Monday, December 15, 2014

Where is He?

The sign, given by an angel, of the Messiah’s coming was underwhelming and ill-fitting at first glance: a rag-wrapped newborn, laid to cry in a trough.[1] Yet this was the signal sent from God and declared by heavenly messengers: You will find the Son of God in, of all places, a manger, on the outskirts of an already backwater town.

Thousands of years later, many, like the wise men, still seek the Christ. Others, like the shepherds, perhaps unknowingly await Him, humbly going about their daily work. To them, the natal sign remains instructive: You will find the Son of God on the periphery of society. He lives and works among lepers and those possessed of demons, with publicans and adulterers, alongside Samaritans and shepherds.  Indeed, He identifies with the impoverished, infirm, isolated, and incarcerated (Matthew 25:34-40).

If we would find the Messiah, we too must journey to the periphery of society. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

[1] "Let the Stable Still Astonish"

Monday, December 8, 2014

Faith to Rise

            If President Monson asked each family to all build an ark, in specific dimensions which the church will send out. How many of you would build an Ark?
I hope and believe that most, if not all of you would, or at least start building one. However It would be doing something none of us have done before, so I am positive, many trials would follow. I have built a raft before, and I am proud to say that it could carry 2 people! ... who were knee deep in the water. So I can’t imagine building an Ark, it would take a ton of time and effort to learn how to work wood, so that it is water tight, and put it together in the right dimensions. It took Noah 120 years. Also it would be expensive to buy all the tools, and wood needed for an ark. And just think what our non-member friends and the press would think of us. It would be a field day. They would think we were another crazy religion like the religion that believed in the rapture was going to happen in 2012. Our friends may point out that we are about a mile above sea level, no flood could possibly reach all of us. It honestly would be embarrassing.  But if it could save us and our family, it would be worth it, wouldn't it?
I find it interesting that the scriptures have many stories where god asks a man to build a boat, like Nephi, the Brother of Jared, and Noah. Yet we know that if God wanted, these men of great faith could walk on water as Peter did, or be swallowed by a whale, and spit out at the right place, or just transported. So why does god have them build a boat?
It was character building, and taught those skills, and that there is a balance on what their role is, and God’s role. Yet would like to propose to you that the main reason was for the salvation of their families. For example Laman and Lemuel definitely wouldn't have had the faith to walk on water, or have any miracles happen for them. Who knows about Noah’s children, or the original Jaredites, but likely, many of them didn't have faith to move mountains, and couldn't have made it to their destination with their families, if it were not for the boats.
We know that the Lord won’t flood the earth with water again. So the prophet won’t ask us to build boats. But the earth is being flooded with pornography, drugs, false ideals and views of the family and many other filthy things, things that kill people spiritually. However I know that there are literally specific things we can 1) do, 2) build and 3) make so that we can be safe with our families.
First as Noah did, we need to listen and obey god, and his prophets no matter what. As I said I believe most of you would build an Ark if the prophet asked you to, but how many of you have had your personal self-interview as Elder Ballard, a prophet, asked us specifically to do a month ago in our area conference. How many of you are participating in sweeping the earth with a flood of gospel messages, as Elder Bednar, a prophet of the Lord has asked us to do in order to not just stay above the flood of filth, but to battle it. He said
“My beloved brothers and sisters, what has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.”  End quote.
This gospel flood has some similarities and differences to that of Noah’s. Some similarities are they come from the same infinite source, they both will be purging the world of wickedness, and they both were forecast by prophets. But the differences I find to be more powerful, it is not a flood of water, but of the fire of the spirit and the light of Christ. , for he is the light of the world, and people will see clearer when his influence is in their lives. This flood is no flash flood, it is controlled, and organized and instead of bringing death to a living world, it will bring living water from an infinite source to a world dying of thirst for it. This flood is to bring people unto Christ and help them partake of his atonement. As we participate in this flood, we to cannot help but be touched by it and its power, and be changed. I believe that by doing what is asked, we to will be saving souls, those of friends, those of family, and even ourselves. For D&C 62:3 says “Nevertheless, ye are blessed,,,, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you. By bearing our testimonies, we can be forgiven. What a promise. That is why a prophet has asked us to flood the earth with messages of the gospel. How much easier is that than building an ark? I hope that we are not Namen like, and because of the easiness of the way, fail to do that which is asked.
After doing that which the lord has commanded, we must, as Noah did, build our faith in Christ and his atonement. Noah definitely encountered numerous trials, but stuck to what he was called to, and was faithful to building his ark, and his faith along with it, for 120 years before finally he was rewarded for his faith. What faith and patience he had. We to, will meet many trials and obstacles in our lives before the manifestation of truth comes, and we are rewarded for our faith. Noah was so obedient and faithful, that he became Christ like, and is a symbol of Christ in the scriptures. It was necessary for any living creature who wished to be saved to come “unto Noah into the ark” (Genesis 7:9, 15). Just as it is necessary for us to go unto Christ if we want to be saved from Satan’s flood. So be patient with yourselves, god, and others, and keep your faith, but don’t just keep it, build it, for your reward will come.
Lastly, after doing what the Lord commands, building our faith, we must, like Noah did, make covenants to the saving of our family.
In the Genesis, the world has become so evil that god wants to destroy it, and it is gloomy, but then verse 8 comes up where it says “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
 And in verse 18 it says “But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.”
 If there is one place on earth that has not been covered by the flood of filth, it is the Temple. The temple is a place of safety and covenants, which protect us from the storm off life, and raises us above our natural state. As Noah’s Ark did for him and his family.
When Noah’s family finally boarded the ark, he sealed the door and did not open it again until the rains ceased and the ground dried, close to a year later. When they emerged, they emerged into a new world. I love that the door to the evil world was sealed shut, and Noah was literally sealed with his family inside the ark, thus Ark of the Covenant mentioned in verse 18. I know that as we make covenants with the lord, and build our testimonies, the crowning moment will be when we are sealed together with our spouse and our posterity for time and all eternity. At that point, we must leave behind the filth of the world and go forth in faith on a higher plane. From Noah’s story, we know the floods of life will eventually settle, and you and your family, together, will see the beauty of the gospel in your life, of this new world, just like the rainbow that crossed the sky for Noah and his family.
I have a less active sister, who has lost a lot of faith, but I believe because of my parents doing what the Lord commanded, building their testimonies, and the covenants my parents have made, she will be safe and in our eternal family, even if she doesn't return to the church in this life. I am so grateful for my parent’s covenants, and the safety, security and peace that they bring to me and my family, even when life is hard.  

