Thursday, January 19, 2017

Women of Faith - A Call to Prayer For Life

I've been pondering the pro-choice versus pro-life debate for a very long time, as it hurts my heart and soul to think that abortion is thought to be okay by so many now. It occurred to me that there are questions I have about what has changed in society over the past several decades. One is, when did we change from being willing to sacrifice anything for a new baby, regardless of whether they were planned or not? How did women go from believing that the tiny little life growing inside them was a human child, to just a fetus or viable tissue that could be discarded when the timing wasn't right? How many of us were planned by our parents? How many of our mom's woke up one morning feeling queasy and thinking, "Oh I must have a bug." to ending up feeling that way for weeks and then finding out that, "Oops! Well that wasn't expected!" How many of us were born into families that struggled a bit financially, or in other ways? How many people do you know that have a life without ever having any sort of struggle?

I had a family member say to me one time as we drove to meet some of her friends for lunch, that she wished she had never had children. The fact that I was pregnant with my first child, and not yet married, made that a particularly hard trip, along with the fact that if she really felt that way, I wouldn't be around either. At that time she didn't know my situation, and I wasn't about to tell her after that, until the engagement was announced. (And yes, I hadn't been taught all I needed to know, and I had so little self respect I got myself in a situation I shouldn't have. Definitely not the way I would recommend starting out married life. I learned the hard way. )I understand why she said it, as there was a situation in the family that was very heartbreaking for her, her dream of having at least one child married with no issues was dashed. But not ever having children wouldn't have insulated her from heartache or pain. Life has it's hard times, along with the joys. Unfortunately she didn't understand that trials and tribulations are our refiners fire. She didn't understand God, or why he allows others to hurt us at times. Agency is not what most religions I know of teach.

That led me to reflect on the question George Bailey had to answer in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", regarding what life would be like if he had never been born? Do you ever think about the impact you have had on others? What your gentle, strong, calm, firm spirit, or your generosity, kindness, listening ear, teaching heart, and helping hand has done to make someone's life a bit better or easier? Your talent, whether it be the arts, organizational, financial, social, whatever, has surely done someone some good. We all know of someone who is THAT person you can talk to about anything and they listen, and are just there for us no matter what. How about the guy next door who always has a way of making you laugh, or feel good about yourself. Are you that person? What would the world have missed if YOU had never been born?

These questions came to mind because I keep hearing over and over again that pro-lifers are heartless and don't care about the babies that will be abused or neglected. We've had legalized abortion for how many years now and the abuse statistics keep rising. But let's take that thought even further, as in the case of the elderly who are often suffering from more than one physical malady, be it loss of hearing and eye sight, mobility, constant pain due to a physical ailment and so on. If we applied the same logic to our elderly or handicapped and said, "well we surely don't want them to suffer, so why not just end their life? Isn't that the compassionate thing to do?" Of course not!

There are times when many of us wonder, "why me, why did this have to happen?" Sometimes it is what it is, through no fault of our own. Recognizing that there's a higher power out there to help us get through these times is so key to accepting whatever may come our way. A child though, is a blessing, not a curse, yet the outgoing president helped further the notion that abortion is okay by saying about his daughters, "I'm going to teach them about values and morals but, if they make a mistake I don't want them punished with a baby!" My momma always said two wrongs don't make a right. You don't cover one mistake by making another.

There are those out there that would have us as women believe we are victims if the government doesn't ensure birth control or abortion on demand. They say that we don't have control over our reproductive health, as if birth control and abortion are the only answer to not getting or being pregnant. I'm surprised at how many women are willingly giving themselves over to those who would use them as a political pawn, or just use them, and then leave them holding the baggage of emotional and spiritual strife due to choices made that weren't in their own best interest. How about making a stand for virtue and morality? How about exercising self control, and having self respect? 

So dear ladies, dear friends and women of faith everywhere, let's send prayers to our Heavenly Father asking that we as women can help our country find it's humanity again. I pray that we can unite as women, and find common ground in caring for children everywhere. I pray we won't be afraid to speak up and say that physical intimacy is sacred, that life is sacred, and anything we do to show respect for ourselves by treating it thus will not only make us better people, but our families and communities will be better served. Pray that hearts will be healed, and women everywhere can find their mother spirit, that tender, loving and gentle but strong spirit we are all endowed with from on high, but have to cultivate to keep. Pray that we can lift each other in trials, and teach each other from our own experiences, that life, albeit hard at times is worth every struggle, sacrifice and heartache. Pray that they will know they are daughters of a loving Father in heaven. This is my prayer, and may you add yours.....In the loving name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.




