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.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Service

I got it done before Christmas!

I have been thinking all week about my favorite Christmas story and I have been coming up with nothing.  Maybe I need to read more Christmas stories.  My favorite story is not really a story but more the example of Mom and Dad.

Christmas is about service and all of us have been shown the example all our lives.  With parents like ours it is hard to not understand this.  The Christmases that are most memorable to me are the ones when we were doing the 12 days of Christmas for someone who really needed it.  When I consider how lucky I am to belong to the family I do, I also consider those who aren't lucky enough to have an enjoyable Christmas.  I think of the joy I felt every year when we did that as a family.  That became the highlight of the entire season.

Between the 12 days of Christmas and volunteering at the soup kitchen in Florida, I know what is important about this time of year and it makes me want to continue that tradition with my own family.  If my kids don't understand the joy of service then they will never understand the true spirit is Christmas and that would be a failure on my part.

Mom and Dad, thank you for your examples.

Christmas Eve - day 12

This Christmas
Mend a quarrel.
Seek out a forgotten friend.
Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.
Write a letter.
Give a soft answer.
Encourage youth.
Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.
Keep a promise.
Forgo a grudge.
Forgive an enemy.
Try to understand.
Examine your demands on other.
Think first of someone else.
Be kind.
Be gentle.
Laugh a little more.
Express your gratitude.
Welcome a stranger.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love and then speak it again.
                            -Howard W. Hunter

Sunday, December 23, 2012

On the eleventh day of Christmas

I've been thinking a lot about what story I could share that has personal significance to me.  "Papa Panov's Special Christmas" always reminds me of Matthew 25:40: "...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  This scripture has had special meaning to me ever since the year I had a fire in my apartment right before Christmas - we were completely overwhelmed and deeply touched by the way everyone came to our aid.  I have never in my life felt the presence and support of the Savior more tangibly than during those difficult months.  It has been nine years since the fire, but there isn't a Christmas that goes by that I don't stop and think about that season of my life and the lessons I learned.  We can see the Savior in everyone around us.

Papa Panov's Special Christmas

It was Christmas Eve and although it was still afternoon, lights had begun to appear in the shops and houses of the little Russian village, for the short winter day was nearly over. Excited children scurried indoors and now only muffled sounds of chatter and laughter escaped from closed shutters.

Old Papa Panov, the village shoemaker, stepped outside his shop to take one last look around. The sounds of happiness, the bright lights and the faint but delicious smells of Christmas cooking reminded him of past Christmas times when his wife had still been alive and his own children little. Now they had gone. His usually cheerful face, with the little laughter wrinkles behind the round steel spectacles, looked sad now. But he went back indoors with a firm step, put up the shutters and set a pot of coffee to heat on the charcoal stove. Then, with a sigh, he settled in his big armchair.

Papa Panov did not often read, but tonight he pulled down the big old family Bible and, slowly tracing the lines with one forefinger, he read again the Christmas story. He read how Mary and Joseph, tired by their journey to Bethlehem, found no room for them at the inn, so that Mary's little baby was born in the cowshed.

"Oh, dear, oh, dear!" exclaimed Papa Panov, "if only they had come here! I would have given them my bed and I could have covered the baby with my patchwork quilt to keep him warm."

He read on about the wise men who had come to see the baby Jesus, bringing him splendid gifts. Papa Panov's face fell. "I have no gift that I could give him," he thought sadly.

Then his face brightened. He put down the Bible, got up and stretched his long arms to the shelf high up in his little room. He took down a small, dusty box and opened it. Inside was a perfect pair of tiny leather shoes. Papa Panov smiled with satisfaction. Yes, they were as good as he had remembered- the best shoes he had ever made. "I should give him those," he decided, as he gently put them away and sat down again.

He was feeling tired now, and the further he read the sleeper he became. The print began to dance before his eyes so that he closed them, just for a minute. In no time at all Papa Panov was fast asleep.

And as he slept he dreamed. He dreamed that someone was in his room and he knew at once, as one does in dreams, who the person was. It was Jesus.

"You have been wishing that you could see me, Papa Panov." he said kindly, "then look for me tomorrow. It will be Christmas Day and I will visit you. But look carefully, for I shall not tell you who I am."

When at last Papa Panov awoke, the bells were ringing out and a thin light was filtering through the shutters. "Bless my soul!" said Papa Panov. "It's Christmas Day!"

He stood up and stretched himself for he was rather stiff. Then his face filled with happiness as he remembered his dream. This would be a very special Christmas after all, for Jesus was coming to visit him. How would he look? Would he be a little baby, as at that first Christmas? Would he be a grown man, a carpenter- or the great King that he is, God's Son? He must watch carefully the whole day through so that he recognized him however he came.

Papa Panov put on a special pot of coffee for his Christmas breakfast, took down the shutters and looked out of the window. The street was deserted, no one was stirring yet. No one except the road sweeper. He looked as miserable and dirty as ever, and well he might! Whoever wanted to work on Christmas Day - and in the raw cold and bitter freezing mist of such a morning?

Papa Panov opened the shop door, letting in a thin stream of cold air. "Come in!" he shouted across the street cheerily. "Come in and have some hot coffee to keep out the cold!"

The sweeper looked up, scarcely able to believe his ears. He was only too glad to put down his broom and come into the warm room. His old clothes steamed gently in the heat of the stove and he clasped both red hands round the comforting warm mug as he drank.

Papa Panov watched him with satisfaction, but every now and them his eyes strayed to the window. It would never do to miss his special visitor.

"Expecting someone?" the sweeper asked at last. So Papa Panov told him about his dream.

"Well, I hope he comes," the sweeper said, "you've given me a bit of Christmas cheer I never expected to have. I'd say you deserve to have your dream come true." And he actually smiled.

