Thoughts on pondering

My favorite Book of Mormon scripture passage (ok, one of my favorites) is in 3 Nephi when Christ appears to the Nephites in the Americas after his resurrection.

You can read the entire chapter here. And my favorite site to use as supplemental commentary is here. (The author of this site uses quotes by General Authorities to confirm and validate the doctrine being taught. Its a great companion for Sunday School classes too).

Jesus spends time expounding scriptures and then perceives that they are weak in understanding.  He admonished the Nephites, 'Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand".  (3 Nephi 17:3)
"Of all the recipes designed to increase our spiritual understanding, this must be the greatest. Directly from the Savior, we are given a three-step instruction: 1) ponder, 2) pray for understanding, and 3) prepare your minds for more. Oliver Cowdery is famous for failing to translate because he skipped steps 1 and 3, Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me (DC 9:7-8, italics added).  (
"We might ask why the scriptures have to be pondered to be understood and appreciated. After all, we don't need to ponder newspapers or magazines. We understand them at a first reading. What makes the scriptures different?  An analogy might help. The scriptures are like a symphony. The problem with a symphony, if it can be called a problem, is that there is so much going on at the same time that an inexperienced listener feels bewildered, not knowing what to listen for, or how to make sense of everything. But the music lover knows what to do. He picks out a theme carried by the string section, compares it to a variation on that theme by the oboes, and hears the composer being playful or reflective or joyful. Unlike the novice, he hears and feels the effects of the details that give the symphony, in all its complexity, its power and impact." (Dennis and Sandra Packard, "Pondering the Word," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, p. 51)
President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
"We all do a lot of studying, but most of us don't do much meditation. We don't take time to think. I'd like to suggest that next fast day . . . everybody in this hall set aside an hour or two. Sit by yourself. Go in the bedroom and lock the door. Go out in the yard under a tree. Go in your study if you have one and shut the door, and think about yourself and your worthiness. Read from this great book [Book of Mormon]...There's a great word that's used, 'ponder.'
"'Ponder.' What do we mean by 'ponder'? Well, I think it simply means kind of quietly thinking things through. Ponder what you have read. Ponder your life. Are you worthy, are you living the commandments...?" (Church News, 01/06/96)
These passages made me think about how I spend my day. I don't ponder and meditate often enough,  but when I do, my day is so much more peaceful and there is less worrying about myself and more concern for others.

Another favorite scripture:  Psalms 46:10.  Be still, and know that I am God.

Painting the house - How about some input?

This shouldn't be this hard.  Its just paint, but I want this place to look charming.  I've got the exterior primed and painted and next week we'll take care of the trim and the door.  I thought I knew exactly how I wanted it to look but now I'm not so sure.  I'd like to know what your ideas are.

This is my house before the paint.  Very stark and white.  The green trim is way too green for my taste.

This is my yellow house now.  Next week the fascia and window trim will be painted as well as the door and porch posts. 

Since we're not able to do anything with the green roof we're working around it.  I love yellow.  But right now it seems a little too yellow without any of the trim painted.

Originally I was going to paint the fascia Saguaro Green.  (It really does look good against the green roof and the yellow house paint).  But I'm thinking it might need more soft white for the trim around the windows, door and fascia.  And what about the door?  I want to make a statement.  Help?

Martha Stewart Living Saguaro Green

These are a few houses that inspired me.


Zucchini Chicken Enchiladas

We still need to plant a proper garden.  I've spent most of this past year repairing and renovating our cute little house in the country.  But our friends down the street gave us two zucchini plants.  So we found a place to stick them in the ground not sure if they would grow.


Apparently we are untrained in the ways of zucchini.  I think its voodoo the way you can sift through those huge leaves and find nothing one day, but two days later the Godzilla of zucchini is staring you in the face.  

I've always liked zucchini but thanks to Pinterest, this year we've learned to love zucchini.  We've made zucchini noodles, zucchini cake, zucchini brownies, zucchini pizza bites, zucchini waffles and zucchini meatloaf.  But our favorite by far is Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats from

If I had taken pictures of how I made this, I don't think you'd want to even start.  I'm not a photographer, my kitchen is small and poorly designed and quite frankly it was a mess. 

Next time I make it I'll know what I'm doing.  But I like to cook so I don't mind the chaos.  Besides, the photos at are gorgeous.  

I'm also a "wing it" cook.  If I don't have the exact ingredients, I'll use what I have and adjust it as I go along.  So if you don't happen to have chipotle chili powder don't panic.  I didn't and it was delicious.  I also used a can of chili enchilada sauce instead of making it from scratch.  It was very bitter, but most chili enchilada sauce is.  I cut it with cream and brown sugar to take the edge off and it was great.

Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Servings: 8 • Size: 1 zucchini boat • Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 3 pts
Calories: 116 • Fat: 3.5 g • Protein: 12 g • Carb: 11 g • Fiber: 3 g • Sugar: 4.5 g
Sodium: 410 mg (without salt)


For the enchilada sauce:
  • olive oil spray  (I used my Misto)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 or 2 tbsp chipotle chile in adobo sauce, more if you like it spicy
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2/3 cup fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the zucchini boats:
  • 4 (about 32 oz total) medium zucchini
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 8 oz cooked shredded chicken breast
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 3 tbsp water or fat free chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Topping:
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar
  • chopped scallions and cilantro for garnish

For the enchilada sauce: In a medium saucepan, spray oil and sauté garlic. Addchipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

For the Zucchini Boats: Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and using a small spoon or melon baller, scoop out flesh, leaving 1/4" thick. Chop the scooped out flesh of the zucchini in small pieces and set aside.
Drop the zucchini halves in boiling water and cook 1 minute; remove from water.

