Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cirques

I find the world is filled with circuses all around me these days.  Sometimes they seem the fun ones with the grands posting pictures and having fun.  Other times it's a room filled with clothes from closets and drawers as I go about my activity of Tidying Up and Changing  My Life (see:  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book) and picture my kids happy that I've done this when I'd dead so their work will be less burdensome. There is the circus of flowers and vegetables and fruits in our yard...many edibles but others providing joy and laughter as they blend in drifts in the Gardens of Warwick that Robert tends (not me!  Too many bugs!)

Then there is the circus of clowns on the Supreme Court of the land.  This should be a sacred appointment, with justices asking the Lord for direction.  Instead it's manned by men who apparently forgot their appointments are for life and they aren't going to need the popular vote to retain these seats.  But they seem instead to be the clowns of the devil.

But last week Jocelyn sadly experienced another circus, one touted as being for ALL AGES and FREE.  The family planned for it and were all excited to attend...only it turned into a horror show.  Jocelyn posted her objection to what they endured online and I noticed her comments got lambasted because she reported it and the next performance 'supposedly' was changed and some moms were irate that they wouldn't get to see the strip act.  I looked up this 'famous and award winning' show online, from Sweden and this is what I found:

MAGMANUS SHOW

In this show you will meet an angry, small but passionate acrobat and a stupid, gigantic yet so lovable juggler. Together they perform in a warm circus show with jaw dropping skills and stomach turning comedy. It is filled with Bollywood juggling, teeterboard dancing and handstand, and has a high flying acrobatic grand finale performed in – a g-string. A show you will never forget!

And apparently that is what Jocelyn and her kids experienced.  But who looks up info on a free show for all ages in a park, in the middle of Mennonite Country?   No one I know of.  I talked to Jocelyn when I realized they had had this experience.  Knowing how they've taught their children well, knowing how they've remembered as parents all these good things apply to themselves as well as to the children, I wondered why they didn't leave.

Jocelyn, I am sure, felt I was accusing her.  I was not!  I just needed a grip on how a free circus for all ages could turn into this.  But this is the era of Satan's tactics getting into our lives with no advance notice. How easy he makes all indecency seem.  How when you are the one objecting you are the one who is wrong.

Does this ring a bell?  Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

What did ring a bell for me from Jocelyn experience is one I had myself decades ago and I need to record it.  Years ago Robert and I were with good friends.  She said, "Oh!  You have to go see the new Indiana Jones movie, Temple of Doom." 

Having seen the first one and now having been assured it was fine, we went.  But it was OH-SO-NOT.   It was a movie I have NEVER viewed again. But I could not leave.  It wasn't that I didn't want to..Oh I so did!  When I say I COULD NOT I mean I COULD NOT.  Later I asked my friend what was she thinking in recommending this movie to us when she knew how we felt about such themes.  Her answer was that she was standing next to her husband and she didn't want him to think she was a prude but that it was, indeed, horrible for her.  What a disappointment.  From then on I never trusted her account of anything.  She's a good woman, that marriage fell apart anyway.  And I am not even sure she kept with the values she had back then. But of course that's her circus.

Along comes another segment of this story.  Several years ago, I heard about a book called The Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon.  I had loaned it to several people, the last one having kept it too long and when I teased her about it she returned it as well as asking me to order her one.  In ordering it I realized the author had written a second one, Bad Guys of the Bible.  So I ordered us both a copy.  And as I read the introduction and first chapter, suddenly the full memory of that long-ago afternoon in the theaters.  It was as though I was watching a rerun of of the events, the movie but not as a viewer of the scenes. This time it was the scene and I was IN THEM...in the first person as well as the third person.

I could see myself bowing my head and not looking at the screen just as Scarlett did last week.  I remember and saw myself looking to the right, to the aisle, to the door.  To see how to escape that theater.  And yet, my legs would not straighten up.  I could not get my body to rise.  I could feel fear as a cold hand settle on and in me and I felt that something worse was awaiting me if I moved out of that seat.  So I sat very still and very close to Robert's body.  The horrible scene eventually passed and we made it out safely I still have no recollection of how the movie ended.  

Funny how the remembrance of that horrible fear left me til Sunday but those books arrived Sunday while we were at church (and I have to ask, who delivers on the Sabbath?). In just reading those few pages, I was reminded of the actual full series of events of that movie moment.  Reminded in a way I never want to be reminded again.  But I certainly hope I never forget again.  