That is why my favorite hymn is “lead kindly light, which ends saying “lead thou me on, over more and craige and torrent (flood) till the night is gone” Here the author admits there are floods, and trials in life, yet goes on to say “but with the morn, those angel faces smile, which I have loved long since and lost a while.” Which I take to mean returning to heaven, and seeing loved ones who died early, or were lost spiritually, or lost to us in any other way. They will be there waiting, and smiling. In this I believe. I believe that it the work of salvation is brought about by us obeying the lord, building faith, and making covenants. Yet, in the end, it wasn't Noah that saved his family, it was God. I know that only through Christ’s, and his atonement we can be saved with our families. I don’t know if I deserve it, but I to have found grace in the eyes of the lord, and for this I am eternally grateful. Especially during this holiday season. In the name of Jesus Christ, my savior amen.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Spreading Some Christmas Cheer

We were asked to make an invitation to our ward's Christmas program. As the creative juices started flowing, I found myself pasting clip art to the document, unaware of the passage of time, in an artistic ecstasy. This is the result. Words utterly fail to express the emotions this combination of images inspires.

My First Jazz Song

One of my favorite hobbies is composing music on the computer program GarageBand. I have this desire to create music but the problem is I can't really play any instruments that well. So this is perfect for me. I just choose the instruments I want and program in the notes. I don't have to know how to play any instruments - I just have to know what I want them to play:)

It's called "Smooth Jam"

Monday, November 17, 2014

Death and Faith

In our sacrament meeting yesterday, a father, mother, and son spoke about their faith. They were not particularly eloquent speakers, but their testimonies were moving. The son has Leukemia, and his doctors are not optimistic about his chances of survival. Yet in the face of looming death, all three spoke of their trust in a loving God, and in meaningful suffering. One moment in particular stands out to me: As the father spoke, he said something like, "I pray for a miracle, and I can see the doctor announcing to us that he cannot explain how it happened, but the cancer is gone. My son may live to attend my funeral. I believe that could happen. But I may attend my son's funeral. And, although I still pray for a miracle, I recognize that it may not be God's will to heal him." It struck me that this was faith at it's core: a simultaneous clinging and letting go--hoping for a miracle, finding meaning in suffering, submitting to God--and it was beautiful.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I know that the things we struggle with will one day be behind us. I know that. And while I try not to get lost wishing for tomorrow, the thought of deliverance gives me hope.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Broken for Better

In seeking for the best out of life, we naturally identify and orient ourselves toward ideals. I personally have found great satisfaction in earnestly striving to achieve that standard. It has helped me grow in exciting and positive ways, for which I am very grateful.

