Monday, July 21, 2014

Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple

A few weeks ago, Guy asked me when "our" temple--The Philadelphia Temple--would be finished.  I wan't to know too, so I pulled up the Philadelphia temple website on my laptop, and we learned a lot of things about the temple.

One of the best things we learned is that visitors to the temple construction grounds are welcome, and they even have a pair of missionaries to give you a little tour.

So on our way to the airport on Wednesday, we stopped by the temple site and had a wonderful experience learning about the construction and then splashing in the beautiful parks nearby.  

We are Pennsylvania "proud and true" and we are so excited and feeling blessed to finally be getting a temple in our great state...the State where this country was born.

Of course, we hopped on a plane and upon landing in Utah immediately saw two temples at once.   What a place. 

Here are some more facts and photos we took to give you an idea of how progress is coming along on the Philadelphia temple:

The Philadelphia temple was announced at General Conference in 2008.  I cried when I heard and thought of my Grandpa who was born and raised here.  He would be so happy.

The temple is scheduled to be completed in 2016 and is being built to last through the millennium.  A granite building has not be erected in downtown Philadelphia in about 100 years, so the crews are being carefully trained to do the job right.   

The temple is being built in a very urban area, right downtown, near some really cool parks and other large churches.  They are building an underground parking garage, a maintenance building, a chapel/cultural center across the street, and a large apartment building.  Who knows what else will be added to the plans before they are finished?  Hopefully, they will include a small visitor center as part of the church building.

The interior furnishings are meant to harken back to the days of the founding fathers of the United States and to match the colonial architecture of the city.  While we were there, we heard that the windows had just arrived, so maybe when we get back from Utah, we will drive by and see more progress!

We are looking forward to having a temple here in Pennsylvania very much...It'll just take a few more years!  For more information on the temple check the Philadelphia Temple Site.

Friday, July 18, 2014

50,000 Indexers Can't Be Wrong

We're in Utah right now for a family reunion/baby blessing and having such a wonderful time.  But I wanted to take a moment to let you know about the Family History record-setting event that is taking place this weekend.  

The goal is to get 50,000 indexers to submit at least one batch in one 24-hour period.  You can help make history by joining volunteers from around the world on Sunday, July 20th and Monday, July 21st and index just one batch of family history records.  

As I have mentioned before even my children can help with indexing.  You can help spread the word and get others involved: Organize an indexing party; create a family challenge, or email this information out to your friends and family..  

 No matter where you live or what language you speak, you can lift where you stand and add to this historic worldwide achievement. You may choose to work on any project you prefer. However, it is suggested that you work on the following projects in your native language:
  • US-Obituaries, 1980-2014
  • US-Passport Applications, 1795-1925
  • US, New Orleans-Passenger Lists, 1820-1902
  • UK, Manchester-Parish Registers, 1787-1999
The record-setting begins at 00:00 coordinated universal time (UTC) on July 21, which is 6:00 p.m. mountain daylight time (MDT or Utah time) on Sunday, July 20. It ends 24 hours later, at 23:59 UTC (or 5:59 p.m. MDT) on Monday, July 21. Check the FamilySearch Facebook event page for your local start time and status updates. 

One batch is all it takes. Don’t miss your chance on July 20 and 21 to be part of this history-making event! Plan now to get involved and add your name to the record-setting legacy! 

Let's get to work helping to hasten the work of salvation!

*New indexers can visit to learn more about how to join the FamilySearch indexing effort. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Preparing Children to Make and Keep Covenants

When I wrote my first post, I shared this picture of me getting ready to enter into the covenant of baptism.   That was a happy and cherished day.  This has become a beloved photo, and looking back, was the perfect way to start this blog.
Since then, I've gained new insights into the covenants that I have made, and I've turned my attention to helping my children place their feet squarely on this path as well.
What is the covenant path?:  Bishop Gary E. Stevenson has said, "In our lives...certain things are absolutely essential...These spiritual markers are the essential God-given...ordinances of the gospel," which include: baptism and confirmation, priesthood ordination, and temple ordinances.
Someone in a recent General Conference suggested that we make a list of the upcoming essential ordinances that are needed by our family members in order to help our children progress in the gospel.
Being more of a visual person, I thought it would be fun to have a visual reminder of the covenants that our family has made over time.  So I decided to start a "Covenant Path Wall" in our home.
So far, I've only gathered two photos for my wall (Guy's baptism and mine).  I just got it started today, but I already love it.

