Friday, April 25, 2008

Brendon's Going to Johannesburg, South Africa!

YEAH!! I am so excited to announce that Brendon Blau has been called to serve a full-time, two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Johannesburg, South Africa Mission!! He reports to the MTC in Johannesburg on September 4th.

I couldn't be more excited! He called me up and read to me where he was going and I just started balling like a baby. The feeling I had in my heart only confirms what I already know. This is where he is supposed to go! I am so thrilled and am already planning on picking him up! Start the savings now baby.

In dedication to Brendon, here are some cool pics and
links of this wonderful place.

Jo’burg – from
Current Local Time – from worldclock.
Mission website

According to the website Johannesburg is the economic heart of South Africa. As the largest and richest city in South Africa, Johannesburg lifestyle is a fast-paced and hectic one.

No-one could have imagined the repercussions when an unemployed miner found a stone bearing traces of gold here in 1886, an event that led to the discovery of the world's richest natural treasure trove.

People flocked to the Johannesburg area from all ends of the earth, and the open pastoral landscape changed almost overnight. Shantytowns sprang up and were rapidly transformed into modern concrete cities. Johannesburg became 'The Gold
Capital of the World', and the entire country was catapulted into an economic boom.

For those interested in South Africa's history and cultu
re, Johannesburg offers fascinating museums. A thriving café culture and a thrumming nightlife exist in many of Johannesburg's suburbs. The townships are also interesting to tour.

Brendon, I am so excited for you my little shooshie!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

LDS leader says Romney's presidential run was positive for the church

LDS leader says Romney's presidential run was a positive for church

By Thomas Burr
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

Posted: 1:25 PM- WASHINGTON -- The news storm created by Mitt Romney's presidential bid was a plus for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

"I'd much rather have people talking about us than ignoring us," Elder M. Russell Ballard told a meeting of the Brigham Young University Management Society in Washington on Saturday.

"The biggest problem we face is apathy. Still, we have learned a lot. One thing we have concluded is that even after 178 years, there is more misinformation out there than we had imagined."

Political pundits have spun two opposing theories about the most high-profile Mormon candidate ever to seek the presidency: He boosted recognition of the church and helped stamp down misconceptions, or his bid was a bad experience for the church since it brought out criticism and controversy.

Ballard, one of the first LDS leaders to speak out about the race's impact, says anxiety about Mormons primarily came from conservative Christians who are against the LDS Church's doctrine and, from the other end of the spectrum, those who oppose the church's position on moral issues such as abortion or same-sex marriage.

Although much criticism surfaced during Romney's bid, Ballard said a lot of Americans were simply puzzled about who Mormons are and what they believe in. Ballard said he and other church leaders met with journalists from Washington, Chicago, New York, Boston, Cleveland and other cities to help them understand the LDS Church.

But that's not enough, Ballard said. Church leaders must not be reluctant to participate in the public discussion and to engage the news media, and church members must also join the cause.

"While we do speak authoritatively for the church," Ballard said, according to prepared remarks, "we look to our responsible and faithful members to engage personally with blogs, to write thoughtful, online letters to news organizations, and to act in other ways to correct the record with their own opinions."

Ballard touched on the ongoing situation in Texas, where authorities raided a compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That splinter group practices polygamy but is often confused by some journalists with the mainstream LDS Church, which officially banned multiple wives in 1890.

"This is currently a very difficult public affairs challenge," Ballard said. "We are working to rectify that situation, both at church headquarters and through the actions of our own faithful members."

Other prominent Mormons in Washington -- including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and several members of Congress -- joined Ballard at the event on Saturday. Ballard challenged them all to be ambassadors for the LDS Church.

"Interest has continued at a high level and probably will for some time," Ballard said. "If a national conversation is going on about the church, are you going to be an active participant or a silent observer?"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Who I am Makes A Difference!

