Tuesday, February 28, 2012

O Remember, Remember

Possibly my MOST FAVORITE chapter in all the Book of Mormon is Mosiah Chapter 2. King Benjamin  simply states ["...I have spoken plainly..." v 40] what we need to do to be happy in this life and return to live with our Father in Heaven in the life to come.

"And behold, I tell ye these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." -v 17

"O how you ought to thank your heavenly King! I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another--I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another--I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants. And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandment he doth bless you and prosper you." v. 19-22

"...ye are eternally indebted to your heavenly Father, to render to him all that you have and are;..." v 34

"...if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord,..." v 36

"And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of neverending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it." v 41

Monday, February 27, 2012

Becoming Self-Reliant

President John Taylor [1808-1887] of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged brethren in Kaysville, Utah, to help the sisters in the effort [procure and store grain]. He told of a woman who felt that her husband was "a little too liberal and careless" with the family's finances. Each week she slipped part of her household budget into the family Bible. "Some years afterwards there came a financial crisis, and [the] husband was troubled. The wife readily perceived the change in her husband's countenance, and she asked him to tell her the cause of his trouble. He told her that he had a [bill] coming due, and he was afraid he could not meet it. She tried to encourage him by telling him to have faith in God, and referred to the good, old Book, telling him to read it, that he might get some comfort from it. She handed him the Bible, and as he opened it and turned over the leaves the [money] began to drop out." President Taylor concluded, "We may find a time when we may need this wheat that our sisters are storing up; let us not be too confident about our affairs, and do what we can by way of helping them." -Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, pg 53-54

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Violeta's Mission Farewell Gathering

Malorie, Mike T, Sis & Elder S, Dixon's, Ambrose
Last night we were honored to attend Hermana Violeta's Mission Farewell Gathering in Eatontown! Many, many friends and family came to support her because she truly is loved by all who know her! Good luck and God's blessings, Violeta!
Violeta & Dalia--their father told us he "won the lottery" with them!

An hour before...

The guest of honor helps set up.

Elder S, Edhgar, Brandy, Ambrose, Elder D, Chris

Cultural Hall fills up!

Good luck, best wishes and God bless, Violeta!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why Mormons Build Temples

Lutheran Bishop's Perspective on "Mormon" Baptism for the Dead

by Daniel C Peterson
The Latter-day Saint practice of vicarious baptism on behalf of the dead is once again a focus of controversy. In the past few weeks, it's been portrayed in the news media and on the web as unbiblical, ghoulish, bizarre, shameful, vicious, anti-Semitic, immoral, hateful, an exercise in "black magic" and (by some extremists) possibly even illegal. A national television commentator recently named President Thomas S. Monson among "the worst people in the world" for presiding over the practice.

It's high time for the view of a very respected non-Mormon scholar to be heard above the noise.

Around 1990, on behalf of his fellow editors for the then-forthcoming "Encyclopedia of Mormonism," the late Truman Madsen contacted an eminent New Testament scholar named Krister Stendahl. Professor Stendahl had served, by this time, as chaplain and dean of Harvard Divinity School and as the Lutheran bishop of Stockholm (i.e., effectively, as the head of the state church of Sweden), and was also known for his contributions to Jewish/Christian dialogue. Professor Madsen invited Stendahl, a personal friend, to contribute a brief article on baptism for the dead in early Christianity.

Stendahl declined, pleading the demands of a heavy schedule. But Madsen persisted and, already knowing his friend's general position on the matter, offered to draft something himself and send it to Stendahl for revision; once the article was satisfactory, it could appear under Stendahl's own name. Eventually, Stendahl agreed to the proposal.

But when the draft arrived, Stendahl wasn't at all happy with it. Madsen's proposed article, he said, was too noncommittal; the Mormon position was stronger than the draft had suggested. So Stendahl wrote an entirely new article, after all.

This is the entry that now appears in the "Encyclopedia of Mormonism."

Referring to 1 Corinthians 15:29 ["Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?"], Stendahl briefly alluded to a number of conflicting explanations of the passage. However, he wrote, "the text seems to speak plainly enough about a practice within the Church of vicarious baptism for the dead. This is the view of most contemporary critical exegetes." And, he concluded, such a position is "quite reasonable."

On at least two other occasions, though, Professor Stendahl (who died in 2008) spoke much more personally about the practice of vicarious baptism for the dead. There is, he once said, such a thing as "Christian envy." His own fellow Protestants, he lamented, typically give little thought to their forebears; they certainly don't seek them out in order to bring the blessings of Christ to the dead.
Accordingly, he described himself as feeling "Christian envy" for the Mormon practice of performing ordinances in the temple on behalf of deceased ancestors.

