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The Silence of God by Gale Sears

The Silence of God is a novel centered on the lives of one LDS family who lives in Russia. The family is historically accurate with the father, Johan, mother Alma, and eight children. The Lindlof family is the first LDS family in Russia.
The Prologue, set in 988AD, tells the story of Prince Vladimir who marries a German Christian princess, is converted to Christianity, is baptized, and replaces the Paganism of the nation with Christianity. This sets the stage for the story which begin with LDS Apostle Elder Francis Lyman dedicating Russia to the preaching of the Gospel with the Lindlof family witnessing the 1903 event. Two years later we see one of the sons who is being persuaded to march with workers as they seek to present a petition to the Tsar. The next several chapters bring in a neighbor girl Natasha who grew up with Agnes Lindlof.  These two characters form the main characters of the story. Natasha, an only child, is raised by a religious mother and an atheist father who is a fervent Bolshevik. Natasha becomes part of the workers who are producing propaganda for the Bolsheviks witnessing the night of the takeover in Petrograd. Agnes is not into the political movement and begins to rebel against the constant talk of politics, yet their friendship is still maintained.
This story is engaging and the footnotes offer clarification on which circumstances are fiction and which are historically accurate. It is disappointing to find at the end that the story deviates quite dramatically from the reality. In reality only one of the Lindloff's six children who were sent to a prison camp in Siberia survived. Two daughters died there and the fate of the others is unknown. This story shows some of the brutality and religious hatred that occurred showing it in a personal context rather than a national context, although Ms Sears does not skip over significant historical events. The descriptions of the locations of significant sites such as the Winter Palace, several gardens, and cathedrals are well described. This book will leave you wanting more.


Tinkering With the Three Month Plan

See the previous post on how I came up with a plan for storing three months of regular family foods.

After planning three menus for my family, I decided to give them a try. I knew I needed to see how the plan I had made would work and not wait for the stress of and emergency to test it. I also don't have time, money, or pantry space to waste on untested planning.

Maintenance of the Plan or Practice Makes Perfect
I decided to try the first menu the next payday, so I took my list and went to the grocery store. I was surprised by how little I needed and how little I spent. I didn't buy what I already had, and I got a few extras that were on sale but I only spent $115. I began my preparation for the week by cooking the stew meat. The next day I soaked and cooked the beans and made refried beans for enchiladas. I found that the schedule for the first day was too much. And since we had a Birthday coming up we got off the schedule (we always go out or have a special request on birthdays). After less than a week we decided we had too much stew beef in this menu. It was hurting our gums because it got stuck in between our teeth. So I took off the stew beef sloppy joes and decided the chili could be just beans without meat. I also decided that buying a whole turkey breast for turkey sandwiches only was a bit much and I added a turkey dinner into the menu. I've decided to redo the breakfast menu also since the kids only want quick stuff that they can eat quickly or take with them. Same for lunch. I decided to space out my preparation tasks more evenly and try to make some of the items that appeared more often such as burritos and quesadilla's in larger batches to freeze for more than the week. These are items my kids love to have for snack and in lunches. I also decided to be more vigilant about freezing leftovers, since I always seem to make too much food.

I tried to keep in mind that I may not have any money for fresh items and I may be making homemade items when money is tight, like bread, from my long term storage. Wheat, beans, oats, and other regular baking ingredients are not added to the grocery list, so I need to remember to keep these items stocked. I should start a list.
 On my grocery list I also indicated the items that were perishable and which were homemade since I can not very well stock them. I can keep these in mind when planning a garden, or planning to cook ahead.
Overall it has been a good experience to think through this plan. I see that I have a lot of work to do to acquire these items, but probably more important to organize them so I can find them, use them, and count them.

Preparing for Three Months of Regular Family Meals

The LDS church advocates that its members prepare for family emergencies such as unemployment, illness, or natural disasters. As my Ward's Emergency Preparedness Coordinator I have been encouraging my flock to prepare. The Church put out new guidlines a few years ago that specified that we should first prepare three months of regular meals, then we should move into a years supply of "keep your family alive" food storage. I will talk about the three month supply since that is the one that gets some people overwhelmed.

Menus, Groceries and Plans (Oh My!)

One of the many preparedness blogs,  Safely Gathered In, published a good idea on how to plan for the three months of regular meals. It got my brain spinning. Basically it was based on something I and many other freedom loving people hate- Menus! Although the blog focused on dinner menus I decided that to be precise I needed to know what to plan for all meals. So I made three week long menus. I planned breakfast lunch and dinner as if all family members were going to sit down and eat a home cooked meal. I knew this would be overdoing the amount of food, but I wanted to see if I could come up with enough variety to satisfy my family. (Well mostly my hubby since he is the pickiest.)

