Hi I'm Mark
I used to think that 30-somethings were "middle-aged", but now that I'm in that category, I've changed my outlook! My life is great, but my life is also very busy. I'm thirty-three years old, I have two cars, a wife, four kids, a career and a mortgage. I guess that makes me pretty average. I'm a husband / father / Air Force Pilot who is currently deployed to Afghanistan. I grew up in Montana, went to school in Colorado and my family now lives in Texas. I met my wife in Hawaii, but she is from Arizona. Between visiting family and new Air Force assignments every few years, we continue to trot around the U.S. at a fast pace! While I'm at work, my wife runs the house, takes the kids to soccer or dance class and of course a weekly trip to the library for the younger ones. I just know someday life will settle down but until then, I'll do my best to enjoy the ride. Favorite family activites: camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, road-tripping and maybe someday a trip to Disneyland. I love a good book, my wife's amazing desserts, and the roar of a campfire under the stars.
Why I am a Mormon
I was raised in the Church. My grandmother was the first in our family to join the Church. My father converted my mom and viola, we kids came later and are "2nd generation" Mormons. I never doubted the Church or its teachings, I was always the "good" kid that did not really rebel. However, I suppose I took my membership for granted when I was young. My first year away at college is when I decided to be a Mormon because I wanted to and not just because I was "born that way". With other influences in my life, I realized that I needed to make a choice: Do I continue on "autopilot" regarding my Church activity, or am I going to do something more (or less)? One night, I was reading scriptures and I came across a priniciple regarding pride and humility. What was said in the scriptures was true. I always thought it was true, but on that night, I had a very special feeling in my heart and I KNEW it was true. At the same time, I KNEW that all the teachings and princples I've received in my life from the Church were true. They were more than good, or great, or timeless . . . these scriptural teachings were TRUE. Since that day, I've developed my very own witness and testimony of the truth and of its place in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I later served as a missionary in St. Petersburg, Russia and I am very happy to pass on my knowledge of the truth to my children. I'm a Mormon because of the power of truth.
What have you done successfully to shield your family from unwanted influences?
In today's complicated world, it is a challenge to raise a family while focusing on traditional values. However, it is also a great joy! My wife and I have come up with a few tips that have helped us teach our children how to be "in the world, but not of the world". 1.) Family time: This is vital. Getting to know my kids on a personal level takes time. Sometimes I have to sacrifice what I want to do for something the whole family can do. Really knowing my children helps me to know how they are developing and what challenges they face. I keep waiting for when my eldest learns her first swear word. I just know it will happen, and when it does, I want to be ready. I want to have a relationship with her that allows me to explain this "new" thing in a way that makes Christian sense. Honest talks from time to time over ice cream do wonders! 2.) More books, less TV, no unsupervised internet: Early in our marriage, we did not subscribe to cable TV for financial reasons. Over the years, we've gotten used to not having it. We still watch movies and keep up with the news via the internet, but we just don't bow down to what I call the "electronic shrine". It has been so liberating! We limit movies, make we are reading something worthwhile, and have software on our computer to guard against pornography and the like. I admit I miss TV when it comes to sports or news, but the trade-off for a home free of online gambling, violent shows, or explicit music has been well worth it. 3.) Attend church: Being active participants in a religion makes righteous living a whole lifestyle, not just what we do on Sundays. Choir, Youth night, bake sales . . . whatever it is, it helps to go and do and be a part of the fellowship that comes with church invovlement. It also shows our kids how important God is.
How I live my faith
Some people think that my active membership in the Church dictates my entire life. This is not correct. I continue to participate fully in my Church because of how membership blesses my life! Living in and with the Church gives my guidance, spiritual protection, encouragement and even social engagement. The Church offers many ways to participate beyond Sunday Services. I've been able to work with the mens group, the Sunday School and youth programs (to include Boy Scouts of America). One thing I enjoy is putting together events - usually a holiday celebration of some sort. I once was on a committe for a chili cook off and it was a ton of fun. Here in Afghanistan, deployment realities limit my participation in Church to an occasional Sunday Service and weekly Bible study. I really miss the other events and activities that the Church has to offer back home. You truely don't know what you have until it's gone, right?