When he had gone, Papa Panov put on cabbage soup for his dinner, then went to the door again, scanning the street. He saw no one. But he was mistaken. Someone was coming.

The girl walked so slowly and quietly, hugging the walls of shops and houses, that it was a while before he noticed her. She looked very tired and she was carrying something. As she drew nearer he could see that it was a baby, wrapped in a thin shawl. There was such sadness in her face and in the pinched little face of the baby, that Papa Panov's heart went out to them.

"Won't you come in," he called, stepping outside to meet them. "You both need a warm by the fire and a rest."

The young mother let him shepherd her indoors and to the comfort of the armchair. She gave a big sigh of relief.

"I'll warm some milk for the baby," Papa Panov said, "I've had children of my own- I can feed her for you." He took the milk from the stove and carefully fed the baby from a spoon, warming her tiny feet by the stove at the same time.

"She needs shoes," the cobbler said.

But the girl replied, "I can't afford shoes, I've got no husband to bring home money. I'm on my way to the next village to get work."

Sudden thought flashed through Papa Panov's mind. He remembered the little shoes he had looked at last night. But he had been keeping those for Jesus. He looked again at the cold little feet and made up his mind.

"Try these on her," he said, handing the baby and the shoes to the mother. The beautiful little shoes were a perfect fit. The girl smiled happily and the baby gurgled with pleasure.

"You have been so kind to us," the girl said, when she got up with her baby to go. "May all your Christmas wishes come true!"

But Papa Panov was beginning to wonder if his very special Christmas wish would come true. Perhaps he had missed his visitor? He looked anxiously up and down the street. There were plenty of people about but they were all faces that he recognized. There were neighbors going to call on their families. They nodded and smiled and wished him Happy Christmas! Or beggars - and Papa Panov hurried indoors to fetch them hot soup and a generous hunk of bread, hurrying out again in case he missed the Important Stranger.

All too soon the winter dusk fell. When Papa Panov next went to the door and strained his eyes, he could no longer make out the passers-by. Most were home and indoors by now anyway. He walked slowly back into his room at last, put up the shutters, and sat down wearily in his armchair.

So it had been just a dream after all. Jesus had not come.

Then all at once he knew that he was no longer alone in the room.

This was not dream for he was wide awake. At first he seemed to see before his eyes the long stream of people who had come to him that day. He saw again the old road sweeper, the young mother and her baby and the beggars he had fed. As they passed, each whispered, "Didn't you see me, Papa Panov?"

"Who are you?" he called out, bewildered.

Then another voice answered him. It was the voice from his dream- the voice of Jesus.

"I was hungry and you fed me," he said. "I was naked and you clothed me. I was cold and you warmed me. I came to you today in everyone of those you helped and welcomed."

Then all was quiet and still. Only the sound of the big clock ticking. A great peace and happiness seemed to fill the room, overflowing Papa Panov's heart until he wanted to burst out singing and laughing and dancing with joy.

"So he did come after all!" was all that he said.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

This is a little late, but I will turn back the time published so it syncs with Abby's later today.  Matt and I are in Pocatello with Asher this year, and Christmas with extended family is certainly a blessing we have not ever had since our marriage.  In fact, I have had Christmas with just Valerie... then with Valerie and Matt... then Valerie Matt and Asher, since 2003.  Every Christmas from then, until now, has been a bit lonely. In the last couple years, I have learned some things to do to help with those feelings (involving service and making dinner for missionaries or other familes who are alone in our area).  Spending this year with family is a blessing for sure.

Also, Valerie is not here with us, and Asher is sick with the flu, so I can tell you for sure, what I want most, is for my little family to be healthy and well, and happy- above all else.  This cements what I have learned over the last several years.

My thoughts on what we could share on the tenth day of Christmas, is a little of what speaks to my heart the most about christmas, and that is the birth of Christ, lowly as it was.  The most powerful way I can express my feelings is through music, and I will spare you my voice, and leave you instead with these.  Please, please take the time to listen to each. 

On behalf of those with no family around, I ask you to invite them over for a bit Christmas Eve.  Trust me, it will do so much good to the hearts of those who feel a bit lonely. 

I recognize the little drummer boy in my children, they have both demonstrated to me, such a desire to be kind and love- giving what they can, in such sweet innocence.  May we all have faith, and love, like a child.

My testimony of Christ was born, in a tangible way, as a barely-five-year old.  I never doubted what I had learned of Jesus Christ as a little bitty girl.  The first emotional memory I have of that knowlege, is with this song.  My kindergarten class was practicing it at school (yay, Kansas!) for a Christmas program, and as I sang the words, I began to cry and cry.  The music teacher asked me what was wrong, and I told her "nothing." That is true, it was such a sweet testimony to my heart then, and still the memory is one of my most-precious.  I don't share it often.

Later, on Christmas day, I got a platic loom with elastic loops, and my brothers got identical blue cars, that you pulled back, then let go- and they would race away.  I wanted to play with my brother, David's and he refused me, and at first, I got mad, then I the exact same spirit that came into my heart the day I was practicing in school.  I try to remember that feeling, even now, and remember to view people as Christ does.  It has done wonders to dissipate my frustration and annoyance with people. 

This is my favorite, ever rendition of this song.  I listen to the Devotional every year, excited about this song at the end.  This version is just sublime, with the scene it sets.

Is that not, just sublime? It is ok if you need to wipe away tears now, that just means we match.

I also do want to share with you, my Testimony of Christ.  I know, beyond all things i know, that He was born to Mary, the Son of God.  I know that he lived fewer years than I have lived, and served, loved, and led by example every day of His life, and that He died for our sins.  I do not know much else with this certainty, but I do try to not add to the suffering He felt on the cross.  I challenge everyone who reads this to try to refrain from unkindness, selfishness, impatience, and frustration through Christmas Day.  It is hard, but that is a gift we can all give to each other. 