On another occasion, captured on film and easily accessible online in the wonderful little "Mormon Messages" video titled "Why Mormons Build Temples," Stendahl spoke of the practice of baptism for the dead with extraordinary warmth and appreciation:

"It's a beautiful thing," he remarked. "I could think of myself as taking part in such an act, extending the blessings that have come to me in and through Jesus Christ. That's a beautiful way of letting the eternal mix into the temporal — which, in a way, is what Christianity is about."

As Latter-day Saints seek to make their own voices heard amidst the sensationalism, disinformation, hostility and clamor of this "Mormon Moment," believing members of the church and their friends would do well to give this little video, including Stendahl's strikingly affirmative remarks, even wider circulation than it's already had. This can be done on message boards and blogs, in online "comments" sections, via e-mail and in numerous other ways.

Another extremely useful resource is a series of articles that has recently appeared in volumes 19 and 20 of the Maxwell Institute's "Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture": 1) "Salvation for the Dead in Early Christianity," by Roger D. Cook, David L. Paulsen and Kendel J. Christensen; 2) "Baptism for the Dead in Early Christianity," by David L. Paulsen and Brock M. Mason; 3) "Redeeming the Dead: Tender Mercies, Turning of Hearts, and Restoration of Authority," by David L. Paulsen, Kendel J. Christensen and Martin Pulido; and 4) "Redemption of the Dead: Continuing Revelation after Joseph Smith," by David L. Paulsen, Judson Burton, Kendel J. Christensen and Martin Pulido. The first three are accessible online at maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/; the most recent article is available in print, but hasn't yet been put online.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

East Brunswick YSA's Got Talent!

Richard, EBYSA Elders Quorum President, played piano solo.

Tyler, EBYSA Sunday School Counselor, sang selection from "Les Miz."

Sydora lit up the stage performing a modern dance to "It's a Wonderful World."

EBYSA Elders Quorum Choir performed a hymn.

In 5 minutes, Sister Dixon schooled us on "How to Paint a Masterpiece".

Michael C, EBYSA Elders Quorum counselor, did a cognitive memory trick!

Billy, EBYSA Sunday School teacher, played the bass!

Alex finished up EBYSA Talent Show
with an amazing piano piece!

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

from Paula Deen
1 box Nilla Wafers (or 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies)
6-8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container Cool Whip, thawed (or equal amount sweetened whipped cream)

Line bottom of 9x13” pan with Nilla Wafers. Slice bananas and layer evenly on top of wafers. Combine milk and pudding mix using handheld mixer. In separate bowl, mix together cream cheese and condensed milk until smooth. Gradually fold in whipped cream. Add cream cheese mixture to pudding mix and stir until well blended. Pour mixture evenly over bananas and cover with remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Princeton YSA attacking pudding! It was a BIG hit!
Princeton YSAs accused me of only snapping pix
when they were eating. So, here's a staged one!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

PA Dutch-Amish Market

Look for it within Kingston Mall shops
at 4437 Route 27, Kingston, NJ
This is our favorite breakfast "guilty-pleasure" stop: Pennsylvania Dutch Farmer's Market in Kingston, New Jersey.

Not only are there enticing fast food treats, they also sell bakery items, cheese, meat, PERFECT fresh vegetables, ice cream, sweets, preserves...and furniture!

It's fun to watch the Amish make their pretzels and other bakery items. (We admire their work ethic and cleanliness, too!)

(Google it and print out their weekly coupons before you go!)
View entering front door--fast food counter

Elder S's favorite: Steak & Cheese Roll-HUGE!

Sister S tried French toast and fresh Amish sausage-

Several of our YSA students have commented
on Amish pretzels-big as a hand!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thoughts on an Understanding Heart

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? 1 Kings 3:9

             “If the Lord was pleased because of that which Solomon had asked of him, surely he would be pleased with each of us if we had the desire to acquire an understanding heart. This must come from conscious effort coupled with faith and firm determination. An understanding heart results from the experiences we have in life if we keep the commandments of God…
“The ills of the world would be cured by understanding. Wars would cease and crime disappear. The scientific knowledge now being wasted in the world because of the distrust of men and nations could be diverted to bless mankind…
“We need more understanding in our relationships with one another, in business and in industry, between management and labor, between government and the governed. We need understanding in that most important of all social units, the family; understanding between children and parents and between husband and wife. Marriage would bring happiness, and divorce would be unknown if there were understanding hearts. Hatred tears down, but understanding builds up.
“ Our prayer could well be as was Solomon’s, ‘Lord, give me an understanding heart.” -Howard W Hunter, Conference Report, Apr 1962, pp 75-76

A prophet of the Lord, President Hunter, gives us the equation for an "understanding heart." If "a" is empathy which comes from wisdom, experience, humility, knowledge, compassion, etc and "b" is being a disciple of Christ (i.e. keeping His commandments, coming "from conscious effort coupled with faith and determination"), then "c" is not just possessing an understanding heart but doing and/or serving.