Monday, January 16, 2017

Genealogy and Indexing - A Mission Learning Curve

 My family tree is a growing by leaps and bounds in Family Search as well as at Ancestry.com. I want to offer thanks to all the people who are involved in indexing, which, if you're not familiar with it, is the transcribing and publishing of public records for the use of genealogists around the world.
 Think of that, people all around the world are able to help make public and give easy access to records of births, marriages, baptisms, and deaths for those of us who are searching for our ancestry and heritage. It's an amazing effort that has made it possible to find records that I would otherwise have to either pay for, and or travel to the communities of those family members who have passed on to sort through.
What used to take years to research and gather information on is now as easy as clicking on a "hint" at your preferred genealogy site. You can view documents in most cases, although sometimes there's just typed information, but along with names and dates you also find addresses, occupations, and even stories about someone you might be looking for. Sometimes I can almost see these people, feel their joy, their pain, and sense the challenges they faced. In one instance I have an ancestor who signed up for military service in WWI and within two months was lost at sea when the ship he was on was attacked and sank. As I read the death record and that the father had been notified of this young man's passing I could feel the grief he, the father, must have felt at the news. Here was a young man who never had the chance to marry or have a family. He was already well traveled as he had been to Guatemala, and lived in Mexico and then as a young salesman for the Goodyear tire company, went to Havana, Cuba on business. His passport stated that he was going back to the US as soon as possible.
To those who are involved in genealogy I want to offer some words of advice. As you access the links provided to records on a person, please please please take the time to view the actual image of the documents if possible. I've found over and over again names and dates misspelled or recorded, most likely as in the case of census records, as an estimate. You will clearly see a name spelled one way on the record, but the typed data on the page prior may have incorrect data. Don't assume that because a name is spelled slightly different, or a date is just not quite right on the hint page, that the record isn't a match. Do your due diligence, as I've found all sorts of new information, such as other family members, and so on by doing this. I've also realized that I might have passed on that "hint" and potentially lost some key information due to incorrect information on the initial hint page.
A good way to tell if a record is a match although the surname or some of the names are wrong, is to check the recorded address. Often people stayed in the same home for years, and in a lot of census records the street and address are recorded, although sometimes not. My guess is that when taking censuses folks would ask information of whomever might be home, and that person either didn't have all the facts and guessed, or for some reason didn't want to give out the right information. In the case of some of my ancestors they may have had accents that were hard to understand. In one instance the first Julius Proeger to come from Germany has three different immigration years listed in the various census records I've found. I'm not sure, except that I do have a birth record on his wife, what her preferred name was, because I've found Mina, which is on her headstone, Whilhelmina, Minnie, and Mine, and her birth name is Sibylla Mina.
If you are involved in indexing, please be very cautious and read through the record viewed very carefully. Sometimes they are hard to sort out, but most of the incorrect information I've found has been misspelled names. Dates are also an issue, although not as much.
If you are involved in genealogy or indexing I would love to hear from you and get some of your feedback as well as hearing your story.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Pretties for My Pretty Upcycled China


 
Her name is Snow, but she likes green spring, 
pretty butterflies, breezes and birds who sing, 
eyes verdant green, cheeks crimson red, 
her name haunts her head, 
Lo one calls her Rose, thus he gave her ring.
 
A sweet little dish for jewelry, soaps, candy, and treasures. 
 
To be found at Simply Sheryl's 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Basil, Bacon and Bowtie Pasta Salad

I love perusing Pinterest in search of some new and tasty dinner recipe to try. I was searching for a new pasta salad recipe to test as we get in a rut sometimes, and change is good, right? Warm weather calls for cool but flavorful meals. I came across a BLT pasta salad recipe that had some possibilities, but Nature Guy and I both agreed that the lettuce would most likely end up wilted before we finished the salad. Not a huge fan of soggy lettuce, I decided to go with the bacon and tomato in the salad and come up with my own recipe, leaving out the lettuce.

