Category: Life in America

People around the world have ideas about life in the USA based mainly on news reports and television. Culture, family life, working life, religion, morality and social matters are quite different than what is portrayed in movies and in the media. These posts show what life is like in the US.

How to Make Your Own Kefir- and Why You Should

How to Make Your Own Kefir- and Why You Should

Kefir (pronounced “Kee-fur” ) is a cultured milk similar to yogurt. The cultures that produce kefir are completely different than yogurt cultures, and have a unique, ultra-healthy probiotic content.

You may have received a kefir start from me- or perhaps you are curious and would like to begin making your own kefir and do not know where to start. Read through these directions, and if you would like a kefir start, please use the contact form and I will  arrange for you to get one (in the US only, sorry)

There are two ways that you may have received a kefir starter from me- in a glass jar that has several cups of  kefir already cultured, or in a plastic baggie with just a little milk.   If you have received a jar, it has already started the culturing process. Skip to *, below.  If you received a baggie with the culture and a small amount of milk,  use the following directions.

Getting started:

  • Clean, well rinsed glass jar
  • Kefir grains (do not rinse the grains!)
  • Milk (any grade: nonfat, low fat, full-fat)

Add the kefir grains to ½ cup of milk in a glass container, and leave it uncovered (or loosely covered) at room temperature (note: refrigerating the culture will stop the process). Stir a couple of times through the next 24 hours. At this point you will notice some of the milk around the grains has thickened.

Add additional milk (up to 2 cups at this point), stir to mix the starter into the new milk, and let it culture, stirring once or twice a day, for an additional 24 hours.

Depending on the temperatures of the room, during this initial ‘waking’ period, the milk will start to thicken after 12-24 hours, sometimes taking as much as 48 hours in a cooler environment. After this time, the milk should appear to be of yogurt consistency and is ready to be consumed as a beverage, used in recipes, turned into ‘cottage cheese’, or “ kept aside for several days to undergo a slower secondary fermentation  which further thickens and sours the milk” (Wikipedia), and adds to the nutrient base.  Use a plastic fork to scoop out the culture, and add the culture and ½ cup of the kefir to a quart size jar, and fill it with milk).

*After this initial period of bringing your culture ‘to life’, the culturing is pretty much a ‘no-brainer’: pour out the kefir that you want to use, then replace it with fresh milk. Stir, cover the jar with a cloth, and leave the jar on the counter.

If you need a break from culturing, put the grains and a tablespoon or two of kefir in a clean jar, add 2 cups milk, and put it into the refrigerator for up to several weeks. Stir it occasionally if you remember. It will stay alive for a long time this way. I have left a starter in the ‘fridge for over a month and had no trouble putting it back into use within 24 hours.  There are times when I will put a fully-cultured jar of kefir in the ‘fridge because I do not have time to use it or deal with it. After 5 or 6 days, I take it out and find that the culture has grown considerably- it is a good way to grow the culture if you wish to share it.

The bottom line is that the culture is very forgiving and easy to use.

Do NOTS:

  • *Do not store in a non-acid proof container (such as metal), and don’t use reactive-metal utensils.  Store and grow your kefir in glass containers. Plastic can be used during traveling.
  • Do not use metal utensils  in the kefir
  • * Do not use any dish that has a soap residue. Rinse any container thoroughly before using, as soap will kill the bacteria.
  • *Don’t suffocate the culture- it needs air. Keep any lid on loosely, or just cover with a cloth to keep bugs and dust out.
  • Do not rinse the grains. This stops the culturing process for several days, and is unnecessary. 
  •  Using your Kefir:

You can drink it plain,  add a little stevia or other sweetener to it, or make a smoothie with it. It can also be used to make ice cream, or as a probiotic ingredient in salad dressings and other recipes. See my Pinterest board for more ideas.

Making kefir cheese, aka ‘cottage’ cheese:

Put the culture in the milk, leave it anywhere from 12 hours to 2 or 3 days (depending on how hot the house is, and how sour you want the kefir cheese to be). Once it is thickened, remove the culture and a cup of kefir,  and put it in another jar. Add milk and set it aside to continue  culturing .    Put the jar of prepared kefir (without cultures- this step will kill the culture!) in a pot of water, bringing it to a boil. As soon as the water boils, (but without boiling the kefir!) and the curds separate from the whey, I turn off the stove and let the pot of water with the jar of curds-and-whey sit until they are cool- several hours or overnight. Then pour the curds-and-whey into a strainer and drain for an hour or two until it is as dry as you want it. If you would prefer it more of a ‘Greek yogurt’ consistency, do not let it drain for long.

I love this kefir cheese served with a little sugar, sour cream and some soaked raisins! Also served plain with a dollop of fruit jam over it. And of course in sirniki  !

I have had the same culture for 9 years, taking it with me whenever I travel. When I do not want to make cheese out of it, or I am traveling, I just drink the cultured milk plain, or add fruit to it and make a smoothie. It is very healthy, and I have never gotten sick when I traveled which I attribute to the good bacteria in the culture.