I called Jocelyn to tell her about the full experience, having already told her the bare bones story when we had talked.  And she replied that that is EXACTLY how she felt, how the other moms who objected to the circus felt.  They felt they just could not move but had no idea why not.

I suppose there are ways to flee from the serpent.  Or always the Yea Yea Nay Nay moment.  I suppose in the future there's going to be a WHOLE LOT MORE investigating of everything before we do it.  And that's a sad state but to be the Watchman on the Tower we will need to be ever vigilant and too often I think I am not.  

I am grateful for this one moment in time that was repeated to me as a movie (there's symbolism there, isn't it?...a movie of a movie of my life?!) and I hope that by writing this down I can better understand it.  Truly I was not criticizing Jocelyn's not moving away from these scenes (altho I should add she did get her kids to come over to her and she made them look at her and then covered them with a blanket til it was over and they could leave...and then have to tell innocent children what they saw or heard and why it was not to be repeated).  I just wondered.  Or maybe I was trying to bring back the full memory that I NEEDED to remember. Who knows? 

All I do know is that I was reminded and am grateful for that replay.  Only now I need to be even more vigilant, especially in the next few days.  For when I have been spiritually strengthened, his forces will be more on the attack.



Friday, June 26, 2015

Cherries

Years ago we planted some cherry trees, north of the garage.  Owning to the fact we had 2 huge trees that provided too much shade and the birds snagged the red treats before I realized they were red we've never gotten many. THIS year I was determined to get a crop.  So early on, when the berries started to become pink we wrapped the trees in tulle leftover from Jocelyn's wedding reception.


Today we decided the cherries were red enough. Off came the tulle and down came the fruit.   We had started with bird netting but that was never going to do the job but you can still see it in place. We actually harvest 2 large breadpans filled.  We did the little tree first and when we came out to do the big one a few hours later, I had to leave the job to Robert...the mosquitos were INSANE and I had no intention on being their breakfast/lunch/dinner.


 Naturally 'some' ended up in the mouths/stomachs before reaching the kitchen.

A large bowl and a large bread pan....nice!


The Gardens of Warwick

Dawn and Connor and Evan got together with a man from their ward and worked on this project for Robert for Birthday/Father's Day.  We were going to Columbus to the temple yesterday but realized that it's the same distance up to Detroit...and Robert could bring home his gift that's he's been salivating over.

 It's official.  Here Dawn is presenting this plaque to her dad.
 And here he is smiling as he has been since Sunday when he saw it on Skype.

We had a lovely day in Dawn's neck of the woods.  She had lunch prepared for us (our favorite Chix/Pasta salad) and then we went to the temple.  Afterwards Dawn, Adelle and I took in a short shopping trip and came home to dinner of a Steak/cheese fajitas on the grill. Ken was able to get home in time to eat with us.  Of course Evan, the pickle juice drinker (through a straw no-less) was there too...but Connor was on The Trek.  Usually I say 'stupid trek' because you know how I feel about this activity and was so happy that Adelle was smart enough to not to want to go and wasn't talking into going just to say she went.

We took our leave and before we left Michigan itself, Robert noticed this rainbow.  Sent it to Dawn who replied, 'A perfect end to a perfect day." And it was.
 I drove up and Robert drove down..but of course Niko who loves the kids went with us and of course has to sit on the passenger's lap.  On the way home, it was my lap he lounged on and he was just exhausted from this huge trip.  He barely kept his eyes open.


This morning, the best guy friend arrived ready to help Robert install it.  Ken Barlow arrived with the spray and the electric drill and stainless steel screws.  He inspected it, saw that it was Cedar and said what Dawn and the boys had put on it would be fine, that it would just weather quite well and turn white or grey UNLESS we wanted something else to keep it more as it it today. 
 Of course I didn't want it to turn grey so he sprayed it with something.
 When it was try, Ken drilled in 4 holes in the corners
 His Ryobi has a place told hold the metal bits BUT the stainsless steel screws needed to be held in his mouth...obviously because they wouldn't be held by a magnet.
 Then the two friends placed the plaque at the corner of the fence line and Ken screwed it on.  It is now securely attached. 

Robert is SO excited.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Jacob Kennedy's talk

I sent out the previous blog entry to all my grandkids by way of their parents.  And wouldn't you just know that I would get an even better 'entry' by return email?  The following is the talk that Jacob gave at his Stake Priesthood Meeting.  Jacob is on the Stake High Council and when we are together he doesn't do a lot of talking. However, it is apparent that he does a lot of thinking.  I'm posting this here so I can have ready access to it for years to come.  It's going to be one of those entries that has a paper/plastic bookmark attached for easy reference once it goes to print.



