Sunday, August 13, 2017

Finding Peace & Comfort in Christ, and Becoming Peacemakers & Comforters As Disciples of Christ.

Here are my notes for a talk I gave at church today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints


“Finding peace and comfort through Christ, and becoming peacemakers and comforters as a disciple of Jesus Christ” August 13, 2017

President Uchtdorf described the air raids he experiences as a 4-year-old child.
Not far from where my family lived was the city of Dresden. Those who lived there witnessed perhaps a thousand times what I had seen. Massive firestorms, caused by thousands of tons of explosives, swept through Dresden, destroying more than 90 percent of the city and leaving little but rubble and ash in their wake.
In a very short time, the city once nicknamed the “Jewel Box” was no more. Erich K√§stner, a German author, wrote of the destruction, “In a thousand years was her beauty built, in one night was it utterly destroyed.”1 During my childhood I could not imagine how the destruction of a war our own people had started could ever be overcome. The world around us appeared totally hopeless and without any future.
Last year I had the opportunity to return to Dresden. Seventy years after the war, it is, once again, a “Jewel Box” of a city. The ruins have been cleared, and the city is restored and even improved.
During my visit I saw the beautiful Lutheran church Frauenkirche, the Church of Our Lady. Originally built in the 1700s, it had been one of Dresden’s shining jewels, but the war reduced it to a pile of rubble. For many years it remained that way, until finally it was determined that the Frauenkirche would be rebuilt.
Stones from the destroyed church had been stored and cataloged and, when possible, were used in the reconstruction. Today you can see these fire-blackened stones pock marking the outer walls. These “scars” are not only a reminder of the war history of this building but also a monument to hope—a magnificent symbol of man’s ability to create new life from ashes.

"As I pondered the history of Dresden and marveled at the ingenuity and resolve of those who restored what had been so completely destroyed, I felt the sweet influence of the Holy Spirit. Surely, I thought, if man can take the ruins, rubble, and remains of a broken city and rebuild an awe-inspiring structure that rises toward the heavens, how much more capable is our Almighty Father to restore His children who have fallen, struggled, or become lost?
It matters not how completely ruined our lives may seem. It matters not how scarlet our sins, how deep our bitterness, how lonely, abandoned, or broken our hearts may be. Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God can be rebuilt. Save those rare sons of perdition, there is no life so shattered that it cannot be restored.
The joyous news of the gospel is this: because of the eternal plan of happiness provided by our loving Heavenly Father and through the infinite sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, we can not only be redeemed from our fallen state and restored to purity, but we can also transcend mortal imagination and become heirs of eternal life and partakers of God’s indescribable glory." (He Will Place You On His Shoulders and Carry You Home, April 2016)


I wanted to take one a most dramatic account with a happy ending to introduce my topic. My topic for you today is finding peace and comfort through Christ, and becoming peacemakers and comforters as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Sometimes peace and comfort seem impossible after monumental moments.


LDS.org topics describes peace as the following…

"Many people think of peace as the absence of war. But we can feel peace even in times of war, and we can lack peace even when no war is raging. The mere absence of conflict is not enough to bring peace to our hearts. Peace comes through the gospel—through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the ministration of the Holy Ghost, and our own righteousness, sincere repentance, and diligent service.
In addition to feeling peace ourselves, we can be an influence for peace in our families, our community, and the world. We work for peace when we keep the commandments, give service, care for family members and neighbors, and share the gospel. We work for peace whenever we help relieve the suffering of another."
 ----
In John 14:26-27 Jesus said, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”.

In John 16:33 He said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world".

Alma taught the people of Gideon the following doctrine of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in Alma 7:11-12

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
 ------
Jesus Christ can succor us, bind our wounds, give us peace, and comfort us because he took it upon himself to feel our pains and sufferings.

Jesus climbed the hill
To the garden still
His steps were heavy and slow
Love and a prayer
Took Him there
To the place only He could go
He felt all that was sad, wicked or bad
All the pain we would ever know
While His friends were asleep
He fought to keep
His promise made long ago

The hardest thing that ever was done
The greatest pain that ever was known
The biggest battle that ever was won
This was done by Jesus
The fight was won by Jesus

Gethsemane
Jesus loves me
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane



If we as Latter-Day Saints are striving to become like Christ, we too can be peacemakers and comforters.

In October of 2009, President Monson taught us,
“The Savior taught His disciples, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”5
I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives.
My brothers and sisters, we are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness—be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.” (What Have I Done for Someone Today?)


And as an added bonus to providing love to others, President Uchtdorf taught,
“As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christ like love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.”
(You Are My Hands, April 2010)

Evidence of this can be found in 3 Nephi. In the account of the Savior’s visit to the Nephites, we learn that Jesus spent a lot of time teaching the people at the temple. After awhile he look at the people and basically said, I’ve worn you out and given you a lot to think about, so go home for awhile and ponder on this.  But when he look out at them they gave him such a look of longing he decided to stay awhile longer. In chapter 17 vs. 6 he said, “Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.” He was full of compassion because of what the verses in Alma 7 talk about, he has just experiences the Atonement, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. He was literally filled with compassion.

