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Monday, November 23, 2009

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


Brothers and sisters, God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived”15—and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Safety for the Soul," General Conference, October 2009).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--I Won't Give Up!

As you know, these last 2 1/2 months have been a whirlwind of change and emotion for me and for my family. I have had moments of profound gratitude and days when I have felt so incredibly cared for and watched over. Unfortunately, I have also had days and nights when I have allowed pride and frustration to enter into and harden my heart. Something about the survival-of-the-fittest mentality of a job search and a whole new way of life for our family, left me lacking once again in regards to things spiritual. I found myself this week, at the bottom of the vicious cycle of pride spoken of in the Book of Mormon. Tonight's post, at a rather late hour, is my way of pledging to God that I will not allow Satan's lies and tales of hopelessness and worthlessness defeat me.

Tonight, I read of a literal account of hopelessness in Alma 56. Moroni and his "little" band of 2000 young, inexperienced soldiers, found themselves in dire circumstances in a very dangerous war for liberty:

vs. 40 ". . . Neither would I turn to the right nor to the left lest they should overtake me, and we could not stand against them, but be slain. . . and thus did we flee all that day into the wilderness, even until it was dark."

I found myself in this verse. I found myself running from fear and uncertainty. I was there, running from my fear of failure, my disappointment in self. Imagine my surprise when I again found myself a few verses later, in a much different light:

vs. 44 "Therefore, what say ye my sons, will ye go against them to battle?"

Yes! I do not want to give up this most important fight. The fight for liberty of soul and spirit! I will trust AGAIN in the God who has delivered me in the past!

Then, I saw my future self in verses 46-47, and I could picture the triumph of defeating my depression, my health problems, my weight, and my uncertainty and lack of faith:

". . . behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth. . . "

". . . Now they had never fought, yet they did not fear death (or failure). . . they had been taught. . . that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them."

I do not doubt that I am here at this point in my life for a purpose. I do not doubt that, through my faith and my attitude, I possess the strength to survive and thrive through hard times. And moreover, I do not doubt that through God's tutelage, I can be guided and taught until all my weaknesses become my greatest triumphs.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Week-Night Easy Rolls (from http://www.kitchenparade.com/)

Serves: 12
Points: 4

1 package active dry yeast (1/4 ounce, 2-1/4 teaspoons)
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
4 cups bread flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring
2 tablespoons (yes, tablespoons) baking powder
2 teaspoons table salt
Chopped fresh herbs such as chives, sage or rosemary, optional

Preheat oven to 425F. Grease the cups of a muffin tray with standard-size cups. Stir together the yeast and water, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil and egg. Separately, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture a cup at a time until just mixed, adding a portion of the yeast-water mixture between additions.
Stir in herbs, if using. With two soup spoons, one to scoop and the other to scrape, fill the muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool for 5 minutes. Best served hot but keep two to three days.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.-Eleanor Roosevelt

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--General Conference Awesomeness

Here are some more great thoughts from General Conference:

"As our Father, He is always willing and desirous to forgive our errors and weaknesses and the sins we commit, subject only to total and sincere repentance. And as a complement to that—and as the maximum manifestation of His immense love for each one of His children—He provides us with the consequences of the singular work wrought by the Savior, namely the Atonement, brought about by an obedient Son always willing to do the Father’s will in benefit to each one of us" (Jorge F. Zeballos, "Attempting the Impossible," General Conference, October 2009).

"Tempered glass, like tempered steel, undergoes a well-controlled heating process which increases strength. Thus, when tempered glass is under stress, it will not easily break into jagged shards that can injure.

Likewise, a temperate soul—one who is humble and full of love—is also a person of increased spiritual strength. With increased spiritual strength, we are able to develop self-mastery and to live with moderation. We learn to control, or temper, our anger, vanity, and pride. With increased spiritual strength, we can protect ourselves from the dangerous excesses and destructive addictions of today’s world" (Elder Kent D. Watson, "Being Temperate in All Things," General Conference, October 2009).

"For most, repentance is more a journey than a one-time event. It is not easy. To change is difficult. It requires running into the wind, swimming upstream. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”18 Repentance is turning away from some things, such as dishonesty, pride, anger, and impure thoughts, and turning toward other things, such as kindness, unselfishness, patience, and spirituality. It is “re-turning” toward God. . .

"Sometimes in our repentance, in our daily efforts to become more Christlike, we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with the same difficulties. As if we were climbing a tree-covered mountain, at times we don’t see our progress until we get closer to the top and look back from the high ridges. Don’t be discouraged. If you are striving and working to repent, you are in the process of repenting." (Elder Neil L. Anderson, " Repent. . . That I May Heal You," General Conference, October 2009).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Lemon Asparagus Pasta (from http://www.kitchenparade.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 6

8 oz. bow-tie pasta
1-1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed

LEMON SAUCE:
1 T. unsalted butter
1 shallot, chopped finely
3/4 c. fat free half’n’half
Zest from 3 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
Juice from 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
0 – 2 tsp. sugar
About 1/3 c. fresh dill, chopped
Freshly grated black pepper
Grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in well-salted water and drain. Steam asparagus until just slightly underdone (it will finish cooking in the sauce). Cut into two-inch lengths.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter on medium heat, add shallot and slowly soften. Add half’n’half, zest, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Stir in asparagus and gently warm until spears reach desired tenderness. Stir in hot pasta, letting it soak up sauce. Gently stir in dill and black pepper.
Transfer to serving bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve and enjoy!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

" . . .the rich[est] rewards come only to the strenuous strugglers" (As quoted by David O McKay, The Teachings of David O. McKay, by Mary Jane Woodger, 2004, 300).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--He Loves Us Perfectly

More Awesome Quotes from Conference:

"Since the beginning of time, love has been the source of both the highest bliss and the heaviest burdens. At the heart of misery from the days of Adam until today, you will find the love of wrong things. And at the heart of joy, you will find the love of good things. And the greatest of all good things is God" (President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "The Love of God," General Conference, October 2009).

"God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely."

"We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken" (President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "The Love of God," General Conference, October 2009).

"My dear brothers and sisters, don’t get discouraged if you stumble at times. Don’t feel downcast or despair if you don’t feel worthy to be a disciple of Christ at all times. The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you" (President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "The Love of God," General Conference, October 2009).

