Writing my book was an emotional, cathartic, heartwarming, rewarding experience.  I would be typing away as tears poured down my cheeks.  Time and again, Patrick would look at me and say, “Are you okay?!”  And I would respond, “I’m good, I’m good.”   It was emotional to relive the pain and loss, awe-inspiring to reflect on all the service and sacrifice on my behalf, and overwhelming to reflect on all the Lord’s tender mercies and miracles in my life.   It is crazy to me is that my book only really covers my first 16 years.   Since that time, I have continued to see the Lord’s hand in my life in countless acts of love, service and more miracles.  I won’t go back and cover the last 14 years since my lung transplant, but I did want to recap 2013, because it was the year I received my kidney transplant from my angel sister and became among the 3% to have received both a lung transplant and a kidney transplant – and among even fewer to still be alive with both!

I am humbled and grateful everyday to be alive.  I am grateful my unique circumstances have blessed me with the perspective of what really matters in life,  have filled me with nothing but love for others, and have forged an unbreakable friendship with, appreciation for and dependence upon my Savior, Jesus Christ.    Thank you to all of you who have been part of my miraculous journey and for helping make it possible.   I love you all!

2013 Flashback/Recap

My 30th Birthday
February 2013:  Fun and Fainting
February 2013
March 2013 Part 1:  Boomer Eisason (NFL Quarterback) Interview
March 2013 Part 2:  Starstruck St. Patrick’s Day Dinner & A Perfect Brightness of Hope
Jeff Clark
April 2013:  Patrick and Kiwi Save My Life & New Soul Food
Sporting matching headbands made by a friend at work - not sure if Kiwi likes it.
Sporting matching headbands made by a friend at work – not sure if Kiwi likes it.
 May 2013:  Coronado Anniversary and Kidney Transplant Update
June 2013:  Appendicitis and New Soul Food
 July/August 2013:  Kidney Donors
Patrick and me at the Oceanside Pier with my swollen cheeks and feet, July 2013

October 2013:  Kidney Transplant Day!


Reader Interactions

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  1. RJ and Suzee Irwin says

    Hi Jenn and Patrick,
    Wow, this site was sent to me by my darling friend and cousin, Marcia, otherwise known to you as Mom. It is a great site. I have subscribed and have printed off the Tomato Parmesan Soup because, even tho’ I hate tomatoes, I want to make this soup that has made you so happy. Your Mom and Dad (Will and Marcia) also sent us a copy of your book, Jenn. I had already read some of it from an article you wrote for something or the other. It REALLY touched my heart to see your faith in spite of extreme diversity. It is so awesome that God is using you to teach others. Thanks for the great example that you have set for us. We are doing great here but do miss the sunny warm weather in San Diego. So happy here with family however. God is good, all the time. Miss and love you.

    • Jen says

      Hi Suzee! If you don’t like tomatoes, you might want to mince yours first – then I am sure you will love the soup! So glad you are going to try it though! Thank you so much for your kind words. I am just doing what I can 🙂 I hope you enjoy my book as wells – just be sure to read it with a box of tissues. I am happy you are doing well in Missouri with family. You will have to just come and visit the warm weather often 🙂 Much love!

      • Sue McDaniel says

        I was going to make your crock pot pork loin recipe when I suddenly noticed you have a note that says do not use pork tenderloin!
        I already purchased pork tenderloin and was wondering if I could still use that for your recipe?

        • Jen says

          Hi Sue, yes you can use it but the cooking time will likely be less because they are smaller, so just make sure you check the temperature earlier. Good luck!

  2. barb says

    Jen, love your site and recipes! Especially love your witness for Jesus Christ…so wonderful!

    Wondering if you have tried the Hallelujah Acres Diet, raw food diet, smoothies, juicing, etc.?
    See on the Hallelujah Acres site testimonies of the diet helping those with CF immensely. Usually dairy
    products cause more phlegm, mucus, etc, and there are many other healing properties in the mainly
    vegan type diets.

