Little Family

Little Family

Monday, January 27, 2014

Personal Prayer

In our church, members of the congregation are asked in advance if they would be willing to prepare and then give a talk on Sunday on a certain topic. This past week I was asked to prepare a talk on "Improving personal prayers." I learned a lot, refreshed my memory and enjoyed the spirit that studying the doctrine can bring. I'd love for you to read my thoughts in hopes that it brings a spirit to you too.


Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the 70 gave a devotional address at BYU–Hawaii on May 17, 2011 titled “Improving your personal prayers.” Many of the quotes I share will be from his address. Elder Pearson states,
“ The divine invitation to pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus Christ is the single most mentioned commandment in all recorded scripture and is the most basic form of personal worship. Yet many of us struggle in our attempts to make personal prayer meaningful and revelatory.
I am convinced that personal prayer is one of the most significant challenges facing members of the Church, particularly youth and young adults. And because they struggle with prayer, they struggle spiritually.
To pray is to speak with God, the Eternal Father of our spirits—not at Him but with Him. He loves each of us perfectly and is full of mercy and understanding. He knows everything about us. He knows what we need, even when we can see only what we want. He has infinite power and capacity to sustain and guide us. He is always willing to forgive us and to help us in all things. We can speak with Heavenly Father vocally or by forming thoughts and expressions in our minds and hearts.”

Since God knows each of us so perfectly he is able to prepare others to be answers to the prayers we may not know we will even pray. For example, my younger brother Javier is serving in the Nevada, Reno mission. He has been out 16 months and is loving his area, his companions and his experiences. In a letter home this week he shared the following:
“We were in this neighborhood in Fernley a few days ago and we were knocking on the door of a person that had talked to the missionaries before. Across the street a man was coming out of his house, walking to his car. We went over and started talking to him. His name is Al, and Al has been going through a lot of stuff lately, and he was praying at the very moment we saw him, that something would happen that could help him. He was really surprised to see us, and knew that we were an answer to his prayers. It taught me that you really never know when you might be the answer to somebody’s prayer.”
He didn’t go into detail about why their original contact had fallen through or what became of his conversation. Sometimes we need to humble ourselves and realize that the Lord will use us to answer the prayers of others if we let him. My brother had previously written about his aversions to striking up a conversation with people about the gospel. He said, “Our Mission President had us make a goal to talk with everybody that we see. At first I was really nervous about doing that because I figured that nobody really wanted to talk to us or know what we were doing. I’m not sure why I thought that, because now we really don’t have a problem going up to somebody and starting to talk to them. In my mind I make up excuses to not go and talk to somebody. Like, “Oh they don’t look interested.” Or, “They look busy.” And then we don’t talk to that person. It happens a lot less often than in the beginning of my mission.
How different would this afternoon have been if he and his companion felt too timid to talk to this man as he had mentioned. Not only will praying allow us to be in tune with the spirit it will help us to follow the will of the father in our day to day lives blessing others along the way.
Elder Pearson commented on personal prayers. He stated, “Personal prayers should be solemn, sacred expressions of praise and gratitude; heartfelt petitions for specific needs and desires; humble, contrite confessions and requests for cleansing forgiveness; pleadings for comfort, direction, and revelation. These expressions often cause us to pour out our very souls to our loving Heavenly Father.
Prayer is often a brief communication, but it can also be an open and continuous dialogue all throughout the day and night”
I love to think of it as that, continuous dialogue. The communication line doesn’t have to be cut as soon as we say Amen. We can continue to speak with the Lord throughout the day in our hearts and minds.
Elder Pearson pointed out that “Satan will be the only one who tells you that you cannot or should not pray. The Holy Ghost always encourages us to pray, even if we are struggling with obedience and personal worthiness.” By the time evening rolls around I’ve been picking up messes all day and dealing with the day to day struggles of being a mother. When my husband gets home and we finally sit down to eat a meal that was made with a child attached to my pant leg I don’t feel in a very spiritual mood and have occasionally declined my husband’s invitation to say the prayer over dinner. I realize that by declining that communication with the lord and the opportunity to show my gratitude for all that we do have I am only hurting myself. I am choosing to keep myself away from his spirit. I am learning that when I don’t feel that I want to pray is the time where I need to pray the most.

