Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Moist and Soft 100% Storage Wheat Bread

My wife Ruth has been making whole wheat bread from our LDS storage wheat for years.  Anyone who has tried making bread from storage wheat knows how difficult it can be not to end up with a dense lump of concrete in the end. Making bread from 100% red winter wheat is not easy.  Ruth has perfected the process and I wanted to share her recipe. 

[Recipe Makes 3 Loaves]
2-1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbs bread yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs (heaping) dough enhancer
(substitute egg or milk powder)
4-1/2 cups fresh medium ground whole wheat flour

First add yeast to warm water and let sit until foamy. 

Mix wet ingredients, sugar, salt and dough enhancer first before adding flour last.  Mixture at this point should have the consistency of pancake batter.

Kneed mixture in Bosch Universal with kneeding hooks on low for 12 minutes. 

Add aproximately 2 cups additional fresh ground wheat flour while dough is kneeding until dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl.  Add 1/2 cup at a time until proper consistency is achieved.  Additional flour amount will depends on coarseness or fineness of your flour.

Shape loaves and place in greased bread pans and allow to rise for 45 min.

Bake at 325 F for 25 minutes.

If you are making bread without a mixer, add all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl to the point that the dough is the consistency of pancake batter, cover bowl with cloth or saran wrap and let the mixture rise until it is doubled.  Then "punch down" the dough and kneed it by hand on a flour-coated bread board.  Add the additional flour until the dough stops sticking to your hands and the bread board.  Form 3 loaves, place in greased pans, and allow the loaves to "double" again before baking.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Activity Day Girls Curriculum

My wife and I have been talking about a possible quality and quantity difference between the curriculum for the activity day girls and young women vs. the cub scout and boy scout programs.  We have several daughters who participate in the activity day girls program.  Our two daughters have expressed that the church's activities day curriculum does not match up to the boy's programs.  This is not a problem with the quality of leadership.  The leadership in the Primary, activities day girls, and young women's is excellent.  However, the cub scout and boy scouts have the advantage of a long-established curriculum and a lineup of big traditional events.  Activity Day girls is a rather new program in the Church and doesn't have the same developed curriculum or tradition of bigger events.   I have been pondering on this for several years and have a proposal to develop a curriculum and big activity outline for both the young women and activity day girls.

First, let me explain that I do not think an effective activity day girl's program should mirror cub scouts.  Activity day girls can be as good as or even better than cub scouts. Having attended several wonderful activity day girl functions and having participated in the cub scouts, I can tell you that I am impressed with the maturity of our girls.  While the cub scout activites are focused on basic tasks like paying attention, sitting still, following directions and taking turns; our girls are ready and eager to start learning life skills even at age 8.  I don't think our boys reach the same level of maturity until age 10-11 (Webelos and 11-year-scouts).  However, the cub scout program will also be changing to a more skill-based program as well. 

Second, I think the "Faith in God for Girls" program is an excellent and inspired program.  This proposal in no way seeks to supplant or diminish from this wonderful program.  Accordingly, the Activity Day Girl Program should incorporate the Church's "Faith in God for Girls" by including elements of service and spirituality wherever and whenever possible. Weekly activities can involve elements of service including larger stand-alone service projects.

Third, I think some girls do not realize how dull scouts can be sometimes. Yes, the monthly camping and outdoor program is great.  However, the required merit badges covering Communications, Personal Finance, Citizenship in the Community, Nation and World are very dry.  The scouting outdoor program helps balance this out.

Fourth, cub scouts and boy scouts have their own committees and much more human resources and money devoted to its success than the girl's programs.  The scout committee requirements come from BSA and not the Church.  In reality, when I was a scout, we didn't have scout committees, and we didn't ever go to scout camp, and I didn't miss it.  I don't think there is much value in trying to emulate BSA committees.

Fifth, I do not think an Activity Day Girls curriculum should mirror the BSA outdoor program. According to the Proclamation to the World: "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."  With this in mind, I believe that an effective activities day girl program should focus on women teaching the girls skills that will help them in their future role as wives and mothers in Zion.

When the young men and women went out together on Trek, there are too many skills for one young man or women to have learn them all. But the boys and girls worked together.  They boys helped set up tents and start the camp fires.  The girls were able to prepare meals.  In that setting the young men and women complemented each other and and learned from each other.

Sixth, like scouting, the young women and adult experts from the ward and stake should routinely be invited and used to help teach and demonstrate elements in the activity day girl curriculum. 

