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Monday, August 31, 2009


Black Bean Dip Kitty (from http://www.familyfun.com/)
(Great for a Halloween Party!)

Serves: 6
Points: 2

1 (15.5 oz.) can black beans
1/3 c. medium-hot salsa, 1 tablespoon for garnish
1/4 c. cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish (optional)
4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
l small garlic clove, minced

Assorted vegetables of your choice, such as:
Cherry tomatoes
Green beans

Drain and rinse the black beans, setting aside l tablespoon for garnish. Combine the black beans, salsa, cilantro leaves, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Garnish with the black beans and, if you like, cilantro leaves or salsa. Arrange vegetables in the shape of a cat, as shown. Serve with black bean dip.


"The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord, and then do it" (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1988, 4).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Putting the Lord First

In my last post, I brought up the question: "I know that I should be putting the Lord first in my life, but how, specifically should I be doing this?"

I have thought about this same question a lot in the last year or so and I have some thoughts:

1. Put the Lord first in your DAY. This means getting up early and having a morning devotional, which includes prayer, scripture and other gospel study, along with time to meditate and record your feelings. My stake president recommends at least one "meditative half-hour" each day. Other times of day are better than none, but the morning is ideal. In the morning hours, our hearts and minds are better prepared to face life's challenges. We are well-rested and more alert. I cannot emphasize how important it is to record the impressions that WILL come during our morning meditation and study. They will help us to truly understand God's will for us, so we must write them down, or this precious personal revelation will become lost as other matters vie for our attention throughout the day.

2. Forget yourself and go to work. Through our service to others, we are healed. We forget about our own problems. Charity towards our families and neighbors cures depression. As we lift the heads and hands around us, life becomes much more meaningful. We start to see things in perspective. And as we begin to serve others more, our hearts begin to change, allowing Christ entrance. The spirit begins to find place in us, making everything seem more peaceful and possible.

3. Choose hope. As we develop a better, more positive attitude in our trials, we are testifying to ourselves and those around us that we have hope in the plan of salvation. Happiness is an expression of the belief that through the Savior we can become perfected. It means that we truly believe that God knows us, loves us, and cares about us. It means that "all these things will work out for good." And as we heal from addiction and bad habits, or from depression and self-doubt, it helps so much to remember that "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

4. Understand the "Why." Why do we repeatedly engage in harmful, sinful behavior. Logically we know the consequences for doing so. In our hearts, we also realize the damaging effects of sin. Deep down, far beneath the surface, there are reasons for our bad behavior. The gospel of Jesus Christ, if lived properly, can help us find the answers to why we struggle with these things. And like Enos, who also wrestled with desires of the natural man, we will in time, receive the comfort that only the Atonement can bring into our hearts.

"The God-given freedom from addiction, or change in behavior that we seek is always preceded by an inner change of heart (or desire). Even though our weaknesses are painful, we often desire to hold on to them because of the seeming benefits. [What are the seemingly] rational reasons why you hold on to a particular weakness?" (Colleen C. Harrison, He Did Deliver Me from Bondage, Windhaven Publishing, 2002, 82).

As we strive to apply these four areas to our lives, we will feel the love of the Savior who heals. And as we are healed, we can begin to live more fully and help others fight their own battles.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas (from http://www.5dollardinners.com/)

Serves: 6
Points: 6

3 large chicken breasts, sliced into strips
1 can of Rotel
1 green pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1/2 bag corn or light flour tortillas

Marinate chicken in 1 can of Rotel. Place chicken with Rotel in the crockpot. Add sliced green peppers and sliced onions and combine with chicken and Rotel. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 7 hours. Add sliced green peppers and sliced onions and combine with chicken and Rotel and cook for another half hour until veggies are tender-crisp. Don't let them get soggy!

Warm tortillas in tortilla warmer, or wrapped in foil in the oven. Serve chicken and peppers on tortillas.


When the pain of the problem gets worse than the pain of the solution, we'll be ready to change." --unknown

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--First Spiritual, Second Temporal

I am learning more and more, the importance of setting out to solve the real heart of my problems first, and then allowing the symptoms of my problems to alleviate themselves. For example, weight gain and retention is the symptom of a much deeper problem: not knowing who I am. My weight gain, I now realize, has been the result of years of depression, stress and spiritual depletion. As I begin to rediscover myself through God's eyes and have occasional glimpses of my royal potential, becoming more righteous along the way, it is slowly becoming easier to take care of my body.

In all things, we should be "seeking first, the kingdom of God", then all other righteous things we desire will be added according to the will of God. (Matthew 6:33)

We read about this same principle of priority in D&C 29:32:

"First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work. . . " (emphasis added)

"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. CHRIST [first] takes the slums out of the people--and then they have the vision and power to take themselves out of the slums" (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, July 1989, 4).

"With that recovered relationship [knowing Christ], will come the vision of who we are and the power to transform the physical circumstances of our lives to reflect the new inner serenity. . . Heart-deep, soul-deep healing doesn't happen by the efforts or power of man, no matter how logical or wise. Putting the emphasis on the spiritual reality and turning to God must come first" (Colleen C, Harrison, He Did Deliver Me from Bondage, 2002, Windhaven Publishing, 9).

"When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord [must] govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities" (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1988, 4).

It's wonderful to hear this: that we should be putting the Lord first, but you may be wondering how, specifically to do this. In tomorrow's post, I will be tackling that most important question. . .

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


". . . 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).


I have often felt guilty for having such difficulty adjusting to and overcoming my weight problems. I have wondered how I can see this issue as such a stumbling block--such a hardship in my life. Others have such pain and heartache in their lives; how can I struggle so with such a small trial? Why can’t I just live a healthier life and get on with it? How can I possibly feel good about praying to God, night and day, about my weight-related problems, while others in the world don’t even have a place to lay their heads?

While it may be true that others suffer more than me, I am coming to the realization that God hears my cries, too. He realizes that each person suffers in their own way, and He reaches out to each individual, no matter their circumstance or setting. It has become a comfort to know that He does understand my suffering, and He feels the pain--very real and deep--that I go through as I face this obstacle in my life. He longs to help me, but cannot fully take the trial away, for through adversity, I am meant to become humble and learn and grow.