The culture grows quickly, so you are encouraged to share a piece of it with others.  It is traditional to give kefir away- never sell it (although I do charge postage when I am mailing it).

  Milk kefir is a different culture than water kefir grains.

It will only grow in mammal milk (cow, goat, sheep, etc.)

Kefir (pronounced /kəˈfɪər/ kə-feer is believed to have its origins in the Caucasus Mountains. Traditional kefir was made in skin bags that were hung near a doorway; the bag would be knocked by anyone passing through the doorway to help keep the milk and kefir grains well mixed. Marco Polo mentioned kefir when recounting his travels. (Wikipedia)

Why make kefir? Because it is healthy for you!

lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, Fermentation Products: carbon dioxide, ethanol (alcohol), Nutrients: protein from milk, polysaccharide, Vitamins or pro-vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, folic acid, nicotinic acid, Minerals: calcium, iron, iodine

Fermentation reduces the lactose in the milk, and many lactose-intolerant individuals can tolerate kefir. Test this carefully if you are lactose intolerant  “Researcher Steven Hertzler stated: “Both kefir and yogurt improve lactose digestion simply because some of the bacterial cells give up their lives in the intestinal tract, release their enzymes and digest the lactose. It’s a one-shot deal. However, kefir has additional microorganisms that may be able to colonize the intestines and benefit health further by protecting the intestine against disease-causing bacteria.

The kefiran in kefir has been shown in one study to suppress an increase in blood pressure and reduce serum cholesterol levels in rats. Kefir contains compounds that have antimutagenic and antioxidant properties in vitro, although it is not established that these compounds have any physiological properties when kefir is consumed. “ (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefir)

Do you have a question, or would you like  to share your experience with kefir? Please leave a comment below!

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Master Tonic- The Powerful Natural Anti-viral Remedy

Master Tonic- The Powerful Natural Anti-viral Remedy

Master Tonic Is the one natural remedy that should be in every home.

Master Tonic, also known as ‘Fire Cider’ for it’s fiery taste,  is Anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic. These medicinal herbs are powerful alternatives to over-the-counter pharmaceuticals that have been used for generations.  With the right combination of  natural, fresh ingredients, you can fight off the sicknesses that you are exposed to throughout the year. Easy to make, it takes 3-6 weeks to steep so start your Master Tonic today.  Prepare now for those times when you are out in public and someone next to you coughs uncovered,  sneezes in your direction (did you know that germs can travel up to 200 feet in a sneeze?!) or you are in a room with someone obviously sick. This is effective as a preventative immune boosting tonic, as well as the first thing you should reach for when you feel something ‘coming on’.

The Master Tonic recipe is flexible and does not rely on exact amounts of each element. Keep the amounts of the roots approximately equal to each other. Adjust amounts according to the size of the container. It is important that you have at 2 inches of head-space on top of the chopped ingredients to be sure you can completely cover them with the vinegar, and have room to shake the ingredients thoroughly each day.

Ingredients for a two quart jar:

  • 6 in. Fresh ginger root
  • 6 in. Fresh horseradish root
  • 1/2 cup Fresh turmeric root
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 cup Fresh garlic
  • 4 pieces Cinnamon bark
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorn
  • 1-2 Chili peppers
  • 1 quart Natural apple cider vinegar, raw, with the mother

Directions:

  1. Coarsely chop all roots, including onion and garlic
  2. Cut the chili pepper in half and discard seeds.
  3. Using a food processor, chop the above until about the size of a slit pea. You do not want mush, but the ingredients must be finely chopped.
  4. Add the chopped roots to a clean jar. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover completely with apple cider vinegar.
  5. cover securely with a lid, and shake the jar thoroughly.
  6. Place the jar in a dark, cool location and shake at least once per day for 3-6 weeks
  7. Strain the tonic from the solids and refrigerate until needed.

How to take the tonic:

This is a strong tasting tonic. The easiest way to take the tonic is to put a tablespoon in a cup, and have a 1/4 cup of orange juice at hand to ‘chase’ it down with. Alternatives is adding it to juice or water (which just prolongs the flavor btw). You can also add molasses as a sweetener.

Have you tried Master Tonic? What has been your experience? Please leave a comment below to encourage me to continue writing 🙂 

 

 

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Judging- a Necessary Habit to Keep Under Control

Judging- a Necessary Habit to Keep Under Control

I had been feeling exhausted and unhealthy for nearly a year and it was getting worse so I finally went in for a check up.  I was told by the PA (my doctor was too busy to get in to see) that, based on her blood test, I had pre-diabetes. She said that I was at a severe risk of developing diabetes, so I had better get on a special low carb diet immediately and that would cure all my ailments within weeks (it didn’t) .

I did not believe her conclusions. Neither did any of the other medical practitioners that I consulted after her diagnosis. I did, however, decide to follow her diet directions while I continued figuring out for myself what was actually wrong. 

I lost weight. But that’s not the story.