Seventh, Activity Day Girl Curriculum has 18+ areas of focus and 3 yearly big weekend events. One or two areas of focus would be chosen each month.  Each area of focus has several subareas.  The reason it is good to have a standardized curriculum is that certain topics that are important but may seem dull get skipped because leaders want to do only the "fun" activities.  But in reality, even the seemingly dull topics can be made fun with a little creativity.

1. Safety- kitchen, child, home, car, learn about car seats, personal defense, put out kitchen fire, use baking soda, use fire extinguisher, turn off gas and electricity and water in an emergency.
2. Cooking and Nutrition- cookies, cake, pie, holiday dinner, food pyramid, vitamins
3. Sewing- buttons, mend socks, hem, knitting, crochet, quilting.
4. Gardening- soil prep, timing, watering, fertilizer, weeds, spacing, pruning.
5. Child Care- diaper changing, baby sitting, baby proofing home, feeding.
6. Games- board games, pioneer games, get-to-know-you-games, skits, card games, dice games.
7. Party- baby shower, invitations, food, activities, decorations.
8. Canning and Preserving- fruit, meat, smoking, dehydrating, jams and jellies
9. Homesteading- cheese, butter, soap, candles
10. Animal Care- feeding, grooming, pets, chickens, goats, rabbits.
11. Budget and Finance- budget, credit, fill out check, coupons, tithing, sales, thrift, yard  sales.
12. Medical- first aid, cpr, fever, nausea, sprains, cuts, bruises, cold, hygiene 
13. Music- talent show, singing, instruments
14. Family History- pedigree, family search, temple ready, personal histories, scrapbooking.
15. Creative Writing- poetry, journaling, essays, short stories.
16. Art- painting, sculpture, water color, photoshop, crafts.
17. Outdoor Appreciation- biking, hiking, conservation
18. Recycling and Repurposing- "use it up, wear it out, fix it up, or do without"
Eighth, Worldly topics to avoid: hair, makeup, jewelry, fashion, etc. (Isa 3:16-26).

Ninth, There could be a system of recognition set up like scouting to recognize girls for their participation.  Home Depot has a monthly children's work shop.  As part of their program they give out orange aprons and a different pin associated with each months activity.  Something like what Home Depot does could be developed for this program.  Another idea is a charm bracelet could also be developed with separate charms for participation in each area could be awarded. 

Tenth, Activity Day Girls should have several bigger annual events that put into practice and/or showcase many of the skills the girls are learning in their bimonthly activities.  Ideas for bigger annual events includes:

1. Daddy-Daughter Dinner and Dance: this has already been excellently demonstrated by the Stake and Steven's Creek Ward.
2. Stake Fair: All young women and activity day girls from the stake bring activities, crafts, art, posters, demonstrations to share.
3. Outdoor Picnic BBQ Dinner and Fireside: incoperate and showcase outdoor skills like outdoor cooking techniques.
4. Ward Temple Night: the girls watch younger children at the church while parents and young adults attend the Temple.

5. Etiquette Dinner: Girls can cook and serve a multi-course dinner for themselves and parents learning about place-settings, serving, and fine dining etiquette.

FYI:  In May 2015, the Cub Scouting program is about to undergo a major change to become more skill-based and less task-based by adopting an adventure belt loop and pin curriculum instead of the current arrow points. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

For All the Saints

Working with new converts in the Church of Jesus Christ is a challenging yet rewarding part of our service.  My son Devin and I attended an all-LDS encampment at boy scout camp Daniel Boone in NC.  LDS troops are different than the other troops in that we make a point to bring as many of our boys to camp as possible.  This actually lead to some behavior issues and even increased theft at the camp store. Some of the leadership and staff believed LDS troops were wrong to bring all their boys but that summer scout camp should be a reward for the most serious scouters and that LDS troops should exclude the other boys and not bring them to camp.

But that is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Pres. Thomas S. Monson was asked why he supported the BSA position (which is not a change) that boys with same-gender attraction (not leaders) be allowed to continue in the BSA program.  Pres. Monson declared "Boy Scouts is for all the boys". 

Likewise, the gospel of Jesus Christ and our church programs are for "all the members".  Only the Temple is reserved based on worthiness.  Everything else in the Church is for every member, and especially the weakest of Saints". Christ begged Peter and all of us three times, "Feed my sheep, ...  feed my sheep...    feed my lambs". 

Accordingly, the LDS Church participation includes even our newest members.  Pres. Hinkley instructed us that every new member needs 3 things: a friend, a calling, and to be nurished by the Word of God.  Serving in the primary can fulfill all these 3 areas for our new members as they befriend the other leaders and teachers in the Primary,  team teach children's classes. and prepare lessons. Also, do not underestimate the spirit of the children's songs.  They are filled with rich doctrine and the Spirit of Christ.

