Monday, November 26, 2012

The Experimentalist

I'm sharing an indie artist again, but this one isn't from Utah. He is The Experimentalist from California. I discovered his music on Reverbnation, of course. He's a young music student who writes, produces, sings and plays. Think we can talk him into doing a show out here in Utah???
His song Mr. No is especially catchy and fun. Check out some more of his videos on his YouTube channel.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Get A Grip"

This morning I woke up pretty early so I was able to get ready for church and still have quite a bit of time to study scriptures and then talks and my notes. I kind of put a couple of talks together in my head to go with this quote from President Hinckley that I found in my notes.

"This is a first priority. We cannot expect His help if we are unwilling to keep His commandments."
President Gordon B. Hinckley, If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear, Oct. 2005 General Conference

I'm sure we all know people who want to break the commandments and avoid doing the basics we are taught to do (go to church, pray, read our scriptures, do as we are told by our local leaders and follow the words of our Father through our prophets...), yet think that they can still be blessed with those blessings that only come to those who are imperfect, but willing to follow the commandments and keep doing those basic things. It's kinda like the thief running away from someone trying to stop him and catch him while he is praying not to be caught.

There are consequences which come from sin and one of them is the loss of the Holy Ghost. How can we be guided to what Heavenly Father wants for us when we are not doing what we already know we should be doing? Or in the words of a bishop in my stake who recently spoke at stake conference, "We cannot know what we are supposed to do if we aren't where are are supposed to be."

 Another consequence is the loss of peace. There is a peace that is only felt when we are living in the way that we know we should. I plan on writing a separate post on peace sometime soon...when I can.

The first of the talks that I re-read this morning that I wanted to share is Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by Elder Pearson.

"True faith must be centered in Jesus Christ. 'Faith is a principle of action and of power' (Bible Dictionary, 670). It requires us to do, not merely to believe.

"Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: 'Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness. It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God’s laws the greater will be the endowment of faith' (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 264). If we desire more faith, we must be more obedient.

"These Six Destructive Ds—doubt, discouragement, distraction, lack of diligence, disobedience, and disbelief—all erode and destroy our faith."
Elder Kevin W. Pearson, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, April 2009 General Conference

If we want to feel more faith, we have to be more obedient. How simple. We cannot live contrary to what we know is right and then just pray for a desire to stop and for faith to know what to do. We must live it and know it before we will be endowed with more faith and we will also be given more strength to continue to live righteously.

The second talk is called Hold On by Ann Dibb. She talks about the iron rod. Some people mistakenly believe that if there is something fun that takes them away from the iron rod, they can go participate and then quickly return to the rod, just where they left. How wrong they are. When we let go of the iron rod and indulge in worldly things, our hearts and desires are changed. It is hard to feel the Holy Ghost so we might not hear the callings to return. And even when we do, we may no longer want to return, after having tasted of the world and all it has to offer. Some people take the long and hard process of repentance, that is always harder than people think it will be, but some people never return and remain lost in the fog and darkness.

"Our mortal probation is not easy, and it is not brief. We are blessed to come to this earth and gain a mortal body. This life is our opportunity to prove ourselves and exercise our agency (see Abraham 3:25). We can choose to follow Heavenly Father’s eternal plan of salvation (see Jarom 1:2; Alma 42:5; Moses 6:62) and redemption (see Jacob 6:8; Alma 12:25; 42:11), or we can try to find our own way. We can be obedient and keep His commandments, or we can reject them and face the consequences that will surely follow.

Heavenly Father has not left us alone during our mortal probation. He has already given us all the 'safety equipment' we will need to successfully return to Him. He has given us personal prayer, the scriptures, living prophets, and the Holy Ghost to guide us. At times, using this equipment may seem cumbersome, awkward, and horribly unfashionable. Its proper use requires our diligence, obedience, and persistence. But I, for one, choose to use it. We must all choose to use it.