I have been sent a message.  The message is extremely important to us, and I hope you will consider it seriously.

I am going to talk about preparing young men but I'm going to do it a a little differently. First, I will discuss the importance of preparing yourselves to prepare them, then the importance of correct principles as we teach young men, then some practical ideas to help young men, then the eternal consequences of our roles as fathers and leaders on the youth.

This topic has actually been on my mind for some time, as I see that there is an assault on men and on their eternal roles.  If this assault is successful it can have serious consequences. I was thinking about this and a verse of scripture came very powerfully to me. Jesus used it differently then I will but the principle is very apt. He said in the New Testament:

Mark 3:27  No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house

Matthew 12:29  Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

What happens to our homes or our neighborhoods, or our nation when the strong men are bound either physically, spiritually, or mentally.

A good example of this was in Baltimore. Crime is on the rise and police are afraid to do their jobs because they have lost the support and respect of the community. One news article  said, "More violence in Baltimore, the worst in years as the police union says its officers are under siege and afraid of being arrested just for doing their job." It literally is an example of what happens when the strong men are bound from doing their jobs for any reason.

The same can happen to us.  We can be bound, limiting our ability to protect our families' spiritual safety or physical safety. The scriptures say that when we are bound we must be free. Brethren, we must be free to do our jobs, fulfill our duties to our families, and our communities.
 

Paraphrasing words of Lehi : Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.

What binds us? What makes us unable to do our work of building men, and saving souls, and ourselves? 

1. Sin 
2. Laziness 
3. Apathy 
Yes to each of these three but I want it even more simple. Let's use  the scout oath which many of us have taken upon ourselves.

Remember! We promised to keep ourselves physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. I'd say if we do these things we will be well off.

Physically strong: Physical limitations are often, (though not always) of our own doing. We do not keep ourselves strong. We eat and eat, and are gluttonous , and we do not get active and our bodies decay. Then it's a vicious cycle. It's easy to point a finger at the smoker, or drinker, but how many of us are weak and slow because we eat too much. Jesus was never fat, and he never overate. He had complete control of his appetites and wants us to do the same. Many including myself have this problem we can work on. As I write this I am eating a handful of peanut butter M & M's, and just ate two pieces of pie. This is not gospel 101, its gospel 500.

Mentally awake: We need to make education and self improvement a life long goal. This makes us productive and useful to our families and society. An idle man is not doing his duty,and the idle have no place in Zion according to the scriptures. No matter how old or debilitated you are there is always something you can contribute. Annie Clark, a 7-year-old at Wilson Christian Academy in West Mifflin, Pa., got a trophy and $1,000 as one of two national winners of the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship from the Zaner-Bloser language arts and reading company. She had no hands.

Morally straight: We will have a hard time training our young men to be good, honest, faithful and true to the commandments if we do not keep them . Pornography will tie you up very tight so you can't do anything. For example, you won't be ale to tell your family to keep the sabbath day holy and tell them to read the scriptures when you are watching the game on Sunday and not doing it yourself. It's like saying on Sunday, "Hey, kid get out of here, and go read your scriptures. Can't you see I'm watching the NBA final here."

So we must become free to exercise our duties. Only when we are a truly free, and not bound, we as strong men become very good teachers of the youth.

The best lesson on how to raise a family is summarized in a few short verses of the D and C 122

 41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
 42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
 43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
 44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
 45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith,

If we do these things we will be successful parents and leaders. I often remind my children that I am their father, not their judge. I teach them they are accountable, and they will have to live with the consequences of their actions. I cannot coerce them to do the right things, but I can give them the opportunities to learn, grow, and make choices and do it in a safe and secure environment where they know the faith and can keep it. I joke that I was perfect before I had kids and a wife, because being a man means truly we will suffer long, and love greatly, and be patient. The greatest truly is the servant. We persuade by showing a good example.  We do not control by forcing children.

My kids know my successes and some of my failures, and they know that I have faith in God, and I have high expectations for them. They may go haywire and chose something else some day which would break my heart (Sam , Cody and Peter… I can still guilt them) but should that happen I will love them and wait. That is all you can do, They kick against the pricks and it hurts and the pain will drive them back to the right way most of the time. It takes along time, but God has a long time to work with souls. His dominion increases without compulsory means forever, because every intelligence eventually learns the easy way or the hard way that His way is best.