I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater: whole grains, fruits and veggies, no soda or alcohol,  and few processed foods.  What I found, however is that is is hard to get enough calories without carbs- and everything but protein has carbs. Ouch. All my healthy fruits and whole grains were taking me way out of the carb ballpark. It took me several months of recording every bite to My Fitness Pal to figure out how to choose the right foods,  and up my protein to account for lack of calories from carbs. In the meantime I dropped 10 lbs. It got kind of fun to watch the scale going down an ounce or two every day, so I decided to continue on the ‘diet’ until I got down to the weight I was 30 years ago when I was the healthiest. It became a lot more difficult as time went on.

And that’s when this story about human nature began.

Losing the weight was a big accomplishment. I  learned to portion and weigh every thing I ate, keep track of every single bite that went in my mouth, eat protein, and drink more water than I have ever wanted to drink. For 6 months I didn’t have ‘cheat days’. I didn’t go over my carb limits. I didn’t eat my favorite foods. It. Was. Not. Easy! 

We are social creatures. We like to share accomplishments, even the accidental ones. When we share struggles and accomplishments, those around us  cheer us on and give us the encouragement and motivation to continue when we are stressed or weak. At least that is what should happen.  What I experienced was quite different. If I mentioned that I was on a diet, or losing weight, the reaction was a form of “You don’t need to lose weight, here- have a brownie”.  I learned to only tell a couple of trusted friends- and even to them I had to justify myself with exaggerations about diabetes scares so they would give me a bit of the support I craved.

I was already at what most would call an acceptable weight.  I didn’t then, or now,  LOOK unhealthy, but there are underlying health issues at stake.   Please understand that MY efforts are NOT being undertaken as a reflection of you or your needs- it’s just about me and my own needs. Do I need to review my complete health history with you before you will quit dissing* my health choices and offering me double-chocolate mint brownies? 

Lessons learned

I now ask myself if I ‘offer brownies’ in some way or another myself.  What I learned from this experience is that we rarely know the whole story. Judging others based only on what I see and believe is harmful and can be painful for the judged. We do have to make judgements every day- it’s part of life and is what keeps us safe. Let’s just decide to make them using righteous principles, and remember that the person that we may be judging is more important than problems to be solved. 

When someone shares something that is important to them, they are putting trust in us. We must respond with love, rather than judgement. 

*Definition of dis  

disseddissing; transitive verb

1. slang to treat with disrespect or contempt insult  
2. slang to find fault with criticize 

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Посмотри вверх!

Посмотри вверх!

Скорее! Ответь, не задумываясь, какое сейчас небо?

А облака? Я спросила это у 10 человек, и только один ответил, что смотрел сегодня на небо. Небо успокаивает душу, но лишь немногие это понимают. Ну же, посмотри вверх!

В далеком 1985 году мне попалась статья Джека Бордена, в которой он изложил своё желание научить людей смотреть в небо и видеть его красоту. Я никогда не смотрела вверх намеренно, не задумывалась о небе, о том, какое оно, какие там облака, пока не прочитала эту статью. Не могу сказать, что же именно тогда тронуло меня в этой статье, но вот уже 30 лет, где бы я ни была, я всегда влюблена в небо.

Кто-то спросил меня на прошлой неделе, как я справляюсь со стрессом.

Ответ ко мне пришёл не сразу. Я задумалась, и поняла, что мой стресс проходит от того, что для меня уже стало самым обычным делом – я смотрю на небо. Когда я смотрю на небо, я чувствую безграничность того, что находится надо мной, осознание этого прогоняет стресс и направляет мои мысли в положительное русло. Если бы когда-нибудь у меня выдался день, когда мне бы ничего не нужно было делать, я бы лежала на спине и смотрела на небо (в перерывах между сном) и фотографировала облака.

Многие из этих фотографий были сняты на мой телефон. Только представьте, какими бы они получились, если бы я снимала на фотоаппарат и добавила фильтры!

Американцы уходят в отпуск чтобы «стать частью природы», почувствовать безграничность космоса, и, как пишет Джен Борден (“Sky Man”): «ощутить ликование» и «приобщиться к природе». Для тех, кто не может брать отпуск: нам необязательно менять местоположение, достаточно изменить наш взор.

В книге Look at the Sky! (“Взгляни на Небо!”) Эрик Слоан написал: «Я верю, что небо было создано исключительно для созерцания; наблюдая за небом человек может получить высшее удовольствие». 

«Не волнуйтесь, воздушные замки, которые вы построили, находятся именно там, где должны. Вам нужно лишь заложить для них фундамент», – Генри Дэвид Торо

«Тот, кто созерцает красоту Земли, открывает в себе запас сил, который никогда не иссякнет», –Рейчел Карсон, «Ощущение чуда».

«В глазах ребенка мир свеж, прекрасен и полон чудес, он удивляет и восхищает. К нашему сожалению, этот ясный взгляд, это истинное ощущение прекрасного гаснет и теряется, едва мы достигаем совершеннолетия. Если бы я водила знакомство с доброй феей, которая присутствует при крещении, я попросила бы ее давать в подарок всем детям в этом мире ощущение чуда, чтобы оно не иссякало всю жизнь, и как лекарство спасало от скуки и разочарований» – Рейчел Карсон, «Ощущение чуда».