Vs 7,  Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.

And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
10 And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.


They. Their- the afflicted were from among them. All the multitude. The afflicted needed people to help bring them up to Christ. So with one accord, they that were afflicted, and those that assisted them, went up to Christ. And all were healed. All.



ENDING-
“You may feel that your life is in ruins. You may have sinned. You may be afraid, angry, grieving, or tortured by doubt. But just as the Good Shepherd finds His lost sheep, if you will only lift up your heart to the Savior of the world, He will find you.
He will rescue you.
He will lift you up and place you on His shoulders.
He will carry you home.

If mortal hands can transform rubble and ruins into a beautiful house of worship, then we can have confidence and trust that our loving Heavenly Father can and will rebuild us. His plan is to build us into something far greater than what we were—far greater than what we can ever imagine. With each step of faith on the path of discipleship, we grow into the beings of eternal glory and infinite joy we were designed to become.” Uchtdorf (2016)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Mary Berry's Florentines from the Great British Baking Show



This was a week of baking. 

I baked some scrumptious zucchini bread from my homegrown zucchini. 




Then I baked 3 homegrown spaghetti squash. 


Then I tackled another British Baking show recipe. 
This time, Mary Berry's Florentines. 
What is a Florentine you ask? It is a fruit and nut cookie with chocolate on the underside. It called for Golden Syrup (which I substituted with light corn syrup), Demerara sugar (which I substituted with turbinado sugar), almonds, walnuts, cranberry, and orange candied peel (which I made from scratch!). 

I didn't even know candied peel was a thing. 

First I peeled 2 oranges and sliced them up. 



Then I boiled the peels in cold water, once it came to a boil I drained it and repeated 2 more times. 

Then I mixed 2 cups of sugar with 2 cups of water and simmered the peels for an hour! 


After an hour of simmering, I let the candied peel cool in the syrup, then put them on a rack and cool for another 30 minutes. After wards, I chopped them up. 



Now time for the Florentines...

Mix turbinado sugar, light corn syrup, and butter in a sauce pan until just melted. 

 

Add in finely chopped nuts, dried cranberries, candied peel, and flour. 

(I admit I bought these cute little bowls and put each ingredient in it just for the aesthetics of this blog)


Spoon out up to 18 small spoonfuls (less them tablespoon size would have been better) on to 2-3 cookie sheets. 
The really will spread, so lots of space needed between. 




See, they spread...



While these thin and delicate little cookies cool, start melting the chocolate. I've never tempered chocolate over a simmering bath. As instructed I melted half the chocolate in the heatproof bowl then removed from heat and added the rests to melt. I think it really did give it a shiny look! 

Mary Berry's secret to putting the chocolate on is using a pastry brush.  So I did! I painted the cookies, holding them in my hand, with chocolate (on the underside) with a pastry brush. Then you take a fork and make the squiggle lines... 


I painted the chocolate on pretty thick. It took awhile to cool. I admit, I ate one before they were all cooled and set and I wasn't very impressed last night. HOWEVER...



I put them overnight in the fridge and had one today and it is magical!   Last night I thought I might not make them again, but now I definitely think I will!  Besides, I have tons of candied peel in syrup in my fridge that will only last another 3 weeks. 

Thank you Mary Berry! 

http://www.pbs.org/food/recipes/florentines/

http://www.marthastewart.com/313211/candied-citrus-peels


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Savory Biscuits from Paul Hollywood and the Great British Baking Show

When you've been waiting 10 hours for the AC technician to come to your house, you kick yourself to discover at hour 9 that you could have been watching the Masterclasses for the Great British Baking Show.  Today I decided to make Paul's Savory Biscuits.

One half of the dough was turned into poppyseed biscuits with sesame seeds on top, and the other half tomato and cheese biscuits.

Click here for the recipe


I have to say I am a bit unimpressed with the flavor. I'm pretty sure I converted the recipe from the metric measurements correctly. And the poppyseed portion was too dry,I should have added more water like I did the tomato dough. But I pureed sun dried tomatoes and garlic in my magic bullet instead of buying paste and that tasted yummy. Perhaps they would be best with a bit of English tea and as as the ever wise Virginia E said, "an extra serving of Paul Hollywood's ego".




Saturday, July 1, 2017

Helpmeet


Random picture from my flower garden just because they are so cheery and pretty! 


I should have written this blog back in February, when it was fresh in my mind and I had a lot of thoughts to go with it. I went to a Women's Conference at church and our Stake President, President Kelley, gave a talk on what it means to be a helpmeet. He said the root of the Hebrew word in Genesis, "Azar", means a strength, or to succor. He concluded it was similar to being a savior. Eve was a strength to Adam, not simply someone to stand there and look helpful, a real strength, and equal, a protector. I remember talking to a friend afterwards who heard the talk very differently then I did. She felt it was hard as a single woman to hear a talk about how married woman are saviors in their families. 