In the scriptures we learn about another key piece of safety equipment—a “rod of iron.” Disciples of our Savior, Jesus Christ, are invited to hold on to this rod in order to safely find their way to eternal life...In modern terms we might say we are invited to 'get a grip.' We must hold on tight to the iron rod and never let go."
Ann Dibb, Hold On, October 2009 General Conference

Our Heavenly Father loves each of us and wants us to return to Him. He wants to reward us with increased faith and strength against the adversary, so he gave us clear instructions, an iron rod. We must each make a choice whether we will hold strong to what we believe or whether we will choose the world. It is a choice that we can make every day. I am grateful for the oppportunity to show my Heavenly Father how much I love Him by following His commandments.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Banana Split Salad

Fruit-studded sweet cream makes an easy treat. Sounds perfect for summer, but we whipped it up for Thankgsiving and it is good in the fall too. I found it quite a while ago at Baking Like Betty (apparently it's a Paula Deen recipe) and I finally got around to making it after all this time of the recipe sitting in my file.
Banana Split Salad

1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12- or 8-oz.) tub of Cool Whip, thawed
1 (21-oz.) cherry pie filling
3 medium bananass, sliced
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 c. shredded sweetened coconut
1 c. fresh strawberries, sliced
Garnish: Pecans, coconut, strawberries and chocolate fudge (all optional)

In a large bowl combine milk and Cool Whip till well blended. Fold in the cherry pie filling, bananas, pineapple, pecans, coconut and strawberries. Garnish as you wish. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Crunchy Caramel Corn

The kids and I just finished making food for Thanksgiving tomorrow that we'll be taking to my mom & dad's tomorrow. Sabrina, who is picky and doesn't often like to try new desserts, has been begging me to make crunchy caramel corn. I looked up a recipe and found this one from Martha Stewart and we LOVE it. It is crunchy and sweet and not overly covered with caramel. Sabrina even loves it. Another approved dessert to add to her short list, even if it is a bit strange for Thanksgiving.

Crunchy Caramel Corn

4 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking sheet
10 cups plain unsalted popped (from 1/2 cup kernels or a 3.3-ounce bag microwave popcorn) popcorn
1 cup cashews, coarsely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
Coarse salt
Preheat oven to 300°. Butter a large rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Place popcorn in a large bowl; if using cashews, add to bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring butter, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons water to a boil, stirring constantly. Working quickly, drizzle popcorn with sugar syrup, and toss.
Spread popcorn evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake, tossing occasionally, until golden and shiny, about 40 minutes. Transfer hot popcorn to parchment-paper-lined baking sheet; let cool.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Val's Juicy Skillet Chicken & Peppers

I threw together a new dinner last night and I was happy to have many compliments about the taste and that it looks gourmet. It's nice to have something so easy please my family. I didn't really measure out anything so I'll just estimate the amounts I used.
Val's Juicy Skillet Chicken & Peppers

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, sliced fairly thin
1 each red, green and orange bell peppers
Salt & Pepper, to taste

6 T. brown sugar
1/2 c. soy sauce
2/3 c. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 T. lemon juice
3/4 c. canola oil

Mix marinade ingredients well and place HALF of it in bowl or bag with chicken in marinade. Marinade for at least 3 hours.

Slice bell peppers into rings (or half-rings). Warm skillet with a small amount of oil on medium heat. When warm, place bell peppers in skillet and cook until tender. Remove from pan.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken (not marinade) in skillet and brown both sides of chicken, pouring liquid out of skillet if too much accumulates. When all browned, but not cooked through, put bell peppers on top of chicken, and pour reserved marinade over all in skillet. Let chicken cook through completely.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

To Talk Like Christ

I was reading through my notebook where I take notes from all the conferences and meetings I go to and was reminded of such beautiful things I've heard from so many people. It's Christlike Communications from the October 1988 General Conference by L. Lionel Kendrick, now emeritus general authority. I was introduced to this talk by Brother Barrett at a BYU Women's Conference. Unfortunately, I didn't write his full name and I didn't write the year, so I don't have more information than that.

Brother Barrett read Mosiah 3:19.

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

We are told that we should "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit" and that "through the atonement of Christ the Lord" we can change from a natural man to being Christlike and childlike in every way, including, as the class was about, in our relationships with a spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers or anyone.

In 3 Nephi 11:29, it is very straight-forward in telling us that contention is of the devil. It doesn't say, if you are right, it's okay to fight until the other person sees it your way.

 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

This scripture follows the direction to the Nephites on how to baptize and is giving this direction on how they need to be united. Because it is a commandment and part of the baptismal covenant, Brother Barrett taught, we are empowered to do the 4 things that L. Lionel Kendrick says are necessary in practicing Christlike Communications.