Elder Pearson reminds us that “Prayer is not a negotiation process. It is an alignment process. We don’t move God to our point of view. Prayer is less about changing our circumstances and more about changing us. It is about seeking His will and asking for His help to do what we need to do. When we align our will with Heavenly Father’s will, answers and spiritual power will flow more freely. Following this pattern allows us to pray with faith.”
He shared a story of his own personal struggle with prayer. I quote his experience, “Nearly 20 years ago, our fifth son, Benjamin, was born. My wife sensed that something wasn’t right with Benjamin’s eyes. We consulted a close friend and retinal specialist in our ward, who confirmed our concerns and diagnosed Benjamin’s condition as retinal blastoma, a rare form of cancer of the eye. The news was devastating.
A few weeks later, Benjamin was to have the first of many surgical treatments. Prior to the operation we met with the surgeon and told him that we believed that he would find that Benjamin’s eye would be healed and not need to be removed. Our entire family and many ward members were fasting and praying for our son, and we had great faith that Benjamin would be healed.
An hour later, the surgeon returned and confirmed that Benjamin’s eye had been destroyed by the tumor cells and that his other eye also had several serious tumors that needed immediate treatment. I was speechless. Completely overcome with grief and disbelief, I walked out of the hospital into the damp San Francisco morning and began to walk, weeping bitterly.
I had done everything I had been taught to do. We had prayed and received a strong impression to select this doctor. We had fasted and prayed and felt certain that our infant son would be healed through faith and through the power of the priesthood. Yet the Lord had not intervened. Our faith it seems had been no more than vain hope. I began to question everything I had ever believed. As I walked, I felt betrayed and angry. I was overcome with pain.
I am not proud of the conversation I had with Heavenly Father as I walked and wept that morning. After a time, I got hold of myself emotionally. I remember the words of a children’s Primary song coming into my mind. “Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child’s prayer?” Because you clearly haven’t been listening to mine or maybe you just don’t really care about me and my son.
In that moment, a tender mercy came. In my mind and heart, I felt these words: “Kevin, he is my son too.” The clarity of the prompting was unmistakable. I realized in that moment that I had not understood the purpose of prayer at all. I had assumed that, just because I had a righteous cause, I could use the priesthood and fasting and prayer to change the will of God.
For the first time in my life, I fully realized that I was not in charge. I knew that I needed to submit to Heavenly Father’s will. I couldn’t have what I wanted when and how I wanted it just because I was keeping the commandments. The purpose of prayer was not to tell Heavenly Father what to do, rather to find out what He would have me do and learn. I needed to align my will with His.
We would face another six years of serious challenges as we battled our little son’s condition to save his other eye and his life. But I now knew that Heavenly Father was aware and in charge. And no matter how things ultimately worked out, He had heard and answered my prayer. Today our miracle son is serving a full-time mission in Spain.”
I’d like to share an experience from our own lives.
Travis and I were engaged July 2010. When we were trying to determine a wedding date we received a lot of feedback from family as to when it should be. We prayed and talked about it and consistently felt impressed that it should be March 2011. This time period was not well suited for our families. My sister was due with her third baby just two weeks before the date we picked. We planned to get married during our Spring Break from college and then we would live in Harrisonburg, an hour from Southern Virginia University, where I attended, while Travis went to James Madison meaning I would have to commute daily to my 8 am classes.  Our family tried to help us understand why a Summer wedding would be a better option but we stuck to our guns and planned our wedding for March 19, 2011. The week before our wedding, a slot opened up with the JMU Army ROTC program that would allow Travis to join ROTC by first enlisting in the Army Reserves, which would allow him to become an officer after graduation. So, two days after our wedding Travis joined the Army and left for Infantry Basic Training a short four weeks after our marriage. His training lasted from April until August with limited communication, but he was able to get it all done while on summer break from JMU so he didn’t miss any school. We quickly realized that if our wedding had been planned for the Summer that would not have been plausible or possible. Since we got married two short days before he enlisted we were eligible for the extra financial benefits that married couples receive in the army. These funds are what sustained us while we both completed our degrees. In addition, my sister had her baby a  month early and was fully recovered in time to attend our wedding. I know that our decision to be married when we did was guided by the spirit. Following the well intentioned direction of our families would have caused us more difficulty and struggle. I am thankful that the Lord saw fit to direct us when we couldn’t foresee what was ahead of us. His guiding hand allowed us to pick what turned out to be the only weekend on which we could have been married.
I know if we each make personal prayer a priority it can provide us with the spirit of the Lord which can help align our desires with His.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Travis!

