Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Search for Delicious

I just read the children's book, The Search for Delicious w/ Jordan  (A fun story by Natalie Babbitt, who also wrote Tuck Everlasting)  -- it's all about a kingdom's search for the most delicious food for the kings dictionary: "Delicious is..."   So, as we read it, I was thinking about the most delicious foods for me --

Delicious is...
my favorite See's chocolates.
warm apple pie (with a great flaky crust) and vanilla ice cream.
surprise Chocolate covered mint Oreo's from Jordan!
(For early birthday presents, he has surprised me with THREE  boxes of these wonderful cookies at exactly the right moments! And, he is kind enough that when I  finished a box of 12 cookies in 3 days to just say, "There's not very many cookies in those boxes!")

And Jordan said...

"I guess my delicious is a sweet dinner cooked by my sweetie." 

Who could ask for a better husband than that? :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Some Refreshing Journalism

This is kind of long, but it was one of the best articles I have seen written about the church. Totally unbiased, just an honest, respectful explanation of our beliefs as this person saw them. So nice to read.

"Bridging a Jewish-Mormon rift"   from the Chicago Tribune

Grandpa's arms always offered the warmest embrace. But he had an iron fist when it came to being Jewish.
Having watched his parents shun his brother Al for marrying a non-Jew, Grandpa didn't marry my Christian grandmother until she had converted to Judaism. Later, my grandfather insisted that a rabbi marry my mom and dad. And he boycotted his sons' weddings when they both married Catholics.
So imagine the shock when I learned that my late grandfather had been posthumously baptized a Mormon.

The news revealed nothing about my grandfather. After all, the baptism wasn't his idea. Instead, it opened my eyes to the role of free will in the belief system of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called the Mormon Church.
And it gave me a new perspective on a dilemma that generations ago nearly tore my family apart.
For years, the "Mormon side" of the family had been no more than shadowy characters in our genealogical soap opera. The "Mormon cousins," as they came to be known, were the descendants of my great-uncle Al, who for years supposedly did not speak to his family because of the Christian woman he chose to be his wife.
The whole saga served as a cautionary tale for many of us about placing religious allegiance above family. Moral of the story: Family came first.

Eventually, my great-grandfather made amends with his son Al. But this was late in life, and by this time even my great-uncle had become a grandfather himself. There was something else: Uncle Al had found Mormonism. And so, another faith entered the clan, a faith that valued family and welcomed new converts with open arms.
When I finally met my great-uncle and cousins four years ago, I knew we were related just from the same quirky sense of humor we shared.
We had the same family stories, too, even some of the same photos in the family albums. And it was while flipping through those albums filled with family trees that I learned the news. Next to the names of my grandmother and grandfather were dates of their births, their deaths and their baptisms.

My cousins don't archive family history for only sentimental reasons. They do so for a theological purpose. The Mormon Church calls on its members to pour their energies into the salvation of all people—including those no longer on earth.
To make sure every human being has a chance to reunite with God and family in heaven, Mormons baptize the dead by proxy, a practice my cousin describes as a sacred "power of attorney."
Mormons trace their unique custom of baptizing the dead to the New Testament. In one of his letters to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote: "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?"
The verse confuses a lot of Catholics and Protestants. But for Mormons it makes perfect sense. They believe Christianity's intent was restored through their church in 1830. They also believe God would not deny that good news to previous generations. So to be fair, everyone should get another chance in the next life to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that offer is proffered through baptism.

My cousins say they have lost count of how many posthumous baptisms they have performed, estimating the number to be in the hundreds. The church tracks them in the International Genealogical Index, a database of more than 700 million names that includes celebrities, popes and dictators.
It also lists Holocaust victims, which has led to no shortage of tension between Mormons and Jews. In 1995, Mormons responded to protests from the Jewish community by promising to stop posthumously baptizing Jews without the consent of their family members. In 2004, the church promised to remove the names of Holocaust victims who had been added to the index without consent from their relatives. For many Jews, posthumous baptisms evoke thousands of forced conversions during pogroms and the Holocaust. It's one thing to offer prayers for someone. It's quite another to seemingly seal their fate without consent.