Soon, we'll have Scarlett and Autumn up there, and hopefully a photo will surface from Steve's baptism day as well, in addition to photos from our special days in the Lord's temples.  
Even with just two photos, it makes my heart smile every time I walk by this wall, and I can tell that it will help us all to focus on and rejoice in the covenant path that we are so blessed to be traveling on together.

Last fall, Sister Burton shared some lovely hints about helping to prepare children to make and keep temple covenants in her talk "The Power, Joy, and Love of Covenant Keeping."

I am including her list here as a reminder to myself of her suggestions:

What are some ways we can create such a home to prepare our children to make and keep temple covenants?
    We can discover together what it means to be worthy of a temple recommend.
    We can discover together how to listen to the Holy Ghost. Because the temple endowment is received by revelation, we need to learn that vital skill.
    We can discover together how to learn through the use of symbols, beginning with the sacred symbols of baptism and the sacrament.
    We can discover together why the body is sacred, why it is sometimes referred to as a temple, and how modest dress and grooming relates to the sacred nature of temple clothing.
    We can discover the plan of happiness in the scriptures. The more familiar we are with Heavenly Father’s plan and the Atonement in the scriptures, the more meaningful temple worship will be.
    We can learn the stories of our ancestors together, research family history, index, and perform vicarious temple work for deceased loved ones.
    We can discover together the meaning of terms such as endowment, ordinance, sealing, priesthood, keys, and other words related to temple worship.
    We can teach that we go to the temple to make covenants with Heavenly Father—we return home to keep them!12
Let us remember the concept of “good, better, and best” as we teach.13 It is good to teach our children about the temple. It is better to prepare and expect them to make and keep covenants. It is best to show them by example that we cheerfully cleave to our own baptismal and temple covenants! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Washington DC Temple Drone Flyover Video

Ten years ago this May, Steve and I were married in this temple.  It is the temple of my youth.  Our family drove eight hours to get there every time we went.  I still remember clearly the first time my Dad took me to see it at night on a youth temple trip.  We came around the corner and this stunning window into heaven is what greeted me.  

When I lived in DC, it is where I was trained to serve as an ordinance worker.  It is still beautiful and amazing to me, and one of my very favorite places.  I love this unique representation of the temple and it's wondrous spirit.  Hope you enjoy and share it, and your testimony about temples, with others.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Personal Progress for Leaders

So the other night, I was checking on on my Personal Progress.  I was having a good time watching those little rectangles change color as I filled in my value experiences on my online personal progress record.

Then I realized, I'm more than halfway to earning my Young Womanhood Recognition again (the first time was when I was a youth.)  Yippee.

Then I thought I'd better check the back of the Personal Progress book to make sure that I am indeed following all of the guidelines and getting the correct people to pass off my work.

That's when I read this:

"Personal Progress Requirements for Leaders:

 - Serve for a total of one year as a Young Women leader.
 - Complete the required value experiences in each of the eight values
 - Complete three value projects, including the project for virtue."

What?  I had no idea leaders could earn their medallion using this abbreviated list of requirements, either that or I knew and just forgot, but either way that is really good news.  

So all you Young Women leaders out there who think you can't possibly earn your personal progress award along-side your girls, think again.  And all you other ones who are trudging along slowly doing all of the required value experiences: you don't have to be a hero! (Or be a hero and do all of the requirements, I won't stop you!)

But whatever you do, remember this from Personal Progress (pg. 91):

"Leaders are encouraged to work on Personal Progress along with the young women.  Those who participate in the Personal Progress program themselves understand the program better and set a favorable example for the young women to follow."

The Young Women need your example.  

You don't have to be Noelle Pikus-Pace with a silver medal hanging around your neck to inspire your youth.  But what an example she set and what volumes she spoke to the youth by wearing her Young Woman medallion as she stood on the medal stand to receive her Olympic medal.

Yes You, regular ole Sister Young Women leader, can be a hero to somebody, just by making personal progress your priority.  Every value experience that you complete says to your girls, "I can do it, and so can you."

