Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday Thinking - Circles, Squares, Go - Go Boots and Elvis

Did your kids have that Fisher Price® toy that had blocks (square, rectangle and round) that fit through like-shaped holes? Mine did and it about drove us all crazy.  The kids didn’t have the agility to manipulate the blocks into the holes and so they were scattered everywhere. 

I was like that in second grade; I just didn’t have the agility to make a good fit. The friend I wanted to have thought we should wear white go-go boots and scream for Elvis Presley.  I wasn’t a go-go boot and Elvis girl.  I was really a build-a-fort-and-pretend-to-be-a-pioneer-taming-the-prairie-while-baking-a-mud-pie kind of girl, but wanting this girl to think I could fit, I hoped and hinted for boots for Christmas. I received a red pair of snow boots.  Red snow boots aren't even close to looking or sounding like white go-go boots. 

I was a square trying to fit in a circle, consequently second grade was a painful year. I struggled to tolerate myself let alone like me. It was just as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” and I gave myself free rein to feel second-rate and miserable.

It takes patience to accept yourself for who you are -- circle, rectangle, square or otherwise. Sometimes we’re less than attractive emotionally, spiritually, physically or intellectually and it takes work to be nice to you. Sometimes we’re like a ten month old baby trying to feed herself. She’s awkward. It’s difficult for her to turn that little club fist into a useful eating utensil and she clumsily smears her food across her cheek on the way to her mouth. Sometimes the food makes it and sometimes it doesn’t but, messy and inept as she is, we wouldn’t yell at her for her failed attempts. Instead we encourage her and give her more food to try again. 

Likewise, we can expect to bungle many things but need to be patient while we learn. The mastery of anything takes time, practice and exposure and “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it” ~Arnold H. Glasgow. White go-go boots was a passing craze and guess what followed it? The Gunny-Sac dress! A gunny-sac dress is exactly what it sounds like, a bit of ruffled prairie. If I’d have been patient with my square in second grade I could have hopped right into the gunny-sac era without having to wear those ugly red snow boots.

Since then, I’ve also learned it’s easier to accept ourselves when we serve and accept others. Like aspirin, service is a cure.  One of the ailments service cures is a feeling of low self worth. As Spencer W. Kimball said, “When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves . . . by losing ourselves, we find ourselves . . . — indeed, it is easier to ‘find’ ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!” (“The Abundant Life,” Ensign, Jul 1978, 3) There were certainly others in our little second grade class that could have used a friend. There were lots of other shapes and sizes to play with rather than spending my time trying to cram a square block into a circle.

Lastly, one of the most helpful tools for accepting ourselves is to pray as the old English weaver: “O God, help me to hold a high opinion of myself.” If we’re to be of any use to ourselves, each other or God, it would be helpful to see ourselves through His eyes since He created us in the first place. Self-acceptance isn’t arrogant nor does it make excuses or overlook our faults, but rather self-acceptance does something about them instead of rolling over and playing victim to them. Self-respect means we recognize our potential and weaknesses and yet still play nice.

The problem with that Fisher Price® game was that it said it was for babies. It’s not for babies. Babies don’t have a problem with self-appreciation. They kiss themselves with enthusiasm every time they see their reflection in a mirror. Babies are bald, toothless, drool, wear diapers and yet still smile and like and accept themselves. That Fisher Price® game should be for second graders and adults who are still trying to cram circles into squares.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Homemaking Tip - CPW

In her book, Tightwad Gazette III, Amy Dacyczyn states, “It is important to examine the ‘cost per wow’ or CPW when making purchase decisions. The point should always be to get the most wow for the smallest expenditure of money.”

For example, by evaluating the satisfaction on a 1-10 wow scale between a $50 fancy restaurant meal and a $5 homemade meal the best deal can be calculated. Let's say the $5 homemade meal rates 5 wows and the restaurant meal rates 10 wows. The restaurant meal has double the wow power, but the cost per wow is where the real value is measured. The homemade meal has a $1 CPW while the restaurant meal has a $5 CPW. While it is true that the restaurant meal would be enjoyed more than twice as much, it is still worth only one-fifth of the value. In addition, if the $5 homemade meal is chosen there is still additional money available for other activities which add their own CPW to the same $50.

