A Little History:
Our story begins in Pocatello, Idaho, circa 1972, when the lovely Debby Christensen agreed to a first, though fateful date with admirer, David Croshaw. Long story-short, he bade her follow him, and they went arm-in-arm to the Logan, Utah temple for establishment of an eternal family unit, Generation 1, on May 23 1973.

From their first blissful summer in Salt Lake City, educational pursuits took them to Provo/Orem, Utah, birthplace of Leslie and Rebecca, and to San Francisco/Oakland California, birthplace of Colin and Matt. Then, for establishment of livelihood, expansion of the tribe with Abby and Dana, and for raising/unifying of Generation 2, it was back to the roots in Pocatello for a rewarding sojourn.

In time, driven by a raging, but commonly shared sense of adventure and independence, one-by-one, Generation 2 escaped the homeland to distant regions of the country and the world, each ultimately developing their own tribal expansions by pairing with worthy mates and initiating Generation 3.

Now sensing fulfillment of their purpose in Pocatello, Generation 1 has also left those roots and transplanted to Cascade Idaho, from which base, they anticipate more abundant contact with The Posterity, Generations 2 and 3, in the future. That contact however, awaits fulfillment of a call to LDS missionary service in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, wherein they hope to help the state of the world by sharing the love of Jesus Christ.

So now, including Generation 0 (Grandma and Grandpa Christensen) home base includes Yuma, Arizona, Pocatello, Idaho, Cascade, Idaho, Vancouver, BC, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Spokane, Washington, Boise, Idaho, Los Angeles, California, back to Boise, Idaho, and on and on (Generation 3+) to infinity.

Our Mission Statement:
This is the blog of our eternal family unit. Initiated years ago, it served well as a journal, but even more so, as an archive of our personal interaction. It was a gathering place, a confabulation instrument, a unifying force for four generations of widely dispersed and progressively prolific posterity, and their valued associates. Though it served these purposes well for many years, it eventually took a back seat to new-kids-on-the-block, Facebook, and Instagram, and was sadly forgotten.

We now move to resurrect this blog with an added functional purpose of archiving the missionary experiences of Generation 1, of their movements and activities as they participate with The Gathering of Israel in the land northward. In so doing, we hope that via their own comments and posts, this blog will again serve to gather and unify the posterity and their friends.

As in the past, that the young and vibrant may know the old and tired, that enduring bonds may be fostered and maintained, that experience and encouragement may be openly shared, that posterity may embrace truth, and that hearts may be knit together, we must resist detachment despite our geographic divergence. We shall do so here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Here it is~

Thank you for all of your help. I only hope it is what I am supposed to be saying. It felt good to write, made me tear up at times, but I have this odd sense of confusion all around me. I have all week... anywhere, here it is. Now I need to take a look at my lesson book. I get to teach on Patriarchal Order for young women tomorrow.

Today I am going to start by telling you about something every one of us here today have in common. It is something I learned my second semester of graduate school. My professor, Barry Condron, taught about the pioneer neurons. These neurons are present very early in the developing animal- from roundworm, to fly, to mouse, to frog to human. They are born and then send forward extensions from their cell body to establish a path from the site of their birth to their final destination. At some points they turn, at other points they move actively toward a source of chemical. At yet other places, this same chemical, in a different surrounding, is repulsive to the pioneer. The little pioneer continues however, onward, forward, minding the surroundings, paying attention to all the signs, signals and cues provided by the growing embryo which changes at a remarkable rate, all the changing with the embryo appropriately until at last, it reaches its target, often a very long distance from its birth. Then it dies. But all is not lost, later generations of neurons are able to follow the invisible (and poorly understood “tracks”) of the pioneers, reaching the target in remarkable time, following the “steps” of one which made the ultimate sacrifice to provide a perfect, and easier way for later generations. The only thing the later generations have to do is follow the signs.

When I learned about pioneer neurons, something spiritual happened to me. I understood on a level outside all academic comprehension this program for patterning the organ that makes intelligent life intelligent. Very alive in me was a feeling I had recognized, hearkened to and followed all of my life to make good, correct and right decisions. For the first time in my life, I felt a spiritual affirmation that what I was learning in an academic setting was True. With a capital T. My point in telling you this story has 2 levels. 1) The recognition of truth –v- lie, right –v- wrong, light –v- dark is available for all of us as a free gift from God. It is called the Light of Christ. It was that gift that in me struck a chord so that I knew what I was learning was right, true, and good. And number 2) God is good. His plan is echoed throughout all of nature and experience, we but only have to look around to see this. Learning and exploring will reveal many spiritual truths in areas we may not think of on the outside as spiritual at all.

In preparing for this talk, I felt strongly to share with you about pioneering neurons, but I did not know why. When I took the advise of my brother-in-law and read a talk by Elder Packer, I realized how I could tie this story to my thoughts on the light of Christ, the Spirit of God…

Elder Packer shared in his 2004 talk (a few months before I met the missionaries)

The Spirit of Christ can enlighten the inventor, the scientist, the painter, the sculptor, the composer, the performer, the architect, the author to produce great, even inspired things for the blessing and good of all mankind.

