Saturday, December 31, 2011


Since starting the new year usually means contemplating change and trying to see hope and good in the new year, here are a few quotes to help us.
"It isn't what you have, or who you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about."
Dale Carnagie
You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, its not a mistake, its a choice.”
“Quite often we change our jobs, friends and spouses instead of changing ourselves.”  Akbarali H. Jetha
"You will never change your life until you change something you do daily."  John C. Maxwell
"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot cange anything." George Bernard Shaw
"A ship ought not to be held by one anchor, nor life by a singe hope." Epictetus

"All human wisdom is summed up in two words - wait and hope." Alexander Dumas

Are you waiting and hoping like I am?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

26th Annual Spiritual & Religious Art of Utah

Yesterday the kids and I went to the Springville Museum of Art's 26th Annual Spiritual & Religious Art of Utah Exhibition. There were so many beautiful pieces. I had a favorite last year (and am still kicking myself for not taking a photo of it), but this year I don't think I did.
This triptych shows the atonement, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ with just his hands. The artist is Jennifer Diane Gubler and the title is Galatians 2:20   
Mother & Child by Emily Ann Gordon
This is a very unique piece entitled Serrano de Christo is by Trevin Prince. He used resin and his own blood.
I just had to include this one just because of its title--Pondering by Catherine Darling Hostetter. Click on it to see it bigger and see the interesting old newspaper articles.
This piece Welcome to My World by Heather Barron reminds me of some paintings by my friend Elizabeth Sanchez, who I mentioned in this post.
Madonna Francesa: Remember My Son by Pedro Jose IbaƱez
The light was coming in through a window hitting Christ by David G. Dean.
This one is called "Beacause of Your Faith"-Elder Holland by Matthew Grant McNaughtan. It is based off of a part in Elder Holland's talk Because of Your Faith where he describes the faithful "osteoporotic couples who trundle off to the temple at 5:00 in the morning with little suitcases now almost bigger than they are". It called my attention because I love to see older couples together, especially hand in hand. Two people who have gone through so much together, have so many memories and suffered and celebrated together, and because of their faith, stuck together through it all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chicken Nachatta

Found this recipe at We Heart Food a while ago, put it in my file and finally made it tonight. Yummmmm! Tender chicken with a delicious flavor. It's easy to put together, but looks and tastes kinda fancy. I *heart* cranberries. I followed the directions except I used 100% cranberry/pomegranate juice in place of the Marsala.
Chicken Nachatta 
2 T. unsalted butter
1 c. thinly-sliced red onion
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, (approx. 1 lb)
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. olive oil
1 T. light brown sugar
1/4 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. Marsala wine (or cranberry juice)
1/2 c. sliced mushrooms
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. heavy cream

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion and cook until tender and somewhat browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Coat the chicken breasts with the flour, patting to remove excess.

Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat to medium-high. Add the chicken breasts and brown, 1-2 mintues. Turn the chicken over, add the brown sugar to the skillet, and stir so that it melts. Add the chicken broth and boil until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Marsala, mushrooms, onions, and dried cranberries. Bring to a boil, add the cream, and lower the heat to medium. Simmer until reduced by half and the chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice. Season to taste with
salt and pepper.

Transfer to plates and top with the pan sauce.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Prayer of the Children

I have heard this beautiful, almost haunting, song many times over the years and I love it. I heard it again Sunday morning and I couldn't stop thinking about children. We all know the deplorable conditions that some children are forced to live in throughout the world. Every minute of their reality on earth is so different from ours.

The song is by Kurt Bestor, who I'm sure many of you have heard of. If you'd like some background on the song you can read it on his BLOG.

Prayer of the Children
Can you hear the prayer of the children?
On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
Turning heavenward toward the light

Crying Jesus, help me
To see the morning light-of one more day
But if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take

Can you feel the hearts of the children?
Aching for home, for something of their very own
Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to,
But hope for a better day a better day

Crying Jesus*, help me
To feel the love again in my own land
But if unknown roads lead away from home,
Give me loving arms, away from harm

Can you hear the voice of the children?
Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
Blood of the innocent on their hands

Crying Jesus*, help me
To feel the sun again upon my face,
For when darkness clears I know you're near,
Bringing peace again

Dali cujete sve djecje molitive?
(Croatian translation:
'Can you hear all the children's prayers?')