We are fortunate to have an abundance of fresh Basil right now, along with fresh parsley. The squashes are starting to encumber their vines with multiple succulent fruit, so I was in luck for more fresh goodness to toss in. A nice feature of this salad is that with the pepper bacon, herbs, and dressing, there is no need for extra seasoning. This recipe is for 4 servings, which for us gives us two meals without leftovers going on forever. Enough of the blathering, here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Basil, Bacon and Bowtie Pasta Salad

1 1/2 cups bowtie pasta cooked according to package directions, drained and cooled
2 strips of thick pepper bacon, cooked until crisp, and crumbled
1/3 cup chopped purple onion
1/2 medium yellow zucchini or squash, thinly sliced (I used a mandolin)
1 1/4 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
3/4 cup fresh cooked or frozen green peas, thawed ( you can place them in the colander and pour the hot cooked pasta over them, to help them thaw quickly)
1/2 cup real mayo (seriously, don't ruin a good thing with low or non fat mayo. If you are worried, use 1/4 each plain non fat yogurt and mayo, stirred together)
1/4 cup Ken's Steakhouse Italian dressing (we used the lite version, which only has fat reduced, no gross chemical taste) 
1/4 cup each fresh minced basil and parsley 

Cook pasta according to package directions. I usually place frozen veggies in the colander and drain my pasta into it to help thaw them. Stir together under cold water and drain. In a medium bowl combine pasta, peas, cooked, crumbled bacon, onion, tomato, squash and minced herbs, then toss gently. Stir together the mayonnaise and Italian dressing. Pour over salad and gently toss. Serves 4


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Korean Style Kimchi


We have had an interestingly wet, cool, hot, cool, warm, wet, hot, cooler, warm, summer. It has my vegetable garden growing produce in abundance. I've had several heads of napa cabbage grow to Alaska size and it's wonderfully delicious in salads or stir fries. I can't find enough ways to use it as other produce is also coming on fast so I wanted to find a way to preserve the flavors of summer for winter enjoyment.
We love spicy everything, although as we age we have toned the sizzling hot down to enjoyably spicy. Having said that there is still a place at the table for a bit of sizzle now and then. Kimchi is a great pro-biotic type of condiment that goes well with rice and any topping. This recipe is pretty spicy, so adjust to your taste. If you are worried, add less chili powder than I suggest, and taste a piece of cabbage. You will know if it's too much or not enough. Let me know if you give it a try. Enjoy!

Prep Time:

Ingredients:

  • 1 head (about 2 pounds) napa (Chinese) cabbage
  • 1/4 cup  sea or canning salt ( pure salt with no additives is best)
  • 4-6 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 pound daikon radish or turnips, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1 carrot, cut into thin strips
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru) to taste( I used 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar ( helps with the curing process)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional, but it gives it the characteristic umami flavor 
  • Cold water, filtered or spring 

Directions:

  1. Cut the cabbage lengthwise and remove the core, then chop the remaining cabbage into one-inch strips.
  2. Place cabbage into a glass bowl and sprinkle with salt, mixing it together with clean hands.
  3. Cover salted cabbage with cold water. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for 4-24 hours. Note: You may need to place a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it completely submerged under the brine.
  4. Drain the brine from the cabbage. Reserve brine.
  5. Place remaining ingredients in large bowl and mix together.
  6. Add cabbage to bowl and toss with clean hands.
  7. Repack cabbage into individual glass jars with lids, packing tightly and adding brine if necessary to cover. Leave about one inch of space.
  8. Close lids.
  9. Allow to ferment at room temperature for one to seven days, depending on your preference.
  10. Refrigerate once kimchi is at desired fermentation level.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Blueberry Pecan Muffins



Ahhhh, the joys of summer harvest! A soft and oh so delicious muffin, chock full of luscious blueberries and pecans, and topped with cinnamon sugar, fresh from the oven. What better way to start the day? 
 
We are so very fortunate to be able to buy these berries in bulk at a reasonable price. I'm enjoying a lot of great produce from other sources, as well as our garden, so I will be sharing more delectable treats and recipes as the summer harvest progresses. For now, on to the muffin recipe!


Blueberry Pecan Muffins

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 T flaxseed meal
1 T baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
1 cup almond milk
2 T each canola oil and coconut oil, melted
Cinnamon sugar for topping

Turn the oven on to 375 degrees and grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

Sift together all dry ingredients except for the nuts. Combine with the nuts in a medium mixing bowl. That's right, I still sift, and it does make a difference in how the muffins turn out. Whisk together all wet ingredients and gently stir into the dry ingredients. I was taught by my Home Ec teacher to only stir about 11 times, so I try to do that. I added the berries after the 11 stirs and then stirred 11 more times. The idea is to keep the muffins from turning out tough and full of air holes.