My Name is Nicole and I Love Spreadsheets
First, I just wrote it out on a notebook page, but then decided to put it into an Excel spreadsheet. I then made a complete grocery list of all the items that would be needed for the weeks meals.

After I put it into Excel I could see a bigger picture and began rearranging the meals into groups that could be prepped together, such as three meals using beef stew meat (hubby just gave up hamburger :-/) or meals that needed beans such as burritos, enchiladas, nachos and quesadillas. Many of these items could be doubled and frozen for easy meals too. I regrouped and planned what I should do the first day of the week to make other meals later in the week a snap and minimize dishes. I also noted what bread stuffs needed to be prepared and included that on the first day. If I didn't have time but had money I could always buy these items (or store a little of them ready to bake).

When I was done I had three complete menus with minimal duplication, complete with instruction for groceries, and things that could be planned ahead. I labeled the menus AB&C. With three menus to rotate, I figured we could be fairly satisfied with the variety. I printed it all out and but it in a binder. (yes I also love binders)

Extreme or Not Extreme?
Also on Safely Gathered In they planned for the extreme situation of not being able to cook. Since this adds to the complexity I decided to start by NOT assuming life would be much different, except that I would need to rely on my pantry. I have even assumed that some money would be available for fresh items like tomatoes, lettuce, and milk. This would be a mild emergency like a job loss that still allowed unemployment income where money is tight and the need for lowering my spending would be high. However, thinking about what I would change if I had no power to my oven didn't really require much change because we have a propane grill that would do nicely for almost everything on the menu. Besides if the power is out for three months we will have more to worry about than how to cook our food (riots, freezer/refrigerator spoilage or freezing to death). So, I think I'll add some extra propane to the list of preparedness items and call it good. Course I could make plans to feed my neighbors.....

Part two found here Tinkering with the Three Month Plan

Oldies But Goodies: LDS Power Women

I ran across a passage in the comments at a feminist mormon website, that sparked a response in me. The discussion was commenting on an article that referenced D&C 25:7 , “And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.” The comments about this topic seemed to veer off into a discussion of the (lack of) power of women in the LDS church. I wondered if the women who commented on this issue were mis-defining the words exhort and expound. So let’s define the words for use here. Encarta defines exhort as “to urge to do something” or “give earnest advice.” Exhort is defined as “describe and explain something.” Synonyms are “urge, press, push, encourage, insist, pressure, and explain, expand, on, talk about, give further details about, develop, illustrate.” Clearly these are teaching activities. The discussion points out correctly that the majority of the teachers in the church are women including Gospel Doctrine, seminary, Primary, etc. But some of the comments seemed to think this was an activity that involved power. Thus the discussion seemed to veer of into a discussion of female power within the church. I see this type of thing pop up once in a while and it puzzles me. For instance, Sonnet says:
When we “expound” upon something, our mastery of an idea grants us the authority to experiment with, redefine, and reshape that particular idea. It’s a creative act. In the official structure of the church, we grant this kind of authority to very few.

First, many teachers have commented that they have benefited more from learning about a topic in order to teach it, than they expected. If we assume a teacher first has “mastery” of the topic we are way off base. And if we assume that we have mastery because we are called to teach, we need some humility. Second, the only one allowed this kind of “creativity” is God. We teach what the Lord wants us to teach. As a RS teacher I find that I “expound” regularly regarding the text but so do the others in the class who have their own uplifting experiences to share. I urge, encourage, explain and illustrate but I don’t redefine, experiment or reshape the topic to fit my own personal gospel. Our creativity comes into play when we are trying to find a way to reach our class members. But it should never reach the point of redefining or reshaping doctrine.
Lulubell commented about her experiences:

I was more often than not disappointed with the messages and activities– homemaking, staying virtuous, preparing to be mothers and wives. What I really wanted to do was get to college, graduate and find my way in the world, not sure if that would be motherhood, a career, or a combination of the two. While I, too, have been a teacher, let’s face it– we have very little power or authority in the church. Even our 12 year old boys have more power than we women do.
I take issue with her characterization of the power women have in the church. I wonder what kind of power she is looking for? I was Primary President for a little over two years and had so called “power” as the world may see it over the direction of our ward Primary. But it was far more work and stress than that little bit of so-called power was worth. Sure I could have done what I wanted but that isn’t the way things are supposed to work and I think the Lord (through the Bishop) would have yanked me out quickly. But I saw first hand that the Bishops and quorum leaders were in similar situations. The real problem of power in the church, for many unhappy women, is actually a problem of dominion. How much power do we want? Do we want to change doctrine? Do we want to extend callings? Do we want to arrange sacrament meetings? I always wonder just what kind of power these women want? Satan wanted God’s power and look what happened to him.
Do we think the Bishop or Stake President or Elders Quorum leader has power? Ha! He is a servant not a master. He deals with the rancor, pettiness, counseling, gossiping, people who want to criticize but not help, unrepentant sinners who must be removed, and –oh yea- weddings. He hunts for cooperation and planning in carrying out the programs of the Lord, as well as trying to serve the needs of others around him. He sometimes sets a calendar item. The only real power the priesthood has is priesthood functions, such as blessings, which by definition only operate on God’s will, not the desires of the one pronouncing the blessings( see D&C 121:37). As the saying goes, it’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it. Where’s the “power”? His only real power is in righteousness. And that is available to us all male and female.
I would suggest to any LDS women who feels slighted and that they have no power, to study D&C 121: 36-46 thoroughly. It does not just apply to the men. It gives the Lord's definition of real power and is not gender specific. Apply it to whatever role you find yourself in.
36.That the rights of the priesthood (motherhood, wives, women in general) are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man (woman).
38 Behold, ere (s)he is aware, (s)he is left unto (her)himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men,(women) as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood (womanhood, femaleness, motherhood, wifehood), 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 (s)he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That (s)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 (humans), and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
 (My changes to gender and emphasis added for clarification)


Purple Passion

I like purple. My drapes are purple. My clothes are mostly purple. I have a purple purse. I have a purple pen. I have purple lap blankets. My mouse is even purple. My front door and shutters are painted purple and I have a beautiful dark purple (Raisin) wall around my back yard slider. I'd say I love purple.
But my car is NOT purple. My hair is NOT purple. My couch is NOT purple. Yep, Im pretty balanced.
"What is it with you and purple?" a friend once asked me.

Let me explain.....Purple is a rich luscious color. Purple is noticed. I get complimented when I wear purple. People like it! Purple is the color of royalty for a reason. It is striking. It draws people in. You can't not notice it. But I have learned a valuable lesson. Purple can't be the only color you use. It works best when it is paired with colors like light yellow, chocolate brown, black, or gray.It is like a frame around a picture.  My husband likes orange and he wanted to paint a wall orange in our living room. Orange is on the opposite side of the color wheel from purple. It has NOTHING in common with purple. But it works! I have orange on my dining room wall, and my couch cushions are orange.Our desk even has orange in the wood. (right next to my purple wall.)  My purple wall and lap blankets look great with orange too!
So you see purple IS the  best color in the world. There's just nothing that isn't improved by being touched by this lovely rich color. No wonder it was loved by royalty!


Old School Skills by the Damsel

I found a blog that I just LOVE! She calls herself The Damsel and she is a fabulous writer. Her goal is to bring back old school tricks in order to be more self reliant. She has a fun whimsical and humorous style of writing about the funny things she finds.
Select Your Poison
For instance, I feel like such a fool for buying dryer sheets all my adult life. Did you know you can make your own dryer sheets? Simply soak a washcloth in fabric softener, wring it out, let it dry and you have a dryer sheet that you can use for months!  What a fool I've been!
Another example is buttermilk. Yes buttermilk. I never buy buttermilk. It seems odd and foo foo to me. (not to mention expensive to use in an odd recipe I come across)  Besides almost nothing calls for buttermilk anymore. But she shows how to keep remaking buttermilk from a sample indefinitely- like sourdough.
She found a handy tip to get your disposable razor cartridges to last oh so much longer (like 2 years)! (Enjoy the shirtless stud who demonstrates!)
And her no worry pressure canning salsa that I can't wait to try!
Can I just say, Damsel, I LOVE you!

PS the popcorn idea is also appealing. And I don't like popcorn.
sugary corn

More Mormon Conspiracy Evidence

This video is evidence of the Mormon Conspiracy to change the world!