Can you hear the prayer of the children?
(Feel free to play the song while you read or to watch the video first before reading on.)

I have heard Kathy Headlee of Mothers Without Borders talk about how children in Uganda are forced to be "night commuters", walking miles every single night to a safe location where they will not be kidnapped from their homes and forced to join the military and kill their family and others.

I also heard Rebecca Douglas of Rising Star Outreach talk about how children who have parents with Leprosy in India are rejected from society.

I cannot imagine living with the challenges that so many children live with daily throughout the world. But my thoughts today are about the children right around us.

"The mothers of Helaman’s warriors lived in times not unlike our own. Their circumstances were difficult and dangerous, and youth were being called upon to defend physical and spiritual liberty. Today we live in a world where we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12)."
(If you are not familiar with the story of Helaman's warriors from the Book of Mormon, here is a
children's story version of it.)

The world really is difficult, dangerous, and full of darkness and our children need to be able to feel safe and loved. But many struggle. There are many children around us who need us. They are in our own backyards or in our homes. Some children come from "broken" homes and others have families who love them, but they have been through some trauma or have emotional challenges like low self-esteem, maybe even sickness or disablities that might make them feel different.

There are children whose lives we can touch. I am grateful for people around me who are such a good example. I have friends who have befriended children or teenagers and helped them feel loved. Some of my friends have had children who aren't their own live with them and have treated them like their own children. My children have primary, young men and young women leaders who care for them and get to know them. Right now, I am just trying hard to keep up with my own children with all that is happening in my life. But there is one girl I have on my mind who I'd like to get to know better and help her know how wonderful she is. So this is a challenge to me to hear the prayers of the children, to reach out to their hands and hearts.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Crazy busy school week and finals are coming up in 2 weeks and I spend any extra time with my family, of course, so my blog is being so ignored. I do miss it and all of you!

Back in May I blogged about one of my favorite local singers, Nik Day. Remember that? Well, I saw him sing several months back and he sang a new song called "Sadder". He just released the video for that song so I gotta share it with you. It isn't his usual upbeat kinda song, but I like the catchy tune. I definitely didn't picture what the video looks like when I heard him sing it.

Hope you're having a great December.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cherry Walnut White Chocolate Fudge

Finally got to try out a new recipe! I found this recipe at TLC Cooking, but I changed it just a bit. The dried cherries that were on sale were sold out so I bought dried cranberries, which I think was good for Thanksgiving. I didn't add walnuts, but I know it'd make them even better for me. And I did not get even close to 64 pieces since I didn't cut them teeny-tiny. I love how pretty and colorful they are.
Cherry Walnut White Chocolate Fudge
3 c. sugar
1 c. whipping cream
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. light corn syrup
8 oz. premium white chocolate, chopped
1 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped dried cherries
1 c. toasted walnuts, chopped

Spray 9X9-inch pan with cooking spray. Spray inside of heavy large saucepan with cooking spray.

Combine sugar, cream, butter and syrup in prepared saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil, stirring frequently. Wash down sugar crystals.

Attach candy thermometer to side of pan, making sure bulb is submerged in sugar mixture but not touching bottom of pan.

Continue cooking about 6 minutes or until sugar mixture reaches soft-ball stage (234°F) on candy thermometer, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. (Do not stir.)

Add white chocolate and vanilla; stir 1 minute or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in cherries and walnuts.

Spread evenly in prepared pan. Score into 64 squares while fudge is still warm. Refrigerate until firm. Cut along score lines into squares.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What's the Point?

I am taking an ethics class this semester. It's my last general education class so it'll be all upper division science classes after this. It has been interesting to see many views of ethics from different philosophers like Socrates, St. Augustine, Nietzsche, Mills and Kant. My ethics professor does not believe in a God, so it is interesting to hear things from a point of view so different from what I would think. Even when I don't agree with him, I can often see where he is coming from and respect his opinion.

One thing he said recently made me laugh at its simplicity. He said that one of the problems with religions that believe in a God is the contradiction that we have free will, but God is omnipotent so already knows what we will choose, so what is the point?
What is the point? Heavenly Father knows each of us and has known us and he really does know what we will choose, but we have been given the opportunity to show him and to show ourselves. We aren't here just to prove ourselves to him, but to us. Just as Heavenly Father knew that Abraham would be willing to sacrifice his son if asked, but Abraham himself didn't know at first that he would be obedient. He learned and grew from the test of faith. He was able to know that he is valiant and would do very difficult things if the Lord asked because he loved the Lord more than his desires, however righteous, and he had faith that if he was asked to do it, there was a reason, even if he didn't know the reason.