The divine love of God turns ordinary acts into extraordinary service. Divine love is the motive that transports simple words into sacred scripture. Divine love is the factor that transforms reluctant compliance with God’s commandments into blessed dedication and consecration. Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder. Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship. Love is the way of the disciple (President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "The Love of God," General Conference, October 2009).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Minnesota Sloppy Joes (adapted from http://www.kitchenparade.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 6, with bun

1 pound ground turkey or lean ground beef
3/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
To taste, chopped onion
To taste, chopped celery
Buns

In a skillet, cook the meat until done, breaking apart into small clumps as it cooks. (For double or triple batches, cook the meat in a couple of skillets for more surface area.) Meanwhile, collect all the remaining ingredients in a slow cooker. Stir in the cooked meat, cover and cook on high, stirring occasionally if possible, for 4 – 5 hours, longer is fine too. Can be made ahead and rewarmed for later. Freezes well.

To serve, scoop meat onto a bottom bun, top with pickles and chips, put the top hat on. Serve and savor and – yes – smile.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT

No, God does not need us to love Him. But oh, how we need to love God!

For what we love determines what we seek.

What we seek determines what we think and do.

What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become.

(President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "The Love of God," General Conference, October 2009)

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Grapes and Jalapenos

Yay! The text from General Conference has been posted! For the next few posts, I'll probably be quoting some of the AWESOME and INSPIRING quotes from conference. So many quotes, so little time!

"I am convinced that there is no simple formula or technique that would immediately allow you to master the ability to be guided by the voice of the Spirit. Our Father expects you to learn how to obtain that divine help by exercising faith in Him and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. Were you to receive inspired guidance just for the asking, you would become weak and ever more dependent on Them. They know that essential personal growth will come as you struggle to learn how to be led by the Spirit" (Elder Richard G. Scott, "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance," General Conference, October 2009).

"Spirituality yields two fruits. The first is inspiration to know what to do. The second is power, or the capacity to do it" (Elder Richard G. Scott, "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance," General Conference, October 2009).

"The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeño pepper. Both flavors are present, but one completely overpowers the other" (Elder Richard G. Scott, "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance," General Conference, October 2009).

"Because the Spirit is often described as a still, small voice, it is also important to have a time of quiet in our lives as well. The Lord has counseled us to 'be still, and know that I am God.' If we provide a still and quiet time each day when we are not bombarded by television, computer, video games, or personal electronic devices, we allow that still, small voice an opportunity to provide personal revelation and to whisper sweet guidance, reassurance, and comfort to us" (Vicki F. Matsumori, "Helping Others Recognize teh Whisperings of the Spirit," General Conference, October 2009).

"Sometimes Sister Bednar and I wondered if our efforts to do these spiritually essential things were worthwhile. Now and then verses of scripture were read amid outbursts such as “He’s touching me!” “Make him stop looking at me!” “Mom, he’s breathing my air!” Sincere prayers occasionally were interrupted with giggling and poking. And with active, rambunctious boys, family home evening lessons did not always produce high levels of edification. At times Sister Bednar and I were exasperated because the righteous habits we worked so hard to foster did not seem to yield immediately the spiritual results we wanted and expected.

Today if you could ask our adult sons what they remember about family prayer, scripture study, and family home evening, I believe I know how they would answer. They likely would not identify a particular prayer or a specific instance of scripture study or an especially meaningful family home evening lesson as the defining moment in their spiritual development. What they would say they remember is that as a family we were consistent. . .

In my office is a beautiful painting of a wheat field. The painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes—none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive. In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you gradually move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field. Many ordinary, individual brushstrokes work together to create a captivating and beautiful painting.

Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes" (Elder David A. Bednar, "More Diligent and Concerned at Home," General Conference, October 2009).

YES, I'M STILL HERE!

I have to apologize for my lack of posts lately. Since Ty lost his job, I have gone back to work and life has become a little more. . . well, complicated. I will still try to post at least two or three times a week, but I don't think I can manage a post every day. Keep checking back though, and PLEASE continue leaving comments. Your comments are always that little push that keeps me going with this project. Love you guys!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Baked Apples (from http://www.kitchenparade.com/)


Serves: 9

Points: 5


1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Dash cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
1-1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons butter
9 small or medium apples


In a 1-1/2 quart saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and spices; stir together with a wooden spoon to remove any obvious lumps. Add water and stir. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add butter. Cook until thick, stirring occasionally.


Meanwhile, rub a 9x9-inch glass dish with butter. Wash and core the apples and place right side up in the dish. Pour the sauce into and over the apples.


Bake 45 minutes at 325F. Halfway through baking, remove from oven and cover the apples with hot syrup again. Return to oven to complete baking. Serve hot or cold.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT


"It is true that the answers to our prayers may not always come as direct and at the time, nor in the manner, we anticipate; but they do come, and at a time and in a manner best for the interests of him who offers the supplication."

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT

On Prayer:

"Prayer is a supernal gift of our Father in Heaven to every soul. Think of it: the absolute Supreme Being, the most all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful personage, encourages you and me, as insignificant as we are, to converse with Him as our Father. Actually, because He knows how desperately we need His guidance, He commands, "Thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private."

"It matters not our circumstance, be we humble or arrogant, poor or rich, free or enslaved, learned or ignorant, loved or forsaken, we can address Him. We need no appointment. Our supplication can be brief or can occupy all the time needed. It can be an extended expression of love and gratitude or an urgent plea for help. He has created numberless cosmos and populated them with worlds, yet you and I can talk with Him personally, and He will ever answer" (Richard G. Scott, "Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer," Ensign, May 2007).

Don't worry about your clumsily expressed feelings. Just talk to your compassionate, understanding Father. You are His precious child whom He loves perfectly and wants to help. As you pray, recognize that Father in Heaven is near and He is listening" (Richard G. Scott, "Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer," Ensign, May 2007).

"I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust. Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father's capacity to respond. While sometimes it's very hard, it results in significant personal growth."

"He will always hear your prayers and will invariably answer them. However, His answers will seldom come while you are on your knees praying, even when you may plead for an immediate response. Rather, He will prompt you in quiet moments when the Spirit can most effectively touch your mind and heart. Hence, you should find periods of quiet time to recognize when you are being instructed and strengthened. His pattern causes you to grow" (Richard G. Scott, "Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer," Ensign, May 2007).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Autumn Pumpkin Bread (from http://www.kitchenparade.com/)

Servings: 12 slices per loaf
Points: 3 points per slice

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
16 ounces (2 cups) pumpkin
3-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups pecans, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 9x5 loaf pans with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, buttermilk and sugars and beat until smooth using an electric hand mixer. Add eggs and pumpkin; beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Separately, combine flour, spices, salt and baking soda. Add to pumpkin mixture and combine until just blended. Remove beaters. Add pecans and stir in with a wooden spoon. Pour evenly into two loaf pans and bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into center is removed cleanly. Remove from oven, let cool five minutes Remove from pans and continue to cool.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God's love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence. "Live in thanksgiving daily," said Amulek, "for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you."