Practically speaking we need to teach our youth that they are not children but men, we cannot with the world excuse poor decisions because they are just kids. God said the age of accountability is 8 ... so 14 or 20 or 30 year olds don't get a pass because they are "young and stupid," that's the devil's talk. Men are expected to do hard things. They must know that a mission is hard and quitting is not an option. They must do hard things,

Real men are expected to live up to their potential. Real men are expected to work hard. Real men shop, clean house, take care of children, and help the mothers and wives to fulfill their duties. I like when my boys do manly things. Bishop Rupert last week took my boys out to butcher a rooster which I think is a good survival experience, and I appreciated it.

I spent the last 6 years working under Bishop Patrick. If he had a theme song it would be about making the young men do hard things so they could finish their mission, and do hard things in their lives.

I would like to read something from Cody. He was asked to write about something he has done that's hard and what he learned from it. This is what he wrote:

"I am blessed with a Bishop over the past five years who believes it is important for young men to experience grueling physical challenges to help us learn to endure future hardships such as a mission in the future.  To accomplish this goal, two years ago in the middle of July he decided to take the troop out on a 50 mile back packing trip through Indiana, for our high adventure.  To my recollection, his thought is that if we can endure a painful, long, excursion as youth, we will be able to finish hard things as adults.  I hope he is right, because I did endure this difficult journey and therefore will definitely be in a good position to endure a mission.
     There were many elements that made this hike difficult.  First, there were the bugs.  Indiana is loaded with them.  There were mosquitoes, ticks galore, flies, gnats, and other variety insects I cannot name.  These attacked us with merciless abandon on these trails.  I think we heard the bugs laughing out loud when we applied our "insect repellant."  Second, there was the hike itself.  We carried our food, our water , our camping equipment for 50 miles uphill, downhill and on the rare flat terrain.  This was very difficult for us lightweight 14 year olds.  The worst was the last challenge.  The heat and humidity were almost intolerable. It got so bad that when we got to one stretch of highway, several members of the troop literally took off their pants and hiked for miles in their boxer shorts to find some refuge from the elements.  It was purely out of necessity as a survival mechanism.  I list these to give a flavor for our difficulties. 
    These things being explained, I will conclude with credit to my Bishop.  He could have assigned the young men presidency and scout leaders the task to bring the boys out to learn the lessons that nature can teach while he stayed at home in the air conditioning.  However, he went with us, the whole way.  Not only did he go on this trip, he stayed to the rear to see the youngest and weakest boys to the end while I and a few others tried to go as fast as we could leaving the others behind.  I heard that one boy, a nonmember who was always the slowest, heard much encouragement from the Bishop as he plodded along the trail.
    This trip taught me several things.  I have wonderful memories of this trip. My friends that went with me  and I will always remember the 50 mile hike with Bishop Patrick.  I learned that when you do something hard, though painful in the middle, at the end proves much fulfillment.  I learned that to be a leader means to do what you tell others to do, even when you could get out of it.  Lastly, I learned that I can do hard things now and in the future... the lesson the Bishop wanted to teach us. "


It is important to realize that being on a mission will be a hard thing, brethren, and the young men need to be prepared to succeed. In the Marshall Islands Cody must be ready for trials and tribulations, and troubles. It will be hot and miserable…(just leave your pants on, they wouldn't like if you took those off).

The stakes are high, because we are not only raising our children, but we are also raising their children. The lord blesses the righteous to the third and fourth generation of them that love him. How? Because righteous parents raise righteous children and they will raise righteous children so basically the effect of one righteous priesthood holder, can effect your children and your children's children . Thousands of souls will rise up and call you blessed.

Begin with the end in mind. How you see your children in 25 years effects how you treat them today. If you see your children on missions, marrying in the temple and serving in the church faithfully you will do things differently than if you don't see that vision of your children. I have always seen my children as future church leaders, bishops, stake presidents, general authorities, and have always had high expectations of them.

In conclusion Be men. Raise strong men, and help them to be like the master, Jesus Christ whose priesthood this is. He is the ultimate strong man, and no one can spoil his house because of his superior power, and awesome manliness.








I wrote to thank Jacob for sharing his talk with me and his reply told me more about him and the man he is as well as how this talk came to him.  Let me add his reply in part:


It was funny because I really have had the ideas about bind the strong man for a while and when the president asked me to speak it seemed like a great place to talk about it.  I went to write it and it seemed awful and I couldn't get it to come. Then I was in a campout Friday night sleeping under the stars on a cot but I couldn't sleep and was thinking hard about it / praying and it all came to me in that format and I was grateful because I hate to give meaningless or boring talks.  So I give God the credit.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Story of Gardens and Blessings and Tithing and Blessings.