Yet somehow I sometimes find myself looking to those ideals not in excitement, but in fear - and it normally comes when I'm overwhelmed with my mistakes and imperfections. It's like there is this perfect, beautiful life painted before me, and the thought that it could all be ruined is heart-breaking. So when something happens that makes me believe it will crumble, I receive a crushing blow to the soul. I feel like my world is crashing down, and it leaves me feeling dark, despairing, and incapacitated. It's worse than being "not fun". It's an awful feeling of terrible reality.

I learned about something today that really helped me - Japanese pottery.

It's called Kintsukuroi. It is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold, silver, and platinum. As explained on wikipedia, "In philosophy, it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise." The idea is that the object is more beautiful for having been broken.

Seeing the good in broken-ness took away my fear. It was accompanied by a letting-go of that great, ideal, perfect life. When did it become about erecting the perfect life for ourselves? How can we progress with an incapacitating fear of messing up? When I let go of all that fear, I felt so relieved, and immensely grateful - grateful that Christ came to heal the sinner. Me.

The mended pot, with it's gold-filled cracks and jagged strands of silver, is a beautiful testament to the grace and love of God. It's so wonderful! Our sins and imperfections are nothing to be ashamed of - we all have them, and for the rest of this life we will always have some. God loves us in our imperfection. The small cracks and giant fractures in our lives will not be wasted with Him. Rather, they will become blessed opportunities for us to be close with Christ - the real gold. They won't just be breaks to fix, but holy tokens of a beautiful journey. I'm talking about small things and I'm talking about big things. That person that we say "ruined their life" - did they really ruin their life? I think the purpose is less about achieving and more about learning.

I'm keeping things simple: Hunger and thirst after righteousness, rest in Christ, and surrender the future to God.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hey guys!  I're probably wondering why I'm posting more pictures, instead of writing some really eloquent essay about the the significance of something highly sophisticated, but I really just love pictures. Haha. Here are some of the fun things I've done this month... with the Sabey clan too!! 
 Words can't even express how cute she is, oh and you too Daniel.  Haha...that was a joke :)
 I drove up to Salt Lake to watch Music and the Spoken Word with Sarah.  So fun! The temple was gorgeous and so was the music.  
 Sister bonding time is essential!! Again in Salt Lake.  Our efforts at taking selfies was mas o menos
 You think her purse is filled with important stuff like a wallet or a phone but's filled with Lifesaver mints.  That purse is STOCKED with them. We ate like 30 each. Haha, so funny
 Provo is so pretty in the fall! Who doesn't want to look at this every morning.  Still not ready for snow though. 
 So funny! We watched Captain America 2 at the Sabey condo with Matt and Daniel and James and some other friends. James was pretending to be our bartender and after I asked him for some "red wine" he gave me water with strawberry syrup.  Totally gross
 More gorgeousness..
 I love going to the Blair's house on Sunday night for dinner.  By the way, thanks for always inviting us.  We probably out-due our welcome.  Snapped this picture of Matt...I'll leave it at that :)
 My first dance lab at the Wilk.  
 This is my best friend Laurel...this was taken at a Women's Chorus retreat when we ate breakfast and made bead bracelets for each other.  Beads and Breakfast.
I just thought this was funny.  My roommate stashes tons of blankets under her bed and it makes for a great study spot.  Yes, I do study up here at BYU...
 This was a field trip I went to with my engineering buddies.  We got to see the construction of the Provo temple.  The Lord really is hastening the work.  
This was the first pumpkin I carved this year.  That's a big deal in my book.  The one on the far right...I call him Winston! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hi, my name is Rachel Messina!!!

