Sunday, September 27, 2015


I have had a difficult time writing this week.  My feelings have been all blocked up for a number of reasons, which I won't go into.  But it has been difficult for me to say anything because my emotions are all tied up and my brain was in a fog, meaning I couldn't really think and write because then I might have to feel.  You know how that is?  You probably don't.  You are probably much more in touch with your feelings than I am.

But neither here nor there.  I am working through my feelings and figuring out what I am thinking and why.  It is a painful, time consuming and difficult process.  So between that and trying to keep my seminary class afloat, my brain and abilities have been consumed.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography

Today I attended General Women's Meeting.  Good grief, I love that meeting!!  It makes me feel whole!  I always come away uplifted and hopeful and like I can conquer the world!!  And then to do it with a few of my sisters in Christ, who live here in my area and are trying to build the kingdom with me, I just feel so loved and supported!  When I look at the congregation in the Conference Center and see all of those women, and then think about all of those sisters who are gathered in all of the meeting houses all across the globe, gathered to watch that meeting, I recognize that I am not alone in my thoughts or trials!  There are millions of other women trying to live the same standards that I live, love and support!!  What a motivating meeting!

At the end, I LOVED President Uchtdorf's story and totally saw myself in the story.  I will try to see if the link is up yet, but good grief!  I am totally Ava.  There are plenty of things the I think the Lord wants me to do and I DO NOT want to go and visit my Old Aunt Rose, no matter what!  And then I have an attitude while I am doing what I am told.  And then it takes me a long time to change my attitude about what I have been asked to do. But when I keep doing it, eventually I see the blessings of having been obedient and doing what was asked, in spite of my attitude!  I must be 11 too!!

But mostly, I wanted to touch on Sister Wixom's talk.  She spoke about our divine nature, each and every one of us!  (The links aren't out yet, but when they are, I will stick them in.)  I will paraphrase badly, since I don't have the exact quote, but loosely, she said, We identify our divine nature as we give and receive love.  I didn't put it in quotes because I am sure those are not the right words.  But basically, as we learn to love others, we find ourselves.  And, this she did say, "When we doubt our divine nature, we should kneel down and ask, 'Am I really thy daughter? and Dost Thou love me?' "  Heavenly Father, our Heavenly Father knows each and every one of us.  Though He has created and peopled more worlds than the sands of the sea, yet He is aware of each and every sparrow that falls, and more--He knows and loves each and every one of us regardless of our sins, abilities, race, color, religion.  Whether you believe in Him or not, He believes in you.  It just really hit me tonight.  There are so many places and times and reasons why we distance ourselves from God and forget who we are and how He feels about us.  If we would just remember, just reach out, just ask Him when we forget........

When we remember and know we are His children, His child whom He loves and knows, we have self-esteem because we not only have the ability to become like Him, but we know we have His help in becoming what we need to be.  We can conquer the world, literally and receive our exaltation and eternal life.  Because we know He is there and He will compensate for our weaknesses if we will just ask for His help and then do what He says.  It is not a difficult formula.  Difficult application?  Sure.  But the formula is easy.  So why do we fight it so hard?  Why don't we just believe Him and act in faith, like a child?  Why do we have to fight and have an attitude and throw our little tantrum?

Maybe you don't.  But I do.  And they are not usually little tantrums, there are pretty big and loud, even though I do not usually share them with the world at large.

Today the Spirit was so strong and I felt so uplifted that I even went up and hugged Sister P and asked her how things were going for her.  That is a major accomplishment, for me, not her.  I really do love her.  Sometimes I am just done with her antics and then I am not nice to her.  True story.  I don't mean to be mean.  I am just intolerant and that hurts her feelings.  I could be nicer, since God loves her too.  Maybe I should try a little harder? 