I love how he opens his talk, speaking of the importance of communication.

"Heavenly Father has given us a priceless gift in our capacity to communicate with each other. Our communications are at the core of our relationships with others...Our communications reflect in our countenance. Therefore, we must be careful not only what we communicate, but also how we do so. Souls can be strengthened or shattered by the message and the manner in which we communicate."

I'm sure we have all been uplifted by someone's words to us and we have also felt hurt by other words. And the words we use will be recorded.

"We will be held accountable for all that we say. The Savior has warned 'that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.' (Matt. 12:36.) This means that no communication shall be without consequence. This includes the slight slips of the tongue, the caustic communications that canker the soul, and the vain, vulgar, and profane words which desecrate the name of Deity."

This is a good incentive, besides the pain we could cause to others, to choose our words and tone with care. Those who think they can say whatever they are feeling, hurt others, and blame the other person for "taking it the wrong way" will see someday that they are accountable. It is still our choice to be offended or not, but that doesn't let them off the hook.

He lists four NO's of Christlike Communication, which I have written in the order Brother Barrett discussed them in class, not the same order as Elder Kendrick

1. No lying. "To lie is to be untruthful, deceptive, deceitful, and dishonest."
I've been talking to my children a lot about the sin of lying lately because it seems I have seen it so much around me lately and it makes me sad to see so many people who think it is a little thing.

"It is a serious sin to lie. The scriptures teach us that 'lying lips are abomination to the Lord' (Prov. 12:22) and that 'he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out' (D&C 42:21). "

Brother Barrett mentions that lying is not just an outward telling of an untruth, but keeping something from someone in an attempt to deceive, making promises that we don't keep and not following through on our end of a deal, however small that deal may seem.

Besides it being hurtful and a sin, when another person knows that we are dishonest, it "minimizes our power of influence" on that person, as Brother Barrett pointed out.

2. No anger "This is perhaps the most common form of un-Christlike communication. Anger causes anguish to the souls of all of those who experience the feeling as well as to those who are the recipients of this emotional explosion. Anger shows a lack of self-control and an inability to relate in a righteous way to others".

3. No criticizing. "This caustic communication is cruel, and it tends to crush the character of all of those about whom it is directed." Brother Barrett reminded us that we are to inspire people to change and to help them lovingly see problems and correct them, but not bring them down. He talked about sarcasm as "humor wrapped in barbed wire" and said that it is not a good way to communicate.

4. No blaming. "This is a condemning communication... It has been from the beginning and it will be till the end that the natural man will have a tendency to rationalize and to blame his behaviors on others or on certain circumstances. When we attempt to place responsibility for our choices on others, we are responding in a less than Christlike manner."

Finally, Elder Kendrick's words at the end of his talk are beautiful and can help serve as a guide.

"Christlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Goodnight Annabelle

I know I just posted some music this week, but I'm stitting here listening to my playlist on Reverbnation while I'm studying and I realized that there are still so many local artists that I haven't shared on my blog. I chose to feature Goodnight Annabelle from Provo since they will be in Bandocalypse, the Battle of the Bands at UVU in Orem, on November 27th. Doors open at 6:30 and it's $7 a person. Lots of fun!!

The band got to play on KSL when they were participating in a competition. My favorites of their songs are Stay and Sad Song (scroll down on the music player to listen to it).

I think this picture is a little old. On KSL, they had 6 guys playing/singing. If you like their music, they have 3 EPs you can buy.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Signal I Send to the Lord