Finally, I hope Santa brings a new computer to 299 S 20th :-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On the seventh day of Christmas...

I always loved the church Christmas videos, and one in particular. I never knew it was based on a short story by Pearl S. Buck. (I probably didn't know who she was at the time.) Many of you will probably recognize it. Christmas Day in the Morning, by Pearl S. Buck He woke suddenly and completely. It was four o’clock, the hour at which his father had always called him to get up and help with the milking. Strange how the habits of his youth clung to him still! Fifty years ago, and his father had been dead for thirty years, and yet he waked at four o’clock in the morning. He had trained himself to turn over and go to sleep, but this morning it was Christmas, he did not try to sleep. Why did he feel so awake tonight? He slipped back in time, as he did so easily nowadays. He was fifteen years old and still on his father’s farm. He loved his father. He had not known it until one day a few days before Christmas, when he had overheard what his father was saying to his mother. “Mary, I hate to call Rob in the mornings. He’s growing so fast and he needs his sleep. If you could see how he sleeps when I go in to wake him up! I wish I could manage alone.” “Well, you can’t Adam.” His mother’s voice was brisk, “Besides, he isn’t a child anymore. It’s time he took his turn.” “Yes,” his father said slowly. “But I sure do hate to wake him.” When he heard these words, something in him spoke: his father loved him! He had never thought of that before, taking for granted the tie of their blood. Neither his father nor his mother talked about loving their children–they had no time for such things. There was always so much to do on the farm. Now that he knew his father loved him, there would be no loitering in the mornings and having to be called again. He got up after that, stumbling blindly in his sleep, and pulled on his clothes, his eyes shut, but he got up. And then on the night before Christmas, that year when he was fifteen, he lay for a few minutes thinking about the next day. They were poor, and most of the excitement was in the turkey they had raised themselves and mince pies his mother made. His sisters sewed presents and his mother and father always bought something he needed, not only a warm jacket, maybe, but something more, such as a book. And he saved and bought them each something, too. He wished, that Christmas when he was fifteen, he had a better present for his father. As usual he had gone to the ten-cent store and bought a tie. It had seemed nice enough until he lay thinking the night before Christmas. He looked out of his attic window, the stars were bright. “Dad,” he had once asked when he was a little boy, “What is a stable?” “It’s just a barn,” his father had replied, “like ours.” Then Jesus had been born in a barn, and to a barn the shepherds had come… The thought struck him like a silver dagger. Why should he not give his father a special gift too, out there in the barn? He could get up early, earlier than four o’clock, and he could creep into the barn and get all the milking done. He’d do it alone, milk and clean up, and then when his father went in to start the milking he’d see it all done. And he would know who had done it. He laughed to himself as he gazed at the stars. It was what he would do, and he mustn’t sleep too sound. He must have waked twenty times, scratching a match each time to look at his old watch-midnight, and half past one, and then two o’clock. At a quarter to three he got up and put on his clothes. He crept downstairs, careful of the creaky boards, and let himself out. The cows looked at him, sleepy and surprised. It was early for them too. He had never milked all alone before, but it seemed almost easy. He kept thinking about his father’s surprise. His father would come in and get him, saying that he would get things started while Rob was getting dressed. He’d go to the barn, open the door, and then he’d go get the two big empty milk cans. But they wouldn’t be waiting or empty, they’d be standing in the milk-house, filled. “What the–,” he could hear his father exclaiming. He smiled and milked steadily, two strong streams rushing into the pail, frothing and fragrant. The task went more easily than he had ever known it to go before. Milking for once was not a chore. It was something else, a gift to his father who loved him. He finished, the two milk cans were full, and he covered them and closed the milk-house door carefully, making sure of the latch. Back in his room he had only a minute to pull off his clothes in the darkness and jump into bed, for he heard his father up. He put the covers over his head to silence his quick breathing. The door opened. “Rob!” His father called. “We have to get up, son, even if it is Christmas.” “Aw-right,” he said sleepily. The door closed and he lay still, laughing to himself. In just a few minutes his father would know. His dancing heart was ready to jump from his body. The minutes were endless–ten, fifteen, he did not know how many–and he heard his father’s footsteps again. The door opened and he lay still. “Rob!” “Yes, Dad–” His father was laughing, a queer sobbing sort of laugh. “Thought you’d fool me, did you?” His father was standing by his bed, feeling for him, pulling away the cover. “It’s for Christmas, Dad!” He found his father and clutched him in a great hug. He felt his father’s arms go around him. It was dark and they could not see each other’s faces. “Son, I thank you. Nobody ever did a nicer thing–” “Oh, Dad, I want you to know–I do want to be good!” The words broke from him of their own will. He did not know what to say. His heart was bursting with love. He got up and pulled on his clothes again and they went down to the Christmas tree. Oh what a Christmas, and how his heart had nearly burst again with shyness and pride as his father told his mother and made the younger children listen about how he, Rob, had got up all by himself. “The best Christmas gift I ever had, and I’ll remember it, son every year on Christmas morning, so long as I live.” They had both remembered it, and now that his father was dead, he remembered it alone: that blessed Christmas dawn when, alone with the cows in the barn, he had made his first gift of true love. This Christmas he wanted to write a card to his wife and tell her how much he loved her, it had been a long time since he had really told her, although he loved her in a very special way, much more than he ever had when they were young. He had been fortunate that she had loved him. Ah, that was the true joy of life, the ability to love. Love was still alive in him, it still was. It occurred to him suddenly that it was alive because long ago it had been born in him when he knew his father loved him. That was it: Love alone could awaken love. And he could give the gift again and again. This morning, this blessed Christmas morning, he would give it to his beloved wife. He I could write it down in a letter for her to read and keep forever. He went to his desk and began his love letter to his wife: My dearest love… Such a happy, happy, Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Six Geese a-laying

In the wake of what happened this past weekend, I was so incredibly touched, brought to tears, by this story in the current issue of the Liahona.  I couldn't wait for my turn to share.

