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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


"Let us choose to be humble. We can do it. I know we can."
--President Ezra Taft Benson

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Pride, the Universal Sin

I have been thinking about pride this week. I revisted a favorite talk of mine, a classic, "Beware of Pride" by Ezra Taft Benson, which reminds us that pride is the universal sin. All of us have the ability to be humble, but as a part of the natural man, pride and enmity are real temptations for each of us. I know that I need to be more humble, not in a "I-know-I'm-better-than-you-or-you way", but in being more teachable, more senstive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, in not being quick to judge others or to be easily offended. Also, as a faithful, active member of the church, sometimes I feel the adversary trying to flatter me: "Oh, Kristen, that was such an amazing lesson that you taught. You are such a fantastic member of the church! You are an awesome visiting teacher. You must be pretty important to have THAT calling. I'm sure others are just so impressed with how well your talk went. You are so great..." I am struggling lately with these part-truths, because I HAVE seen so much spritual growth and improvement in the last few years, that I partly feel entitled to revel in the natural-man feelings of self-satisfaction. And I'm not going to lie...hearing from a ward member that I did a good job on a lesson does feel good. It might sound shallow, but I really need to remind myself, and often, that all the things I am able to do are because of a loving Heavenly Father. Without him I am nothing. Today I read Ammon's own testimony of this same principle:

11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
12 Yea, I know that I am nothing as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

As the weight continues to come off (albeit more slowly now), I am constantly receiving compliments. I am a compliment-loving girl, a people-pleaser, a sponge! I love the quote by Mark Twain, "I can live for two months on a compliment."

I can totally relate. I'm sure it's human nature to love hearing good things about yourself, but for me, it's as essential as air, food, and water. My love language is irrefutably Words of Affirmation. Perhaps this is rooted in a low self-esteem I have had for much of my life, and a need for validation. Perhaps it's just a woman thing.

Anyway, the tendancy is to hold on to those compliments without always remembering to redirect them UPWARD in the forms of praising and expressing gratitude. I feel that this should be a focus of mine and I'm going to consciously work on remembering to do this as I receive compliments of any nature.

With that being said, I'd like to publicly give my God all of the credit for any successes I've had, as well as for my future successes. I make the choices that lead to these choices, but even my agency is a gift from him. Without Him, I wouldn't even have a body from which to lose weight! He has granted me every ounce of energy, function, and most importantly DESIRE that I have needed to lose more than 70 pounds! And for this, I must praise Him! Thank you, thank you, Dear Father! I am so grateful for the hope that has been granted to me. I am thankful for the gift of prayer that carries me through the hard days: when I don't want to exercise, when Rebellious Kristen comes out to play, or when I begin to lose patience. I am thankful for a Father who has lovingly revealed to me the importance of self-compassion. I am thankful for a church that teaches the value and worth of a woman of God. Thank you, Lord for all that I am, and all that I have the potential to become!

Monday, March 12, 2012


from (kalynskitchen.com)

Serves: 3
Points+: 1

1 medium-sized head of green cabbage
2 T olive oil
2-3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice (I used 2 T for the cabbage in these photos, but next time I'd use even more lemon)
generous amount of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
lemon slices, for serving cabbage (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F/232C. Spray a roasting pan with non-stick spray or olive oil.

Cut the head of cabbage into 8 same-size wedges, cutting through the core and stem end. Then carefully trim the core strip and stem from each wedge and arrange wedges in a single layer on the roasting pan (leave some space around them as much as you can.)

Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice (use the larger amount of lemon juice if you like a lot of lemon like I do.) Then use a pastry brush to brush the top sides of each cabbage wedge with the mixture and season generously with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Turn cabbage wedges carefully, then brush the second side with the olive oil/lemon juice mixture and season with salt and pepper.