The other thing Sister Wixom said was that "Once we see the divine nature in ourselves, we will see it in others".  I totally know that is true!  And it is validated in the story Enos, where after he receives forgiveness for his sins, it is then that his heart is turned to his brethren, first the Nephites (people he lives with) and then the Lamanites (his enemies).  He recognizes their divine natures and desires them to have the same blessings he has.  I know God loves me!  I know He hears my prayers and is aware of my struggling and my feelings, blocked or not.  I know I have worth in His sight!  Tonight I wanted Sister P to have those things too.  I know she struggles with her self-esteem and loving others, because she is afraid.  But since God will compensate for her weaknesses, if she knows He loves her, she doesn't have to be afraid of other people and she can learn to love them.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

In seminary this week we had an amazing discussion on Friday!  I am always excited when I feel like the class has stuff to say and things they want to contribute.  They share themselves, which is a scary thing for teenagers.  But sometimes we have the right atmosphere in our class and people feel comfortable sharing their private thoughts and feelings.  As we do that, we reach into the core of their souls and help to lift them to a little higher place of understanding.  Friday, we did that for those who were there.  Not everyone was there.  My heart wants all of my students to feel that way.  But I cannot override their agency.  There is something they have to bring to the table.  And if I don't ask them to make some kind of a sacrifice and bring it, then the reward for doing it never materializes in their hearts.  However, Friday they made those sacrifices and were uplifted.

The other thing that happened tonight that I found amusing was someone told me they had heard though the rumor mill that my family was moving from the area.  Maybe someone read my 'maybe moving' posts and didn't quite understand them?  I hadn't even thought of that before I was typing this......Man the people here can really talk.  Two months ago the rumor was that I was pregnant.  I thanked the woman who shared the rumor with me and let her know it wasn't true.  We are not moving, and we are not pregnant.  So funny.  Then we had a discussion as to why we might be the subject of the rumor mill.  I will save those speculations for another post and another topic.

Anyway, just know that God loves you.  He hears your prayers.  He knows where you are and what you need.  He will help you, if you will listen and talk to Him.

Friday, September 18, 2015

FFF #32 2015--Doctrinal Diamonds for personal behavior! Super Cool!

This has been a super crazy week!  I have been kind of  (no kind of about it) MIA this week in the blog sphere.  I put my quilt up on Monday and have been spending every spare minute quilting it so as to get it out of my family room.  I think it took up more room than the ping pong table (which I complain about regularly to my spouse and sons).  Not cool to have some giant project taking up the family recreation and gathering space.  But it was that or put it up at the church, and I didn't want to do that.  So here it has been.  But we are almost finished!!  Tomorrow, when you read this, we might have actually finished it!!  Woohoo!  I cannot believe I have made a quilt out of scraps---seriously!  So awesome!

Anyway, I had an amazing experience today that I wanted to share.  Our son Sport is preparing to serve his mission.  As we were discussing some of the things he will be doing as a missionary, I asked him if I had taught him about doctrinal building blocks (see this post for details).  He said, "Ya, the doctrines build upon one another right?"
Yes, that is the basic idea.  Then I walked him through the building blocks.  What is the first one?  Well, then I asked him to recite the first Article of Faith, which he did.  Then I had him turn to where Ammon is teaching King Lamoni, and Aaron is teaching King Lamoni's father.  Then Sport and I discussed what exactly each of these missionaries asked their investigators first.  What was their first question?  Do you believe in God?  From there, they assessed what their investigator knew.  In any teaching, it is important to understand where your people are in order to know what they need next.  For instance, we have a young man who has been attending church with us for a year.  He enjoys coming and rarely misses a week.  He has even taught a few of his primary lessons with supervision, of course.  This last week in our discussion with him, I asked him if he believed in God.  He does.  Then I asked him if he believes God will answer his prayers.  When I asked the question, I could tell by his fidgeting and shifting eyes that he did not agree with the question.  He doesn't believe God will answer his prayers.  If he doesn't believe that, why will he ever ask?  Until he knows and believes that God will answer his prayers, there is no reason for him to ask.  Here is another example.  A young woman who was taking the missionary lessons with her family had been meeting with the missionaries for six months.  They didn't feel like she was progressing so they dropped her.  I saw her periodically and would talk with her.  She would tell me that when she read the Book of Mormon she felt better and thought her day went better.  She prayed and fasted for her sick father and when she wasn't working, she attended church.  I couldn't figure out why they dropped her.  So I invited her family over for dinner.  As dinner wound down, I asked her how she felt about the missionaries visiting with her.  She explained that it was always awkward because they always asked her how she felt about Jesus Christ and what He had done for her and she didn't really understand who He was.  I asked her what her religious background was.  She came from an Asian religion and didn't have any idea who God was or who Jesus Christ was.  We started from the beginning and taught her about God, gave her a superficial overview of the Plan of Salvation and the need for Jesus Christ.  Once those building blocks were in place, she flew.  She was baptized fairly soon after we put those things in place for her.  She is struggling now, but that is because she has quit doing the things the missionaries taught her about---she has quit practicing the basic behaviors (going to church, repenting, reading scriptures, etc..) and as such her testimony plant is withering.

