Monday, September 1, 2014

When Dark Clouds of Trouble Hang O'er Us




We’ve endured some fairly impressive storms the past couple of weeks. Before one arrived, I received an alert on my cell phone, compliments of a so-called “app” on my Droid. It hinted that a doozy of a storm was due to arrive shortly. So we did all we could do to batten down the hatches. The garbage container was wheeled into the garage because of the high wind advisory. Windows were shut in the house, and in our vehicles, like the truck and the camper, which were outside. We also warned family members, neighbors, and friends that things were possibly going to get ugly. We figured we had done the best we could to prepare, and then the skies grew dark. Beyond dark. Scary dark in the middle of the afternoon. This led us to believe that perhaps we were in for the tornado that had been predicted, a rare event in our area. 

Not long after that, it began to rain, in what looked like sheets of water. The temperature dropped, and it began to hail. It wasn’t a light hail, like we normally see—it was a powerful hailstorm of epic proportions. Plants were shredded, as hailstones the size of a dime fell from the sky in a massive quantity. Crops were destroyed in this farming community. Animals panicked. Our poor little cat was traumatized. She loudly cried for comfort and reassurance that all would eventually be well.

 It fell to me to convince her to come out of her hiding place under the porch in our garage. This took some intense coaxing, but finally, she came out and practically flew into my arms for safety. It was all I could do to convince her that she would survive, and that despite what she believed, the world had not come to an end.

I suspect that is part of the challenge of our day. Many storms will come into our lives, some of epic proportions. There will be moments when we’ll fearfully wonder if we will survive, especially when the days are dark, and full of scary events. We may hide, certain of our impending doom, as the adversary does his best to convince us that all is lost. It will take a lot of faith to trust in our Savior, to come forward as He coaxes us out of our hiding places and into His safe arms as He helps us weather the storm. He knows our hearts and how best to help us heal from the destruction that may surface in our lives. He will walk beside us until we are strong enough to walk on our own, and He will lend us hope when we are certain there is none to be found. 

He will expect us to prepare as best we can to face the challenges that will come. That is something we’ve been warned about from those who are called to alert us to the dangers that may lie ahead. It is up to us to take the suggested precautions, and to do all we can to help others along the way. Together, we can weather the crazy days ahead, relying on the One who can bring light in the midst of any storm.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

SUMMER FOOD


 
Like most people, I like to eat and fresh garden produce is surely some of the best eating ever. Our garden space isn't very big and we supplement it with wooden barrels.  Between the two, we've enjoyed potatoes, beets, chard, carrots, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, rhubarb, chives, strawberries, and peaches this summer. Some items have done better than others; a hill of potatoes produces enough to feed us for three days while the strawberries could be counted on my fingers---and the birds got most of them. 

There were no nearby grocery stores carrying fresh produce where I grew up so I looked forward each summer to the goodness grown in my mother's garden.  They were a much appreciated respite from bottled or canned fruits and vegetables.  Fresh produce is readily available now all year long, but I'm convinced the store bought versions aren't as good as those picked from my garden. They certainly aren't as fresh. 

Each year I feel sad when summer begins to draw to a close since that means the end of our garden.  Already the potatoes are down to two hills, I picked the last of the peaches this morning, and the beets and carrots are getting a little sparse. During the cold, rainy spell we've had the tomatoes stopped ripening, but I expect with a break in the rain we'll have enough for us and our neighbors again soon.  The zucchini hasn't done as well this year as other years, but I've had enough for some of my favorite recipes.  I'll include two of my favorite gluten free zucchini recipes for those like my husband who has Celiac. (For those who don't do gluten free cooking, use regular flour and leave out the Xanthan gum). 

Gluten Free Zucchini Cake 

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup potato starch
3/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour (May substitute
all purpose gluten free flour for both starches as well.  I prefer the King Arthur brand.)
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins (May omit)
Cream Cheese Frosting  (Use Pillsbury cream cheese frosting if lactose intolerant)
1/2 cup chopped nuts 

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray pan:  15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 (jelly roll) or 13 x 9 x 2
Beat eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce, and zucchini.  Stir in dry ingredients. Mix in raisin.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake until light brown, 25 to 30 minutes. May take a few minutes more for 13 x 9 size pan. Cool frost with cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle with nuts.
 

Zucchini Brownies 

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup sugar or Splenda
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups gluten free flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups zucchini 

Nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips may be added to taste.  Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Ice with favorite fudge icing.  (Pillsbury chocolate fudge is lactose free.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Love this technology!!

I've been doing family history - genealogy it was called then - since the early 1960s. I remember writing a letter to a court house and waiting weeks for a reply if it came at all. They'd tell me how much the fee would be to send the birth/death/marriage certificate if they could find it. I'd send the check back. Weeks later, if I was very fortunate, the certificate would arrive in the mail. The wait was excruciating!

