Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Easter dinner to remember the life and times of Jesus

We've often done Easter dinner with my parents.  Because we usually go to their house, my mom ends up planning the menu.  This year, however, my parents are visiting my sister in Iowa, so Easter dinner was up to me!  Oh dear.  I love ham, and thought that would be fun, but I wanted a GOOD ham without stuff in it, but didn't want to take the time to figure out what kind of ham to get.  My next idea was to do a Passover-type meal so that we could remember Jesus and learn more about his life.  It ended up being not necessarily a traditional historic Passover meal, but one where we were able to eat some of the foods that Jesus probably ate.

I used the book, A Christ-Centered Easter, by Janet and Joe Hales for my main ideas.  I had fun telling the kids the names of the food we were going to eat and having them guess what they were:

Roasted shankbone of lamb

Roasted egg
Symbolic of roasted offerings at the Israelite temple

Bitter herbs, romaine
Symbolic of Israelites suffering under the Egyptians

Apples, nuts, cinnamon, grape juice
Symbolic of mortar the Israelites used to build Egyptian cities

Dipped into salt water, symbolizes new life of freedom

Unleavened bread
Represents the Israelites swift escape from Egypt

Sweet Potato Salad
A modern Israeli Passover dish

I also served olives, dried apricots, raisins, almonds, and butter.  I'd made yogurt for the occasion, too, but couldn't figure what people would eat it with, so I didn't put it on the table.  I also had home made grape juice, but in the end didn't want it spilled, so I didn't put it out.

Seasoned Lamb and Barley 
(from A Christ-Centered Easter)
2 T butter
1 C barley, rinsed and drained
1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium onions, chopped
1 lb. lamb meat, boneless, trimmed of fat, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt to taste
Pepper to tast
1 T olive oil
6 C chicken stock, divided

Preheat oven to 350*. Brown barley in butter.  Set aside.  Saute garlic and onion in oil.  Combine barley & onion in a 2 qt casserole dish.  Set aside.  Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.  Brown in olive oil and place atop barley mixture.  Pour 3 C chicken stock over meat.  Cover and bake for 1 hour, or until the liquid is almost absorbed.  Add the remaining chicken stock.  Bake for 50 more minutes, or until meat is tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*I used a 1/2 lb. piece of bone-in lamb.  Rather than having cubes of meat, I just browned the whole piece and put it on top of the barley.  I also just put everything in a Crock Pot and cooked it on high for 3-4 hours.  I decreased the water to 4 C, and it turned out really great and quite flavorful.

Green Salad
I put romaine, parsley, and eggs in my salad bowl.  I put crumbled goat cheese on the side for those who wanted to try that.  For the dressing, I made a variation of the Spinach Salad dressing recipe in the Lion House Recipes cook book:

1/4 C olive oil
1/8 t garlic powder
2 T vinegar
2 T lemon juice
1/4 t salt
dash pepper
1 T Parmesan cheese

(from A Christ-Centered Easter)
1/2 C almonds, finely chopped or ground
1/2 large apple, finely chopped
 3 T grape juice
1/4 t cinnamon

Mix all together.  Can prepare a day before.

My Matzah turned out like a rock, so I'm not even going to post the recipe, nor do I think I'll ever make it again. But, it gave us a good appreciation for what the pioneers went through when they had to eat flour/water cakes.  It was probably also pretty close to the hard tack the pilgrims ate.  Ew.  Modern day saltines are so much better.  Well, maybe I just made my Matzah wrong.  When I realized the Matzah was lousy, I whipped up some French baguettes that I learned to make from the Food Nanny earlier in the day.  They turned out delightful and I will definitely be making them again!

Sweet Potato Salad
I wanted to add a little more variety to our fare, so I went to an Israeli food blog that my cousin who lives in Israel had linked to and found this fun recipe.