For those who asked about requirements for other adults to receive their YW Recognition award, here they are:

Participation of Mothers

Mothers are welcome to participate with young women in earning the Young Womanhood Recognition. Mothers work from their own Personal Progress book and may earn the recognition along with their daughter. It is recommended that a daughter earn her recognition before or along with her mother.
Mothers may complete the same requirements as their daughters, including:
  • • 
    Attend sacrament meeting regularly (where possible).
  • • 
    Live the standards in For the Strength of Youth.

  • • 
    Complete the value experiences and value project for each of the eight values.
  • • 
    Keep a personal journal.
  • • 
    Read the Book of Mormon regularly.
  • • 
    Record her testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.

Mothers may select different options for the elective value experiences and the value projects from their daughters. The experiences and projects may be signed and dated by their daughter, their spouse, a Young Women leader, or another adult. The bishop verifies that the requirements have been completed. Recognition and the purchase of recognition materials should be coordinated with Young Women leaders and the bishopric.

Personal Progress Requirements for Others Who Desire to Work on the Program

Other women who desire to participate in and complete Personal Progress may do so by completing the same requirements as young women and by assisting a young woman with a portion of her Personal Progress. (See requirements for mothers on page 92.)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

And a little child shall lead them...

Just bringing their friends to church, but when I sit back and look at this picture or when I think about any of the youth of the church, I can see how the Lord has plans in place to hasten His work.

What has your child done recently to lead your family in righteousness?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Elder Christofferson

In his talk "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Elder Christofferson spoke of the reality of the Resurrection and everything that flows from it.  

In the scriptures we read that many witnessed the facts of Christ's resurrection, some believed and some did not.  

"Even so today, some believe in the literal Resurrection of Christ, and many doubt or disbelieve.  But some know," says Elder Christofferson.

In this church, we are blessed to be lead by prophets who know!  

And those same prophets promise that each can and should seek their own personal witness of the Savior.

For "In due course, all will see and all will know; indeed, 'every knee shall bow and every tongue confess before him," (even those who currently will not believe.) 

I am reminded of Elder Neal A. Maxwell's 1974 quip, "If you sense that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Lord, why not do so now?  For in the coming of that collective confession, it will mean much less to kneel down when it is no longer possible to stand up!"

When I first heard Elder Christofferson's talk, I was immediately impressed by his train of logic.  He lists a great many things that follow, that are possible, that are true, and that we can count on "because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ."  

I thought it would help to put Elder Christofferson's "logic chain" into a paper chain for our kids to see "all that follows because of Christ's resurrection."

For our lesson, I wrote, "Because of the resurrection..." on a piece of paper and asked my kids to listen for all of the things that are true because of the resurrection as we watched the talk together.  

When they heard something that finished the sentence, they wrote it down on a piece of paper, which we later cut into strips and constructed into a paper chain.

I liked the paper chain, but it was hard to read all of things we listed.  My kids love paper chains and we usually use them to count down to something.  So they naturally started taking links off of our chain as we normally do, but instead of throwing them away, we taped them under our sign that read "Because of the Resurrection."  That way, every day we are reminded of something that is possible because of the resurrection.

Here are some of the things we listed from the talk:

We can trust Christ.
What he taught is true.
The miracles he performed were real.
He was the creator of the earth.
He will come again and reign upon the earth.
There is a resurrection and judgement for all.
The grace of Christ is real.
Our doubts in him are unfounded.
Jesus Christ is the only name by which salvation comes to mankind.
Death is not permanent.
No injustice in permanent.
Heaven and hell are real.
He is divine.
He lives forever.
His priesthood power is real.
He rescued us from extinction.

There are so many truths to be gleaned from this great talk.  What truth did you hear, that follows from the facts of the Resurrection that you especially liked?

Here are our most recent General Conference Lessons:

Following Up - Elder Ballard
Spiritual Whirlwinds - Elder Andersen
Roots and Branches - Elder Cook
I Have Given You an Example - Elder Scott
Grateful in Any Circumstances - President Uchtdorf
Let Your Faith Show - Elder Nelson
A Priceless Heritage of Hope - President Eyring

Check out the rest of them at our General Conference Lessons page.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Girl's Camp

I had the awesome opportunity last week to attend Girl's Camp.  Last time we talked callings, I was serving in my ward's Young Women's presidency.  Then I was released at the end of last summer and called to the Nursery for a few months, which was fun.  Then I was called to be in the Stake YW Presidency, so I am back to working with the wonderful youth of the church.  And Steve is serving as the ward YM President.