Here are some pictures from our past homecoming week at school. I am actively engaged in the student council program at our school; furthermore, I help plan our spirit days and decorations in order to promote student involvement. This year's homecoming theme was the Hunger Games :) 

Our sophomore class float won
during the Homecoming half time show.
Wilderness Day
Tribute Day
Twin Day

 Being the sophomore class secretary in student council, homecoming was a very busy time for me. I love this Mormon message because it shows how important it is for us to do small acts of kindness every day because they don't go unnoticed! In Student Council I have many opportunities to give of my time to help the students around me. I know that we can bring so much joy to ourselves as well as others when we serve our fellow men. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Zion and Missionary Work

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

 If you’re like me, the part of that verse that seems to be most repeated and emphasized is the “built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets” part. In Sunday school, and on my mission, I have presented these verses as biblical evidence of the foundational importance of apostles and prophets, and consequently of the Restoration. That is an important concept, but Paul’s main idea is not just the foundation, but what is built upon it: a living temple—a community of saints supporting each other in unity and love.

The Restoration of the foundation was not an end unto itself, but the means to an end, which I believe is the creation of that living temple Paul spoke of. Thus, the Gospel of Jesus of Christ was restored not simply to restitute correct doctrine, re-establish an ecclesiastical structure, or reinstate the Priesthood. Nor was it simply intended to provide the means for individual salvation. Rather, all of these elements converge to allow families, wards, communities, and ultimately, the whole world, to live in the same kind of loving unity that God enjoys. In the post-mortal world, this is called the Celestial Kingdom. When we have that kind of relationship and build that kind of community here, we call it Zion. This idea gives new meaning to these words from D&C 130:2: “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory.” That makes me think that the extent to which I am establishing Zion is the extent to which I am prepared for the Celestial Kingdom. 

Our knowledge of the gospel and the covenants we have made invite us to establish Zion—and that is a high and holy calling, and one that must be tied to our missionary efforts. To explain the first connection I see between Zion and missionary work, I paraphrase a line from the movie Field of Dreams: “If we build it, they will come.” As we establish Zion, our efforts to share the gospel will come more naturally, and will be more effective. Clayton Christensen discusses this concept in his book The Power of Everyday Missionaries. In his studies of how to effectively share the gospel, he came to know three particular wards in which twenty to thirty new converts were routinely baptized each year, even while the work in the surrounding areas was tepid. He concluded that the only thing that made these three wards different from the surrounding wards was that God trusted those wards to welcome and care for newcomers. In an interview, a missionary at one of these wards said, “I don’t know what it is. But if you can just get your investigators into the chapel up there, the members just wrap them into their arms and make them feel so welcome. It’s funny. Even door-to-door finding works better in that ward than any other place in the mission” (138). When a ward creates Zion by welcoming and loving newcomers and investigators, God will guide His children there.

Another aspect of Zion that impacts missionary work is the lack of contention. Our bishop recently taught us about this, and encouraged us to be like the people described in 4 Nephi 1:15-18: “there was no contention…because of the love of God which did dwell in [their] hearts.” And in a society previously divided and segregated into Nephites, Lamanites, Zoramites, etc., there were no “-ites” among them, “but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” If we will heed our Bishop’s counsel, our efforts to share the gospel will be blessed. This principle is evident throughout the Book of Mormon. Alma 4:5 tells of a time when 3500 souls joined the Nephite church in one year. Just a few verses earlier, we learn that there were no contentions in the land at that time (Alma 4:1). Similarly, in Helaman 3:24, 26, it says that tens of thousands joined the church. The preceding verse talks about how they had established “continual peace.” Again and again, I have found that pattern: As the people of the church establish Zion by eliminating contention and cultivating a loving, welcoming community, missionary work flourishes at a miraculous rate.

This is, I think, an intuitive idea. After all, Zion is a shelter, a place of safety and warmth, and people seek refuge in times of storm. Not always, but often, this means that they will come, still dampened by the rain of poverty or still shivering from cold winds of social rejection. We can and must provide the warm welcome and supportive community these people need. That is certainly what God would have us do for His children, especially when they are not easy to embrace. But let us not think ourselves heroic for doing it, because the help does not flow in one direction from us to them; it is bidirectional. And we need their help. As we learn from Nephi, all is not well in Zion (2 Nephi 28:24-25).  

If Zion is a living temple, it is still under construction, and even missing significant elements. This is not always an easy perspective to have because there are many wonderful things in the Church, and in this ward. As a newcomer myself, I have been the recipient of warm welcomes and fellowship, so I know Zion is being built, and I thank you for what you have done for my wife and me. However, we must be aware that Satan will try to pacify member of the Church, “and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus [he] cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell” (2 Nephi 28: 21). Even as we prosper and enjoy our community, we must not be complacent. The temple is not yet complete. As God leads individuals to the Church, through our invitations, or through other means, they will enrich our wards and stakes with diversity and strength. A new convert may be like stained glass in the temple, or like a wall beam, adding color or stability to our community, and bringing us one step closer to to temple God intends us to be.