1 large sweet potato
1 medium red onion, sliced finely
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley

Scrub, but don't peel, the sweet potato. Chop it into large dice.  Put the chopped sweet potato in a pan with salted water to cover, and bring it to a boil.  Lower the flame and cook for 7 minutes. Start testing the pieces for tenderness. They should take between 7-10 minutes to cook till tender but still firm.  Drain the pieces at once and run a little cold water over them to stop the cooking.  Put them in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Taste for the exact balance of salt, sour and sweetness that you like, and adjust accordingly. Use a wooden spoon to stir - gently.  Chill the salad in the fridge for an hour before serving. Simple, colorful, and satisfying.

I loved all the food (except for the Matzah as I said).  My inlaws also loved the food (even my father-in-law ate the Matzah).  My husband and the kids were slightly more picky. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why I can't support same-sex marriage

My Family from

I believe in traditional marriage. I believe children are entitled to be born to a father and mother who honor their marriage vows faithfully. I know that redefining marriage may seem like the compassionate thing to do, but I truly believe that it will ultimately 
hurt the coming generations and our society as a whole. -- Natalie, Facebook

When Facebook exploded yesterday about same-sex marriage, I knew I had to get up to speed on what is going on. First and most importantly I have to say that I believe in obedience and I believe in my leaders.  I believe it when they say:

  • That marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. [What is our eternal destiny? That we can be with our spouse forever and have children.  To accept any other way would destroy a core LDS belief of the afterlife.]
  • Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
  • THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife.
  • We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. [We NEED to have babies!  No matter what, it ALWAYS takes a part of a male and a part of a female to make a baby.]
  • HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. [Nothing about husband and husband or wife and wife.]
  • Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. 
  • Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.
  • WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
I also don't think Eliza Snow was messing around when she said, "In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!  Truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I've a mother there"  Note, she did not say anything about an extra dad up there.

MMM also talked about the religious aspect of why he cannot support same-sex marriage, and I'm with him completely.

Have you also thought about what gay marriage will do to temple work? Parents will not be able to be sealed, children will not be able to be sealed to parents.  God's plan for the salvation of his children will be even more frustrated than it already is.

I know many people disregard the religious aspect of this, but there is still the future of the children we need to consider.  I learned a lot from this Meridian Magazine article, "The Inequalities of 'Equal' Marriage."
Once we change the essential public purpose of marriage, genderless marriage effectually goes on to legally declare the following: (1) that marriage is about meeting the private emotional and romantic needs of adults; (2) that contrary to nature and science alike, children do not need or deserve the protection, service, and socialization of both a male and female parent; and (3) that government, rather than biology and the procreative act, will determine the roles in relationships.
This legislation retires mothers and fathers, at best leaving only de facto agents of the state, who are, in the words of Judge Vaughn Walker, “joined in an economic partnership” to “support one another and any dependents” in their custody, as long as their “feelings about one another” motivate that action.
 This type of definition undermines familial relationships, whether in divorce court or just over the dinner table. “After all,” the Catholic theologian Bishop Paprocki explains, “if marriage is an emotional union meant for adult satisfactions, why should it be sexually exclusive? Or limited to two? Or pledged to permanence? If children don’t need both their mother and father, why should fathers stick around when romance fades?” And why should there be legal recourse to mother and child when that father abandons them? He’s only a romantic attachment. 
And by the way, here's a great one again reaffirming that a traditional family provides the best environment for children to thrive.  Just because we define family as any group of people, does not mean that children in any "family" will do as well as those in a married heterosexual home.  It makes me sad that rather than trying to make society stronger, we're just making it more shaky.  Are we not looking toward the future?  Watch the video, it's fantastic.