Today, we go on line to find those things, sometimes instantly, sometimes it just takes some searching. Family Search and Ancestry.com are two of my favorite places to be on any given day. And now the Church is just spilling forth constantly with wonderful new innovations to seek out our ancestors!

Just a quick preview of the fun stuff that is out there:



http://tinyurl.com/ldeeqin is the universal link to getting Ancestry, My Heritage, and newspaper.com free with your Family Search account if you are a member of the Church. If you have not yet received your e-mail telling you that you now have those premium websites free – this will get you into those programs.  I have been paying $300 a year for my International Ancestry subscription – and now you can have it for free!

https://familysearch.org/campaign/pioneer-ancestors  connects your family search account with pioneer ancestors you may have and gives you companies that crossed the plains with or stories about them. Very interesting!

The 3rd website is just pure fun! It’s the roots-fb.cs.byu.edu  link that will take you to a site that gives lists of famous people, prophets, presidents, royalty, infamous people, etc to show how you are related to them. The work is already done for you! Just open and enjoy!

The 4th site is something you can do to give back for all this information now at your fingertips without any effort on your part! It is the Billion Graves project: you download the app to your smart phone or IPad, go to a cemetery,and take pictures of the gravestones. Those pictures will then be uploaded to their website and placed in their database for people find that information to provide more information for their family history. If you go to that site, it gives complete instructions on how it works.

The 5th app that has me excited is the new Family Tree app for your smart phone and iPad. It is, of course, a free download and your pedigree comes up when you sign in with your family search account number. Now you can carry with you in your pocket or purse your entire family history! Everything that is in your family search account is there!

App #6 is the next really exciting app! The Church has a Memories app that you should download the same time you download the Family Search app.  You can take pictures with your smart phone of people, documents, or whatever and upload them right into your family search account.  Now you don’t have to have a scanner to add pictures to your files. Just take a picture, it gives you an opportunity to tag someone or something who is in your files, and it attaches it right there in your file. Amazing! It lets you crop it, fix it how you want – and if there are several people in the picture, it lets you identify each one of them, and then that same pictures is posted in each of their files. Just like Magic!

Elder Bednar's address this last week talked about today's social media and how it benefits us. This not only benefits us, but our ancestors!  Life just gets more exciting all the time!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Laus Deo

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness--these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

This is a quote from George Washington's farewell address, given as he was leaving office as the first President of the United States. The entire address carries a tone of  instruction and caution for the citizens of the newly formed Republic, and it certainly is a well-spring of good advise for prescient Americans. After the address was given, April 30, 1789, it was published and presented for public study. It was taught in the schools and analyzed on the street corners.
 
I believe Washington's Farewell Address is worth reading, pondering, and teaching to our children. I believe, along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, it should be read and discussed in every home and taught in every secondary school.

In this day and age when the Constitution of the United States and the founding principles of  the country are being undermined, I feel it imperative that we, as a people, get back to the two great Pillars of political prosperity--Religion and Morality.

On the top of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC are written the words, in Latin, "Laus Deo" which means "Praise be to God." They are words to bring back into our lives and public dialogue. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Carpe Diem!




Are we really approaching the final days of summer? Doesn’t it seem like it should still be about the first part of July or the last week of June? Is it me, or did this summer fly by much too fast? Yesterday I asked my teen Sunday School class when school would be starting and was informed that it will resume in about 9 days. Wow!!! Then again, I think about everything that has been packed into the past 4 weeks, and time has definitely been marching on. In those 4 weeks, we attended my 35th (yikes!) high school class reunion, I helped direct a humorous, historical musical production for our community for the sesquicentennial celebration (150 years have flown by since our town was first settled), was shanghaied into helping for a couple of days at this year’s county fair (I didn’t realize how many people it takes to pull something like that together), went camping, attended what seemed like a plethora of family reunions, attended the famed Preston Rodeo with our youngest son and our daughter-in-law (she had never seen a rodeo before), helped them with a yard sale before they headed off to Pennsylvania for the next 4 years (he was accepted into med school in that location), hosted a family gathering or two for our clan, and went for some bodacious rides in our new Polaris RZR. (Love it—it’s so comfy while riding around in the nearby canyons.) We also picked huckleberries, played in the lake, went fishing a time or two, and raised a few tomatoes—the biggest ones I’ve ever coaxed into surviving a typical Bear Lake summer. (We still had snow storms in June . . . and it’s acting like it could freeze toward the end of August . . . yay . . .) In short—we’ve managed to cram in a ton of stuff during the few short weeks of summer. Perhaps that’s why I’m feeling a tiny bit tired. =) But we’ve had a lot of fun, and we’ve spent precious time with family and friends. Isn’t that what summer is all about? =) Though the frantic pace is sometimes hard to keep up with, as I look back, there are few regrets. Pictures document all that we managed to accomplish and enjoy. And someday, when life slows down (yes, I’m rolling my eyes, too) I will attempt to organize those pictures for future viewing.