Где бы вы не находились, небо всегда над вами.

Чтобы изучить небо, не нужно тщательно разрабатывать полевых вылазок или иметь дорогостоящее оборудование. Достаточно взглянуть на небо трижды за день и обратить внимание на увиденное. Сделайте пару фотографий неба, сделайте одну из них заставкой на экране вашего телефона или компьютера и меняйте их почаще. Постарайтесь смотреть на луну каждую ночь, и вы заметите, как меняются ее фазы: как она растет или уменьшается. Наблюдая за полётом птиц, можно заметить белый след самолета. Ваша фантазия с легкостью превратит облака с их причудливыми формами в дракона или бегущего ребёнка. Замрите перед чудом, которое сокрыто в небе!

За красоту Земли

За красоту Земли

За красоту неба

За любовь, что с нашего рождения

Окутывает нас всецело

Господь всех, к Тебе мы

возносим

Нашу песнь о благодарном восхвалении.

 За красоту каждого часа

Дня и ночи

Холма, долины, дерева, цветов

Солнца, луны, света и звёзд,

Господь всех, к Тебе мы возносим

Нашу песнь о благодарном восхвалении.

За радость человеческой любви,

Брата, сестру, родителей, ребёнка

Друзей на земле и на небесах

За великодушные и благородные мысли

Господь всех, к Тебе мы возносим

Нашу песнь о благодарном восхвалении.

И это не всё.

Иногда небо дарит испытания… и надежду: http://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/series/mormon-messages/after-the-storm 

Эти ссылки мне прислал Джек Борден.

До прочтения этого сочинения, я никогда не слышал, чтобы кто-нибудь высказывался о природе настолько близко к моим личным ощущениям. И хорошо, что я читал его в одиночестве, я не мог сдержаться и воскликнул несколько раз: «Да, именно так!». Это сочинение можно и нужно отнести к рекомендованным материалам для чтения учителям и родителям всего мира. Томас Коул, «Сочинение об американской природе» из журнала «The American Monthly Magazine 1» (Январь 1836 г.) http://www.tc.umn.edu/~danp/rhet8520/winter99/cole.html

«Душа природы: история неба в искусстве». Автор произведения – профессор Стэнли Дэвид Гедзельман (кафедра науки о земле и атмосфере, Сити-колледж, Нью-Йорк).

И наконец, публикация в блоге о том, как начать свой бизнес. Какое же это отношение имеет к небу? Только последний абзац: «75 процентов людей утверждают, что негативные мысли уходят, если посмотреть на небо». Будущим предпринимателям, борющимся с негативным мышлением, Фаннин дает урок: «Выше нос».

Вы смотрели сегодня на небо? Что вы там видели? Помогло вам то, что вы увидели, справиться со стрессом? Пришлите мне фото неба!Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
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5 Ways To Identify a Disciple of Christ

5 Ways To Identify a Disciple of Christ

To be a disciple of the Savior… what does that mean? The word disciple and the word discipline both come from the same Latin root – discipulus, which means pupil. To be a disciple means to be obedient  to the Savior,. It means to have  self-discipline in what we choose to do and who we choose to become.  How do we know when someone is a disciple of the Savior? Below are 5 characteristics from the scriptures  that help us to understand.

  1. A disciple will be learning.

    Matthew 5:1-2 Jesus  “went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him  And he opened his mouth, and taught them..” We don’t have the luxury of climbing that mountain and listening to Christ in person, but we have the next best thing: the words and testimony of those that have written the gospel of Christ  over the millennia.   A disciple of Christ will be actively searching His teachings. He will not be making excuses that there is no time to read scriptures in his busy day. A disciple spends time daily reading and pondering the words of Christ. Those scriptures have one purpose: for us to read and gain a testimony of Christ. It is through reading the words of Christ and listening for His voice that we become a true disciple.

  2. A disciple will be seeking conversion by ‘doing’.

    He will be trying to be more than he is now through obedience to the laws of God. Jesus told Simon Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). This is Peter He is talking to! Peter the rock, the one who did miracles in His name, who was a teacher and apostle- and yet Jesus tells him he is not yet converted. A testimony of Christ means ‘knowing’ who He really is. Conversion is what happens when testimony becomes so much a part of one that he is a ‘doer’ of the word, not just one who knows the words of Christ. Being a disciple means not only seeking the gospel and learning what Christ would have him do, but seeking to convert himself to become like Christ by doing those things.  A true disciple will be serving others, loving his neighbor as himself, and making preeminent his duty toward God over personal or worldly demands.

  3. A disciple will have charity

    The apostle Paul taught us that “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”  Charity is the pure Love of Christ. To have charity is not an act, it is state of being. Charity is not only giving one’s old coat to the poor, but giving of oneself unselfishly for the good of another child of God. Charity is not only donating money to a good
    cause, but giving kindness without reward to those who are in need. You will see a true disciple of Christ love others as Jesus loves you. The disciple of the Savior will be doing the right things for the right reason- for the Love of Christ.