This past weekend, I was able to go to church with my sister and brother in-law. It was so amazing to be there with my little sister as she delivered one of the most powerful talks I have heard in a long time. She spoke about standards and why youth need to uphold them. Personally, I have not had a hard time keeping the standards presented by the church, and knew at a very young age that the guidelines acted as a protection for me.

Lately, I have been thinking about right and wrong. Does it exist? I know, a very random question...but I take a look at people in my life who have done something that I deem as 'wrong,' but then through the power of the Atonement, come back into the 'right.' So, in the long-run, was it wrong? My sister didn't actually touch on that, but the phrases she used weren't necessarily the words 'right' or 'wrong.' She used words like, 'straight and narrow,' 'consequences of misguided decisions,' 'appropriate and inappropriate.' As I have been contemplating the words 'right' and 'wrong' and what they mean, Jamie's talk allowed me to reflect on the truths of the gospel. If I do something in accordance to the will of the Lord, I will reap consequences that leave me feeling enlivened, fulfilled and happy. If I do something that is not in accordance with the truths the Lord has provided for me, I will reap the consequences of those decisions to. Is it wrong? In this representation, maybe 'wrong' is not the most fitting word. Something to think about.

It is interesting to me though, that the general feeling or thought about standards sometimes leave people feeling like they have all these strict rules to follow. What I have found is when I keep my standards, I create a space where I am empowered. Keeping standards allows me to practice something that sets me apart....makes me different.

I received this video from a dear friend talking about 'who I am makes a difference.' I can't remember the exact statistics, but children hear up to 432 words a day that are negative, and only 32 that are positive. At work, I started practicing saying more encouraging words and have noticed a huge difference in the work space. This video is very profound and most certainly accurate when I find that I am trying to balance every day busy loads and forget who I am.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Self Image

Here is a great production on self-image...don't worry it is not serious. In this clip, you will hear claymation characters describe their fears and pretty much their thoughts about how they think people see them. It is pretty awesome to think that hmm...everyone is different and that is ok! It is about 8 minutes long...but worth it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

11:53 p.m.

The last couple of days I have been reflecting about 'reactions.' I am up on the phone with a sweet lady who is fighting to get the best possible education for children in her native I look at the time and want very much to be curled up in my bed on the way to la la land...I have many choices in how to react.

I could:

a. Get all kinds of upset that I am losing my precious sleep
b. Get mad at the person for keeping me up at such late hours, when I made a promise to myself that I would be sleeping by now
c. Realize that I really don't go to bed until about this time anyway, why not take a crack at saving the world one human at a time
d. Understand that when there are deadlines...that is just what it is...a deadline, meant to be met
e. Write a blog about reaction
f. Choose a and b
g. Choose c,d and e

I chose g.

I could also add 'h' in there talking about how I could continue to blog about what an incredible sound wind makes.

I am sitting here in my guest room listening to the wind outside the window. There are these trees in my 'backyard' area that have been alive for goodness knows how long. They stand almost 5 stories high. I don't do calculations very well, but after seeing the trees while I was on the 4th floor of my building, I noticed it was slightly taller than that. Though the trees lack leaves, due to the left-overs of winter, the trees still make a brilliant and unique sound. With the windows shut, it almost sounds like the ocean. I don't know which tide, but the tide that brings in steady big and rolling waves - a mirage of ocean music...for trees. With the window open, it sounds like traffic when it is not as windy and then a mixture of waves and chimes as it picks up - a chorus of nature. Aah....wind.

All is now 12:07 a.m. and if I wouldn't have stayed up this late, I would not have experienced wind!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Turning My Papers in to the MTC

That's right everyone, I am ready to turn my papers in to the MTC. Marriage Training Center, here I come.

Every year for conference, I hope that one of the apostles says something like: beginning in October 2008, we will start an inspired program lining up all single people over the age of 25 in the church with their future spouses, to whom they will be married and sealed for time and all eternity. All those over the age of 25 will be set up according to spiritual capacity, common interests and how nice you look together in a picture.