 The Light of the World

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Erin stood on Temple Square in Salt Lake City looking at life-sized statues of the nativity scene and waiting for the music and story to begin. Christmas lights twinkled all around her. But it didn’t feel like Christmastime.
“Are you all right?” Mom asked her.
Erin nodded, but she wasn’t so sure.
Only a few days ago, a boy from Erin’s class at school had died in a car accident. She had seen a lot of people crying at the funeral, and she had cried a lot herself. She hadn’t known the boy that well, but Erin knew hisfamily loved him as much as her family loved her. She felt scared to know that something like that could happen to someone her age.
Now she didn’t feel excited for Christmas. She felt worried all the time—scared to get in a car, scared to be apart from her parents, scared to leave her house in case something bad happened to her while she was away. All the Christmas lights on Temple Square couldn’t erase the worried feeling inside her. How could she be happy in a world where she wasn’t always safe?
“It’s about to start,” Dad said. He pointed to the nativity scene.
The loudspeakers crackled to life, and a voice began speaking. Music played, and spotlights shone down on statues of shepherds, Wise Men, Mary, and Joseph. Erin listened to the familiar story. The baby Jesus was born and laid in a manger. Angels sang. Shepherds worshipped. Wise Men rejoiced.
Erin looked at the faces of her parents and the crowd gathered around the nativity scene. They all seemed happy. But why was everyone so happy about the baby Jesus if His birth didn’t stop bad things from happening? Erin didn’t like the question circling through her head. All she wanted was to stop feeling afraid.
The story ended, and a recording of the prophet’s voice came over the loudspeaker. He bore his testimony and read a scripture from the Bible: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Erin’s heart beat faster. She said the words again in her mind, trying to remember them. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
The scripture said that everyone would die—young people, old people—everyone. Erin knew that, of course, but she hadn’t thought about it much before. She thought she was too young to think about such things. But she wasn’t too young to have a testimony of the truth: because of Jesus Christeveryone would live again. That’s why the shepherds and Wise Men rejoiced. They understood what Jesus had come to earth to do.
Erin looked from the little stable to a window in the visitors’ center behind the nativity scene. Inside the building a light shone on a large statue of Jesus stretching out His scarred hands. Erin thought about the little baby in the manger and how He grew into someone who had all power. And yet He chose to sacrifice His life for her. He had been born so she could live again. No matter what happened, Erin could feel safe in Jesus’s love.
Peace washed over her. She couldn’t quite explain how, but her worry disappeared. When she looked at the statue of Jesus Christ, shining brighter than twinkling Christmas lights, she barely noticed the dark night sky. She was too busy feeling the warmth of hope flickering inside her.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Timothy Thomas

This is a little story David's family reads together every year before Christmas. (If I remember right, there are actually TWO stories - I'll let David add the other if he so desires.)

Timothy Thomas is mending his ways;
He hasn't been sassy or naughty for days.
He hangs up his clothes without being told,
And he picks up his toys before mother can scold.

He wipes off his shoes when he comes in the door;
His neck and ears never were so clean before.
He doesn't act rough, and you won't hear him yell,
Folks wonder if Timothy Thomas is well.

He ASKS to run errands;
Eats the crust on his bread,
And promptly at eight
He goes straight up to bed!

His behavior is strange, but it's only because
Young Timmy has written to old Santa Claus
With a P.S. inscribed at the foot of his note:
Quote, "I'm a good boy, dear Santa," unquote.

This brief spell of goodness is lovely, it's true,
If it only could last all the long winter through.
But (sigh) Christmas morning, around about ten,
Young Timothy Thomas turns normal again.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Real Reason for Christmas.

I am a very lucky person.  The biggest reason I feel so lucky is because of Crystal.  She's beautiful, bright, funny and knows how to make holiday's truly special.  Her thoughtfulness and generosity help me to see what the real reason for Christmas is. Last year there was one particular experience that reminded of one of the things I love about Christmas and it wasn't because she is an amazing cook.

I was at home one day when she sent me a link to an article about what some people were doing in honor of the Christmas season.  What the people were doing was going to a K-Mart because they had a lay-away program and telling the employee who worked at the lay-away counter that they would like to pay off some random person's bill.  It was a very touching thing to think about someone doing an anonymous act of kindness.  She then talked to me about whether or not we should do something like that.  We agreed that it  was a good thing to do.  So I went down to the K-Mart in Harrisonburg and paid a portion of someone's lay-away.  The person working at the lay-away counter was surprised and touched.

I am grateful that Crystal is such an angel and is such a generous soul.  This experience is one of many where she has reminded me not only of what Christmas is all about but about what life is really about.  Christmas is a wonderful time because people are more willing to go out of their way to help others. I am very thankful to have Crystal in my life because she is always looking for ways to help other people.  Thank you Crystal for helping me to recognize the real reason for Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the 1st Day of Christmas

Mom and Dad, The kids (us) were emailing back and forth about drawing names, and we decided that it would be much more special if we did something that would help us remember the "reason for the season". So, we're taking turns posting some of our favorite Christmas stories on the blog. We've committed to getting together with our families to read over them every night, and we hope you'll do the same. Love you all! I'm picking this one before someone else does. ;-) One of my all time favorites: The Gift of the Magi

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Gratitude Challenge

I heard a powerful and articulate talk today about gratitude by our Stake Primary President.  I wish I could give it back to all of you verbatim.  It was timely for me to hear her message, but then, when is it NOT a good time to be reminded to be grateful?

