Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fasting

Recently I read about fasting in the scriptures. I read about Jehosaphat, king of Judah. When he discovered that his nation was to be attacked, he 'feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.' (2 Chronicles 20:3)
I read about Ezra, how he lead a group of Jews from Babylon back to Jerusalem.  'Then I proclaimed a fast...before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones...So we fasted and besought our God for this; and he was intreated of us.' (Ezra 8:21 & 23).
I read about Nehemiah and his concern for the Jews in Jerusalem, that he 'sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven' for their welfare.
In the book of Esther I read about her request that all of the Jews fast for three days that she might find favor in the sight of the king and save her people. (Esther 4:16)
Next I read about king Darius who 'passed the night fasting' when Daniel was cast into the den of lions. (Daniel 6:18)
 I found a beautiful passage in Joel 2:12-13 where the LORD invites '...turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God...'
In the New Testament I read about the Savior teaching his disciples that fasting and prayer are indispensable requirements to do His work. (Matt 17:21)
 Cornelius fasted as he sought guidance and direction from the Lord (Acts 10), and in Acts 13 we learn that the leaders of the church in Antioch fasted as they sought divine direction in calling and sending forth missionaries (Acts 13:1-3); and that those missionaries 'ordained them elders in every church, and prayed with fasting...commending them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23)
In the Book of Mormon I read Alma's powerful declaration as he taught about repentance, obedience, being born again and cleansed through the blood of Christ: ' Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself that they are true...' (Alma 5:46) And in Alma 17:3 we learn why the sons of Mosiah had such amazing missionary experiences, '...they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God...they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.'
I have had my own experiences with fasting which are tender and sweet. In the disappointments and trials of life, fasting as one of the tools I use to call upon my Father and ask for His divine direction and intervention. Through the years I have seen the fruits of this effort. My problems have not been taken away, but my ability to deal with them, my patience and self-control have increased remarkably. I share with all of you my witness that fasting brings us closer to the Lord, it helps in developing a proper perspective and correct priorities, it blesses my life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Life has so much to offer. Sometimes the little things get lost in the midst of dramatic and demanding events and circumstances. But it's nice to sit back and enjoy the simple pleasures of life and realize how incredibly blessed we are. Here are some of my favorites.

Vine ripe tomatoes

Berry/almond vanilla yogurt for breakfast

waking up next to my sweetheart

a phone call from my sweet little Ike

a quiet cool morning jog

the whisperings of the Spirit

answers to prayer
the serenity and peace of the scriptures, and the call to action I often find there 

a cold drink of water

an afternoon with my mom and sisters, nieces, & friends

getting all wrapped up in a good book, so many to choose from

looking at pictures of my kids when they were little (sorry Steve, you were still in heaven)

talking to my kids on the phone or Skype

 squashed dragons

laying down on my bed when I'm really tired

cooking for my Dave

video
Cache's laugh

spending time in the temple

warm, just out of the oven cookies 

Sometimes I offer 'thanks only' prayers ~ when I don't ask for anything, just express my love and gratitude for the incredible blessings I have. No one is more blessed than I am, and no one is more undeserving.  I try to be aware and give thanks to my Father and my Savior for their generosity and tender mercies.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering September 11, 2001

My thoughts and feelings leading up to the commemoration of Sep 11, 2001, are most eloquently expressed in the following article, it is excellent.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/911-destruction-allowed-us-to-spiritually-rebuild/2011/09/08/gIQAbkjKCK_blog.html

9/11 destruction allowed us to spiritually rebuild

Badge from fire helmet discovered in the debris post 9/11/01. (Ira Block)
 
