Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks #19

Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. --Doctrine & Covenants 121:9
We are grateful for our Church family--wherever we live! We enjoyed a bounteous meal at the Marsh's who opened their comfortable home to us as well as to young single adults from New Jersey and Washington, DC.

Gratitude-Healthy Recipe for Thanksgiving

-The Christian Science Monitor

… You may already know that gratitude ennobles a person, warms hearts of people in his/her orbit, and generally improves life. If experts – secular and religious alike – are to be believed, gratitude may well be holy grail of personal and societal well-being. If you're grateful, studies show, you are prone to be happier, less aggressive, and less depressed; to be more helpful, more satisfied with life, and have better friendships; to be more generous, less envious, and less concerned with prestige. You're even likely to have a higher grade-point average. What's more, you tend to be healthier physically and mentally. And practicing, as you do, a key component of strong moral character, and virtue central to world's great secular as well as religious belief systems, you can stand tall.

...grateful heart boosts energy and determination, helping students avoid getting bogged down when they encounter challenges.

"Gratitude is all about attitude. And attitude is a choice." "Gratitude is important because once you learn to look through that lens of life, everything shifts. You no longer find yourself focusing on what's wrong with your life but what's good about your life."

Never mind what you're thankful for. It's your grateful heart that's good for you. And it's good for rest of us, too. "People really, really like grateful people,"….

"There sometimes seems to be a spirit of complaint in the air,"...As if in response, a cornucopia of thankfulness has spilled forth – via tweets, blogs, websites, and Facebook, through programs in classroom and studies in lab, through retreats and exercises, books and journals, workshops and symposiums, some New Age and others old-school. In spite of – or perhaps even because of – cultural forces against it, “gratitude is also thriving.”

But no one needs an app to recognize a thankful heart….

Gratitude leads to success
… grateful job seekers have advantage: "You want to hire people … who are going to create culture that's gracious to work in."…"gratitude gives you strength." …abiding gratitude "for chance to continue living. ..Thank God [for survival]. And where does that gratitude lead? To giving back."…"more gratitude you have, more successful your life becomes,"…

Medical science recognizes gratitude
Indeed, the grateful may be their own best friends.

… gratitude is key component of resilience, person's ability to withstand stress – to swing with inclement weather, as bridge does, and "give yet not break." …"When you wake up, it's helpful if you have something you look forward to," ...

Medical scientists, too, believe they are able to trace beneficial effects of gratitude in humans….While scientists have yet to conduct specific brain studies on physiological effects of thankfulness, they have found that intense focus on positive things, such as favor of a friend, causes positive thinking – or positive neural pathways, as medical science terms it – to engage. …Conversely, if you dwell on negative – say friend's forgetting of your birthday – opposite happens: Stress can be triggered, and it becomes easier to process things negatively in future. …"even though it might feel forced, if you focus on gratitude over time, it does change way your brain works." …a gratitude guru says that people motivated to change their levels of happiness, or to lift a mild depression, can do so through gratitude "intervention." This might entail keeping gratitude journal, for instance, or spending 15 minutes a week remembering past kindnesses and, in response, writing letter of thanks to person who did kindness. "Ones who gain greatest benefits [are those who] try hard to carry it out over time,"

Spontaneous thanksgiving
Gratitude and religion go hand in hand, as evidenced by many ways believers express their thanks,… "spontaneous response of anyone with any sense at all that our existence as human beings is not pure accident. Thanksgiving is just very central way of relating between believers and their ultimate reality – God."…There is grace said before meals…hymns. ..[reading] Scriptures….psalms. … spontaneous prayer of one who received something wished for or was spared something feared. ("What's the first thing you say then?" "Thank God!")

…When people who are asked to focus on specific ideas during laboratory studies choose to focus on things that have strong meaning to them personally, neurological effects are measurable,... "So when people feel gratitude in context with God, it combines gratitude with extremely strong sense of love, compassion, and belief, and have a more robust response."

Swimming in sea of cyberthanks

…Off-line or on, gratitude comes in degrees and varies with personality. It can be fleeting feeling or emotion: You're grateful it didn't rain on your day off, for instance. Or, it can be a set of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that are reliable and stable over time.

