Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas


The lights are up.  The tree is decorated.  It even snowed this weekend. Christmas time has always been a great time of year, but thanks to my son Christmas has some extra magic. Twenty years ago I would have been anxiously anticipating opening the presents under the tree.  Although I will be excited to see my son open his presents on Christmas, the real source of my joy this season has been the thought of raising my son to be a generous, kind, Christ-like individual. He is blessed to have been born into a loving family, with the resources to be able to provide him with all of his needs in life.

As a child, my family often struggled to even put food on the table. Despite this, my father was always generous to those in need. I remember a Christmas tradition formed as I got older and my family was more financially secure. Through some local organization we obtained information about a family in need.  We would join with other family friends to provide Christmas gifts, school supplies, food, and clothing to a different family each year. Often times that meant we would only have a few presents ourselves. I hope I can raise a son who, regardless of his level of wealth, possesses a sincere love for his fellow man.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Peace at home

You don't know my wife, but I will tell you this. Both she and I are STUBBORN. And all those capitals are warranted. Sometimes peace at home takes some serious effort. But I will also tell you it is completely worth all the effort. I once had a church leader give me the most amazing marriage advice, and I want to share it here with you.

"You know," he said. "The marriage covenant is the only covenant Heavenly Father asks us to enter into with an imperfect person. All of our other covenant are with Him - a perfect being. Maybe this covenant is to help us understand how He feels."

It hit me so hard and brought me so much peace all at the same time. I'm grateful for the chance I have to work for peace in my home.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Taking risks

Did you build a tree house when you were a kid?  I always wanted one, but growing up living in apartment complexes doesn't really allow for tree-house building.  Fortunately I also grew up in Oregon, where trees are bountiful.  For most of my childhood we lived in an apartment complex with a forest directly behind our building.  To a child, 5 acres of forest might as well be the amazon rainforest.  I remember climbing high into trees, enjoying the view, and even attempting to build tree houses out of the various materials I could scavenge from the dumpster.

Yesterday, while my wife was painting one of the bedrooms in our new home, we turned around to find our young son had climbed to the top of an 8 foot ladder.  Lately, I have found him on top of nearly every climbable object in the house.  At first, I was incessantly worried that he might fall, and wished that he wasn't so adventurous.  But thinking back on my adventures climbing trees, I am now grateful for his independent and confident attitude.  I look forward to seeing all the great things he will accomplish in this life.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving

This week my parents visited for Thanksgiving.  It is always great to spend time with my parents, but this visit was exceptionally great because of my son.  It was beautiful to see him interact with his grandparents, but perhaps even more beautiful to see my father interact with his first grandson.  My childhood memories are fogged by time, but I have several precious memories of time spent with my father.  Time with my father was a rarity for my siblings and I.  My father often spent nearly every waking hour working to provide for our impoverished family.  Regardless, he always made time to bond and create memories.  Not a year passed that we did not visit the annual city parade, camp together, or walk along the river enjoying the summer carnival.  As an adult I have come to a better understanding of my father's lack of presence in my childhood.  Seeing him with my son further testified of the love my father has for his children and family.  This thanksgiving I am grateful for my father, my son, and the financial blessings that allow me to spend time with my family.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Wholesome Recreational Activities


My wife and I consider ourselves mountain people. Which is interesting since neither of us really grew up in the mountains. But nonetheless, the mountains are home for our family. They are where all of our favorites converge - where our interests intersect. Hiking, mountain biking, dirt biking, climbing, hunting, snowboarding, snow shoeing, yurting, cabining. Life is in the mountains.

"We need to do this more often," I find myself saying EVERY time we go to the mountains. And we do. We really really do need to do it more. Because a family that spends time in the mountains is a happy family, that's what I say.

My hope is we raise a bunch of little kids who grow up to be nature lovers, just like their mom and dad. That way we can be a mountain family for life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Perspective

Recently the internet has been flooded with pictures and stories of the Syrian refugee crisis. It is incredibly heart wrenching. I've been especially touched by several stories featured on the Facebook page People of New York.  The stories of families forced to leave their homes, jobs, and lives behind as they flee a war torn country fill me with sadness.  Some families do not make it out together, and some do not make it out at all.  This has stoked the fire of gratitude in my heart for the blessings and comforts I enjoy in my life.  Often I can be stressed about the minutia of work, school, church callings, and family duties.  Reading stories and seeing photos of people who are in much worse situations helps me put things into perspective.  I am especially grateful for the eternal perspective offered through an understanding of the plan of salvation.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Equally yoked