I see this idea in the story of the stripling warriors. Alma 53:10 provides some background to this story: “The people of Ammon…were Lamanites; but…they had been converted unto the Lord; and they had been brought down into the land of Zarahemla, and had ever since been protected by the Nephites.” They were defenseless, and utterly dependent on the Nephites. However, one generation later, this people was instrumental in defending and saving many Nephite cities, proving themselves to be even stronger in some ways than veteran Nephites. During one battle, Helaman recounts, “My little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites…and as the remainder of our army were about to give way…behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted” (Alma 57:19-20). Although the Nephites may not have known it at first, they needed the people of Ammon, and so it is with us.

While it’s true that we should share the gospel because others need it, it’s also true that we should share the gospel because we need others. As we do our best to establish Zion, we will need to embrace those that come into the community, and reach out to those outside. That is how we will “grow unto an holy temple in the Lord.” 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Today for David's birthday, I wanted to share a thought, and James made you a personalized poster.

   When Brian meet Dia, my life was changed forever. One huge way was I became best friends with Ian. How lucky was I that Ian was my age, and such a cool guy! What a once in a lifetime blessing, or so I thought.
  Then David and Danielle started dating, and I meet James...and it happened again! I remember when David lived in our condo, I thought his room mates were so cool. But I hate to say it, mine are cooler. However it's largely thanks to you.

    When I first met David I was skeptical, but soon my mind was not only changed, but BLOWN! David is 'practically perfect in every way'. He inspires me in so many ways. He is brave, loyal, loving, genius, and extremely good-looking. He is who he is, and I love it. That's why we celebrate, today, the day this Renaissance Man - this legend - was born. This, the 14th of October will forever be a date which will live in the opposite of infamy!
  We love you, think you are amazing and are glad to be rooming together. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Alright guys! Here we go... first blog post.  I don't actually know what I'm doing but let's hope it works.  I actually LOVE sharing pictures, because that's what I feel will give you the best idea about what's happened to me in the last month since I've been here at BYU.  So I searched around for the HIGHLIGHTS from this new BYU experience.

 I love Women's Chorus
 This was the day at the devotional they totally zoomed up on my face for the entire world to see.  I had random people come up to me and say, "Hey, I saw your FACE on the screen this morning".  So embarrassing I know, but I felt officially inducted into Women's Chorus.

 This is my buddy Harry Truman and I at the top of Squaw Peak.  It was such a beautiful hike.
 The pathway, I felt, was like paved with GOLD.
 Can't get any cooler than that...right?
 Lindsey is like my best friend.  She and I have so much fun together, and she's such a sweet girl too.
 Yes, I miss my family.  This is my dad next to the Provo River when they came up for the weekend.  He's so handsome...
 There's always time for Sudoku during lunch time. Free in the BYU newspaper.
 I love my bro and sis...this was during the first football game and when we watched it on Helaman field.
 The Civil Engineer program has tons of service projects all the time.  I went with them to pack boxes full of clothes to give to Mongolian families.  So fun!!
 Daniel and I went to the volleyball game.  We're definitely gangsters!
 My bishop and I are best friends for life.  Such a great guy.
Bridge building 
 Who knew Matt was so good at making balloons come to life.  He made this adorable flower for me.
These are my roommates who are super fun....Sunday photo shoot

Monday, October 6, 2014

How Firm a Foundation

I had never particularly loved the hymn "How Firm a Foundation". It was fine but nothing special to me. I didn't really like the music and never paid much attention to the lyrics. Recently, however, I have heard a lot of people talk about how much they love this hymn. We even had a whole lesson dedicated to it in Relief Society a couple weeks ago. Members of the ward, including the current and former bishops, shared experiences of when the words of this hymn strengthened them and "caused them to stand". We sang the words to the tune of "Away in a Manger" because some feel that the current tune sounds too much like a march. It was beautiful, and I was able to focus more on the words. I have typed up my favorite verses below. As a sidenote: I always thought we were the ones speaking in the last verse - "I will not, I cannot desert to his foes" and that we will never forsake God. But God is speaking in the rest of the hymn. Why not in the last verse? To the soul that has sought rest and peace in Jesus Christ, God says, "I will not, I cannot desert to his foes". And even though all hell will shake, God will never forsake that soul. I believe that.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and they gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