"Some people are more prone by nature to be grateful." … For grateful, almost anything can be object of gratitude, and virtually any situation bears some thankful possibility

Even in worst of times, "if you're thankful for someone, for something, even a phone call, you have reached out beyond yourself," …"Once focus is off self, there's great serenity."

Gratitude can interrupt … "malignant narcissism of the terminally ill." [Doctors] observes evidence of that when [asking] patients about near-universal source of gratitude – family dog.

"No one can think about their pet without smiling," …. This shift in focus helps battle pessimism, something Mayo studies associate with shorter life span and decreased quality of life. "You cannot be optimistic if you're not grateful.”.

Gratitude equation includes taking

Gratitude, by definition, entails appreciation of generosity, whether you believe that it came from another person, from God, even from happenstance. It means you have to take, which is not easy if you've always prided yourself on self-sufficiency. But for those who have been in need, receiving does tend to beget giving…

…Gratitude of those who were in need and received help was put to direct use for others in similar need of work, perpetuating thankfulness/altruism cycle.

…biggest gift? Encouragement…"Everybody realizes that God does have a plan for everyone. If you do listen, God will send you some helpful servants – some sounding boards, realization that somebody does care and is willing to be alongside you."

Many scientists consider gratitude helpful survival strategy during difficult times, …

These days, personal development, temperament, life trauma, and culture of entitlement affect how thankful person is. And personal morality dictates how those thanks are used. After all, insincere shower of thanks – when not totally transparent and boring – can exploit somebody who's soft touch and can manipulate the generous for personal gain.

To qualify as virtue, thankfulness needs to meet a high standard.

"It's not just about doing right thing, but doing it for right reason," … "If you make lots of donations to charity so you get your name in the paper, that's not it." If you do lots of virtuous acts, but your heart is self-centered, then you don't have the virtue. Even learning about benefits of gratitude so you can reap those benefits doesn't count either. "Key is not only to be grateful, but to do it out of genuine thanksgiving."

Learning to recognize kindness
But no one beats good old Mom and Dad for lessons in thankfulness, experts say.

"Easiest way for me to explain gratitude to [tots] is through their parents – to show them that their parents supply them with everything they need.”

Parents can seize moment when somebody does kindness for their child. What did the giver intend? What might it have cost that person in money, say, or in time or emotion – to do the kindness? What benefit did child receive as a result? Goal of such an exercise? Awareness.

Studies show benefits of being grateful

Deseret News 2011 11 23

…Experts are saying that sentiment behind our American day of feasting might actually have important benefits to health and wellness. Gratitude, apparently, can make even most holiday-phobic among us happier, kinder, and less likely to dump cranberry sauce on our siblings' heads.

New York Times reported some of benefits of gratitude on minds and bodies based on number of different studies.

Being thankful, reaching goals, getting fit

…studied effects of gratitude by experimenting with "gratitude journal." According to Times, …selected group of subjects to simply record 5 things every week they were grateful for. After 2 months of this behavior, study reports, "Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based)" than those who did not.

…Study also showed physical changes: authors reported those keeping gratitude journals exercised more regularly and reported fewer physical symptoms.

Gratitude instead of Ambien

Those tested who kept gratitude journals were not just more active—they were also more rested. …study included group of adults with neuromuscular disease who underwent "gratitude intervention" for 3 weeks. Afterward, participants reported improvements in both how much and how well they slept.

…. not alone in finding correlation between gratitude and rest. ….review last year of several studies looking at correlation between gratitude and well-being. They specifically mentioned that even among participants who were usually "sleep-impaired," ending day with "positive pre-sleep cognitions" was big help. Showing gratitude promoted these positive bedtime reflections, "which seemed to explain why they had better sleep overall."

Gratitude: steroids for couples

Couples who are thankful for each other—and show it—improve their relationships, according to yet another gratitude study,…. Titled "It's the little things," research concludes that people in relationships felt 2 things in response to day-to-day thoughtful behaviors of their significant others: indebtedness and gratitude. It was gratitude that brought happy feelings next day, and was concluded to have power in keeping a relationship on track. … feelings of indebtedness showed engagement and commitment externally, but "gratitude had uniquely predictive power in relationship promotion, perhaps acting as booster shot for relationship."