  4. A disciple will be a missionary

    A disciple may not have a badge that says he is a missionary, but he will be teaching by word and by example in many ways. A disciple is “The light of the world.”  He will “…Let <his> light so shine before men, that they may see <his> good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 . A disciple of Christ will take opportunities to share the love of Christ with all who will listen. They will demonstrate that love in the choices they make, the attitudes they take, and the feeling of love and optimism that they exude. They will teach faith, baptism, and the need for the gift of the Holy Ghost. The true disciple of the Savior will be someone a good person wants to be around- they have a quality that lifts others despite the circumstances.

  1. A disciple will be actively developing strong family relationships

    The conversion that a disciple seeks requires us to be a loving, charitable husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister. The most important things we will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes. To identify a disciple of Jesus Christ, look at the way he or she treats family. Leading with kindness, disciplining when needed and then showing afterwards an increase of love to the one that was disciplined, speaking with love and consideration to every member of the family, and teaching each member of the family to have faith and trust in God. These are the ways that a true disciple of Christ treats his or her family.

How do we become disciples ourselves?

By being obedient to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.  We must learn from the words of Christ by reading the scriptures and listening carefully to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. We should be an example of a true Christian by doing His will, and by being a missionary that takes time to teach others. We must have charity and take the time to serve others. We must keep the Sabbath day holy, and help in His church. As we seek to become true disciples of Jesus Christ, we should seek the good part- and then do the things we know are right.

.

Two questions to ask yourself: 1. what is the difference between being a ‘Christian’ and being a disciple of Christ?  2. What do I need to do today to become a disciple of Christ?

Moroni 7:48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. 

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Mormon Missionaries-What Are They REALLY Doing?

Mormon Missionaries-What Are They REALLY Doing?

Chances are good that you have seen a couple of young men dressed in suits with name tags walking or biking around your home town, most likely with smiles on their faces. Have you ever wondered what exactly they were doing out there?mormon-missionaries-500x340

Those young men (and sometimes young women) are usually between the ages of 18-21, and they are serving  a two-year mission at their own expense on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. During those 2 years, they work proselytizing, giving church service, providing humanitarian aid, and doing a lot of community service.

Why do Missionaries do what they do?

If you were given a special present that gave you great joy, what would be the first thought in your mind? You would be excited and want to tell your friends all about it! Perhaps you would take a selfie with the gift and post it on Facebook, or message your friend and enthuse about it with them. You would want to share your joy.

sister-missionaries-knockingThe missionaries that you see out and about, both men and women, are there to share joy in a world that is becoming increasingly stressful and complex. The missionaries have an understanding of who we are, where we came from, what the purpose of life really is, and above all, what and who the gospel of Jesus Christ is for- and they are sharing this with all who will listen.

Desire and obedience

Besides the desire to share the gospel, These young people are showing obedience to God. Sharing the gospel is a commandment from Jesus Christ, and they have the willingness to put aside their own interests and lives for a couple of years to be obedient to Christ’s charge to “Go ye therefore and
go-ye-therefore-and-teach-all-nations-39610-printteach all nations”. Pretty impressive stuff for a teenager!

What makes the Mormons different?

These missionaries have a few things that set them apart- they have The Book of Mormon, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the Priesthood.

“The Book of Mormon was written to convince everyone, both Jews and Gentiles, thatsharing-book-mormon-1379950-gallery “Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations” (Title page). Missionary work is therefore a central theme and one of the divine purposes of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon in combination with the Spirit of the Lord is ‘the greatest single tool which God has given us to bring souls to the Savior.” (“Missionary, Family History, and Temple Work” Ensign, Oct. 2014).

We are in a war.

armor-of-godThere are over 80,000 LDS missionaries spread all over the world today. That is a pretty impressive number of willing teenagers, but it is a drop in the bucket of what is needed. Why are missionaries important right now? Because we are in a war. God is real, Jesus Christ is divine and our savior and is very real, and unfortunately, Satan is real as well. This period of time, these generations that are in such commotion around the globe, have been foretold for thousands of years. Just as the birth of Jesus Christ was prophesied, so is His return to earth- and Satan is doing all he can to prevent us from being ready for Jesus.

The Book of Revelations was placed as the last book in the Bible. Although it was not written last, it was put last in the Bible for a reason; After the exciting news in the New Testament about the birth and mission of Jesus Christ, and the news of His death and resurrection, we read finally in Revelations about the ‘last days’ before Jesus comes back in person to the earth that He made, to take over as Lord and King. Jesus told us that these last generations before He steps back in to take over will be tough. We are in a battle between good and evil, with evil getting more and more desperate to blind the eyes of mankind to prevent them from turning to Christ.  The coming of Christ back to the earth will be a “hinge of history” (Elder Oaks, Preparing for the Second Coming) that the missionaries are preparing the world for.