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Around Every Corner

Do you ever get the feeling that someone is watching you? I know, it sounds creepy, but sometimes, I truly can feel someone not only watching me, but really looking out for me. I felt that way today as the announcement was made that a temple will be built in my hometown. I know there are probably millions of very deep, spiritual and temporal reasons for that particular announcement at this particular moment in time. Still, I can't help but feel that Heavenly Father is bringing a temple to Brigham City just for me. I think of the weeks the Spirit has been working on me, whispering that it's been too long since my last visit. I think of the last three attempts we made to go to the temple...babysitter backing out, no gas money, and no gas money. Could it be that with all the other reasons, Heavenly Father really, truly did think of me? Now, with this thought in mind, I recommit myself to regular temple attendance, as a token of my gratitude. I love that He loves me.

What about the day I needed size 3 diapers...NOW, but pay day wasn't until Friday? How was it that I went to the store anyway, knowing full well that diapers cost more than $4, only to find a ripped open, then taped back shut bag with a clearance sticker that read $3.50?

Or what about the day I went school shopping and completely "forgot" to buy jeans for my daughter, to come home to a large bag of hand-me-down, brand-name jeans in new condition, sitting on my doorstep?

I also think of God's love for me whenever a sunset in my favorite colors: bright orange and hot pink, canvases the sky just at the moment I am at my breaking point. I feel cared for when my alarm clock is set for p.m. instead of a.m. and I wake to someone whispering my name and a touch on my shoulder, and turn to see no one there except for my sleeping husband. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude each time I make a tremendous effort to get my large family out the door for 9:00 church and find myself sitting in a Young Women's lesson that turns out to be just the answer to prayer for which I was seeking so desperately.

I do not believe in coincidences. There are lessons, opportunities, testimonies, evidences, and consequences, but no coincidences. I do believe in God's love and what my dear friend, Diane, refers to as "arranging angels." I thank God for His watching care and the evidences of His love for me. . . around every corner.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY



Enchilada Casserole (from www.cookinglight.com)


3 tablespoons diced green chiles, divided
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (11-ounce) can corn with red and green peppers, drained
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 (8 1/2 ounce) package corn muffin mix
2 tablespoons chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican blend or cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons thinly sliced fresh cilantro


Place 2 tablespoons green chiles and next 6 ingredients (through enchilada sauce) in a 3 1/2-quart electric slow cooker; stir well. Cover with lid; cook on low-heat setting 4 hours.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon green chiles, egg substitute, muffin mix, and roasted bell peppers in a bowl. Spoon batter evenly over bean mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook 1 hour or until corn bread is done.

Sprinkle cheese over corn bread. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Top each serving with sour cream; sprinkle with cilantro.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


"If we are a temple-going people, we will be a better people, we will be better fathers and husbands, we will be better wives and mothers. I know your lives are busy. I know that you have much to do. But I make you a promise that if you will go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed, life will be better for you" (President Gordan B. Hinckley, "Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordan B. Hinckley," Ensign, July 1997, 73).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Personal Revelation


In the Ensign this month, the following seven steps were suggested to help a family become closer and to help individuals become closer to Heavenly Father:


1) Read the scriptures personally every day
2) Read the scriptures at least five times a week as a family
3) Have personal prayer every morning and night
4) Have family prayer every morning and night
5) Attend church every Sunday as a family
6) Hold family home evening every Monday night
7) Attend the temple every month
(Ryan Carr, "A Temple-Going People," Ensign, October 2009, 14-15).

In another article, we learn more about personal revelation:

"Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication. I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that. . . light, brilliant and penetrating continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody. . ." (Larry W. Gibbons, "Guided by Modern Revelation," Ensign, October 2009, 10).

As we come upon General Conference this weekend, I pray that I will be able to hear that continuous melody of personal revelation. I pray that I will be sensitive enough to hear in the messages, the answers I seek. I hope that I will then, "go and do. . . " How grateful I am, that Heavenly Father has blessed my life with the gift of personal revelation!

Monday, September 28, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY

Spinach Salad with Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Nectarines (from www.cookinglight.com)

Serves: 6
Points: 3

1 (1-pound) peppercorn-flavored pork tenderloin, trimmed
3 nectarines, halved
Cooking spray
2 (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup light balsamic vinaigrette
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Prepare grill.

Cut pork horizontally through center of meat, cutting to, but not through, other side using a sharp knife; open flat as you would a book. Place pork and nectarine halves, cut sides down, on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill pork 5 minutes on each side or until a thermometer registers 160°. Grill nectarine halves 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until thoroughly heated. Remove pork and nectarine halves from grill. Let pork rest 10 minutes.

Cut nectarine halves into slices. Thinly slice pork. Combine spinach and vinaigrette in a large bowl; toss gently to coat.

Divide spinach mixture evenly on each of 6 plates. Top each serving evenly with nectarine slices and pork slices. Sprinkle with cheese. Sprinkle evenly with pepper, if desired.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


“You gain a vibrant, life-changing testimony today the same way it has always been done. The process hasn’t been changed. It comes through desire, study, prayer, obedience, and service. That is why the teachings of prophets and apostles, past and present, are as relevant to your life today as they ever have been” (M. Russell Ballard, “Learning the Lessons of the Past,” Ensign, May 2009, 34).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Fountain of Truth

In this month's Ensign, President Monson wrote about the search of the Fountain of Youth. Many, in the 15th century truly believed that there was a pool of sacred water somewhere that would slow the body's aging and grant men a longer, more youthful existence. Ponce de Leon sailed with Columbus to the Bahamas, Florida, and around the Carribbean, in search of this fountain of youth. We know now that there is no fountain of youth, but there is what President Monson referred to as a "Fountain of Truth." This fountain is eternal life.

In the article, he goes on to explain how we might obtain the waters from this fountain:

"There is no need for you or me in this enlightened age, when the fullness of the gospel has been restored, to sail uncharted seas or travel unmarked roads in search of the fountain of truth. For a loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing map--obedience!" (President Thomas S. Monson, "Finding Strength Through Obedience," Ensign, October 2009, 6).

Obedience, then is the key to lasting joy. Obedience is the key to knowledge and joy. Obedience is our one true quest here on Earth. And to whom can we look for a perfect example of obedience? The Savior.

"The Master's very actions give credence to His words. He demonstrated genuine love of God by living the perfect life, by honoring the sacred mission that was His. Never was He haughty. Never was He puffed up with pride. Never was He disloyal. Ever was He humble. Ever was He sincere. Ever was He true.

Though He was tempted by that master of deceit, event he devil; though He was physically weakened from fasting 40 days and 40 nights and 'was afterward an hungred', yet when the evil one proffered Jesus the most alluring and tempting proposals, He gave to us a divine example of obedience by refusing to deviate from what He knew was right" (President Thomas S. Monson, "Finding Strength Through Obedience," Ensign, October 2009, 6).