I think that is one thing we don't often realize.  Our testimony, or lack thereof, is a living thing.  It is either growing or dying.  There are no stagnant testimonies.  We are either feeding them and they are growing, or they are in a state of decay.  It is easy enough to remedy.  Once we start to water the plant, it starts to grow again.  But it cannot be neglected over long periods of time and then be expected to thrive because one day we threw a three hour bucket of water on it by attending our meetings that day, or a marathon night of prayer, or a week's worth of effort at scripture reading.  Testimonies grow best with little bits of attention through out the day---day after day, week after week, year after year--continuous attention over all of our life time. 

Anyway, as Sport and I were talking, all of this doctrinal knowledge just kind of flew out of my mouth and I started connecting scriptures in my head like I never have before.

For instance, with our testimony plants (Alma 32), we have to realize that any thing we are trying to gain a testimony of begins with a desire.  If we don't want to do it (whatever it is), we will never make the effort to try.  If we know we need to do the behavior we don't want to, what can we do?  We can pray for desire---desire to be obedient, desire to try, desire see how it fits together.  We can see the process of that desire in the book of Enos.  He 'hungered' to know his standing before God.  He wanted to know badly enough that while he was out doing his duties (hunting beasts in the forest), he took time out spiritually to make time to commune with God.  He didn't say, 'forgive me Father for I have sinned' and move on, but he prayed all day and when the night came he did still raise his voice high that is did reach the heavens.  He prayed until he knew his sins were forgiven.  Once he had received confirmation from God that he had been forgiven, then he wanted to share that news with everyone else.  He wanted others to have those same feelings and relief from knowing that their sins were forgiven.  His heart opened to the people and the world around him, enough that a few verses later he begins to pray for his enemies.  But none of that would have happened if he hadn't desired to know for himself.....

Enos understood how the Atonement applied to him and affected him.  He used it and received some of its blessings.

Then we went back to the Articles of Faith----
#1--the Godhead
#2--We are responsible for our own sins, Adam (the creation and the fall)
#3--the Atonement of Jesus Chirst
#4--The first principles and ordinances of the gospel are first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second repentance, third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and fourth laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

In Moroni 8:25, Mormon teaches that the 'first fruits of repentance are baptism'.  When a person begins to exercise their faith unto repentance, the first step is to get baptized.  And why is baptism so essential?  Because the ordinance of baptism is connected to the ordinance of the Holy Ghost.  You get baptized and you also receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  Who tells us when we need to repent?  The Holy Ghost.  How does He do that? 

Moses 5:14:
14 And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and commanded them that they should repent;

It is that still small voice in our head or our heart that says, "You know, you really should do this, or not do that....."  How do we judge if those thoughts come from God?

Moroni 7:15-17
 15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

 16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

 17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

If it brings you closer to Christ, good.  If it takes you away from Christ, bad.

Also, in 1st Corinthians 12 , where it speaks of the Gifts of the Spirit--I think I was reading Elder Callister's book, The Infinite Atonement, where he expresses that without the Gift of the Holy Ghost, you cannot exercise the gifts of the Spirit unto exaltation, because they are only available in their fullness through the gift of the Holy Ghost.  The ordinance of baptism then is of eternal importance and significance, which we knew.  But it also essential unto our ability to receive eternal life.

