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Friday, December 17, 2010

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"Christ does not need admirers. He needs followers." --M. Russell Ballard

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


CINNAMON APPLE SPICED OATMEAL

Serves: 1
Points: 5

One bowl prepared oatmeal (not from packets)
1 T. apple butter, swirled in or spread over top
ground cinnamon, to taste
1/4 c. low fat granola
1/4 c. finely diced apple, if desired

YUM!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"The holy scriptures are like letters from home, telling us how we can draw nearer to our Heavenly Father." --Ardeth Kapp

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Gratitude for the Scriptures

I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I just had to start with that. I can't tell you how much I have learned from reading its sacred pages. I truly have a testimony of the fact that these words were intended not only for our day, but for ME. I am so grateful for the depth of each story, each character, and each passage. I love to turn each page, striving to find personal applications to my own life with the gift of personal revelation.

Last week, I had a HORRIBLE day at work. I'm talking, really, really bad and discouraging. That night as I sat on the floor next to my bed with this precious volume in hand, I prayed for a verse or two that would keep me going. And I turned "randomly" to Alma 38. The words therein were like water seeping into a dry, cracked desert dust.

Then this morning, I was thinking again about HOW on earth to receive direction during this time of great uncertainty and copious choices for our family. I felt prompted to read Alma 37, where I was taught the importance of prayer and scripture study. Verse 37 is a perennial favorite of mine:

"Counsel with the Lord in ALL thy doings, and when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that He may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."

I also love the discussion of faith and righteousness as well as study of the Lord's words serving as a personal, modern-day "Liahona" to each of us. I know from personal experience that without His daily guidance, I DO "tarry in the wilderness, or do not travel a direct course. I am afflicted with hunger and thirst" when I do not choose o study and live His words.

How grateful I am for the scriptures. What would I do without them? What scripture helped you today?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Tough Love and Lessons

Wow! You know, life is really CRAZY sometimes! This month has been chaotic to say the least. Tyler started a new second job this week that we are super excited about. He will be teaching computer aided drafting at the local community high school for about 10 hours each week. It's not much, but the pay is much better than we anticipated, so we are so grateful. Plus, teaching CAD has been his dream job since he was in high school, so this is very fulfilling for him. In addition to that, he received a small raise this week from his full-time job. It's not as big as we would've liked, but most raises have been frozen for quite some time and we're not sure anyone else is even getting raises right now, so we'll take it! And to add the the hectic pace we are living, Tyler is now officially registered for Spring Semester at our local university. Whew! I'm not sure that we're both up to the challenges ahead of us, but we are feeling cautiously optimistic that our situation may be starting an upward trend. (I have another secret, but I won't be able to tell you about that for a long, long time. The excitement is killing me! And no, I'm not expecting.)

Anyway, Tyler and I have discussed these exciting changes this week and we've decided that it is really, really neat how the Lord knows our innermost desires, sometimes even better than we do. He knew that Tyler would love this new position and planted the idea in his mind. Tyler went in to talk to the school's principal, with no inkling that there would even be an interest in his propsed program. There was no help-wanted ad. Tyler simply had an idea (fruits of the spirit) which he acted on. A week and a half later, he is working as a teacher, something he dearly loves.

I take great comfort in the fact that the Lord knows each of us this intimately. Sometimes we feel alone and forgotten, but often in those very hours when we cannot even think of taking another step into the dark, a light shines forth, showing the way.

We were reading scriptures with the kids the other day and my eight-year-old daughter made a profound observation. We were reading about Nephi's family when they were sailing toward the promised land. She mentioned that it was the wind that carried them closer to the shores of peace and safety. In her own words: "Mommy, they never would've gotten there without the wind. It's like when we have hard times. Sometimes they can make us better people."

I'm grateful for the "tough love" of my Heavenly Father. So many times during my trials, I would've loved to have been snatched from my trials and set down in a more comfortable spot. But, as I look back at the past, I see that in the most difficult times, my testimony has grown, I have learned new skills, I have become more compassionate, my humility has increased and I have been made more ready to trust in the Lord. I would never trade these lessons for a comfortable, warm "house on the hill." I know the Lord knows my thoughts and desires. He loves me and will always guide me to the lessons I need most. With that in mind, I need never fear. Only believe.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

DEAR FOOD NETWORK,

I want to thank you for hours and hours of inspiration and entertainment. I love to sit before you, on my comfy couch, with pen and notebook in hand, gaining culinary know-how. I love the feeling I get when I make one of your recipes and it turns out wonderfully delicious. Oh, how I love to take all the credit for these morsels. Please forgive me for never sharing my secret. . . you. Thank you for teaching me about panko and double-boilers, fondant and taragon, reductions and most of all, myself. You have brought to my attention a new passion and have taught me to dream big. Thanks to you, all roads lead to my DELICIOUS future!

Love,
Kristen

P.S. My family thanks you as well.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"Sisters, we love you. We pray for you. Be strong and of good courage. You are truly royal spirit daughters of Almighty God. You are princesses, destined to become queens. Your own wondrous story has already begun. Your 'once upon a time' is now." (President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "Your Happily Ever After," Ensign, May 2010)

DEAR KITCHEN CHAIRS,

Thank you kindly for being there for me whenever I need to get something done without the children underfoot. It is so nice of you to line up in the living room and allow the kids to play "train" while I wash the dishes in peace. Oh, how they love to toot and wave out your imaginary windows, whilst I scrub away. You all are truly some of the best friends a mother could have.

Sincerely,

Kristen

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Heavenly Father is Awesome

Wow. Have I ever told you that I think the gospel is awesome. And I mean awesome in the more reverent sense of the word. Tonight I headed off to the Worldwide Training Meeting, sort of expecting a somewhat boring presentation of the new church-wide handbooks. But instead, I received a spiritual feast. I bathed in personal revelation from the opening hymn. And the personal revelation applied not just to my Young Women calling, but also to little struggles at home. The restored gospel of Christ is remarkable not only for its depth and scope, but also for its simplicity.

I felt like a bad mom today. For some reason, my kiddos were uber-hyperactive today. And grouchy. And fighting with each other. Non-stop. I had a headache. I was beyond grumpy. As I left the chilies at my wonderful, amazing, soon-to-be-twinkled mom's house to be babysat, I said a prayer that my heart would be prepared for the spirit and that I would have the chance to apologize for my inappropriate anger to the kids later.

During the meeting, which was mainly about how church councils can function effectively and benefit from each member's personal thoughts and revelation, it occurred to me. . . this message translates! My family is a council! My kids are member of the council and I need to include them in the discussions. When we are facing problems, I need to ask them to suggest solutions, offer their input. I also was taught that in order for our family to move forward, improving and growing each day, the spirit will have to be present in these council meetings. Once that happens, we will have more unity as a family.

It was such a breakthrough in thinking for me. In fact, I remember thinking that I felt like I was hooked up to a spiritual computer or something, receiving a spiritual download. And the message, though a shift in past methods, was simple in nature.

And I felt so loved. Heavenly Father heard my prayer and answered me in an understandable, timely, specific way. And that is awesome.