But Mormons contend that proxy baptism doesn't automatically make a person Mormon. As my cousins explained, the baptisms simply give my grandparents a choice.
Choice is a central tenet to the Mormon faith. They believe God chose to send his spiritual children to earth to exercise free will by enduring the test of mortality. That freedom or ability to choose does not end when people die.
Even if people in the spirit world no longer have flesh and blood, they still possess the same ego, personality and intellect, which means Grandma and Grandpa "can turn up their noses at this if they want," my cousin said. Because Mormons believe baptism and other sacred rites are required to enter the kingdom of heaven, they perform the rites by proxy "just in case."

I imagined my grandfather downright mad at the arrogance of presuming he would abandon what he had devoted his life to preserving. But when I told my mother about the baptism and braced myself for a flood of emotions, she surprised me.
"Mom and Dad felt that any blessings bestowed upon them . . . long distance couldn't hurt a thing," she said.

Turns out, according to my cousins, my grandfather remained close to his brother regardless of the family tumult. He lent his brother the car and cash he needed to marry. And he helped put some of Al's grandchildren through medical school.
No matter how stubborn my grandfather continued to be with his own children, he always regretted the way his brother had been treated and tried to make up for it until his dying day.
My cousin said the baptism was done out of love, as a way to honor my grandparents. "It is the epitome of not forgetting somebody," he said.

It does come down to choice. We have the freedom to choose whether religion will unite us or divide us. In the past, my family chose to let it divide. Faced with this revelation, I now realize how torn they must have been. Still, I choose to learn from that mistake and appreciate my cousins' gesture.
Heeding that lesson, to me, is the epitome of not forgetting.

-- Tribune reporter Manya A. Brachear

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunny California

For our anniversary, we spent a week in California w/ Jordan's parents. It was a great time -- we played on the weekend and then Jordan worked from there a normal work-week and we had fun all together in the evenings. I got to relax more and Landon had a blast playing with Grammi and Grandpa. An added bonus was thanks to a bunch of miles with a rewards credit card we had, our total cost for the three round trip tickets was $21.70! :)

This was the cutest little fireman I've ever seen! :) We went trick-or-treating around the court and all of the neighbors who knew Jordan at this age seemed happy to see this darling little guy! 
I am amazed at how many toys Jordan and his sibling had as kids! And, since his parents still live in the same home, they still have most of them packed away up in the attic and such - so Landon had an endless supply of new and exciting toys to play with all week. His favorite, of course, were the cars which he had to carry around by the handfull at all times.

A picnic at 'Sycamore Grove' - when we were planning our trip, the two things Jordan wanted to were visit Sycamore Grove and go see his old schools. We did go for a walk to his elementary school and it was so fun to hear all the things he remembered about it. Usually Jordan doesn't have much of a memory of growing up so it's always great to hear stories from him as a kid. :)

Landon got to stay in the 'Superman room' - painted like blue sky with a big superman flying down from the ceiling. Landon would go in and climb up on the very edge of the bed so that he could touch the superman. He makes a  cute little superman himself!
Jordan playing Chess with Landon -- this was hilarious to watch.  Until Jordan showed him how to knock down the pieces and keep them, it really looked like they were playing a regular old game of Chess together. 

Landon reading stories with Grammi -- she has a great collection of pop-up books that he just loved. 

So, hooray for a fun week of vacation! I got sick with a cold when we came home so it took me all of last week to finally get unpacked, buy groceries again, etc. But now we're back in the swing of things again! :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Plane Ride

Here's the plane we took coming out here to California -- 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Yes on 8

From The Family: A Proclamation to the World

"The family is ordained of God. 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. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 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. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."

We've been hearing lots about Prop 8 the past few months, especially w/ Jordan's parents living in the Bay Area of California. Kathie sent me this which made me laugh --

Since we're out here visiting, we got to go and help by holding "Yes on 8" signs w/ a big group on Saturday and smaller groups this morning and afternoon.  Tomorrow we'll do a bit more get out the vote things too -- it's great to be able to do something to help. And tomorrow we'll see what happens...