The calamity of September 11th, 2001 has cast a long shadow. Ten years later, many of us are still haunted by its terrible tragedy of lost lives and broken hearts. It is an episode of anguish that has become a defining moment in the history of the American nation and the world. This week, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, along with Tom Brokaw, will pay its own homage to the unforgettable events of September 11, 2001.
There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding. Comfortable times were shattered. We felt the great unsteadiness of life and reached for the great steadiness of our Father in Heaven. And, as ever, we found it. Americans of all faiths came together in a remarkable way.
Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed. Healing has come with time, but so has indifference. We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt. Our sorrow moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives. The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment. But we are forgetful. When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well.
Our Father’s commitment to us, His children, is unwavering. Indeed He softens the winters of our lives, but He also brightens our summers. Whether it is the best of times or the worst, He is with us. He has promised us that this will never change.
But we are less faithful than He is. By nature we are vain, frail, and foolish. We sometimes neglect God. Sometimes we fail to keep the commandments that He gives us to make us happy. Sometimes we fail to commune with Him in prayer. Sometimes we forget to succor the poor and the downtrodden who are also His children. And our forgetfulness is very much to our detriment.
If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season.
The way to be with God in every season is to strive to be near Him every week and each day. We truly “need Him every hour,” not just in hours of devastation. We must speak to Him, listen to Him, and serve Him. If we wish to serve Him, we should serve our fellow men. We will mourn the lives we lose, but we should also fix the lives that can be mended and heal the hearts that may yet be healed.
It is constancy that God would have from us. Tragedies are not merely opportunities to give Him a fleeting thought, or for momentary insight to His plan for our happiness. Destruction allows us to rebuild our lives in the way He teaches us, and to become something different than we were. We can make Him the center of our thoughts and His Son, Jesus Christ, the pattern for our behavior. We may not only find faith in God in our sorrow. We may also become faithful to Him in times of calm.
Thomas S. Monson is president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We finally did it!

We have lived in our house for over 7 years, and since we never decided on a paint color, we still have white walls. That is, until last week when we bought some paint and got to work.
And work it is! Our house isn't that big, but we do have 9 ft ceilings, and a vaulted ceiling in the living room which proved more than a challenge.
Here are some before/after shots:

spare bedroom #1 - before
spare bedroom #1 - after
front room - before
front room - after, check out the accent wall, it was Dave's idea
entry - before
entry - after
hall way - before
hall way - after
bedroom - before
bedroom - after
kitchen - before
kitchen - after
dining area - before
dining area - after
It was more work than I thought it would be, but I am SO pleased with the result.
We still have to paint the bathrooms so technically we aren't finished yet. And there is a pretty good sized stack of pictures to re-hang too. But for now we are just enjoying having some color on our walls.
I have to say that my husband is the best painter ever. He was up and down the ladder, moving the heavy furniture, and didn't slack off when it was clean-up time; he is a hard worker.
So, come see us, we'll let you help us hang the pictures!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Summer Fun

Summer goes so quickly, but we have had some fun this year, and hope to extend our summer attitude and activities well into the fall.
our anniversary collage ~ many years worth of memories
We celebrated our wedding anniversary, who knew we would ever be old enough to be married so long?
you can't learn to use a drill too soon
We got to have our grandson with us for a few nights while his parents went out of town.


Our hard work last spring is beginning to pay off, we are getting delicious vegetables from our garden.

our standard wedding gift
all packed up and ready for delivery
We have been invited to many weddings, 10 just in August!

it ended up being a free-for-all
The annual Pirate Party in the YSA ward was as fun as ever, Dave was part of the relay race in the pool.
And lest you think we are resting for the rest of the summer, we just bought paint for our house.
Our walls are still all white so after 7 years we are finally adding some color! 
We will share pictures of the finished product soon.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Some Summer Activities and Events

 Our church meetings today were amazing. Serving in the Young Single Adult Ward and Stake is such a privilege and blessing to Dave and I, we are loving our time with these choice young people.
a few ward members at a service project a week ago
I continually marvel at their ability and desire to teach, testify, and serve the Savior.
Today we heard from a young man who will be in the Missionary Training Center on Wednesday. He is so excited and well prepared to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He testified powerfully of the love our Father and Jesus Christ have for each one of us. He said, "I have come to know through many experiences that God loves ME, and that is amazing! We can all have those experiences that let us know that. You are known to God and He loves you."
He taught us about the tree of life in the vision Lehi and Nephi saw; that it's 'beauty was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.'
 And that this tree represents the love of God, that it is 'the most desirable above all things', and most 'joyous to the soul'. (See 1 Nephi 8 & 11)
 Maybe my favorite of all he said was: "Life got so much better the minute I started reading the Book of Mormon. Read it, you will find Jesus Christ in your life and have very personal experiences".