She talked about reasons to be grateful - it makes you happier AND healthier, it allows you to see more of your blessings that you may have overlooked, and the Lord is displeased by a spirit of ingratitude ("Really, children of Israel, you're complaining about the manna?  I can make it stop.").

She talked about feeling gratitude for small, mundane, everyday things.

She pointed out that gratitude is completely under our control, and often it's just a matter of reframing your situation to see the good.

Remember the joy you felt the first time you rode a bike without training wheels?  Do you still feel that kind of joy every time you ride now?

When was the last time you felt gratitude for the songbird that wakes you up at 5am, because you have the ability to hear it?  Or for feeling the sunlight on your face, because you can go outside and you have the amazing gift of a sense of touch?

Or, when it rains, instead of grumbling that you're stuck inside all day or that you'll get stuck in traffic, thinking how great it is that you don't have to water your plants?

She issued a challenge to us: The Gratitude Challenge.  It's simple: write down 100 things you're grateful for.  But before you start feeling overwhelmed, break it down this way:

- List 10 people you're grateful for.
- List 10 people who have died you're grateful for.
- List 10 physical abilities you're grateful for.
- List 10 material possessions you're grateful for.
- List 10 things about nature you're grateful for.
- List 10 things just about today you're grateful for.
- List 10 places on earth you're grateful for.
- List 10 modern-day inventions you're grateful for.
- List 10 foods you're grateful for.
- List 10 things about the Gospel you're grateful for.

Then, if you're feeling motivated, you can come up with your own lists beyond that - 10 things about your home, your spouse, your parents, things Jesus did...imagine how much happier you'd be if you listed out 10 things and made the conscious decision to be grateful every day.

Pres. Monson has said,
It would be easy to become discouraged and cynical about the future-or even fearful of what might come-if we allowed ourselves to dwell only on that which is wrong in the world and in our lives. Today, however, I’d like us to turn our thoughts and our attitudes away from the troubles around us and to focus instead on our blessings as members of the Church. The Apostle Paul declared, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear [or complaint]; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Happy Sunday.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Of all the venerated names attributable to our perfect Creator, He asks us to address Him simply as Father.  That we otherwise weak and debased men might then emulate and better identify with Him in whose image we are, He succors us to follow His example and apply the same honored title to ourselves and our progenitors.  We would do well to esteem and merit such distinction by keeping His commandments and modeling His love to our own posterity, while honoring our own mortal Fathers' aspirations to do so.

Although my father passed many years ago, I want to take this opportunity to remember and honor him for the fine example he was to me of hard work, general goodness, and paternal responsibility.  I shall ever be grateful for the influence of his example, which I continually strive to emulate.  I tell myself that if I can become as devoted, honest, and dependable as he was, I might then consider my test passed and my earth  life successful.

Born in 1901 to John and Mae Belle Fisher Croshaw, George Vernal Croshaw was the 2nd born, and oldest son of twelve children.  He was raised on a dry farm in Oxford, Idaho prior to automation, and even before electricity was commonly available.  Thus he learned a work ethic that would define the rest of his life.  He really never stopped working until the last two years of his life when he became disabled by illness.  Although I yet remain somewhat resistant to the concept, he taught me this work ethic.  Whether it was harrowing the large family garden and burying leaves and old corn stalks, one shovel-full at a time, or straitening bent nails, or dismantling old cars, reroofing the house, or pouring a new driveway (manual crank cement mixer,) my summers were kept busy, with many a laborious project.

After completing the standard eighth-grade educa-tion he continued to work the family farm until age 28, when he fell for Arvilla Poole six years his junior, a pretty, young "school marm"  from Whitney who had taken a teaching assignment in the Oxford.  They were married in June of 1929 in the Logan, Utah temple.  They moved to the boom town of Pocatello to work for Union Pacific Railroad.  They wanted very much to have children, but it would be another 11 years, subsequent to much prayer and fasting, before Verna Lee would be born.  She of course, was then spoiled rotten, but she has recovered.  Amid occasional miscarriages, and while weathering the depression, they continued their family quest, the rest of us coming at a relatively quicker clip, Mary Lou, Arva Lynn, George V. Jr., and finally me.

Here we are (mom was photographer,) sometime around 1951, sitting on the back porch of the unfinished second home Dad would build for the growing family on 230 Park Ave. in Pocatello.  Therein, he demon- strated his perfectionist trait which was often at odds with his frugality trait.  Funds being short, he harked back to his farm-boy days of getting by on very little, scavenging used building materials from the railroad scrap yard or wherever (see "straitening nails" comment above.)  When it was time to install however, there was no room for mediocrity.  Everything had to be done right, true and square.  He also had a flair for design, well ahead of his time and the outcome was a very comfortable home, valued well beyond his earnings.  I like to claim this as the source of my perfectionist trait, as I watched it happen and lived for many years in the finished product, often discovering some new marvel of engineering or design.  It seems I recall carrying bricks (see pile off Mary Lou's elbow) for this home, but judging from my bantam stature in this photo, I now wonder about that.  Although, completing this home took several years while Dad worked full-time on the Railroad, so maybe I'm not crazy.