I actually had a totally different perspective. President Kelley said in the Austin Texas Stake, 70% of the LDS households have no priesthood holders. He was speaking to the audience made up of those very households. A room full of woman made up of many who are single, widowed, divorced, and married, both happily or otherwise. I took that to be evidence that helpmeet is not just a title for those with “eternal companions” but for every woman. I felt that the focus of the talk was on what it means for a woman to fulfill her divine role as a savior, not just what the role of a wife is.

 Being a helpmeet is a quality that all women, married or single, can have. I see all around me women who rescue and sacrifice, and provide strength for  those all around them.  At first I started to write down in my notes- “pray that I can be a helpmeet and find my equal companion” and almost instantly the Spirit whispered, you already are a helpmeet. That is where I spent the rest of the meeting in my thoughts.  How am I a helpmeet? Who around me exemplifies this quality? Eve was created as a helpmeet, and as a woman, my inheritance is to wear the crown of being a helpmeet. In my immediate family, my extended family, in my ward family, and in my association with friends, I can be a savior, a rescuer, and a strength. It is by divine design. President Kelley's encouragement was to go magnify this quality in our homes, our wards, and community. 

My mother is an example to me of a helpmeet. She sends out a weekly email to her entire family journaling her week. It's not the details of her week that is important, it is the act of trying to keep us all connected. She is a savior. She adds strength to the family by her love and encouragement. She sends out birthday cards to over 80 family members each year. She keeps in touch with her parents, siblings,nieces, and nephews, and several still call her for advice when they are having a bad day. She has been a strength and a savior in my life too. Just recently I locked my keys in my car outside a patient's home. I was 40 minutes away from her work. She left work early, drove to meet me, only to discover that her supply of extra key copies didn't actually include a key to my car. After calling roadside assistance and being told it would be an hour and fifteen minute wait, my mother offered to sit in the shade while I took her car to go see one final patient for the day, and waited for the Roadside guy. Luckily she was rewarded with only a 20 minute wait before the guy showed up. 
Never-the-less, mom saved me that day.  

Christmas 1981

2014 Trip to Salvador Brazil

My new house 2016

Squatting homemade chocolate chip cookies 

Her recent trip to Scotland, she makes the best poses! 

My gym buddy after all these years! 

Love hanging out together. 



Some other excellent examples of helpmeets in my life are every single one of the women in this photo. 



They work with me in the Primary (children's ministry) at church.  Every Sunday is a marathon. I always feel like I "just barely survived", but these woman thrive in the chaos and never skip a beat!  The schedules they keep with work, and school, and their families never ceases to amazing me. 





And finally there is this woman, she is an example of a helpmeet,  specifically to her husband and to her children.  



She recently researched healthy smoothies and makes them for her husband who is trying to change his eating habits. He is a rock star on his own as he gets up in the pre-light hours and studies for CPA exams, and she is his equal opposite and helpmeet. She is an example of a helpmeet savior because she so lovingly takes her role as a mother as a serious call to teach, to create memories, and provide experiences. She makes being a mom of a type one diabetic look effortless, although I know it takes fortitude and strength. 





I'm so grateful for my new perspective on helpmeet, viewing it in light of a divine call to surround, protect, aid, help, succor, and save. And I'm grateful to the women who exemplify it in my life, not just by their role as a wife, but by their role as women. 





Here is a blog I found backing up the definition of the root of the word azar: 

https://godswordtowomen.org/help.htm

HELP
Strong's # 5828 (Hebrew = ezer) aid: -- help
Strong's Root = # 5826 (Hebrew = azar)  azar = prime root: to surround, ie, protect or aid: help, succour

Gesenius adds that the primary idea lies in girding, surrounding, hence defending
MEET
(Hebrew = kenegdo) corresponding to, counterpart to, equal to matching
The traditional teaching for the woman as help (meet) is that of assistant or helper subservient to the one being helped. This definition would appear to line up with Strong's definition of the word. However, if you look at the context of every other use of the word ezer in the scripture, you will see that ezer refers to either God or military allies. In all other cases the one giving the help is superior to the one receiving the help. Adding kenegdo (meet) modifies the meaning to that of equal rather than superior status. Scripture is so awesome. God says just what He means.

Dr. Susan Hyatt gives the following definition from her book In the Spirit We're Equal "Re: Hebrew ezer kenegdo. In Genesis 2:18, the word "helpmeet" does not occur. The Hebrew expression ezer kenegdo appears, meaning "one who is the same as the other and who surrounds, protects, aids, helps, supports." There is no indication of inferiority or of a secondary position in an hierarchical separation of the male and female "spheres" of responsibility, authority, or social position.

The word ezer is used twice in the Old Testament to refer to the female and 14 times to refer to God. For example, in the Psalms when David says, "The Lord is my Helper," he uses the word ezer."