Thursday, September 24, 2009



Baked Honey Mustard Chicken (from www.allrecipes.com)

Serves:

Points: 4

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup prepared mustard
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste, and place in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard, basil, paprika, and parsley. Mix well. Pour 1/2 of this mixture over the chicken, and brush to cover.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and brush with the remaining 1/2 of the honey mustard mixture. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

On personal revelation:

"Now I say that we are entitled to revelation. I say that every member of the Church, independent and irrespective of any position that he may hold, is entitled to get revelation from the Holy Ghost; he is entitled to entertain angels; he is entitled to view the visions of eternity; and if we would like to go the full measure, he is entitled to see God the same way that any prophet in literal and actual reality has seen the face of Deity.

We talk about latter-day prophets; we think in terms of prophets who tell the future destiny of the Church and the world. But, in addition to that, the fact is that every person should be a prophet for himself and in his own concerns and in his own affairs. It was Moses who said, “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them” (Num. 11:29) (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, "How to Get Personal Revelation," New Era, June 1980).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Wait Upon the Lord

In Moroni 7:37, we learn that by unwavering faith, we learn for ourselves that “it is by faith that miracles are wrought.”

Elder Robert D. Hales further explains:

"Generally, those miracles will not be physical demonstrations of God’s power—parting of the Red Sea, raising of the dead, breaking down prison walls, or the appearance of heavenly messengers. By design, most miracles are spiritual demonstrations of God’s power—tender mercies gently bestowed through impressions, ideas, feelings of assurance, solutions to problems, strength to meet challenges, and comfort to bear disappointments and sorrow.

These miracles come to us as we endure what the scriptures call a “trial of [our] faith.” Sometimes that trial is the time it takes before an answer is received (Robert D. Hales "Personal Revelation: The Teachings and Examples of the Prophets, Enisgn, November 2007).

So as the title of my blog suggests, and as we have been taught for years as members of the church, miracles happen only after the faith that results from trial and testing in this life. These miracles happen on the Lord's timetable, not ours, a fact that requires even more faith. Sometimes it takes years and years to find the answers we seek, which can lead to a wavering of faith in some. But, in reality, those who continue in faith, knowing that the Lord will bless them with answers and increased understanding, grow in faith and knowledge as they "wait upon the Lord."

Elder Hales went on to explain the true nature of personal revelation and how it is received:

"I testify that on the hillside or the meadow, in the grove or closet, now or in the eternities to come, the Savior’s words to each of us will be fulfilled: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” While we are commanded not to seek after signs, we are commanded to “seek . . . earnestly the best gifts.” These gifts include the Holy Ghost and personal revelation. That revelation will come “line upon line, precept upon precept,” as the Savior said, and “unto him that receiveth [the Lord] will give more.”

I pray that I will continue in faith each day, with a knowledge that as I seek the answers will come. Maybe they won't come as a instant download. Maybe I, like the prophets of old will only gain the answers to the questions of my heart, through fervent and sincere prayer, consistent righteousness, and increased patience and hope.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009



Pita Chips (from http://www.allrecipes.com/)

Serves: 24

Points: 3

12 pita bread pockets
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Cut each pita bread into 8 triangles. Place triangles on lined cookie sheet.
In a small bowl, combine the oil, pepper, salt, basil and chervil. Brush each triangle with oil mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Watch carefully, as they tend to burn easily!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don't have any problems, you don't get any seeds. Norman Vincent Peale

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--The Power of Positive Thinking

Yesterday, someone left a photocopied article in my door about a woman whose husband lost his job. At first she was bitter, depressed, and confused. After months of looking for another job and turning away from God, she ran across an old, dusty book in her mother's attic. It was entitled, The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. This book taught her that positive thinking is always a choice. Not only that, but once the choice is made to think optimistically, you are endowed with power to make a difference in your own life, as well as the lives of others.

The formula she found in Peale's book applies to any situation. . . any trial we might face in life:

1. Take an inventory of the many things for which you have to be thankful.
2. Live one day at a time. Don't waste today by dreading what might happen.
3. Choose to have a good day. you might not be able to keep bad things from happening, but you can choose how you respond to them.
4. Just before going to sleep and right after waking up, think about something good.
5. Take the time to appreciate your accomplishments. You have set goals and worked hard to attain them, so enjoy them.
6. Accept and internalize compliments from others.

I would like to also emphasize the importance of writing down the blessings you receive and the lessons you learn from your trials. I know I keep harping on this point, but unless you record these things, they will be forgotten. It has been such a help for me in difficult times, to look back over what I have written in the past and recall all the evidences of His love for me over the years.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


"The basic requirements for enduring to the end include knowing who we are, children of God with a desire to return to His presence after mortality; understanding the purpose of life, to endure to the end and obtain eternal life; and living obediently with a desire and a determination to endure all things, having eternal vision. Eternal vision allows us to overcome opposition in our temporal state and, ultimately, achieve the promised rewards and blessings of eternal life" (Elder Robert D. Hales, "Behold, We Count Them Happy Which Endure," Ensign, May 1998, 75).

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Baked Pesto Chicken (from http://www.allrecipes.com/)
Serves: 4
Points: 7
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 oz. each)
1/2 cup BUITONI® Refrigerated Pesto with Basil
2 plum tomatoes, sliced (optional)
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.
Place chicken and pesto in medium bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from oven; top with tomatoes and cheese. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Monday, September 21, 2009

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Blindsided

Last week, my husband lost his job. Wow. Talk about blindsided. But I have to tell you, that honestly, we always thought that would be the worst thing in the world that could happen, and guess what? It isn't.


I was blessed with the gift of perspective as I attended the viewing of a family friend who had died at his prime...just 32 years old. And I realized, no matter how badly we think we have it, there is always someone who is worse off.

This is probably the hardest post I've ever written, just because today my emotions are everywhere. I am scared and worried about the future. I am concerned about my husband and family. And it may seem ironic, but I am feeling so overwhelmed with love from my Heavenly Father. I know that He is doing a great work here. I am more humbled now than ever, which is actually increasing my desire to live a righteous life. Being unemployed and not knowing where the next meal will come from is an interesting thing because it is reminding me of my own nothingness.

Last night, Tyler and I watched a documentary called "UltraMarathon Man." Maybe you've heard of Dean Karnazes, who set a goal to run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. It was incredible to watch this man's mindset as he set forth to complete the impossible. There was one point in the movie, when he simply didn't think he could take another step and his father told him:

"Run if you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must. . . just don't ever quit the race."