My heart broke reading the story of Robert Lopez, a bisexual man who grew up in a home with two moms. He felt so awkward, and didn't learn many social cues that come naturally to mother/father led homes.  He, however, eventually figured out where he fit in and stated,
Once I was a father, I put aside my own homosexual past and vowed never to divorce my wife or take up with another person, male or female, before I died. I chose that commitment in order to protect my children from dealing with harmful drama, even as they grow up to be adults. When you are a parent, ethical questions revolve around your children and you put away your self-interest . . . forever. . . .
Many have dismissed my story with four simple words: “But you are conservative.” Yes, I am. How did I get that way? I moved to the right wing because I lived in precisely the kind of anti-normative, marginalized, and oppressed identity environment that the left celebrates: I am a bisexual Latino intellectual, raised by a lesbian, who experienced poverty in the Bronx as a young adult. I’m perceptive enough to notice that liberal social policies don’t actually help people in those conditions. Especially damning is the liberal attitude that we shouldn’t be judgmental about sex. In the Bronx gay world, I cleaned out enough apartments of men who’d died of AIDS to understand that resistance to sexual temptation is central to any kind of humane society. Sex can be hurtful not only because of infectious diseases but also because it leaves us vulnerable and more likely to cling to people who don’t love us, mourn those who leave us, and not know how to escape those who need us but whom we don’t love. The left understands none of that. That’s why I am conservative.
I also appreciated this one by Doug Mainwaring and his brutal honesty about gay relationships as well as the satisfaction that can be found in male/female relationships both for spouses and their children.  (I copied way too much of his article, but there's even more good stuff if your read the actual link.)
The notion of same-sex marriage is implausible, yet political correctness has made stating the obvious a risky business. Genderless marriage is not marriage at all. It is something else entirely. . . .
Philia love between men is far better, far stronger, and far more fulfilling than erotic love can ever be. But society now promotes the lowest form of love between men while sabotaging the higher forms. Gay culture continues to promote the sexualization of all (viewing one’s self and other males primarily as sexual beings), while proving itself nearly bankrupt when it comes to fostering any other aspect of male/male relationships. . . . [I'd say it also applies to heterosexual relationships, too.  Our culture seems to train us to think sex is the best thing in the world.  We ought to rethink that a loving relationship is the best thing in the world, and on top of that, if married, comes sex: the icing on the cake.]
[After marrying a woman and adopting after infertility] A great shock came the day after we brought our son home from the adoption agency. While driving home for lunch, I was suddenly overcome with such emotion that I had to pull the car off to the side of the road. Never in my life had I experienced such pure, distilled joy and sense of purpose. I kept repeating, “I’m a dad,” over and over again. Nothing else mattered. I knew exactly where I fit in within this huge universe. When we brought home his brother nearly two years later, I was prepared: I could not wait to take him up in my arms and declare our kinship and my unconditional love and irrevocable responsibility for him.
Neither religion nor tradition turned me into a dedicated father. It was something wonderful from within—a great strength that has only grown with time. A complete surprise of the human spirit. In this way and many others, marriage—my bond with the mother of my children—has made me a much better person, a person I had no idea I had the capacity to become. . . .
[After he and his wife divorced] I dated some great guys, and was in a couple of long-term relationships. Over several years, intellectual honesty led me to some unexpected conclusions: (1) Creating a family with another man is not completely equal to creating a family with a woman, and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both. . . .
It took some doing, but after ten years of divorce, we began to pull our family back together. We have been under one roof for over two years now. Our kids are happier and better off in so many ways. My ex-wife, our kids, and I recently celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas together and agreed these were the best holidays ever.
Because of my predilections, we deny our own sexual impulses. Has this led to depressing, claustrophobic repression? No. We enjoy each other’s company immensely. It has actually led to psychological health and a flourishing of our family. Did we do this for the sake of tradition? For the sake of religion? No. We did it because reason led us to resist selfish impulses and to seek the best for our children. . . .

To be fully formed, children need to be free to generously receive from and express affection to parents of both genders. Genderless marriages deny this fullness. . . .