Roast cabbage for about 15 minutes, or until the side touching the pan is nicely browned. Then turn each wedge carefully and roast 10-15 minutes more, until the cabbage is nicely browned and cooked through with a bit of chewiness remaining. Serve hot, with additional lemon slices to squeeze lemon juice on at the table if desired.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Specific Prayers Answered Specifically

Today I reread one of my FAVORITE conference talks of all time: "The Privilege of Prayer" by J. Devn Cornish. You can read it by following this link: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/the-privilege-of-prayer?lang=eng&media=video

I love, love, love Elder Cornish's story of finding the quarter on the side of the road after he prayed a very specific prayer that he would find the money and be able to buy himself a drumstick at the chicken place on his way from work. (He was very tired and hungry and wanted to be able to have the energy to be a good father when he got home). I love this story so much, because it reiterates a personal testimony that I have gained over the years that not only are prayers answered, but that SPECIFIC prayers are answered SPECIFICALLY.

I have a few examples from my own life. A few months ago, I was pondering what on earth to do for the kids for Christmas gifts. Each of them had given me their simple lists of three things they would like from Santa. The task then came to make it happen on a teeny, tiny, under-employed, daddy's-a-full-time-college-student, mommy-only-works-twice-a-week budget. Oh boy. One of the things my son, Matthew wanted the very most, was a stuffed Rottweiler puppy. I know, it's kind of random, but he has a little collection of Rottweiler puppies in all different sizes. He was very specific that it just HAD to look like his other doggies. It HAD to be a Rottweiler. A few days later, I thought of Elder Cornish's prayer, and prayed that I would be led to an affordable little Rottweiler for my little guy. Several minutes later, I had a prompting to go to Deseret Industries (our local thrift store), NOW. So I did. I went to the toy department, looked around and didn't see any appropriate doggies, then turned to leave the store. A small voice came again: "Look again." I turned back to the shelf and there right on top, was a sweet little Rottweiler puppy, new with the tags! WHAT?! I couldn't believe it!

Another example is kind of an ongoing thing...my weigh-ins. Each week, before my Weight Watchers weigh-in, I have a little meeting with my Heavenly Father. I sort of tell him how I think I did, and express the desire of my heart (usually a number of pounds I would like to lose that week), given my effort during the week. I pray that he will maximize my results and magnify the efforts that I have made. I try to remain as candid and honest in these prayers as possible, and to never ask amiss for a blessing of weight loss. For example, on a good week, I will pray for a loss of two pounds, expressing that I feel my effort was sufficient to qualify for this amount, and that that would truly be the desire of my heart. I always leave it in the Lord's hands though, and include the phrase "according to THY will." I really think that is KEY! Almost without exception, I am granted the numbers I desire. In fact, it's been pretty cool to record these. When I ask for a certain number, there has been a trend which I've noticed that is pretty amazing to me: when I ask for a two pound loss, I lose 2.2, when I request a 1 pound loss, it's 1.2, etc. This phenomenon has happened over and over and over since I have started expressing my SPECIFIC desires.

It might sound funny, but I always feel that the ".2" is sacred. The ".2", to me, is an evidence of love. It's that extra few ounces lost that exhibits his mercy and compassion towards a woman who has given it her best effort. It's like the bow on top of the gift. The final little loving touch.

My weight loss journey continues. I am not close to my goal weight. I still have at least fifty to sixty more pounds to lose. But, I know that I am being helped along by my Savior, who understands all of my difficulties and struggles, and by a loving and compassionate Father who stands ready and so willing to bless me with the SPECIFIC desires of my heart. I know I'll get there for all things are possible with God.


"One of the secrets to a joyful life is to recognize that doing things the Lord’s way will make me happier than doing things my way." --J. Devn Cornish

Wednesday, March 7, 2012




Serves: 9
Points+: 6

1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed very well
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons canola oil

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease an 8-x 8-inch baking pan; set aside.

Process the black beans in the bowl of a food processor until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips and process again until smooth. Mix in 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips and pulse a few times just until the chips are incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the sides and it passes the toothpick test. Cool completely in the pan, then slice into squares.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


“I can’t stress too strongly that decisions determine destiny. You can’t make eternal decisions without eternal consequences.” --Thomas S. Monson

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--The Scholarship (A Parable from My Life)

Today I was thinking back...way, way back to an experience I had in college. It's funny that I had never seen the spiritual parallel in this experience until today while I was reading an address by Randall K. Bennett of the Seventy, entitled "Choosing Eternal Life." (You can read this AWESOME talk here: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/choose-eternal-life?lang=eng&media=video)

Anyway, I was contemplating how my everyday choices, like it or not, lead me towards either eternal life or eternal damnation. As I was thinking about whether or not it was really fair for God to NOT grant someone like me, who has done many righteous things in my life, eternal life and all its blessings, because I am still somewhat imperfect, with just a few sins here and there, I recalled an experience from my Freshman year of college.