I said, “yes! Yes!” to this in my mind and almost out loud. It is a feeling I have often had in the most odd of situations… including seeing a stirring photograph, or hearing amazing music (not specifically about the Gospel) and in reading the final chapters in the last Harry Potter book…
Elder Packer continues:
It can inspire the student who listens. And of enormous importance, it can inspire husband and wife, and father and mother.
This inner Light can warn and guard and guide. But it can be repulsed by anything that is ugly or unworthy or wicked or immoral or selfish.
The Light of Christ existed in you before you were born (see D&C 93:23, 29–30), and it will be with you every moment that you live and will not perish when the mortal part of you has turned to dust. It is ever there.

What comfort that brought to my soul. It is a feeling I had always had, yet not been able to communicate for lack of words to express my deepest feelings as a person. Elder Packer went on to say:

Every man, woman, and child of every nation, creed, or color—everyone, no matter where they live or what they believe or what they do—has within them the imperishable Light of Christ. In this respect, all men are created equally.

With the eyes of our understanding, we see things that are spiritual. With our spirits reaching out, we can touch things that are spiritual and feel them. Then we can see and we can feel things that are invisible to the physical senses. Remember, Nephi told his rebellious brothers, who had rejected a message from an angel, “Ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words”

The basis for my thoughts were suggested to me by Brother Brady. They come from 1 Corinthians, chapter 2.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. …

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:10, 13–14).

In modern revelation, Christ spoke of “the light which shineth, which giveth you light [and] enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings” (D&C 88:11).

Matt’s sister Dana said this about it… The light of Christ is goodness. It is all that He stands for and is. It is what makes us choose the right every single day, along with the Holy Ghost.

I want to share with you a life-altering experience, in short, with following the Light of Christ. It happened in the spring and summer of 2004. Things were not good at home, my marriage was not a healthy one, and more-importantly, my daughter was suffering greatly from it. I knew this on every level, as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, but most importantly, my heart told me things were not good. I have always used the Sprit of God- or Light of Christ- as my guide and I knew with all of my being, things were not good. I began attending my church days other than Sunday- in fact- I would go every time there was anything going on at church and for a while, that was every day… and I lived an hour away… with my daughter. One day, I told my ex-husband I wanted our home to be a place where Valerie felt loved, built-up, happy, secure and he agreed, but within a very short period of time, it became clear that although he agreed intellectually, his essential self was not committed to providing this.

I left. I had no supportive family, but I had an amazing group of friends, truly selfless collegues, and… a church to help me feel grounded.

About 2 weeks of being homeless found me suddenly with an apartment within which I promised my daughter she would have all the things I talked about a moment ago. One sunny evening as I was cooking, I got that knock of the door. It was missionaries. Elder Drumm and Elder Harding wanting to know if I wanted to hear about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I normally stayed far away from the missionaries, but this time, I said yes, accepted a book of mormon and invited them to talk with me. Thus it began. I was very involved in my other church and for a couple months, I was attending both churches on Sunday, going t my church on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursday mornings and having the missionaries over on Tuesdays and Thursday nights. One night, they brought a DVD with them. I still have it. They could see I was so affected by the story of Joseph Smith that I was visibly changed. After they left, I tried to find in my book of mormon, Joseph Smith’s history specifically so I could feel the way that I felt when Elder Harding recited for me from memory, the testimony shared about Joseph Smith’s vision of Christ.

That Sunday, I went to “my” church and sat in Sunday school as we discussed the Good Samaritan and then I heard for the rest of the hour about how awful homeless people are, how dishonest and addicted they all are, and then I struggled as our preacher said sincerely, “man, I sure hope none of them are Christ” referiing to the teachings of Christ on this earth. As the youngest in that group, I felt so intimidated, but I spoke up then and said “When I see a homeless person, I look into their eyes and see sadness, I look at their skin and see a hard life, I see them sweating or shivering and think about my central air. I feel bad. I give what I can, I never have regretted it.” Everyone stared at me, no one commented, then we went on to our next meeting. When I shared that exchange with my friend, he suggested I look up Mosiah 4 after our talk in my new book of mormon. I read the whole chapter and cried when I got to verse 19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? And then again at 21… And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.”

I am so grateful that my friend allowed me to discover that myself. It remains one of my favorite sciptures as I remember the backstory every time I read it.