Wins and Stats

I often feel like the goal of my life is to rack up personal successes, but if we're all on the same team, that reasoning doesn't make sense. Winning the game together is so much more satisfying than a few individual stats.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Food and Family

Hey Messi-Sabey Family (Sorry, Messinas, but you only get two syllables in the hyphenated name, especially since you insist on your name going first!),

We loved the amazing beef sandwiches served at the Messina's reception, so we got the recipe from the caterer, and we made them the other day when we had friends over. Delicious, again!  So here is the recipe for anyone else who wants to have it.  It includes the caterer's comments.

Mini Beef Sandwiches

I will give you the recipe and then tell you what I do!

Per 12 Costco Rolls
4 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 cube of butter
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1Tbls. Poppy seeds
2 tsp onion powder
12 slices deli roast beef
4 slices Swiss cheese cut in fourths
Make sandwiches and place in 9x9 pan close together
Combine remaining ingrd. and spoon over sandwiches. Cover with foil and bake 20-30 min at 350

I only add 1 tsp of mustard, I add 1 tsp garlic pepper and cut the onion powder to 1 tsp. and I add 2 Tbls of Worchestershire sauce (depends on if you like it) and I add this to an entire cube of melted butter!!!
If you can't find garlic pepper make your own. I don't always add all that butter to just 12 but I add it all when I do it in a 9x13 pan with more sandwiches in it. I can squeeze 15-18 in a 9x13. You can use Hawaiian Rolls instead of Costco or SAMs. They are smaller but delicious. And for the wedding I made pot roast instead of deli roast beef.
Also, here is the recipe for the fudge sauce from the Colorado openhouse:

Fudge Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen
Total Time: 37 min
Prep: 10 min
Inactive: 15 min
Cook: 12 min
Yield: 4 cups
Level: Easy
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
2 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat, bring the cream just to a boil then add the brown sugar and stir just until it dissolves. Add small pieces of butter and mix until completely melted, then stir in the chocolate chips. Wait 3 to 5 minutes so that chocolate is very soft before folding it in with a spatula. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract and blend until well incorporated. Let cool for 15 minutes; it will thicken as it cools.

*Cook's Note: Can be stored up to 1 week in the refrigerator in a glass jar. Heat until warm but not hot, before serving.

Thanks for the great foody memories and such a joyful summer.  I love seeing the pictures from the various wedding festivities. The Messinas are so photogenic! Danielle is so kind and talented and beautiful and smart. We are proud to show her off as a new family member. She set a record, I am sure, for scheduling the most piano students in the shortest time. We are also glad for connections with James and Emily at BYU, and we look forward to many years of happy associations. 

The insightful, powerful comments of Mike and Deanna on the issue of women and the priesthood got me thinking, and I have started an essay that I will share with you all, once I have finished a draft, to get your comments.
We love the Messinas.
--Dad Sabey 

Of recipes, winging it, and pumpkin curry

The other day, we made pumpkin curry. You read that correctly--pumpkin curry. Never heard of it? That's because we invented it. In fact, Google it, and you'll find...[verifying what "pumpkin curry" brings up on Google]...well, I guess there are a lot of recipes out there of pumpkin curry. But this is our unique version. The best part was that we made it up on-the-go. If you'd like to try that, ignore what follows:

  1. Saute onion, garlic, and yellow bell peppers.
  2. Blend half a can of garbanzo beans with a can of pumpkin puree (the stuff you use in pumpkin pie) and a handful of baby carrots. Add some soup/broth (we used red pepper-tomato soup) if you need more liquid. If you don't use it here, add it during the next step.
  3. When onions, garlic, and peppers are soft and sufficiently sauteed, add the other half-can of garbanzo beans and the pureed mixture. 
  4. Add half a can of coconut milk.
  5. Season with salt, pepper, curry powder, ginger, soy sauce, and a pinch of brown sugar.
  6. Let it cook until you are convinced that both it and you are ready. 
  7. Eat with rice, noodles, rice-noodles, etc. We were out of rice, so we used spaghetti noodles. 

Mmmmm. That's the smell of love, with hints of Thailand and Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

Peaceful Tones

The colored leaves,
That spill the sun,
The waters clear,
That flow as one.