I attended Weber State University on a leadership scholarship. Along with the academic requirements for this scholarship, I was required to attend leadership meetings with fellow scholarship recipients. We got together on a regular basis for planning meetings, leadership training, and to socialize with one another. Now, as a side note, for whatever reason, my freshman year of college was a very awkward and uncomfortable time for me. In high school, I had been popular, outgoing, enthusiastic, and bubbly. In college, I had no friends, I had just sent my boyfriend on a mission, and I was experiencing the uncomfortable "new kid on the block" feeling. As I attended my leadership meetings and training sessions, this feeling of discomfort and even shyness became more pronounced. These other students were all past student body officers, head cheerleaders, and all of them were beautiful, well-dressed, outgoing, confident people! I felt that I didn't belong in this group at ALL and I allowed these feelings of misplacement and inadequacy perpetuate. With each gathering, I found myself withdrawing more and more from the group, pulling further away from my responsibilities, and eventually, I stopped going to the meetings all together. At this point, the discomfort was too much; I simply couldn't face another uncomfortable, lonely minute at the meetings. It wasn't that the students were unkind to me; I simply felt that I had nothing in common with them. I didn't belong. After several weeks of skipping meetings and training sessions, I received a call from my leadership council advisor, Nancy. She wanted to meet with me. As I walked to her office, I thought about the conversation that we would have there: she would remind me of the importance of the meetings and ask me to start coming back to them. I would then muster up the courage to agree with her, start attending the meetings once more, then move forward with my responsibilities. Nancy, however, surprised me by quickly taking away my scholarship. She explained to me that with the school year already more than a quarter of the year complete, I would not have time to make up the missed meetings. She continued by telling me that it simply wasn't fair for me to enjoy the benefits of my scholarship since I had not been doing the same amount of work that my fellow students had been doing. I probably could have argued my case and begged for another chance, for more time, or for some compassion from the administration. I could have explained to Nancy why I felt uncomfortable in the meetings, but deep down, I knew that she was right. I chose to accept her decision and I left the office that day, stripped of my much-needed scholarship. To say the least, it was an extremely humbling experience.

I find that there is a parallel here between my desire for an inheritance in the celestial kingdom and my desire for a prestigious scholarship at a university. On my way to exaltation, I will encounter discomfort, and at times, I'm sure I will make mistakes in judgement, or feel that I simply don't belong or that I'm not good enough. But with each decision I make, I am choosing whether or not I will wind up in good standing with the administration (Heavenly Father), or whether I will forfeit my scholarship (inheritance) by shirking my responsibilities and divine duties here on earth. Nancy wasn't a mean, cold-hearted person. She was kind, approachable, and fair. I really could have gone to her at any time and expressed my concerns. I am confident that she would've worked with me, talked me through my difficulties, and helped me to succeed in any way that she could have. But I never approached her. I never explained the struggles I was having. Likewise, our Heavenly Father LONGS to be involved in our lives, to help alleviate our pain, guide us during our hard times, but he cannot do it until we ask for help. It's still such a shame to me that I lost this scholarship. It was such a needless thing to have happened, and a mistake that ultimately ended up costing me thousands of dollars. But how much greater would be my regret if I forfeited my eternal salvation by turning away from my responsibilities, neglecting to ask for help along the way, and by allowing the discomfort of repentance and growth to halt my progress? I hope that I can have the spiritual maturity and wisdom to ASK for help, to COMMUNICATE with my Advisor, the Savior, and that I will be able to find great joy in spending eternity with my Father in Heaven and my family. I pray that I will be able to seek valiance over convenience, humility over pride, and hope over discouragement.