I love that the end of the holiday season is capped with Travis's birthday. He planned ahead and saved one of his holiday days from work so he could share his birthday with us at home. It was a fantastic day! We woke up and Bailee and I served him breakfast in bed. She's developing and growing so much we have such a great time doing things like that. She can understand many words eventhough her vocabulary is limited. I love that I can hand her something and direct her to "take it to daddy" and she'll toddle to him from wherever she was. The same was true for the morning of the 3rd. She helped me bring in the sausage, strawberries and crepes for Trav. Then, she helped him eat!

We started off the morning bundling up and heading out to play in the newly fallen snow. Bailee had no idea what to think of it as she is too young to remember the snow from last year. She looked adorable in her snow suit and was such a great sport. Travis and Ranger had a ball. They ran around and Range could not get enough of the snow.

Travis and I spent the day doing things we haven't been able to since Bailee was born. We don't get out without her very often so this day was long anticipated! We left her at home (supervised of course!) so we could enjoy each others company. It's nice to do that without having to worry about bringing sippy cups or little snacks.
We started with lunch at Jackson's. It's a Great American restaurant in Reston that Travis had been eying. We enjoyed a delicious meal and although stuffed we walked down the street to a little cupcake shop to share a Red Velvet cupcake.Delicious. We have a thing for cream cheese icing.

Did I mention it was absolutely frigid??
 We went to the movies and watched Saving Mr. Banks- a movie about the making of Marry Poppins. I had no idea there was a "true" element behind the story. It was interesting. And, for days now we've been singing about the benefits of taking your medicine with a spoonful of sugar!!

 I made an Oreo cream cake for Trav and we enjoyed that with his mom and sisters while spending time together. I think I enjoyed the day just as much if not more than Travis!

We are so fortunate to have him. He's a devoted husband and a very involved father. He's what they call a family man in every way. I sure do love him!!


We had a wonderful Christmas season! Life seemed to be moving so quickly from Thanksgiving to New Year's day. It's freezing outside so we got to enjoy many hours together in the comfort of our home. I love the spirit that Christmas brings. We were all more loving to one another and people young and old hurried in anticipation for Christmas morning. Although I hated shopping during the season there was something enjoyable about the hustle and bustle. We spoke of Christ and rejoiceld in his life and his works. By doing so we became a stronger family. 
Enjoy some pictures!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We are who we are