"In these defining moments, the crisis doesn't create one's character, it reveals it."
Lynn G. Robbins, "Tithing, a Commandment Even for the Destitute," Ensign, May 2005, 34

We have to be working on faith before we need it, not when the crisis arises. And rest assured, a crisis will arise. It is easy to say that we are faithful when our faith isn't being tested or that we could resist a temptation when we aren't being tempted. Or maybe to say we would give up our spot on the lifeboat to someone else if we were ever on a sinking ship, but we don't actually know what we would do until we are in the situation. So we are often put in situations that give us the opportunity to reveal our true character.

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
John Wooden

Of course, if we fail to pass one of the tests we've been given, we can learn from it and change so that we are stronger and more faithful. There will be another test and we want to be ready for that one. What is the point of progressing? While others do not share our belief, we know that our Father is using these tests to help us progress so that if we prove ourselves worthy, we can also become Gods and Godesses. We cannot be ready for that with just theoretical teaching, without experiencing all that we experience, making mistakes, learning and showing what we have learned by passing the next test.

What a beautiful plan we are a part of. What a loving Heavenly Father we have. What a blessing I have to have a knowledge and testimony of it.

“Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son. He already knows, and we have the opportunity to learn, that no matter how difficult our circumstance, ‘all these things shall [be for our] experience, and … for [our] good’ (Doctrine & Covenants 122:7).” Elder Robert D. Hales, "Waiting Upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done", October 2011, General Conference

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Heed the Tiwi

I really enjoyed a talk that was given in our ward a few weeks ago so I want to share what I took away from it. The speaker had accompanied the high councilman who was speaking also. I didn’t have my notebook with me that day, unfortunately, and I don’t remember his name. (If anyone reading this was there and knows, let me know and I'll include his name.) He was a recently returned missionary who spoke about a monitor that is now put on missionary cars. It’s called a Tiwi . I had never heard of it before.

It’s a unit that is put on the car and then warns you if you are speeding, driving aggressively, not wearing your seat belts or going beyond the area designated as permitted to travel in. Not only does it warn the driver with a audible voice, it sends reports to the mission home or Salt Lake.
“Exceeding speed limit”

“Warning: aggressive driving”

Can you imagine how much many of the missionaries despise this device?

When a missionary had too many bad reports from the Tiwi, their driving privileges would be suspended. Sadly, the mission president was having a hard time arranging new companionships so that at least one of them would be able to drive. I know they are basically just teenagers, but it’s still sad.  
The speaker said that some of the cars in the mission weren’t compatible with the Tiwi, so those missionaries would drive however they wanted, not worrying about being caught speeding or going slightly outside their boundary limits. But the monitor on this missionary’s car worked fine so he was careful to drive so as not to get bad reports sent to Salt Lake. After some time, he noticed that the missionaries who didn’t have a Tiwi and weren’t careful, had a lot of problems with their cars that he didn’t have--they went through tires faster, bumpers were falling off, repairs were needed more often. Because he followed the rules, he enjoyed good consequences. Because the other missionaries didn’t, they suffered bad consequences.

Of course, this Tiwi is like the Holy Ghost for each one of us. Our Heavenly Father “gets a report” since he sees all and knows all. The Holy Ghost is a warning system for us. “Approaching boundary limit” “Going too fast” Whether we heed these warnings or not is up to us. Unlike this electronic monitor, if we do not listen to the Holy Ghost, his warnings get quieter and quieter. We may think that we are smart enough or good enough to ignore the “little” things and still avoid the big temptations, but as we distance ourselves from the Lord and the Holy Ghost, we are less able to hear the warning and see the consequences, both immediate and eternal.

I am so grateful for the beautiful blessing our loving Heavenly Father has given each of us to have the companionship of a member of the Godhead to guide and exhort us. To me, it is just another way he shows us that he wants us to return to him and to be happy while we are on this earth. Instead of being shackles that bind us, the rules and commandments give us freedom to enjoy the best in this life, find real, lasting joy and avoid the sorrow that “just having fun by breaking rules” inevitably leads to. I love my Tiwi.   

