Welcome Back July!

Jul

2

2015

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Dear July,

I’ll admit, I’ve been dreading you all year; shed little tears of anticipation in my heart at the thought of you. You have become overwhelming to me.

Years ago I heard of an organization whose leadership took off the entire month of July to spend with their families. That became my goal; one of the perks of self-employment (are there perks ;)? ) have July be “our family” time.

But you know what they say, life is what happens when you’re making other plans. You mock me, July.

You’ve become too busy. Too hectic. Too stressful. We run (RUN) from one activity to the next with only time to drop our stuff (in the entry way, seriously. Go look.) and grab our next needed gear and race out again.

It’s not fun.

It’s not productive.

It’s not relaxing.

It does not fill our days with the necessary fun of boredom required to endure the long and monotonous school year.

Dear July, I’m going to work on  you. Like a zealous gardener pruning a tree that has grown out of control, I will hack at you with great determination, cutting back on activities and yeses and time away from home. I will focus my time on staying home, cleaning, cooking, telling the kids to go out side and puh-lease, for the zillionth time, close the door.

I will trim you back until you are sparse, simple, and beautiful once again.

Next year, I promise.

Christensen Camp Out

Jun

28

2015

I forgot my camera, so I’m gathering pics from other family members of the weekend.

This year we resurrected the Christensen Family Camp Out. It was vetoed for a couple years, but this year everyone was back on board.

Wade and Katie drove across the country with their six (SIX!) kids (Wade and Katie only have 3 kids, but they are fostering an additional 3 kids for the summer). Wynn and Heidi came from Arizona.

We had a lot of fun at the lake. We rented wave runners, and camped and played and ate really yummy food. It was a good time for everyone!

Fat Dad

Jun

21

2015
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Roo in bed for the night . . .

 

Funny Story:

Wyatt took the kids to Fathers and Sons a few weeks ago. In the morning Everett reported to his dad and others at the campfire listening about his night sleeping on an air matress in the tent.

“My bed started to get flat in the night. But then my Fat Dad got on my bed, and it went back up.”

I laughed and laughed when I heard the story . . . apparently so did everyone else at Fathers and Sons.

 

Happy Fathers Day Wyatt!

And Now We’re Back to Summer

Jun

17

2015
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The kids on the last day of school . . . already changed and ready for some fun!

 

No more pencils.
No more books.
No more teachers
Dirty looks.

School is over.
School is done.
We can stop learning
And start having fun.

Our First Week of Summer

Saturday: road trip to St. George. First a detour to Zion’s National Park, a drive through the Zion’s tunnel looking for the tunnel troll, then a hike to Crying (Weeping) Rock where Everett and Roo were very concerned about the poor rock and why it was so sad. Then on to St. George for a play at Tuacahn. It was so fun!

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We stopped to get gas in some tiny town (Holden maybe?) and they had this funny little petting zoo attached to the gas station. Too funny!

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If I had a million dollars I would buy you an exotic pet, like a Llama . . .

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. . . or an Emu!

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Weeping Rock

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Sunday: Carrie’s baby Avery’s blessing. He’s such a cutie! Then hanging out with the fam. We finally hit the road about 8:45 pm . . . and broke down in Fillmore about 11:30. Luckily we broke down right at the exit. Time from break-down to having the kiddos tucked into bed at the local motel: 10 minutes. Not bad for a break down!

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We had six babies born in the Brock family this year. Here are four of them: Atticus, Kayla, Addie, and Nate. We’re missing Avery and Aiden.

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Monday: Hanging out in Fillmore waiting for the car to get fixed. That night (we made it back just in time) is organization day for Baseball!

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This is how the kids waited patiently at the mechanics shop. ;-)

 

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Tuesday: Swimming Lessons! YAHOO! So fun! Also, grocery shopping, house cleaning, laundry . . . you know.

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Wednesday: Swimming Lessons, a stop to Kirtland’s Lemonade stand, and then off to the pool. Then back home in time for Baseball games at the park.

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Thursday: Cleaning and reorganizing the basement (we’ve moved bedrooms around again, and all the mess that that entails).

Friday: Working on the quilt, afternoon at the pool, evening at the cabin for our first summer BBQ and watching “Freaky Friday” (old school) late into the night.

