Friday, May 22, 2009

Learning the Hard Way--Teaching by the Spirit

Look who is sitting up! Isn't he just the cutest. This is Gavin, my son Lane's son.

I want to say Hi to all of you. I don't usually have a lot to say on my blog that I think would interest many people. And I still don't have anything too interesting. But I thought I'd share a thing or two.

About a month or so ago I got a new calling at church. I am the Education Counselor for Relief Society in our ward. So far I think I will really like this calling because I can learn so much from it. A few days ago I had a "Teacher's Breakfast" for the relief society teachers and music leaders. They are all pretty new to their calling too, and it was going to be a while till we had a teacher training class. So I wanted us to have our own little mini class on Teaching by the Spirit during this breakfast. It was very good for me to study on this topic. I am not a very strong teacher by nature. But I am starting to learn that I am not really the teacher anyway. The Spirit needs to be the teacher. And I was trying to learn how to invite the spirit into my teaching.

In preparing for the lesson, I was using the scriptures as much as I could. The scriptures, being the word of God, is one of the best ways to invite the Spirit of God into our learning and teaching. I was also using a book "Teaching by the Spirit" by Gene R. Cook. In the book, Elder Cook helps us to understand how we can invite the spirit into our learning and teaching. He also tells us we should be flexible enough in our lesson to allow the spirit to talk to us. When I do my lessons, I usually have all the things planned out that I want to say, and I write them all down. I feel like I am not a very good communicator. I get tongue tied and can't express what I am feeling. So I try to rely on the Spirit when I am in the planning stage of my lesson. So when Elder Cook said that we shouldn't write down our talks, but rely on the guidance and promptings of the Spirit, I thought, Now Way! I just can't do that.

So the night before the lesson, I was just going to put together all the thoughts and things I wanted to cover into a final copy for me to print off. I had my rough draft on a jump drive. When I went to open the file, it wouldn't open. I tried multiple computers in my home and had the same problem. I called the IT guy at my work and asked him if he could open it if I emailed it to him. He tried to also, but it wouldn't open. The file was corrupt. So about a month and a half of studying and preparing was not accessible. I thought I'd be frantic. I am not a teacher by nature, like I said before. But I guess it was time for me to really practice what I had been studying on. So I looked up the scriptures again, and wrote the scriptures references on a paper. I taught the lesson the next morning with scriptures, and a very basic outline, and tried to rely on the Spirit as best as I could.

I don't believe my lesson was elegant. There were times I stumbled for words. But I do believe the Spirit was there. There was more involvement from the ladies then I usually get. I used my outline a bit, but I was very flexible with it. I didn't cover some of the things I had planned. And I relied heavily on the scriptures. I do believe what was covered, was what my Heavenly Father wanted covered. I, by myself, am not a good teacher. But when I rely on the Spirit to guide me, I can do anything the Lord wants me to do.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Yummiest Yogurt

Do you like plain yogurt? A year ago I would have said no. I didn't like it because it was so sharp and tart and not sweet. I only liked yogurt that was sweetened and had fruit. But then I noticed how much sugars some of the yogurts had, so I decided to try making my own to see if I liked the homemade kind any better. I think I now have the perfect recipe. It turns out so thick, creamy and smooth, with just a touch of tartness. It's so good I can eat it plain without sweetening. I enjoy every bite. Here is the recipe that I like the best.

4 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. powdered milk
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. Plain Yogurt

Heat the milk to 185 degrees (just about to boil). Then let the milk cool to 110 degrees. Stir in the powdered milk, and the yogurt. Then put into containers and warm in the yogurt maker for 8 hours. That's it! It's super easy.

I'm sure there are ways to do it without the yogurt makers, but I didn't trust a hot pad or a warm oven to get the temperature right. So I just use a yogurt maker. My friend gave me it for Christmas. And I love it! I make yogurt on my weekend, and have enough to last me all week long.

Here a few things I learned by trial and error:

I use 2% milk, because I don't think I should have as much fat as the whole milk has. But I'm sure whole milk would be even more delicious. I don't like to use the fat free or 1% for yogurt.

The first few times I made yogurt I didn't heat the milk to 185 degrees, because I figured the milk I used was the store bought kind that was already homogenized and pasteurized. So I didn't think I needed to do this step. I just heated the milk to 110, and then added the rest of the stuff. But my yogurts kept coming out kind of runny. So I tried it with heating the milk. For some reason, the yogurt comes out really thick when I heat the milk like the recipe says to.

All yogurts use different bacterias for the cultures. I tried a few different kinds. I tried Dannon, and it was pretty good, but a little too tart for my tastes. I also tried Stoneyfield Farms, and it was my second favorite kind. But my most favorite kind to use is the Oikos Plain yogurt. (In fact, I like this kind just to eat too,)

If you have a yogurt maker that is gathering dust, I recommend you give my recipe a try. It's so good, store bought yogurt will never be good enough again.