By ice cream scoopfuls add batter to the greased muffin tins. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and then bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Power of Prayer


We recently had an opportunity to take a long trip and visit various family members. One evening we were asked questions about religion, and what we believe. It caught us off guard, but helped us realize that we need to be better at articulating what we know to be true. It's not enough to just know, we need to be able to share when asked.
One of the topics that came up was prayer and the reason we pray. I'm afraid we somewhat fumbled in our answers, but I've had a lot of time to reflect on that conversation and in particular that question. I know some of the reasons why I pray, to express gratitude for the blessings I have, to pray for the health or situation of either myself or those I know or know of.  In James 1:5-6 we read,
 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
 Even the Savior prayed as we see in Matthew 14:23 -  23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 
 So why do some prayers seemingly go unanswered? Perhaps it's because we don't understand the purpose of prayer. More often though it's because we don't see the whole picture the way our Heavenly Father and the Savior do. We might think that we, or someone we love needs to have a certain blessing, not realizing that while our request may be a righteous one, it may not be what that person needs to grow at the moment. Perhaps we don't recognize the answer because it's not what we asked for. 
Our society has put forth the idea that life shouldn't be hard, we should never have challenges, and everyone should have the same amount of material goods in order for life to be fair, or to prove that God loves us, or that He even exists. If our prayers aren't answered, then either there really isn't a God, or He is a mean and hurtful God. For those who are parents, most realize that if we give everything to our children and never expect anything from them, most will become lazy and ungrateful, even mean and hurtful sometimes. Our Heavenly Father wants us to learn and grow, and the way we do that is by learning to make choices that will bring us the most peace and happiness. Lest anyone mistake my meaning here, it doesn't mean that we must experience everything, even those things that God has said aren't good for us. Some things we must take on faith that they aren't in our best interest to indulge in or do. 
In Moses 1:39 it states "For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." This earthly life is a test. We have a purpose for being here, and one of them is to gain a body, to have experience, and prove that we will do all we know to be right and good. Sometimes we are abused and hurt through no fault of our own, and while it is hard to watch the harm that others inflict on us or other people, Heavenly Father is mindful of our pain and suffering, and will be there to welcome us home on the other side. Some have a debilitating illness, either chronic, or deadly. How we handle what others have done to us, how we handle the lot given us in life, or whether we are willing to help those in need of help, comfort or care, determines our eternal destiny. 
Prayer, thoughtful and considerate, can give us strength to meet the challenges that beset us. Whether our challenges are with other people, financial, or physical, as we seek guidance, again asking for that wisdom, we will receive the help we need to be able to deal with each situation. Perhaps the issue will be ongoing, but the help and strength we receive as we ask for it, is immeasurable. 
Prayer can help us as we care for others. As I tended to my father-in-law as he was dying, the help I received was incredible. There were the long road trips back and forth each week that due to weather were sometimes quite dangerous. I was blessed with alertness to avoid the large semi trucks whose vans were sometimes blown about in the wind. I had several hair raising near misses as they struggled, or were just negligent in their driving and wandered all over the road. There were the many nights getting up over and over again to get a drink for or cover the feet of, or uncover the feet of, or move the legs back where they should be, or even just comfort Dad as he struggled to get through the night. He couldn't get up on his own so thankfully the nurses had a way of taking care of his bladder needs so we could all snatch a few minutes of sleep here and there. Most nights Dad and I were awake more than asleep, but the little cat naps during the day helped me be able to assist him and Mom in their daily routines. Lifting Dad off the toilet and helping him down to it should have put me down right away, but I was blessed to be able to help him until after he passed away. It was after he passed that my back went out and I spent months trying to get rid of the pain and be able to walk more that a few steps at a time. Again notice that I didn't avoid the aftermath but I was able to get back to walking again with the help of good physical therapists. The biggest surprise to me was cleaning Dad up after he had gone to the bathroom. I have the most sensitive sense of smell and I expected to gag my way through each bathroom visit, and yet, I have to say, his stuff didn't stink. It was the little things I was able to do, and with a tenderness in my heart and patience to be up all hours of the night that was a gift. Prayer, mine and those around me, helped me to be able to do all I was able to. I learned so much in the process. 
Prayer can help us when we have a disagreement or an issue with another person. When I was younger I used to pray that the other person would change, and do things or think the way I do. Now I ask that I can see a way to think about the situation differently, and I pray for the other person as well, that Heavenly Father will help us both do the right thing. 
There have been times when we as a collective body are asked to pray for rain, and I've seen the results of that collective prayer. 
I could go on but there are those much better at sharing their wisdom and thoughts than I so I will add this link to a talk by Truman G. Madsen. Souls Aflame: The Prayer Heritage of the Latter-day Saints
Please take a moment to read this if you will. Feel free to comment any time. My prayer is that prayer can be more meaningful to all of us.