DEAR BLOGGERS,

I recently heard of a fun way to show gratitude. I am going to add a little "thank you" note to my blog from time to time, addressed to the person or thing I'm thankful for. I think this will be a fun exercise and I hope you will feel free to share with me what makes you feel grateful as well. Here's my first thank you note:

Dear Bloggers,

Thank you for reading my words without judging me for my weaknesses. Thank you for your tender, encouraging comments and your prayers. Thank you for your own faith. Knowing women like you makes me feel like part of a sisterhood. I feel stronger each day because of this blog and you have motivated me to pick myself up, dust off and continue in hope. I love you all!

Sincerely,
Kristen

Friday, November 12, 2010

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT-Viva Las Vegas (or Just Stay Home Next Time!)

Well, we went to Vegas. It was a much-needed break from reality for both of us, but it is SOOOO good to be home. Though exciting and different, downtown Las Vegas was stinky, loud, and a little depressing. Walking around the strip was a fun adventure, but after a few days, the glitz and glam wore off and we were ready to come back to good ole' Utah with its trees and fresh mountain air. But despite "Sin City's" filthiness, we came back with a few lessons about life (and a lot of souvenirs!)

Las Vegas itself is a little like the war between good and evil. The brochures all were so enticing, each promising excitement and entertainment, a respite from reality and a city that never sleeps. The lights and fancy casinos were beautiful and impressive at first. And nothing beats the food. We ate like kings! But after a day or two, we began seeing truth all around us. The brochures said nothing about the smell of cigarettes and alcohol that somehow slipped under the door of our "no-smoking: hotel room. Nor did they mention that about every 10 minutes we could expect to hear the siren of a racing ambulance or police car. We weren't told that the casinos that we would walk through were to be filled with lost, hollow souls numbly staring at flashing screens, which promised false hope of riches. It was fun to see Paris and the Bellagio, the Luxor, the MGM Grand, Excalibur, New York New York, and the Mandalay. The most unsettling experience for both of us was the walking salespeople. Each casino had highly persuasive men walking around looking for sweet, unsuspecting tourists like us. They promised us free tickets to be used at a "show" of our choice and vouchers for free meals. Though we said we were not interested, they persisted, promising us that we would have a good time. And they were everywhere! The funniest part was when we told one man that we were going to the dollar theater in town, so we didn't need tickets. He asked us what show we were going to see. You should have seen the look on his face as my awesome hubby responded, "Nanny McPhee Returns." He pretty much gave up on us at that point, probably guessing that we were Mormons.

Pedestrians in Las Vegas who walked even just a block away from the strip saw an entirely different downtown. There, they saw the sadness of drunken men, out of work and looking desperately for their next fix or drink. And I won't even start about the free pornographic pamphlets everywhere!

Anyway, the point is that Satan enlists the senses to help entice us to do evil. He tries to make sin seem appealing, exciting, flashy and desirable. Sadly, many fall for his lies, truly expecting a free show and a life free of consequences. But while our agency is free, we will never be able to choose our own consequences.

We visited the Las Vegas temple on our last day. What a contrast! As we stepped out of our car and walked around the grounds, we had a new appreciation for the sanctity of the Lord's House. The smells and noise of the city were forgotten. The landscaping was breathtaking and peaceful and we lingered for several hours.

As I have mentioned, I am currently serving in my stake's YW Presidency. I was THRILLED to hear that next year's theme will be the 13th article of faith. I felt that Las Vegas was the perfect visual. Though there are many unsavory sights and place in Las Vegas, anyone who lived there could find uplifting activities and be found in holy places. We were able to go see a very cute, clean movie, go to M&M World, and the chocolate factory, and to the Mormon Fort, as well as enjoy a picnic at a very nice city park. This could serve as an analogy as well. . . we were living in the world, but were trying hard not to be of the world.

Anyway, I know this post is very scattered, but the point to me is this. No matter where we find ourselves in life, or what Satan tempts us with, no matter how unsavory the world around us becomes, we always have the choice to live righteously. And as we do, we will be blessed with peace and security.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

10th ANNIVERSARY

We're off! Tyler and I are headed to Vegas for our 10th Anniversary so don't expect any posts for about a week! Thanks all!

Friday, October 29, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


WW PUMPKIN MUFFINS


Serves: 24
Points: 3 (per muffin)


1 (18-oz.) box of spice cake mix
1 (15-oz.) can of pure pumpkin
1/2 c. applesauce
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice


Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Spoon into greased or lined muffin tins. Bake as directed on cake mix box.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"When faith is properly understood and used, it has dramatically far-reaching effects. Such faith can transform an individual's life from maudlin, common everyday activities to a symphony of j o y and happiness."

(Elder Richard G. Scott, "The Transforming Power of Faith and Character," General Conference, October 2010.)

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Good Stuff

YUP! I'm still studying the "good stuff" from Conference. Tonight I was reading the text from Elder Richard E. Edgely's talk, "Faith--the Choice is Yours" (I know, I know. . . the title got the Chuck-a-Rama jingle in my head too!) I loved the following passage:

"Beware that faith is not a free gift given without thought, desire, or effort. It does not come as the dew falls from heaven. The Savior said, 'Come unto me,' (Matthew 11:28) and 'Knock, and it shall be given you,' (Matthew 7:7). These are action words: come, knock. They are choices. So I say, choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and unseen, and choose faith over pessimism."

What a wonderful reminder! I have always thought of faith as a sort of cycle. It takes faith to take the first step. . . to pay tithing for that first time, for example. As we obey the commandments, our faith is rewarded with more faith, which allows us to choose the right once again, and again we are blessed with increased faith, and so forth. . .

Elder Edgely then states: ". . . And what I don't know or don't completely understand, with the powerful aid of my faith, I bridge the gap and move on, partaking of the promises and blessings of the gospel."
And he warns:

"As strong as our faith is, . . . it can also be very fragile. It needs constant nourishment through continued scripture study, prayer, and the application of His word."

This is a wonderful talk! Read it. Love it. Do it.
P.S. Have you checked out the new General Conference website? You can actually make your own study notes while you read the addresses. You can also download the talks to your computer or MP3 players, and watch conference videos. Oh, and you can relive all the beautiful music from conference. You really should experience it for yourself (wink, wink):

www.new.lds.org/general-conference

Thursday, October 28, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


LIME CHICKEN (from http://www.kitchenparade.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 4


1/2 c. honey mustard
zest from 1 lime
2 T. lime juice (juice from 1 lime)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. soy sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Stir together first five ingredients and spread atop chicken breasts, covering evenly. Broil chicken until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Act for Ourselves

What stood out to you in this last General Conference? I was deeply touched by President Uchdorf's talk about simplifying and going a little slower during the turbulent times. I also loved his counsel to establish meaningful relationships with God, family members, our fellowmen, and ourselves. I could certainly relate to His words: "Some people simply cannot get along with themselves." His was probably one of my favorite talks, but after the first session and onto the remaining ones, I started to notice a theme. Maybe I'm the only one who saw it. . .

I heard the phrase: "act for ourselves and not be acted upon," at least three times in different talks. The scriptural advice stuck in my mind like glue and several weeks later, I'm still pondering the meaning of this simple admonition. What does it mean? And more importantly, how does this seemingly important, repeated phrase fit in my life?