"Whenever these moments come, we must not succumb to the fear that God has abandoned us or that He does not hear our prayers. He does hear us. He does see us. He does love us. When we are in dire circumstances and want to cry, ‘Where art Thou?’ it is imperative that we remember He is right there with us–where He has always been! We must continue to believe, continue to have faith, continue to pray and plead with heaven, even if we feel for a time our prayers are not heard and that God has somehow gone away. He is there. Our prayers are heard. And when we weep He and the angels of heaven weep with us. . . "

"When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist. That was the Savior’s message in the parable of the importuning widow (see Luke 18:1-8; see also Luke 11:5-10). Keep knocking on that door. Keep pleading. In the meantime, know that God hears your cries and knows your distress. He is your Father, and you are His child. . ."

"We are not alone in our little prisons here. When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God that we’ve even been in our entire lives. . ." ((Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Lessons from Liberty Jail," Ensign, September 2009, 29-30).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Strawberry-Yogurt Swirl Pops (from www.womansday.com)
Serves: 10
Points: 2
1 lb strawberries, hulled
1⁄3 cup plus 1⁄4 cup sugar, preferably superfine
2 tsp lemon juice
2 cups vanilla low fat yogurt

You’ll also need:
2 large plastic squeeze bottles,
10 pop molds (1⁄2-cup capacity)

Place strawberries, 1⁄3 cup sugar and lemon juice in blender; purée 3 minutes. Pour into a large plastic squeeze bottle and screw on bottle top.

In a medium bowl, stir remaining 1⁄4 cup sugar into yogurt until sugar is dissolved. Pour into the second squeeze bottle and screw on bottle top.

Fill each pop mold with strawberry and yogurt mixtures, alternately squeezing or spooning the mixtures into each mold to create a swirled pattern. Place tops on molds; insert wooden sticks. Freeze at least 6 hours until solidly frozen.

Remove molds from freezer. Soften slightly at room temperature, about 5 minutes (or dip molds in warm water a few seconds). Remove pops from molds. Serve immediately, or wrap pops separately in plastic wrap, then store in freezer bag or container.

Tip: Large squeeze bottles (2-cup capacity) are available in crafts stores and baking supply stores, sometimes labeled for candy-making. To easily unmold the pops, use a pair of pliers to grip the sticks and gently pull out pops.


"Did you know that Heavenly Father knows you personally--by name? . . .

"You may not have heard the Lord call you by name, but He knows each one of you and He knows your name. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said. 'I testify to you that God has known you individually . . . for a long, long time (see D&C 93:23). He has loved you for a long, long time. He not only knows the names of all the stars (see Psalm 147:4; Isaiah 40:26); He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys!' ("Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been," Ensign, May 2004, 46)."
Elaine S. Dalton, "He Knows You by Name," Ensign, May 2005, 109-10

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Raising the Bar

When I was younger, I loved high jumping, so I was very excited and touched when Elder L. Tom Perry told this story about his son in the October 2007 Conference:

"Lee was a member of his high school track team—he both sprinted and high-jumped. During the 1968 Summer Olympic Games held in Mexico City, the world became enamored with a little-known high jumper named Dick Fosbury. He had experimented with a new high-jumping technique that involved sprinting diagonally toward the bar, then curving and leaping backward over the bar. It came to be called the Fosbury flop.

Like many others, Lee was intrigued by this new technique, but until the new school year started, he didn’t have a place to practice it. I came home one evening to find him practicing the Fosbury flop in our basement. He had set up two makeshift standards by stacking chairs, and he was jumping over a broomstick set on the chairs, using a sofa to cushion his landing. It was very clear to me that the sofa would not hold up under such treatment, so I called a halt to his indoor high-jumping. Instead, I invited him to go with me to a sporting-goods store, where we purchased some foam padding to use for landing and high-jumping standards so he could move the activity out of doors.

After experimenting with the Fosbury flop, Lee decided to return to the western roll technique that he had used previously. Still, through the end of the summer into the fall, he practiced high-jumping for many hours in our backyard.

One evening as I returned home from work, I found Lee practicing his jumping. I asked, “How high is the bar?”

He said, “Five feet, eight inches.”

“Why that height?”

He answered, “You must clear that height to qualify for the state track meet.”

“How are you doing?” I asked.

“I can clear it every time. I haven’t missed.”

My reply: “Let’s raise the bar and see how well you do then.”

He replied, “Then I might miss.”

I queried, “If you don’t raise the bar, how will you ever know your potential?”
So we started moving the bar up to five feet, ten inches; then to six feet; and so on, as he sought to improve. Lee became a better high jumper because he was not content with just clearing the minimum standard. He learned that even if it meant missing, he wanted to keep raising the bar to become the best high jumper he was capable of becoming" (L. Tom Perry, "Raising the Bar," Ensign, November 2007).

Though this story was originally told as it relates to preparation for missionary work, I recognize its validity as counsel for many areas of life. With weight loss, am I truly trying my hardest? Could I eat more fruits and vegetables and turn down more goodies? Could I keep a better food journal? Could I exercise a little harder, a little more often? Could I be a little more positive with my self-dialogue? Could I be living more righteously, thus inviting the Spirit of the Lord to help me know how to improve my life? I think that as I, too, raise the bar, I will become better at losing weight. So this week, I commit to reexamine my plan, and look for an area where I could try a little harder to do a little better. Then, I will allow the blessings of hard work to spill more freely into my life.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Super Chef Salad (from http://www.womansday.com/)

Points: 7

2 large hardboiled eggs
2 romaine hearts, cut in thick shreds
1 can (15 to 16 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium cucumber, sliced
2 plum tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 c. shredded 2% milk cheddar
4 oz. fully cooked ham, cut in strips
Serve with: your favorite fat free dressing

Peel eggs and cut into wedges.2. Put romaine in a large salad bowl. Top with eggs and mounds of remaining ingredients.


On reading the Book of Mormon:

"Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God." (Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Testimony Vibrant and True," Ensign, Aug. 2005, 5-6).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--I Will Give Unto You Success

Have you ever been reading the Book of Mormon for the umpteenth time, and noticed a verse that you SWEAR wasn't there last time?! That happened to me this morning. Check this one out:

Alma 26:27

"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us and said. . . bear with patience thine afflictions and I will give unto you success."