We see Him there,
And vanish groans,
In silent songs,
And peaceful tones.

So close to earth!
So bare the sight!
And not in words,
But through the light.

But more to my view,
As the great vision grew,
Were the faces so bright,
Of the children of light.

And in the great waters,
We hear His soft voice,
Speaking great things,
And our spirits rejoice.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Ever Enlarging Circle of Love

This essay is in response to a concept that we should  practice coming "at one" with others.  It is not meant to limit the over-arching, eternal enabling power of Christ's atonement, but to find places in our lives where we learn to be unified and "at one" with others.

There was a moment on my mission when I realized that my family was not just the Robert and Julia family, nor the family that extended back to some unknown beginning.  My family included the Chinese—not just those I worked with and knew, but all Chinese.  I felt deeply connected to all of them.  I saw greatness and destructiveness in their culture.  I saw tenderness and abrasiveness in their homes.  They were a people I came to know, love and feel deeply connected to.  They had become my people.

I believed that because of my missionary experience and ability to speak Mandarin Chinese,  God would certainly use me to bless his people in China or Taiwan, or Singapore or anywhere exotic where at least one of the main languages was Mandarin.  With excitement I would sing, “I Will Go Where You Want Me to Go,” eager to find out where and when I would go. I, with Mark, would be an instrument in God’s hand to change the world. 

In fact, Mark and I had an opportunity to go to China for a year after Mark graduated from Law School.  It would be the beginning of our life of being an instrument of God, I assumed. For me, more out of habit than true faith, we prayed about it.  Surprisingly, Mark and I both got the same answer:  For now, our service was in our apartment, raising children, serving in our wards and being good neighbors.  Not exotic.  Not easy.  Not thrilling.  Not prideful.

Through those nearly 30 years of staying home to serve, we have been humbled by some of the difficulties of parenting, the reality of people in our ward’s burdens and the blatant unfairness of life.  Somehow, by being completely committed to family and church (not just the gospel), we have had incredible experiences of love, service, support and faith within a very limited geographic sphere.

Two months ago, when I was in the throes of preparing for two sons’ weddings and receptions, my husband came home and asked who I knew who could go to the bishop’s storehouse for Steve and Chuck.  Steve had just had surgery on his foot and was out of a job and Chuck was his mentally handicapped brother he cared for.  At first I tried to figure out who could go before I realized that I could go.  Begrudgingly, I drove 45 minutes to the storehouse, spent at least 30 minutes there and then 45 minutes back to the small upstairs apartment these friends lived in.  They were not of my faith or my heritage.   During that two hour period, I felt like a martyr:  I had so much on my plate and here I was giving up time to serve someone else.  I felt privileged and righteous. After arriving at their apartment, I started to carry the bags up the stairs, when both Steve and Chuck hobbled down to help me.  Steve was in tears of gratitude, shaking his head repeating, “I wish I didn’t have to make you do this for us.”  As I went into their tiny apartment, their lime-green refrigerator was opened.  Inside was one thing.  A yellow box of baking soda.    All of the sudden my feelings changed profoundly.  I started blinking as I talked with Steve.

Everything came into perspective for just that one moment.  The responsibilities of two weddings, receptions, luncheons, travels and humanity all boiled down to a core issue.  Relationships.  I was not just part of the Blair family, or all my extended family, or even the Chinese world.  I was part of all of humanity.  Everyone was my responsibility and no one was exempt.  

I went home and walked around my beautiful home, seeing pictures of my children from childhood to marriage and wondering about the time I had spent home instead of out serving humanity, and I felt at peace.  By not going abroad, I had remained focused on family.  By remaining actively engaged in my church, I had been able to connect with people from around the world, help drive a dying woman to her doctor’s appointments, talk with a depressed mother whose daughter tragically died, welcome a suicidal friend into my home for a night as she felt abandoned by her family, go on walks with a woman whose husband had been unfaithful to her a second time, and talk with a young mother dealing with anxiety.  Each of these experiences connected me with others in a unifying, atoning way.

There are times I’ve wondered if I have limited my family’s experience by not going abroad.   Perhaps.  But I have also enlarged their experience by fully engaging in church--by finding the world close to us but unknown to us—in drug-ridden neighborhoods, at rest homes where the widows repeated weekly what they said the week before, in apartments that were so unsanitary that I felt compelled to take a bath after returning home, and with families who are struggling with mental illnesses within.  Each time I’ve truly opened my heart to listen to another, I have felt unity—a sense of coming at-one with others and it has enlarged my soul.