Something to ponder: Our CES instructor noted that "a" would never equal "c" without "b" added to "a."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Soul Delighteth in the Scriptures

For some time I have felt like Nephi, "And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children." 2 Nephi 4:15

Today at our CES Inservice meeting, our teacher talked about the remedy for those who say: "I don't understand the scriptures." He referred us to two scriptures that point out what we need to do.

"Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again. 3 Nephi 17:3

"For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." Ezra 7:10

We must 1) PONDER, 2) ask God, in Christ's name, for help understanding scriptures, and 3) PREPARE our hearts TO DO His Will.

We have learned that reading scriptures should be a DAILY commitment. Just like playing piano, you can't expect to play a masterpiece your very first time. With every practice, you become more comfortable. Your anxiety gives way to enjoyment and appreciation. If you struggle, you get help--your piano teacher if you want to master music or God, the Father, in Jesus Christ's name, if you want to understand scripture. With daily practice, prayer and understanding, YOU DO IT!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

Atonement is Individual Experience

from “Lighten Up” by Chieko N Okazaki, page 174

Well, my dear sisters, the gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything—absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer—how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20) He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.

             You know that people who live above a certain latitude and experience very long winter nights can become depressed and even suicidal, because something in our bodies requires whole spectrum light for a certain number of hours a day. Our spiritual requirement for light is just as desperate and as deep as our physical need for light. Jesus is the light of the world. We know that this world is a dark place sometimes, but we need not walk in darkness. The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, and the people who walk in darkness can have a bright companion. We need him, and He is ready to come to us, if we’ll open the door and let him.   

Monday, February 13, 2012

Prayers for Our Mission President

We learned Saturday that President Jeppson will be undergoing surgery and treatment in Salt Lake City for 6 weeks. Our love and prayers go with Pres & Sister Jeppson. We look forward to their return!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake

Lemon Yogurt Cake adapted slightly from Barefoot Contessa
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fat-free Fage Greek yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
Grated zest of 2 lemons (substituted Meyer lemons this time!)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1) Preheat oven to 350oF. Grease 8 ½ X 4 1/4 X 2 ½” loaf pan. Line bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour pan.
2) Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients. With rubber spatula, fold vegetable oil into batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until cake tester placed in center of loaf comes out clean.
3) Meanwhile, cook 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in small pan until sugar dissolves and mixture is clear. Set aside.
4) When cake is done, allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on baking rack over sheet pan. While cake is still warm, poke holes in top with toothpick, then pour lemon-sugar mixture over cake and allow to soak in. Cool.

Eatontown YSA Friends

Lovely ladies: Brittany, Laura, Sister D, Dalia & Jennifer

Say 'cheese': Sister S, Edhgar, Elders S & D

Choices, choices: Sister D, Sydora & Laura

Say what?!! Sydora & Jack

YSA NYC Conference directions: Jennifer, Dalia & Laura

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trivia: What Famous Sporting Event Took Place in New Jersey?

Rutgers' Knights
From "State Shapes New Jersey" by McHugh & Schrier (2010): The 1st intercollegiate football game ever. It was played in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton. Princeton won. Richard Peterson corrected me about who won 1st game. From Wikipedia: "In what some regard as the very first game ever played of intercollegiate football, a contest was held between teams from Rutgers College (now Rutgers University) and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). The 1869 game between the two schools is important in that it is the first documented game of intercollegiate game called football between two American colleges. The game was undoubtedly different from what we today know as American football, as there was no running with the ball, each team included 25 players, and the ball was perfectly spherical. (The first game which included running with the ball, 11-man sides, and oval-shaped ball, and tackling to end a play occurred on 4 June 1875 between Harvard University and Tufts University.) Rutgers won the game by a score of 6-4. A rematch was played at Princeton a week later under Princeton rules. One of the biggest differences in rules was the awarding of a "free kick" to any player that caught the ball on the fly. This rule seriously affected the speed advantage of Rutgers that had allowed them to win the first contest. Princeton won the second game by a score of 8-0. The two schools had originally scheduled to meet 3 times in 1869, but the third 1869 game never took place, reportedly because of the officials at both programs who complained about more emphasis being put on the contests rather than academics and studying. Other sources claim that it may have been canceled due to disagreement over what set of rules to play under. Due to each team winning one game, the inaugural football "season" ended with Princeton and Rutgers each tied at 1-1, and therefore each received a partial share of the college football national championship awarded (retroactively) for the 1869 season."