I am excited and happy to be where I am.  I love the youth.  I love their testimonies, and I love serving with everyone around the stake.

But I was not super-psyched last week about leaving my sweet babies to go to Girls Camp.  It's just so hard, as a Mom, to leave young ones, even leaving them with their Dad.

This is a photo that I took as I was leaving.  Three out of my four kids were crying, "Don't go, Mommy!!" out of my window as I left.


I was only able to go for two and a half days (camp lasts 6 days) but I did go.  I made a choice to "go and do" which was our camp theme this year!

Now I've been to camp as a teacher and as an overnight guest for the last two years in a row, but this was my first chance to come as a stake leader.

When I arrived, I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing.

I knew there were needs.  I needed to support our President who was busy making things happen for Camp as well as Youth Conference which is just two weeks away.  I needed to support our ward who was a little short on leaders.  I needed to help with the Faith Walk, and be leader support for the 4th year girls who's camp I was one of the adult leaders in.

Where to start?

All these directions, but which way to go?

I did the only thing I could think of:  "First observe, then serve."

Not long after I arrived, I noticed a sweet girl with tears in her eyes.  She was homesick and asking to leave camp early.  Other leaders were on the phone with her mother who was trying to convince her to stay.  I saw her, and my heart swelled with compassion, because I too was homesick for my babies and had left similar sweet spirits at home with tear-filled eyes.

I hurried over to her, put my arm around her, and said, I'm Sister Christensen, what's your name?  She said her name was Charlotte.  Of course, I couldn't believe the coincidence.  I said, "I have a daughter named Scarlett, who I just left at home crying!  Hey, I'm homesick too, but if you stay, I'll stay, and we can help each other."

Charlotte did stay.  She cried for another day or so, but something changed on Thursday night.  After the Faith Walk, she bore her testimony along with ALL of her other first-year friends, and I knew she wouldn't be begging to leave any longer.  Something changed in her, and something change in me.

I suddenly just knew where I was needed.  (And I knew that crossing paths with Charlotte was no coincidence.)  Through the spirit, I just knew.  I was there to help, mentor, love, listen, and serve, and the specifics of that job would be different from moment to moment.

It was such a special experience to see a girl, to really observe her and listen to her, and to find a window of time to say to her the things the Spirit wanted her to know.  And I had people who took the time to mentor me at camp as well, sharing their conversion stories with me just for my own nourishment.  Sharing the most amazing testimonies of Christ I have ever heard.

I was (and still am) kind of just reliving it all in my own mind when I went to church on Sunday.  The first song that we sang in Sacrament meeting was Hymn #130 "Be Thou Humble."

The lyrics are as follows:

  1. Be thou humble in thy weakness, and the Lord thy God shall lead thee,
    Shall lead thee by the hand and give thee answer to thy prayers.
    Be thou humble in thy pleading, and the Lord thy God shall bless thee,
    Shall bless thee with a sweet and calm assurance that he cares.
  2. 2. Be thou humble in thy calling, and the Lord thy God shall teach thee
    To serve his children gladly with a pure and gentle love.
    Be thou humble in thy longing, and the Lord thy God shall take thee,
    Shall take thee home at last to ever dwell with him above.
I was not expecting these words to pretty much sum up my experience at camp, but they did.

"Be thou humble in thy calling, and the Lord they God shall teach thee To serve his children gladly with a pure and gentle love."

My callings are always teaching me and humbling me.  And I have so much to learn, so much humbling to do.

I learned so much at camp, but the most important tutorial was learning for a brief few days what it feels like to "serve His children gladly with a pure and gentle love."  

This is the Savior's love, and I will treasure the way it made me feel always.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Eyring: A Priceless Heritage of Hope

In a "A Priceless Heritage of Hope", President Eyring said, "Every day and every hour you can choose to make or keep a covenant with God....When you choose to make or keep a covenant with God, you choose whether you will leave an inheritance of hope to those who might follow after you."  