Well, I think I can at least keep crawling through this trial in our life. I hope to be able to learn the lessons of this moment of eternity, so I can grow and become a better person. I am so grateful that God can see the "end from the beginning." To me, that knowledge has GOT to be enough. I love Him for loving me in a dark hour. I love the gospel and I know that if I can just live righteously, I will be blessed without measure.

". . . Bad days come to an end, faith always triumphs, and heavenly promises are always kept" (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Lessons from Liberty Jail," Ensign, September 2009, 33).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


"Let me suggest that hands are made clean through the process of putting off the natural man and by overcoming sin and the evil influences in our lives through the Savior’s Atonement. Hearts are purified as we receive His strengthening power to do good and become better. All of our worthy desires and good works, as necessary as they are, can never produce clean hands and a pure heart. It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that provides both a cleansing and redeeming power that helps us to overcome sin and a sanctifying and strengthening power that helps us to become better than we ever could by relying only upon our own strength. The infinite Atonement is for both the sinner and for the saint in each of us" (Elder David A. Bednar, "Clean Hands and a Pure Heart," Enisgn, November 2007).

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Quick Chicken Cutlets (from http://www.familyfun.go.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 6

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)
2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup flour
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil for frying
Rinse the chicken breasts under running water, then place them on a double layer of paper towels and blot them dry. Place 2 of the chicken breasts inside a large, heavy-duty plastic freezer bag. Partially seal the end of the bag, leaving a slight gap so air can escape. Using the smooth head of a tenderizing mallet or a rolling pin, pound the meat in even strokes, working from the center out (be careful not to tear the plastic), to a uniform thickness of about 1/3 inch. Repeat this process with the remaining chicken in a new plastic bag. Put the pounded cutlets on a plate and set them aside.
Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper in a shallow medium-size bowl. Stir them to mix. In a separate shallow bowl or pie plate, beat together the egg and milk. Set both of the bowls aside.
Spread the flour on a plate. Arrange the breading ingredients in assembly-line fashion in this order: cutlets, flour, egg mixture, crumb mixture, empty plate. Working one piece at a time, dredge both sides of the cutlet in the flour, knocking off the excess. Dip both sides of the floured cutlet in the egg mixture. Coat both sides of the cutlet with the crumb mixture. Set the breaded cutlet on a clean plate and repeat the process with the remaining pieces.
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, about 2 tablespoons. Heat the oil for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the cutlets. (If your pan isn't large enough to cook 4 chicken breasts at once, cook them in batches rather than overcrowd the pan.) Fry each side for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, turning once, until the chicken is browned and cooked through. (To test, make a small cut in the center of the meat; there shouldn't be any traces of pink.) Remove the cutlets from the heat and serve. Makes 4 servings.
Tangy Mustard Dipping Sauce: Stir together 1/4 cup deli-style mustard, 3 tablespoons sour cream, and 1 to 1 1/3 tablespoons honey, to taste.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Chicken Soup with White Beans and Kale

Serves: 4-6
Points: 3

5 large cans of chicken noodle soup, such as Progresso
1 bunch torn kale or spinach
2 (15-oz.) cans of cannellini (white) beans, rinsed

Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan, and heat. Delicious and simple!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


“The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 51).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Boomerang Principle

Today, I want to introduce the "Boomerang Principle," as found in Alma, Chapter 41:13-15:

"O, my son, this is not the case, but the meaning of the word is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish--good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful."

"Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful, unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; yes shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgement restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again."

"For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored. . . "

You probably get the point, which is basically: what you do in this life, becomes what you will receive in the next. If you are good, your reward will be good. If you are forgiving to others, God will be more forgiving to you. If you live righteously, you will be judged accordingly.

One further point in this same chapter, that has always been a comfort to me, is found in verse 3:

". . . and if their works are good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good."

In other words: the desires of your heart count. If you really, truly, desire to be good and do good, God takes note of that and it will be included in the final equation. Does this mean that you do not need to repent of your sins, because you desired to be good, and somehow your actions just didn't follow suit? Of course not.

Alma 41:10, as we know, reminds us that wickedness can never be restored to happiness. We all must repent in order to receive exaltation. True desire is more than just wanting something. It is a power within our hearts, that drives us to live a certain way. As Elder Jack H. Goaslind of the Seventy, so eloquently put it: "Yagottawanna. . . " (Jack H. Goaslind, "Yagottawanna," Ensign, May, 1991).

Monday, September 14, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY

Grilled Salmon with Honey Soy Glaze (from www.rachelray.com)

Serves: 4-6
Points: 9

4 salmon filets (about 6 ounces each)
Salt and pepper
Smoked paprika, for sprinkling

For the glaze:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated ginger
6 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons stock (chicken, beef or veggie)
3 teaspoons sesame oil
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high. Season salmon with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Grill until brown and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes per side depending on thickness.

While the salmon is cooking, in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, add all of the glaze ingredients and reduce until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Serve the salmon filets topped with the honey-soy glaze and grilled asparagus alongside.

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Ready to Help

Our beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, counseled: “You can’t do it alone. . . . You need the help of the Lord . . . and the marvelous thing is that you have the opportunity to pray, with the expectation that your prayers will be heard and answered. . . . He stands ready to help.”

Isn't it a remarkable thing that we have been given the power to pray specifically, and call on the powers of heaven to help us in this life? Not only may we pray to build testimony, and to increase faith, but we are also able to receive personal revelation through our righteousness and prayers that will inspire us in our day-to-day activities. No question or problem is too trivial for the Lord' s answer. We can ask for help in a very specific manner. We can ask the Lord to help us with our weight-loss efforts, our children's school studies, our work concerns, financial matters which cause us great worry, and a myriad of other topics. Prayer is truly a communication with our FATHER. Like our earthly fathers, our Father in Heaven loves us and wants to hear our concerns, and see what He can do to help.

With this in mind, I would suggest the following:

1. Make our prayers more respectful.
2. Make our prayers more specific.
3. Make our prayers more earnest and sincere.
4. Make our prayers more frequent.
5. Make our prayers more grateful.

As we re-evaluate the way we pray, I testify that our prayers will allow power from Heaven to spill into our lives: both spiritual and temporal.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"Who will prepare this righteous generation of sons and daughters? Latter-day Saint women will do this—women who know and love the Lord and bear testimony of Him, women who are strong and immovable and who do not give up during difficult and discouraging times. We are led by an inspired prophet of God who has called upon the women of the Church to 'stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord'" (Julie B. Beck, "Mothers Who Know," Ensign, November 2007).