I am not sure which came first…the Garden of Eden and the commandment to Adam to tend the fruits and vegetables or the commandment to tithe 1/10th of all increase.  The Bible is a little confusing when it comes to time lines it seems.  But I do know that both commandments happened and both are commandments we follow today.  I am sending this story to my grandkids and I have a feeling that in some of the families, this testimony might have to be read by the parents.  And that’s OK.

Tithing has always been an important part of our lives, Papa and mine…even before we became Papa and Granny.  It was always a commandment that we obeyed easily.  Tithing is paying 1/10th of increase.  And it is 1/10th of the gross amount we received.  For Papa who worked at the mill, the gross amount would cover the benefits he received from working there as well as the salary he received.  This would include health care which was wonderful for the 7 of us, covering all medical bills to a huge extent.  It included a 401K portion which would be used for our retirement. There was also life insurance for both of us. Toward the end it included dental and vision benefits.  If we had only paid on the net amount (the dollar amount that we could have in our hand as cash) we would never have been able to make this right with the Lord even if we could ‘pay Him back’ which none of us are ever able to do.  All He asked of us is 10%, 1/10th of our increase.  And no….We did not get a increase of say $537.90 and then to the penny paid $53.79.  It just seemed smarter to toss in extra to cover those items we felt blessed with but didn’t seem to have a dollar amount attached to it.

Gardening has also been a part of our lives forever.  When we were first married and had moved to Parma, OHIO, we decided to have a small garden at Auntie Carol/Uncle Al Etzel’s Grafton Ohio, century-old farmhouse land.  That didn’t prove to be very successful since the garden plot was far away from the water line and we were almost 1 hour away and weren’t very good farmers…not living on the land. But we learned about planting and the need for watering and nourishment. and weeding.

When we lived in a 2nd floor apartment in N. Olmsted, Ohio, we also learned to have a teeny tiny garden on the small balcony where Dawn and Cara used to play.  We got 2 plastic laundry baskets, lined them with black garbage bags which we had poked holes in for drainage, filled with soil.  On that small balcony we raised 2 tomato plants.

Then we moved to 809 in Sheffield Lake, Ohio, buying our first home with a lovely backyard.  And Papa decided to put in a garden behind the garage.  He bought sand from the builder’s supply company located on the Black River to break up the clay, poured in the grass clippings every time he cut the lawn.  One year Sheffield Lake gave out free recycle bins as well as rain barrels and of course we used them both.  
   




We tried lots of vegetables and some fruits in those years.  That’s where we began our raspberries and beans and tomatoes.  But we also had grapes for juice and jellies, and tried our hands with carrots, broccoli, lettuce, onions although with those we weren’t  as successful.  But always either Lance or Lady enjoyed the raspberries.  Here’s Lady trying to jump the short fence to get to them (both dogs were buried under the berries and we are sure this is why our berries were so sweet).

Every summer Dawn, Cara, Jocelyn, Marissa, and Jordan would be hauled out to the garden to harvest the beans and tomatoes.  Yes, because we live along the lake shore in Ohio, we get humid summers and more than likely the 5 kids would complain about the bugs, the heat, the itchies or maybe even just having to do this.  This harvesting meant they would also have to drag in the bowls filled with the produce and help clean the stuff as well. Then I would take over canning the produce.  I had sat with them while they cleaned the stuff but I managed the pressure canner, always afraid it might blow up in our small kitchen and hurt one or more of the kids.  But these preserved garden increases held us through the winter and summer until the next harvest and this would be repeated.  Some years we had pumpkins (1998 and here’s toddler Cody. All the grands but especially the Kennedy kids have enjoyed our fruits when they’ve come in season..last year Peter didn't even care that the grapes weren't ripe, still sour, but he cleared the vines!)  to carve for Halloween (one year all the pumpkins in our patch suddenly were turned silver with spray paint that I think the King kids behind us pranked us with).  One year I remember a small, very round watermelon which was very sweet. 

When we decided to move up here to 3830, Papa began the process to provide areas for us to garden.  Gunner and Bonpapa always had terrible times attempting to get anything to grow in this yard.  My mom would always say she was going to have the County Extension agent come out and test the soil but she never did.  So instead we often  shared our produce with them.  Papa has since tested it and there’s nothing wrong pH-wise with this soil…altho most of their gardens were rocks with a little soil on top which Papa has deepened with more soil.