    Thanks again for this beautiful cheerful site that is such a blessing!


    • Jen says

      Hi Barb, thank you so much for your kind words about my site, I am so happy you enjoy it!!! Since I had a lung transplant, I thankfully don’t have to worry about mucus production in my lungs anymore, but I will definitely check out the site. I am always excited to learn about new food benefits! Thanks again Barb, you made my day!

  3. Gwen Tate says

    I just found your blog via Facebook and was intrigued by the title. “Carlsbad” caught my attention and when I saw the pictures of you on the lagoon I new it was the “right” Carlsbad. I grew up just north of the lagoon in South Oceanside off Vista Way on Lincoln St. That was a very long time ago. Then I read further and realized that I share something else with you..membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Growing up in Oceanside I knew nothing of the church. Missionaries were sent to my husband and me when we were young marrieds living in Orange County. We are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in April. I love your site and your life story and look forward to all you have
    to offer.

    • Jen says

      Hi Gwen, what a small world! Thank you for reaching out and connecting. I am so happy the missionaries knocked on your door all those years ago. What a blessing! Congratulations also on your upcoming 50th wedding anniversary – how wonderful!! There is nothing like spending your life with your true love 🙂 I hope you continue to enjoy my site and my recipes!

  4. Bonnie says

    Your story is incredible. Your fighting spirit and zeal is contagious and inspiring!

    • Jen says

      You are so sweet Bonnie, thank you so much! I am just so blessed and grateful!

  5. Nick Voorhees says


    I found your site through Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, which is one of my wife’s favorites. And your quote form Elder Ucthdorf about “creating” is one that really spoke to me when I first heard it.

    I couldn’t find an email for you so I hope this forum is okay, I’ll try to be brief.

    Cooking and making things has always been one of my passions. I work at a company that makes remarkable products using natural materials and fabrics which are encased in recycled resin. Occasionally there are scraps that I’ve taken home and one day on a whim I decided to make a little cookbook stand with one of the pieces I had. A while later my wife started using it fairly often and I decided that it might be something others would be interested in so I’ve been doing some refining and development.

    I call it “Stand”, and it’s designed to be a cookbook, iPad, and tablet Kitchen stand. The materials we use are unlike anything else out there, it’s compact, beautiful, and versatile. At least in my opinion 🙂

    If you could take just a minute or two to visit my site, I think the pictures will speak for themselves. One of my favorites is the linear bamboo and the blueberry silk. http://thekitchenstand.com/

    I’d love to send you one, no strings attached, other than a request for your feedback, likes/dislikes. Since you obviously do a lot of cooking I’d really value your thoughts.

    Thanks for your time. I’ll also pass your site on to my wife since it looks like you have some great recipes for us to try.


    Nick Voorhees

    • Jen says

      Hi Nick, Welcome to Carlsbad Cravings! Sorry for the delay as I have been traveling all week. I am so happy you found my site through Mel’s Kitchen Cafe – her site is one of my favorites as well! I just visited your site and your stands are stunning (not to mention functional)! I am going to email you. Please respond to this comment if you don’t get my email. Thanks!

    • Jen Kunze says

      Grew up in Carlsbad when streets were dirt roads! Spent childhood days at beach and lagoons!

      • Jen says

        Dirt roads? That is amazing! We love paddle boarding on the lagoon and walking on the beach regularly. It sounds like you need to visit!

  6. susan yoder says

    I ran across your blog quite by accident, after going to “The Crazy Coupon Lady” blog where she linked to one of your recipes. Oh my goodness! You are amazing. I can’t wait to try any one of many recipes I’ve pinned, don’t ever stop your blog, I can’t wait to see more…too much time spent on your site now, lol. Thanks so much for sharing and have a very nice holiday season.