More thankful, less aggressive

But research shows that benefits of showing gratitude are not just reserved for romantic relationships. … study considered connection between gratitude and aggression….study concludes that gratitude is linked to lower levels of aggression. Gratitude, according to authors, requires empathy–impulse incompatible with aggression.

Pursuit of happiness

What every recent study on gratitude seems to share is that in addition to specific benefits each noted, thankful people tended to be happier and more satisfied with their lives. Participants…were more enthusiastic about their activities and more optimistic about week that lay ahead.

Associated Press reports "When you stop and count your blessings, you hijack your emotional system"—resetting yourself to see things in new light. And this reset can be accomplished in simple ways. ….effect of writing grateful letters on well-being of group of young adult students. …project required participants to write 3 letters over 3 weeks to someone in their lives for whom they were thankful. …no pithy thank-you notes, no throwaways. They had to mean something for writer and recipient. …study concluded that letter-writers saw increases in their levels of gratitude over time--but also in their levels of overall happiness. For its authors, project revealed clear connection between being grateful and being happy. Even more importantly, happiness was increased through intentional action on part of individuals. What this means? "Volitional act of writing letters of gratitude supports previous research which demonstrated that individuals have ability to direct positive change in their lives,"…. People can make themselves happier. They can do it today, by giving thanks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks #18

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full....But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin--1 John 1:4 & 7

We are grateful for the light our Savior shines. It illuminates the important things. What are the important things in life?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Counsel on Dating and Courtship

Dating can be complicated. Singles deal with intricacies of getting to know and understand one another, coupled with mix of technological, financial, societal, religious and media influences.
Active LDS singles are encouraged to work toward temple marriage at appropriate time in their lives by adhering to high moral standards. Journey from first date to temple marriage can be challenging and contain blessings, heartbreaks and pitfalls. Thousands of books and articles by LDS and secular authors have extolled wisdom and tips about dating. Advice about how to act, what to say, what to wear and what to do while dating has been covered in detail. Over years, prophets and apostles have also given counsel to LDS singles about dating. This article is culmination of their words. As preface, quote from  May 1989 Ensign article to young men and women by Elder Boyd K. Packer of Quorum of Twelve (who is now president of that quorum) sums up guiding counsel of Church leaders on dating: "You are a child of God. He is the father of your spirit. Spiritually you are of noble birth, the offspring of the King of Heaven. Fix that truth in your mind and hold to it."

From data given by Pew Forum in 2008, three highest same-faith unions are Hindus (90 percent), Mormons (83 percent) and Catholics (78 percent). LDS singles often wonder about dating non-members or getting married before young man serves a mission. Here is what Church leaders have said on both topics:

"Temple marriage should wait until after a young man has served an honorable full-time mission for the Lord. And I would admonish you to date only faithful young women who also believe this and give you that encouragement." — President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), "To the 'Youth of the Noble Birthright," Ensign, May 1986, 44.

"You young people … have an important responsibility in choosing not only whom you will date but also whom you will marry. Your chances for a happy and lasting marriage will be far greater if you will date those who are active and faithful in the Church."— President Gordon B. Hinckley, "Four B's for Boys," Ensign, November 1981, p. 41.

Three online dating sites surveyed more than 20,000 men interested in long-term relationship with  woman. Top quality [man] wanted in woman was kindness. Similar survey done by Men's Health magazine asked 1,000 American women, ages 21 to 54, to name trait [woman] found most attractive in man. Their answer was "faithful to me." What behavior is appropriate for a date? What qualities are important in potential spouse? Here are some quotes from Church leaders:

"In a dating and courtship relationship, I would not have you spend five minutes with someone who belittles you, who is constantly critical of you, who is cruel at your expense and may even call it humor." — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "How Do I Love Thee?" New Era, October 2003, p. 6.