Childhood in those times was carefree.  Liberty to play and roam at will was the norm for us.  Of course, as a child I was not fully aware of difficulties, but having observed as an adult, the downward societal trends over the past 30-40 years, I now believe the period of my childhood was the best of times. In this scene, George and I try out the float that our dad helped us build for the Childrens' Pioneer parade.  In those times, there were few distractions from meaningful family inter- action.  They worked very hard, but our parents assured that we were cohesive and truly happy.  I believe that regardless of societal limitations, parents of any period can do the same by keeping their eye on the goal and policing the distractions.  Debby and I certainly tried to achieve this in our family, and I see similar efforts and results in the next generation of our grandchildren.  They are truly happy, for which I am truly grateful to their parents for catching that vision.

Move forward to Thanksgiving Day, about 1966, when all the sibs were married except George, then in college at BYU, and me, then a junior at HHS.  These gatherings were difficult for some as they lived sub- stantial distances away.  But, Mom and Dad consistently maintained the vision of family cohesiveness, preparing and beautifying their home, and hosting grand feasts that would attract us back year after year.  It was around this time that Dad retired from the railroad after approxi-mately 37 years of service.  Still in good health, he immediately started into a home remodel- ing and repair business, wherein I was his right hand man, again having opportunity to gain an appreciation for detail.

I believe this photo was taken between '67-'68, during my senior year in high school.  I very much looked forward to these gatherings, since the house could get pretty quite the rest of the year with just them and me.  They were in their mid-late 60's at this point in time, and I was pretty sure there was a generation gap between us.  I wasn't sure they understood me entirely, and regrettably, I was too cool to be in tune with their concerns.  I now however, see reality, that they did understand my need 
for relative independence and individuality, as they gave me space, tolerating with a smile, some pretty crazy antics from my friends and me.  The whole time however, they maintained high expectations of my moral character.  That carried me through and made it possible for me to move on into adulthood, via a church mission.  In 1969, amid the craziness of the world at that time, following the example of my older brother, I chose to serve a 2 year mission for the Church, and was called to South Korea.  I knew Mom and Dad were pleased with that decision.  They supported me fully, financially as well as morally.  I received weekly letters from them, even when I didn't reciprocate.  From this photo, one can sense their true anticipation and pleasure at hearing my voice on one of the few occasions I could phone home.
On my return from Korea, a happy reunion ensued.   They were quite good sports about donning the Korean honbokes (traditional dress) I brought home as gifts for them.  The missionary experience was profound, as I had witness changes occur in peoples' lives.  It prepared me for rigors of the life ahead by giving me faith.  Of course, Mom and Dad knew it would be that way, which was why they had wanted me to go.

Of course, the reunion extended to the rest of the family who all met at Verna Lee's home.  They came because by example, they had all caught the vision of family cohesiveness.  Family matters.  We provide support, moral or otherwise as needed, because we are each important to one another, now, and in eternity.  I knew I was important to these people because they came to see me, to hear of my experiences, and to and wish me well.  This is what our mother and our father, in their parental wisdom had ingrained in us.  I have seen this important vision pass on to each of my siblings' immediate families, and I am now witnessing its passing to the next generation.  Of course this requires work, but it is now and will continue to be profoundly rewarding.

Following my mission, I returned to school at Idaho State University, living back home with Mom and Dad for the first year.  On a weekly basis, I observed their dedicated treks to and from Idaho Falls to serve as temple ordinance workers, a calling they had fulfilled throughout the duration of my mission.  About two years after my return, Debby and I were married in the Logan Temple.  That courtship is a story for a different post, but I mention it here again highlight the support we both felt from our parents and our siblings.  

At this point, Mom and Dad were freed up to do something they had planned for many years.  In his youth, my father had been unable to serve a mission for the Church because of a serious leg injury, and the state of WWII.  It had been his great desire all the years since, to so serve, and Mom of course, was always ready to go.  Because of family responsibilities, including supporting the missions of both sons, and the weddings of their daughters, this goal was put off  until I had finally left the nest.  They received a call to serve in the Canada Alberta mission.  It was so gratifying to watch them prepare.  They were almost gleeful.  Then to observe their total dedication in difficult surroundings was faith promoting.  It exempli-fied who they had always been.

Just as children had changed their lives in the earlier years, grandchildren had a fulfilling effect.  Here they dote over two of the earliest, Julie and Doug Sutton, Mary Lou's oldest.  They were so pleased to be grandparents.  Dad would play with them and teach them at the same time.  Among the kids' favorite tricks was a maeuver where Grandpa would grab them by the waist and throw them backwards and up onto his shoulder, at which time they would giggle uncontrollably.  This would carry on through the generations of grand- kids from each family.

Even those of my kids who remember him, remember this activity, even into his old age.  He knew of their vitality and of their importance in eternity to him as well as to their own pending posterity.  As a Latter-day Saint, and as a temple worker, he knew the intricacies of the eternal plan of salvation, and the importance of the family organization therein.  This was the most important aspect of their mortal existence, i.e. to qualify themselves and their family for eternal life.

In the later years, due to disabling chest and shoulder pain from cancer, Dad would sit persistently in this chair, not able to move around much.  Yet, he would still don his white shirt and tie, and attend church whenever possible, and he could still not resist holding his grandchildren, who have told me they remember feeling his arms around them.

Over the past two years of his life, cancer sapped Dad's energy.  Although he aged rapidly, he maintained coherence.  The kids of course still loved him and he loved them.  Here, the Suttons and Croshaws were enjoying a get-together.  Dad passed not long after this, graduating with honors to the next level of progression.  I wish that my youngest children had known him.  I hope this post will help them to do so.  My father was among the best of men to walk the earth.  I consider it an honor and a blessing to have been his son. I am confident he will be among the most valiant in the World of Spirits and beyond where he and Mom teach and serve as they await us.  Thank you all for your attention to this tribute.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dana's fav April 2012 Conference talk

I thought it would be nice to know which talk was everyone's favorite, it'll give me a good start on which articles to read in the Ensign.