In a large saute pan, heat oil and add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook on medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add chopped zucchini and cilantro; season with salt and pepper and cook about 4 minutes. Addthe cumin, oregano, chili powder, water, and tomato paste and cook a few more minutes, then add in chicken; mix and cook 3 more minutes.

Place 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a large (or 2 small) baking dish, and place zucchini halves cut side up. Using a spoon, fill each hollowed zucchini with 1/3 cup chicken mixture, pressing firmly.
Top each with 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce, and 1 1/2 tablespoons each of shredded cheese.  
Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes until cheese is melted and zucchini is cooked through. 

Top with scallions and cilantro for garnish and serve with low fat sour cream if desired.

I'll definitely make this one again.

My favorite devotional speech (part one)

Part one because i have so many favorites.  Brad Wilcox, Shari Dew, Jeffery R. Holland and on and on.  And now David A. Bednar.  I'm grateful that inspirational talks are available to read, watch and listen to.  Some days I need a boost and other days I just want to add to the spirit of joy i feel.

Brad Wilcox gave the devotional talk at BYU called "His Grace is Sufficient" back in 2011.  This is an excerpt from the book he wrote in 2009 called "The Continuous Atonement".  This book has really made an impact on me and then hearing him speak made it more personal.

Its one thing to know that Christ died and that we are saved by grace but to understand what it means and what is required of us is empowering to me.

This is an excerpt from his talk where he explained how grace works to one of his students:

She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”

She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing because she’s a Mormon that she wasn’t doing.

She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?”

She then went on to tell me all the things that she shouldn’t be doing because she’s a Mormon, but she was doing them anyway.

Finally I said, “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”

Seeing that she was still confused, I took a piece of paper and drew two dots—one at the top representing God and one at the bottom representing us. I then said, “Go ahead. Draw the line. How much is our part? How much is Christ’s part?”

She went right to the center of the page and began to draw a line. Then, considering what we had been speaking about, she went to the bottom of the page and drew a line just above the bottom dot.

I said, “Wrong.”

She said, “I knew it was higher. I should have just drawn it, because I knew it.”

I said, “No. The truth is, there is no line. Jesus filled the whole space. He paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”

She said, “Right! Like I don’t have to do anything?”

“Oh no,” I said, “you have plenty to do, but it is not to fill that gap. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence. What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.”

“So what’s the difference?” the girl asked. “Whether our efforts are required by justice or by Jesus, they are still required.”

“True,” I said, “but they are required for a different purpose. Fulfilling Christ’s requirements is like paying a mortgage instead of rent or like making deposits in a savings account instead of paying off debt. You still have to hand it over every month, but it is for a totally different reason.”

I don't know about you, but hearing it put that way makes it so clear.  How I feel about my Savior is very personal to me.  Sometimes its hard to put  into words, but deep down what I feel is love and adoration.  

If you have a minute (or 32) watch him present his talk at this BYU devotional.

I hope you have a wonderful day!


Today is the first day...

of the rest of my life!  (I found this unfinished post from October 2013 and decided to finish it).

Moving to a much smaller home after the kids move out has its challenges.  This house is 102 years old and is in the most beautiful area in southern Utah.  How we ended up here is another story in and of itself.  But where to put all our "stuff" is the question.  Actually, the question should be do I need all this "stuff"?

Learning to let go of material things is hard but empowering.  The nice mahogany furniture was sold at the consignment shop and the yard sale that would be isn't going to be.  I hate hosting yard sales more than root canals.  (Actually we finally threw it together last week.  I still hate hosting yard sales).  Anything that isn't given to friends and family is going to the thrift store.

Last week was my last week at The Alterations Shop.  I have mixed feelings.  Driving 40 minutes to work was getting to be too much.  I know there are people who commute much longer distances and my hat goes off to you.  But this was the right decision for me.  Giving up the income was a hard leap to make, but I still intend to do alterations from home.  This is also giving me time to make needed renovations to our cute little house.  One day it will be the cottage of my dreams.


We have a squirrel problem.  Our 100 year old home foundation is stone and mortar and is being hollowed out by a group of squirrels using it as their storage facility.  So we're taking matters into our own hands.  They have to go.

Hubby and I were pretty sure one died under there because he started smelling something that wasn't right and the flies were getting a little out of control.  Sure enough, each day the smell got worse and the flies were multiplying.  Fortunately for me, I didn't smell a thing.  I lost my sense of smell about 14 years ago when early signs of Parkinson's started showing up.

So guess who was nominated to go in after it?  I guess it makes sense.  I searched in the root cellar for a while in all the tunnels they've been digging.  Something smelled though.  Ewwwwwwwww.  Something's getting through!  If you haven't smelled a dead animal before, imagine rotten, oozing potatoes times ten.  Gross.  I won't go into details, but I found him outside in the hole he had dug.  He was stuck good!  Armed with rubber gloves and a pair of tongs, I finally got him out.

This smell thing is a blessing and a curse.  Blessing because I usually can't smell farts, but when I do smell something bad, it hangs around for hours.  I can't smell the wonderful aroma of good food, but I can taste it.  Go figure.
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