Best 100 Books To Read Before You Die

Anyone who tries to compile a book list is doomed to failure. But I must do it. I think I have a good mix of fiction and non fiction here. There is all levels of reading on this list from Dr Seuss and Beverly Cleary, to The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Aristotle. Some have multiple volumes. Some should be reread continually, like the first four on the list. After you read through this list you can consider yourself fairly educated.
  1. The Holy Bible
  2. The Book of Mormon
  3. The Doctrine & Covenants
  4. The Pearl of Great Price
  5. The History of Joseph Smith By His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith
  6. History of the Church, Joseph Smith
  7. 1776, David McCullough
  8. The Real George Washington, National Center for Constitutional Studies
  9. The Real Thomas Jefferson, National Center for Constitutional Studies
  10. The Real Benjamin Franklin, National Center for Constitutional Studies
  11. John Adams, David McCullough
  12. The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman
  13. Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Lyman Bushman
  14. Narnia Series, CS Lewis
  15. The Great Divorce, CS Lewis
  16. Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis 
  17. The Gift of Fear, Gavin De Becker
  18. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About..., John R. Lee
  19. O Pioneers!, Willa Cather
  20. The Story of Liberty, Charles Carleton Coffin
  21. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini 
  22. The Naked Communist, Cleon Skousen
  23. The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph From The Frontiers of Brain Science, Norman Diodge
  24. The Burning Within, Ranelle Wallace 
  25. Life Everlasting, Duane S. Crowther
  26. Summer of the Monkeys, Wilson Rawls 
  27. Tuck Everlasting. Natalie Babbit 
  28. To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  29. The Book of Virtues, William Bennett 
  30. The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt By Day, Scott O'Dell 
  31. A Wrinkle In Time, Madeleine L'Engle 
  32. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  33. America, Last Best Hope Vol. I & II, William Bennett
  34. The Three Pillars of Zion, Larry Barkdull 
  35. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott 
  36. The First 2000 Years, Cleon Skousen
  37. The Third Thousand Years, Cleon Skousen 
  38. The Fourth Thousand Years, Cleon Skousen 
  39. The 5000 Year Leap, Cleon Skousen
  40. A History of the English Speaking Peoples 5 Volumes, Winston Churchill
  41. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 6 Volumes, Edward Gibbon
  42. Teachings of Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith 
  43. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens 
  44. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens 
  45. Grimms Fairy Tales 
  46. Andersens Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Andersen 
  47. The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, Amity Shlaes
  48. Common Sense: The Call To Independence, Thomas Paine
  49. The Well Educated Mind, Susan Wise Bauer 
  50. Financial Peace Revisited, Dave Ramsey
  51. The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, Dave Ramsey 
  52. Who Stole My Cheese?!!, Ilene Hochberg
  53. The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton , James Madison, and John Jay
  54. The Anti Federalist Papers, Patrick Henry, Samuel Byron, Robert Yates 
  55. Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell 
  56. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain 
  57. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
  58. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain
  59. The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare 
  60. My Bondage and My Freedom, Fredrick Douglas
  61. Democracy in America. Alexis Tocqueville
  62. The Great Republic, Sir Winston Churchill 
  63. The Oregon Trail, Francis Parkman
  64. Women and Men on the Overland Trail, Jack Mack Faragher
  65. A Patriot's History of the United States, Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen
  66. Lives of the Signers of the Declaration Of Independence, BJ Loosing, Published by Wallbuilders 
  67. Rules of Civility, George Washington 
  68. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  69. Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Robert Bork 
  70. The Ramona Collection, Beverly Cleary
  71. Otis Spofford, Beverly Cleary
  72. Ralph Mouse Collection, Beverly Cleary 
  73. Parenting With Love and Logic, Cline & Fay 
  74. I Don't Have To Make Everything All Better, Gary & Joy Lundberg 
  75. So You Want to Raise a Boy?, Cleon Skousen 
  76. Lehi in The Desert, Hugh Nibley
  77. The BFG, Roald Dahl 
  78. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder 
  79. Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder 
  80. How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler, Charles Van Doren
  81. Jesus The Christ, James A. Talmadge 
  82. A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, LeGrande Richards
  83. The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball 
  84. The Peacegiver: How Christ Offers to Heal Hearts and Homes, James Ferrell
  85. The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict, The Arbinger Institute
  86. Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes, Gordon B. Hinckley 
  87. The South Beach Diet, Dr Arthur Agaston, MD
  88. Key To The Science of Theology, Parley P Pratt 
  89. How to Be Totally Miserable: A Self hinder Book, John Bytheway
  90. Three Against Hitler, Rudi Wobbe, Jerry Borrowman
  91. The Naked Communist, Cleon Skousen 
  92. Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, Boyd K. Packer 
  93. The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way, Joy Hakim
  94. The Fire of the Covenant, Gerald Lund 
  95. Work and The Glory, Gerald Lund 
  96. The Republic, Plato 
  97. Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle
  98. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Dr Seuss
  99. The Four Loves, CS Lewis 
  100. Whatever Happened To Penny Candy?, Richard J Maybury
  101. The Trumpet of the Swan, EB White
Now, I know I will not have included every good book, but that should keep you busy for a while! Several of these authors have many good books, and if you get especially intrigued by one chase down others. Good luck with these 100 books to read before you die! What would you add?
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