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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sacrament at Home

March 29, 2020

This past Sunday was our very first sacrament meeting at home.  We received the email from the church saying that as a precautionary measure due to the COVID-19 (Corona virus) worldwide pandemic, we are to hold sacrament meetings in our own homes. At the mention of it, I told Steve that I felt we should truly make it a worship service, dress up, sing hymns, and make it special.  Steve agreed and added that we should assign talks and have Sunday School following sacrament meeting.  We were both on the same page from the get go.  Our kids were excited to hear about sacrament meeting at home, but less enthused that it wouldn't be like watching general conference on TV where we watch in our pajamas. 

We planned to start at 10:30, but there were various hiccups and we ended up starting about an hour later, but when we began, and prepared for the sacrament, it truly was a sacred experience. 

Amara and I worked to make the house clean.  I wanted to prepare the place to invite the spirit.  We layed out a white sheet over our kitchen table and even attempted to press the wrinkles out of it. It made me realize just how much goes into preparing for this sacred ordinance. It made me so grateful for all those who prepare every Sunday to make this experience happen for me.  Everything from cleaning, pressing the white table cloth, assigning and preparing talks and lessons, arranging prelude and hymns to sing, gathering hymnals, moving furniture... there were a lot of things to prepare besides ourselves for sacrament meeting at home.  


I snapped a few pictures before we started just so that I could remember what these times were like.  The coronavirus pandemic won't last forever and eventually we will return to church services.  This little worship service in our own home is sacred.




Update: September 27, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic hasn't gone away.  I kinda thought things were going to die down after a couple months, but here we are half a year later and people are trying to resume some of their normal activities in a mask-modified way, but life is not normal.  We're still playing things pandemickly.  

My brother, Micah's family and my sister and my mom have all tested positive for COVID-19, and they've all recovered.  Recently, we attended the baptism of my nephew Rexton.  We gathered at my brother's house since there are not to be large gatherings or meetings at the churches, still.  We did the program at the house, complete with masks and social distancing.  The set up was amazing.  There was a laptop set up in the living room, another screen downstairs, and a camera and screen set up in the living room.  There were families all throughout their house.  Those presenting talks, prayers, leading music, etc., just stood in front of the camera and everyone could see them, including those joining in remotely on the zoom meeting stream.  (Which, by the way, Micah started at his boss's house so he could use his bandwidth.) It touched my heart to see so many family members "zoom" in, family that would otherwise not be able to participate at all because they live so far away.  


After the program there was a short intermission while Rexton and his immediate family (and 2 grandpas) went to the church, and prepared for the baptism. (P.S. It's cool that his brothers Jaxon and Maxwell were the witnesses to the baptism!)  The baptism was streamed on Zoom and all of us at the house were able to witness the ordinance.  It was beautiful.

Masked up me with Rex's baptism program

Rexton cracking open his new Book of Mormon

"I love being a child of God!" Those were Rex's exact words as he stood up to lead us all in singing I Am A Child of God.  His testimony was so powerful to me.  I have shared it with several family members and wrote it in my journal.  I love that proclamation of his and I could feel the truth behind it! I, too, love being a child of God and all that means.  God is my father.  As such, and in a most perfect way, He protects me, feeds me, cares for me, loves me, warns me, corrects me, carries me, and guides me on life's journey. I love being a child of God!

So...

Church at home has been a blessing.  I am so thankful we can continue to worship during this time of turmoil for so many.  There is a lot of hope that has come from church at home.  There's been a lot of change in our lives, both outwardly and inwardly.  I have been grateful for the deeper introspection that the sacrament at home has had on my life and those in my family.  It has become a meaningful covenant that I feel bad for neglecting the importance of during the old routine at church.  When you listen to your children give a spiritually led talk or sunday school lesson each week, it deepens your appreciation for their spiritual journey and your own as a parent.  When you prepare a lesson or talk with your family as the audience in mind, the stress is heaps less and your content more sincere and simple.  I'm learning a lot from church at home.

We've had some wonderful sunday school lessons.  There are visual reminders tacked up all over our house now that point to the scriptures and what we learned that week.  I always intend to take them down after the week is over, but honestly, I love the messages, so they stay up longer.  We have our own titles of liberty taped on the walls, favorite introspective verses from Alma 5 in various locations, pictures of Christ we've colored with chains made up of paper links that we have written upon things we can do to remember Christ, and even posters we made together advertising something we learned from the readings that week.

Poster made by me and mom advertising where we find real riches.

Poster made by Lily and Amara advertising putting the kingdom of God first.