Saturday: Waking up at the cabin, blueberry waffles, four wheelers and going to the lake. Catching 3 fish and 3 frogs. Canoeing to the island. Playing all afternoon, home in time for a movie on the deck.

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I Love to See the Temple

Jun

14

2015

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The day after Wyatt got home, right after Ejo’s preschool graduation, we headed south for the Payson Temple Dedication.

It was so beautiful – perhaps the prettiest temple I’ve ever been inside (beside the Salt Lake, because, you know . . . )

It was so special to be there with my entire family. The kids were awed as we walked through one beautiful space after another. It was a lovely way to spend a few hours.

Everett Graduates from Preschool

Jun

14

2015

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Everett finished preschool on May 22nd. He had his preschool program and we said good bye to his friends. At the end of the summer, he knows, he will go to kindergarten; ride the bus and go to the school with Olivia and Calvin.

I’m so proud of him and his efforts in preschool. It is the most marvelous thing, to see each child progress in their turn.

Wyatt’s Sacrament Meeting Talk

May

27

2015

Wyatt and Scott were asked to speak after their return from Argentina. Here is a copy of Wyatt’s talk.  (It might be noted that he did not give this talk. Scott spoke for um, 30 of the 35 minutes of Sacrament meeting. So Wyatt pared this down to mostly a brief testimony :D And that’s fine, because that’s what’s important anyway).


 

For me, summing up the emotion of returning to Argentina and being in the temple and participating in the dedication was as the wise man Solomon said in Eccl. 1:16, “My heart had great experience.”

 

I served in the Argentina Rosario Mission from 1996-1998, and I believe my last 2 months or so was Scott’s first two months and our missions were adjacent to each other. In fact, Rosario is around 200 miles from Cordoba where the temple was just dedicated. So a little background of how I ended up in argentina again might help… I had mentioned to Andrea years ago how excited I was that Argentina was getting another temple and as it got closer to finishing, how great it would be to go there. Despite these remarks, I wasn’t planning on going back anytime soon. 17 days before the dedication, Andrea surprised me with the news that she had sent away for tickets to the dedication and gave me a dedication ticket, a plane ticket and a white handkerchief for my birthday. You could say that I was excited, at least until she also casually mentioned that I had to go with Scott :(

 

While no single missionary contributes a statistically relevant effort, each individual missionary enjoys an experience of being part of the missionary force to proclaim the gospel and to baptise convert families which to this day still brings me great satisfaction.

 

About a year into my mission, President Hinckley said:

“The time has now come to turn about and face the future. This is a season of a thousand opportunities. It is ours to grasp and move forward. What a wonderful time it is for each of us to do his or her small part in moving the work of the Lord on to its magnificent destiny” (Gordon B. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 90–91; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 67).

 

At the beginning of the year 2000, which was about the time Scott and I finished our missions,  there were 288,865 members located in 64 stakes and in 801 wards or branches in Argentina. By the dedication of the temple in May 2015, there were 432,000 members in approximately 95 stakes.  My mission was recently split and while Rosario when I was there had only 1 stake, there are now 4. and now there is a new temple.

 

 

Some highlights of our trip included:

  • a cultural event with Elder Uchtdorf and Elder Christopherson
  • visiting the temple grounds before the dedication of the temple
  • participating in the dedication of the temple
  • a session in the new temple (6 hours???)
  • a road trip to my mission, visiting chapels, people and areas where I served
  • flying to buenos aires to meet my mission companions families and catching up
  • dinners/visits with members who give so freely of their means
  • running into Elder Larsen Treleases Mission Presidents (he’s a legend back home)
  • running into Elder Bryce Merrill from the 10th ward.
  • meeting a former missionary and his wife that served 40 years ago in my areas
  • sharing the gospel again with people we met and encouraging them to go to the temple and listen to the missionaries
  • having a great friend like scott to share the experience, the good, the bad, and the ugly….
  • My favorite moment was the actual dedication of the temple itself. I felt a strong spirit regarding my own missionary work and the blessing that this temple now is to the people.

 

President Thomas S. Monson said in this last April general conference, regarding the blessings of the temple:

 

“As I think of temples, my thoughts turn to the many blessings we receive therein. As we enter through the doors of the temple, we leave behind us the distractions and confusion of the world. Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order. There is rest for our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives.