Therefore, we exercise our faith unto repentance, through obedience as is laid out in the formula from Mormon in Moroni 8: 25-26:

25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

 26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

When we do so, we open the way for the Holy Ghost to testify to us of those principles and of our behavior that is in obedience to those principles.  The Holy Ghost is also a revelator, which means, He will give us further light and knowledge, instructing us in more ways that we can then change or repent.  When we increase our faith and then exercise it unto repentance by being obedient to those revelations, those things increase our faith and our access to the Spirit and our love (or charity) for our fellow men.  The entire cycle is kept in place by diligence unto prayer, until we become like God, which happens to be His purpose---to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39).

And John 7:16-17, says--

16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

If we are obedient, we shall know of the doctrine.  We will have knowledge and testimony. 

I tell you, my head was spinning and it all came out in half an hour!  It is still kind of swirling.  I know there are more connections than I am seeing.  My developmentally prepared brain which studies the behavior and dispositions of people is eating this up!  I love knowing what makes people tick--especially if you can put it all in to a nice neat little formula!  But of course, this only works if the person wants to.  If they choose to use their agency in a different direction, well then, the results wouldn't quite be the same. Would they?
Anyway, have a great weekend!!!  Hopefully we will finish off my quilt, and I have a funeral on Saturday.

Friday, September 11, 2015

FFF #31 2015 Flag Retirement Ceremony

I know, you're wondering what in the world a flag retirement ceremony has to do with 'Families First'.  Right?  Well, to be honest, I'm not exactly sure.  But how about this:  Teaching our children about the country they belong to and the values that country holds true, will give them a greater sense of community and country loyalty.  They will recognize and hopefully incorporate those positive values into their lives and their personalities.

For instance, here in the United States of America, our flag, has specific meanings attached to its appearance.  Did you know our flag has 13 red and white stripes, representing the original 13 colonies; red stripes representing hardiness and valor, white stripes representing  purity and innocence.  There are 50 stars, each representing the 50 states of the Union.  Originally there were 13 stars, symbolizing a new constellation--not bad for the creation of a new country.  And the blue background representing vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

My girlfriend's son, for his Eagle Scout project, retired flags in our community that were worn, torn, or otherwise not worthy to be flown.  We actually have a Flag Code in our country about how we should treat and revere our flag, including its disposal.  Apparently (I heard at the ceremony) we are not suppose to use the image of our flag on clothing, paper plates, napkins, cups or anything where it would be defaced or not disposed of properly.

For Tyler's flag retirement ceremony, he welcomed us, we prayed, participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, then Tyler gave us the meanings above.  To continue the ceremony, each flag was picked up, its history was read (where it flew and when), the audience rose, then it was displayed, folded at the four corners (stars up), placed in the fire, the audience saluting and taps playing as the flag burned.  When it was completely gone, salutes were completed and the history of the next flag was read, the ceremony then repeated.  Tyler, Speedy, Shorty, and Smiley did that 36 times on Saturday.  It only took us four and half hours.  After we were finished, the ashes were to be collected and buried.  It was a lot of work!  And Tyler only retired half of the flags he had collected.  He has to finish off the rest of them another time.

It was really an emotional experience watching the flags burn and to think about what they were and what they symbolized and who they symbolized them for.  One woman, who was there at the beginning, went home, got her neighbor and had her neighbor bring her flag to be retired.  Her particular flag had belonged to her son, who had been killed in the Iraqi conflict.  I cried just watching her realizing that for her this moment was sacred.  One of the flags Tyler and the guys retired had flown during WWII! 

It was amazing to watch and being a trumpet player, knowing what that poor bugler's lips were feeling like, playing and playing and playing.  I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing country!  I am grateful for the freedoms I enjoy and the men and women who gave their lives so that I can have the freedoms and experiences I do!!  I love my country!!  And pray that I will do my part to keep it 'the land of the Free and the home of the Brave'!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I am Woman---hear me Roar!

My family has been without a washing machine for a week.  Last week, our old machine bit the dust.  Today was the magical day that the new machine was suppose to arrive and be installed.  I was feeling super excited because they called Sunday evening to confirm delivery this morning between 8:30 a.m and 10:30 a.m.  I was prepared to wash all of the laundry that has been piling up.