In a recent post, I talked about one of the topics at our recent stake conference where Elder Packer from the 1st Quorum of the Seventy presided and spoke. Now I’d like to talk about a second topic which several speakers touched on and also which Elder Bednar recently spoke at General Conference in his talk Converted Unto the Lord . I seem to be hearing it a lot lately so I think there is something important for me to learn from it right now. The subject is being fully converted unto the Lord and the difference between conversion and testimony.
Of course, we must begin our process toward becoming disciples of Christ by first gaining a testimony, but we must continue the journey by putting into action that which we learn and believe in our hearts. First I will share with you parts of Elder Bednar’s talk. It is so hard not to just share the whole thing so it is a long reading assignment for you, my readers. I added the bold to a few of the parts that stand out to me---but I love it all.
“The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through the Savior’s Atonement. True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God (see Acts 3:19; 3 Nephi 9:20) and includes a conscious commitment to become a disciple of Christ.
Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony.
For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. Conversion unto the Lord requires both persistence and patience.
Testimony alone is not and will not be enough to protect us in the latter-day storm of darkness and evil in which we are living. Testimony is important and necessary but not sufficient to provide the spiritual strength and protection we need. Some members of the Church with testimonies have wavered and fallen away. Their spiritual knowledge and commitment did not measure up to the challenges they faced.
Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion. We should know the gospel is true and be true to the gospel.”
As Elder Bednar says, a testimony alone is not enough to help us withstand the tempests that are all around us in the world, the discouragement, the temptations, the filth everywhere we turn. We must take that step and become fully converted to the Lord and show that change and conversion by our strict obedience, by our every action. That gives us a protection like armor that we need. It is easy to say we believe and even easy to feel it for many of us, but it takes commitment to act in the way be believe and to center every decision in our lives on what our Heavenly Father would have us do, making our heart’s desires align with His.
Let me share now a few of the thoughts from speakers at stake conference about this.
President Daines, President of the Provo Temple, spoke to us and quoted Elder Oaks.
“Testimony is to know and to feel, conversion is to do and to become.”
    Dallin H. Oaks, quoted in Kenneth Johnson, “Coming to Know for Ourselves,” Ensign, July 2008, 29
I really liked what President Daines said following that, which I summarize the best I can here. “We send a signal to the Lord about the depth of our conversion by what we do and become.” I want to send a strong, bright signal to the Lord that I love Him and am willing to do all He asks of me. I can only do that by obedience and enduring faithfully in all things.

In his talk to us, Elder Packer told us that the only way we can inoculate our families towards the enemy in our world is through personal spiritual conversion. We as parents need to help our children gain their own testimonies and be fully converted by our example, giving them opportunities to feel the Spirit and recognize it, teaching them and loving them. Elder Packer also said (I put in quotes, but it’s the best quote I could write down as he spoke), “When we are converted, we make decisions that honor our Father because we know who He is and who we are.”
The final note I wrote from Elder Packer’s talk is “Our destiny is tied to our obedience to the doctrine.”
We do not have a set fate with no choice in this life. Our lives are full of agency and choices and those choices lead us to how happy or unhappy we will be here and where we will eternally be. We cannot say on our judgment day that the ruling is unfair. Because of the atonement, we will all be resurrected. Because of the atonement, we can repent and our spots made white. But we cannot live contrary to that which we know to be true and then expect a reward in the life to come. Mercy cannot rob justice. We can live with our Father in Heaven and with our family in the celestial kingdom someday, but only if we choose it with our daily choices, with the degree of our conversion.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It'll All Be Clear

If you are one of my family or friends who comes to my blog occasionally, then you know I love music. I like a variety of music and can't really figure out what I like best. But usually the music I like to put on my blog is from local artists that haven't yet signed with a major label. Occasionally, though, I really like a song on the radio and share it with all of you.

So a lot of you have probably heard this one already. I heard it three times on the radio today and I wasn't in the car much (the only place I listen to the radio). When I first heard this song on the radio, I thought it was very Mumford & Sons-y and was surprised when the DJ said it was Phillip Phillips. I remembered him from American Idol, but didn't realize this is the song he sang to win American Idol. I do remember loving the song he sang, but didn't remember what it was. Who knew that since he sang it on AI, it was featured in a Clint Eastwood movie, the summer Olympics and an insurance commercial?? Well, probably a lot of people, but I didn't know.

I love it because of the sound of his voice and the beautiful guitar, but also because the words really speak to me, and I'm sure to lots of people.

This is my favorite part of it.

 "Settle down. It'll all be clear.
Don't pay no mind to the demons.
They fill you with fear.
The trouble, it might drag you down.
If you get lost, you can always be found."

Someday the reason for all our troubles, trials, weaknesses and heartaches will be clear. And who wants us to forget that? Satan and all his angels (demons), who want us to feel fear because faith and fear cannot exist in the same place at the same time. But if we can make it through all of this, we can make it home. Just some positive motivation and awesome music.

Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...