Friday 23 September 2011

Cultivating Harmony in the home . . .

As most of you know I am a Mormon, or Latter Day Saint as we prefer to be called! ( LDS for short!) As an LDS we not only have our local chapels, but we also have Temples. We’re really lucky here in England, for we have two of them, one up near Preston in the North West (Chorley) and the other one down near London in Crawley. Temples are very special to us. Not everyone can go into them . . . not even all Mormons. You have to have a special temple recommend in order to be able to enter one (after they have been dedicated to the Lord) and, in order to get one of those, you must live your life in a way that is considered to be worthy of being able to go into the Temple. You also must go through several interviews at both the local and area level. The Queen, herself, cannot go into one of our temples, which is why over here in the UK, we are not able to be married in our Temples, but must have a Civil Ceremony first. It is not legal to be married in the UK in any place other than a Public place, which anyone can enter . . . and so we get married legally in our chapels and then travel to our Temple where our marriage is blessed, and we are sealed together for time and all eternity. It's a very beautiful thing . . .

The temple is a lovely place where we can go and be free from a world full of chaos and disruption. In there, we find peace and tranquillity . . . a true haven from a hectic world. All of the rooms are beautifully appointed and elegant. Everyone dresses in white, a symbol of purity. With everyone being dressed the same, it is impossible to tell who is a banker from who is a cleaner. We are all equal in God's eyes and beloved as His children, which is as it should be. All is quiet and serene. One almost feels as if they are getting a little glimpse of heaven once they pass through the doors of the temple. It is a place I love to go.

Our homes can have that same feeling that we feel when we are in the Temple, the feeling of being a haven from a chaotic world, and unspotted . . . Our own little heaven here on earth. Home is where you hang your heart after all, should it not be a place of tranquillity as well, a place which you can truly call your safe harbour in any storm?

It has long been said that cleanliness is next to Godliness, and I think that first of all it is really important to keep your home clean and tidy. I know Todd will laugh when he reads this, because I have to be one of the untidiest creatures on the face of the planet. I am a creative person, and creative people just do not see things in the same way that others do. When he sees a pile of books on the table . . . he sees a mess that needs to be cleaned up, whereas I see . . . a work in progress . . . something which I may be working on but am not quite finished. I do have to be nagged to put them away, and I really do need to discipline myself more in this area because, even I have to agree, it does look better without them there. It only really takes a few minutes a day to tidy up and keep the house clean if you do it regularly. I know that when I am about to go away on holiday, I always like to give the house a thorough clean just before I leave, so that when I return I am returning to a clean home . . . a true haven. Having said that though, a house must always look like a home, and like people live there, not a show piece.

Making your home a temple is much more than creating a space of cleanliness and order though . . . it is creating a feeling of comfort, a feeling of safety . . . a feeling that this is the one place where you can be free from all the chaos out there in the world . . . and where the spirit of the Lord is comfortable residing. It’s not that hard to create a peaceful atmosphere in our homes, it merely involves making the right choices about what we allow to enter.

Todd and I made a choice quite some time ago that we would stay away from watching smut on our television, or on the computer . . . or even listening to it on the radio. We try only to watch and listen to things that are wholesome and uplifting. It is purely possible to do this. We have a whole series of DVD’s and videos that are what could be classified as family viewing. We try hard to eschew violence, bad language and gratuitous sex. Really, none of those things are necessary. You can be quite generously entertained in other ways. It’s amazing the difference it makes in your home when you choose not to watch or listen to things that are demeaning and nasty. A whole new atmosphere is created. We would not purposefully inject our bodies with poison, and we shouldn’t really inject our spirits with poison either. Things that are unwholesome and nasty are pure poison to our spirits, they truly are. They are soul destroying.

We try to have a home that is filled with prayer. You do not have to be religious to have prayer in the home. Prayer is so much more than getting down on your knees and communing with the great creator. Prayer is a state of mind. It is a feeling of reverence and respect. It is knowing we are not alone, in any situation. It is feeling the presence of divinity continuously . . . and living a life that is conducive to feeling that presence. Prayer is peace. We pray together often as a family, and as individuals . . . and it truly does make a difference in our home. Speaking on a personal level, a day without prayer is a day with something very special missing. My days just don’t go right when I forget to invite the Lord into them.

I also love to read the scriptures. There is so much wisdom amongst the pages of my Bible, Book of Mormon and other spiritual works. I cannot begin to tell you how many times in life I have been faced with a problem, or a bad feeling . . . and I have turned to my scriptures and begun to thumb through their well worn pages. I never fail to find the one thing I need most to read and to hear. They always speak to me exactly where I am at, and in exactly the way I need them to. There is a power in these words from God that flows into your life and your home the minute you pick them up and begin to read. Power to resist temptation, power to avoid deception, power to make the right decisions . . . the scriptures are not called the “Bread of Life” for nothing. They truly can help to anchor us in a world full of storms and despair. Each and every time I read them, I come away with something beautiful, some new understanding, a new found treasure.

People love to come to my home, and I love to have them here. I believe a part of the reason they love it so, is because of the wonderful spirit they can feel as soon as they enter. It is the spirit of love . . . and of peace . . . and it begins in your heart. It begins by making a conscious decision to keep your home unspotted by the cares and woes of the world, and by making it a true haven, away from all the filth and degradation that exists out there. I know that no matter how far I may wander away from my door . . . or how much the lions outside it may roar . . . when I return to it I am safe. I can find peace and harmony within it’s four walls . . . peace and harmony that begins in my own heart, and in your heart. It‘s not that hard to cultivate it . . . if you try, and once established . . . it will grow.

Another thing that people can be pretty sure of when they come into my home . . . is that I will offer them something good to eat. It might be a piece of cake, or some biscuits . . . or maybe a muffin. A delicious muffin such as these here today. They are incredibly scrummy if I don't say so myself and would be most welcome I am sure!

*Pink Drizzle Plum Muffins*
Makes 12 medium sized muffins
Printable Recipe

Moist and studded with chunks of lovely plum and topped with the delicious crunch and a sweet drizzle of pink icing, These muffins are quite simply wonderful and so very easy to make and enjoy!

225g plain flour (2 1/4 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
75g caster sugar (a scant 1/2 cup)
½ tsp salt
1 large free range egg
200ml milk (about 3/4 cup)
30g butter, melted (a scant 3 TBS)
180g of red or purple plums, stoned and diced (approximately 4)
the finely grated zest of one lemon
75g of macadamia nuts, chopped coarsely (about 2/3 cup)
Pink Drizzle icing (whish together icing sugar, milk and red food colouring
to give you a drizzable pink tinted icing)

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/35o* F/ gas mark 4. Generously butter a 12 cup medium muffin tray or place a paper muffin case in each cup. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, lemon zest and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave. Whisk together the egg and milk in another bowl and then whisk in the melted butter. Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture all at once and mix together mixing only until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Fold in the chopped plums.

Divide the mixture evenly amongst the prepared muffin cups. Scatter the chopped macadamia nuts over the top of each one. Bake in the heated oven for 17 to 20 minutes until well risen and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and transfer each muffin to a wire rack to cool slightly before eating. Drizzle the tops with pink icing before serving. (Not a necessity but lovely to behold and a nice sweet touch against the savoury nuts)

I'm talking about vegetarian Mushroom & Ale Pies over in The English Kitchen today.

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