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sharing the Gospel

"The intensity of our desire to share the gospel is a great indicator of the extent of our personal conversion." Elder Dallin H. OaksEnsign, November 2001, page 7.

“Missionary work is but home teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members”
Pres. Harold B. Lee, Improvement Era, Dec. 1964, 1078

A month or two ago, I gave a talk in sacrament meeting about sharing the gospel, so I thought I'd share some of it here. It is important for all members to share the gospel for at least three reasons. One, it strengthens our own testimony as we verbalize it and analyze how to explain it. Two, it can help others feel the Spirit, learn about our Heavenly Father's plan and possibly join the church. Three, there are many people who are not at all interested in joining the church, but are interested in learning about what we really believe instead of what others say we believe. We can help dispel untrue stories.

 “1. Of investigators found through media campaigns, about 1 to 2 percent are baptized.

2. Of investigators found through the missionaries’ efforts, about 2 to 3 percent are baptized.

3. Of investigators found through the members, 20 to 30 percent are baptized.

…. Whenever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is an immediate support system.

“The full-time missionaries may do the actual teaching, but the member, wherever possible, will back up that teaching with the offering of his home to carry on this missionary service. He will bear sincere testimony of the divinity of the work. He will be there to answer questions when the missionaries are not around. He will be a friend to the convert who is making a big and often difficult change.” 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, The Role of Members in Conversion,” Ensign, Mar 2003, 52–58

Missionaries are set apart to teach gospel and study it daily, but as we heard in the numbers, it is more effective for them to spend their time teaching the people we bring to church than it is for them to spend all day tracting.
People who come into the church can experience two different conversions. One is a spiritual conversion where they believe the things they learn and feel the Spirit testify of the truth. The missionaries help investigators through this conversion. The other conversion is a social conversion. It is our duty as members to welcome investigators whether we invited them, the missionaries brought them or they decided to visit on their own. Whether they stay active in the church or not has much to do with how welcomed they feel.
Our job is to bring them and love them, the missionaries can teach them. Invite them to activities, watch a church DVD at your home, have dinner with the missionaries in your home.
“The 12-hour-a-day, heavy-duty effort we’ll leave to the full-time missionaries, but why should they have all the fun? We are entitled to a seat at the abundant table of testimony as well, and fortunately a place has been reserved there for each member of the Church.

Indeed, one of the axioms of our day is that no mission or missionaries can ultimately succeed without the loving participation and spiritual support of the local members working with them in a balanced effort. If today you are taking notes on a stone tablet, chisel that one in deeply. I promise you won’t ever have to erase it. Initial investigators may come from many different sources, but those who are actually baptized and who are firmly retained in activity in the Church come overwhelmingly from friends and acquaintances known to members of the Church.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, ‘Witnesses unto Me’, Liahona, Jul 2001, 15–17

For me, the desire to share the gospel started when I was young. When I met someone, I would wonder if I promised them in the premortal life that I would find them and share the gospel with them. That thought helped me to share the gospel with many people.

In the middle of first grade, I moved and started a new school. I really liked my new teacher Mrs. Lawson and wanted to share the gospel with her. I was shy, but sneaky. We had free reading time during class where we could read a book from the class, the library or home, so I started taking my Book of Mormon. She asked me what I was reading. Then on Fridays we had music time where any of us in the class could take a record from home so I took My Turn on Earth. Then after talking to my parents about it, I got very brave and invited her to FHE. I don't remember the lesson, but my parents talked to her afterward. I really hoped she would be baptized, but she decided not to and then we moved. I don't know what ever happened to her.

As we are friends with others who are not members of the church, we can teach them about our beliefs just by how we live. Stacie, a friend from high school in Ohio, sometimes attended church, young women and even early morning seminary with me. She decided not to be baptized, but has told me of many times when someone has said something untrue about the church or its beliefs and she has been able to correct them because of the things she learned.

A lot has changed since the time I took the record to school to help share the gospel. The internet can be used for bad things, but it can also be very useful. Here are two quotes from

“Since the launch of the official Facebook page for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in May 2008, the Church has increased its Facebook presence over the last two years, adding nearly two dozen official Facebook pages for everything from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to LDS Technology.

As the Church enhances its presence in the social media world, members have the opportunity to share their testimonies online, according to the promptings of the Spirit, with others. In 2007, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited members to “join the conversation” by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration.