The troubles in our world …we knew they were coming

mormon-missionaries-500x340Those young men and women with the little black name tags that you see around town understand that all the cultural, political and moral challenges that are happening around us are prophesied, and they understand what that means- we need to switch our focus, and now, to make repentance and faith in Jesus Christ our foremost priority in life. When we have become strengthened, we must turn and help our neighbors, family and friends.

In the words of Christ:

Jesus’s final instructions to the Twelve was this—to “go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The instructions He gave to his disciples 2000 years ago remains the charge He gives to his disciples today. Go, teach, and bring people to a knowledge of Jesus Christ and His plan of salvation.

Do you have questions about the purpose of life, the importance of families, or the mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? Click Here for a good resourceMormon.org . And, please leave me a comment below!

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Searching For the Truth

Searching For the Truth

A couple of years ago, after having lived in our rural home for over 20 years, the neighbors decided to run cattle in the next canyon over, adjoining our property. The first I knew about it was when I went outside after being cooped up inside for several weeks with a knee injury. Much to my horror, I could see a fence that was obviously on my own property. the-fence

My own fence had been taken out, and the neighbors fence was put 12 feet inside our property.

I was upset, and called the neighbor (who have always been good friends and neighbors, and members of our congregation).  The neighbor apologized, but said he had put the fence where he thought the property line was. He had not seen our property marker (hidden in a bush now 12 feet inside his fenceline. He told me we were welcome to change the fence to where we thought it should go- which was an impossible task for us to accomplish as we just didn’t have the resources or equipment to take out a half-mile of fence and reset it. He also explained state law which states that half of a fence line along a property line is the responsibility of each neighbor- meaning that we would be responsible for the cost of half the fence if he wanted to press the issue.

I was angry for a solid year. It colored my attitude towards my neighbors, and brought me to tears all over again every time I looked up my hill and saw cattle where I should see nothing but sky. It hurt. It was really difficult each Sunday when the neighbors were singing in my choir at Church…

The following summer, when I was again able to climb our hill (It is very steep and difficult, even without a knee injury), I climbed up and got spitting mad all over again when I realized exactly how much flat ground had been taken. My husband didn’t really care but to me it felt personal- this was my property, and they had purposely taken some of our tiny little 11 acres when they own hundreds of acres and didn’t need ours. After more months of resentment, I finally called them and admitted that I was still angry and wanted a meeting with their entire family (their property is owned by their family corporation) to hash out the fence. They readily agreed and we settled on a time to meet.

Now we come to the point of this story….

For the entire year, I had believed that they had purposely put their fence line 12 feet onto my property. I mean, really- how could they not have? They had to take down my fence to put up their own. I learned that day, however, after a chance remark from one of the brothers, that I had not had all the information and I had jumped to a conclusion that was not the truth. It turned out that a hired hand had taken down my fence, and then several days later, other people, including the brother, had come to put the new fence in. Not knowing where the original fence was, they just put it in where it seemed reasonable, along the ridge line.

In that instant, my anger and hurt melted away. These were good people that had honestly made a mistake. They were apologetic for not checking with me first, for putting the fence in the incorrect place, and for how badly I had been feeling. During that visit I had a complete change of feeling- I had peace for the first time in a year.

I learned a very valuable lesson in that experience. Like the blind men of Indostan, I judged that elephant of a fence based only on what I saw and felt. Like the Apostle Paul described, I saw my version of truth through a dark glass colored with resentment and lack of the full picture.

Learning the hard way, I have become a better, more reasonable and thoughtful person when it comes to searching for the truth. I am much more careful now to gather as much of the story as I need before making a judgement as to what the truth is in each situation. I learned not to judge the motives of others. I learned that there is truth- and it was up to me to know all the facts before I jumped to conclusions.

I repented…20160528_094657

 

 

 

 

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Finding Peace

Finding Peace

So many things can go wrong with our bodies, our finances, our future, our families, our country…there are a million ways to discover fear, none of which bring peace or happiness. The lack of peace is perhaps the most underestimated cause of anger, resentment, and lack of purpose in life. This past election season has been a parable of fear vs. peace, with an entire nation  stressed and fearful of what November would bring. What if you could live your life without fear, and be at peace today and all your tomorrows?

No matter who is in the White House or is Mayor of the next town over, no matter what war is threatening on the horizon, or who is in control of the world’s money supply, we can have peace now and look forward to the future with joy and optimism.

Peace does not just ‘happen’

Peace is something that must be worked for, both national peace and personal peace. It comes from putting down those dark glasses of fearlet-peace-begin-with-me and contention as a people and as an individual, and deciding that we want to be part of the solution, part of the light. It’s a no-brainer that once you turn on a light, the darkness recedes- and one person can shine and give off light that ripples outward way beyond what they ever realize. It takes only one person to start a movement towards light.