I started thinking about agency. We are always free to choose our own actions. In fact, this precious agency, our own will, is the only gift that we possess that is 100% ours. (Everything else somehow belongs to our Heavenly Father.) Knowing that, we are placed here on earth to prove our faithfulness and determination to make correct choices. Will we choose the right? Will we truly glorify God in all that we do, wherever we may go? In short, we "act for ourselves."

So what does it mean: "be acted upon"? I think that this part of the equation refers to the inevitable consequences of our actions. When we choose righteously, we receive blessings and guidance. Conversely, when we choose sin, we are often subject to pain and sorrow.

Having a basic understanding of the principle, I started thinking specifically. I have two examples from my own life's experiences:

1. I struggle with my weight. Though at times, I try to imagine that eating unwholesome foods (sometimes in large amounts) will not matter, I cannot avoid the probability that my waistline will expand and my energy and health will diminish. If I can learn to curb my cravings and eat healthier options, I will undoubtedly benefit from that decision.

2. As a teenager, I was careful to follow the prophets' counsels regarding dating, modesty, and moral cleanliness. As a result, I was prompted by the Spirit as to whom I should marry and when. When the time came, I was worthy to be sealed in the temple for all eternity. I was blessed for the choice.

Long story, short. . . we can be productive, and progressive, striving to better our individual situations, holding to the rod and be blessed. Or, we can "be acted upon," letting our personal situations fall victim to chance or fate. In my book, I'd rather have the promised blessings of the gospel, wouldn't you?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"To strengthen our relationship with God, we need some valuable time alone with Him." (Dieter F. Uchdorf, "Of Things That Matter Most," Ensign, November 2010)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

" We watch. We wait. We listen for that still, small voice. When it speaks, wise men and women obey. Promptings of the Spirit are not to be postponed." (Thomas S. Monson, "The Spirit Giveth Life," Ensign, June 1997, 4)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


CROCK POT MINESTRONE (adapted from http://www.skinnytaste.com/)

Serves: 6
Points: 3

1/2 onion, chopped
1 c. carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-0z.) can white beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups fat-free chicken broth
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 c. fresh or frozen (defrosted) spinach, chopped
2 c. cooked (al dente), small pasta such as salad mac, elbow or mini farfalle

Drain and rinse beans. Puree beans with one cup of broth in blender. In Crock Pot, combine broth, tomatoes, pureed beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, seasonings, bay leaves and salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Forty minutes before soup is done cooking, add zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Add cooked pasta. Cook ten minutes more. Remove bay leaves. Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"I learned that it is okay to fall flat on your face." --Apollo Ohno

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--A Beautiful Spirit



Originally this blog was titled "Faith Precedes Size 10: Finding Joy in My Weight Loss Journey." Since I started writing, I have had other struggles sort of eclipse the original purpose of the blog and have been pleased to find that the messages I had been posting and collecting translated quite nicely to many different types of trials. I have had comments from others battling obesity, those dealing with infertility, and others who are facing un- or under- employment. One of the beautiful things about gospel study is that you find layers of meaning in the words of the prophets and in the Savior's own teachings.

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching the last few days since I read Elder Hallstrom's talk, which I referenced the other day. More specifically, the phrase: "deal with the problem directly and with all the strength you posess. . . "

I am so grateful for the prompting I received almost two years ago to start a blog. Though I haven't yet made tremondous progress with my physical health or appearance, I feel that my testimony and understanding have grown substantially. That, coupled with the support network from my readers, have made an incredible difference in my life. Thanks again for encouraging me.

When I used to attend Weight Watchers meetings I remember our class leader once taught us that the number on the scale is only feedback. If I gain one week, the number is simply feedback that whatever I did that week did not work. Calling a weight gain a "failure" is neither accurate or productive. If I lose weight however, the strategies I implemented worked and should probably be duplicated. It goes the same way in life. The only possible way I can ever really fail at anything, is by giving up. I do feel as if I have sort of given up on my goals to lose weight and I'd really like to get back on board with my plans. Though my life is riddled with stressors and complicated by uncertainty, I know that my goals are important to the Savior. They are righteous and qualify as an "anxious cause" in which I should be engaged. In short, I know that when and if I am willing, He offers His hand. He can help me get up off the ground and give this thing one more shot.

On Sunday, I did a family photo session and my husband and I had some pictures taken as well. Later, as I edited the images of myself, yes, there was the usual shock in seeing myself so large. And yes, the usual self-critical comments came to mind, but: 1) I was so proud of myself for taking the time to edit them, as I would for any of my clients and 2) I was surprised to see a beautiful spirit there in each photo. I feel that editing pictures of "fat me" was a extremely significant move towards self-love. After all, I am me. . . God's child. And He is there to help me. So, I will try again, with my hand in His.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


CHICKEN ENCHILADA CHILI

Serves: 5
Points: 3

1 c. homemade or store-bought beef broth
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
3 T. homemade taco seasoning
1 T. chili powder
1 (15-oz.) can red beans, drained
2 c. cooked black beans (canned is fine, rinse and drain)
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 c. cooked and shredded chicken

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven whisk together the beef broth and the tomato paste, plus about one can worth of water. Stir in the taco seasoning and chili powder. Add the red beans, black beans and tomatoes. Stir, heat through and simmer for ten minutes. Stir in the chicken. Simmer a little longer. (If simmering longer than 15 minutes, cover to prevent liquids from evaporating.)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"Faith and fear cannot coexist." (Elder Kevin W. Pearson, "Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ," Ensign, May 2009, 40)

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Deal with the Matter Directly

Can I just tell you. . . I love the gospel? Today was wonderful. Our Teachings for Our Times lesson was based on the address: "Turn to the Lord," by Donald Hallstrom from April, 2010 conference. It was awesome. He talked a lot about not becoming offended by others or discouraged when hard times come your way. Here is the quote that stood out to me. (Actually, it was more like a charge from a lightning bolt.)

"If you feel you have been wronged--by anyone. . . or by anything (the death of a loved one, health problems, a financial reversal, abuse, addictions) deal with the matter directly and with all the strength you have. "Hold on thy way" (D&C 122:9); giving up is not an option. And, without delay, turn to the Lord. Exercise all the faith you have in Him. Let Him share your burden. Allow His grace to lighten your load. We are promised that we will suffer "no manner of afflictions save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ" (Alma 31:38). Never let an earthly matter disable you spiritually."

I LOVE THAT! 1. Handle problems directly and with all our strength. 2. Never give up. 3. Without hesitation, involve the Lord in the matter, having faith that He can and WILL lighten the load. And that last line: "NEVER let an earthly matter diasable you spiritually."

At one point in her lesson, the teacher asked what we can do to "turn to the Lord." One sweet lady, Ruth, my 81-year-old adopted grandmother, said that each time she is faced with adversity, she simply says a prayer asking the Lord to, in His own time, allow the trial to become a blessing. She noted that WITHOUT exception, every trial she has faced in her life has blessed her in some way. I was moved to tears by her simple, but mighty faith.