As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart. We will grasp the true meaning of the words of the Savior when He said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”1

Such peace can permeate any heart—hearts that are troubled, hearts that are burdened down with grief, hearts that feel confusion, hearts that plead for help.” The blessings of the temple are priceless.”

 

Ive been trying to put into words the feeling that I had. Its a rare occasion to find oneself with no wife, no kids, no work, no church assignments…. just 10 days of Argentina, its people, its food, the temple, cultural events, former companions and members, memories, and yes unfortunately Scott.

 

 

The truth is brothers and sisters that simple nostalgia doesn’t begin to describe my whole emotion of returning, but rather I felt like I was being afforded a chance to revisit a former  season in my life. Both times I have been to Argentina, as a missionary and as a visitor, have been great spiritual experiences.

 

As I prepared my remarks, and thinking of that time in my life, or that season of being a missionary, I thought of the words in Ecclesiastes 3:

 

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

  • One item to note: By saying that everything has a season, the author is simply saying that there are certain events that happen to all. He was not suggesting that all of us have a time to kill or a time to hate or do other negative things. There is never an appropriate time to disobey the commandments.

 

As seasons come and seasons go in our lives, we should ask ourselves:   What do I think the Lord wants me to accomplish and learn during this “time and season” of my life? I want this to be the main focus of my talk:

 

Life is change, constant chaotic change… and any desire to avoid change or avoid chaos is to desire to avoid life…and rather than avoid life we should embrace the changing seasons of our lives while holding onto the constant light of the gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

 

That was my goal, to see the change and experience that which had happened in the lives of a people that I care about very deeply.

 

In April 1971 General conference, Sterling W. Sill said:

 

“Certainly the most successful lives are those that have the most worthwhile experiences. The religion of Christ itself is not so much a set of ideas as it is a set of activities. The purpose of the Church is to help us translate the principles of the gospel of Christ into constructive, meaningful human experience. And everyone should work toward this end by a daily practice of thinking some uplifting thoughts, listening to some fine music, reading some stimulating literature, doing some good deeds, and having some great experiences every day.

By living the gospel of Jesus christ and striving to keep our covenants and His commandments to the best of our ability, we may have the assurance of his approval of our life’s decisions. How? through the divine revelation and guidance that comes from the Holy Ghost. His presence is constant in our lives through the changing seasons and amidst chaos that is mortality.

So What season of life are you in right now? What does the Lord want you to learn?

Consider the following:

The Season of a child:

this is the season of imagination and learning!  of joy, carefree play, adventure, and long summer nights where time almost stands still…. I believe that the Lord wants children to learn of Him, to love, to obey, to be meek, and to bring joy to their parents.

 

 

The Season of YM/YW:

This is the season of hands on doing, of learning, of mistakes, of growth, of mastery of self, of diligence, of accomplishment, of confidence and of transition. I know, Sounds fun, right?  :)           I believe that Heavenly Father wants you YM and YW to gain a testimony of Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, your Savior and Redeemer through the Atonement. He wants you to study the plan of salvation, with all its parts and commit yourself to living your life in a manner that is pleasing to Him. He wants you to know that he loves you, is with you and wants you to be happy and grow! He also has given you your fantastic parents to teach you, guide you and love you through all the change. They love you soooo much!

 

The Season of a Missionary:

this is a season of partnership! a wonderful partnership with Him in His work and with the guidance of the Holy Ghost. It is a season of selflessness, of serving and of spiritual highs. This is a season that may come in your youth or in later years with a spouse or otherwise. It is a time to give back, to give of yourself and to be closer to Him than perhaps any other time in your life. This is a marvelous season! Do not miss it! Don’t skip it-either as a youth or senior missionary, this is a true privilege to directly represent Jesus Christ Himself, to be set apart to do so.

 

For me personally, this was a season where I learned to love my Heavenly Father and where I committed to doing what was asked of me to the best of my abilities, for no reason other than because I love Him.  As president Hinckley said, regarding missionary work “You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make.”

 

The Season of Young Adulthood:

This season includes young adults that may be post mission or post high school but pre marriage. It is a time to focus on your needs, of education, of dating, of career, of friendships. This time will prepare you. I believe that Heavenly Father wants you to learn patience…. that so hard to learn the virtue of patience. He wants you to learn to trust in Him, His time frame, His Plan. He wants you to prepare for marriage and children, whether they come right away or not.

