Friday, February 17, 2017

17 Pictures for the 17th of February 2017


Zeph and Ezra on the lookout for snakes.

Michelle: My first attempt at making a small batch of fruit leather. Mostly successful.

Eliza: Mom and I didn't feel well today, so we got to watch a movie.

Kathryn: Mmmm. Chicken pot pie.

Ty: Sword and pillow fight to the tune of "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan.

Afton: Pre-bed dance party. My silliest dance move.

Calvin and Jane:  unloading a ton of grain one scoop at a time

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Sharps

30 Day Writing Challenge:

Write about a lesson you learned from a mistake you made.

I suppose every marriage has “a Sharps” or sore spot in it at one time or another. The Sharps in our marriage was caused by a rifle, namely a Shiloh Sharp Rifle.

Grace, Abe, Calvin, me, Ty, Ande, Cali, Ray
Calvin has made all of the guns in this picture

For thirty years Calvin has made beautiful guns. He takes a chunk of wood and carves and sands it until it is a handsome gun stock. He buys a barrel, but molds the other pieces by hand, even carving the tiny springs in the trigger. Making a gun takes him well over two hundred and fifty hours. Calvin is very talented with his hands and eyes and he loves making guns, and even though I often get his guns confused with each other, I really admire and appreciate his abilities. He has made several guns so why one gun caused such grief I’m still not sure, but it did.

The Sharps was a special order gun, one that Calvin wouldn’t be making, and he had wanted it for a very long time. He ordered a Shiloh Sharp rifle knowing there was a several year waiting period, except in this instance it was not several years, but only a few months. Suddenly the company called and said the gun was ready to ship and they were waiting for the final payment. Calvin didn’t have enough money saved for it and that is when I learned about The Sharps. We had to dip into some saved funds to pay for the gun and I’d tagged them for something else. Calvin still swears he told me when he ordered the gun; I swear he thought he had several years to prepare me so he hadn’t mentioned it yet. Regardless of who swears most accurately, the gun arrived.

The Sharps was a source of contention. I felt betrayed. I felt second rate. I felt a thousand things that I wanted to feel whenever I wanted to feel them because of The Sharps. Calvin called the gun an investment, but I didn't see it that way.  I saw it as his toy that went on every father-son outing, scout over-nighter, and hunting trip. The gun had a little flip-up site that really was cool and every man loved to shoot it.  After a few years, I warmed up to it a bit (it’s hard not to like something that everybody else likes), but then I would remember The Sharps stood for perfidy and I'd get mad all over again.

Several years went by and then we needed money for a trip. Out came The Sharps and Calvin sold it as quickly as he'd bought it.  He said it was an investment.

Surprisingly, I mourned its loss.

Calvin was right, it had become an investment.  Not only was it a nest egg of memories for him and the boys, but it had become a place to stash my grievances. It was proof for whatever I wanted it to prove.

Calvin has been talking about ordering another Shiloh Sharp rifle.  I learned a lesson from the last Sharp's: a stash of grievances never pays.

I'm even considering offering to help him raise the money for the new rifle just to prove I learned my lesson.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"As White As Snow"

30 Day Writing Challenge

Tomorrow will be better because today I learned . . . 

Today my seminary students worked on a self-guided project studying the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The room was quiet. The students kept their fingers in between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and flipped back and forth between the 4 books writing things they didn’t want to forget in their scripture margins and journals. There was a peaceful reverence in the room as they studied individually what the Savior had endured alone. It was still and so sweet watching them focus. I stood and soaked in the calm and watched them learn. Occasionally I walked (as quietly as my squeaky shoes allow) around the classroom and whispered to the students to teach me what they’d discovered. Several times I stopped at the window in the back of the classroom and watched the snow fall. It never quit. It was a beautiful insulation – soft, white, and silent. It covered the litter and smashed the weeds in the vacant lot by us. It silenced the kids’ yelling and the revving motors that come from the busy high school campus across the street. It dulled the lights from the emergency vehicles at the assisted living center next door.

Before it was time for the students to go back to the school, several shared what they’d learned and what they planned to do with it. One said the irony and hypocrisy was what most impressed her. The chief priests, Sadducees, and Pharisees prided themselves on their strict observance of law and yet they broke several laws when it suited their goal to have Christ crucified. She said she saw it in herself. She knows to be kind and to love and look for the good in everyone, and does for the most part, but she doesn’t hesitate to set that aside and yell defeat and hurl sarcasm when she’s on the soccer field or in the bleachers because they’re “opponents.” Another student said that she had never really been able to fathom His pain, but having just dislocated her knee cap and reading how the guards had come to break Christ’s legs as He hung on the cross (but didn’t because He was already dead) put a new perspective on the price He’d paid so she could have eternal life. She said she wouldn’t take His pain for granted so easily in the future. Another student said he was so grateful for the control over anger and revenge that the Savior showed in the middle of suffering. He said he could better control his frustration watching the Savior’s example. Another student said that it was obvious to feel Christ’s love and unselfish care for those who followed Him because He never worried about His own needs as He hung on the cross until after He had taken care of everyone else. First he asked the Father to forgive the guards and then asked John to care for his mother, and only after they were cared and prayed for did he say, “I thirst.” The student vowed to be less selfish.

This rather ordinary day was a rather extraordinary object lesson for Isaiah 1:18

Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord,
though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow, 
though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.

But it wasn’t an object lesson for the students because they didn’t see it, they were part of it. It was an object lesson for me. The Savior's object lessons are the best because He uses real things – fish, loaves, coins, sheep, snow – and people. He never forgets His people and today it was His students.

Each day the kids walk across the high school parking lot and the street to get to the seminary building. Most days I glance out the window and watch them. Sometimes they walk in groups and sometimes they walk alone; sometimes they laugh (like today when two boys hit a patch of ice and both went down) and sometimes they don’t (like today when they pulled their hoods up, put their heads down, and walked neck forward into the blowing snow); sometimes they want to come to seminary, sometimes they don’t. They walk in perfect weather and they walk in storms. They come to reason together with the Savior and learn about repentance and forgiveness. He teaches them He can remove the litter and sin from their lives and He has the power to blanket them with forgiveness. Today as it snowed and my students studied so diligently to learn about the Savior's last hours on earth, they taught me more permanently of His power and purpose.  Tomorrow will be better because of it.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie.” -Jim Davis

30 Day Writing Challenge

Write about something to think about.

Tonight Michelle and I were talking on the phone about healthy eating -- mostly vegetables.  I was reminded of this fascinating article* that I read eight or ten years ago.  I think of it quite often, especially when I'm out in the garden.  I have no idea if it is scientifically correct, but it's worth thinking about:

We’ve all heard we are what we eat, but did you know that studies show that every whole food we eat has a pattern that resembles a body organ or physiological function and gives us a heads up on what benefits that food might provide us? Here are a few examples:

· “A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye...and science shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

· “A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.

· “Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

· “A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

· “Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

· “Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

· “Eggplant, Avocados and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? ... It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

· “Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

· “Onions look like body cells. Today's research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.”

If this is correct, my heart and bones are in great shape, but my brain is suffering.  I wish I could think of another food that looked like the brain so I could substitute.

According to this article, what should be healthy on you?

(Source attributed to David Bjerklie, of TIME Magazine)