Joining the Church’s official Facebook pages, linking to them, or commenting on them are effective ways to do this. Find the list of official pages by visiting the official Facebook page for the Church and clicking on the “Official Pages” tab.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, recently joined a growing list of Church leaders who have encouraged members to consider sharing the gospel online as appropriate. “With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before.”2 “Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Liahona and Ensign, May 2011.

To go along with the online gospel sharing, I’ll read one more thing for

“With a blog, you have an even greater opportunity to share your beliefs. Talk about your day-to-day life. Remember that some who read your blog may not understand traditional “Mormon jargon”; be careful to be clear in your writing. Share what you learn when you go to Church. Share your family home evening experiences. Share how the Lord has blessed you. Bear your testimony where appropriate and if you are prompted by the Spirit.”

Like some of you, I have a blog and it’s lots of fun. I share pictures of my kids for my family and also recipes and music, but I also use my blog to share the gospel. I post quotes from talks I’ve heard that I like, visiting teaching message thoughts, family home evening lessons. At first when I started blogging, I was nervous that I would get comments from people against the church. Instead I have received good comments from people all over the world, many are members of the church, but not everyone. Even if readers don’t feel the Spirit and aren’t converted, at least they now know more about what we believe and what Latter-day Saints are like. I appreciate being able to have so many ways to share the gospel.

Monday, October 17, 2011


This isn't a new song or one from a local band like I usually do, but it's been in my head and I have no time for a real post so this is what you get. I really like the piano in this song. Hope the guy's interesting mouth on some of the words isn't too distracting. Have a good day! I'm back to studying...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chocolate Sundae Cookies

I love sundaes. I mean Sundays. Actually, I like em both. I don't do any studying on Sundays so it is my only day of the week when I am not running around with flashcards if I'm not sitting down doing homework for a good part of the day. I get to go to church and feel the spirit and partake of the sacred sacrament. I get to see the cute and funny kids in my primary class. On the weekends my children are home, we get to spend time together. So last Sunday, the kids and I decided to do one of the things we like doing, but rarely get time to do anymore--bake cookies! But not just any cookies. We went through a bunch of recipes and decided on trying this one for the first time. I found it at Carla's Chocolate Moosey. I like Sundays and sundaes and now sundae cookies. Oh, yummmmm!

We did find one thing wrong with this recipe though. It only makes 12 cookies. Luckily, that is easily fixed and we just doubled it and really did get 24. There's a long list of ingredients, but you probably have everything at home already. (And it's not a typo- there are no eggs.)

Chocolate Sundae Cookies
3/4 c. flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 T. water
1 1/2 t. canola oil
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. vanilla
3 T. cocoa powder
1 T. oil
1 T. milk
2 T. cherry juice
2 T. maraschino cherries, chopped
6 large marshmallows, cut in half
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
2 T. butter
2 t. corn syrup
1/8 t. vanilla
12 whole maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, cream sugar, butter, water, 1 1/2 tsp oil, baking powder, and vanilla until well blended. Add cocoa and 1 Tbsp oil; mix well. Add milk and cherry juice. Add dry ingredients. Stir in cherries.

Drop by teaspoon onto cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes. As soon as they come out, press a marshmallow half on top of each cookie. Let cool until sturdy enough to transfer to cooling rack.

In microwave, melt butter, Stir in chocolate and corn syrup. Microwave in 10 second intervals until melted and combined. Stir in vanilla. Spoon over each marshmallow, covering it completely. Top with sprinkles and a cherry.

Makes 12 cookies.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Payson Temple Groundbreaking

Yesterday (October 9, 2011) my girls and I went to the Payson temple groundbreaking. Well, we went to a stake center and watched it live from the dry, warm chapel there. Elder Oaks and the thousands who were there were out in the off-and-on rain and cool weather in the 30s. Alexander was at a marching band competition so he wasn't with us. I was disappointed that he didn't get to be there. I wanted to make this whole process of temple building special for my children so it is something they won't forget.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks presided and gave the dedicatory prayer. I didn't know that he moved to his grandparents' farm in Payson after his father died when he was around 7 years old and he met his first wife at a football game at Payson high school. Of the temple, he said, "Standing adjacent to I-15, the major north-south artery in Utah, the Payson Utah Temple will be a dominant and visible influence on the millions who pass by here by day and by night."

