  Not to become popular but to share what life is like for me. Some of my ideas are worth sharing because they meet the needs of others. Two and a half years ago I had no idea that I would continue writing my blog for this long. 
I need some creating every day, along with prayer, study, service,
moving, and the last habit to  be revealed soon. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Drawing on Revelations

Since the Book of Revelations is largely a book of symbolism I like to do illustrating when we study it in seminary. The last pages in our journal will be set aside for the daily drawing on Revelations. I read scriptures blocks while they are drawing and the discussions seem quieter and more intent.

   There is something meditative about drawing. It doesn't really matter how good we are. it matters that we are putting visual life to the verses.

                    Sometimes our drawings are scary but the future has some jaw dropping prophecies.

   In contrast to the sobering predictions of apocalypse there are beautiful descriptions of the Savior and the ultimate victory of righteousness.

                         I love it when I hear one of my students say, 'Wow, listen to this cool scripture."

   I am comforted that the last weeks of seminary will be remembered as days of sitting around the table, drawing pictures of the glorious future.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Family Reunions

    I have attended many family reunions at various stages of life. These have sometimes made me feel inadequate, snobby, homesick, and grateful, amongst other things. As a child I went to play with cousins who seemed more worldly and daring than I. We ran around the perimeter of the grown ups pretending we were characters in our favorite movies. 

    In the teens I went self-conscious, hoping I would appear smart and talented. I wanted attention and sometimes became aware that others were looking for that, too. It's hard to find someone who gives attention to so many seekers.

  With little children I went to family reunions hoping to find justification by showing my family that I was coping well with decisions in my life that turned out to be difficult. I longed for someone to come along and watch my kids long enough to allow me to connect to someone. To really know how their life was going. To speak heart to heart before the party ended and we traveled to our different corners of the world.

                 Now I go and notice the real heroes of every family get together, the hosts. 

   The woman who's mind keeps spinning trying to remember all the small details. Does she have enough paper plates? Should she cut onions to go with the brats? Will the late arrivals get some teriyaki chicken? The one who cleans the pool, cleans up the lawn chairs, and buys the outside toys so that others have an outlet for their energy. 

   In all those years before, I was caught up with myself and how I appeared to my family. Now, I am just grateful to have a family. 

   There is never enough time to connect, heart to heart, but the collective heart of our ancestors and our posterity is renewed every time we make the sometimes tortuous efforts to come together every couple of years. I pray everyone felt loved by someone. I pray that they vowed to call more often. I pray that we will all be there next time.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013


    My seminary students and I found some distinctive language in the Epistles of John. We called them Johnisms. The pattern follows the thought, if you say this and do that, then this is the outcome. But, if you say this and do that, then this is the outcome.

  1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 
But ......if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
  (but)...If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
   But .....whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

  1 John 2:9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
    (but)....He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

  These literary devices help us remember messages for a long time. Certainly, I will remember John's vivid descriptions of hypocrisy. He makes me want to be true to what I say and believe.

Monday, May 6, 2013

39 Years And Counting

This weekend my husband and I celebrated 39 years of marriage. As my friend noted, "That is 39 years of cooking dinner for the same man." Personally, I like cooking and he likes my cooking so we are mutually benefited. We made a day trip up along Hood Canal, an inlet of water in the Puget Sound. The day was fantastic. You can see the Olympic mountains peeking over the wooded ridge.

It seemed the whole world was out on the water in boats, scuba diving, or picnicking in the state parks.

    The drive along the Hood canal was varied with beautiful homes along the shore, some marshland, and countless piers out into the water.

The sun was welcome and energizing.

   Dalby Creek, with it's Waterwheel, was a roadside attraction. You will never see moss so happy as the green, slimy, tendrils taking a ride on the wheel.

    It was built in 1929 and moved to it's present location in the last decade. Alongside the creek I spotted odd trees, growing in vertical segments. Fragile looking, they nevertheless reached for the sky.

  The water wheel was still producing electricity and I was given a lengthy explanation of it's workings.

    My eye was enticed by the shed next to the waterwheel. It had a short door which seemed very hobbittish.

   Our destination was Sequim, WA where we found the best barbecue place. They make some outstanding pulled meat and allow you to doctor it with a variety of homemade sauces.

    We sampled them all, finding the Faux Zark Sauce the winner. I was thrilled to take home a jar. Ironically, as we were driving I was reading Michael Pollan's new book Cooked, out loud. He was explaining his quest to understand authentic barbecue. It seemed like I could taste his experiences having just sampled the best sauces I have ever tried.

To top off the day we stopped at Carter's Chocolatiers, on the Kitsap Pennisula, for shakes and chocolates. I love my man, always enjoying talking and laughing together.