Good stuff...good stuff...

Friday, August 21, 2009


No-Bake Peach Crisp (from http://www.familycircle.com/)

Serves: 2
Points: 2

1/8 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. sliced peaches, divided
2 T. crushed lowfat granola
4 T. vanilla nonfat yogurt

In a small bowl, stir cinnamon into fruit; divide between two serving dishes. Sprinkle with granola and top with yogurt. Sift a little more spice over yogurt, if desired.


"May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. But don't reach beyond your capacity. Don't set goals beyond your capacity to achieve. Don't feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don't compare yourselves with others. Do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest. Have faith and confidence in Him, and you will see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones. . . "

"My dear sisters, as you live your daily life with all its blessings and challenges, let me assure you that the Lord loves you. He knows you. He listens to your prayers, and He answers those prayers, wherever on this world you may be. He wants you to succeed in this life and in eternity" (President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "The Influence of Righteous Women," Ensign, September 2009, 8).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Today is Part of Eternity

I think, especially as women, we become so caught up in what needs to be fixed, or what isn't quite right in life, that we forget to see all the good around us. For example, as one who has a weight problem, sometimes I spend so much energy focusing on that aspect of my situation, that I don't take time to realize how truly remarkable my kids are. I miss the joy in every moment because I am too busy fretting about how I feel and look.

President McKay said it well as quoted in this month's Ensign:

". . . to make life sweet today, to give contentment to the heart today, to bring salvation today. . . Some of us look forward to a time in the future--salvation and exaltation in the world to come--but today is part of eternity" (President David O. McKay, as quoted by President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "The Influence of Righteous Women," Ensign, September 2009, 8).

I want to set a goal to truly savor each moment I have here on Earth. I want to be able to recognize joy in the little moments: a tiny hand in mine, a beautiful sunset, a quiet moment with my husband, an opportunity to serve someone in need. I know that as I learn to live in joy, despite my struggles and concerns, life will become more meaningful and fulfilling. I pledge to thank God for this part of eternity, as well as the blessings of exaltation to come. . .

Thursday, August 20, 2009


"The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache." — Marjorie Pay Hinckley


Tortilla Soup (from http://www.sunset.com/)

Serves: 12 (1-cup servings)
Points: 3

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 large onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
12 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
Juice of 2 limes
1 package (8 oz.) small corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-in.-thick strips (see Notes)
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/4-in.-thick strips
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Monterey jack cheese, additional chopped cilantro, and/or sliced green onions for topping

Heat 1 tbsp. vegetable oil in a large pot (at least 5 qts.) over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in two-thirds of the garlic, 1 tbsp. salt, cumin, and chile flakes and cook 2 minutes.
Add broth, tomatoes, and half the lime juice and increase heat to a gentle simmer; cook 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour about 1 in. of vegetable oil into a small frying pan set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add one-third of the tortilla strips and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer strips to a paper towel-lined baking pan. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips in two batches. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Set aside.
Purée soup in batches in a blender. Return soup to pot and resume simmering. In a small bowl, toss chicken with remaining lime juice, garlic, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes, then add to soup and simmer 5 minutes, until chicken is just cooked through. Stir in cilantro. Serve hot with tortilla strips and your choice of toppings. (If you don't have time to make tortilla strips, store-bought chips are fine. You can reduce the recipe by 1 point by using baked Tostitos.)

Each 1-cup serving contains: 142 calories, 4 grams fat, 1.5 grams fiber.


Fall seven times, stand up eight. --Japanese Proverb

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Hiding Away Our Souls

In Alma 24, we read the profound story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies as they become converted to the gospel to the extent that they choose to bury their swords forever. After obtaining forgiveness from the Lord for very serious sins, they feared that if they had access to their weapons, they might again be tempted to use them in the heat of the moment. Verse 16 explains:

". . . we will hide away our swords, yea, even we will bury them deep in the earth, that they may be kept bright, as a testimony that we have never used them at the last day. . . "

Those who may be struggling with a weakness, such as an addiction to food, can also bury their swords of rebellion, by turning their lives fully unto the Lord and allowing His Atonement to heal them. How can this happen? We need to stay on our knees a little longer each morning and pray a little more fervently. We should be studying our scriptures longer and harder. We should fast, so as to develop humility and discipline. We need to attend the temple more, where we can receive further "light and knowledge." When we do receive help from the Spirit, we need to heed it. These things, along with generally keeping the commandments, will allow us to keep our swords, or human weakness, buried deeply in the earth, lest we become weak again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Remember the beautiful story of Sister Elaine S. Dalton's experience in running the Boston Marathon? Here is a link to a beautiful video about her experience:


This is so inspiring! Please take the time to watch it!


Cape Cod Turkey Pitas (revised from http://www.familycircle.com/)

Serves: 8
Points: 4

1 slice deli smoked turkey, cut 3/4-inch thick (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup light ranch dressing
1/3 cup sliced, blanched almonds
1/3 cup Craisins, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1/3 c. chopped apples
8 small wheat pitas, about 1 ounce each

Cut the turkey into 1/4-inch cubes.
In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, dressing, almonds, Craisins, apples and scallions. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To serve, cut open each pita about 1 inch from the top. Spoon a scant 1/2 cup of turkey mixture into each.


“It is not enough merely to speak of Jesus Christ or proclaim that we are His disciples. It is not enough to surround ourselves with symbols of our religion. Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessings of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. . . .

“Ours is not a secondhand religion. We cannot receive the blessings of the gospel merely by observing the good that others do” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Way of the Disciple,” Ensign, May 2009, 76–77).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Personal Conversion

What is the key to success in life either temporally or spiritually? Personal conversion. What is the key to lasting joy and happiness? Personal conversion. What is the key to personal revelation in matters spiritual and temporal? Personal conversion. What is the key to deeper knowledge of the gospel and its life-changing principles? Personal conversion.

I John 5:4-5, 14-15

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."

"Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"

"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us:"

"And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."