Monday, August 31, 2020

Summer 2020 Highlights

Summer Co-Vid Changes

The CoVid19 pandemic changed lots of things in the restaurants.  Tables had to be 6 feet from other tables and if not, a barrier had to be put up.  The above picture is taken at China Star where they draped a plastic sheet across their center divider and posted their menu at each table.
The Ballard Ward Relief Society held an outdoor workout class twice a week at the park since we couldn't go into church buildings.  I brought my family along and we truly got whipped every time we went.  We were sore for days.  It was fun and I learned a lot and got stronger!  In fact, I decided to continue my own strength training regimen at home in the Fall.

This picture was taken in Walmart where they were implementing social-distancing reminders.  They wanted everyone to keep traffic flowing one direction in the aisles, but HAHAHA! Yeah right!  No one did that.  At one point, masks were mandated and people were turned away if they did not put a mask on.  People where we live were none too happy about that rule. They felt their freedoms were being trampled on.

Father's Day

Amara does a wonderful job of making people feel special, especially on holidays.  For Father's Day she decorated the house with homemade decorations and made a Father's Day whiteboard card.  
As you can see, we have a Sunday Worship service outline.  Church was to be held in our homes and we did our best to really turn our home into a place where the spirit could be present.  It was one of my favorite things that happened during the pandemic.


There was some gorgeous lettuce ready for our Father's Day meals.
We made this awesome poster card for Steve using some goodies he likes.  It is supposed to be sung to the tune "Bye Bye Miss American Pie."  Lyrics: Bye, bye little Debbie's Oatmeal Creme Pies! Drove my Hyundai 'round at noonday, and that noonday was fine! And good ol' kids were salivating in rhyme, singing lemon drops make a good tiiime! Black licorice is a favorite of mine.


Random Summer Goodness

I think these pictures speak for themselves.  


Bekah's Wedding Reception

Funny little side story... So, we drove 2.5 hours to go to Bekah's wedding.  As we rolled into town, we had just enough time to grab a bite at Del Taco.  Amara got a big burger and actually ate it! That's the good news.  The bad news is she spilled her drink in her lap and on her new jumper outfit.  Good news: the drink was just water.  Bad news: it truly appeared that she wet her pants. 

As you can see, we made it to the reception and found a nice private spot away from the main party where Amara could feel comfortable and Pippin could be Pippin.


Here's some pics from the reception. 

Aw!! A couple that sings together.  Love it!

Selfie with the Bride and Groom


Fun Times at the Christensen Reunion

We did paper bag skits, and boy~ we have got some serious TALENT in the drama department!  Every skit was entertaining and well done!



We painted to a Bob Ross tutorial.


Steve's special: Hot cakes with berry syrup and topped with a slice of cheesecake.

We loved playing 9 square in the air again!

Ninja was ready to eat Pippin at any moment.

There was a serious Boggle tournament.


Amara loved the "hot tub" which was cooled to the temperature of a comfortable warm pool.


The park across the street was a fabulous place to enjoy some green space in the evenings.


And Grandma's backyard was an oasis where we could play croquet.

I took a little side trip in the evening with Steve's mom and sisters to go see the temple in Saratoga Springs getting built. 



Camping Reunion With the Laurets

Right after the Christensen Reunion, we headed to the Lauret Reunion.  It was a beautiful place in the pines called Bear Canyon Campground, up Nephi canyon.  It was beautiful.  I prayed there would be no bears.  And although we heard a LOT of rustling in the night, there were no bear sightings.  I know there were mice under our tent, some animal rubbing up against our tent walls, and some deer.  Needless to say, I didn't sleep very deeply.  One unfortunate thing to add: our running-water-bathrooms with flush toilets were out of water and closed!  So we had to trek to an outhouse at another campground.  Those were the ONLY downsides.  Oh! And the downpour we had when cooking dinner one night with no place to take shelter.  Even after I dried out by the fire that evening, I was still chilled to the bone.  OK, let's be honest.  I love camping, but there's a reason it's called "roughing it."  

It was good times with a campfire, delicious food, and fun family times.  The kids were often off playing in the trees or the river bed with their uncles. 

Spencer's special ribs, dad's dutch oven baked beans, peas and lettuce salad from our garden, chips galore, and hotdogs.

JJ, Malia, and I were on our way back to camp from our trek to the bathroom.

Steve taking an afternoon nap in the shade

A lovely hike through the trees.



Camping selfie!

Joylynn with a bouquet, Maizie with her bouquet, and Lily in the background

Me, April, Lily, and JJ, selfie on the hike

Pippin found the scarce water in the river bed.

Isn't he cute?  I think we all were feeling like a little nap in the shade would be nice.