Moms and dads interact differently with their children. To give kids two moms or two dads is to withhold from them someone whom they desperately need and deserve in order to be whole and happy. It is to permanently etch “deprivation” on their hearts. . . .

Sexuality is fluid for many, and much more complex than many want to acknowledge. Gay and straight activists alike pretend this isn’t true in order to fortify their positions. . . .

I find that men I know who have left their wives as they’ve come out of the closet . . . adjust their entire view of the world and their role within it in order to accommodate what has become the dominant aspect of their lives: their homosexuality. In doing so, they trade rich lives for one-dimensional lives. . . .
Two men or two women together is, in truth, nothing like a man and a woman creating a life and a family together. Same-sex relationships are certainly very legitimate, rewarding pursuits, leading to happiness for many, but they are wholly different in experience and nature. . . .

Gay and lesbian activists, and more importantly, the progressives urging them on, seek to redefine marriage in order to achieve an ideological agenda that ultimately seeks to undefine families as nothing more than one of an array of equally desirable “social units,” and thus open the door to the increase of government’s role in our lives. . . .
I do feel compassion for gay people who want to marry, but in good conscience, I just can't support it.

*Here's another I'd like to read, and this.

I enjoyed this one at Beautopotamus, too.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Marriage Tips

Over the years my dad has collected advice and counsel about marriage.  At least at one point in time, he printed it off and gave it as part of wedding presents.  Now, he's got it online for your enjoyment!

He begins:

I met my wife just after she submitted her mission papers. I gave her an engagement ring
before she left, and I waited for her while she served a mission to Argentina. While waiting, I had a lot of time to think on the subject of a happy marriage, and to make some plans. Toward the end of her mission, one of my favorite pass-times became asking people what tips they had for one who was about to embark upon the tides of matrimony (not only asking those with happy marriages, but also learning important lessons from those with unhappy marriages and unmarried people). The answers ranged from "don't do it" to any number of very valuable suggestions. I realized that in order to have a pleasant and lasting marriage, positive and deliberate plans needed to be made. I thought of the beautiful young woman I was about to marry and I didn't want to jeopardize a potentially great marriage by making the same mistakes so many others had made. . . .
And a sampling:
  • Never be jealous of your spouse's accomplishments. Be pleased with them. Consider compliments to your spouse, a tribute to you -- that you were clever enough to attract such a person.  -- Gilbert Sharffs
  • Each of us is responsible for our own happiness. We should not expect our spouse to make us happy. -- Ken Rice  
  • If your wife asks you to do something, do it. She doesn't ask unless she really wants your help.  -- Reid E. Bankhead 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Concerned about Marriage?

In this month's Ensign, there's a little devotional summary by Earl Tingey entitled, "Overcoming Challenges to Marriage."  I really appreciated the points:

“1. There may seem to be less encouragement for returned missionaries to get married. If that is your understanding, it is false. All returned missionaries should be encouraged when they return home to remain active in the Church, secure an education, acquire employment skills, and move in the direction of finding an eternal companion.
“2. Some young men feel they cannot meet the expectations of some young women. … Proper communication can address that uncertainty.
“3. An emphasis on education or career may put marriage in a lesser role. Marriage, education, and career can go together. A career without family, where family is possible, is a tragedy.
“4. Do not let your life be simply an existence that is fun or selfish. Life is more than an amusement park. Do not be hooked on obtaining possessions. Accept responsibility.
“5. A negative perception of marriage … may deter one from marriage. Some say, ‘Why get married when there are so many divorces?’ The existence of divorce does not mean you cannot have a happy and successful marriage. Don’t let the actions of others make your decisions. Determine that your marriage will not be a failure.
“6. Some put off marriage for financial reasons. Postponing marriage until money is sufficient to sustain a stylish living is not wise. So much of life together—struggling, adjusting, and learning to cope with life’s challenges—is lost when that happens.”

From “Three Messages to Young Adults,” Ensign, Apr. 2007, 38.

Emphasis added.