But alas, I know that the Lord would never take away my agency. So, I am thinking that I should just let my parents decide. They have already nominated several men for me to marry in my life that would make an incredible spouse. Most are now married....I was a slacker on that and take full responsibility. The fact of the matter is that my amazing mom called me on the phone yesterday and we got online to look at worthy boys in the San Diego area. I personally think she wants me to marry a California dude so that I can live closer. I am not opposed.

So now, I am calling all friends who love playing match maker to the table. I am ready to turn my papers in to the Marriage Training Center and need your help. Let's get our black books out people and start this process. There is this big world full of possibilities and...WORLD, I am ready! Let the dating begin!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Thoughts About Conference

I just can't help but have a smile on my face today! The weekend was so rejuvenating for me. I had the opportunity to listen to some incredible men and women who are truly inspired. This past weekend was the 178th semi-annual conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As some of you know, I have been going through a pretty rough time these past couple months. Though turning to God, exercising and really good girlfriends, I still didn't feel like I was really up to where I wanted or needed to be. After having listened to apostles of the church, I can't help but feel that the Lord is very aware of who I am, and that He has placed servants to guide and direct me back home. I can't wait until the talks are available...but all I have to say is AMEN!

One thing from this conference that I will never forget is the change in countenance that President Thomas S. Monson has. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland co
mmented on the actual change in his countenance as he has so humbly accepted the responsibility to lead the Lord's church. I too saw this change and felt the spirit testify to me that President Thomas S. Monson is the true and living prophet on the earth today. I was humbled to hear this man testify of the Savior and how much he has a personal relationship with the Savior. Yesterday, I couldn't help but feel that I am going to see the best days of service, testimony sharing and love for the entire world, and that the prophet and the rest of the apostles are going to lead us with fervor and determination, just like they have been.

I felt that President Monson was speaking directly to me about my future. The spirit bore witness to me that if I have hope and faith in Jesus Christ that my earthly experience will be the most incredible experience and will prepare me for what is ahead. Prior to yesterday, I was having a hard time finding hope. I relied on the Lord to just give it to me. After listening to some talks given yesterday, I know that I have to do my part to make this happen. I need to pray more fervently and with specific questions.

One thing that I have been thinking about: I remember back at TSG, when I would have a work-related problem, I would go and talk to my boss immediately. It seemed that problems became more of a problem, because the 'problem' would turn more into a complaint. I look back and realize that I had become 'the complainer' of the office. I was telling my dad about this and my dad offered some great advice. He told me that instead of just going in and telling my boss the problem (complaining) that every time I had a problem, that I should also offer a solution. Following that example would open up communication and demonstrate that I am willing to work on the problem. It would also open up communication for my boss and he then could contribute his thoughts and fuel the fire that would dispose of the problem.

The same thing needs to happen with the Lord. When I approach Him with a problem, I need to come prepared to have communication with Him that would help me resolve or dispose of the problem. I need to come to Him willing to work. I have realized over time that successful communication for anyone, including communication with the Lord, requires work, effort, understanding and drive to make things happen. Though I also truly believe that the Lord is an all powerful being that has the ability to make anything happen because of the Atonement, that doesn't mean that I can sit idly by and watch it happen. I have a responsibility to have faith in Him, to put my trust in His plan and to work my little bootie off to make things happen.

I know that if I put my trust in Jesus Christ and if I pray to my Heavenly Father trusting in His will that I can be the happiest person in the world!

Thanks for letting me share what I know.

Here are some links that I also want to share:

Jesus Christ-The Son of God
178th General Conference Archives: You can listen too

Pictures from:
Jesus and the Lamb: by Katherine Brown
Thomas S. Monson Named 16th Church President

Friday, April 4, 2008

Tribute to Martin Luther King

Today marks a day that has gone down in history as a day of memory, for the hopes and dreams of the future. Today is day that I pay homage to Martin Luther King who was killed 40 years ago. I want to pay tribute to a man who has inspired me to reach for my dreams, that dreams can become reality, to stand for what is right and to make what seems impossible, possible!