I hope that I will never allow a rude comment (such as the one that upset me the other day), an unkind glance, a judgement passed, or any other outside, earthly event rob me of the ability to live my life with grace and dignity, knowing that I am the Lord's and that He loves me. I hope that as challenges arise, I will consistently think of the Lord as my first helper and as my lifeline. I am full of love for Him and His promised assistance and watchful care.

Friday, October 22, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


PUMPKIN-CREAM CHEESE SPREAD (from http://www.bhg.com/)

Serves: 24
Points: 0.5

1 (8-oz.) package of light cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. canned pumpkin puree
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve with graham crackers, fruit, bagels, pretzels, or whatever (additional points).

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

". . . I testify you are individually loved of God, you are central to the meaning of this work, and you are cherished and prayed for by the presiding officers of His church. The personal value, the sacred splendor of every one of you, is the very reason there is a plan for salvation and exaltation. Contrary to the parlance of the day, this is about you. No, don't turn and look at your neighbor. I am talking to you!" (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Because of Your Faith," General Confernce, October 2010)

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Loved and Guided, In Need of Prayers

I'm ba-ack! Needless to say, it's been a little hectic in my world this month. I have been keeping insanely busy with my family, work, my new mega-sized calling, and the peak of photography season. Sadly enough, I have slipped a little on my goals, both spiritual and for my health. Sigh.

I'm not gonna lie. Today was hard. I had a cruel comment made to my face about my weight, saw a shocking picture of myself, and I'm back to that point where health-wise, I just feel YUCKY. Also, my husband and I have gone through some craziness with our jobs lately, in the form of getting hours cut back, etc. (And believe me, the ETC. was BIG). But, here's the thing. . . I have had discouraging days (such as today), but overall, I still feel loved and guided. My kiddos and I have upped the ante (spelling?) with our prayers that Tyler will be able to find a higher-paying job soon and that we will receive the guidance necessary to get us through all this. It's been a neat experience to hear our kiddos pray FOR us. It is touching to know that their tiny little prayers are added to our pleas. And humbling. They are such wonderful examples of faith.

I am almost embarrassed to ask, but if any of you could offer a quick little prayer for our family at this time, I would appreciate it so much. And I would love the opportunity to pray for any of you who are struggling with anything. It's always so comforting to know that prayers are going up. Thank you all for your patience and love. I love you right back!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


DELIGHTFULLY BAKED APPLES (from http://www.skinnytaste.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 3

2 large apples, cut in half
2 T. butter, melted
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. flour
4 T. quick oats
pinch of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º. Cut apples in half and remove core and seeds with a small pairing knife or spoon.In a small bowl combine butter, brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon. Spoon on top of the apple halves and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve warm with fat free whipped cream or low fat ice cream (additonal points).

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

“Learn to pray. Pray often. Pray in your mind, in your heart. Pray on your knees. Prayer is your personal key to heaven. The lock is on your side of the veil. And I have learned to conclude all my prayers with ‘Thy will be done’ (Matthew 6:10; see also Luke 11:2; 3 Nephi 13:10).” (Boyd K. Packer, “Prayer and Promptings,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 46 )

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT-SO Much Pain!

This week has been...interesting. I hurt my back badly on Tuesday. It was feeling better by Thursday, but then one small mis-move, threw it out again. This time, I could hardly even move, and when I was moving, the pain was EXCRUCIATING. My sweet daughter tucked all the kids in bed (and the dog), then helped me get settled in my own bed. She soon fell asleep and so did I. My husband was working a grave shift and had no idea I had hurt my back again. I woke at about 12:30 in the morning with the most pain I have felt since giving birth, with no epidural, to my nine-pound baby boy. At this point, I could not move one inch. The phone was only an arm's length away, but I couldn't get to it. I wanted to call my husband so badly, but I couldn't. I wanted to call my dad to come and give me another blessing of comfort, but again, it was impossible. I wished my mom, a retired nurse, was there to help alleviate the symptoms, but she was across town, sleeping soundly. I also thought of my brothers, one of which is a physical therapist. Surely he would have some great exercise I could do, or could help me maneuver myself off the bed and into a less painful position. Or maybe my other brother, Mark, could help, as he has had bad back problems for years. But I couldn't reach any of them, and my poor, exhausted children couldn't hear my calls for help. So I laid there, helpless and alone.

As the pain came in waves of agony, it occurred to me that I really wasn't alone. I called out (literally) to my Father in Heaven to deliver me from the pain, or bring me help. Then, I thought of another medical "expert" --my Savior. He had already felt this pain in my behalf. He understood what I was feeling and how to alleviate it. I knew that although the phone was out of reach, my voice could still be heard, through prayer. I prayed and prayed, and though the pain didn't subside right away, it lessened enough that I could bear it until Tyler got home several hours later. Then my sweet, sweet husband, helped me out of bed (OUCH!) and into the living room, where I was able to feel a little better.

It was a humbling experience. I feel so blessed to have had this reminder of my need for the Savior. I am never alone.

Update: Yes, I am feeling much, much better today. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY

APRICOT-GLAZED PORK ROAST (from http://www.recipegirl.com/)


Serves: 6
Points: 6

2 to 2½ lb. boned, rolled pork loin roast
½ c. apricot preserves
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried thyme

Preheat oven to 325°F. Unroll roast; trim fat. Re-roll roast; secure at 1-inch intervals with heavy string. Combine preserves, mustard, and thyme in a bowl; stir. Brush 1 Tablespoon apricot mixture over roast. Place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Insert meat thermometer into thickest portion of roast. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160° (slightly pink), basting once with apricot mixture. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing. Bring remaining apricot mixture to a boil; reduce heat, and cook 2 minutes. Serve with roast.

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Get out the Kleenexes!

I LOVE these videos! Enjoy. You may want to scroll down and hit pause on my music player in the sidebar before you watch it so you can hear the beautiful music.



Saturday, September 25, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


PEACH AND BANANA BRAN MUFFINS (from http://www.pinchmysalt.com/)


Serving Size: one muffin
Points: 4


6 oz. dried peaches (about 1 c.)
boiling water
2 T. vegetable oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 C. buttermilk
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 C. brown sugar
1 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 C. wheat bran
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. mace (or substitute nutmeg)
1/2 C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin. Cover peaches with boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes; drain and cut into coarse pieces. In a medium bowl, stir together oil, egg, buttermilk, bananas and brown sugar; set aside. In a large bowl, combine both flours, wheat bran, baking powder, soda, salt and mace; whisk together well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Don’t over mix, but make sure the flour on the bottom of the bowl has been stirred in. Fold in chopped walnuts.

Spoon the batter into 12 greased muffin cups, filling the cups to the top. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 – 22 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT-Importance of Scripture Study

"...being in the scriptures is one way we receive the Holy Ghost. Of course, scripture is given through the Holy Ghost in the first place (see 2 Peter 1:21; D&C 20:26–27; 68:4), and that same Spirit can attest its truth to you and me. Study the scriptures carefully, deliberately. Ponder and pray over them. Scriptures are revelation, and they will bring added revelation." (D. Todd Christofferson, "The Blessing of Scripture," Ensign, May 2010, 35 )

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Feasting Upon His Love

I read the most beautiful verse this morning and wanted to share my thoughts. I was reading in Jacob 3 and I LOVE verses 1-2:

". . . Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause. . . "

"O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and fest upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm forever."