I often think of Mrs. Dacyczyn's CPW concept for it has a nearly universal application.  Like today.  I was out picking a bouquet of lilacs for the kitchen table.  Lilacs rate a full-blown 10 on my WOW scale.  They are vibrant and beautiful, and for two weeks our house smells like heaven inside and out.  But, they are also a lot of work.  It takes me two good days to rake all the blown leaves, tumble weeds, and willow branches out from under them to keep them looking nice.  While smelling and seeing lilacs is a 10, raking under the lilac bushes is also a 10 on the I-hate-this-job scale. Using the CPW formula:  14 days of wonderful versus 2 days of I-hate-this-job equates to a 7 to 1 ratio.  Lilacs have a great cost per wow and therefore worth the effort to me.

Calculating the CPW is valuable in living simply and frugally. Mrs. Dacyczyn says that when confronted with two choices most buyers simply choose on the basis of “Which do I like best?” and “Can I afford it?” She notes that these two questions alone don’t calculate whether there is adequate value for the money spent, but using the CPW scale allows the buyer to make more precise decisions which saves income and assets.

An added benefit of calculating CPW is deprivation prevention. A negative side-effect of living frugally can be a “We’re deprived” feeling: "We don’t have this," "We don’t have that;" "We can’t do this," "We can’t do that."  Advertisements are designed to make us feel the need to have a product whether it's something we need or not.  Calculating the Cost Per Wow empowers our decisions. We can truthfully look at the brightly advertised widgets and gadgets and say, “There just isn’t enough wow in that to tempt me.”

Cost Per Wow.  It's a really good thing.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Tried It - Creating a Day Worth Living

A printable from Pinterest

I like this printable because I believe it.  It's not an exhaustive list, but it is a very good start.  I have especially seen what #9 can do, for every school day I teach about 100 students that practice it.

Long ago, I attended several how-to-successfully-teach seminars. We were taught that one of the components of creating a safe and successful classroom where effective learning could take place is teaching kids to give and receive sincere “appreciations” to each other. I knew the concept was true, after all Mark Twain said he could live two months on a good compliment, and I also knew the kids wouldn’t learn as well if they didn’t feel accepted. However, I wasn’t confident initiating it among satire-loving, sarcastic teenagers. I couldn’t visualize high school students spontaneously saying heartfelt things in front of their peers like, “I appreciate that Marshall took the time to hold the door open for me,” or “I appreciate the comment that Thayne made,” or “I appreciate how it makes me feel when Sarah remembers to say ‘hi’ outside of class.” But even though I doubted, I implemented the practice upon returning from the seminar and have ever been grateful I did. 

In the beginning there was some awkward silence, followed by stilted attempts to verbalize something positive.  Since I was the safest person in the class to give an appreciation to the students initially focused on me; however, within a short amount of time and lots of opportunities they were able to give appreciation statements to each other fluently. 

Years later students frequently and randomly raise their hand and say, “I have an appreciation I’d like to give to ________” and then continue to tell someone in the class what they appreciate about him or thank him for something kindly done.  The term “I have an appreciation” is almost as common as “I have a question” and I often hear it in their peer circles outside of class as well. 

One morning a mother of one of the students had joined our class.  Her look of mild shock and misty eyes reminded me that what I’ve come to hear as every day normal conversation she heard as something completely exceptional and unordinary. She heard her son’s peers voluntarily say things like:

“I appreciate what a solid kid you are. I can always count on you to live up to what you say.”
“I appreciate your comments. I always learn better when you make comments in class.”
“I appreciate your enthusiasm. It’s fun to be where you are. You’ve made this class fun.”
“You’re unique. You are definitely one of a kind.”

Simply making appreciation statements not only made a safer classroom, it built character. I have watched young people bloom under the rains of appreciation. I remember clearly one young man telling me how he finally began believing in himself when he saw how much his friends believed in him. Another student told the class that he didn’t remember what was said but he still remembers how it made him feel when he received his first appreciation in class. As Charles M. Schwab said, “I have yet to find a man, whatever his situation in life, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he ever would do under a spirit of criticism.” (Richard Evans’ Quote Book [1971], 171). The schoolyard adage, “Sticks and stones shall break my bones, but names shall never hurt me” is heresy. “Sticks and stones shall break my bones but names may permanently maim me” is more accurate. Appreciations, like milk, build stronger kids.