Friday, September 11, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY



Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup (from http://www.myrecipes.com/)

Serves: 8
Points: 4

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds lean top round steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons spicy herb blend (such as Mrs. Dash)
2 (16-ounce) packages frozen gumbo vegetables mix
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped onion
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with garlic, undrained
2 (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free beef broth
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 tablespoon low-sodium Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Place flour in a large zip-top plastic bag; add steak cubes. Seal and shake to coat. Remove steak from bag; set aside.
Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add steak, and cook until browned on all sides.
Place steak and remaining ingredients in a 4-quart electric slow cooker; stir well. Cover with lid; cook on high-heat setting 1 hour.
Reduce heat to low; cook 6 hours or until meat is done and vegetables are tender.
Each serving has 256 calories, 6 grams fiber, and 5.6 grams fat.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


"'. . . The gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to all of our problems. The gospel is not a secret. It is not complicated or hidden. It can unlock the door to true happiness. It is not someone’s theory or proposition. It does not come from man at all. It springs from the pure and everlasting waters of the Creator of the universe, who knows truths we cannot even begin to comprehend. And with that knowledge, He has given us the gospel—a divine gift, the ultimate formula for happiness and success" (President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "The Way of the Disciple," Liahona, May 2009, 75).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--FDP

I cannot remember if I have posted about my FDP principle yet, but I feel the Spirit prompting me to write about it today. When we are working towards a worthy goal, there are three components to achieving success. They are:

Faith
Diligence
Patience

This has become my personal mantra of sorts, in many areas, with one area being weight-loss. When I feel that God has forgotten about me, and forgets to bless me in my efforts to lose weight, or to bless me with the motivation I desire, I say to myself: "FDP, Kristen. FDP. . . " When I cannot find the energy or willpower to go another day, or when going on that run at the end of a crazy week seems like a insurmountable task, I whisper: "FDP, FDP, FDP" with each step I take. When I get frustrated because my progress is so much slower than I'd like, I again remind myself: "FDP."

I first discovered the FDP Principle in Alma 32:42-43:

"And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst."

"Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you."

President Uchdorf also discussed the same idea in the last General Conference:

"Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life.

Too often we approach the gospel like a farmer who places a seed in the ground in the morning and expects corn on the cob by the afternoon. When Alma compared the word of God to a seed, he explained that the seed grows into a fruit-bearing tree gradually, as a result of our 'faith, and [our] diligence, and patience, and long-suffering'. . . Discipleship is a journey. We need the refining lessons of the journey to craft our character and purify our hearts. By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God’s will rather than ours” (President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "The Way of the Disciple," Liahona, May 2009, 75-78). (Follow this link to read the entire talk. It is exceptional: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=1b37230bac7f0210VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD#footnote6So

Next time you are becoming discouraged, remind yourself that living the gospel, and reaching goals for your eventual betterment requires FAITH, DILIGENCE, and PATIENCE. FDP, FDP, FDP. . .

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Penne with Chicken and Asparagus (adapted from http://www.allrecipes.com/)

Serves: 8
Points: 8

1 (16 ounce) package whole grain penne pasta, such as Barilla
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into cubes
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup reduced-fat Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
Warm 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in chicken, and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook until chicken is cooked through and browned, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken to paper towels.
Pour chicken broth into the skillet. Then stir in asparagus, garlic, and a pinch more garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cover, and steam until the asparagus is just tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet, and warm through.
Stir chicken mixture into pasta, and mix well. Let sit about 5 minutes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, stir again, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

To learn more about the chiasmus, and also to see the ABC build of Alma 36 and other chiasmus in the Bible and Book of Mormon, follow this link. It is FASCINATING!

http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=501c18e7c379b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=024644f8f206c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--A Logical Testimony

Today I was reading one of the most powerful passages of scripture of all time: Alma 36. This particular chapter has always stood out for me as a piece of my logical testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Why? It is a chiasmus. Chiasmus were used throughout the Bible and in ancient Egyptian and Hebrew writings. They are simply a pyramidical writing style, and are very poetic in nature. If you look at the verses, they build up one verse at a time, to a climax, then descend in a parallel nature. For example, Alma begins by discussing the nature of his sins, the pain he went through and the sorrow of a guilty soul. Then, at the climax, he remembers the Savior, who would atone for the sins of the world. Then, as his exceeding pain turns to exceeding joy, the chiasmus brings us back down, and now Alma is teaching the people instead of leading them astray. The wording in the parallel verses is quite similar, making them a little easier to match up. Here are two passages bringing together the climax of Alma's conversion, so you can see what I mean. This is the top of the chiamus's pyramid:

17-18: "And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart; O Jesus, Thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, an am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

19-20 "And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy and what marvelous light I did behold ; yea my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Torment was replaced with exceeding joy, darkness was replaced with light. The memory of all of Alma's sins were taken away, all built upon the climatic conversion to the Savior. Isn't that beautiful?

So back to my logical testimony. As you can see, the chiasmus, though beautiful, is a very complex style of writing. There is an art to writing one. It would be highly unlikely that a young, uneducated farm boy would even know what a chiasmus was, and even more unlikely that he would be able to write one. Yet, they are found throughout the Book of Mormon. So each time I read this chapter, I am struck by the beauty of Alma's conversion, but also, I rejoice in my own testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Chicken and Cashews in Lettuce Cups (from www.realsimple.com)

Serves: 4
Points: 8

3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
3 T. honey
2 T. canola oil
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T. grated ginger
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced
1 (8-oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/4 c. roasted unsalted cashews
1 small head Boston or Bibb lettuce, leaves separated

Combine the soy sauce and honey in a small bowl; set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes.

Lower heat to medium and stir in the garlic and ginger. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the water chestnuts and half the soy sauce mixture and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with the cashews.

Divide the lettuce leaves among individual plates and spoon the chicken over the top. Serve with the remaining soy sauce mixture for drizzling.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"If we [increase our spiritual] effort and quench not the Spirit, our inner being is quickened. As we persevere, eternal life awaits us. Thus, we dare not quench the Spirit through disobedience or neglect. Rather, let us 'live in the Spirit' (Galatians 5:25), enhancing the sacred and essential role of the Holy Ghost in our individual lives. I testify that as we truly seek the Spirit, we shall benefit more fully from the quiet, but essential, workings of the Holy Ghost" (Keith K. Hilbig, "Quench Not the Spirit Which Quickens the Inner Man, "Ensign, Nov. 2007, 38).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Our Tutor

When I was in college, I was required to take a basic accounting course. I was not afraid of the class when I enrolled and I was sure that I would pass it without any major difficulties. Once I started to attend the lectures and began my first class assignments, however, I realized that I was in deep trouble. My teacher expected a lot from us, and she moved quickly from lesson to lesson. My assignments were long, difficult, and confusing. I had never taken a class quite like accounting, and found that many of the principles and ideas presented were foreign and obscure. After badly failing the first test, I knew that if I wished to pass the class, I would need some serious help.

