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Hobbies and Interests

Tim Niskanen | The Voice of Zion May 2024 - Home & Family Article --

The times we live are busy and perhaps it seems that we are going in all directions. Our first and foremost thought is that we are here to serve God and His kingdom.

When our lives slow down we may find more time for our interests. Yet young people, too, benefit from hobbies and interests. It is good to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and our entire well-being benefits from having an active mind.

Many areas of pursuit could be used in God’s kingdom, such as photography, music, writing, and the love of cooking. In whatever hobby or project we set out to do, we do it to not only please ourselves but also our heavenly Father. As we work on our interests, it is good to prioritize gatherings of God’s children. Let us remember to give thanks for all that we’ve received.  

Fresh Vegetables, Smoked Fish and Dried Apples

Tim Niskanen

Many people have developed some sort of hobby. At a younger age, I built model airplanes, cars, trucks and tanks. I liked playing baseball, football and basketball with the neighbor kids. I liked walking in the woods, going fishing and hunting. I remember damming a small creek so we’d have a bigger area to ice skate on. 

One of my hobbies now is gardening. Fresh-grown vegetables taste better. Sometimes I plant the seeds in the ground or have them germinate in small containers. I have also bought plants in containers that are ready for planting. I have a rototiller and I overturn the ground. I check for nutrients such as potash, nitrogen, phosphorus, and the PH of the soil. I then try to get the right amount of nutrients into the soil. I also compost and add that to the garden beds in the spring and rototill it into the ground. After I’m sure the frost period is over, I start to plant. I take time to weed around the new plants to keep them clear and healthy. 

When the garden gives its yield, it is a happy time to enjoy the vegetables, especially the tomatoes and cucumbers. It’s also nice to share the yield of the garden with neighbors and family. Gardening gives a small taste of what farmers go through every year; God gives the increase even in these matters. 

Another hobby I have is smoking fish. If I am fortunate to catch any king or silver salmon on Lake Michigan, they taste good smoked! Often we’ll get sockeye salmon and I’ll smoke that too. The salmon should be fileted and cut into four to six-inch pieces. I wash the fish with salt water for 30–45 minutes. This helps remove oil or loose scales. I then let it air dry for 30 minutes. I coat the filets with kosher flake salt and let them rest another 30–45 minutes. After they are rinsed and air-dryed again, I put them into tins and spread brown sugar over the fish in a thin layer. Depending upon the thickness of the fish and the type of wood chips used for smoking, it takes 60–90 minutes at a temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit. The fat should come to the surface and this assures it’s reached the proper temperature. Right off the smoker, the fish tastes very good.

I also enjoy drying apples. I wash them and use a manual peeler to remove the skin and the core. It takes 5 to 15 seconds to peel the skin off each apple. I load slices onto the dehydrator racks and that runs for 8 to 10 hours. I sometimes add seasoning like cinnamon or other flavors. Dried apples keep in plastic bags for weeks. Many different types of apples can be dried this way, and they make healthy snacks. 

Hobbies keep me moving and my brain engaged. It is a joy to share with others! I like to hear other gardeners’ stories. We share the steps we take each spring and then we can adjust or tweak what we do.

Through hobbies I have learned many things, such as patience, sharing and thankfulness. Even these blessings come from the heavenly Father!  

Birding Is for Everyone

Amy Laitala

When my husband had to be connected to medical equipment, going outside was not an option. Bird feeders and bird baths were moved so they could be viewed from a window inside. Squirrels, nature’s acrobats, are athletic and can be destructive. Baffles on the poles had to be applied.

We marveled with thankfulness at our heavenly Father’s natural creatures and their seasonal backdrop. Even now, as my husband is passed, I continue to watch closely the activity around the feeder and birdbath. It brings me comfort. 

Oft their memory brings a longing; we are yearning there in heaven to abide. (SHZ 140:1)  Φ

Peace and Contentment – and a Camera

Ruth Salminen Mueller

I am retired and a widow, so I have much time to do as I wish. I can garden, read, paint, do puzzles and travel. And, especially on road trips, I can photograph it all.

My home is in the northwest corner of Illinois and my house is on a hill that overlooks the Mississippi River. This area is the most scenic part of the state, in my opinion, and I love living here! Here, on the river, I get many opportunities to take my camera out and get pictures of wildlife, towboats, paddle and cruise boats as well as a variety of homemade vessels. 

A couple times, I saw the USS LST 325 as it toured up and down the river. This historic ship participated in the Normandy landing in WWII. It is the only one left in operation today. That was pretty exciting!

The most wonderful subjects to photograph are the eagles that migrate up and down the river in the spring and fall. I have been able to get fairly close to these majestic birds as they rest on branches and in the grasses of the river’s backwaters. 

One day, an eagle sat on a branch of a small tree not far above my head. The day was so very windy that any bird had difficulties flying straight. I imagine that was why my eagle was such a willing patient subject and let me take photograph him for quite some time.

All my interests, my passion for photography and the others I dabble in, give me occasion for reflection and thankfulness. I am grateful to our heavenly Father for blessings bestowed on me. In Him, I find great peace and contentment.  

Why Not Metal Detecting?

Karl Niskanen

Since 2001 I have been metal detecting. Things that I find are old pennies from the 1890s, rings, watches, even a cell phone. One of the most disappointing findings is garbage buried at the beach. 

I wanted to have a hobby, so my nephew bought the metal-detecting equipment for me to get started. The more I search for things the more I get into it, and it gives me the opportunity to get out in the fresh air. 

The beaches are the easiest to search because I can dig quickly with a sand scoop. If I search at a park, the swing set areas usually have coins to be found. I am always careful when searching as there can be broken glass, screws and nails.

When I am outside, I get to see God’s handiwork. Depending on the time of day it can be quiet and peaceful, and if I get tired I can sit and rest. Even if I find nothing after four hours, I can enjoy the stillness of the day.  

Puzzling Electronics

Jacob Niskanen

The puzzles that I enjoy the most are broken electronics. Looking them over, I gain a sense of growing intrigue as I methodically check and cross off what issues may be causing the problem. I am careful to keep a humble heart; many a time I have let pride take hold of me because I thought I had the solution, only to be humbled with the actual one being revealed before me. 

There are lessons and blessings in hobbies of all kinds. For someone like me who has been studying electrical engineering, I want to connect the bridge between learned theory and practical application to widen my learning experiences.  


  1. What kinds of hobbies or interests are worthwhile for a person who already leads a full life?

  2. How can you use your interest or special skills to help and serve others? What kinds of volunteer roles could you pursue?

  3. There are those with people skills and gifts in networking and connecting with others, rather than in hands-on crafts and hobbies. What kinds of pastimes can these people pursue?

  4. How do we maintain a balance so that hobbies and interests don’t overtake other areas of life, including our faith life?

  5. How can your hobbies and interests serve your home congregation?

2024_06_Pub_JunJulVZ_HF_Hobbies and Interests
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