Princeton's Tigers

Confronting Cupid: For Singles on Valentine's Day

by Ryan Kunz © LDS Living, 2012
I've heard Valentine's Day also called Singles Awareness Day (or, more appropriately, SAD). It doesn't have to be all doom and gloom for the single, though, no matter what Cupid says.

My original intention in writing this blog was to make a list of things you could do if you’re single in Valentine’s Day to take your mind off your lack of a lover. I meant to suggest that should you find yourself bereft of a boyfriend or girlfriend on this auspicious day, you could bake cookies with your roommates, learn to play the bagpipes, or use the time to finalize your zombie apocalypse preparedness plans. My suggestions were ridiculous—and then I realized it’s because the entire concept is ridiculous.

My suggestions were designed with the idea in mind that if you’re single on Valentine’s Day, you’re missing out—like you’re locked in your room while all your friends are in the middle of a pool party, forced to find ways to entertain yourself in lieu of real fun. Of course we all want someone; we all want companionship and love and babies and chocolates and cuddling and cute little “his/hers” bracelets. But we don’t have to feel excluded. That stuff will come. For now, just have fun.

That’s the message I decided to go with. If you’re single on Valentine’s, there’s no reason to mope. If you have the desire to gather your roommates and watch all of Lost while drowning in assorted treats of dubious nutritional value on this special day, go on ahead. But don’t do it because you’re single and depressed. Do it because you’re enjoying life.

We can remind ourselves on Valentine’s that our Facebook status perpetually lists us as single, but we shouldn’t dwell on it. It’ll all work out in the end. There’s nothing wrong with being single, and you know it. Have a good Valentine’s Day, and don’t treat your activities like consolation prizes. Maybe you’d rather be dating right now, but until then, live your life. Don’t stare out the window while morosely watching Cupid spread his arrows. Pick up an errant arrow and shove it right up Cupid’s cherubic nose.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Good Deeds

Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves--to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life. -2 Nephi 10:23

Monday, February 6, 2012

Senior NJ Morristown Missionary Couples

Standing: Sister Jeppson & Pres Jeppson, Sister & Elder Butterfield,
Elders Anderson, Christiansen, Packer, Webster, Clark, Dixon,
Sisters Dixon, Christiansen, Anderson, Phillips
Sitting: Sisters Goodwin, Clark, Packer, Webster, Smith

Power of Scripture

Studying, memorizing and pondering scripture can:
-help in times of need
-give inspiration and comfort
-be source of inspiration for needed change
-give direction to life
-form foundation of support
-provide large resource of willing friends
-unlock revelation, guidance and inspiration from Holy Ghost
-calm agitated soul
-give peace, hope and confidence
-heal emotional challenges
-accelerate physical healing

Friday, February 3, 2012

Upside Down Start to February YSA Treats

Jesse's birthday, too!
Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Decade of Cooking the Costco Way (2011) p 217 (serves 8)

3/ 4 cup butter, divided into ½ cup and ¼ cup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple rings, drained
15-20 maraschino cherries
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/ 4 teaspoon baking powder
1/ 4 teaspoon baking soda
1/ 4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/ 2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1/ 4 cup milk
1) Preheat oven to 350oF.
2) Cut piece of parchment paper to fit bottom of spring form pan. Spray bottom of spring form pan with non-stick spray and place parchment on top.
3) Melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 stick) with brown sugar. Add lemon juice and apples to coat. Cook 1 minute. Add cherries and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Reserve remaining sugar-butter liquid.
4) Arrange fruit in bottom of 9” sprayed spring form pan.
5) In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
6) In another bowl, beat 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter and sugar. Add egg, vanilla, yogurt and milk. Mix well. Gradually add flour mixture (step #4) and combine thoroughly.
7) Pour any remaining sugar-butter from Step #2 over prearranged fruit.
8) Pour batter over prearranged fruit.
9) Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool 1 hour. Release outer spring form. Invert cake over platter. Pull off parchment paper.

Answers to Prayers

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Temples Are a Beacon

To Obey is Better

Elder Sierer's FAVORITE scripture:
And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. -1 Samuel 15:22

Sister Sierer noticed the next verse is instructive:

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou has rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king. -1 Samuel 15:23