Appreciations can be shown as well as said.  Here are a few ideas:

1. A happy look or smile, a wink, tear-filled eyes, a hug, a well-placed sigh—all can spell a-p-p-r-e-c-i-a-t-i-o-n.

The District of Columbia police auctioned off about 100 unclaimed bicycles Friday. “One dollar,” said an eleven-year-old boy as the bidding opened on the first bike. The bidding, however, went much higher. “One dollar,” the boy repeated hopefully each time another bike came up.

The auctioneer, who [had] been auctioning stolen or lost bikes for 43 years, noticed that the boy’s hopes seemed to soar highest whenever a racer was put up.

There was one racer left. Then the bidding mounted to $8.00. “Sold to that boy over there for $9.00,” said the auctioneer. He took $8.00 from his own pocket and asked the boy for his dollar. The youngster turned it over—in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters—took his bike and started to leave. But he went only a few feet. Carefully parking his new possession, he went back, gratefully threw his arms around the auctioneer’s neck and cried.

2. Doing an act of service or a favor can be a subtle way to let someone know they are appreciated.

Clearing the table or helping with the dishes can say, “Thank you for dinner.” Shining someone’s shoes or ironing a shirt can say, “Thanks for working so hard for the family.” Putting away the folded clothes can say, “Thanks for doing the laundry for me.” Bringing lunch back to the office for a co-worker that’s too busy to go can say, “Thanks for carrying your load and then some.”

3. Send an e-mail or write a note.

Last week I received two notes thanking me for something I had done. Those two little notes were timely and gave me courage.

4. A gift or treat

A candy bar tucked in a borrowed pair of shoes or a few pieces of gum inside a book when returned say, “I appreciate you sharing with me.”

When we appreciate and recognize the goodness in others, it's easier to see goodness all around us. Recognizing goodness allows us to trust the love of our Heavenly Father and keep perspective rather than getting overwhelmed and discouraged at all the evil that is also in the world.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Memories - Outside

What with Earth Day and Arbor Day being last week, I thought I’d share a conversation my sister, Marcia, and I had a few years ago about nature and children. 

Marcia is an elementary education professor.  She was returning from a sabbatical where she had been studying brain research when we had the conversation.  She shared that a big concern today is the lack of nature in children’s educational diets. Many parents today remember their parents telling them of time spent on their grandparents’ farms giving them first-hand stories, but not first hand experience of planting and weeding gardens, feeding farm animals and irrigating crops.

Children of today are an additional generation removed from those stories and experiences.  Within another generation, those incidents will have become virtually obsolete. 

Today, rather than playing in creeks, children swim in cemented and chlorinated backyard pools and squirt parks. Rather than bottle feeding calves or shearing lambs, children see animals in fiberglass habitats behind glass in a zoo. Rather than hooking up a hose and watering a garden, children plug cords into TV’s and computers and play video games. 

The lack of nature-oriented activities is beginning to manifest itself in society:

One medical professor observed that medical students today are intellectually brilliant, but having never screwed two hoses together or watched a pump work, they are practical-ly handicapped. 

Other experts express concerns that children are becoming less self-sufficient being so far removed from nature. Children eat more and more processed foods—pressed chicken patties in the shape of dinosaurs rather than a leg of chicken, fruit-flavored snacks instead of fruit, even milk appears to be man-made like soda—and as a result are becoming more dependent on manufacturers.

Marcia continued, “Remember when you wondered how a bird could sit on a power line without getting electrocuted or how it could take flight from a wire? Where did you think about those things?” She answered her own question, “The car. Cars were an extension of our surroundings as we drove through countrysides and observed the different things in nature that weren’t in our own backyards.” However, because children today are usually watching DVD’s, playing hand-held video games, listening to iPods or texting on the telephone, nature observation has been stifled even in laboratories like the car.