It was so interesting that we sang two songs written by people who once lived in Payson. One was #147 Sweet Is the Work, with music by John J. McClellan, who was the mayor of Payson from 1887 to 1890. And then I think the other one was Ebenezer Beesley who wrote #5 "High on the Mountain Top". Who knew any songs in the hymn book were written by anyone who even heard of Payson, Utah? If you haven't lived in Utah, you probably have never heard of it.

It was a short ceremony, but there were a few different speakers. One was Elder Steven E. Snow. He said that when he and his wife were sealed in the temple, there were only 13 temples in the whole world and they thought it would be fun to have a goal to visit each one. Now there are 135 operating and many under construction and announced. So Elder Snow said that "President Hinckley and President Monson ruined" their plans.

(Artist's rendering below)
The Payson temple will be one of the bigger recently built temples, at 96,630 square feet. The Draper temple is 58,300 sq. feet and the Oquirrh Mountain temple just slightly larger than that at 60,000 sq. feet.  

I don't know much about Payson, but we went down and found the future temple site and took photos. I plan to go with my children often during the construction process so we can take photos and see the progress and hopefully they will feel a little part of this temple and remember it always. It will be fun to do similar things with the Provo Tabernacle that will be turned into a temple. We already have some memories there.

The temple site used to be a wheat field, not long ago. Sabrina found a few pieces of wheat and we brought them home. We're going to frame them, along with a photo of the temple, in the future.

While we were there, someone came and collected a bit of this dirt, which they "turned" during the groundbreaking.

Elisa took a few pictures and touched the lens so the rest of the photos after that had a blurry smudge. Oh, so sad it's on me. :)

We found a little friend popping out of his hole while we were there. Sabrina is very worried since he's about to lose his home.

I am grateful to be able to share such a beautiful thing with my children, step-by-step. I know that the covenants we make in the temple are sacred and meant to be eternal. Some people may not keep their promises, but all of our Heavenly Father's promises are true if we live up to our part. The promises made to us in the temple are so precious and worth all effort of sacrifice and obedience to live up to them.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Write On

For my LDS friends, hasn't General Conference been wonderful, as always? A few months ago I was at a fireside where Elder Cook spoke and shared the same story about meeting President Monson in the elevator. Remember? Okay, I don't expect you'd remember my old POSTS, but I did blog about it. Apparently, during and after that session of conference yesterday, many people found my blog post by searching for the story. How fun. But today I'm blogging about other things, in a febile attempt to catch up.

I noticed that in many of the classes I attended BYU Women’s Conference in August, there one topic came up even though several of the classes were unrelated. In those classes on parenting, happiness, healing, and goals, the common topic I noticed was, in my words, “Write On”.
The teachers talked about the importance of writing, an art that seems to be disappearing in our culture in some ways. The point isn’t to become an author or to become a more creative or perfect writer, but to use writing as a tool to help yourself feel gratitude, be happy, heal, share your love, keep your memories, share the gospel, reach out to others and work on your goals.
I know that my friends who also blog have felt this. Many of us feel that blogging (writing and sharing) is a form of therapy. It is good to put feelings down in words and then have even one person “hear you” and your joy, pain or perspective. Not only is it wonderful to write, but to go back and read. I have been strengthened by going back to my old posts and in my notebooks and reading what I felt, quotes or scriptures or music that uplifted me and helped me to know truth.
In President Henry B. Eyring’s memorable talk O Remember, Remember, he talked of his gratitude journal and how it helped him to see the hand of the Lord in his life and his blessings and to focus on the positive. I love how some of my blogger friends, like Ann’s An Old Fashioned Girl  and others, have gratitude posts or parts on their regular posts to take time to share what they are grateful for.

I attended all 4 of Dr. Dean Barley’s classes in the Happiness: Sustainable Strategies to Increase Life Satisfaction series and he spoke several times of writing—to cement your goals on paper, to work out problems and to feel more gratitude and therefore, more happiness.   
He taught of a study (probably there is more than one) where one group of people were told to write down 3 good things about their day every day, and those in the other group were not asked to do this. The group that kept this gratitude journal was more happy and less anxious. Not only that, but an unexpected result showed up. The group who wrote the good things down also exercised 1/5 hours more per week and slept better.

Several years ago I took a class at BYU on psychoneuroimmunology, studying the effects of our psychological state on our neurological and immunological systems. Super interesting to me. One of the topics we studied was similar to this article I found online. (Did you know there is something called writing therapy?)