I love these verses for what they teach about the process needed for conversion. First, we need to develop faith. This is accomplished by staying true to what we believe, even during times of adversity and hardship. We also do this by simply believing that Jesus is the Son of God, and that through Him, we can be saved. Second, we learn to ask according to the will of our Heavenly Father. By so doing, we place our trust in him, knowing that he knows the beginning from the end. This step, though it sometimes seems difficult, is the key to lasting happiness and growth. Third, we begin to gain a testimony that he DOES hear our petitions and knows of our desires. As a loving Father, he keeps these desires in his heart, ready to pour down blessings if we can continue faithfully, living in accordance to our knowledge of the gospel.

I testify that as we live righteously, ready to accept His will, and with a constant prayer in our hearts, we will truly become converted, thus allowing God to bless us beyond our comprehension.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Peach Sauce (from http://www.parents.com/)

Serves: 8
Points: 7, with egg noodles, 4 without

1 boneless pork loin roast (about 3 pounds), tied
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (15.25 ounces) sliced peaches in heavy syrup
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
Cooked egg noodles, optional

Coat a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place roast into slow cooker; season with onion salt and black pepper.
Drain peaches, reserving the syrup. In a bowl, whisk syrup, chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and pumpkin pie spice. Pour over meat; scatter peach slices over the roast.
Cook 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Remove meat and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Spoon out peach slices and reserve. Place liquid in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds until sauce thickens.
To serve, slice meat and scatter reserved peach slices over the top. Serve with sauce on the side and egg noodles, if desired.


"Someday, when the whole story of this and previous dispensations is told, it will be filled with courageous stories of our women, of their wisdom and their devotion, their courage" (Spencer W. Kimball, "The True Way of Life and Salvation," Ensign, May 1978, 5).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--A Monument of the Human Spirit

At Girls' Camp this past week, a speaker spoke to us about the construction of the Salt Lake Temple, which is arguably the most glorious building ever built by the saints. He compared its construction, with all its setbacks, to the building of an individual. Here is a timeline of what trials were encountered by the saints during the forty years it took to erect the temple:

February 14, 1953--ground dedicated by President Brigham Young
April 6, 1953--cornerstone laid
May, 1953--construction begins, 20-foot trenches, being dug by hand
July 1953--Utah War begins, requiring trenches to be filled back in
1858--Work on temple resumes
1858--Crack in foundation discovered. Foundation broken up and replacement begun
1858--Materials begin to be brought in by horse and cart from quarries twenty miles away
1869--Work on Transcontinental railroad dramatically slows construction as most men are away
April 6, 1892--Capstone finally laid by President Wilford Woodruff
April 6, 1893--Interior completed and temple dedicated

I am simply amazed by the fortitude of these saints. As I think of their perseverance and strength of character, I cannot help but be inspired. I have often felt like a work in progress. I have often felt so keenly the effects of setbacks in my war to lose weight, as well as in my spiritual progress. It comforts me deeply to know that if I can hang in there, get up, dust myself off, and get back to work, I can make myself into something truly truly majestic. As I picture men, chinking away at the hard granite, it occurs to me, that becoming my potential is not something that will happen right away; rather, it's a result of thousands of little choices that I make day to day. And I also realize that as I do things the Lord's way, even tearing out and rebuilding my foundation, if necessary, I become stronger. I will never look at the Salt Lake Temple the same way. To me, it stands as a testimony of what an individual can become. It is truly a monument of the human spirit and of God's love for the faithful and brave. (Photos courtesy of wikipedia.com)

Monday, August 17, 2009


Strawberry Romaine Salad (from http://www.parents.com/)

Serves: 12
Points: 2

2 heads romaine lettuce
1 pint strawberries, hulled
1 medium-size red onion
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons vinegar

Lightly toast sesame seeds for 2 minutes in a small skillet, or until slightly fragrant.

Tear romaine lettuce into bite-size pieces. Slice strawberries and onion. Toss with lettuce in a large bowl.
Whisk mayonnaise, sugar, milk and vinegar together in a small bowl. Add to salad and toss just before serving. Top with toasted sesame seeds and serve.


Baked Potatoes with Creamy Herb Topping
Serves: 4
Points: 4

4 small russet potatoes (about 1 1/4 pound total)
1/2 cup nonfat Greek-style yogurt or 2/3 cup regular, plain nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Poke each potato with a fork a few times. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until they are easily pierced with a knife. Wrap them loosely in the foil for 5 minutes or until ready to serve.

If using regular yogurt, place it in a strainer lined with paper towel and set the strainer over a bowl. Let the yogurt drain and thicken for 20 minutes.

Combine the Greek-style yogurt or regular thickened yogurt, the oil, parsley and chives of the in a small bowl.

Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and dollop a tablespoon of the creamy herb topping on each half.

Each serving has 180 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 3 grams of fiber.


"The past is behind--we must learn from it. The future is ahead--we must prepare for it. The present is now—we must live in it" (Thomas S. Monson, "Three Gates to Open," CES Fireside for Young Adults, Jan. 14, 2001)

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Run, That Ye May Obtain

Yesterday, a return missionary spoke in our ward and shared this little treasure with us and I knew I had to write about it today:

1 Corinthians 9:24

"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain."

If we could truly comprehend the prize at the end of our race, wouldn't we run a little faster? Wouldn't we try a little harder? Wouldn't we try to be a little more diligent? I think that this scripture applies to many things in life, including weight loss. After reading it, I feel more inspired to not just sort of amble lazily toward my goals, but to run, as if everything depended on it.

Likewise, if we consider our eternal objectives, this scripture is even more powerful. If we only knew what Heavenly Father has in store for His faithful, we would surely pick up the pace. We would forgive a little quicker. We would settle accounts. We would show more compassion. We would confess and forsake. . . we would run, that we might obtain.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I'll be heading to Girls' camp for the next three days, but will be posting again on Saturday, the 15th. Everyone, wish my hubby luck! This is the first time he'll be alone with all four muchies for more than a few hours. ;)


Revised Layered Taco Dip (modified from http://www.familycircle.com/)

Serves: 12
Points: 4

1 pkt. (1.25-oz.) taco seasoning
1 can (16-oz.) fat free refried beans
1 lb. ripe tomatoes, chopped
4-6 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 pkg. (8-oz.) 2% milk shredded taco cheese blend
1 c. fat free sour cream
Baked tortilla chips, for dipping (17 per serving)

Heat refried beans with just a little water to thin it just a little (about 1/4 c.). Add taco seasoning and keep warm and stir for about 3 minutes or until heated through. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together tomatoes, green onions, sugar, garlic salt and black pepper. In a second medium-sized bowl, mix togehter 1 1/2 c. of the shredded cheese and the sour cream.

