Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yet another chili recipe

I made chili today and adapted my "Texas Smokin" Chili recipe. This one has a richer tomato flavor with just hint of smokiness. It also only makes 1/2 as much as my other recipe.

4 pounds ground meat, browned and drained
2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
2 Tbl tomato paste
2 Tbl hot smoked paprika
2 Tbl ancho chili powder
1 Tbl ground coriander
1 Tbl mexican oregano
1 Tbl thyme
½ Tbl ground cumin seed
½ Tbl salt
1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips (add during the last hour of cooking to thicken)

Throw everything into a large crockpot and cook for several hours. Top with grated cheese, sour cream, and, if desired, diced raw onion. For a real treat, put some frito's in the bowl first and pour the chili on top for Frito Pie. Tortilla chips can also be used.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back in business

Wednesday evening a bad storm moved through the area leaving nearly 400,000 homes without power - including ours. It just came back on today (Friday). Nearly two whole days without electricity has made me realize for the little things that I take for granted, like
  • Air conditioning
  • hot water heaters (cold shower - not fun)
The biggest problem - was boredom. Especially after the sun went down. Playing family games by candlelight isn't as fun as it sounds.

But, we went to see Up (the movie) last night - and it was actually much better than I thought it would be. The last 3D movie we saw was Bolt - and I was expecting more of the same. Up has quite a good storyline.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sacrament meeting talk

I spoked in Sacrament meeting on 5/31/2009. Below is the text of my talk

Teaching the gospel

This past year I decided to grow a vegetable garden. As such, I’ve been doing a lot of research into organic gardening and how to best grow vegetables in our Texas climate. One thing I’ve learned is the importance of having good soil. Our clay soil here in Grapevine is heavy and essentially devoid of nutrients. I’ve learned that for a successful garden it is important to mix organic material into the soil to help loosen it and add nutrients for healthy root growth.

Working out in the garden gives me time alone to contemplate – as I was preparing for this talk, I began to consider that teaching the gospel is a lot like growing vegetables. First and foremost, we need to provide a fertile ground for the gospel to take root.

In a garden, healthy soil leads to healthy plants. Many problems encountered in the garden are directly attributable to poor soil conditions, be it lack of nutrients, moisture – or even too much and moisture or the wrong blend of nutrients. Healthy plants are able to better withstand disease, insects, and other garden problems.

Likewise, a healthy home leads to healthy families. Many of the problems we see in the world around us are directly attributable to problems in the home – be it lack of love and respect, or even too much attention and over bearing parents.

But, a healthy home may not be enough. That’s where we – the ward village – comes in.

We are fortunate to live in an area with good schools – but as good as our schools are, the teaching is essential devoid of any gospel nutrients. This becomes increasingly critical as our children grow older and more involved in school activities and other worldly endeavors.

So, we as the ward village, provide gospel instruction each Sunday through primary, Sunday School, young men, young women. As the children in our ward village get older, we further supplement this with wholesome activities on Wednesday evenings.

But, as they enter into their final 4 years of school, even that is not enough – and that is where brother Gurney and I come in. We provide gospel instruction each school day before the crack of dawn - to a room full of sleepy and bleary eyed teenagers, we teach them the gospel

After His resurrection Jesus Christ appeared to His disciples. In John chapter 21 we read

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto
him, Feed my sheep.
Feed my lambs - Feed my sheep - Feed my sheep.

Is there any significance to His saying “Lambs” first? And who are the lambs? They are the children and young men and women in our ward village. First we must feed the lambs – and then we must feed the sheep – and then we continue feeding the sheep for the rest of their moral lives.

So, regardless which role we have – that of a parent teaching the gospel in our home or that of a teacher supplementing gospel instruction at church – we are all gospel teachers.

Something else I’ve learned in my gardening research is that plants are able to take in nutrients through their leaves as well as through their roots. So, I’ve been spraying my vegetables with garrett juice, a concoction developed by Howard Garret consisting of compost tea, liquid seaweed, molasses, vinegar, and other ingredients which helps to supplement the soil conditioning I did prior to planting.