I went to my teacher and spoke to her of my struggles and concern that I might fail the course if I didn't do something fast. She was kind and understanding, and offered that I might do much better if I had a personal tutor. She gave me some names, and a few phone calls later, I was studying with a wise, very patient tutor. My grades began to improve. Concepts became clearer. And I began to succeed. In fact, I miraculously pulled a decent grade in the class. Accounting was still very difficult to me, but with a tutor, and lots of hard work, I was able to get that one-on-one assistance that made all the difference.

I tell you this story as a sort of parable. For some reason, certain areas of life, for me, are extremely difficult to understand. In some subjects in God's curriculum, I might be failing the grade. I may have scored badly on some of the tests I have taken. But after counseling with the Lord, I have realized that I, too, have access to a tutor who will help clarify my mission, my role in life, and what choices I should be making each day. This tutor is the Holy Ghost.

I testify that as we live righteously, the Holy Ghost will help us in a very personal way. That is how our Father, who knows us intimately, leads us and teaches us. He wants us to succeed. His office is open to those who are struggling with the course. He is kind and good. He will listen to us. But ultimately, our success in the class depends on how hard we will work and how well we will listen to the Holy Ghost, who is trying each day to teach us what to do.

Friday, September 4, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Chicken Vegetable Tacos (from www.bhg.com)
Serves: 6 (2 tacos each)
Points: 5
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size strips
1 c. bottled green salsa
4 oz. fingerling potatoes
2 ears sweet corn, uncooked
12 8-inch whole wheat tortillas, heated
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 red, yellow, and/or green sweet peppers, coarsely chopped
2 small zucchini, cut in thin wedges
In microwave-safe bowl combine chicken and 1/2 cup salsa. Microcook, covered, on 100 percent power (high) 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once, until no pink remains. Remove with slotted spoon. Cover and keep warm.
In medium microwave-safe bowl combine potatoes and 1 tablespoon water. Cover with plastic wrap and microcook on 100 per cent power (high) 3 to 4 minutes or until tender, tossing once. Carefully open corner of plastic to let steam escape. Cool briefly. Cut in chunks; lightly sprinkle with salt. Cut uncooked corn from cobs.
On each tortilla place chicken, corn, tomatoes, sweet pepper, potatoes, zucchini, and remaining salsa. Serve immediately. Makes 12 tacos.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


"There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone" (Elder David A. Bednar, "Pray Always," Ensign, November 2008, 41).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Comfort My Soul in Christ

Alma 31:31-32

Knowing that the task ahead of him (converting the apostate Zoramites) was truly monumental, and feeling within in his soul that it would be impossible without God's assistance, Alma prayed:

"Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou COMFORT my soul IN CHRIST. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have STRENGTH, that I may suffer with PATIENCE these afflictions. . . O Lord, wilt thou COMFORT my soul, and give unto me SUCCESS. . . "

Granted, these verses were written in the context of Alma's missionary work, but the principles in his prayer apply to our own trials today. When we suffer in this life, we can also plead with God in a similar manner. We are entitled to His comfort. He can bless us with more patience in suffering. He can bless us with greater strength. He can further our success, if our desires are righteous and good.

As I thought specifically of weight-loss while reading further into the chapter, I was struck by verse 38:

"And the Lord provided for them that they should HUNGER NOT, neither should they thirst; yea and he also gave them STRENGTH, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the JOY OF CHRIST. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because HE HAD FAITH."

Though again, I have taken this scripture out of its original context, keeping in mind that we are supposed to apply scriptures to our own lives, this verse teaches me an important lesson. I wonder if I am praying with that kind of strength. I wonder if my prayers are the kind that would allow the Lord to literally TAKE AWAY MY HUNGER!! (Physically and spiritually) I wonder if my faith is sufficient that my afflictions could be swallowed up in my joy of Christ. I want to pray with THAT kind of faith!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

(Found at www.thisthatotherstuff.blogspot.com)

These days when my children are small, and so is my bank account. My health is good. My belief in dreams is still strong. Things are still possible.
I know full well that happiness is free for the taking and demands creation.
My hope is real and my lack of wisdom finds me searching.
What's around the corner is alive in my anticipation-and it keeps me bright-eyed.
My furniture isn't fancy. My clothes are simple. My needs are met and my wants are exciting.
My treasures call me MOM. I still notice the flowers blooming every spring.
The roof over my head is big enough for love.
My blessings outweigh my trials, and I'm a sucker for sitting on the front porch with my husband.
Yes, THESE ARE THE BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE, and today...I just wish I could hold on even tighter!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Here is a wonderful video clip. PLEASE watch once for you and once with your daughters. . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knEIM16NuPg

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Corn Soup with Roasted Poblanos (from http://www.sunset.com/)


Serves: 8
Points: 5

3 large poblano chiles
10 ears freshly picked corn
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 to 2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
About 2 tsp. sea salt
4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 medium regular zucchini, seeded and cut into 1/4-in. dice (about 1 1/2 cups)

Turn on broiler. Put poblanos on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast 4 in. from heat, turning once, until blackened, 10 to 15 minutes total. Put poblanos in a bowl, cover, and let sit 30 minutes to loosen skins; then peel, stem, and seed. Cut poblanos into 1/2-in. dice and set aside.
Meanwhile, slice corn kernels from cobs. Heat olive oil in a large, wide pot over medium heat and add onion, serranos, and 2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and corn kernels and cook 3 minutes more.
Pour just enough water into pot to cover corn. Bring to a simmer, covered, and simmer 15 minutes.
Put diced zucchini in a small saucepan with just enough salted water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain.
In batches, whirl corn soup in a blender until very smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh colander into a bowl, mashing to press out liquid. (If too thick, add some water.) Season with salt. To serve the soup hot, return to pot and reheat gently (do not boil); to serve cold, chill at least 2 hours.
Divide among 8 bowls. Top each bowl with 2 T. diced poblanos and 2 T. diced zucchini. (If desired, garnish with zucchini blossoms).

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"Choose conviction at the crossroads. . . " --Quentin L. Cook

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--When Faith Endures

I ran across this lovely scripture this morning, and it truly felt as if I was bumping into an old friend who I hadn't seen for years:

D&C 68:6

“Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.”

As you know, I love to take verses I've heard a million times and break them down. After dissecting this one, I have learned the following:

1. Seeking happiness in this life is not a suggestion: it is a commandment from God. We cannot fully feel the Spirit of God without a peaceful, joyful attitude.

2. Even in the turbulent times in which we live, we are commanded not to fear. I have always loved the words of the hymn, "'When Faith Endures":

I will not doubt; I will not fear,
God's love and strength are always near
His promised gift helps me to find
An inner strength and peace of mind.