"A few years ago my wife and I and another General Authority and his wife were on a Church assignment. The other man's wife and I had dated when we were both in high school. I was glad, and I am sure she was glad, that we did not have any bad memories of that date. Both of us could speak of it to our spouses and both of us could speak to a Church audience in the presence of the other without embarrassment."— Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Sin and Suffering," Brigham Young University 1989–90 Speeches (1990, p. 7).

"As you go through your dating and courting relationships, I would hope that you will assess the spiritual inclinations of the individuals you're getting to know better. How is their testimony? How do they treat their parents? How do they treat their brothers and sisters? Do they respect authority? Do they love the Lord, His servants, and the scriptures? What plans do they have for their lives? It isn't enough if they are handsome or beautiful, if they are rich or poor, what kind of car they drive, what kind of clothes they wear, what kind of athletic ability they have, or what kind of intellect they are. You should be seeking to understand the gifts they have that will be eternal in nature." — Elder Robert D. Hales, "Gifts of the Spirit," Ensign, February 2002, p. 19.

"Do you want capability, safety, and security in dating and romance, in married life and eternity? Be a true disciple of Jesus. Be a genuine, committed, word-and-deed Latter-day Saint. Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does. You separate dating from discipleship at your peril. Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, is the only lamp by which you can successfully see the path of love and happiness. How should I love thee? As He does, for that way 'never faileth.' " — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "How Do I Love Thee?" New Era, October 2003, p. 8.

Heidi Banks, well known dating adviser, said, "There is truly only one real danger that we must concern ourselves with and that is closing our hearts to the possibility that love exists." So is dating worth it? What constitutes a date? If someone asks you to lunch, is it a date? What about invitation through Facebook or in text? Can't dating just wait? Elder Dallin H. Oaks is clear in his counsel:

"Men, if you have returned from your mission and you are still following the boy-girl patterns you were counseled to follow when you were 15, it is time for you to grow up. Gather your courage and look for someone to pair off with. Start with a variety of dates with a variety of young women, and when that phase yields a good prospect, proceed to courtship. It's marriage time. That is what the Lord intends for His young adult sons and daughters. Men have the initiative, and you men should get on with it. If you don't know what a date is, perhaps this definition will help. I heard it from my 18-year-old granddaughter. A "date" must pass the test of three p's: (1) planned ahead, (2) paid for, (3) paired off.— Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Dating versus Hanging Out," Ensign, June 2006, p. 13.

"If we are to persuade young men to ask for dates more frequently, we must establish a mutual expectation that to go on a date is not to imply a continuing commitment. … Young women, if you turn down a date, be kind. Otherwise you may crush a nervous and shy questioner and destroy him as a potential dater, and that could hurt some other sister." — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Dating versus Hanging Out," Ensign, June 2006, p. 14.

Dating can be complicated, but it need not be overwhelming. God's plan for His children is not plan of frustration but plan of happiness.

That plan includes dating and marriage to person that should be blessing in this life and eternity. Following counsel of Church leaders, LDS singles date and marry with knowledge that marriage relationships continue beyond this mortal sphere.

"The greatest single factor affecting what you are going to be tomorrow, your activity, your attitudes, your eventual destiny … is the one decision you make … when you ask that individual to be your companion for life.

"That's the most important decision of your entire life! It isn't where you are going to school, or what lessons you are going to study, or what your major is, or how you are going to make your living. These, though important, are incidental and nothing compared with the important decision that you make when you ask someone to be your companion for eternity"— The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Edward L. Kimball, ed. [1982], p. 301.


Giving Thanks #17

Grow in grace, and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. --2 Peter 3:18

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grace as "a virtue coming from God."

Do you agree? We are grateful for examples of grace--people who make us feel good about ourselves because they feel good about themselves. They obviously are "growing in grace."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

News Flash

Newly Called East Brunswick Stake YSA Branch President
Peter Eck and family after sacrament meeting.
Today at 11 a.m. East Brunswick Stake President Gregory Stokes and his counselors Philip Welch and Michael Gruber announced its first YSA Branch to a congregation of around 75. Many smiles ensued!