Some have tried to correct the situation by making “green” communities or housing developments, but studies show that even in these efforts children are still alienated from nature because rules like “do not abuse trees,” “do not walk on the grass,” “do not play in the water,” dot the landscape. 

Without being able to explore, climb, smell, touch, hear, taste and dissect, children’s learning is impaired.

Later I told Calvin about mine and Marcia's discussion. Having claimed all of the Arizona dessert as his backyard as a boy, he is not nature challenged. In fact, right after we were married we were riding horses in the Uintah Mountains when he saw a rattlesnake. I grew up in the sagebrush desserts of Idaho and we were expressly taught that when we heard a rattlesnake we were to go the other way. Idaho and Arizona desserts must have different rules.  Before I could back my horse up, Calvin was off his and running towards the snake. He reached down and picked it up then called me to come to him. 

I was stunned and thought, “This is no fair. How was I supposed to know he’d do this after we got married? These are things you should know before you get married.  How was I to know he chased rattlesnakes?"  

However, Calvin's voice was calm and reassuring, “No really. I want to show you how a rattlesnake works. You need to know this and it’s interesting.” 

When he'd finally coaxed me near enough, he showed me the fangs working up and down hoping for a piece of my flesh.  I admit. It was fascinating, but NOT ENOUGH TO HOLD A RATTLESNAKE BY ITS HEAD. 

After learning more than I ever dreamed I’d know about rattlesnakes, Calvin got rid of it. It pained him to kill it, but a compromise is a compromise and I said I'd look at it if he'd kill it when he was done.  

After visiting with Marcia, Calvin and I talked about what exactly we could do to help future generations of Payne children keep nature in their intellectual and emotional diets. We talked about camping, gardening, raising animals, and Calvin added hunting . . . but for the sake of the children I will teach about snakes.  

Here are a few recent pictures that I love of our grandkids in nature:

Levin loves to feed the cows and gather the eggs when he comes to visit.  He also
likes to eat the corn as he feeds the cows.

Atlas swished the leaves and sticks around to help me clean up the yard.

Henry helped us plant the garden . . . in his socks.

Ande takes Zeph outside every day and makes him play for a
couple of hours.  It's got to be tediously boring for her some days,
but she feels teaching him to explore and entertain himself is
important.  She often Face Times me when they're outside.

Afton telling Eliza not to pick the "pokey one."  You only pick a thistle once.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

15 Pictures for the 15th of April 2015

Who knew six years ago when we started this that it would become a tradition to document the same day each month of the year.  Every now and then I see patterns . . . like today there seems to be a lot of hamburgers and pajamas in our day.

Much love to my family for doing this tradition day after day, month after month, year after year . . . 

Zeph begged to keep his pajama shirt on all day.
Who was I to argue when I was still in my pajamas?

Ezra is so patient to all of Zeph's antics.
Whether it's shoving pennies in his hand,
lying his giant head right on his milk belly,
or stealing his pacifier.
Ezra just watches and accepts it all.
Maybe we should have named him Job.

Tonight Zeph got left with his first honest to goodness babysitter
so Joe and Ezra and I could go to dinner and trivia night.
We got fourth. Ezra was happy or asleep the whole time.
Zeph fell asleep 2 minutes after we got home, completely worn out.
 So. Success all around

Ty: Enjoying our last evening with the Osborne family at Big'z Burgers.
We have really appreciated having family nearby and will miss them. 

Afton: I'm going to miss my cousins Zoe, Ethan, and Ellie.
Or second cousins? Once removed maybe? My mom's cousin's kids.

Michelle: One of the few moments of relative calm in my day.
 (And Afton's first of three cheeseburgers in the day).

Eliza: The fifteen minutes that helped me survive the day of moving out of our house.

Grace:  Loved Face-Timing and getting texts from Henry
while he stays with Grandpa and Grandma.

Abe: Moose Tracks after a very long day.

Calvin:  Lunch with Henry

Jane:  Henry has been staying with Grandpa & Grandma
this week.  We face-timed his mom and dad each day.