As I continued my dual church identity, ‘my” church began a study of the book of Acts- so that we could try to become more like the members of the church Christ established while He was on earth. In my missionary discussions, we had been talking about baptism for a while but I just could not commit. I found it almost offensive to hear that I did not and could not have the Gift of the Holy Ghost until baptism into the LDS church by one with the proper authority when I was so accustomed to living by the feelings I knew where from Christ. On week 8, we talked about Acts chapter 8- listen to this and picture me and my dual church identity… Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.”
My heart started pounding. Our preacher looked up and asked…”what do you think that happened for?” and I said “because their baptism was not complete?” and he said “well, I don’t think that is the case necessarily…” then he asked “Why don’t we do that now during baptisms?” and I said “the proper authority is not in this church” and he looked at me and said “I think you are wrong. Things have changed with time.”

I do not remember the rest of the meeting, except I made no more comments, but in my car, after I got my daughter strapped in, I called the missionaries and committed to baptism.

The light of Christ is what led me to be able to believe and accept what I was learning- about Joseph Smith and about the Holy Ghost. At times, I wanted to just tell the missionaries I was fine in my church, but I also loved the peace and awesome way my whole life felt as I was being taught. I am so glad I let the Light of Christ guide me during that entire time, not the scared shadows lurking in my mind.

I want to end with some thoughts by Elder Wirthlin on this subject and some wise advise from my sister-in-law, Leslie and my mother in law.

This Spirit of Christ fosters everything that is good, every virtue (see Moro. 7:16). It stands in brilliant, indestructible opposition to anything that is coarse or ugly or profane or evil or wicked (see Moro. 7:17).

Conscience affirms the reality of the Spirit of Christ in man. It affirms, as well, the reality of good and evil, of justice, mercy, honor, courage, faith, love, and virtue, as well as the necessary opposites—hatred, greed, brutality, jealousy

As the sun gives life and light to the earth, a spiritual light gives nourishment to our spirits. We call this the Light of Christ. The scriptures teach us that it “lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Thus, all mankind can enjoy its blessings. The Light of Christ is the divine influence that allows every man, woman, and child to distinguish between good and evil. It encourages all to choose the right, to seek eternal truth, and to learn again the truths that we knew in our premortal existence but have forgotten in mortality.

Leslie was sure to remind me, both the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost can be ignored. They are tools available for our use, but no one's forcing us to use them.

As to how we should be using this gift as a guide in our own lives, Matt’s mom shared some great thoughts; One of our greatest goals as parents should be to enjoy the power and influence of the Holy Ghost in our homes.
We should lower the noise level in our homes so that the noise of the world will not overpower the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost.

If we feel promptings to do something good for another person, we need not talk ourselves out of that act- or wonder if it is us or the Holy Spirit. If it is a good thing, we should do as we are prompted, we will be blessed.

I do have a testimony of the Light of Christ. It is by this incredible gift that despite every seeming thing around me, I was able to make good choices and do things that made me into a person I wanted to be. I fall off from time to time, but I am happy to say that I have been so used to the feeling it is to have the Holy Ghost and to following the path lit by the Light of Christ that I am able to correct my course, commune with my God and seek intervention through my Savior. I love the Gospel because it has made me a better mom, wife, student, teacher… and person. I am grateful we get to take an active part in our salvation by the choices we make and it is my full and true understanding that this is an opportunity we all have through and because of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Bear my testimony...


Jason and Dana said...

Amazing talk Crystal. I wish I had the way with words that you do. You ward is going to be lucky to hear you today! I felt the spirit while just reading it.

Colin -N- Lori said...

Wow. I didn't get to go to church today, sick Cole and Jack, and your talk was wonderful to read. I was thinking as I read it that despite the things you deal with right now you needed this opportunity to spend some extra time and thought with the Spirit. You probably feel the same. I loved reading your conversion experience. It was something I really didn't know about.

David and Debby said...

what a beautiful talk. i also felt the Spirit as i read it. it is so amazing the way we are able to feel the truth, that incredibly wonderful feeling of truth. thanks so much for sharing it with us crystal. you are truly amazing, crystal. i am so glad you had this opportunity to get clarity with the crazy confusion in your life right now. xoxoxo

beckyV said...

I also loved your talk, and felt the spirit as I read it. I have always been struck by how close you are to the spirit and how easily you are able to recognize truth. You are a great example to me!

abbynormal said...

What an amazing and powerful talk. And what a blessing, that you were able to spend so much time this week, pondering this very topic. I hope that it brought you peace, because that was what I felt radiating through the words.

David and Debby said...

Truely vital stuff. I love the part about the pioneer neurons. How can anyone deny that we have an intelligent creator when probably millions of complex processes like that take place in the creation of every life?

Crystal said...

I just don't know what is up, but I am so so tired with no energy lately. It is rough. I feel not only tired, but weak... which makes lifting the hefty boy fun.

anyway. The talk went well, I skipped all the ins and outs of leaving my ex. I just said "after 8 years of marriage, I found myself single..." and left it at that. I was over by a few minutes and I thought that I could cut that and not be too sad about it. Besides that was more about me than the subject, so I wacked it.

As for the pioneers. I KNOW! I have always been amazed by them ever since I learned about them. It truly is inspiring how repeated things are on this earth! I think I must be off the talk hook for a couple years now!