My favorite was Elder Holland's.  His more often than not is my favorite, actually.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

So tiny!!!

I was just deleting pictures off my memory card, probably something you should do more often than every two years, and I found this video. Love, they're so little, it squeezes my heart. (know that feeling I'm talking about?) This was at the Pocatello mall (or Chubbuck I guess...) just before Abby and David got married.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

HEY! That made me think of a "GREAT" question

I was looking at David's post from a couple weeks ago about teaching in church and I thought... I wonder who else teaches in church?  So...

I thought this might be a fun thing for us to do.

1) What is your current calling(s) in church?

2) What is the best meal you have had recently? (any good recipes to share?)

3) What is the most beautiful sight you have seen recently?

4) Are you developing any new talents/skils/knowledge?

5) What are your current struggles?

6) Would you be interested in pen pal'ing with another sibling and his/her familyv once a month?
(send real mail on the first Monday (what better a way to spend time fasting than to write your pen pal?) h

I hope you are all well and I will answer these questions soon.  I need to grade some papers.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Blog Post

Hey guys. New post on our blog, which you can get to through the blogger sign in link under the family blog list. If anyone knows how to change it to the actual name of our blog, please feel free. XOXO

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Teach in Church

Here are some principles Bruce R. mcConkie suggests for teaching the Lord's gospel:

1. ...teach the principles of the everlasting gospel...unmixed with personal opinions and the philosophies of the world.

2. Teach them out of the scriptures, and as they are revealed by the Comforter.

3. Do it by the power of the Holy Ghost.

4. Apply the teachings to our present needs.

5. Do it all with the seal of personal testimony.

Pretty good advice.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Greetings from sunny Phoenix

Hi Everyone,

We are in Phoenix for one more day.  I had a great time yesterday going to the temple (never been to the Mesa Temple) with Emily Chipman.  She was such a gracious hostess.  After the temple we drove ALL over Phoenix trying to find the Rental Car place for Sky Harbor Airport.  Really, it probably took us an hour to find.  She is a wonderful person, and I had a great time visiting with her and hearing her insights about the Mesa Temple, the gospel, and life.  It was a great time.  I love the temple so much.  Thanks, Emily!

I just wanted to share a couple of quotes I read today.  The first one is about parenting.  Since I am not finished with that one, and you guys are all in the midst or the beginning of it, here goes:

"In my opinion, the teaching, rearing, and training of children requires more intelligence, intuitive understanding, humility, strength, wisdom, spirituality, perseverance, and hard work than any other challenge we might have in life."  James E. Faust (1920-2007)

Great article on page 11 of the new Ensign.  I am guessing you have all downloaded that stuff to your smartphones.  The Ensign. scriptures and words of the prophets are ever present if you want to read them.

I am trying to improve my personal prayers.  Once when I was visiting Colin and Lori the lesson at that Relief Society was about prayer.  One lady made the comment that one of her roadblocks to prayer is that it is an emotional commitment to pray properly.  It is sometimes hard to start when you know it is going to take some serious time and thought.  That describes me.  So, I am trying to pray better, more sincerely, with more depth.  Here is the quote:
"To those within the sound of my voice who are struggling with challenges and difficulties large and small, prayer is the provider of spiritual strength; it is the passport to peace.  Prayer is the means by which we approach our Father in Heaven, who loves us.  Speak to Him in prayer and then listen for the answer.  Miracles are wrought through prayer."  Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, May 2009, pg 68.  Also quoted in "The Privilege of Paryer", by Devn Cornish, pg 101-103, quote on pg 103.

As I read this quote I thought of Crystal getting a lawyer pro bono with her custody challenges,  truly a miracle. Thanks for sharing that, Crystal.

Going home tomorrow.  We went to the movie, The Artist, last night.  Really good.  I love you all.



Friday, March 9, 2012

Lola at 9 months

Hey guys...new post on my blog. XOXO

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Heard this on the radio the other day

I don't know what station I heard this on, but a man was talking about raising teenagers (he said he had heard and stated the quote, "I have seen the enemy, and they are little.").  Anyway, he said he tried to teach his children that people are more important than things.  One day his wife drove out of the garage, forgetting the door was down.   It did a lot of damage to the house, as well as the car.  He drove home, saw the destruction.  He knew immediately who had done it.  He walked in the front door and his daughter met him there. Had he seen what had happened?  Yes, he had.  "What are you going to do to her?" she asked.  He told her to follow him.  He walked into the kitchen where she was cooking dinner.  "How was your day," he asked.  She looked at him and started crying.  He put his arms around her, bent her way down and kissed her.  That is what he did to her.  He did wonder later, why did she keep driving?

His message was clearly illustrated.  He said that as we consistently live and teach a particular concept, when our children are adults, they generally assimilate it into their lives.

Teach my precious grandchildren all the good things you can.



Friday, March 2, 2012

Easy Cake Recipe

BBB1Duncan Hines cake mix
4 eggs
1 pkg instant pudding
1/4 c oil
1 1/2 c water
1 cup sour cream

Mix and bake according to package instructions.  Can bake as a bundt cake or 3 layers.  I baked it in a 9 x 13 tonight. It baked up pretty big for this size pan, but it looks good! I would only bake this in a cookie sheet pan.  A little too much batter for the 9 x 13, or maybe make 6 cupcakes and put the rest in the 9 x 13 pan.

Happy baking.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

George Albert Smith

Can someone make the bright blue go away, it (literally) is giving me a headache

I have being prepping for the lesson I teach Sunday and thought I would share a little about George Albert Smith. I REALLY like him! He was the first monogamous prophet and did not remarry after his wife, Lucy died.

He was blind in one eye, and he suffered from anxiety and depression. I found this article and was touched profoundly.