In an 8-cup clear bowl, layer half of each of the bean mixture, tomatoes, and sour cream mixture. Repeat layering. Scatter remaining 1/4 c. green onions and 1/2 c. cheese over the top. Serve at room temperature. Store leftovers, covered in refrigerator for up to a week.


"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." --Thomas Edison

FOOD FOR THE SPIRT--My Kindness Shall Not Depart from Thee

Today's post is going to sound a little like an infomercial for a minute, so feel free to imagine my head tipped to the side and my teeth sparkle on cue:

Do you ever feel deserted? Do you ever feel that the promised blessings of the Lord are "lost or filed under someone else's name?" (Spencer J. Condie, "Claim the Exceeding Great and Precious Promises," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 18 ) Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed by lists of what needs to be done, and underwhelmed by the help you receive in accomplishing your tasks? Do you feel unappreciated? Do you feel criticized by others? Do you feel bankrupt of the energy you need to accomlish those things that will fulfill your divine potential? Do you feel frightened of getting up again and giving it one more try, because you might fail?

If so, you're a lot like me. I have wondered all of these things at some point in my life. I have felt tired, frustrated, tired, discouraged, tired, alone, tired, confused, tired, depressed. Did I mention that I often feel TIRED?!

But just when I am feeling sorry for myself, just when I truly feel that I cannot go on another day, just when I feel completely alone in my struggles to lose weight, be a good parent, get out of debt: whatever, then I DO feel the love of my Savior. These conflicts, trials, and challenges bring me to my knees and I find sweet relief time and time again as I turn to the Lord. One blog reader reminded me yesterday of a sweet and poetically beautiful passage of scripture which reminds us all of why it's worth it to just "keep on keeping on. . . "

2 Nephi 22:10-12

"For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee."

"O tho afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted! Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires."

"And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones."

What a beautiful promise! His kindness and love for us will NEVER depart! I feel so much comfort just hearing those words. It means so much to me to know that the Savior is not just some abstract, stuffy religious relic, but He truly is my FRIEND. As my brother, His love for me is unconditional.

This same blog reader introduced me to a song that I would love for you to hear which is based on these beautiful verses. Thanks again, Nicole! You can listen to this beautiful song at this link:


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Grilled Chicken Paillard (from http://www.foodnetwork.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 4

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small shallot, chopped
1/4 cup pure olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground fresh black pepper
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, pounded thinly

Whisk together lemon juice, shallot, olive oil and black pepper in a large baking dish. Add the chicken, turn to coat and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat grill to high. Remove chicken from marinade, season with salt on both sides and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and just cooked through. Serve with a spinach, tomato, and red onion salad tossed with olive oil for a meal worth 6 points.


"Perseverance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth." --Julie Andrews

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--A Joyful Religion

Enduring to the End

"My dear brothers and sisters, there will be days and nights when you feel overwhelmed, when your hearts are heavy and your heads hang down. Then, please remember, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, is the Head of this Church. It is His gospel. He wants you to succeed. He gave His life for just this purpose. He is the Son of the living God. He has promised:

'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest' (Matthew 11:28).

'For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee' (3 Nephi 22:10). 'I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer' (3 Nephi 22:8).

... My dear friends, the Savior heals the broken heart and binds up your wounds (see Psalm 147:3). Whatever your challenges may be, wherever you live on this earth, your faithful membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the divine powers of the gospel of Jesus Christ will bless you to endure joyfully to the end" (Dieter F. Uchdorf, "Have We Not Reason to Rejoice," Ensign, November 2007).

"Important components of faith are patience, long-suffering, and enduring to the end. The Apostle Paul recounts the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sara, concluding that 'these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.' These faithful Saints knew that this earth life was a journey, not their final destination" (Spencer J. Condie, "Claim the Exceeding Great andPrecious Promises," Ensign, November 2007).

". . . Therefore, enduring to the end is not just a matter of passively tolerating life’s difficult circumstances or 'hanging in there...' enduring to the end is exalting and glorious, not grim and gloomy. This is a joyful religion, one of hope, strength, and deliverance. 'Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy' ( 2 Nephi 2:25) (Dieter F. Uchdorf "Have We Not Reason to Rejoice?" Ensign, November 2008).

Monday, August 10, 2009


Waldorf Salad (Just Like my Mom's!) from www.foodnetwork.com

Serves: 4

Points: 4

1/2 c. walnuts halves
1/2 c. non-fat yogurt
2 T. light mayonnaise
1 tsp. honey
1/2 lemon, zest finely grated
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large crisp apples, such as Gala
2 ribs celery (with leaves), sliced into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (leaves chopped)
1/4 c. golden or regular raisins
1/2 lemon, juiced

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and break the nuts up into small pieces.

Whisk the yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, and lemon zest in a large bowl and season generously with pepper.

Halve, core, and cut the apples into 3/4-inch pieces, leaving the skin intact. Add the apples, celery and raisins to the bowl, and sprinkle with the lemon juice; then toss with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

When ready to serve, toss walnuts into the salad. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter, or divide them among 4 salad plates. Place the salad on the lettuce and serve.


"You could have an experience with the gift of the Holy Ghost today. You could begin a private prayer with thanks. You could start to count your blessings, and then pause for a moment. If you exercise faith, and with the gift of the Holy Ghost, you will find that memories of other blessings will flood into your mind. If you begin to express gratitude for each of them, your prayer may take a little longer than usual. Remembrance will come. And so will gratitude" (Henry B. Eyring, "Remembrance and Gratitude," Ensign, Nov. 1989, 13).

"When we invite the Holy Ghost to fill our minds with light and knowledge, He 'quickens' us, that is to say, enlightens and enlivens the inner man or woman. As a result we notice a measurable difference in our soul. We feel strengthened, filled with peace and joy. We possess spiritual energy and enthusiasm, both of which enhance our natural abilities. We can accomplish more than we otherwise could do on our own. We yearn to become a holier person" (Keith K. Hilbig, "Quench Not the Spirit Which Quickens the Inner Man," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 38).