Branch Leadership:
Branch President Peter Eck
1st Counselor Elder Dixon
2nd Counselor Elder Sierer

(Trivia: 34 years ago, I was sitting next to Elder Sierer, my soon-to-be husband, when he was called as 2nd counselor in the Denver Stake YSA Branch!! Deja vu all over again!)
Last night's well attended Regional YSA Thanksgiving activity.

Giving Thanks #16

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. --2 Peter 2:5-8

We are grateful for apostles and prophets who share the Word of God with our weary world. As the Apostle Peter wrote, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). Would He not call righteous, faithful men to lead us in the latter-days as He lead His Church in the past? What a blessing it is to KNOW that God loves us the same today as he loved others anciently.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Trivia: How did New Jersey Get Its Name?

NEW JERSEY was named by the British after Jersey, largest of English Channel Islands. It was third colony to become state in December 1787.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Giving Thanks #15

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. --Ecclesiastes 8:15

We are grateful for opportunities this time of year delivers. Of course, we have to use good judgment and self-control because there always are too many GOOD (tasting) things out there! Hahaha

We are also grateful for the gift of mirth or laughter--laughing with others and laughing at ourselves--not taking ourselves too seriously!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cupcake Fondue

Electric fondue pots helped soften chocolate--
thanks, Katie, for sharing!

Dessert: a HIT!

Another variation of cupcake fondue!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giving Thanks #14

Thanks, Rachael!
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. --Proverbs 17:17

We are grateful for friends! Being separated from "old" friends is truly a sacrifice but we are strengthened by "new" friends who edify and uplift us! Thank you ALL for your love and support!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Giving Thanks #13

"Consolator" by Carl Heinrich Bloch
Because it is written,
Be ye holy;
for I am holy.
--1 Peter 1:16 (see also Leviticus 11:44-45)

We are grateful to know we are made in the image of our Father in Heaven and His son, Jesus Christ (see Genesis 1:27). Knowing this and knowing we are Children of God, shouldn't we act as such?!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Giving Thanks #12

Thanks, Julie, for this idea!
Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and children may be blessed. --3 Nephi 18:21


Everything has an END except...

Fam(ILY) => it has (I Love You)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Trivia: Revolutionary War Sites vs Civil War Sites

Virginia is to Civil War as what state is to Revolutionary war?

(Scroll down for answer.)

During American Revolutionary War, New Jersey was strategically located between Continental Congress in Philadelphia and British command center in New York City. From 1775 until 1783, New Jersey was location of major battles and minor skirmishes that historic homes, battlefield sites and historical monuments bear testament to today.
For these reasons, New Jersey has become known as "Crossroads of American Revolution". Although most battles were fought in southern New Jersey such as Fort Monmouth, Fort Mercer and Trenton, Northern New Jersey offers many historical sites from this era. Prominent figures in American history who made their way through New Jersey during war years included Alexander Hamilton, Benedict Arnold, George Washington and Thomas Paine among others.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Giving Thanks #11 a

Jockey Hollow in Morristown was popular campground
for General Washington's army. It was used by portions of
Continental Army for total of 24 months during American Revolution.
 And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands. --1 Nephi 2:20
Soldiers had to build their own huts including surrounding
trenches for drainage. Up to 12 men shared one log hut
measuring 14x16 square feet by 6 1/2 feet high with fireplaces
for warmth and cooking. Floor was packed earth. Soldiers
also made their own furniture--bunks and tables. Each soldier
was given 1 blanket. Huts were about 2-3 feet apart with 3 rows
of 8 huts for each regiment. By 1780, soldiers had built
about 1200 huts in Jockey Hollow.

Within Jockey Hollow is Wick Farm & house:
1400 acres of timberland and open fields
was perfect area for Washington's soldiers to camp
in winter of 1779-80. Thus, Wick farm and adjacent farms
became home to 13,000 soldiers. General Arthur St Clair
made his headquarters at Wick house.

Wick Farm House guide called herself "Jersey's Revolutionary Snooki"!

Temperance Wick's room.