It struck me that all the promises in these two verses are CONDITIONAL. Do you remember in high school geometry, learning about "if, then" statements? This verse is an "if, then" statement as well, meaning that in order for the promise to be fulfilled, something must first be added to the equation. So, in my nerdy way, I wanted to write verse one in equation form:

look to God+firmness in mind+prayer+exceeding faith=consolation in afflictions+mediation+justice

There are tons of these "if-then" statements in the scriptures. I had an institute teacher once teach us to look for three different types of scriptural passages:

1. Principles
2. Doctrines
3. Storylines

Principles are "if-then" statements. They are conditional upon something. Doctrines are true regardless of actions on our part. An example of a doctrine would be "there are three degrees of glory." Storylines are just that; they are verses that tell the history. I have used this framework to study my scriptures for many years. As I am marking my scriptures, I simply write "P" for principle, "D" for doctrine, or "S" for storyline in the margin. This has been a great help for me in my scripture study. It helps me to better understand and focus on what I'm reading and understand what I need to do to claim the blessings that can be mine through righteousness.

Friday, September 24, 2010

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--My Father in Heaven

I love soup! Can you tell by the last few recipes I've posted? Growing up, my mom was FAMOUS for her soups. She made THE best beef stew, taco soup, chowder, vegetable soups, ham and bean, chicken noodle. . . you name it! I loved watching (and smelling) her prepare it, too. None of this canned convenience stuff. Her soup was truly a work of art and a labor of love. A good pot of soup would take her at least an hour to make, often more. She was expert at turning a fridge-full of leftovers into a tasty, masterpiece of a meal. This week I've made soup three times, in anticipation of Fall and to better utilize the bounty of my garden. And each time, I was so grateful for the lessons my mother gave me. As I served up these bowls of love, I felt closer to my mommy.

Thinking along these same lines, I wondered what my own Heavenly parents are like. I wonder what they have passed down to me. I wonder what things they long to teach me. I know that some might feel that thinking this way could be considered sacrilegious, but our church teaches that our Heavenly Father loves us tenderly and intimately, which is doctrine I cherish.

In college, I sang in the institute choir and served in its leadership program. Our director, Brother Castleton was an amazing man. He loved each of us so much. He had white hair, a round belly, and twinkling eyes. He was so kind to us as he taught us not only about music, but about life. I remember once after we finished singing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," in rehearsal, the spirit was so evident. Many of us actually had tears running down our cheeks that day. He stopped and waited for a minute or so, respectful of that moment, then quietly and reverently said: "Brothers and Sisters, that is the Spirit of God. Remember how you feel right now and never do anything that will offend the Holy Ghost."

I imagine my Heavenly Father to be a lot like Brother Castleton. In fact, sometimes when I pray, I imagine his face. I love the quote by Ezra Taft Benson:

"Nothing will startle us more when we pass through the veil than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us."

I look forward to that day! I love him so, and it means worlds to me to know that He loves me even more dearly.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"When we truly understand what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather than a burden."
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Love of God," Ensign, Nov. 2009, 21 )

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"Patience—the ability to put our desires on hold for a time—is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter. Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect."
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Continue in Patience," Ensign, May 2010, 56 )

FOOD FOR THE BODY




HEARTY SPINACH AND SAUSAGE SOUP (from http://www.pinchmysalt.com/)


Serves: 6
Points: 6


1 T. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 lb. red potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
5 – 6 c. chicken stock (homemade, or low-sodium broth)
1/2 c. pearl barley
1 lb. mild Italian sausage
1 large bunch of spinach, thick stems removed, roughly chopped (about 4 cups, packed)
salt, to taste
herbs or seasonings of your choice – I used some fresh thyme

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until onions are softened. Add potatoes, 5 cups of stock, and barley. Turn up heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until barley is tender. Meanwhile, squeeze sausage from its casings, crumble and brown it in a skillet. Drain fat and set the sausage aside. When barley is tender, add spinach and sausage to the soup and fresh herbs if you are using them. Add more stock if necessary or desired, bring soup back up to a simmer and let cook for another 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"[The] early Saints were indeed homeless, but they were not hopeless. Their hearts were broken, but their spirits were strong. They had learned a profound and important lesson. They had learned that hope, with its attendant blessings of peace and joy, does not depend upon circumstance. They had discovered that the true source of hope is faith—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." (Wilford W. Andersen, "The Rock of Our Redeemer," Ensign, May 2010, 16)

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Press Forward

It's time for another verse dissection! I love to pick apart verses that I've heard a million times to make sure they haven't become so familiar that I miss out on their beautiful messages. Today I was reading a good old scripture mastery verse. . . 2 Nephi 31:20:

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father, Ye shall have eternal life."

Wow! What a beautiful passage this is! It almost seems like a little syllabus from a Professor, doesn't it? First, we are told to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ. I noticed in the footnotes, the words commitment, dedication, perserverance, steadfastness, and walking with God. Am I fully committed to live the gospel of Christ? Am I dedicated to the cause of building up Zion? Am I willing to perservere through adversity, doubt, my own weaknesses, and all other difficulties that are simply part of life? Am I steadfast in my devotion to the Savior? Do I walk each day with God, exercising faith in His will for me?

Then I love the phrase "a perfect brightness of hope." I love that we are actually commanded to hope. God knows that it will take time for each of us to reach our spiritual potential. He also knows that at times, we are bound to become overwhelmed with the task of becoming our best selves. But here, He offers us a lifeline...hope. What a beautiful message of abiding and understanding love from a Father who cares about each of us on an intimate level.

Next I wonder if I truly love God. I mean, of course I love Him, but do I show it in all my actions? Do I love my fellow men or am I so caught up in the minutia of life, that I rarely think of others?

Do I have the courage to press forward, even when life is hard? What about during the times when my faith is tested? Am I feasting upon His word as if my very spiritual life depended on it? Do I hunger and thirst for what He alone can offer?

Will I endure to the end? I have often wondered exactly what "enduring" implies. I think I now have a glimpse of its meaning...in verse 16 of this same chapter it explains: "...unless a man endure to the end, in following the example of the Son..." Again, this is such a beautiful message!