Today I read an article in the Washington Post re-examining the past 40 years since his death. Though
maybe not written as a dedicatory piece, there are some interesting opinions about what has happened to the economy since the 60's. The other side of the mountaintop: 40 years after his death, MLK rougher edges re-examined. The article states, "Today students learn of his powerful "dream" that children be judged not "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Politicians and private citizens of all ideologies summon King's soaring oratory as the inspiration that challenged the nation to better itself. But this beleaguered young man -- he was only 39 when he died -- was not just the icon celebrated at Martin Luther King Day programs and taught in U.S. schools." This phrase sets the precedence for the rest of the article, revealing Martin Luther King as someone other than I learned about in school.

For me, Martin Luther King was just a man like anybody else. BUT he was a man that stood inspired in the face of opposition. He saw a future that only he and a few others could comprehend-a future that some of us are still having a hard time finding. He didn't see immediate change, but he saw the affects of what could happen because of progression.

It makes me laugh and feel a little resilient when I hear about politicians who want to change America. America doesn't need fixing, it just needs progress. If we don't like where we are as Americans, we need to step it up a notch. Change is the outcome, but progress is the next step.

The scriptures and the apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints talk about a change in heart being a process of progress. In the talk,
Ye Must Be Born Again by David Bednar, he uses a parable to describe the process of progress "A pickle is a cucumber that has been transformed according to a specific recipe and series of steps. The first steps in the process of changing a cucumber into a pickle are preparing and cleaning. I remember many hours spent on the back porch of my home removing stems from and scrubbing dirt off of the cucumbers we had picked. My mom was very particular about the preparing and cleaning of the cucumbers. She had high standards of cleanliness and always inspected my work to make sure this important task was properly completed.

The next steps in this process of change are immersing and saturating the cucumbers in salt brine for an extended period of time. To prepare the brine, my mom always used a recipe she learned from her mother—a recipe with special ingredients and precise procedures. Cucumbers can only become pickles if they are totally and completely immersed in the brine for the prescribed time period. The curing process gradually alters the composition of the cucumber and produces the transparent appearance and distinctive taste of a pickle. An occasional sprinkle of or dip in the brine cannot produce the necessary transformation. Rather, steady, sustained, and complete immersion is required for the desired change to occur.

The final step in the process requires the sealing of the cured pickles in jars that have been sterilized and purified. The pickles are packed in canning jars, covered with boiling hot brine, and processed in a boiling-water-bath canner. All impurities must be removed from both the pickles and the bottles so the finished product can be protected and preserved. As this procedure is properly followed, the pickles can be stored and enjoyed for a long period of time.

To summarize, a cucumber becomes a pickle as it is prepared and cleaned, immersed in and saturated with salt brine, and sealed in a sterilized container. This procedure requires time and cannot be hurried, and none of the essential steps can be ignored or avoided."


I understand where the authors of the Washington post article are coming from. I, however, will always remember Martin Luther King as someone worth remembering because he understood that change is a process and that he realized that if we are to be a successful and happy people, that we need to step it up a notch.

Quoting from the Washington Post article, Martin Luther King gave his last speech at the Mason Temple in Memphis, saying: "It really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. . . . And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we as a people, will get to the Promised Land." We need progress in order to really 'change.'

Thank you Reverend King!

Tribute Editorial:

Martin Luther King announcement by JFK. Provided by MSN.
Marchers to honor King on anniversary of death. Provided by MSN.
History through King's words. Provided by MSN.
The Prophetic Anger of MLK. Provided by LA Times.