Where do I begin…

When we come to the conclusion that being negative, fearful and pessimistic about life isn’t working for us, how do we change? How do we make that incredible leap from fear to peace? We need to find a guide to help us find the light. We need a mentor; someone who knows us well, cares about our personal happiness and peace, and someone who has seen both the dark, and the light of peace. The best mentor to teach, explain and model peace is Jesus Christ, the prince of peace. Following the master mentor may mean getting out of your comfort zone and opening your mind and heart to new possibilities.  Accepting the gift of the atonement brings the gift of peace right along with it. The kind of meme-bible-john-peace-1342009-gallerypeace that sticks with you no matter what is going on around you, and the kind of peace that changes your view of life. It’s that peace that gives us the realization that this life matters, that what we say and do, and the relationships we form affect us much more than we ever thought- and that it is all good.

Does this life really matter?

My husband’s father passed away after suffering with cancer for some time. At one point, he was in the hospital with his two sons by his side. He had had an experience the previous evening that was very sacred to him, and he described it in detail to his sons. From that time on, he had no fear of death- he knew what it was like, and knew who would be meeting him on the other side of the veil. His death came peacefully not too many months after that experience, and not only did that tender mercy of the Lord, the gift of peace, bless him, it blessed his sons and others with the testimony of the reality of the atonement and resurrection. What happens in this life matters because this is not the end of our existence. Life goes on.

Being assured of resurrection makes life better now.

 The resurrection- life after death- is a ‘free’ gift for every person who has ever lived on this earth. Because of the atonement, you don’t die and then just cease to exist.  You lived before this earth life, and you will continue to live after this short period of mortality ends. Knowing that makes what we do here and now important. Knowing that makes the difference between fear and peace.

 Elder Dallin H. Oaks has taught that “the assurance of resurrection and immortality affects how we look on the physical challenges of mortality, how we live our mortal lives, and how we relate to those around us… the assurance of resurrection gives us the strength and perspective to endure the mortal challenges faced by each of us and by those we love…” (“Resurrection” Ensign, May 2000).

Those challenges can erode our peace and bring fear and uncertainty without an understanding of what happens after we leave tpeace-and-lovehis earth.

If I had one wish for every person on earth, it would be to feel at peace, today and your every tomorrow. My wish for you is that you feel that
God knows you as an individual child of His. Not only does He know you, He loves you and wants you to have peace and joy now, while you are on this earth, while you prepare to live the rest of your eternity.

 

Proclaim Peace! 

be-the-peace
https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2010-07-083-proclaim-peace?lang=eng
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Helping a good seed to grow…

Helping a good seed to grow…

20160613_205539I grow a lot of plants for my garden each year. I have a short growing season, and if I want tomatoes or green peppers, I need to start the seeds in January in my house, nurture the little seedlings and help them to grow as fast as possible. The young plants are transferred to a heated greenhouse in April, where they are planted in bigger and bigger pots until they are finally prepared to live outside in June. Throughout each stage, the seeds and plants must be carefully protected from the cold, and nourished constantly, or else they die and I have to start over. If I have to start over, I lose most of the potential of the plants, because the temperatures will drop to freezing again in the fall, just when the fruit begins to ripen.

Nourishing a seed of faith requires the same diligence as raising a tomato plant in the winter. When I learn a truth that just yells to me “Heed me, I will make your life better!”, I feel excited and eager to make it part of my life. Now comes the hard work, though. If all I do is notice that little seed of faith, and let it wash over me without heeding it, it soon disappears in the daily distractions of life. If, however I begin to nourish it, it is like putting a heating pad under newly planted seeds- the warmth of the Lords guidance makes that seed sprout and bear fruit.

To nourish a new idea, a good seed, I have found that I need to do the following: 1. Write it down, including my impressions and feelings 2. Talk to Heavenly Father about it immediately and ask for help understanding how it should impact my life and 3. Continue to focus on it in the days to come.

Writing down what I have learned is the first thing I do once I hear something important. Taking notes during conference is a good example of heeding good seeds that I want to grow. Then, to have that good seed grow requires help from Heavenly Father. That requires communication with God on a regular basis. Talking to Him about what I have just learned, and asking His help to understand it is like putting a grow light over my baby seedlings- the Holy Ghost can pour light on even the most difficult concepts. Heeding the guidance that we receive about the seed will assure that the seed will continue to grow. Once it becomes a habit to pay attention to the seed that has now become a seedling, I am on my way to assuring that the good seed will become part of my life.

When I grow seeds for my garden, there has to be constant, daily focus on the process. If I forget to water them one day, the next day they are weakened. If they are not watered two days in a row, they dry up and die. The seed of faith has to be treated just as consistently. I cannot hear a truth, write it down, and then ignore it while expecting it to continue to grow. If it is something that requires action, I can’t wait until Sunday to do something- by then I will have lost the momentum and the seed will have withered and died. I will have lost the feeling and excitement and it becomes just part of the background noise- if I remember it at all.

Sometimes we find a good seed, and then it is killed off by inattention. Inattention is the frost of faith. What we want to grow, we have to focus on. As that seed becomes stronger, we understand it more, we have made it part of our lives, and it becomes a plant that bears fruit in our life and in the lives of others.

Those good seeds are worth the time and cost.

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Who is Jesus Christ?

Who is Jesus Christ?

jesus-christ-greg-olson
Jesus Christ, by Greg Olson

On the title page of the Book of Mormon, Moroni says that the purpose of the book is to convince the Jews and the Gentiles that Jesus is the Christ. So just who IS Jesus Christ?

