The days are growing shorter and the pool is getting chilly! As the summer wends its way to a close, there’s a poignant tenderness in knowing that it’s nearly gone. What are your favorite little gifts of this summer? It’s well worth pondering as this beautiful time of the year comes to its lovely ending. Though my favorite three are very small, Nephi said it best: “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” (I Nephi 16:29) Here they are:

1) The Five Most Important Words In The Scriptures:

This morning while scooting through facebook, a cute friend had posted the following Back-To-School thought that made me laugh… and cry a little. High School, oh, high school!

Allen earringsWould you go back to high school? Maybe yes, maybe no. For me, It’s now over 40 years since I graduated in 1972, but seeing the August “Back to School” issue of Seventeen Magazine featuring flawlessly skinned teen-aged models, with their perfect smiles and tiny bodies still brings back a flood of passionate adolescent emotions. How I ached to look like them, or at least like the popular girls at my high school! Our cheerleaders were selected by popular vote, and I spent many hours dreaming of being one of them. In reality I battled my weight, acne, and a strange genetic problem that left me without front teeth. (It’s a long story I’ll share some other time).

Through it all, I attended early-morning seminary. My teachers were loving, but not particularly skilled and the dynamic videos and curriculum materials that the Church provides now were not available forty years ago. I still have the Bible that has a detailed flower I doodled on every page front and back while trying to stay awake.) But it was enough. I learned then for a lifetime that the blessings of daily embracing the scriptures make difficult times easier.

The repeated phrase “And it came to pass” appeared often in the Bible, but it seemed to me that it appeared even more frequently as we studied the Book of Mormon. I became fascinated with matching the phrase to the timeline on the bottom of the pages in the Book of Mormon. That all important five-word phrase often filled the gap – with no details whatsoever — for periods of 5-20 years, or more! As I to likened it to myself, there was comfort in realizing that my own difficult high school years would not last forever.

At last it came to pass that I finally did graduate with some friends and happy times to remember, my teeth fully grown in (though still in braces), a last minute date to the senior prom, and some experiences that developed my talents and prepared me for my launch at BYU, where life became considerably rosier.

Of course, there were new challenges and have been ever since, for that defines mortality, but the gem of a phrase “And it came to pass” (and then I add to myself the words “not to stay!“) has been firmly a part of my life ever since. These five little words, only 15 letters total, are probably most repeated phrase in our printed scriptures and perhaps the most valuable in helping us to be faithful and patient during trying times.

2. Calico Critters for “Memories Worth Remembering”

allen grandchildren

Several years ago while Christmas shopping for grandchildren, we came across a display of these tiny little animal family toys that obviously invite the most happy, creative play time ever.   My heart skipped a beat at how anything could be so cute! The price tag was ridiculous: $25 for a family of four little 3-inch critters. Are you kidding? But the figures themselves, and their extended world of houses, furnishings, cars, etc. was just incredibly delightful to see and touch. Sigghhhh. I was too old for such things.

Allen dalmationfamilyNevertheless, Christmas is a time of surprises and on Christmas morning, there was the Dalmation family and the Calico Critter calendar for me from my wonderfully thoughtful husband! My own older children rolled their eyes and at my constant oohing and aaahing that Christmas as I made them browse the calendar with me and hold the darling things, but I didn’t care! In the years since, I have slowly added to my collection by putting aside a little money each month, and Bob continues to give me pieces to add on special occasions. (The hamburger caf and family camper is on my current wish list!)

Whatever for, you may ask?

Because now all my grandchildren (the oldest of the eight is 10) love them as much as I do! They live way too far to be together often, but they can’t wait to get to Grandma’s house, and I can’t wait to get to theirs as we have hours and hours of fun playing with them. They have started their own collections (they are too expensive to be acquired casually, so it’s a good lesson in both saving when they buy them for themselves and for receiving with gratitude if they are a gift) and it’s a special bonding thing just for me and them.   We talk about them endlessly! My own grown children still roll their eyes, but look forward to happy years ahead knowing this is a unique way that makes fun memories worth remembering with Grandma. Is there a sweeter little gift than this?

3. Check it Out! It’s Easy To Sprout!

Allen sprouts
For years I’ve wanted to grow sprouts. They are such a great snack, so delicious, low in calories and extremely nutritious, but expensive at the grocery store! We had purchased a sprouting kit that was a big disappointment several years ago. For an equal number of years there has been a little paperback book that Bob purchased at the BYU bookstore as a student in the 70′.   This summer finally got it out and read “How to Survive with Sprouting” in about 10 minutes. Amazing!

I had thought we needed a fancy set up, hence the purchase of the sprouting kit. Wrong. Now I know it’s no big deal for this nutritious little gift of nature that requires neither a green thumb, time or space for big rewards! A glass jar with a piece of old nylon, and a dark place to keep the jar in after the seeds had soaked for 12 hour … and voila! This week we feasted on delicious lentil sprouts! They taste like home-grown corn and are yummy by themselves or added to a salad or sandwich. Wheat is now soaking for our next round. I plan to have some sprouts at all times from now on and experiment with other legumes.

Carolyn’s Easy Way to Grow Lentil Sprouts

1) Place cup of lentils or other legumes in a 1-quart mason jar.

2) Fill the jar with water. If they float, it means they are old and probably won’t sprout.

3) Let them soak for 12 hours on the counter.

4) Secure a piece of nylon stocking or cheesecloth on the opening of the jar with a rubber band
and thoroughly drain the soaked lentils by shaking firmly against the cloth or stocking.

Do not add more water.

5) Place the jar and rinsed lentils in a dark spot where you won’t forget them. (I used an old canister that I could keep on the counter, but in a dark cupboard would work too. Remember that that’s how seeds sprout where they’re planted in the dark earth. They don’t need light!)

6) Over the next 2-3 days, fill the jar to rinse, then drain thoroughly in the morning when you get up, at bedtime and another two or three times in between. (4-5 times spread throughout the waking part of the day.) Return to the dark spot.

Here’s a very helpful link and some great pictures. CLICK HERE

Summertime is a blessing, I’m sure you’ll agree – thanks for allowing me to share my three!
I hope you’ll take a few moments to consider your own and share them with those you love.

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success – One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available at her website.

She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups.

She and her husband Bob are the parents of five children and grandparents of eight. They live in the Washington D.C. area where they are delighted to serve each week as the nursery leaders. Learn more about them and the herbal detox product they share at Meridian HERE