Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spring Scenery

I love spring...especially in a new place.  I love anticipating what plants are going to look like and what kind of surprises will pop up from beneath the ground.  The greens are dark and rich.  And the variety of colors are vibrant and visually stimulating.  Here's a peak at some of the plants and colors we've discovered around our new home this spring.  
The lilac is in the perfect spot.  As you walk out of the 3-seasons room, the wind catches the fragrance and this is the first thing you smell as you step outside.  It is such a refreshing aroma.  
Anyone know what kind of tree this is?  A close up of the flowers are next...
It's a beautiful green leaf with a hint of red.  The pink/red flowers cover the entire tree.  It has quickly become my favorite tree in the yard.  Now I just need to learn how to prune a tree.  Karen took a stab at it and did a pretty good job.
Anya has found a new favorite reading place - right in the middle of the backyard with the sun on her back.
This is a unique plant.  The pink flowers are beautiful against the dark mulch.  And I love the wispy look - the leaves and flowers only form at the ends of the branches.
We had a couple of guests search around our yard this past weekend.  We think they found a place to nest behind some bushes next to our house.  We've never had ducklings before.  Anya says the ducks have adopted us. :)  More and more of them have been wandering around our yard lately.  
Rabbits are a little more common.  Fortunately, we don't have a garden this year so we leave the rabbits alone.  They don't seem to be bothered by the kids either.  I had the horrible experience of killing a few bunnies with the lawnmower several years ago.  I'm much more observant of potential bunny nests in the ground now.
This is a beautiful flowering vine.  Not sure what it is.  But it adds a little pop at the edge of the patio.
It seems that each week when we explore our yard, we find a new flowering bush or plant.  We need a horticulturalist to visit and let us know what all of these plants are.  They are beautiful and we love the variety.
I've tried my hand a few times at landscaping our previous yards.  We've torn out the blah boxwoods and replaced them with flowering plants.  But I always end of going overboard.  I've never found the right balance between the greenery the boxwoods provide and the color I want to enjoy during the spring, summer, and fall.  So it has been nice to move into a home where the landscaping has already been professionally done.  And they left a few spots for me to plant annuals.  So I can satisfy that green thumb of mine without messing anything up!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Temple Tour

Two states and seven temples...and it's not out west.  Five of the temples are in one state.  Four of them are considered "Temples of the Restoration" and three of them have yet to be built.  But prophecies have been made, lands have been consecrated, and the ground is holy.  So our family decided to take a temple tour.

It was a fun experience.  We probably didn't do it justice...but with six kids under the age of 12, we did our best.  If nothing else, we exposed our kids to our love of temples.  These edifices are truly the "House of the Lord" and house the most important work mortals and immortals are involved in.

So what are the seven temples in two states?  Two are in Illinois and five are in Missouri.  We'll take you on our tour...  

Temple #1: Chicago (but we didn't travel north to get a picture...).  Here is a picture and information if you're interested.  Hopefully that's not cheating...

Temple #2: Nauvoo (but the first temple we actually visited :))

We've relocated back to the Nauvoo Illinois temple district.  It's interior and exterior is unlike any other.  The spirit in this beautiful city is inspiring.  We hope to bring our family here as often as possible.

Temple #3: Adam-ondi-Ahman

I had never considered this a temple site.  But according to Heber C. Kimball's records, it is.  The site was dedicated by Brigham Young in 1838.  
The valley is where Adam blessed his posterity after being driven from the Garden of Eden.  And it is here that Jesus Christ will come and hold a grand council.  
How cool to stand in such an historic and prophetic location!  To know who was here and who will be here...

Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing.  And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel. (Doctrine and Covenants 107:53-54)
There is an area of Adam-ondi-Ahman known as Tower Hill (below where Peter is showing some intimidating moves).  While in this area, Joseph Smith identified remains of a Nephite altar or tower.  About a half mile from this location, Joseph also identified three altars built of stone where Adam offered up sacrifice.  The exact location of the structures are not known today and there is no visual evidence remaining.

Temple #4: Far West

After viewing the other temple sites, it really hit home at this location...that the Lord knows how to choose real estate!  When I think of Missouri and Illinois, I don't think of incredible views from the top of a mountain.  But there are elevated areas where, if at just the right spot, you can see for miles around you.  It was the case in Nauvoo and in Adam-ondi-Ahman.

And it was the case in Far West.  This location sits high above the valley.  A picture would not have adequately captured the view.  But if you get a chance to visit, take notice of the panoramic view of the valley around Far West.  It is amazing what a little elevation can do.
Significant events occurred on this holy land.  The name of the church was revealed here.  The first great missionary call "to go over the great waters" was given here.  And the law of tithing was revealed here as well.  

Temple #5: Independence

The Garden of Eden...and the future site of the City of Zion and the New Jerusalem temple.  The millennial world capital. 

Maybe I'm a sucker for well-manicured and beautiful empty lots of green grass.  But Karen and I remember standing in the open field where the Nauvoo temple once stood.  And now the temple has been reconstructed.  So we wanted our kids to have a similar experience.  These lands have all been dedicated.  So even though a temple doesn't reside here yet, the land is holy and there is a special spirit here.      
While the above is the "temple lot" where the New Jerusalem temple will be built, the larger temple lot is actually 63 acres and was purchased by Bishop Edward Partridge for $130.  Joseph Smith revealed a plan that featured a complex of 24 temples on the 63-acre temple lot.  The church currently owns approximately 20 acres (where the visitor center and stake center are located) of the original 63 acres.  The remaining acreage (including the temple lot for the New Jerusalem temple) is currently owned by other break-off groups of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
We ran around the field to identify each of the cornerstones.  While the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) was excavating for a temple in 1929, they discovered the northeast and southeast cornerstone markers.  Because of the Great Depression, the Church of Christ was never able to construct the temple.  Our church has maintained good relations with the Church of Christ over the years...hopefully we'll be able to acquire this land soon.  
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory. (Article of Faith 10)

Temple #6: Kansas City

About 15 minutes down the road from Independence, the Church has completed construction of the Kansas City Missouri Temple and is currently holding an open house.  This temple is scheduled to be dedicated on May 6, 2012.  
Temples are not regular places of Sunday worship for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is a place where sacred covenants are made with God.  It is a place of higher education where we learn where we came from, why we are here on earth, and what life after mortality is about.  Eternal families are created here in beautiful wedding ceremonies as husband and wife are joined not "till death do us part," but sealed for time and all eternity.  
Temples are sacred buildings that link Heaven to Earth.  Each one is a "House of the Lord" where His spirit resides.  Prior to the dedication of a temple, the general public is invited to an open house to visit and learn more about temples and their purpose.  So we took our children.  It was a great family experience.

Temple #7: St. Louis

Traveling back across the great state of Missouri on our return home, we passed by the St. Louis temple.  This is where Karen and I were married...where our eternal family was organized December of 1999.
Temples are sacred structures dedicated to the eternal work of God.  We love visiting them often and hope our children will acquire that same love as they mature in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.