Now, we've learned about the conversion stories of our ancestors in recent family home evening lessons, so our children are familiar with the idea that their grandparents have left a good example for them to follow.  But for this lesson, we needed to turn our minds, not to the past, but to the future and show how what we do now (even as children) contributes to the legacy that we will leave for others to follow.

Since the concept of the passage of time is hard for kids to really grasp, I decided that we needed the help of a special visitor!

...and that special visitor would be Scarlett...90 years in the future!  

Earlier in the day I told her that I wanted a 97-year old version of her to come to family home evening and share her legacy of faith with the family.  


I explained what President Eyring taught about leaving a heritage of hope for others, and asked Scarlett to tell me what she hoped to do in her life to leave a legacy of faith for her grandchildren.  

I asked her what she'd like her Grandchildren to know about her, and I wrote down exactly what she said.  I'm so glad I got this on video (see below)...she did this with no practice!

During the lesson, I introduced President Eyring's teachings to our other children and then I called to "our special visitor" to join us, and out came: Grammy Scarlett!  

She shared her major accomplishments in life, getting baptized, getting married in the temple, serving a mission, and becoming a mother to 12 children!!  

She said, "It was hard, because the children came three at a time. Three, three, three, three! That makes twelve!"  Can you imagine???  I about died when she told me that in our little discussion beforehand, but if anyone could handle four sets of triplets, it would be Scarlett! (And she forgot to mention, she is very good at math!)

Everybody loved Grammy Scarlett!  She stayed in character, amazingly, the whole time, which can be hard to do when your older brother is threatening to pull off your wig!

I think Honor wasn't quite sure what to think of "Grammy".

But everybody got a "kiss on the cheek" before Grammy Scarlett left, because apparently, that's what Grammies do!

Then to wrap up the lesson, we took turns helping the other children write down (in their journals) what things they plan to do in their lives to leave a "heritage of hope" and a legacy of faith for their own grandchildren some day.  

Isn't family home evening awesome?  It can be really special sometimes. I have to tell you that aside from this epic performance by Scarlett, one of our other kids (a few moments later) was having an epic fit. It was complete chaos, but still this FHE will go down in our family's FHE history and be talked about for many years to come!!  It's so fun when something magical like that happens, but like everything in life, you've got to endure the craziness to enjoy the brief, special, sweet, amazing moments fleeting at they are.  I've got this one on tape, but I have a feeling it's something none of us will ever forget.

You can read more about our General Conference lessons on our General Conference lessons page.  And if you have had a fun experience teaching your children the lessons of General Conference that you'd like to share here, let me know!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Elder Nelson Let Your Faith Show

In his April 2014 General Conference talk, "Let Your Faith Show," Elder Nelson said, “There is only One in whom your faith is always safe, and that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.”  

We need to increase, proclaim, and let our faith show!  

As we live the standards/our religion, we are letting our faith show.  In the world, you might hear or see things that aren't in harmony with what you learn in church or at home.  This will happen more and more often.  Just remember that the Lord’s laws must always be our standard.  "Even if 'everyone is doing it', wrong is never right."  

Some problems in the world are confusing and complex.  Of this, Elder Nelson says, “In dealing with controversial issues, we should first search for God’s guidance."

For our activity, I had planned on asking the children what "controversial issues" they had questions about and then leading them through a search of the Prophet's words on that topic to find our answers, but we will do that at another time, because it is important to me that my kids know that this is the pattern that we follow.

For our lesson today though, we focused simply on the iconic words, "Let your faith show!"

Prior to the lesson, I prepared pieces of white card stock paper with the words of our lesson sprayed onto it using acrylic sealant, like so:

(The doilies were used to make an interesting pattern!)

When they began painting in water colors, the secret message was revealed.

We used this "magical" activity to remind us that whatever happens in life, we need to "let our faith show!"  In every situation, our faith must shine through!

A cheap and easier way to do this activity is to simply write "FAITH" on a white paper using white crayons prior to the lesson.  When your kids apply water color paint to the paper, the word "faith" will show through.  We did it both ways, and everyone enjoyed discovering what message of faith would appear.  This is another activity my kids are going to want to do again...soon!

Check out our other General Conference adventures at our General Conference Lessons page.