Perhaps Majorie Pay Hinckely said it best: “I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”
Marjorie Pay Hinckley

We are indeed here to live, to do the best we can do, and to serve those around us as best we can. I suspect that part of our test is to see what we’ll do with the time that we have. Perhaps time means more to me now, since my little heart glitch. It’s made me prioritize a few things—and even though I still get talked into doing a bit more than I probably should on occasion, again, there are no regrets. Most of those items are acts of service—something I believe is important. In fact, I came across another thought the other day that pretty well sums up how vital those moments are in our lives:

“Jesus Christ said, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:13) This doesn’t mean we have to die to show our love for our friends. We lay down our lives every time we put someone else’s needs before our own.  (And the ‘friends’mentioned in the scripture above can be understood to be everyone we meet, since Jesus also commanded us to ‘love one another.’) We lay down our lives through service. Church members have many opportunities to serve. We can do small acts of kindness for our neighbors, take part in community service, fulfill responsibilities in our local congregations, or contribute to the Church’s large-scale humanitarian efforts. These actions, whether great or small, let us feel the happiness of connecting with our brothers and sisters, and remind us that God often allows us to be the answer to someone else’s prayers.”   
            (www.mormon.org/values/helping-others)

So, go out and enjoy these final days of summer. Then look forward to fall and all the color that it brings into our lives. We are here to live and to make the most of each day that we’ve been given. It’s my hope that when I arrive at the pearly gates, I will do so in my RZR, my hair in an extreme wind-blown fashion, a camera around my neck that contains the proof of what I’ve been up to, huckleberries heaped in a large bucket to share with one and all, and a broad smile on my face. Definitely a little bit of heaven right there. =)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Introducing My Daughters

It's my day to blog, but I'm too tired to think straight so instead of blogging I'm going to give you a link to my daughters' blog.  Two of my daughters, Janice Sperry and Lezlie Anderson, are writers too.  Janice's book The Rebel Princess came out in June. You may have read short stories by her in several different publications and her Christmas booklet, The Candy Cane Queen, was released a year ago.  Lezlie's Christmas booklet Snow Angel will be available in October. Janice has been writing a blog for a couple of years, but the two have decided to join forces and blog together.  Their blog is called Come Out When You're Happy.  Here's the link http://comeoutwhenyourehappy.blogspot.com/2014/08/blog-changes.html



 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Not" Never on Sunday", But "Always on Friday!"

If asked to describe my life, my initial response would be I'm rather a stay-at-home person. I love being at home and especially love days that I don't have to leave my house. Then why is it that every other Friday when it is my turn to blog, I'm out of town!



July 25th we were in St. George for Glenn's siblings reunion, which by the way was lots of fun. We saw two shows at Tuacahn: The Wizard of Oz and The Little Mermaid. Both excellent, though I did love Mermaid more as they used that versatile stage to great advantage for the water portions. Really excellent productions! We drove up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon - my favorite side - and had lunch in the Grand Lodge. None of the rest of the family had ever been there so we got to introduce them to one of the great wonders of the modern world that is so conveniently close. Also enjoyed the cooler temperatures at the top: it was 110 in St. George when we saw The Wizard of Oz!

On August 8 I was in Valencia staying with grandsons. No time for blogs, even if I could figure out how to post with an iPad! I'm sure it is possible. I'll just have to figure it out since it appears I'm doomed to be out of town on my turn. So today I'm posting three days late - but I'm posting!

In the last three weeks, I've spent the greater portion of those weeks out of town - the siblings reunion, then back to Utah the next  week for the sealing of a grand-niece in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple. Time with my sister was the reward for that quick trip - up and back in four days. Two days there, two days on the road! I did listen to Alexander the Great - about 20 CDs - historical non-fiction that made the miles fly by!

This last week I got to spend time with two grandsons, taking them to their high school and junior high registrations, buying school supplies, then acquiring the essential paint colors to surprise parents with a new paint job on walls and furniture. Parents were happy with the walls - not so happy with blue and yellow dressers and book case. Grandson assured me it was okay. Mom wasn't okay with it.  :( Maybe I won't be invited back the first week in September when they have to go to Hong Kong - a mixed blessing! Love helping out and being with the kids, but come home totally exhausted and hubby misses me!

I know I need to take a cue from Jennie - post before and have it appear on my date, but I haven't figured that out yet either.  My failings are obvious - technologically impaired! But I am an enthusiastic tour guide and accomplished painter and decorator of cultural halls for wedding receptions, so maybe that will all even out in the end! Especially if I can get my grandsons to teach me how to do all this technological business! I promise to try harder to post on time!!