    • Jen says

      Oh Susan, you are the sweetest, thank you! I am so happy you stumbled across my blog! Thank you for taking the time to explore. I hope you find lots of recipes to love here! Have a great weekend and very Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Amanda Guzman says

    Hi Jen, I subscribed to your site a year ago after following a link to one of your recipes. How delightful, all your beautiful food. But, much more so…I love it that you have shared your personal struggles and that you give God the glory. At age 39, I got saved/ born again after finally admitting to God that I don’t know anything anymore and that I need Him. He brought me to some Christians who gave me the gospel and by His grace, I repented, and believed what Jesus did for us by shedding His blood on the cross. My life changed so much since then! No, my life did not get any easier, however, I have peace knowing my Lord and that I will be with Him forever. I’m sharing this with you because your story is encouraging to me. After I got saved, I got married to a Christian man whom every day I thank the Lord for giving me this gift. A year and a half ago, I donated my kidney to him…by God’s grace! I did it for the Lord, because in my own strength I am too weak! Since then, we are both doing well but we just don’t know how much longer we each have (I’m now facing possible cancer diagnosis in my lymph/thyroid) but I am not scared like the old me would be. You cross my mind often as I see you facing life with a great attitude. Of course, we have our scared moments, right? but, that is our weak flesh. What’s everlasting is our eternal soul and that is most important. My focus has shifted from being a health nut, to being a nut for Christ…telling others about His salvation. lol, I am not ashamed and that is by His grace and mercy! I am so grateful. I’m keeping you and your husband in my prayers. Thank you again.

    • Jen says

      Hi Amanda, I am going through approved comments but see that I never responded to yours, I’m so sorry! First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and second, thank you for taking time to share part of yours and your incredibly beautiful testimony of Christ. Your worlds are so pure and filled with the spirit and perspective. I feel like we see things very much the same way – that our lives are not perfect but we gain strength through Christ every day and in the knowledge that we can be with Him forever. Like I heard once, “peace is not the absence of trials but the presence of Christ.” Your story of you donating your kidney to your husband is so touching and precious. What a special bond you have in many ways. I am sorry to hear you might have have cancer – when it rains it pours right?! My thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope it can be resolved through treatment and that you can continue to live a long healthy life! God bless you and yours! xo

  8. Barb says

    Hi Jen. Love your site, stories and all the yummy recipes of which I have made many. They all turned out just like you said.
    Wondering if you could take on the challenge of inventing / creating a recipe for split pea soup with ham and potatoes? I have searched every cook book I own, every blogger, google etc and none come close to the fabulous way my mom made it. Unfortunately she has passed away and her secret recipe with her.
    She did not blend it and turn it to green goo, but left it chunky. I think the secret has something to do with the potatoes or maybe the ham bone. Her broth was a thick creamy green – perhaps she added cream? I don’t recall hearing a blender sound, so I think she just let the soup do it’s thing. Sorry I can’t be of more help – but your soups are amazing so thought I would ask if you could add it to your timetable some time in the future. Thanks again for sharing your recipes. You sound like a really neat person to get to know.

    • Jen says

      Hi Barb, thank you so much for your kind words! I have actually never had split pea soup so it sounds like I am going to have to order it next time I go out :)! I will do some research and probably email you back with some questions if that’s okay? I will plan on posting around Christmas so people can use their ham leftovers 🙂 Thanks for the great idea – I hope I can do it justice!

  9. Vicky Ford says

    Hi Jen. I subscribed to your page a couple years ago after discovering that many of the recipes I really liked from other recipe collections that hit my inbox, were yours! I love your creativity and sense of fun in the kitchen and I get a little giddy each time I see Carlsbad Cravings in my emails. You have really created an amazing community, not only through your food, but through your incredible, inspirational story. You truly do lift up each person that is part of this community and you have done a stellar job of blooming where you are planted. LOL And each time I open your emails, I send a little prayer for your continued good health. Blessings.