The delivery guys even arrived on time, and called first!  I couldn't believe it!  Finally!  (I know, this is really just a first world problem.  I really do know that.  But it has been a big deal here.)

All was going well until the delivery guy busted off the handle of my cold water shut-off valve.  No joke.

Then, he told me that I would need to call a plumber, but he would go ahead and leave my new machine outside on the back porch.


I told him he could keep the washing machine and deliver it later when he was prepared to put it into my house.  When he left, I was not aware that he had busted the handle completely off.  I thought he had just stripped it or something.

After about an hour of messing with it and my first trip to the hardware store, I realized that he had busted it and I was going to have to replace the shut-off valve, not just the handle.  Ugh!

Being a plumber's daughter, I got to looking at what had happened and thought, "I bet I could fix that".  So I started taking it apart, piece by piece.  I got to a specific point where I couldn't get any more of the pieces apart.  I was leaving plier marks on the pipe.  I figured I had better take a break before I broke something.  I started you-tubing how to fix my problem.  Called Drew.  He gave me an idea--take a photo and go to the hardware store and see if one of the guys there could help me out.  OK.  Off I went.

The hardware store guy had some good ideas (trip #2).  I bought some stuff and came home to try them out.  Nope.  Didn't work.  I went to another hardware store (trip #3) to see if they had the same kind of tools, only smaller.  Nope, they had the same sizes as the other store.  I talked to another guy.  He basically said, "Call them back and make them fix it.  They broke it."  Yes, but if he broke it just trying to unhook the washing machine, I really didn't want him doing anything else that took a little more of a brain.  Nope.  I'll figure it out.

I came home frustrated.  I decided to pray and ask Heavenly Father for help.  I read an article in the Ensign that basically said "Patience isn't resigning yourself to your situation, it is continuing to work until something changes" (very loose paraphrase).  I checked my email.

Then I had the thought that regardless of when the plumber was able to come, I had now turned the water off at the main.  The delivery guy could still deliver my machine and haul away the old one, and two dryers in the garage, for breaking my shut-off valve.  I called the company back and asked for the manager who I found out later is an inactive member of my ward.  When I finally spoke with her, I reminded her of that, and our acquaintance.  Then I asked her to have the delivery guys come back at the end of the day and deliver my machine.  She said OK.

I thought I had better turn the water in the house back on.  When I did, the shut off valve leaked!  Really?  I couldn't get it out, but had loosened it enough to make it leak, not drip, but a constant stream of water.  Now I had to fix it today!  Ugh!  I shut the water to the entire house back off.

I thought of a few other things that I had wanted to get done today besides the washing machine.  I took care of those things.  While I was doing that, I realized that I could probably take the rest of that pipe apart if I had a different tool.  I researched that on the internet, made a phone call to a friend asking them if they had the tool I needed.  No answer, so I left a message.  Then it was time to pick up Smiley from school.  On the way home, I stopped at the hardware store for the fourth time.  I bought a serious pipe wrench!  The guy told me that I probably could do the job with a pair of channel locks.  I told him I had already done that and left marks on the pipe.  He told me I had the right tool, and then he proceeded to give me some very useful counsel on how to use that pipe wrench.  Things I didn't know!  Thank you!
When I got home, it took me five minutes to get that part out that was stuck!  I did need that tool!  I was so excited!!!  Now I could just replace that part and fix the whole thing by myself!  YES!

I took it to one hardware store (#5), couldn't figure out which piece matched.  I took it to a second hardware store (#6).  Still couldn't find the piece that matched.  I took it to a third hardware store (#7)---asked for help.  The plumbing manager couldn't figure it out, and neither could any of her staff.  She told me that I was going to have to go to the plumbing supply store and have them put it together for me, but they closed at five and it was four.  Plus the one I brought it was busted off and they really needed to see the entire piece intact in order to match it.  I would need to go home and take the functioning one apart and bring that one in.

You have got to be kidding!  My washing machine was suppose to be installed this morning and now not only is it not there, but now the water in my house is shut off!  She put a new washer on it, so it fit better.  But she suggested that I return the part to it's place, turn the house water on, and wait until tomorrow when I could visit the supply store.  Great.  But at least I had a plan to finish things out and turn on the water in the house.