Holly tree branch

Giving Thanks #11 b

Ford Mansion in Morristown New Jersey
served as George Washington's headquarters
from Dec 1779 to June 1780.
We are grateful for courageous leaders and their troops who braved harsh conditions to fight for our Independence. They believed in "the cause" of Liberty and Freedom. What a wonderful legacy they pass on to us!
This room on first floor served as Washington's office.

You've heard it said: "Washington slept here."
Well, he did and so did his wife, Martha,
over a 6 month interval in this upstairs room.

Kitchen in Ford Mansion.

Upstairs housed many senior officers during this time period.

Mrs Ford and daughter lived in this room and her 3 sons in another
while Washington and his officers rented remainder of home.
(Her husband, Jacob Ford Jr died of pneumonia January 1777,
after that she gained ownership of 200 acres deeded
to her husband when they married in 1762.)

Senior missionary cultural outing in Morristown New Jersey

Friday, November 11, 2011

Giving Thanks #10

11.11.11 We are grateful for men and women who choose to serve us in war and peace. May they be blessed and watched over always! Thank you for your great sacrifice!
Ye hear of wars in foreign lands; but, behold, I say unto you, they are nigh, even at your doors, and not many years hence ye shall hear of wars in your own lands. -Doctrine & Covenants 45:63

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giving Thanks #9

View we are greeted with when we open our apt blinds.
Leaves have finally figured out its time to turn!
Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. --Doctrine & Covenants 89:11

We are grateful for our sight today to witness the colorful changing of season. Nothing is more beautiful in nature than a tree or bush surrendering its verdant green leaves for sunny yellows, vivid oranges and firey reds! The assortment of warm colors takes our breath away and makes us appreciate our Lord's creativity!

Speaking of Food...

Thanks, Katie, for use of fondue pot!
We interrupt our giving thanks to offer a PS to yesterday's post. Last night for Princeton YSA Institute I made Our Best Bites "Chili Con Queso Dip" and it was a SMASH!

(Serves about 10 people; can be doubled)
1/2 finely chopped onion
2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cup chopped, seeded tomatoes (about 2 medium)
1 4-ounce can green chiles
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 ounces Pepperjack cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cubed
Tortilla chips (MB substituted pita chips)

1) In medium saucepan cook onion in butter until tender. Stir in tomatoes, chile peppers, and cumin. Heat to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2) Toss shredded cheese with cornstarch. Gradually add cheese mixture to saucepan, stirring until cheese is melted. Gradually add cream cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and smooth. Heat through. Serve with chips.
Students in motion: mad dashes for 2nd helpings! :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Giving Thanks #8

And it came to pass that I did return to our tents, bearing the beasts which I had slain; and now when they beheld that I had obtained food, how great was their joy! And it came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord, and did give thanks unto him. --1 Nephi 16:32
We are grateful for FOOD! Food tastes AND smells good. We need food to live. Food is colorful. Family meals at home create a special bond. Romantic dinners, too. Sometimes food brings JOY (ie a great piece of CHOCOLATE!!). Vegetable gardens reap healthy benefits. Family car vacations experiencing a new restaurant with a new kind of food. Volunteering to serve in community soup kitchen feeds the hungry--also our souls! Being able to contribute to humanitarian efforts to feed others in need is a blessing as well!

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. --Acts 14:17
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.  --1 Timothy 6:8

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giving Thanks #7

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: --Psalms 92:1

We are grateful for blue skies and sunshine--both during our day and in our lives! Jesus Christ is the source of TRUTH and LIGHT.

Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. --Doctrine & Covenants 88:7

Monday, November 7, 2011

Giving Thanks #6

But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever;...O God, we thank thee; ..." --Alma 31:17
We are grateful for righteous leaders who teach by example.
Last evening, President Boyd K Packer spoke in a CES Broadcast to Young Single Adults. "All truth is worth knowing. Some truths are more useful, but there are truths that are most worth knowing."

He spoke of "a puzzle" in the scriptures about justice and mercy, "two seemingly conflicting principles." He related a parable in modern language to illustrate how Christ's atonement makes it possible for individuals to be saved from sin if they do their part.