17 Miracles
Dave and I went to the movie last week, and since we both wanted to see different movies that's what we did. He saw Harry Potter, and I saw 17 Miracles.



Dave said Harry Potter was very good, not being a fan myself I will just take his word for it.
17 Miracles was great, but if you go see it, be sure to take at least one tissue. It's about the Martin and Willey handcart companies and the experiences they had crossing the country in 1856, traveling from Iowa City to Salt Lake City. Most of them were recent immigrants from Great Britian, they were city people, not frontiersmen. As the title implies, miraculous events occurred on their journey; never were their trials and hardships removed, but always enough was given to keep them moving and helping each other. I am humbled to know that one of my grandmothers,  I have forgotten how many generations back, traveled with the Willey handcart company.  Knowing of the horrible conditions they faced and the way they met those conditions with dignity, commitment and faith strengthens my resolve and desire to be as true to my testimony of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ as they were.


The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Changed the World by Chris Stewart and Ted Stewart


This is a wonderful book, gives perspective on how greatly blessed we are to live in a free country.
"The best estimates of how many poeple have ever lived on the earth range from 100 to 110 billion.
Even being generous in our estimates, it seems clear that fewer than 5 billion of the earth's total inhabitants have ever lived under conditions that we could consider free. This would be something like 4.5 percent of people who have ever lived. And these are generous estimates. The actual numbers might be much lower than this." p 12

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Some new pictures

Here are some pictures we have taken lately, kind of a random mixture. Enjoy!

at the 4th of July parade

another shot at the parade

my newest project ~ peep toe baby booties

close-up of the booties, the pattern is at youcanmakethis.com
one morning's picking ~ we got over 50 pounds of berries this year

some of the biggest berries

Summer is going too quickly, we are trying to enjoy every minute!

Monday, June 27, 2011

the Six Day War

Years ago I read a book about the Six Day War, and recently found another copy. It is a fascinating story, and is so relevant given the current events in the Middle East. The title is Fantastic Victory; Israel's rendezvous with destiny, by Cleon Skousen, and was published in 1967. I will include an excerpt, from p 8-10, but the whole book is worth tracking down and reading.


Mr Skousen was a frequent visitor to the Middle East and recorded a conversation he had with an Arab cab driver in 1963.
Essentially, this is what the Arab said:
When Israel was made an independent nation by the UN, the Palestine Arabs were also given territory for an independent nation. But instead of accepting this plan which was supposed to go into effect in 1948, the Palestine Arabs decided to get six other Arab nations to join them in declaring war on Israel so they could drive them out. That way they would get all the land.
The leaders of these Arab nations sent word to us Arabs living in Israel that we should move over into Jordan territory so we wouldn't get hurt during the war against the Jews. The Arab leaders promised us that we would be away from our homes only a short time, not more than three weeks at the longest. Then they said we could return and possess not only our own property but the land and buildings of the Jews as well.
Most of the Arabs in Israel moved over into Jordan just as soon as they could although some stayed because the Israeli government promised them good treatment if they would remain.
How many stayed?
About a hundred thousand, mostly those up around Nazareth.
Then what happened to the million who came out?
We had a holiday at first. Everyone expected the Jews to be defeated quickly. But they fought hard. They were stronger and better fighters than the Arab leaders had expected. After a while the Arabs had to give up because the Jews were beginning to win more territory than they had in the first place. In a few months an armistice was signed. This left all of us Arabs from Israel without any homes. The Jews said they would hold our land in trust for us but they said that since we had joined the enemy we could not return until the Arab nations had agreed to recognize Israel and sign a permanent peace treaty. This never happened so the next thing we knew all of us Arabs from Israel were confined to special camps set up by the Arab governments. Most of us were confined in Jordan but some were located in Egypt and Lebanon. A lot were held by Egypt in the Gaza strip.
We were not allowed to seek jobs, farm the land or become citizens of these countries. The refugee camps became prison camps with our Arab brothers standing over us as guards.
What happened to the Arabs who remained in Israel?