      Folletts Family night was racing, ice cream,
and for parts we practiced Levin’s gymnastic tricks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday - Speedy Delivery

Google says that today is the 155th anniversary of the Pony Express.  What a coincidence.

1.  This is Casey.  More than once he has carried and hand-delivered goods to Idaho for me.  He stopped by this afternoon to pick up a delivery of brownies and fruit leather for my niece:

Casey even somewhat fits the Pony Express Rider description:

2.  Our postmistress makes me feel like I'm giving the entire postal fleet a gift by sending packages in fun original containers -- like these boxes.  I found them on a post Valentine clearance.  They have a little bag of cookies inside.  I added a roll of fruit leather and a note then simply taped the box closed and put the address label on the backside and mailed them as is.

While some of the grandkids got their animal boxes in the mail last week, Cali said Levin and Atlas got their's today.  

Happy Anniversary Pony Express.  I hope mail never goes extinct.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Memories - For the Bible Tells Me So

Henry "reading" scriptures

Our grandson Henry is spending the week with us. A true and oft-repeated story came to mind tonight as we were having scriptures. Many might wonder if a one year old can really get anything out of the scriptures. All I know is that once upon a time ago this happened with his dad . . .

Abe about the time of the following story.

Abe was about two years old. We were having a difficult time weaning him from the crib to the bottom bunk bed. No matter how much we scolded, bribed, or spanked, he would get out of bed and wander every night. One evening for scripture study, I happened to tell the story of Samuel, the Old Testament prophet. I told the story like this:

“Many, many years ago there was an old woman named Hannah. She wanted a child very badly and prayed and prayed that she might have one. She promised the Lord that if He would bless her with a baby boy she would raise him and then take him to the temple to be a helper to Heavenly Father’s prophets.

“The Lord answered her prayer with a little baby boy. She named him Samuel. After Samuel grew up to be a big boy, Hannah did just as she promised and took him to the temple so he could help Heavenly Father’s prophet.

“One night Samuel was in bed at the temple and he heard someone call, ‘Samuel . . . Samuel’

“He got up and went into the prophet and said, ‘Here am I, what do you want?’

“The prophet said, ‘I didn’t call you, go back to bed.’

“So Samuel went back to bed, but pretty soon he heard someone call his name again, so he got up again and went into the prophet and asked, ‘Here am I, what did you want?’

“The prophet answered again, ‘I didn’t call you, go back to bed.’

“So Samuel went back to bed again, but pretty soon he heard someone call his name again, ‘Samuel . . . Samuel . . . Samuel. . .’

“For the third time, he went in to ask the prophet what he wanted. The prophet told Samuel that it was the Lord calling his name and he should ask the Lord what he wanted next time he called. Then, the prophet told Samuel to go back to bed.’

“So Samuel did and waited for the Lord to call him.”

After I finished the story I asked Cali, who was four, what we could learn from the story and she said, “We should always listen, ‘cause we don’t know when Heavenly Father will call us and we should always be ready for whenever He needs us.”

I was so impressed with her answer so then I turned to Abe and asked, “What did you learn from this story?”

He answered, “That boy, naughty boy. Three times prophet told him, ‘Go to bed.’ Three times that little boy got out of bed. Naughty boy needs spanking.”

There it was.  Plain as day.  The scriptures applied and were even understood by a two year old. (Incidentally, we never had much trouble with Abe going to bed after that night. All I had to do was put my hands on my hips and say, “Abe, what did the prophet say?” and he would scamper back to bed.)

This is the story that we “read” tonight.  It was perfect reading for a little fourteen month old boy.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

52 Blessings - Because He Lives

Happy, happy Easter.

Peter and John running to see the empty sepulchre.  (John 20)

This says it all . . .

Friday, April 3, 2015

Life in Our World - "the darkest hour is just before dawn"

When I was eighteen, my neighbor's nine-year-old daughter died from leukemia. In a letter she wrote to me a few years later, she said, “After you lose a child, Easter becomes the best holiday of them all. It’s the one I look forward to most.”

I thought about Thanksgiving with its tribute to our blessings, peace and prosperity. I even considered the Fourth of July with its rousing appreciation for a great nation at peace with so many freedoms. I thought of Christmas with celebrations of the birth of Christ and angels announcing “Peace on Earth, good will to men.”