Likewise, all of us called to positions of teaching, in our ward village, regardless of whether we are feeding lambs or sheep - we are the garrent juice for our ward garden - we supplement the gospel teaching that begins in the home.

In the October 2008 general conference, William D. Oswald, 2nd counselor in the Sunday School general presidency outlined 3 principals in teaching the gospel to others.

Principal 1: Show love to those you teach and call them by name

We need look no further than the savior to find examples of this. In the Gospel of John 10:3 we read the words of Jesus Christ saying

3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

In the Gospel of Luke 10:20, when the Savior was instructing the Seventy, he said
20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
In the sacred grove, Joseph Smith wrote
One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

Principal 2: Teach from the scriptures

In the gospel of John, the savior said in chapter 5:39
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
The apostle Paul wrote in his second epistle to Timothy 3:16

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

Principal 3: Encourage the pondering of gospel truths

The apostle Paul also wrote to Timothy in his second epistle to Timothy 2:7
7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
When the resurrected Christ taught the Nephites, he said in 3 Nephi 17:3

3 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.
In a revelation given through Joseph Smith to David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., and John Whitmer, the Lord said in D&C 30:3

3 Wherefore, you are left to inquire for yourself at my hand, and ponder upon the things which you have received.
As gospel teachers, let us remember these three simple principals

Now, I have to confess, I did not attend seminary while in high school. Truthfully, I never even heard of seminary until I was serving on my mission. I joined the church in college and was involved in the young adult program – and what the younger kids were doing was not even on my radar. Two years after my baptism I was called to serve a full time mission in Missouri.

While serving on my mission, I was able to interact with other elders – some of whom I developed a great deal of respect for. As I got to know these brethren, I began to notice patterns and trends in their upbringing. One thing I observed is that those elders who faithfully attended seminary were generally much better prepared as missionaries.

Tonight is seminary graduation. It is a time when we honor and celebrate those students who were faithful in their attendance and participation. It is quite an accomplishment and it’s important that we celebrate. But what about those who struggled a bit and fell short?

Back to my garden analogy – probably the most important factor in a successful garden is water. A plant may not thrive in poor soil without adequate nutrients; but, without water it will shrivel up and die.

Jesus referred to His gospel as “living water” when speaking to the woman at the well where we read in John 4:13-14

13 . . . Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
In John 7:38 we read

38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

When it comes to watering plants there are two factors to consider

  1. Provide water regularly
  2. Help the plants retain the moisture in between watering
The same can be said for the Living water. We need to partake of the living water regularly and we need to help those we teach retain the living water.

In the garden, we can help the soil retain moisture with mulch; that is, a dressing of leaves, bark, or other organic material laid out on top of the soil. One of the things I’ve observed in my vegetable garden is just how big of a difference even just a little mulch can make. While more mulch is even better as it can also help curb weeds – even just a little mulch, barely enough to cover the soil, can make a world of difference in the moisture retention properties. I’ve witnessed areas of my garden that had received the same amount of water where the unmulched soil was bone dry while the soil right next to it with just a little much still had moisture.

For those lambs whose seminary attendance was a bit off. Faithful seminary attendance is the ideal – but even just a little seminary attendance can make a world of difference in the retention of the Living Water and help to withstand the pressures of the world.

There are many reasons where attending seminary each morning can be much more difficult for some than it is for others – and it is not for us to judge one another. But, for those who have struggled – I just want you to know that your efforts have not been in vain, and that you will be rewarded for whatever attendance you can muster.

In closing, I want to share part of one of my most favorite hymns - hymn number 85 “How Firm a Foundation”. I especially love the 3rd verse which reads
Fear not, I am with the; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
There is another verse which we seldom sing – the last verse of the hymn which reads
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!
May we all partake in the living water of the gospel - in the sacred name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen