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Christina Baum

Christina Baum
Christina Baum
Christina Baum is the Chief Information Officer for Ensign College, and has led the IT department since October of 2017.

Prior to that, Christina worked for the Church’s IT department, Information and Communication Services, as well as several other technology and engineering companies.

She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and has an MBA from Washington State University.

During her MBA program, Christina was recognized as the “Scholar of the Year,” and graduated with top honors, including leading her business team to win 1st place in an international business plan competition.

She has served in the Church in many capacities, but her favorite calling was as a Primary chorister. Christina was a competitive skier growing up, and worked as a ski instructor through college. She enjoys most all sports, and has recently taken up golfing. She has a love of all genres of music and has an odd talent to be able to quote most song lyrics.

Christina and her family live in Saratoga Springs, Utah. She has two daughters, 15 and 12, and a son who is 10. Her children are the light of her world!

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The Two Great Commandments

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When asked by a Pharisee, “what is the greatest commandment?,” the Savior did not hesitate and replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. “ This is the first and great commandment.“ And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

How do we keep the first commandment to love the Lord our God? We are taught that, “if ye love me, keep my commandments.” This is certainly true and is a critical way that we show our love, but we also know that our attempts to always keep the commandments will come up short. In Romans 3:23 we read, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

A dear friend of mine refers to our time here on earth as “earth school.” In this “earth school” will we make mistakes. Even the best of us, with the best of intentions, will be unable to keep all of the commandments all of the time. We will be incapable of showing the full measure of our love for our Lord through our own righteousness.

But our loving Father knew this from the beginning. He provided a way for us to repent and be forgiven. The Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, is Plan A, not Plan B. It is His plan for us to learn and to grow and to make mistakes while here in “earth school.” He wants us to have experiences here on earth that help us learn how to turn to Him, and ultimately return to Him, over and over, through repentance. He wants us to not only gain a physical body, but to develop empathy for one another as a result of our experiences and imperfections.

So how, then, do we show our deep love for our Father in Heaven, when we are incapable of keeping all of the commandments all of the time? I believe the Savior showed us the example. In Matthew chapter 25, He taught:

35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, 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.

When we love and serve others, and strive to keep the second commandment, it shows our love for our Father in Heaven, and helps us to keep the first commandment. They are two sides of the same coin.

We show our love for the Lord by following His example, and by loving and serving our neighbor. We cannot claim to love the Lord and judge or look down on those He paid the ultimate price to redeem.

Who, then, is our neighbor? The Savior was asked this very question and responded so beautifully with the parable of the good Samaritan. He taught us that everyone, all of God’s children, are our neighbors.

The parable begins as a lawyer asked the Savior, “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). Christ then shared this powerful story of a traveler from Jerusalem to Jericho who was attacked, robbed, wounded and left at the wayside by thieves. Two people passed by him without offering aid. There was a priest (Church leader or teacher) and a Levite (one of the tribes assigned to temple service).

Both of them “passed by on the other side,” neither stopping to help (see Luke 10:31–32). Both were preoccupied or too busy with important assignments. Finally, the good Samaritan did not pass by on the other side but stopped to give immediate and sustained assistance. Jesus then said to the questioner and to us, “Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37).

As we look to the life and teachings of the Savior, we learn how to show this love. I would like to share three examples from the Savior’s life that provide a pattern for us for how to love one another. The Savior taught us how to see one another, how to serve one another, and how to forgive one another.

First: How to See One Another
The first is the story of Zaccheus as found in the New Testament.
Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency, shared this story in the April 2019 General Conference address entitled, Christ: The Light that Shines in the Darkness:

Luke 19 tells the story of the chief tax collector in Jericho named Zacchaeus. He climbed a tree in order to see Jesus walk by. Zacchaeus was employed by the Roman government and viewed as corrupt and a sinner. Jesus saw him up in the tree and called to him, saying, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.” And when Jesus saw the goodness of Zacchaeus’s heart and the things he did for others, He accepted his offering, saying, “This day is salvation come to this house, [for] he also is a son of Abraham.”

Jesus knows my heart and sees me. He knows your heart and sees you. He expects us to do the same; to see each other with eyes of compassion and love.

I have been a grateful recipient of someone “seeing me” for more than who I was at the present time. I joined the Church as a 9-year-old young girl through my friendship with a neighborhood friend whose name was Christine and who lived a few houses away. Our backyards were near kitty-corner to one another, and she and I had great adventures. Christine and Christina. We were inseparable.

However, a few years later, my family moved from Washington to Oregon, but my best friend and I remained very close. We would visit each other regularly during the summer breaks from school. Our parents would drive several hours to meet halfway between Seattle and Portland to send us to one another’s homes. Then we discovered the train that ran between the cities, and our parents would take us to the train station.

I will never forget one particular trip. My best friend’s father, Dave, was driving me to the train station to return to Portland. On the drive, he spent time talking to me about my life, my goals and where I saw myself in the future. He then shared with me a vision of who he saw that I could become. For the first time, I began to see myself differently. My family life at home was dysfunctional, and as he spoke with me, I began to believe that I could become someone different than my family path was leading me. He believed in me. He loved me, and that confidence in me has changed my life.

Just as the Savior saw Zacchaeus in the tree, he wants us to look around and see one another. Truly see one another with love and without judgement, for we are all works in progress.

President Eyring, in his October 2018 Conference address entitled Try, Try, Try stated:
Many years ago, I was first counselor to a district president in the eastern United States. More than once, as we were driving to our little branches, he said to me, “Hal, when you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.” Not only was he right, but I have learned over the years that he was too low in his estimate.

The Lord expects us to love and serve one another. To strive to see each other through His eyes, with compassion.

Second: How to Serve One Another
The Savior spent His life, going about, doing good. He taught us that as we serve one another, we show our love and that we are serving Him.

I especially love the story of the Savior washing the feet of the Apostles. He lowered himself down to clean arguably the lowliest and dirtiest part of their bodies: their feet. There is such rich symbolism here.

Again, I have been a grateful recipient of such service. A number of years ago, my family purchased an old home in American Fork, Utah. This home had been built in stages, the oldest stage dating to pre-1900. As we began remodeling, we encountered many surprises, some interesting and fun, such as the layers and layers of wallpaper that served as a time capsule walking us back through history. However, there were other surprises lurking in that old house.

The kitchen was part of the older section of the house, and one morning, without warning, the fluorescent tube light fixture that hung from the ceiling gave way, swung down, and crashed onto the floor, ripping the electrical line out of the ceiling and down the wall. Fortunately, my grandmother had just passed under it with her morning orange juice just before it fell, and no one was injured. This began the “great kitchen remodel.”

The walls and ceiling were lath and plaster, and as we attempted to repair the damage from the fallen light, the ceiling began to crumble. We decided to remove the entire ceiling, but as we did, the walls began to crumble. Then we needed to take down the cabinets. The next thing we knew, we were squarely into a full demolition and remodeling project that we had not quite intended.

One day, in particular, I will never forget. We began removing part of a wall and section of ceiling and discovered that hidden behind that wall was an old chimney. As we broke into the ceiling, years of soot that had laid dormant was released into the air with one large poof. The kitchen had open walkways into the dining room and family room, and the black soot quickly spread out and got onto everything! No nook or cranny was safe. I remember looking around, myself now dirty with soot, and thinking, “how will I ever get this clean?”

I felt overwhelmed. The soot was so difficult to remove. It just seemed to stick to everything. I remembered that I had seen vans for “Utah Disaster Cleanup” and tried calling them. I explained my predicament, but they kindly let me know that their service was for other types of actual disasters. I felt silly, but to me this felt like a disaster. I had little toddlers at the time, and now nowhere “clean and safe” for them to play.

I remember calling members of the ward and members of our extended family. They were so kind. They were so quick to drop what they were doing and come to help. They brought gloves. They brought cleaning supplies. One even drove down from Logan that day. They came and rolled up their sleeves. They didn’t hesitate.

I remember pausing during the clean-up and looking around at them. I felt such gratitude for their Christ-like examples. That day, with the ceiling and walls literally crumbling around me, covered in soot, I felt as if I were certainly one of the “least of these.”

I have felt this gratitude and swelling in my heart many more times as I look at friends and coworkers helping me clean, paint and repair my home and basement during a recent life change that caused me to feel rushed to possibly sell my home. I have felt it as I watch my children serve one another in small acts of kindness and inclusion. I have felt it as I watch news accounts of people helping others during recent events, such as the fires, COVID-19, wind storms and earthquakes.

As we love and serve one another, we show pure love. At these moments, as we serve “the least of these,” we are serving our Savior. I hope that I am able to repay all of the generous service that I have received over my lifetime.

Third: How to Forgive One Another
Finally, the Savior showed His love in a way that no one else could: He gave His life for us. In John 15:13 we learn, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” The Savior gave us the ultimate gift of the Atonement.

With that gift, he expects us to forgive one another, as we have been forgiven.

The Savior showed us a perfect example of how to forgive others.

On the cross, in the very depth of agony and feeling the weight of our sins, pain and separation from the Father, the Savior’s thoughts were turned towards others and He said, “forgive them, for they know not what they do…”

In April of 2007, President Faust, then second counselor in the First Presidency, shared the following story that illustrates the peace that can come through forgiveness.

In the beautiful hills of Pennsylvania, a devout group of Christian people live a simple life without automobiles, electricity or modern machinery. They work hard and live quiet, peaceful lives separate from the world. Most of their food comes from their own farms. The women sew and knit and weave their clothing, which is modest and plain. They are known as the Amish people.

A 32-year-old milk truck driver lived with his family in their Nickel Mines community. He was not Amish, but his pickup route took him to many Amish dairy farms, where he became known as the quiet milkman. Last October, he suddenly lost all reason and control. In his tormented mind, he blamed God for the death of his first child and some unsubstantiated memories. He stormed into the Amish school without any provocation, released the boys and adults, and tied up the 10 girls. He shot the girls, killing five and wounding five. Then he took his own life.

This shocking violence caused great anguish among the Amish but no anger. There was hurt but no hate. Their forgiveness was immediate. Collectively, they began to reach out to the milkman’s suffering family. As the milkman’s family gathered in his home the day after the shootings, an Amish neighbor came over, wrapped his arms around the father of the dead gunman and said, “We will forgive you.” Amish leaders visited the milkman’s wife and children to extend their sympathy, their forgiveness, their help and their love. About half of the mourners at the milkman’s funeral were Amish. In turn, the Amish invited the milkman’s family to attend the funeral services of the girls who had been killed. A remarkable peace settled on the Amish as their faith sustained them during this crisis.

One local resident very eloquently summed up the aftermath of this tragedy when he said, “We were all speaking the same language, and not just English, but a language of caring, a language of community [and] a language of service. And, yes, a language of forgiveness.” It was an amazing outpouring of their complete faith in the Lord’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”

The family of the milkman who killed the five girls released the following statement to the public:
“To our Amish friends, neighbors and local community: Our family wants each of you to know that we are overwhelmed by the forgiveness, grace and mercy that you’ve extended to us. Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. The prayers, flowers, cards and gifts you’ve given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you.”

“Please know that our hearts have been broken by all that has happened. We are filled with sorrow for all of our Amish neighbors whom we have loved and continue to love. We know that there are many hard days ahead for all the families who lost loved ones, and so we will continue to put our hope and trust in the God of all comfort, as we all seek to rebuild our lives.”

How could the whole Amish group manifest such an expression of forgiveness? It was because of their faith in God and trust in His word, which is part of their inner beings. They see themselves as disciples of Christ and want to follow His example.

Hearing of this tragedy, many people sent money to the Amish to pay for the health care of the five surviving girls and for the burial expenses of the five who were killed. As a further demonstration of their discipleship, the Amish decided to share some of the money with the widow of the milkman and her three children because they too were victims of this terrible tragedy.

Forgiveness does not always come so immediately. For some, it can take days, weeks, months or even years to achieve. Forgiveness is not an event, but rather, a journey. I have learned that the Savior is there with us through every step of that journey. Even as we strive to forgive, we may fall short, and the Lord can make up the difference. After all, the price has already been paid by Him on behalf of whomever we are striving to forgive. If we can accept that, accept the Atonement fully, we can let go of the need for justice for others and ourselves.

I also feel a need to mention that throughout this journey, it is critical to remember the words of Elder Holland when he shared:

“Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven,” Christ taught in New Testament times. And in our day: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” It is, however, important for some of you living in real anguish to note what He did not say. He did not say, “You are not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you have had at the hand of another.” Nor did He say, “In order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance.” But notwithstanding even the most terrible offenses that might come to us, we can rise above our pain only when we put our feet onto the path of true healing. That path is the forgiving one walked by Jesus of Nazareth, who calls out to each of us, “Come, follow me.”

While it may not always come immediately, and there can be real pain, we are asked to forgive fully.

I love a poem composed by Marguerite Stewart. It is entitled “Forgiveness Flour.” The poem reads:

When I went to the door, at the whisper of knocking,
I saw Simeon Gantner’s daughter, Kathleen, standing
There, in her shawl and her shame, sent to ask
“Forgiveness Flour” for her bread. “Forgiveness Flour,”
We call it in our corner. If one has erred, one
Is sent to ask for flour of his neighbors. If they loan it
To him, that means he can stay, but if they refuse, he had
Best take himself off. I looked at Kathleen . . .
What a jewel of a daughter, though not much like her
Father, more’s the pity. “I’ll give you flour,” I
Said, and went to measure it. Measuring was the rub.
If I gave too much, neighbors would think I made sin
Easy, but if I gave too little, they would label me
“Close.” While I stood measuring, Joel, my husband
Came in from the mill, a great bag of flour on his
Shoulder, and seeing her there, shrinking in the
Doorway, he tossed the bag at her feet. “Here, take
All of it.” And so she had flour for many loaves,
While I stood measuring.
[Marguerite Stewart, “Forgiveness Flour,” Religious Studies Center Newsletter 7, no. 3 (May 1993): 1]

I hope that we can each be the type of people who turn issues with others over to the Lord and who generously toss a full bag of flour out to any we interact with. Let us not stand measuring, but be quick to love and forgive as the Savior would have us do.

Conclusion and Testimony
The Lord has given us two great commandments, and all other aspects of the gospel fit under these commandments. He asks us to love Him with all of our hearts and to love one another. Then, He lived and died in a way that showed us how to do this.

Just like Zaccheus, the Lord sees us up in our tree. He reaches out to us. He wants us to see one another as He sees us. Including ourselves. He wants us to love and forgive ourselves when we err.

Just like my friends and family who stood there shoulder to shoulder with me in the soot, He wants us to bear one another’s burdens. Sometimes we are the one with the soot on us, sometimes we are the one showing up with the cleaning products and rolling up our sleeves. We need each other, and as we serve one another, we show our love for our Father.

And just as the Savior forgave each of us of our sins and weaknesses, he expects us to forgive one another. And when that is hard, when that feels really difficult to do, He is there to fill in the gap and guide us through.

I am so grateful for my Savior. I am so thankful for His life and teachings. For the example that He set for me in all things. I am so grateful for the gift of repentance that allows me to become clean and to try again each day.

I know that my Savior lives. I know that He knows and loves me, and He knows and loves each of you. I know that as we focus on the two great commandments, that all other aspects of our life will fall into place.

And I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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