A clarification

Christ is not Jesus’s last name; it is a title. The word Christ means *messiah, or, anointed. Calling Jesus the Christ means that We acknowledge that He is the savior that was prepared from the foundations of the world to provide the atonement.

Mormons have a very clear belief in Jesus as the messiah, the literal Son of God, the Holy one of Israel, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and the one and only path back to where we came from- His father, and our Father, in Heaven. We believe in no uncertain way that Jesus, through the atonement, made it possible for us to be forgiven of all the sins we have made and become clean as little children.christ-and-the-children

A little back-history…waaaaaaay back.

Jesus was prepared to be the Savior long before He came to earth. Let’s go back before the earth came to be. First, there was Heavenly Father (and Heavenly Mother). Then came their children. Jesus was the eldest, second born was Satan. Then came the rest of us. You, me, everyone around you, are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. That makes Jesus our eldest brother, and every person on earth a relative. It is why we refer to each other as Brother so-and-so, and Sister so-and so. Of course, Satan is in that mix as well, but that is a subject for another day, another post.

jesus-and-the-black-sheepSo, there we were, one big family in Heaven. The problem was that in order to keep progressing, we needed to get a body. Our spirits are wonderful things, but there are things that we cannot do without a physical body. To get that body, God prepared a way that we could take a journey to earth and be born in the mortal world. Just getting a body isn’t the whole story- there are things we have to learn while we are here, and if we want to continue to progress In the next life and be all that we can be, we have to prove ourselves by the choices we make here.

greg-olsen-o-jerusalem
O Jerusalem, by Greg Olsen

Now here was the problem.  Once we came to earth, we would  choose to make some serious mistakes (sins), which meant we would not be able to live with God again because only perfectly clean beings can live there. So, as part of the plan, Heavenly Father prepared a mediator to atone for all of our sins and make it possible for us to go back to our home in Heaven clean. Jesus, the eldest son, volunteered for that role. Satan also volunteered, but while Jesus was backing Heavenly Father’s plan (called the Plan of Happiness), Satan wanted all the power and glory for himself (the original power monger), he wanted us to worship him, and Satan wanted to control our every move so we would not be able to choose good or bad- we would be his puppets doing what he wanted at all times. Suffice to say at this point, Jesus got the job because His desire was to do God’s will, as well as secure our salvation and happiness.

Jesus’s mission was to create the world under the direction of Heavenly Father, and then to provide the atonement to save his brothers and sisters from the spiritual and physical death brought about by Adam and Eve’s Fall.

adam-and-eveA few relevant words about Adam and Eve and their choicejay-bryant-ward-studios

There is a lot of misconceptions among Christian denominations about Adam and Eve. When the two of them lived in the Garden of Eden, they were in a state of innocence, not knowing or needing to know good from evil. They also would not be having children there. They had to leave the garden in order that ‘man might be’. God knew perfectly well what would happen- He knew about the serpent, He knew what Eve would choose, He knew that Adam would choose to stay with her and cause ‘the fall’. Everything that happened was accounted for in the plan of Happiness, right from the beginning.  Adam and Eve made choices, and they were beguiled by the devil, but the devil cannot frustrate God’s plan- God is a step ahead of the devil, every foot of the way. Adam and Eve sacrificed their own happiness and security in the Garden of Eden so that we could get our turn on earth. Jesus was prepared to give the atonement after the fall so that we can go back to heaven.

President Ezra Taft Benson taught that “just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ…no one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind. And no other book in the world explains this vital doctrine nearly as well as the Book of Mormon” (2).

So, Who is Jesus the Christ?

Jesus is our elder brother. He created this earth for us. He chose to follow God’s will and knows what we need to do to have happiness now and in the eternities. greg-olson-lost-no-more-600Jesus is part of the Godhead which includes Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost- three distinct personages. Heavenly Father and Jesus have bodies, the holy ghost remains a spirit so he can help us. Jesus was the Jehovah of the Old Testament, and Messiah of the New Testament. He loves us enough to have paid a terribly high price for us- and all He asks in return is that we follow Him so we can have the happiness we so desired before we came to earth. He asks us to repent of our sins, be baptized for the remission of our sins (so we can take advantage of the atonement), and do our best to follow His example of love, compassion, and service. He Lives! He is aware of each one of us, loves us and more than anything, wants us to return to him.

I testify to you that I know that He lives. I know that He is the Christ, our Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God and He is our elder brother who loves us.

~Margo

 Is there one question about what I have written that you would like to ask me? Leave me a comment and I WILL respond!

 

Note: Most of the pictures featured here are the work of Greg Olsen .  https://www.gregolsen.com/

(1). *Messiah is a Greek word translated from the Hebrew word messiah, meaning anointed.

(2). The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, Ensign, May 1987, 85).

( 3). The Plan of Happiness < https://www.lds.org/ensign/1993/11/the-great-plan-of-happiness.p1?lang=eng  >Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
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