I give the Father willingly
My trust, my prayers, humility
His Spirit guides; His love ensures
That fear departs when faith endures.

3. God is always, always with us. As we choose the right, He will stand by us, protecting us from harm, and upholding us as we choose to do hard things.

4. In return, we are asked to bear record of Him. As we live righteously and receive the blessings of doing so, we must recognize who blesses us, and bear testimony to others.

I bear testimony today to my blog readers, that I have been blessed. I see little evidences of His love for me all around me. I am so humbled by these blessings, and I want so dearly to make my Father proud. I am so grateful for my membership in Christ's true church, and I am recommitting today to live my life as a worthy disciple of the Savior. I testify, as always, in His name, amen.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Cuban Black Beans and Rice (from http://www.realsimple.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 6

1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 15.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Cook the rice according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the cumin and cook for 1 minute.

Add the beans, oregano, and 1 cup water. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and smash some of the beans with the back of a fork to thicken.

Serve the beans over the rice and top with the cilantro.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Humility=Empowerment from God

"Humbly submitting our will to the Father brings us the empowerment of God—the power of humility. It is the power to meet life’s adversities, the power of peace, the power of hope, the power of a heart throbbing with a love for and testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ, even the power of redemption" (Richard C. Edgely, "The Empowerment of Humility," Ensign, November 2003).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--He Guides in All Things

In Alma 26:12, we read:

"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefor I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

A few lessons can be gleaned from this powerful verse: First, NOT ONE PERSON can gain salvation for themselves, by themselves. Just as faith without works is dead, works without faith is dead. No matter what righteous choices we make, no matter how many we serve, no matter how perfectly or imperfectly we live our lives, we are still ultimately dependent on the Savior. Only He can save us by His grace:

"There it is, in black and white--the truth that we cannot work our way to worthiness; the fact that the busiest Relief Society president must be just as reliant on the mercy and grace of Christ as the most inactive and skeptical 'lost sheep' (Colleen C. Harrison, He Did Deliver Me from Bondage, Windhaven Publishing, 2002, 22).

Secondly, we learn that in order to call upon the powers of heaven for assistance with daily trials, we must be humble. We must recognize our weaknesses, then recognize that the Savior, alone, can heal us completely. Only in this humble state, can we truly begin to receive powerful personal revelation that will help us recover and heal. We will be blessed with power beyond our natural capacity. And miracles will happen in our lives.

Third, we must, must, MUST learn to recognize the miracles, large and small that happen in ours and others' lives and praise God for them. To forget to do so, is an offense to God. If we cannot acknowledge His hand, He will withdraw it.

In the natural man world of weight loss, we see "I DID IT!" advertising all around us. We see before and after. We see all kinds of products with promises. We see "results in just 30 days or your money back!" But where is the recognition to God? Who created the minds that exercised willpower? Who created the bodies that exercised each day? Who was it that gave them the gift of free-agency? While some may find results or may have success with these methods or products, we as Latter Day Saints must remember that the best weight-loss plan will always be the one based around the gospel of Jesus Christ. After all, He is the Great Physician. He can write us the prescription for change that will lead us as we engage in an anxious cause. He cares about us deeply and desires our spiritual and temporal welfare. As we learn to live in humility, always giving thanks for blessings we receive, He will guide us in all things. He will bless us with health and strength to overcome all things. Without Him, we truly are nothing. . .

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

FOOD FOR THE BODY


Garden Fresh Marinara Sauce (adapted from http://www.5dollardinners.com/)

Serves: 4-6
Points: 3

1 onion
1 green pepper
5-6 medium ripe tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
10 basil leaves
4 parsley sprigs
1-2 T. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
Salt/Pepper

Blend all ingredients in blender until chunky or pureed. I found that running the blender for about 15 seconds and then a few pulses did the trick. Pour sauce from the blender into a saucepan or large skillet. Turn on medium heat and bring to bubbling. Toss in chopped carrots or zuchinni if you'd like. Cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer 30 minutes - 2 hours, depending on how thick you prefer your sauce. Serve with favorite pasta noodles, grated parmesan or shredded mozzarella cheese and side dish! (Served with 1 c. cooked white pasta, this dish is six points. Served with 1 1/2 c. whole grain pasta, it is 5 points. Add 1/2 lb. extra lean ground beef to sauce and add 3 points to running total.)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"Pile up enough tomorrows and all you'll have is a whole lot of empty yesterdays." --Professor Harold Hill in Meredith Wilson's The Music Man

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Someday

On Procrastination:

"When our oldest child (who is now a father of three and sits in this priesthood congregation this evening) was 11 years of age, he was given an assignment, along with the other sixth graders of his school, to submit his favorite family recipe. As its contribution to a large spring fair, the sixth grade was producing a cookbook that would be distributed throughout the community. When the teacher announced the project and a deadline of a week from Friday, our son Brett immediately concluded there was plenty of time later to get the job done and dismissed it from his mind. Early the next week, when the teacher reminded the students of the Friday deadline, Brett decided he could easily complete the required task on Thursday night and until then he could occupy himself with other more enjoyable matters.

On the appointed Friday morning, the teacher directed the students to pass their recipes to the front of the class. Brett’s procrastination had caused him to forget the assignment and be completely unprepared. Flustered, he turned to a fellow student seated nearby and confessed his problem. Trying to be helpful, the classmate said, “I brought an extra recipe. If you want, use one of mine.” Brett quickly grabbed the recipe, wrote his name on it, and turned it in, feeling he had escaped any consequences related to his lack of preparation.

One evening several weeks later, I arrived home from work to freshen up before going to my evening Church meetings. A few days prior, I had been called as a stake president after serving several years as a bishop. We were somewhat known in our community as members of the Church who tried to live the tenets of our religion. “There’s something you need to see,” my wife, Diane, said as I walked through the door. She handed me a bound book with a page marked. Glancing at the cover, titled Noelani School’s Favorites—1985, I turned to the identified page and read, “Hallstrom Family, Favorite Recipe—Bacardi Rum Cake.”

Many of us place ourselves in circumstances far more consequential than embarrassment because of our procrastination to become fully converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know what is right, but we delay full spiritual involvement because of laziness, fear, rationalization, or lack of faith. We convince ourselves that “someday I’m going to do it.” However, for many “someday” never comes, and even for others who eventually do make a change, there is an irretrievable loss of progress and surely regression.

As a partial self-appraisal of our spiritual-procrastination standing, what is our attitude when we attend the meetings of the Church? Is it to learn “by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118), which seamlessly translates what we learn into what we do? Or do we have an “I’ve heard it all before” mentality that immediately blocks the Spirit’s access to our minds and our hearts and enables procrastination to become a major part of our character?" (Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, "Do It Now," Ensign, November 2007).