If I can live my life according to this verse, I get....eternal life! Exaltation! To live with my Father and with my loved ones FOREVER! Sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn't it? I am so thankful for this specific verse and for the lessons it teaches me about the gospel and about the love of a Father and a Brother.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


WEIGHT WATCHERS CORNBREAD (from http://www.laaloosh.com/)

Serves: 8
Points: 3

1 c. uncooked cornmeal, yellow
1 (14-oz.) can of creamed corn
2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 packets of Splenda sweetener
1 tsp. table salt
1/2 c. reduced fat buttermilk
2 large egg whites
2 tsp. corn oil

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat an 8-inch square cake pan with non-fat cooking spray (I prefer the butter flavored kind). Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, Splenda, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix well with a fork and set aside. Combine creamed corn, buttermilk, egg whites and oil in a medium bowl; mix until blended. Fold mixture into dry ingredients and blend. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely. Cut into 8 squares.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

“He is your beloved Heavenly Father, who seeks your good, your happiness. He desires with all the love of a perfect and pure Father that you reach your supernal destination. . . . All you have to do is trust your Heavenly Father. Trust Him enough to follow His plan.” --Dieter F. Uchdorf

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--One Year

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Tyler's losing his job. I thought for today's post, I'd reflect a little on what this IMMENSE and challenging detour has meant to our family. It has been significant enough, that we have a invisible line through our family's timeline, delineating the before and after. All of us have experienced pain, confusion, anger, frustration, helplessness, and grief, but what has come as a sweet, merciful surprise is, that more often, we have felt guided, protected, and cared for. Here is a short list of some of the lessons of the last year:

1. Never take anything for granted. Now that Tyler and I are both working crazy schedules just to keep food on the table, our time together and at home is limited. As a result, we really make our family time count. No more sitting around, watching TV or playing video games. No more feeling picked on because of the countless tasks that need to be done. On my days off, I actually ENJOY cleaning now. In fact, I look forward to it! I now love doing homework with my kids. It has become a special, more appreciated part of family bonding. I love Saturdays, when I am able to clean, cook homemade meals, and take the dog for a walk: all things that I wouldn't have even thought twice about before Ty lost his job. I even love the opportunity to sink my hands into a sink-ful of hot, soapy dishwater, while watching my kids play tag in the back yard.

2. Always make time for family. Tyler and I have really had to improvise with our date nights, since money has been so tight. We now work in the garden, borrow movies from our parents, rather than rent them, go for long walks, and experiment with new recipes, where before, we would simply go to dinner and a movie. We have found these new activities to be even more romantic and FUN! A few weeks ago, we all wound up at home...together...at the same time! It was so unheard of, given the craziness of our hectic lives, that we decided to take an impromptu road trip to Arctic Circle in Tremonton, where we went inside and ordered 59-cent ice cream cones. It was actually heaven on earth, to sit there with my cherished family, all together and share such a sweet, appreciated moment with them. It's hard to explain how sweet that night together felt...

3. Just do it! The day after Ty lost his job, we both started the hunt for alternate employment. Three days later, I was hired to work at Farmers Insurance. Since that time, I have studied for and taken my licensure exam and now I am a Licensed Property and Casualty Producer. I also started my own little photography business, something I never would've had the guts to do, if not for the need to make more money a year ago. I am so grateful that I was led down these paths because my confidence in myself, and in the Lord's ability to help me, has grown immensely.

4. Put yourself in someone else's shoes. Tyler and I have sort of switched roles during this whole ordeal. I have had to put myself in more of a breadwinner role. I understand more about what he struggles with day-to-day: the anxiety of going to work in the morning, the stress of work-related problems that are difficult not to bring home, etc. And meanwhile, he has had a chance to step into my shoes. He's realizing that it is hard work keeping a house, making meals, and helping the children with the schedules and studies. We really have learned to love and appreciate each other on a whole new level. I think we've grown closer in the last year than we'd ever been before.

5. Lean not unto my own understanding. Before this last year, I'd always just thought, "If we ever lose a job, we'll just find another one." But that wasn't God's plan for us. After applying for hundreds and hundreds of jobs--in his field and not--without much luck at all, we started realizing that maybe this is a crossroads for us. As we began praying and really searching to understand HIS will for our family, we came to the decision to have Tyler go back to school.

We are still learning new lessons daily. Though at times, I long for everything to just be "all better," as I look back on this trial, I can see glimpses of the good that have come. I long for stable employment, financial security, and fun trips, but even more, I long to be close to my Heavenly Father and to do things His way. And I know that He leads us daily and that His angels are around us to buoy us during the hard times. I can truly say that I wouldn't have it any other way!

Friday, September 17, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY



GRILLED SUMMER CORN AND CHIPOTLE "CHOWDAH"

Serves: 6
Points: 6

6 ears corn
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 slices smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon gold, cut into small cubes
2 ribs celery from the heart with leafy tops, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 T. fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
2 canned chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce
One container vegetable or chicken broth (32-ounce) or (4 cups)
2 c. evaporated skim milk
Lime wedges, chopped flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped scallions and crumbles cotija cheese or queso fresco, for garnish (all optional)

Pre-heat a grill or broiler. Grill or broil the ears of corn until charred, 7-8 minutes (cover the grill to give the corn a smoky flavor). Scrape the kernels from the cob.While the corn is charring, in a soup pot, heat a drizzle of EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, 3-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate. Add the onion, potatoes, celery and garlic to the pot. Add the bay leaf and thyme, season with salt and pepper, cover the pot and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Using a food processor, puree the chipotle chiles. Stir into the vegetables, then stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and keep warm. Rinse the food processor bowl.Add one-third of the corn kernels to the food processor, pour in 2 cups of the soup and puree. Pour the mixture into the remaining soup and lower the heat to a simmer. Stir in the remaining corn kernels, the milk and reserved bacon and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve the chowder in bowls with the lime wedges, parsley, scallions and lots of cheese.

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Sheri Dew Gems

SHERI DEW GEMS:

"It is in moments of disappointment, heartache, and loneliness that we often make decisions that forge our faith, mold our characters, and fortify our convictions about the only source of strength and solace that satisfies. And that is J e s u s C h r i s t."


"Our ability to successfully negotiate this spiritual minefield called mortality improves dramatically if we are clear about who we are and what is important. And what is important is eternal life."

"Yielding ourselves to the Lord, from whom we may obtain greater strength than we will ever muster on our own, is the only source of strength in this life and happiness in the life to come."

"If there were ever a time when the Lord needed righteous, determined women who can distinguish between the adversary's deceptions and the voice of the Lord, it is now. If there were ever a time when the Lord needed women who stand committed and consecrated, it is now. If there were ever a time when the Lord needed women of integrity and purity who live in the world but rise above it, it is now. If there were ever a time when the Lord needed His daughters to be alert to what is happening in society and to defend the sanctity of the home and family, it is now. If there were ever a time when the Lord needed us to have a clear vision of who we are, where we are, and what is important—it is now."

‎"We no longer have the luxury of spending our energy on anything that does not lead us and our families to Christ."

‎"There is one thing the power of God and the power of Satan have in common: Neither can influence us unless we allow them to."

"The last days are not for the faint of heart or the spiritually out of shape."

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"If only we could catch the vision . . . that we will in due time inherit eternal life, if we could only glimpse it, I tell you there is nothing that we are called to pass through but what we would willingly describe as a blessing." --Brigham Young

Thursday, September 16, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


CHICKEN AND WHITE BEAN STUFFED GREEN PEPPERS

Serves: 5
Points: 6

2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 half red bell pepper
1/4 c. fresh parsley (or cilantro)
5 bell peppers (red or green)
14 oz. shredded cooked chicken breast
cumin
adobo (or salt)
1 (15.5-oz.) can white beans
1/2 c. shredded cheddar

In a medium pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add chopped onions, garlic, parsley and red pepper. Saute until soft, about a minute. Add chicken and season with cumin and adobo. Add beans and 1 to 1-1/2 cups of water and simmer for about 5-10 minutes, until it thickens and the liquid reduces. Adjust spices to taste.Preheat oven to 350°. Cut peppers in half removing seeds and stem. Place peppers in an oven-proof dish. Fill each pepper with 1/3 cup of chicken and bean mixture. Pour about 1/3 cup water or chicken broth on the bottom of the dish. Cover tight with foil. Bake 30 minutes at 350°. Remove foil, top with cheese and bake uncovered another 5 minutes.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective." --President Spencer W. Kimball

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--A Good Turn Daily

Did you ever hear your mother or grandmother use the phrase: "Do a good turn daily?" I've been thinking those words a lot lately and I'm not quite sure why. It may have something to do about all the "Me, me, me" prayers I've been praying lately. I'm sure that at this point, it would make great spiritual sense to start thinking more of others.