The Creator has not given you a longing to do that which you have no ability to do.
--Orison Swett Marden

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Spiritual Atrophy

1. [a-troh-fee] a wasting away of the body or of an organ or part, as from defective nutrition.

2. degeneration, decline, or decrease, as from disuse.

1. A wasting away of one's life, testimony, and eternal potential, as from lack of spiritual nourishment.

2. Spiritual degenteration, decline, or decrease, as from disuse and/or spiritual apathy.

The principal of spiritual atrophy is explained in the definition above and can be simply put as such: if you don't use it, you lose it. Apathy regarding spiritual matters not only takes us further from the light and knowledge of the gospel, it deadens our hearts and weakens our ability to feel and recognize the spirit. As we become slack and "sedentary" in our spirituality, we, quite literally, risk losing our ability to "exercise" the gifts that are ours through living righteously.

For example, if we are not reading and studying our scriptures daily, we lose a portion of our right to personal revelation. We may also feel a loss of the Spirit in our day-to-day activities. Just as our muscles degenerate as we use them less and less, the Spirit dies in our hearts and minds if we do not actively exercise it and nourish it regularly.

The good news is that, unlike the body, in which such changes can become permament, spirtual atrophy can be reversed as we again begin to "work out" our spirituality. We can choose to study the gospel, attend the temple, fast, pray: all those things that keep us strong and spiritually fit. Are we as strong as we could be, spiritually? Or are our "muscles" becoming weakened by simple disuse, sins, or apathy? Hopefully, each of us will be able to set goals to ensure that this will not happen...

Friday, August 7, 2009


Flank Steak with Corn Salsa (from http://www.bhg.com/)

Serves: 6
Points: 4
1 (8 3/4-oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained (or fresh corn kernals!)
3/4 c. bottled salsa verde
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 (1 1/4 to 1 1/2-lb.) beef flank steak
3/4 c. bottled reduced-calorie clear Italian salad dressing
2 T. cracked black pepper
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin

For corn salsa, in a medium bowl, combine corn, salsa verde, and tomato. Cover and chill for 6 to 24 hours.
Meanwhile, trim fat from steak. Score both sides of steak in a diamond pattern by making shallow diagonal cuts at 1-inch intervals. Place steak in a resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish.
For marinade, in a small bowl, combine Italian salad dressing, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and cumin; pour over steak. Seal bag; turn to coat steak. Marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours, turning bag occasionally. Drain steak, discarding marinade.
Place steak on rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 17 to 21 minutes or until done (160 degree F), turning once.
To serve, thinly slice steak diagonally across the grain. Serve steak with corn salsa. Makes 6 servings.
Each serving contains 193 calories, 8 grams fat, and 1 gram fiber.


"True, enduring happiness, with the accompanying strength, courage, and capacity to overcome the greatest difficulties, will come as you center your life in Jesus Christ. Obedience to His teachings provides a secure ascent in the journey of life. That takes effort. While there is no guarantee of overnight results, there is the assurance that, in the Lord's time, solutions will come, peace will prevail, and happiness will be yours" (Richard G. Scott, "The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness," Ensign, Nov. 2006, 41).

"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end" (Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Recipe for Happiness

I have been thinking this morning about my attitude. How can I improve it, during my trials? Why is it that I tend to think more on the things I would like to see changed in my life. . . about the problems, than I do the great blessings I have received? Why is it so hard to recognize blessings, and carry on day by day with a cheerful heart? We know that "men are that they might have joy," so why is it that we so easily lose sight of all that truly makes men happy?

Satan would have us feel that our imperfections somehow exclude us from taking part of Heavenly Father's plan: the Plan of Happiness. But a loving Father and Savior beckon to us lovingly, teaching that we should find joy in our journey. Not only are we meant to be eternally happy following righteous and dedicated lives, we should find joy in each moment here on Earth. And what about the times in our lives that seem riddled with trials and temptations? The scriptures teach that for these, too, we may be be grateful and find joy. As Job put it: ". . .happy is the man who God correcteth. . . " (Job 5:17).

We must remember who it is that desires our hopelessness: Satan, who wishes that we all might be as miserable as he is. But he is the author of lies. He is the bringer of discouragement. Though many have struggles that truly seem unbearable and mountains to climb that seem insurmountable, all can remember words of promise from the Savior: ". . . be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world. . ." (John 16:33).

James E. Faust taught: "Although “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25), this does not mean that our lives will be filled only with joy, “for it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Ne. 2:11). Happiness is not given to us in a package that we can just open up and consume. Nobody is ever happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rather than thinking in terms of a day, we perhaps need to snatch happiness in little pieces, learning to recognize the elements of happiness and then treasuring them while they last" (James E. Faust, "Our Search for Happiness," Ensign, October 2008, 2).

So, what is the recipe for true happiness? Following are two quotes, which make the answer very clear:

"The treasure house of happiness is unlocked to those who live the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity and simplicity. Like a mariner without stars, like a traveler without a compass, is the person who moves along through life without a plan. The assurance of supreme happiness, the certainty of a successful life here and of exaltation and eternal life hereafter, come to those who plan to live their lives in complete harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ—and then consistently follow the course they have set” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 259)."

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255–56).

I pray that I can earnestly seek joy in my life by living righteously and by recognizing the many blessings which surround me. I hope that I can recognize my trials and temptations as stepping stones to eternal happiness. I am grateful for the gift of perspective I find in the scriptures, and for the examples of so many who teach that even through adversity, it is possible and probable that I can find lasting joy.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Weight Watchers Momentum Plan “Fried” Fish Sandwich Recipe (from http://www.laalosh.com/)
Serves: 4
Points: 5

1 spray olive oil cooking spray, or enough to coat pan and fish
1/2 c. Fiber One cereal, ground to powder (bread crumbs instead add 2 points)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/4 pound cod fillet, (four 5-oz pieces)
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
4 medium sized mixed-grain or wheat hamburger rolls
8 pieces lettuce
4 slices onion (optional)
1 small tomato, sliced
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Combine Fiber One crumbs, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Coat both sides of each cod fillet with mustard and then turn fish in Fiber One crumbs mixture to coat. Arrange fillets on baking sheet and spray surface with cooking spray. Bake until fish is fork-tender and coating is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Place fish on rolls and top each with 2 lettuce leaves and 1/4 of tomato and onion slices.