    • Jen says

      Hi Vicky, my apologies for my super late reply but I so appreciate your thoughtful comment! I’m honored you are loving my recipes and thank you so much for following along! Thank you also for reading my story and for your prayers – I know they make a difference! My God’s choicest blessings be upon you and your family! xo

  10. margaret says

    YOU ARE INCREDIBLE and an INSPIRATION !!!! GOD BLESS YOU !!! Oh and btw I love your recipes xoxo

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Margaret! May God bless you and yours as well! xo

  11. Faye M Manzi says

    I was looking for slow-cooker for a new All-Clad Slow Cooker. I am well aware of Cystic Fibrosis I had three children all born with Cystic Fibrosis. My son would have been 46 this May but my daughters are 43 and 39. I know the hard life you have had and I wish you the best of everything, God Bless You and your are on my prayer list as of today.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for reaching out Faye, I just want to give you a huge hug! I’m deeply sorry for the loss of your son – my brother also passed away from CF and would have been 42. I feel like I already know so much about you knowing you’re a CF mother – strong, courageous, determined, selfless… and on and on. Thank you for being an angel on this earth – and I know you have an angel son looking out for you. Sending all my love and prayers!

  12. Vicki Salinas says

    Hi Jenn, Loving your recipes. My best friend Terry is a HUGE fan and swears by all of your recipes. I was curious to know if you ever do cooking classes? We live up by San Francisco and I thought I could surprise her for her birthday and join one of them.

    • Jen says

      Welcome to my site Vicki, I’m flattered by the praise! Unfortunately I don’t do cooking classes, sorry!

  13. Jim says

    I just happened across your website and read your story. You are one super tough woman. Saved your website to the list of my favorite websites. Best wishes and prayers from an old Texan.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story Jim and for your kind comment. May God bless you and yours as well!

  14. Larry Thomas says

    I have a son with CF. He is now 41 and is in good health. He does have diabetes but seem to keep it under control. Your journey is incredible. You are fortunate to have received the two transplants to continue journey. I just wanted to wish you the very best and a long and happy life. Thank you for sharing your life.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your kind words Larry. I know as a CF parent you are a a warrior just like your son. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to be a rock in your son’s life!

  15. David VanDenburgh says

    I was once a chaplain at Stanford Children’s Hospital and spent a lot of time with CF kids. I learned to appreciate their courage and spirit, and grieved when their lives were cut short. In those days there were no effective treatments and they all knew what the future held for them. I’m so very glad God-given knowledge and creativity gave us some treatments and that you have made the most of them to make a rich and Gid-honoring life for yourself. Keep on keeping on!

    Oh! And your recipes and photographs are amazing! I can hardly wait to try some. Thanks.

    • Jen says

      Hi David! I have been working my way through a backlog of comments and see yours somehow got lost in the mix! Thank you so much for your work, I appreciate you and I hope that you’re well!

  16. Jen Kunze says

    Just found your site. You have an amazing story of survival. Love looking at your recipes like to use fresh ingredients and shortcuts when possible. Lived in beautiful Carlsbad as a child holds special memories for me!

    • Jen says

      Welcome to my site Jen and and thank you so much for your kind words! Carlsbad really is a special place!

  17. Michelle Jeppsen says

    I absolutely love your recipes and when looking for a certain recipe I’ll check your site to see if you have a version of it. You’re fantastic with seasonings!! Have you thought of publishing a cookbook? I’m first in line. Thanks for sharing your joy, your talents, and just love for life.
    Your fan,

    • Jen says

      Thank you so so much for your support! I am so glad that you have been loving the site, and if I make a book you’ll be the first to know:)

  18. Rosalie Pace says


    I just wanted to say that I appreciate your strength and love fore life and most especially for our Lord. I am a cancer survivor, at least so far (almost 6 years now after a 20 year old cyst in my lower jaw turned to cancer and destroyed my lower jaw and the bottom of my mouth). But I am still here and so are you. I can’t eat so much but your recipes I really enjoy for what I can eat and so do my two girls. I love to cook for them. Looking forward to trying out more of them. Thank you so much.

    • Jen says

      Hi Rosalie! I am so glad that you and your girls are able to enjoy some of the recipes! Thank you for sharing some of your story with me, I admire your positivity and strength. God bless you and your family.