I have one friend (and hero), Becky, who is battling AL Leukemia. She is a young mommy of three beautiful, sweet kiddos, and despite her physical pain and discomfort, she is always thinking of others. She faithfully posts thoughtful, spiritual, optimistic status updates on her Facebook page. Just the other day she wrote: "When trying to fight these difficult and painful days of this lousy cancer, it helps to remember the suffering my Savior did for me. I am so grateful for my Savior."

Her attitude is a much-needed reminder that the Savior loves all of us. There are so many suffering all around me, and so much I can do to help. It's truly time to "forget myself and go to work!"

Thank you Becky, for your sweetness. Thank you for reminding me of all the Savior was called upon to bear. Thank you for reminding me of all the miracles and tender mercies in my own life. And thank you for helping my heart to become softened, more willing to bear the sufferings of others. What an example you are to me!
'

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NEW CALLING!

You're never going to believe what my new calling is! I'm scared silly, but very excited too. On Friday night, the Stake President called and asked my husband and I to come in to his office on Saturday. I thought maybe Tyler was getting called to the Elders' Quorum Presidency, but in the back of my mind, I also knew that they would be releasing the Stake YW Presidency soon, too. I was called to be...the Stake YW Secrectary! I truly feel so inadequate for this calling. Secretary-ing has never really seemed like something I would be good at, and by nature I am a little...how should we say this nicely...DISORGANIZED! But the wonderful thing about the gospel is that Heavenly Father gives us so may opportunities to turn our greatest weaknesses into amazing strengths. I feel so loved to know that He has confidence that I can do this. I know that He will prepare a way for me to be an AWESOME secretary and "accomplish the thing that the Lord commandeth..."

Tonight is my first meeting, so I've got to run! Love you all!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


BLACK BEAN QUESADILLAS (from http://www.eatingwell.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 8

1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed
1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese, preferably pepper Jack
1/2 c. prepared fresh salsa, divided
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
2 tsp. canola oil, divided
1 ripe avocado, diced (optional)

Combine beans, cheese and 1/4 cup salsa in a medium bowl. Place tortillas on a work surface. Spread 1/2 cup filling on half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas in half, pressing gently to flatten.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 quesadillas and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and quesadillas. Serve the quesadillas with avocado and the remaining salsa.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"Paced progress not only is acceptable to the Lord but also is recommended by Him. Divine declarations say: ‘Ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now’ (D&C 50:40); ‘I will lead you along’ (D&C 78:18). Just as divine disclosure usually occurs line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, so likewise we will achieve our spiritual progress gradually." (D&C 128:21; 98:12) (Neal A. Maxwell--"Men and Women of Christ" [1991], 23).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Small Answers

I was at my brother's house tonight and for some reason picked up their copy of the "New Era," which I hadn't read yet. I was so touched and moved by the First Presidency Message by Elder Bednar, entitled "Line Upon Line, Precept Upon Precept." The article started out with a question which I have OFTEN asked myself: “How can I tell the difference between my emotions telling me what I want to hear and the Holy Ghost telling me what I need to hear?”

I would highly suggest that you read this deep, informational article, but I would also like to share some key quotes that helped me understand this principle better:

". . . we tend to believe the Lord will give us A BIG ANSWER QUICKLY AND ALL AT ONE TIME. However, the pattern repeatedly described in the scriptures suggests we receive “line upon line, precept upon precept,” or in other words, many small answers over a period of time."

"Most typically we receive a series of seemingly small and incremental spiritual impressions and nudges, which in totality constitute the desired confirmation about the correctness of the path which we are pursuing."

"Remember, Nephi tried several different approaches before he was able to successfully obtain the plates of brass from Laban (see 1 Nephi 3–4). And he did not learn how to build a ship of curious workmanship all at one time; rather, he was shown by the Lord “from time to time after what manner [he] should work the timbers of the ship” (1 Nephi 18:1).

"As described by Elder Richard G. Scott: “When we receive help from our Father in Heaven, it is in response to faith, obedience, and the proper use of agency” (“Learning to Recognize Answers to Prayers,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 30)."

"If you and I would distinguish our personal emotions from the impressions placed in our hearts and minds by the Holy Ghost, then we must desire and seek, ask and discern, hear and obey, and then again desire and seek and ask and discern and hear and obey. Our faith and diligence and obedience are ongoing invitations for additional spiritual knowledge and insight. Faith leads to obedience, which yields wisdom and an even greater desire for added light and truth."

"It is not just that we have grown older, nor have we simply become smarter and had more experiences on which to draw, as important as those experiences are. Rather, the Holy Ghost has over time been expanding our intellect, forming our feelings, sharpening and elevating our perspective, such that we increasingly think and feel and act as the Lord would under similar circumstances. In short, we have made steady progress in obtaining “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16)."

"As you ponder the principle of 'line upon line, precept upon precept,' you will be able to discern more clearly the consistent help from heaven you have received in your lives. And your faith in the Savior will be stronger, and your hope for the future will be brighter."

Good stuff, right? Here's the link to the article: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=07d3321a03faa210VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=024644f8f206c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best medicine for despair is service. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired." — Gordon B. Hinckley

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


GRILLED CHICKEN CHOPPED SALAD (adapted from http://www.realsimple.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 8

1/4 c. whole-grain mustard
1/2 c. apple juice
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 c. plus 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. chicken cutlets
4 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, cut lengthwise in half
1 large red onion, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 (5 oz.) bag salad greens


In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, apple juice, vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and 1/2 cup of the oil. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mixture to a large resealable plastic bag and refrigerate the rest. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Add to the bag, seal, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat grill to medium. Place the zucchini, tomatoes, and onion on a baking sheet. Add the salt and the remaining oil and pepper and toss.
Grill the chicken and vegetables, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop the ingredients. Divide the salad greens among individual bowls and top with the chicken, vegetables, and the reserved dressing.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

“Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life." --President David O. McKay

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

". . . may I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you." (Jeffrey R. Holland, "Because She is a Mother," Ensign, April 1997).

Monday, September 6, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


LEMON-THYME CHICKEN (from http://www.health.com/)

SERVES: 4
POINTS: 5 (including couscous)

1 T. lemon zest
1 T. chopped fresh thyme
1 lb. chicken cutlets
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. olive oil
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. uncooked couscous
3/4 lb. zucchini (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 lb. yellow summer squash (about 2 medium), halved, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 c. fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
Chopped fresh thyme, for garnish

Place the lemon zest and thyme in a small bowl; toss. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle half of the lemon-and thyme mixture evenly onto one side of each cutlet. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook the chicken, herb side down, turning after 2 minutes. When the chicken is golden and cooked through (about 4 minutes), transfer to a cutting board. Cover chicken, and keep warm. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; gradually stir in the couscous. Remove pan from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Cover couscous, and keep warm.