First we enlarged the backyard by having the fence moved out to the sidewalk.  Next because Cara and Jocelyn had told Papa about square foot gardening, Papa put in boxes.  They have never become raised beds and certainly are not square…we always seem to do things in a big way.  Railroad beams were used up here just as they were at 809 in the garden (as well as the upright supports to our food shelves in the 809  basement  that we always commented would withstand a huge earthquake).  Now we are swapping these out for cinderblocks…at least that’s the plan.

We learned that Avon Lake offers free soil and mulch to anyone.  This comes through their city recycling program.  Without a truck, Papa drives over to Rt. 83, the car filled with large buckets and shovels in what he’s come to term “The Recipe” (aka the Baldwin Sisters’ term for hooch in The Waltons…TV show).  And he still goes there several times a week and lugs in the soil and sometimes the mulch they offer free as well.

Our soil up here has become very friable and very rich.  And we have been blessed.

Now we come to the reason for this story.  Last week, our strawberries all ripened at the same time. They were big and red and sweet and juicy.  When I got ready for the day I came down to find the first of 5 HUGE bowls filled with strawberries which Papa had picked.  And I knew this was the day we were going to be preserving the berries.  But this much strawberries was more than we had ever gotten, more than we probably had ever picked at the Historic LDS Johnson Farm in Hyrum, Ohio, where the Prophet Joseph had been tarred and feathered and where he received D&C  76 on the 3 Degrees of Glory… (Jocelyn picks)
(I picked strawberries when I was overdue with Dawn and everyone feared I would deliver in the field and then I’d have to name the baby Strawberry Patch Hatch) or from the fields that used to be on Abbe Road in Sheffield Lake where the now (dratted) Ford plant is or the Aufdenkampe Farm in Vermilion.  I kept cleaning the berries and Papa kept bringing in more bowls.

Suddenly, Papa had the idea to pay tithing of these berries IN KIND. This was how farmers used to pay their tithing when the church was restored…probably in ancient times.  They often didn’t have cash money but they did have crops which were turned into the bishop and to the bishop’s storehouse which the produce was then redistributed to the people in need of food. 

This was a surprise to me.  As I said at the beginning we often put in more money to our tithing to cover such events but we had never, not ever, stopped to think about paying tithing in kind for  produce.  Perhaps this is an outgrowth of the blessing Papa received by being the Seminary teacher this past year and covering Church History. But whatever it was, that’s what he said we would do.

So I weighed out the bowls and we had over 30 pounds of strawberries. We picked out the best, the largest, the prettiest berries and set them aside.  I sat on a chair, bending over the sink cleaning the berries. I kept looking at this small amount that was set aside ..probably close to 5 pounds…and then I’d look at all the berries I had left to clean and process.

And I was quick to see that the Lord asks so little of us.  Only 10% of the berries.  Only 10% of whatever increase we have, in whatever form it takes.  But He does ask us to do this, as a sign of faith and as a sign of trust and when you factor in the Fast Offering it is as a partnership in His great Welfare plan for his people and for the people all over the world who suffer from hardships like drought, or floods, or tornadoes or hurricanes.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is often the first to arrive with relief for such areas.  No, our small bowl of strawberries would not serve to provide relief for many but it provided a strong, HUGE, example to us.

And did I have enough berries for our needs?  Way enough berries.  Enough and to spare as the Doctrine and Covenants said.  I prepared the jelly and had 15 containers filled of freezer jelly in freezer containers PLUS 12 plastic containers filled and they were the small containers little Simon had with his baby food in them…to be given away to good piano students or friends or with a loaf of homemade bread.  PLUS 6 pints of strawberry sauce for over ice cream, waffles, pancakes, or pound cakes.  PLUS we took bags of the berries to our neighbors or Home/Visiting Teaching peoples.

It was quite a day.  And we were so blessed.  All along I had figured this would be our story, our secret, our lesson.  Papa has been so moved by the experience that he’s told a couple people.  The sad part is that apparently the bishop told the story to either ward council or in priesthood meeting (we don’t know where because I was in RS and Papa was in Primary at the piano but it got reported to us). My take on this is that it should have been kept private because when we get rewarded openly we have received our blessing on earth.  Me? I’d prefer to get my blessings in the next life.

BUT HERE’S MY BIGGEST FEAR.  The Lord always blesses us with more when we show our faithfulness.  Not always in tangible things but......WHAT WILL OUR BERRIES BE LIKE NEXT YEAR?
                                                         

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