This week in my religion class, we discussed the importance of equal partnership in marriage.  I am lucky to have married such a competent and intelligent woman. I often tell friends that marrying my wife was the best decision I ever made. I am sure that any couple can learn to have an equal partnership, but I know that it is so much easier for me because of the way I view my wife.  Of the many traits my wife possesses that attracted me to her, near the top of the list is her competence. Since I view my wife as competent, talented, intelligent, and capable, it is very easy to establish an equally yoked relationship.  I appreciate the fact that I can lean on my wife for support, and I suspect she feels the same way. This is what an equal partnership in marriage means to me: a marriage in which both partners contribute to a greater whole, the family.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Family: A Proclamation to the World


This semester I am taking a class based on The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  Having 2 hours of dedicated time each week to discuss doctrine and principles focused on family has been a great blessing.  During this semester, my wife and I have celebrated our 4 year anniversary and our son's first birthday, in addition to purchasing a new home.  As a result, my thoughts have been on my family and my role as a father and husband.  As I work to finish school, begin a new career, raise my son, and fulfill all other responsibilities, I have often felt overwhelmed and inadequate.  What a blessing it has been to be reminded of the proclamation on a weekly basis, as it outlines my patriarchal duties and instills confidence that my inadequacies can be made whole by the Lord.  I am grateful for living prophets who testify of our loving Heavenly Father and for their guidance in this dispensation.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why Marriage, Why Family

This week in class we discussed "Why Marriage, Why Family" and the essential nature of the family in Heavenly Father's plan. I have appreciated the opportunity to step back and contemplate my personal answer to the question "Why Marriage, Why Family?" I know most people in this world likely get married because of the benefits it brings them in this life. Those benefits are definitely unmistakable. However, I take comfort and added weight in the eternal benefits of the blessings of my marriage. I know that with my wife I will be able to fulfill the role my Heavenly Father has in store for me. The plan of salvation teaches us that we can become like our Heavenly Father. Only as a sealed couple can we fully qualify for the blessings of highest level of the celestial kingdom and truly become like our Father in Heaven. I am grateful for a wife who is willing to work with me on eternal goals.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The blessing of children

The crazy thing about starting a family is, when you are trying to have your first kid, there is this crazy unknown - can we have kids? What is this going to do to our marriage? But then, once all the questions are answered, you realize children are one of God's greatest blessings in this life. The fact that He trusts us with these little spirits is overwhelming. My son brings so much happiness to my wife and I. His joys are our joys. His triumphs are our triumphs. Not to mention he's just fun; having an extra adorable, goofy, fun-loving member of the family around really makes the days sunnier, you know?

With all the fun, however, there are also many lessons to be learned. My son has tried me more than anything else in my life has. The sleepless nights. The screaming. The kicking and fighting every time I change his diaper or put him into his car seat. His ridiculous behavior is such an eye opener to me. I am sure Heavenly Father looks at me so often and thinks the same thing - how ridiculous I am being when in reality He is just trying to take care of me and keep me safe. So many lessons to learn. So many joys to be had. Oh what a blessing children are.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Birthday time

Birthdays -- literal days on which the people we love most are born -- are special in the Clark household. And when I say special, I don't mean the kind of special where you have a themed party that you planned for months, including theme-appropriate party favors, foods and activities. The special I am talking about is the one-on-one, making-family-memories kind of special.

For our son's first birthday we took a family camping trip up in the Uintahs. We made a fire. Swung in the hammock. Had the most amazing camp food you can imagine. Cuddled for a giant sleepover in the back of our truck. Woke up with the sun. Then rounded the entire outing off with a nice, scenic drive home (on an intoxicatingly beautiful fall day nonetheless) and a small, little, mom-dad-baby birthday celebration. It was the perfect way to remember and celebrate the first year we spent as a family of three.

Below you can see us singing our son happy birthday. He didn't seem to get the idea of the cupcake at first, but he gets the hang of it toward the end. Enjoy.

video






Thursday, October 15, 2015

Family photos


I love the mountains. Last weekend, one of my wife's friend was kind enough to take our family photos up American Fork canyon.  It is great to finally have some professional photos of our little family, and it has forced me to realize how quickly time goes. My son is almost a year old, and soon he will be graduating high school and moving out of the house. I'm grateful for the small moments in life, especially those shared with my wife and son.  I look forward to spending lots of time in the mountains as we try to raise our son into the man Heavenly Father wants him to be. I appreciate the mountains for the symbolism of being close to our Heavenly Father.  I hope my son has an equal love for the mountains, as well as his Father in Heaven.

Photos of my family can be found at my wife's blog. Take a look around, you will also find our recent family adventures, cooking tips, product suggestions, and cleaning tips.