The things we do as parents for our kids! I only have one child and without a doubt I have a lot of learning to do, that’s to be expected. Each day that passes we find we are faced with more questions and scenarios that need our attention. What I didn’t expect was all the judgment I’d receive from others here and there in regards to our family, our values, and the everyday things we do.
To begin, I’ve had people comment on how we’re raising Bailee. That’s right: I’m judged because I don’t take her around people who are sick. I’m judged because when I thought something was wrong I took her to the doctor (heaven forbid I take my own kid to the doctor and pay a copay- GASP!). I’m judged because I don’t let my 13 month old (yes, she will be 13 months old tomorrow) watch TV for hours on end as entertainment.  I’m judged because we are trying to feed her healthy foods. I’m judged because she has a bedtime. I’m judged because we have decided that we don’t want her exposed to environments that will harm her developing mind (ie: swearing and yelling). Get this, we are judged because at an early age we are trying to instill in her values that are important to us including modesty and reverence (at church).
I truly could go on and on. I’m judged as a woman, as a mother, collectively my family is judged. It’s human nature to look at another and instantly label them something. I know I do it. So, how can I “get over” these judgments? I’m finding that the stronger our marriage is the less I care about outside source’s input. There will always be someone who finds fault with what we’re doing. I’m realizing that as long as Travis and I are doing what we both feel is right and correct, in conjunction with the teachings of the Gospel, we can turn the other cheek (face cheek of course!) at whatever is said in passing to us.
And my oh my, we have a daughter who enjoys healthy eating, who easily goes to bed at her bedtime, who was not sick even ONCE in her first 12 months of life (not even as much as a sniffle). Without a doubt we are working so she will know of God’s love for her. She will learn of our testimony of the Gospel and we will hope to instill in her the importance of keeping ALL of God’s commandments- not just the ones that seem convenient at the time. She’s going to grow up and have to deal with judgmental influences throughout her life. She’ll have friends and family who don’t have the same standards as she does. My hope is that we provide her with a family unit that she can turn to, parents that she can talk to and trust and she too might be able to turn the other cheek.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Time (and) change

The time change from daylight savings hasn't been too kind to poor Bailee. It came at a bad time anyway since we are trying to switch from two shorter naps each day to one long nap. We didn't quite have that down when the hours got all switched up. So, we're just winging it. This morning she was up at 6:00 and we had eaten breakfast, played, she had a bath, and was back down for a nap by 8:45. More often she wakes up about 8:00. As I held her in my arms, in the rocking chair in the corner of her room I looked down and realized, although a year has gone by, in a blink no less, she is still a baby. She still needs so much from me. She expects only good from the world. I held her and thought how thankful I am that she's part of our family. This wasn't one of those "it's Thanksgiving month so here is my obligatory list of things I'm thankful for" type of things. This was a true, heartfelt gratitude for her. As cliche as it sounds, life would be so different without her, it wouldn't be as rich and full. Gazing down at her sweet, innocent face I realized that she wasn't the only one who had changed this year. I've done a lot of changing. In a short period of time I went from college student, to young wife to mom. A year ago I didn't feel like a "mother" though. I was caring for her, sure, but my attitude was not where it is now. A year ago Bailee was "taking up all of my time." She was "the reason I didn't have time to shower" and was "keeping me up at night." Now she is still doing those things but I don't begrudge her. I've come to realize that time is ever so fleeting. If every year goes by as quick as this one has, we will be standing on some college campus somewhere waving goodbye to our "baby" before we've had a chance to enjoy what we have.
So, I don't want to rush her. Let her sleep in my arms, and don't force her to walk just yet. As the poem goes- babies don't keep.
So, as Thanksgiving does approach I express my gratitude for the change in me. Bailee came with a sweet spirit, a loving heart and is full of joy. Weather I had those things once and lost them I don't know but I know she is helping me gain them now. My hair may never be done nicely and my pants may fit a little too tight but at the end of the day, I know I took that time for one more hug, a "squish" from my little girl. She's learned to kiss and will grab my face to give her one. Those are the moments I know I will remember, moments I will look back on when I'm back home from taking her to college.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Family Photos

With Bailee's first birthday fast approaching we thought it was as good of a time as any to get some family photos taken. Most importantly we wanted to get some "birthday" pictures of Bailee done. Our friend, Dani, took them. We would highly recommend her to any of our friends that are in the area. These aren't ALL the pictures and we do still have more coming but I couldn't wait to share!