Health Writing  Writing for therapy helps erase effects of trauma I won’t summarize everything since you can go read it if you’re interested, but it talked about how writing can heal you, both emotionally and even physically.

“The effect isn't just emotional, Pennebaker says. One of his studies, published in the "Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology" in April 1988, found that college students had more active T-lymphocyte cells, an indication of immune system stimulation, six weeks after writing about  stressful events. Other studies have found that people tend to take fewer trips to the doctor, function better in day-to-day tasks, and score higher on tests of psychological well being after such writing exercises, he says.

Dr. Barley, in one of his classes, mentioned something I may have heard before, but didn’t really remember. He talked about “post-traumatic growth”, and even included divorce as one of the traumas, along with losing a loved one, being kidnapped and other obvious ones. It’s helpful to think of that growth, not just the trauma. Dr. Barley and Carrie Maxwell Wrigley, in her class on Healing for Depression and Low Self-Worth, both talked about the role of writing in healing. (She has a CD out at Seagull Book for only $5.99 right now.)

Those who write out their feelings, problems, and anxieties heal more quickly than those who do not.

After we write it out, we see things we didn’t see. When we have to put it in specific words instead of a jumble of emotions, we can tackle each part of the problem. There are cathartic benefits in writing about your trauma or fears. The article above also talks about this.

"Writing gives you a sense of control and a sense of understanding… To write about a stressful event, you have to break it down into little pieces, and suddenly it seems more manageable."

I remember my mother writing as a way to work through things when I was growing up. I don’t know if someone taught it to her or if she just discovered that it helped her, but she would write out her feelings (I think) and then write over the words with more words so it was unreadable. I don’t know if it was so no one could read her personal words or if there was some other reason, but I do remember seeing that and learning from it.  

Dr. Barley also talked about the importance of writing thank you notes and letters. It not only helps the person who receives them, but it helps the writer. He even advocates writing the thank you letter, laminating it, and going in person or on the phone and reading it to the person. Cool idea, huh?
And finally, In their class on parenting, the famous Richard and Linda Eyre (Did you know they were on Oprah years ago?) talked about how Linda used writing in her role as mother. I love this idea and am sad that I did not hear it sooner so I could start when my children were very young. (Okay, I'm horrible at writing, so I probably wouldn't have done it anyway, but I love the idea.) Linda kept a book for each child, and they have like 9. In their books, she would occasionally write something about them that she saw them do, something funny they said or something special just about them. Then when they got married, she would give each child their book. How beautiful! Little things that they would otherwise not have remembered were recorded so they can laugh or cry at them together, reading all about it. And this book can be shared with posterity. I am so very bad at anything like that.

Even though I still have so much to post about from the individual classes, I wanted to talk about this topic since it was mentioned so many times. Have you used writing as therapy or kept a gratitude journal?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

German Chocolate Cookies

I went to my friend Debbie's wedding tonight. She had a pretty cookie bar and many of her friends took cookies for it. I made Lemon Sandwich Cookies and these new cookies that I found at Cookie Madness. They have corn syrup in them so they are chewy and soft and I like the chocolate chunks.
Look at all this coconut and pecans!
Is is bad that I liked the cookie dough with crunchy toasted coconut and pecans even more than the cookies?
German Chocolate Cookies 
2 c. sweetened, shredded coconut
1 1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. salted butter, softened
1 large egg
2 T. light corn syrup
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract
4 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped or grated

Heat the oven to 350°and grease 2 baking sheets or cover them with parchment paper.

Spread the coconut and pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until they are lightly browned. Set them aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set it aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, on medium speed, beat together the brown sugar and the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg, corn syrup, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat in the flour mixture, then use a rubber spatula to fold in the coconut, pecans, and chocolate.

Drop the dough onto the baking sheets by the heaping tablespoonful, spacing them a few inches apart, and use a table knife to flatten them slightly.

Bake one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven, for 7 to 10 minutes, until golden all over and lightly browned at the edges (you may want to reverse the sheet from front to back during baking to ensure even browning). Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand a minute or two to let the cookies firm up, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool.

Debbie and her children with her new husband right before the wedding. They were getting ready to have a photo taken, but I took this one before they were ready.

Utah Local: Rico Cocina y Tequila Bar

I wanted to find somewhere different to have dinner with my children, but it had to have food that all of them would eat. It's not easy ...