My local ward has a great non-member serving as our boy scout committee chair.  I warned him when he was assigned that the LDS Church calls people to positions in scouting who might not necessarily have had an interest in scouting before.  Consequently, some of the people in the callings may not be very active in their calling.  However, like the boys and scout camp, the reason we bring all the boys and the reason we give callings and include all the adults is because 1. this is a participatory gospel  and blessings are realized by serving and not just attending and 2. you never know which calling and which boy and which adult will catch fire. 

A little extra information on scout camp.  I asked the staff at camp Daniel Boone if they perceived LDS boys to be any different than the other non-LDS boys who attended the camp.  They unanimously answered,'NO'!.  "Boys are boys", they replied.  While I was initially a little disappointed, their next comment gave me heart.  The staff said that where they did notice a big difference was in the adult leaders.  This tells me that the programs like primary, scouting, priesthood and relief society are successfully transforming normal rambunctious boys and girls into mature and faithful wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, men and women of God. 

Friday, March 06, 2015

Temple: Covenants, Truth, Trust, and Confidence

All Christians look foward to the Second Coming of Christ to the Earth the ushering in of Christ's millennial kingdom.  Scripture reveals that the Holy Temple will accompany Christ's kingdom on Earth and according to Daniel be the mechanism by which Christ's kingdom spreads across and fills the Earth.  How will the Temple spread Christ's truth and kingdom?   In addition to the symbolic beauty of the Holy Temple, there are very real, tangible aspects to the temple as well: 

1. the temple is an institution which holds up virtue (holiness) as a standard. 
 2. our leaders are to be selected based on virtue and not relationship, or kinship, or merit or any other criteria 
 3. the temple gives us a mechanism to identify the honest in heart from the wolves in sheeps clothing. 
 4. evil controls this world by the rich enticing the poor into sin and oppressing them through sin. 
 5. the temple combats evil by fighting poverty, by upholding both consecration and virtue (pure religion is to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world) 
 6. The temple is the great symbol of freedom. "the spirit of the Lord, is the spirit of freedom" "the truth shall make you free" 
 7. In this way, the temple is a watchtower that had the Saints in Missouri had built, they would have recognized the evil men who had infiltrated the church in Missouri, started up the Danites, and inflammed the tensions with the mobs and neighbors, resulting in the expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri. Read D&C 101. 
 8. I have 3 rental properties that I rent out to awesome LDS Tenants. How did I know they were awesome and I can trust them to watch my children or anything else? They actively accept callings in the church and they do them 110%, and they hold temple recommends and they actually go to the temple regularly. 
 9. Zion (Civilization) is built on trust. Economist call this social capital. Who can you trust? Who can you trust to watch your children? Who can you trust to marry and start a family with? Who can you trust to elect as your political leaders? It is not about trusting only LDS people. It is about trusting people with proven lives of virtue.
10. The Church is for sinners to prepare us to enter into the presence of the Father. The Temple makes room for God in this world and the Father only dwells in holiness.  Anyone can go to Church but only those who have sanctified themselves in the blood of Christ and have repented and are living up to Gods standard of virtue and charity can enter the Temple.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Can Mercy Rob Justice?

"What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God." (Book of Mormon, Alma, 42:25)

Mercy does not rob justice. However, justice is not a monster that God must appease.  Gods justice is God doing exactly as He has said and Gods mercy is God doing exactly as He has said.

Blessings are predicated on obedience.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ promises that we will repent the consequences of past sins will not follow us forever.  Instead, through Christ's blood, we can begin to repent and begin to obey and begin to be blessed.  However, some consequences do follow according to the law of the harvest (we grow what we sow).  But what we cannot do is to continue in sin and expect to be blessed.

We cannot claim to accept Christ as our personal Savior and expect to be saved in our sins or expect to be blessed while continuing in our same sinful path without any change or repentance.  Accepting Christ won't cause us to completely loose our sinful natires and become perfect overnight, but, as we draw nearer to Christ, we will begin to change, begin to be delivered from the consequences of past sin, and begin to be blessed.

As we accept Christ, we become born again.  An individual who is born again is not immediately perfect, but desires to cast off the natural man and to submit to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.  They desire that the Lord God who created them should rule and reign over them.  They seek for the day when they eventually will loose all desire for sin and seek no more to do evil but to do good continually.  But the realization of these righteous desires and the realization of the resultant blessings is a life-long process requiring keeping the faith, finishing the course, and enduring to the end. This is how the Book of Mormon teaches us how Jesus Christ saves us from our sins and not in our sins.