The parable tells of a man who, in order to acquire something he wanted very much, incurred a great debt although he had been warned about going into debt and particularly about the creditor. The debtor signed a contract with the lender and didn't worry about repaying the debt since the due date seemed a long time off. Eventually, the contract fell due and the creditor demanded payment in full. Only then did the debtor realize that his creditor not only had the power to repossess all that he owed but also the power to cast him into debtor's prison. The debtor pled for mercy, the creditor demanded justice.

"There they were: one meting out justice, the other pleading for mercy. Neither could prevail except at the expense of the other," President Packer said. " 'If you do not forgive the debt, there will be no mercy,' the debtor pleaded. 'If I do, there will be no justice,' was the reply.

"Both laws, it seemed, could not be served. Mercy cannot rob justice. Each is an eternal ideal that appears to contradict the other. Is there no way for justice to be fully served and mercy also?

"There is a way. The law of justice can be fully satisfied and mercy can be fully extended, but it takes someone else. And so it happened this time."

President Packer said the debtor had a friend who, although thinking the debtor foolish to have gotten himself into such a predicament, loved him and stepped between him and the creditor as mediator. The friend told the creditor, " 'You demanded justice. Although he cannot pay you, I will do so. You have been justly dealt with and can ask no more. That would be just.' " The mediator said to the debtor, "If I pay your debt, will you accept me as your creditor?"

" 'Oh, yes,' cried the debtor. 'You saved me from prison and show mercy to me."

" 'Then,' " said the mediator, 'you will pay the debt to me, and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison.' "

President Packer said, "Unless there is a mediator, unless we have a friend, the full weight of justice, untempered and unsympathetic, must, positively must fall on us. The full penalty for every transgression, however minor or however deep, will be exacted from us to the uttermost farthing.

"There is a Mediator, a Redeemer who stands both willing and able to appease the demands of justice and extend mercy to those who are penitent.

"We all live on spiritual credit. In one way or another, the account builds. If you pay it off as you go, you have little need to worry. Soon you begin to learn discipline and know that there is a day of reckoning ahead. Learn to keep your spiritual account paid off at regular intervals rather than allowing it to collect interest and penalties."

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that relief from torment and guilt can be earned through repentance. "Save for those few who defect to perdition, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense, small or large, which is exempt from the promise of complete forgiveness. No matter what has happened in your life, the Lord has prepared a way back if you will heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Giving Thanks #5

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. -Psalms 118:1

What I'm thankful for...

..the mess to clean up after a party because it means that I have been surrounded by friends and people who love me.
..the taxes I have to pay because it means that I'm employed.
..the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat. shadow who watches me work because it means that I am out in the sunshine.
..a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
..the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking. huge heating bill because it means that I am warm.
..all the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
..the lady behind me in church that sings off key because it means that I can hear.
..the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.
..weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have the ability to be productive.
..the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I am alive!
--Alan DeMille

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Giving Thanks #4

We are grateful for friends who shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with us! We wish all could experience the happiness we feel knowing where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. This knowledge gives our life purpose and direction.

Thanks, David, for pointing this video out!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Giving Thanks #3

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. -1 Chronicles 16:8

We are grateful for young people who willingly come to Old Testament class each week to learn and share!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Giving Thanks #2

Thanks, Julie!
And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!  --Mosiah 2:19

We are amazed and grateful we are sleeping through the night on a queen-size mattress on this mission after 34 years on a king-size one! (Things can ALWAYS be worse: last mission we shared double bed!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November-Giving Thanks

Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.   -Psalms 75:1

We are grateful to have a working car on this mission that now racks up over 1,400 miles/month driving to various parts of New Jersey!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Mission President's Wife Can Beat Your Mission President's Wife

Our mission president's wife has more personality than your mission president's wife! (Is she CUTE or what?!)

Our mission president's wife knows how to set a Halloween table better than your mission president's wife!

Our mission president's wife can find a spiritual connection with a pumpkin. Can yours?

Our mission home lost limbs from 4 trees after Saturday's heavy, wet snowfall!
Who knew our mission home had MBS' portrait?!