Mental Illness and George Albert Smith

I think that the Curriculum Committee of the church missed a tremendous opportunity with the production of the manual for study this year. Most of us know someone who has struggled with mental illness. We know someone who has or have ourselves taken anti-depressants, stimulants, lithium or AAPs. It is no secret that in the past, church leaders and church members have often misunderstood mental illness. However, we live at a time when we can all safely view mental illness as a biological problem, like cancer, that needs to be treated. I think however, that many people who suffer with these issues still feel stigmatized, and some yet think that it is simply an emotional or spiritual failing.

Geroge Albert Smith, 1939.

It is therefore tragic that the new manual does not even mention George Albert Smith’s lifelong struggle with what appears to be some sort of chronic depression and anxiety disorder. Instead it describes his health issues and years of convalescence as strictly physical maladies (which though technically correct, obfuscates the real mental illness component of his suffering).

Unfortunately, though the primary documents are fairly explicit on the matter, there has been fairly little written on the topic. One exception to this is a Journal of Mormon History article authored by BYU Rel. Ed. Professor Mary Jane Woodger entitled, “‘Cheat the Asylum of a Victim’: George Albert Smith’s 1909–12 Breakdown” (the article begins on p. 120 of the linked PDF). Woodger’s article is not a complete study of George Albert Smith’s mental illness, and she is very conservative in her analysis, but it is a good look at the major crisis in then Elder Smith’s life.

What should be clear to all Latter-day Saints, however, is that you can suffer from mental illness and still become the President of the Church, sustained as a prophet, seer and revelator. Church leaders, including the highest offices in the church, can and do suffer from these illnesses. In casual conversations over the last few weeks, this understanding of the example of George Albert Smith has been tremendously comforting to many people I know.

I also found this

As I made notes for my lesson Sunday, I found I copied nearly every quote from the lesson! He said some good stuff and thought some deep thoughts!

Here is what I am handing out to the sisters:

Are we doing as much as we should? And if we are not, let us turn around and do better. If we are doing as we should, if we are reaching out in all directions to do good to the children of our Father, then we will bring to ourselves the blessing of an all wise Father, and we will rejoice in the good that we accomplish here. …

Age 34:

11 ideals that he committed to live by:

“I would be a friend to the friendless and find joy in ministering to the needs of the poor.

“I would visit the sick and afflicted and inspire in them a desire for faith to be healed.

“I would teach the truth to the understanding and blessing of all mankind.

“I would seek out the erring one and try to win him back to a righteous and a happy life.

“I would not seek to force people to live up to my ideals but rather love them into doing the thing that is right.

“I would live with the masses and help to solve their problems that their earth life may be happy.

“I would avoid the publicity of high positions and discourage the flattery of thoughtless friends.

“I would not knowingly wound the feelings of any, not even one who may have wronged me, but would seek to do him good and make him my friend.

“I would overcome the tendency to selfishness and jealousy and rejoice in the successes of all the children of my Heavenly Father.

“I would not be an enemy to any living soul.

“Knowing that the Redeemer of mankind has offered to the world the only plan that will fully develop us and make us really happy here and hereafter, I feel it not only a duty but also a blessed privilege to disseminate this truth.”

I would like to say to the Latter-day Saints, if we are worthy to be called Latter-day Saints, it will be because we are living the lives of saints, and it is the purpose of the Gospel to qualify us in that way. The world has gotten into such a condition and has been deceived by the adversary for such a long time and has declared that the mere belief in God is all that is necessary, that I am fearful for it. That is only a trick of the adversary

It is not those who say, “Lord, Lord,” who enjoy the companionship of His spirit but those who do His will

How many of us, learning the will of the Father, are doing it? How many of us day by day are laying a foundation and building a structure that shall conform to the dignity of the stature of our Master? ‘Yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.’ [D&C 93:35.] He has given us intelligence and wisdom above our fellowmen. A knowledge of pre-existence has been given to the Latter-day Saints; a knowledge that we are here because we kept our first estate, and that we have been given the opportunity of gaining eternal life in the presence of our Heavenly Father, by keeping our second estate. We will not be judged as our brothers and sisters of the world are judged, but according to the greater opportunities placed in our keeping. We will be among those who have received the word of the Lord, who have heard His sayings, and if we do them it will be to us eternal life, but if we fail condemnation will result.

The world seems to think that they can come whenever they are ready. Our Father’s children do not understand that there is some preparation to be made. The adversary has so deceived them as to make them believe that no preparation is necessary, anything will do, but in this message that the Savior gave in a parable to his associates we are informed that there must be some preparation, and without that preparation no one will be permitted to partake of the more precious gifts of our Heavenly Father. That applies to the membership of this Church who have an idea that because they have been invited, and because their names appear upon the record among those who have been called, there is nothing more for them to do. … They have forgotten the Lord and are not preparing for the feast to which he has invited them.

If there ever was a time when we should examine ourselves, to find out if we are doing what the Lord would have us do, it is today; if there ever was a time when we should be sure that we are in the pathway of eternal life, it is now. We can’t slight these opportunities. God will not be mocked. When he has offered to us a gift, when he has placed within our reach a blessing, when he has invited us to partake of a feast and we ignore it, we may be sure that we shall suffer the distress that will come to those who refuse the blessings of the Lord when they are offered

Are we doing as much as we should? And if we are not, let us turn around and do better. If we are doing as we should, if we are reaching out in all directions to do good to the children of our Father, then we will bring to ourselves the blessing of an all wise Father, and we will rejoice in the good that we accomplish here. …

Let us do better than we have ever done before. Let us renew our determination to be real Latter-day Saints, and not just make-believe. … I do not know anybody who can not do a little better than he has been doing, if he makes up his mind.