This article has an interesting quote, "
What united King in his early and later periods is the incurable love that fueled his hopefulness and rage. As King's example proves, as we dream, we must remember the poor and vulnerable who live a nightmare. And as we strike out in prophetic anger against injustice, love must cushion even our hardest blows."

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dream Job: Ice Cream Taste Testing

I remember talking with my friends one day about the ultimate jobs. After college, I was an intern for 3 months. During the 3 months, I had to make a decision about what I
wanted to do for a career that might point me in the right direction for my life! A huge decision for me at that time, I remember searching for jobs online and finding that I wanted so badly to get into the food industry. I wanted to write about food. You see, I love it, I crave it and thought that because of those facts, I would also love to write about it. I even looked into schools that would teach me how to write about food just so I could go and taste-test food just to write about it.

How much I would love to write about a creamy dulce de leche ice cream and finally be able to put into words the sensation as I take the very first bite. The cold steel of my spoon cools my lips as I allow the shock of the once taste-less platform enter my mouth. I allow my taste buds to explore the sweetness of a rich caramel with a hint of hazel, or is it a nutmeg flavor...oh no, it couldn't be, pecans, it has to be pecans....ah, but wait, maybe it is the sweetened, condensed milk. Ok, who cares...the flavor is incredible! I hold it long enough in my mouth to melt and slowly drip down the back of my throat....the only way to eat ice cream! (How was that attempt at writing? Did I capture it?)

OK, you got me! So, maybe I just want to taste the food...not write about it!!

This morning, I read this article about a job that I joke around about all the time...but that I secretly (and now not so secretly) covet. Here is the article that was posted on the Salt Lake Tribune's website.

Tough job, but somebody's gotta do it: Dryer's top ice cream taster visits

By Dawn House
The Salt Lake Tribune

Picture: John D. Harrison, official taste tester for Dreyer's... (Jeremy Harmon/The Salt Lake Tribune )

A spoon, thermometer and pen tucked into John Harrison's pocket protector are essential tools for his tasting job at Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream.

Harrison has dipped his golden spoon into more than 200 million gallons of ice cream, testing for the essentials that make up the best frozen treats.

"Slow down," Harrison, 66, instructs. "Taste. Don't just swallow - that's for junk foods."

Harrison is in Salt Lake City this week, promoting the industry that has been in his family for four generations - making his bloodline "16 percent butterfat." His own expertise is so crucial that Dreyer's has insured his taste buds for a cool $1 million.

Most every weekday, Harrison samples batches at the company's plant in Bakersfield, Calif. And when he travels, he stocks up on ice cream at local grocery stores, tasting samples to ensure quality throughout the distribution system.

Dreyer's employs tasters at the company's six plants - including the Salt Lake City facility - but it is Harrison, who is the official taste tester.

He's careful about his profession (he has been in the industry for 40-plus years, more than 25 with Dreyer's). Harrison doesn't drink, smoke or eat hot, spicy foods. And each day begins with an herbal tea to get his taste buds going. Harrison says the regimen has ensured good health, but he lets out a booming laugh when he talks about his weight.

"Who's going to trust a skinny ice cream taster?"

But to the serious business of tasting. Appearance is the first step, he patiently instructs. There should be no unnatural colors. Vanilla - his favorite - should be a nice cream color for all four varieties, including pure vanilla, rich French vanilla, vanilla bean and the full-bodied double vanilla.

Next is body and texture. Be sure to let the ice cream temper for a few minutes at room temperature, he cautions. Most people eat it right out of the freezer at about 5 degrees. But it's 10 degrees that brings out the best flavors.

And finally, the taste. Vanilla should have a clean dairy flavor, subtle but not overpowering. Other varieties should have a balance between the fresh cream, sweeteners and flavorings.
Harrison has eaten more than his share of ice cream through the years, but official tests are similar to wine tastings. He swirls a sample around in his mouth, smacks his lips to aerate the product, brings the aroma back through his nose and, yes, he spits it out.