I got home and did most of what she suggested.  As I was going outside to turn on the water and see if it leaked, the plumber showed up!!  Oh my Gosh!!  Heavenly Father loves me!!  (And answers prayers!!)   He only stopped by instead of calling because he has a new phone and he went to call me but it erased my phone number.  Yea for necessary answers to prayer!  I briefed the plumber who stayed in the house while I turned on the main.  Water went everywhere.  We spent a half an hour getting the water squared away.  He fixed most of the problem but needed a few more parts so he was going to run home and come right back.  When he started working, I put dinner on.  Super simple.  Started a pot of boiling water with my storage water for rice.  Put teriyaki chicken in the oven in foil.  Threw some bagged salad into a bowl.  Pulled the jello out of the refrigerator. 

After he left, the appliance delivery guys showed up.  They hauled away my old machine, brought in the new one (without hooking it up, at my request), and hauled away the two old dryers.  Yes!!  When they left, the plumber showed up.  While he was looking at things, he said, "Aren't you just going to hook this hose to the washing machine?"


"Then we don't even have to fix this.  We can just hook it up to the new machine in the on position."
"Genius!!  Do it!  But then put me on your list next week when you have time to come back and finish it out.  But for now it will work, washing machine, water and all!"

Yes!!  The plumber left and we all sat down around the table and then we did the dishes, with running water!  And then I put in a load of clothes!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Blackberry Soup

The other day, I made black bean soup for our family for dinner.  I love black bean soup!!  (I love soup in general and I am good at making it so that makes it all the better!  Maybe I will include the recipes at the end.......)

When Spike came in to ask me what was for dinner and I told him 'black bean soup', he informed me that he did not want black bean soup.  He wanted 'blackberry soup'.  I told him that I was not making blackberry soup because I did not have any blackberries and I was making black bean soup.

He told me I was wrong again (remember he is four), because we have blackberries growing out in the back yard.  He would go and pick some so I could make blackberry soup.  Really?!  Whatever, he is four.  I continued making dinner.  He went out to pick blackberries.  He brought in one or two and then he wanted help picking them and he complained until I assigned Sun to go out and help him.  Together I think they picked four.  He continued to ask people to go and help him and he was in and out of the back door.

Spike picking berries in our weed patch :-)
When all was said and done, I think they picked 11 berries.  But both Drew and I felt that Spike needed to be rewarded for the effort he put in to helping me make 'black berry soup'.  I didn't have any idea how to make blackberry soup or its equivalent that Spike would like.  Then I had a stroke of genius!  I cut up two of the half eaten apples on the counter (they had been Spike's too), mixed the 11 blackberries into the apples, and made a fruit crisp topping, just enough for one person.  Then I put it into a tiny pyrex dish and baked it.
It looked kind of like this
When I showed Spike his 'blackberry soup', he was not impressed and kind of wrinkled up his nose.  Then I mixed it in front of him so he could see that the blackberries were really in there, though they had just kind of tinted all the apples pink and disappeared.  He said he didn't want it.  But I convinced him to try it.

After a few minutes and a few bites, he said, "Hey Mom, this is the best blackberry soup ever!"

My thought, "Ya, I know, I just fed  you dessert for dinner.  Who wouldn't like that?"  He never would even try the black bean soup the rest of us ate.

But here is that recipe:
1/2 a large onion, chopped
2 TBLS fresh garlic, (maybe 3 cloves)
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 jalepenos, chopped

When onions are translucent, put into the saute mix:
4 Cups of chicken broth
1 can of corn
1 can of stewed tomatoes
5 cups of black bean (3 cans?)
 2 tsps of salt
1/2 tsp of cumin
1/4 tsp of chipotle powder (optional)
1/4 C chopped cilantro

Warm through.  We put rice in ours too, but if you put it into the soup, the rice will soak up all the broth, so I just put some rice into each serving as I served it.  Super easy, super fast and very delicious.  We also served it with corn chips and a salad for a quick meal.