When our chorister leads “I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go, Dear Lord,” I smile and sing instead, “I’ll stay where you want me to stay, dear lord.”  To me, the place of service is radically unimportant.  The heart and action of selfless service, regardless of place or faith, is divine.  For me, coming “at-one” with others starts with committed engagement in humanity, in taking time to listen thoroughly, in letting go of judgment like a helium balloon and allowing it to be dealt with by heaven.  It is freeing.

But living at-one with others is a temporary state for me.  I’m not able to stay in tuned, connected, unified and loving most of the time.  But the few moments of true, open-hearted connections with a child, husband, neighbor or stranger is worth continued effort.  It is what true religion ultimately is about.  It is practicing atonement.

Lately I've had a new experience, that of my sons marrying into other families, and becoming theirs’, not just ours.  In awe, I have talked with Brian, David and Josh’s in-laws and found them open to goodness, committed to family and willing to enlarge their love.  What has been utterly surprising to me is how easily it has been to love them, to feel that they are not just part of my sons’ lives, but mine too.  They add dimension, goodness, breadth and depth to our family.  As our circles of influence, being influenced and loving and being love enlarges and connects eternally,   I stand in awe.  The atonement is not just about sharing grief and pain, but also sharing joy and rejoicings.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Helping Loved Ones: Insights from A River Runs Through It

Thursday evening found us (Matt and James) deep in discussion in the warmth of the family condo. James had just finished watching A River Runs Through It, purportedly to give a previously thought of dumb movie a second chance. Months earlier, David Sabey, James’s new brother-in-law, had brought up the movie in conversation, when James automatically went off about how dumb and pointless the movie was. All he could remember was a guy getting sunburned naked and a bunch of random fishing. James had seen the movie on a scout trip with a bunch of immature friends who remembered nothing but a random string of unrelated events with a “river running through it”. Their deepest analysis consisted of sarcastically repeating the question, “A river runs through what?” and a friend answering, “It runs through it, whatever it is.” Their deepest wonder was in how the movie hadn’t ruined the career of Brad Pitt. David, unoffended, responded that he had actually really enjoyed the movie. James was left dumbfounded. Upon watching the movie for the second time, James learned from Matt that the movie was an absolute favorite of his older brother Josh, and that was why he and David were both familiar with it. That is a long way of saying that two previously separate families, eventually brought together, in an unforeseen way, two young men in meaningful, soul-searching discussion. 

The point that we would like to focus on here is best introduced by the following conversation (which language we do not endorse) between the two brothers, as they attempted to go fishing with a friend’s brother:

 Paul: Couldn't you find him?
Norman: The hell with him.
Paul: Well, I thought we were supposed to help him.
Norman: How the hell do you help that son of a bitch?
Paul: By taking him fishing.
Norman: He doesn't like fishing. He doesn't like Montana and he sure as hell doesn't like me.
Paul: Well, maybe what he likes is somebody trying to help him.

 For Paul, who suffered with addictions and was normally rebellious, this is one of those moments where he shined. He himself needed help but wouldn’t accept, and here he revealed that a person hard to help, even if no one can really help them, wants deeply to feel the love that is communicated when someone at least tries to help. It is hard to help people – to really help people. Sure, bringing cookies over to someone who is struggling may lift their spirits for a moment, but the problem hasn’t gone away and they are left with a plateful of unhealthy comfort food. We realized that it is hard to truly help people, since meaningful change comes from within. Furthermore, can we ever really accurately empathize with others? And if not, how could we ever know how to help them? We had both experienced times when people had tried to help us, but the help was unhelpful, fleeting, or even counter-productive. Regardless of all this, the action of trying to help does not go unnoticed. We feel sincere concern, and we know we are loved.

In A River Runs Through It, we learn through the experience of the McLean family, that love is powerful. The divisive individual problems that threaten to tear at their family are rendered powerless. Not because the problems were all solved, but because a common love, as simple as fly-fishing, welcomed them all back home and together.

As the beloved film regretfully comes to its close, the now aged brother, Norman, stands once again fishing on the same river – that treasured river that united them through everything. Norman is the last of them, and the sun is setting. Pensively he speaks these words, “each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding." Or, stated symbolically, “eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”