The company is banking on Utahns eating more Dreyer's (which on the East Coast is marketed as Edy's Grand Ice Cream, and as a combined brand has the largest U.S. market share). Earlier this year, the company retired the Utah-based Snelgrove Ice Cream brand. The Salt Lake City plant exclusively manufactures about 150 Dreyer's varieties, which are shipped to eight states in the Intermountain West, said spokesman Gary Lay.

Among those varieties is Cookies 'N Cream, introduced in 1983 and now No. 6 on Dreyer's list of best-selling ice cream (vanilla is No. 1). Harrison said he got the idea for the Dreyer's flavor after being served a dish of vanilla ice cream set off by small cookies. His thought was, "Let's skip a step." He experimented with several different cookies, finally settling on Oreos.

Consumers can vote for their favorite flavors. Based on online ballots, Dreyer's has introduced the American Idol Take the Cake variety, with flavors of yellow cake, frosting and light sprinkles.

Ah, what a job!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Children with Autism

There is this huge controversy about this show I watch, called Eli Stone. I love Eli Stone by the way, but it was pretty interesting to read the argument about the pilot episode. Essentially, Eli Stone’s character is a lawyer at a top firm who is approached about an autism case. In the show, Eli ends up winning the case against a pharmaceutical company, proving that the shots received by the little boy contributed to his autism.

I am only mentioning the show because it created this HUGE, HUGE debate online. This was a couple months ago. I couldn't help but ask myself WHY? I mean, it is incredible to see that autism is a very common special need that everyone needs to understand! I have been doing research about how sign language could really benefit children with autism and found that I am completely passionate about this subject. I realize that it is growing and that people need to start understanding it and maybe, just maybe, I could be tapping into something here that is HUGE.

Earlier I posted an article that includes this Youtube video. The Truth About Autism: Scientists Reconsider What They Think They Know.

Here are two articles on the whole controversy regarding the pilot of Eli Stone. Some very interesting stuff.

Pediatricians unhappy with Eli Stone
On TV: Controversy with Eli Stone

I was looking online today and found tons of articles about autism. Perhaps people are triggered by the fact that it is National Autism Awareness month, but people are starting to speak out. Take a look at some of these articles.

This excerpt comes from a CNN report: Jenny McCarthy: My son's recovery from autism, as written by Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey

"(CNN) -- In light of the recent Hannah Poling decision, in which the federal court conceded that vaccines could have contributed to her autism, we think the tide is finally turning in the direction of parents like us who have been shouting concerns from our rooftops for years.

We've met some of the most amazing moms and dads who are forging their own path to prevention and recovery. When our son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism we were lucky enough to benefit from their knowledge and experience. Evan has been healed to a great extent by many breakthroughs that, while perhaps not scientifically proven, have definitely helped Evan and many other children who are recovering from autism.

So where's the cavalry? Where are all the doctors beating down our door to take a closer look at Evan? We think we know why they haven't arrived. Most of the parents we've met who have recovered their child from autism as we did (and we have met many) blame vaccines for their child's autism.

We think our health authorities don't want to open this can of worms, so they don't even look or listen. While there is strong debate on this topic, many parents of recovered children will tell you they didn't treat their child for autism; they treated them for vaccine injury."

In addition to their comments, CNN has reported several stories that are related to these issues, including:

"The challenges of autism are great, but by many accounts, the rewards of raising a child on the autistic spectrum can be great as well." You Get a Slice of Heaven and a Pure Love in Your Home

Vaccine-Autism Question Divides Parents, Scientists

Getting Help for a Child With Autism
Autism's Mysteries Remain as Numbers Grow

Other Articles

Inoculated Against Facts:
New York Times
Maternal Antibodies May Contribute to Autism
: Reuters UK
Mysteries and Complications:
Autism is everywhere—once again. Separating fact from fear as the courts and Hollywood wade in: Newsweek

I don't have an opinion yet, but once I do...I will post. What is your opinion?