Sauté the zucchini and squash (in the same skillet used for the chicken) over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and tender (about 4 minutes). Stir in the remaining lemon-and-thyme mixture, chicken broth, and couscous. Spoon the couscous mixture evenly among 4 plates; top each with a chicken cutlet. Garnish with thyme.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues." (Thomas S. Monson, "An Attitude of Gratitude," Ensign, Feb. 2000).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Gratitude Journal

Today I was looking at my list of 30 things to do in my 30th year and I have picked start a gratitude journal as my next task. Since I already have this blog, I'll probably be periodically posting these blessings here to share with you. Here are a few gems for which I am grateful from the past week:

I love teaching. I love that I get so many opportunities to teach in Young Women's and to help fill in for my hubby, who is the Sunday School President. I love preparing the lessons and handouts, studying, learning, presenting, and bearing my cherished testimony to others. On Sunday, I had the opportunity to teach the Gospel Essentials class AND my YW in the same day, and for me, it was heaven. The GE lesson was about the millenium, which was a wonderful lesson. I learned quite a bit in studying that I didn't know. I look forward to the millenium, a time when I will be able to rest from my labors and truly enjoy my family as well as serve in God's kingdom. It was truly refreshing to read about the time when all my hopes will come to fruition and I will be able to live with the Savior in my midst. Just imagine! No contention, no temptations, no sin, no heartache, no disease. Ahhh. Sign me up for that!

My YW lesson was about temple marriage, and I could hardly speak at some points, as I shared with the girls the love I have for temples and the opportunity I have to be with my sweetie FOREVER and EVER if I do my part to live a righteous life. It was so sweet to reflect on how good our life has been in our almost ten years of marriage. I am so grateful for this man: his willingness to serve our family, to honor the priesthood, to care for each of our needs. He makes me smile daily and laugh often. I honestly don't know what I'd do without him. The most wonderful part of our love story is, that through the plan of salvation, I can be with him for "eternity and beyond!"

(More gratitude coming soon to a computer monitor near you!)

30 in 30 update: This week I wrote an unexpected thank you note, forgave someone who's hurt me, and smiled big on a very hard day. Plugging right along!

Monday, August 30, 2010

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"I hope it goes without saying that guilt is not a proper motivational technique . . . " (Elder M. Russell Ballard, "O Be Wise," Ensign, November 2006)

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Proverbs

I apologize for my shoddy appearances in blogland of late. My internet isn't feeling so hot and I rarely have time to post from work. :( Hopefully we'll figure out what's wrong with our home computer soon.

I have been studying Proverbs with Tyler lately. I LOVE these awesome little gems. They are so filled with wisdom and hope. He are a few of my faves:

Proverbs 3:11-12 "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction. For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth."

Proverbs 4:26 "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy paths be established.

Proverbs 6:6-8 "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise, which having no guide, overseer or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer and gathereth her food in the harvest."

Proverbs 16:20 "He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good, and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he."

Monday, August 23, 2010

AND THE WINNER IS . . .

jnkeller!!!!

It was honestly just a random coincidence that my top commentor won this giveaway, but I'm SO excited it was her. Nicole, you're awsome! I'll facebook you to get your address then have the book shipped to you. Enjoy!!!

Thank you everyone else who entered the giveaway. Look for another one soon! I love you all!

Friday, August 20, 2010

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Awake, My Soul!

I recently returned from camping for several days. I love camping, but always wind up SO EXHAUSTED afterwards! This morning as I tried to get out of bed and get ready for work, after hitting the snooze button at least four times, I thought a scripture in Romans, Chapter 13: "And that, knowing the time, that it is now high time to awake out of sleep. . . "

This is a call to awaken our spirits, an admonition to get up and "at 'em" in doing all righteousness. Another verse, this time in the Book of Mormon offers the same "wake up call":
"Awake, my soul, no longer droop in sin!" (2 Nephi, 4:28)

I started thinking, am I hitting my spiritual snooze button? Am I awake to the reality of my spiritual standing? Or am I in sleep-mode, snoring away while I could be working hard to build my own testimony, serve those around me, share the gospel or magnify my callings?

Anyway, something to think about . . . cock-a-doodle-doo!

Friday, August 13, 2010

FOOD FOR THE BODY


GRILLED CORN ON THE COB (from http://www.allrecipes.com/)

Serves: 6
Points: 3

6 ears corn
6 tablespoons butter, softened
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate. Peel back corn husks and remove silk. Place 1 tablespoon butter, salt and pepper on each piece of corn. Close husks. Wrap each ear of corn tightly in aluminum foil. Place on the prepared grill. Cook approximately 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until corn is tender.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

‎"We have a sacred obligation to SEEK after the power of God and then to USE that power as He directs."
--Sheri Dew

"Life, like classical music, is full of difficult passages that are conquered as much through endurance and determination as through any particular skill." --Sheri Dew

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Turning Our Lives Over to God

President Ezra Taft Benson once said: “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can.”

I have always loved this quote. It has always served as a sort of compass. Several times in my life, as I have struggled with various aspirations, it has occurred to me, that perhaps, I should invite the Lord to figure into the equation. Once I begin living with His will in mind and heart, praying more sincerely, serving with more frequency and earnest, studying His words more faithfully, I begin to see things falling into place. My heart becomes a conduit to the glorious power of personal revelation, which allows me to live with greater clarity of objective.

I have a often-quoted-by-me, very wise friend, Diane, who begins each day with an invitation. She asks the Lord to allow the Holy Ghost to help her to "orchestrate" her day. She has had many, many experiences where she was able to run into the right person at the gas station, or to read just the right conference talk, or think of just the right thing to say to her children. I want to be more valiant in following her example because I think that as we live thusly, we become better and better. Little by little, we become people so unlike what we had in mind, but more like what the Lord has in mind.

My life has had many twists and turns, especially in the last few years. I have faced personal adversity, and have been blessed beyond comprehension. I was thinking today, specifically about changes to my body in the last ten years since I was married and began having children. In that ten-year time period, I have had four children and have miscarried four times. Add to that, the general stresses of being a mother and of life in general, and my body is COMPLETELY different now. I'm not making excuses and I'm not accepting my weight gain and health as mere fate. But when all is said and done, I wouldn't change much else. If having my perfect size 10 wedding-dress body back meant that I couldn't have my babies, or even that I had to trade in all my trials with their attendant lessons and blessings, I wouldn't even consider it. Despite its challenges and dips and ditches, I love my life. Moreover, I invite the Lord to guide me, to continue to try me, and even to chastise me, if needed, because without all that, who would I end up as? I don't want to finish life without these experiences, because they TEACH me who I was and who I will become. So today, I publicly recommit to the Lord, that I will accept His will for me. I will follow Him and turn my life over to Him. I will invite Him to lead my paths in all things.