** I also topped each sandwich with a tablespoon of McCormick’s Fat Free Tarter Sauce (this did not increase Points value)


"I wonder if we can ever really fathom the immense power of prayer until we encounter an overpowering, urgent problem and realize that we are powerless to resolve it. Then we will turn to our Father in humble recognition of our total dependence on Him. It helps to find a secluded place where our feelings can be vocally expressed as long and as intensely as necessary" (Richard G. Scott, "Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer," Ensign, May 2008, 8).

"As you submit your wills to God, you are giving Him the only thing you can actually give Him that is really yours to give. Don't wait too long to find the altar or to begin to place the gift of your wills upon it! No need to wait for a receipt; the Lord has His own special ways of acknowledging" (Neal A. Maxwell, "Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been," Ensign, May 2004, 46).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Heartbreak Hill

Elaine S. Dalton, on being steadfast in Christ:

"Several years ago, I had the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon. I had trained hard and felt I was prepared, but at mile 20 there are hills. The locals call the steepest and longest hill Heartbreak Hill. When I reached that point, I was physically spent. The hill was long, and because I was a novice, I allowed myself to do something no seasoned runner ever does—I started to think negatively. This slowed my pace, so I tried to think positively and visualize the finish line. But as I did this, I suddenly realized that I was in a big city, there were thousands of people lining the route, and I had not made any arrangements to locate my husband at the end of the marathon. I felt lost and alone, and I started to cry. I was wearing a big red T-shirt with the word Utah printed on the front in big block letters. As the spectators saw that I was crying, they would yell, “Keep going, Utah.” “Don’t cry, Utah.” “You’re almost finished, Utah.” But I knew I wasn’t, and I was lost. I also knew that even if I stopped running and dropped out of the race, I would still be lost.

Do any of you ever feel like you’re running up Heartbreak Hill and that even though there are people lining the route, you are alone? That’s how I felt. So I did what every one of you would do—I began to pray right there on that marathon route. I told Heavenly Father that I was alone and that I was on a hill. I told Him that I was discouraged and afraid and that I felt lost. I asked for help and strength to be steadfast and to finish the race. As I continued to run, these words came into my mind:
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.(“How Firm a Foundation,” Hymns, no. 85)

That sweet answer to my prayer gave me the strength to continue on until I crossed the finish line. And despite my fears, my husband was right there and all was well.
That day I experienced more than a marathon. I learned some important lessons. First of all, never wear a big red shirt with the word Utah printed on it. Second, I learned that no matter how well prepared you think you are, there are hills on the course. I learned that people cheering for you along the way are absolutely essential. I learned again that day that we are never alone. Our Heavenly Father is only a prayer away, and the Holy Ghost is within whispering distance" (Elaine S. Dalton, "All Times, in All Things, and in All Places," Ensign, May 2008).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Low-Fat No Bake Cheesecake

Serves: 8
Points: 6

1 (8-oz.) carton Cool Whip Free
1 (8-oz.) 1/3 less fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 (9-in.) reduced-fat graham cracker crust
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

In a large bowl, whip cream cheese, lemon and sugar for a few minutes until fluffy. Add Cool Whip and whip until smooth. Spoon mixture into pie crust and chill for a few hours, until firm. Cut into 8 equal slices. Or serve just the cheesecake as a mousse, without the pie crust, for only a 4 point total!


"The scriptures make a great deal of the wilderness. Adam and Eve were cast out into the wilderness; Israelite groups wandered in the wilderness, were tempted in the wilderness, worshipped false images in the wilderness, and were fed and watered in the wilderness; while throughout, prophets cried repentance out of wildernesses.

These events are history, but they are also similitudes. They illuminate the reality of man’s mortal experience as a true wilderness, and of his relationship to the Savior.

We can grasp more dearly the concept of mortality as a wilderness when we contrast it to the Garden of Eden. The garden was the epitome of flourishing growth. But its special luxuriance was both physical and spiritual. Though abundant in fruit and beauty, its real lushness came from the presence of the Father. And the true barrenness of mortality comes from the absence of the Father, with only intermittent blessings sent by his unseen power" (Lenet Hadley Reed, "All Things Testify of Him: Understanding Symbolism in the Scriptures," Ensign, 1981).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Spiritual Wildernesses

Here is a talk that explains a little about how to find our way through spiritual wildernesses:


FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Joy in the Journey (Even in the Wilderness!)

I love the word "wilderness" in the scriptures. It's used over and over in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Each time I read the word, I think of my own wanderings, and try to learn how characters in the scriptures have learned and grown from theirs ... or not. For example, Moses's people wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Why? Did the Lord not know yet where he wanted them to go? Were they lost, even with a prophet to lead them? No. They needed yest to be humbled. . .to be tested. I can actually visualize myself, wandering around and around in circles in the wilderness I create for myself: my pride, my sins, my envyings.

Another good example is when Lehi was called to take his family out of Jerusalem, into the wilderness. In this example, I think the wilderness represents the great unknown: stepping out of our comfort zones, daring to reach into the darkness for the hand of the Lord. Do we have enough faith, that during our uncertain times we will have the faith to follow God . . . away from the world, and let Him lead us?

In Matthew 4:1, we read of the wilderness again: "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." The Savior, himself entered the wilderness, our own respective wildernesses, in order to understand the temptations, the wanderings, the confusion, the pain, the uncertainties which we have and will experience here on Earth.

Are you wandering in the wilderness today? If you are, remember that the Lord will lead you. By His word and your faith, he will guide you to your own promised land, just as the liahona guided Nephi. In the meantime, wilderness journeying begets humility, faith, learning, and increased testimony. And though your own wilderness may seem barren and deserted, remember that manna from heaven fed the children of Israel as they wandered. Likewise, our father in heaven will feed us and care for us as we seek our eternal destination. Meanwhile, we can find joy in our journey.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


End-of-Summer Vegetable Soup (from http://www.realsimple.com/)

Serves: 6

Points: 2

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 large zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large yellow squash, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 pound green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups corn kernels (cut from 2 ears, or frozen)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup fresh dill springs

Freeze it. In a large bowl, combine the broth, cannellini beans, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, corn, onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Divide the mixture among freezer-safe containers. Freeze until ready to cook, up to 3 months.