But, I understood that she meant that even those wonderful and significant holidays don't offer the same peace and hope that the Savior's empty tomb held. For my neighbor, the fears and grief that may have bothered her throughout the year were swallowed each Spring as she celebrated the hope that is born of the resurrection.

My neighbor passed away from cancer several years ago, but each Easter season I remember her words, “(When you lose someone you love) Easter becomes the best holiday of them all.” I sensed her peace in that letter and in her life.  I agree.  Easter is the light after the dark, the joy after the despair.

But before there was the hope of an empty tomb, there had to be the dark hour of Christ's cross and death.    

These four minute videos help you feel what my grossly inadequate words cannot.  Each video can help us better appreciate the Savior's offer. 

The Atonement of Jesus Christ was not only fundamental to my neighbor but to all Christianity. It is completely encompassing and yet very, very personal as the power of the Savior adapts to our individual needs. The power of the Atonement is something that we can feel deeply and personally. He died for each . . . and all. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thursday Thinking - Believable, because it's true.

I never believed in the Easter Bunny. He just didn’t make sense. We lived where there were tons of jackrabbits. Literally. They were so destructive to the crops that all the farmers would have rabbit drives. Droves of adults and kids would run through the sage brush hollering and hitting the brush with bats or sticks and scare/herd the rabbits into large wired pens. (Think of it as a demented Easter egg hunt where we looked for the rabbit instead of the eggs.) Nearly every trip to town we counted road kill rabbits in the double digits.

Another reason I couldn’t believe in the Easter Bunny was Grandpa used to come out and load us grandkids in the back of his station wagon and take us up on the hill to target practice on . . . you guessed it, jackrabbits.

But, even if I hadn’t been desensitized to rabbits, I don’t think I would have believed there was an Easter Bunny, because often our Easter baskets were trays just like this one:

Mom spread green Easter grass in the bottom and then made a little pile of jelly beans, a little pile of malt balls, and a little pile of bubble gum eggs along with a few Peeps and Reeses peanut butter eggs and a sprinkling of little, foil-covered, chocolate eggs. Each tray had a little strip of paper with our name on it and she hid them in the house (inside the dryer, the game closet, the kitchen cupboard, under the couch, etc.) and when we woke up Easter morning we looked until we found our “basket.” I’d seen rabbits in the yard. I’d seen rabbits in the pasture. I’d seen rabbits in the fields. I’d seen rabbits in the sagebrush. I’d seen rabbits crossing the road. I knew there was no way a rabbit could hop and carry a tray (let alone ten for each one of us kids) and still keep the candy in neat little piles. No sir, there was no such thing as an Easter Bunny. Reindeer that could fly, yes. But an Easter Bunny that could deliver neat piles of candy on a tray, no.

However there is one part of Easter that made perfect sense to me and that was the story of Jesus being resurrected from the tomb. That was believable. That was real. Incredible as it was, that was something I could grasp as a child and cling to as an adult. It doesn’t matter whether or not others believe it or say it isn’t so, Jesus Christ is real and so was his life, death, and resurrection. And while some stories get better and better with age, the story of Jesus’ resurrection was just as marvelous and powerful and true then as it is now.

There are many stories within the story of that first Easter. Each powerful. Each beautiful.  

One of my favorites was when Jesus had just finished that incredible prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified. Typically in Christendom, that Last Supper and prayer in the Garden is celebrated today. After the Passover dinner, Peter, James, and John went with Christ to Gethsemane and waited just outside the gate as He went into the garden to pray and make an Atonement for us.

Shortly after the experience, when Savior rejoined the apostles, Judas Iscariot, also one of his apostles, brought the crowd to arrest Jesus. Peter, who was often impulsive, saw what the crowd intended to do and protectively drew his sword.  To defend the Savior, Peter cut off one of the servant's ears. I imagine there was a cry of pain, clutching of the wound, and a lot of blood (being a head wound and all) besides chaos and shouting. But in the midst of all that the Savior told Peter, “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” and then carefully touched the man’s ear and healed him. Amazing.  And completely believable.