 

The season of Marriage and Children:

This is a season also of partnership, but now also with an eternal companion to raise children and form a family. Remember the words of the Proclamation to the World: the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

 

Elder L. Tom Perry said a few months ago in his last general conference talk, “ Let me close by bearing witness (and my nine decades on this earth fully qualify me to say this) that the older I get, the more I realize that family is the center of life and is the key to eternal happiness.” I already miss Elder Perry!

 

WORK:

Having a family is a season of work! and then some more work followed by a little work and then finally topped off with a bit of work and then finally finished with more work.

 

  1. David Burton, in the Liahona Magazine,in December 2009, said:

Today, many have forgotten the value of work. Some falsely believe that the highest goal in life is to achieve a condition in which one no longer needs to work. President David O. McKay (1873–1970) was fond of saying, “Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that power to work is a blessing, that love of work is success.” 1

Work is not a matter of economic need alone; it is a spiritual necessity. As with any other commandment, there is joy in its keeping. To work—honestly and productively—brings contentment and a sense of self-worth. Having done all we can to be self-reliant, to provide for our own needs and those of our family, we can turn to the Lord in confidence to ask for what we might yet lack.

 

 

My grandmother, Hope Christensen, was a great example of someone who knew how to work throughout her season of marriage and children:  Born in 1910, the same year as President Hinckley, she married at age 17, and served side by side with my grandfather til his passing in 1984. She would go on to live 31 years working and serving in the church after his death. Today,  they have 11 children, 49 grandchildren, 132 great grandchildren and 32 great great grandchildren and she knew them all. She would ask about our children by name even after she turned 100 years old. When Olivia was born, she insisted on coming up to our home here, a task that surely took her the better part of a day and brought us a little pink blanket that said, “thank heaven for little girls” which Olivia still has on her bed today. She knew how to put one foot in front of another and work while enjoying her blessings all the way up to the day she passed away at the tender age of 105 years! :) She passed away just a few weeks ago right before I left for the temple dedication. We all can think of loved ones in our lives who have set examples like this for generations to follow.

 

Now is not the time for me to be a missionary in Argentina, though I loved that season of my life. My focus today is on the season I’m in right now and I love the season of my life now and all the blessings I enjoy today. That is how the Lord wants us to feel, to enjoy the now, rather than focus on the past or plan too far into the future. On LDS.ORG yesterday, I saw an article written for less active members of the church entitled: Who you are becoming is more important that who you’ve been. Its a great message for all of us on focusing on today and the blessings of right now.

There are other seasons in our lives, but regardless of the season we are in, we should strive for excellence-

These seasons we also must embrace; a time/season to fast, a time/season of having no children at home (empty nest), the time/season of your church calling. For some, there may be a season of inactivity and return to full fellowship… for others a time/season of scouting, of being a YM/YW enjoying a season of high school/college. There may be a time/season for illness or downright good ol’ fashioned heartbreak and good ol’ fashion mourning. We must each remember that seasons come and seasons go, but no matter what season we are in, we should strive for excellence. Elder Sterling W. Sill said, in that same 1971 April General conference:

 

This philosophy of excellence was demonstrated by the artist Whistler, who once painted a tiny picture of a spray of roses. The artistry involved was magnificent. Never before, it seemed, had the art of man been able to execute quite so deftly a reproduction of the art of nature. The picture was the envy of the artists who saw it, the despair of the collectors who yearned to buy it for their collections, but Whistler refused steadfastly to sell it.

“For,” said he, “whenever I feel that my hand has lost its cunning, whenever I doubt my ability, I look at the little picture of the spray of roses and say to myself, ‘Whistler, you painted that. Your hand drew it. Your imagination conceived the colors. Your skill put the roses on the canvas.’ Then,” he said, “I know that what I have done I can do again.”

Then he gave us a great philosophy of success. He said, “Hang on the walls of your mind the memory of your successes. Take counsel of your strength, not your weakness. Think of the good jobs you have done. Think of the times when you rose above your average level of performance and carried out an idea or a dream or a desire for which you had deeply longed. Hang these pictures on the walls of your mind and look at them as you travel the roadway of life.”

May we each remember the good jobs we have done, are doing and will continue to do in every season of our lives, In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.