Cook it. Transfer the frozen soup mixture to a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the dill.


On self-mastery:

“You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself . . . the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. … And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others” (Leonardo da Vinci as quoted by N. Eldon Tanner, "Success Is Gauaged by Self-Mastery," Ensign, May 1975, 74).

“The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile” (Plato, as quoted by N. Eldon Tanner, "Success Is Gauaged by Self-Mastery," Ensign, May 1975, 74).

Remember also that nature never pays an unearned account and she never fails to pay one that has been earned. If you wish to achieve financial success, if you wish to be happy, if you wish to be healthy, if you would be morally clean, if you wish to find religious peace of mind, there is only one sure way, and that is the straight and narrow path—the way of honor, the way of industry, of moderation, simplicity, and virtue (N. Eldon Tanner, "Success Is Gauaged by Self-Mastery," Ensign, May 1975, 74).


Whew! This has been a really, really, really tough week for me. I mean, a WEAK week! I don''t know what it is about hitting that twenty-pound mark, but I've struggled more this week than I have for a long, long time. Sigh. And I've gained four pounds. Yesterday, the scripture that states so reassuringly that "with God nothing shall be impossible," just kept running through my mind, so I've decided to make that my mantra. So, this morning for my scripture study, I looked up the scripture to read it word for word:

". . . If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall removed and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

"Howbeit this kind goeth not out but BY PRAYER and FASTING" (Matthew 17:20-21).

I just about turned back to my regular reading without reading that second verse, but the spirit whispered for me to read just a little further. And there was my answer: if I want this extremely large, seemingly impossible mountain moved, I need to call upon the powers of heaven through fasting and prayer. I recently stopped nursing my eleven-month old, so this will be the first time I've fasted for quite a while, and I'm actually really excited. So today, I'm fasting for hope. I'm fasting for an increase of faith. I'm fasting for my health. I'm fasting for a renewal of purpose. If any of my readers would care to join me in this fast, I know that strength comes in numbers. What could you fast for in your own lives?

Here are a few quotes from a recent Ensign article on fasting with power:

"What if there were a way to overcome our habits, addictions, and burdens? What if there were a way to gain sufficient confidence in the Lord that you could call down the powers of heaven?

What if there were principles you could teach your loved ones that, if applied, would allow them to overcome personal weaknesses and draw closer to God?

As we properly understand and live the law of the fast, these desired blessings can be ours" (Elder Shayne M. Bowen, "Fasting with Power," Ensign, April 2009, 64-67).

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).

"To develop spiritual strength, we need to do our part. If we are not willing to work and be obedient, we should not expect the miracle. In my experience, miracles are always found through obedience and hard work" (Elder Shayne M. Bowen, "Fasting with Power," Ensign, April 2009, 64-67).

Paul said, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“When a person starts a fast, biochemical adjustments begin in the bloodstream to compensate for the lack of food. A carbohydrate substance known as glycogen is released from storage areas in the liver and the muscles. The body uses glycogen as food to keep cells supplied with energy. After 24 hours this food source is used up, and another source of energy is needed.

“Dr. Siegfried Heyden of Duke University’s Department of Community and Family Medicine says when this happens, the body starts looking for other energy sources. ‘The first thing happening after a 24-hour fast is the breakdown of fat cells. And these fat cells, when they break down, produce ketone bodies, as they are called. And these ketone bodies seem to have an effect on our psyche in that they make us no longer hungry’1 (Elder Shayne M. Bowen, "Fasting with Power," Ensign, April 2009, 64-67).

PLEASE read this article! It has helped me more fully understand why fasting is such an important principle of the gospel. You can view it in its entirety at http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=dc87eafcee340210VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Watermelon Slushie (from www.goodhousekeeping.com)

Serves: 1
Points: 3
2 cup(s) (1-inch pieces) seedless watermelon
1/2 cup(s) pomegranate juice
1/2 cup(s) ice cubes
In blender, combine watermelon, pomegranate juice, and ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Pour into tall glass.
Each serving contains 170 calories, 1 gram fat, and 2 grams fiber.


Peachy Frozen Yogurt (from http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 3

1 bag(s) (10- to 12-ounce) frozen sliced peaches
2 container(s) (6 ounces each) low-fat peach yogurt
1 tablespoon(s) sugar

In food processor with knife blade attached, process frozen peaches until finely shaved. Add yogurt and sugar. Process just until smooth. Serve immediately. If not serving right away, pour into 9" by 9" metal baking pan; cover and freeze 1 hour for best texture.
Each serving contains 130 calories, 1 gram fat, 2 grams fiber.


On Motherhood:

Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to rush past the fleeting moments. She said: "The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. . . . I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less"(Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11).

". . . sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children" (M. Russell Ballard, "Daughters of God," Ensign, May 2008).


" . . . dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6)."

" Just as the prison holding Alma and Amulek did not tumble to the earth “until after their faith,” and just as Ammon and his missionary brethren did not witness mighty miracles in their ministries “until after their faith” (see Ether 12:12–15), so [our] healing [will] not occur until after [our] faith and [is] accomplished “according to their faith in their prayers” (D&C 10:47)" (Elder David A. Bednar, "Ask in Faith," Ensign, May 2008).

"For if there be no faith, among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith" (Ether 12:12).

Without faith, we cannot reach our potential. We can not be healed of our afflications. We cannot progress in Christ. We cannot have miracles come to us in our lives until our faith has been tried. If we want our own prisons (addictions, bad habits, unfavorable circumstances, physical appetitites,etc.) to tumble to the ground, we must have faith that God can and will, in His own due time assist us in our escape. This goes for weight loss too. Do you feel trapped by your food addictions, physical inactivity, and other bad habits? If so, exercise faith by first hoping that Christ truly cares about you enough to help you overcome these trials. Then, take that first small step, but do not do it alone. Hold firmly to gospel principles, and He will lead you and show you the way. Finally, as you begin to feel your life change: step by step, rejoice and give thanks, and above all, continue in humility. Before long, I promise, the prison walls will tumble, and you will be set free . . .