They say they are doing very well. They elect their own representatives. They use their own language in the schools. They are allowed to study the Moslem Koran instead of the Jewish Bible. Some of them come to Jordan on business or to visit so we get to talk to them. They sometimes complain that the Jews compete for their business. Still, they tell me about their new houses and about buying cars so I guess they are doing all right.
What about the story that the Israelis drove thousands of the Arabs from their homes?
Yes, I think this happened to some, especially around Jaffa and Haifa and later along the border of Jerusalem. But what your guide told you was not the whole story. During the winter of 1947 adn 1948 the British were angry at the Jews, and the Arabs in Israel found that they could make raids on teh Jews without any interference from the British. I was against it because the Jews had been storing up weapons and I knew they are mean fighters when they get mad. Eventually they did get mad and they attacked Jaffa and Haifa. A lot of Arabs fled from these main centers but they did not have to leave Israel unless they wanted to.
Later, when the Arab leaders ordered us to leave Israel the Jews had sound trucks go up and down the streets for several days asking us not to leave. They told us that if we stayed we would not have to fight to help the Jews and that we would be treated well as long as we were neutral and didn't help our enemies.
Here's one more excerpt from page 244:
The early Zionists, looking toward a binational state, never thought they would, could or should replace the Arabs in Palestine. When terrorism and fighting mounted in 1947-48, Arab leaders urged Palestinian Arabs to flee, promising that the country would soon be liberated. Israelis tried to induce the Arabs to stay. For this reason, the Israelis do not now accept responsibility for the Arab exodus. Often quoted is the statement of a Palestinian Arab writer that the Arab leaders "told us: 'Get out so that we can get in.' We got out but they did not get in." (LIFE magazine, Special Edition, Israel's Swift Sword, p 89
The situation in the Middle East is long standing and complicated, I certainly do not understand it all. This book gives insight and understanding; it clearly shows the hand of God in the Six Day War. It was written 44 years ago, and I don't know if current conditions in Israel are the same as they were then. But I encourage you to get a copy,  you can borrow mine (which I found at a used book store), read it and increase your understanding of the events in Israel of June 1967. I highly recommend it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why I Love Summer

This is definitely my favorite time of year ~ warm weather, strawberries from the garden, long days ~ what more could I ask for? Maybe the most important reason I love summer is because of the 4th of July, my favorite holiday. I suppose it was my parents who instilled in me a love for this country and an appreciation for freedom. It's importance in our family was second only to our love and devotion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormon we read:
"...according to the Spirit of God, which is the spirit of freedom..." Alma 61:15
And in the Doctrine and Covenants:
"And for this purpose have I established the Constititution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose..." D&C 101:80
So, because of my feelings for this land and the principles of freedom on which it was established,  I want to share with you a few of my favorite books and movies on this topic.

 I just finished this one, it came highly recommended and I did enjoy it. 
WARNING: it has lots of swear words, so be forewarned. 
It is a touching story of bravery and dedication.

 This is a book that was made into a movie by HBO, both are excellent.

 I read this book a few years ago in just a couple days, wonderful! 
I plan to read it again this summer.

I cried pretty much through this whole movie, but just let me say that I wasn't the only one.
It's a true story about a military officer who volunteers to escort the remains of a fallen Marine 
back to his hometown in Wyoming. 

 I found this on Netflix a few nights ago and watched it for the second time.
Another movie based on a true story which gives a glimpse of personal sacrifice given for freedom. 

This one makes me cry too, a touching story and explanation of how freedom and the gospel of Jesus Christ are intertwined. We read it every Christmas, but would be wonderful to read anytime.

Please share with me your favorite stories, books, movies and music that celebrate freedom, our country, and those who have served and sacrificed for both. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

a week with some of my favorite people

Last week I got to be with 3 of my grandchildren, what a joy they are to me!
Here are a few of my favorite pictures, they will give you just a taste of the fun we had.


my jogging buddies

doctor kit and patient from the hospital

with their whale named Dave

what two straws are for

best friends

a safe place for a favorite toy

"You made your cracker into the Piston Cup!"