I love that part of the Gethsemane story for three reasons:

One: it reminds me that the Savior has the capabilities to calm and heal no matter the circumstances, no matter the problem.  

Two: it reminds me that when I’m like Peter, exuberant and naive, the Lord can correct my follies and teach me to do better in the process. 

Three: the Lord never loses sight of His purpose.  Never.  Every soul is great in the sight of God.

The best part of this story is it's true.  I don't have to pretend, I don't have to wonder, all I have to do is believe.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wednesday Homemaking Tip - Prepare

The scriptures don't really say what the Savior did on this day of what we now call Holy Week, but in the book of Matthew the Parables of the Ten Virgins, Talents, and Sheep and Goats come right before the Passover. It makes sense, knowing He would soon be gone from the earth, that He would spend the day teaching those parables to prepare His followers for His Second Coming.  Regardless of when he taught them, the Parables prepare us for Christ's Second Coming.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins has always been sobering to me.  Being left out of a good thing is serious business.  When I was a girl, I couldn't figure out why the wise virgins, if they were so good and wise, didn't share their oil with the others.  Or, why the girls who didn't have enough oil didn't just latch themselves on to someone who did, or at least walk right in their shadow.  Later I learned there are some things you just can't give to another.  The oil represented their commitment to the Savior and you can't give that to someone else.  You can't give your faith, nor your knowledge. You can't give your experiences or your understanding. You can't give your obedience or your Christlike attributes.  There are some things in life that you can't beg, borrow, or steal, you have to gain them for yourself. So it was with the virgins, so it is with me.

I have come to love and appreciate that message of preparation and self-reliance in this parable. It's practical and applicable in all areas of my life. Spiritually it causes me to seek, emotionally and physically it causes me to grow.  I've especially enjoyed learning to be self-reliant in making a home and caring for a family.  It's why Calvin and I grow a garden and raise chickens.  It's why we butcher our meat and bottle fruits and vegetables. And, it's why Calvin experimented making cheese a year or two ago and I learned to make yogurt a few days ago.

A few months ago I went to help Ande after Ezra was born.  She had 3 jars of homemade yogurt in the fridge. After I tasted it, and she promised it was easy, I was determined to come home and make some myself.

I'm here to say, it's not only very good, it's good for you, it's economical, and it's practical.  Since I leave early every morning for work, a cup of yogurt is an easy breakfast to eat on the way. Today,  imitating the expertsI packed four cups of yogurt.

One cup has caramel in it.  I used leftover caramel ice cream topping made from this quick and easy recipe with a little cup of cashews to stir in.

Two cups have frozen blueberries with little cups of homemade granola (also Ande's recipe) to mix in.

One cup has dried coconut added with sliced almonds and mini chocolate chips to stir in.

There's lots of plain yogurt left for smoothies, baking, making more flavors, and the start for more yogurt.

It cost about $4.00 to make the yogurt and it produced well over 3 quarts.  I estimated the savings to be at least $25.  Not bad.  Not too bad at all.

Zeph's Greek Yogurt

1 gallon whole milk
5 oz. plain Greek yogurt (with active, live cultures)

Put milk in crock pot and heat until it reaches 180 degrees.  (This takes about 2 hours.)  When milk reaches desired temperature, turn off heat and let it cool down in the crock pot to 90-115 degrees.  In a small bowl mix yogurt and 1/2 cup cooled milk until smooth.  Add mixture into crockpot and stir.  Place crock pot bowl (without lid) in oven with the light on for 8-12 hours.  Congratulations.  You just made yogurt.  To make Greek yogurt, place a flour sack towel, t-shirt, or double layer of cheese cloth over a large bowl and spoon yogurt onto towel, careful to leave enough room for yogurt to strain liquid.  Place in fridge for an hour or two while it drains.  Now you have Greek Yogurt (and a giant bowl of whey, which can be used for other things).  Store in jars.  Saves in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.  To eat, mix in honey or other sweeteners, fruits, etc.  Serve with granola if desired.

Prepare.  Self-reliance.  The Parable of the Ten Virgins.  Good advice for everyday and everyone.