Pray Always

"I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God, it changes me." --C. S. Lewis

Along with the thousand other things I'd like to do--sharing my testimony in bits and pieces here and there on this blog is one of them.

I decided to start with one of the first principles I came to truly understand very early on in my life. And that is prayer. 

I was taught to pray as a little girl. And now that I think about it--it's one of the best gifts my parents could've given me. They taught me to get on my knees to pray before I went to sleep every night. And so I did. You might say this was also the beginning of my testimony of obedience as well. 

Being so young, it began as something to check off my to-do list: brush teeth, go potty, get a drink of water, and say your prayers. But it wasn't until sometime in gradeschool I started to see the blessings that came from answered prayers and the undeniable benefits that came from consulting with my Father each night before I went to sleep.

I loved this quote so much I had to make it into a little print. Download quote here, if you'd like.

I remember praying for years that my dad wouldn't have to work on Sundays anymore. A great blessing that was eventually given to our family. I remember fervently praying I would do well in my geography bee in 5th grade--or later when I'd tryout for something in highschool or had some sort of performance. And oh how I'd pray to drive safely. Which sounds so cliche, but after being a small 9 year-old slightly traumatized after our family was in an awful car accident, it was anything but. And then, there were always those moments of spontaneous desparation, such as killing my truck, losing my wallet, forgetting about a test--I prayed then too. Point is: I prayed about everything from the big stuff to the small stuff. The answers that came weren't always what I wanted, but the answers that came never ceased to prove to me that I had someone greater than me advocating my cause and if it mattered to me then it mattered to Him. 

In the middle of all of this, I began developing an anxiety disorder around 10 years old. My parents and I didn't know what to do, and so I did what I always do--I prayed, we prayed. I'm pretty sure everyone in my family was praying for me. Heavenly Father didn't take it away (like I asked Him to hundreds of times), but He slowly provided me the understanding and mind exercises I needed for me to keep myself in control of my thoughts. I can't imagine where I'd be today had prayer not been a major part of my arsenal used to conquer this trial of mine. This was when I first found my Savior, and experienced the blessings of the Atonement. I discovered the scriptures--although I was too young to understand a lot of them, I knew they fortified me and increased my ability to feel the Spirit. 

Prayer made me love and trust my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and therefore made accepting the truthfulness of the Gospel one of the easiest things I've ever done.

And I pray still. However, it seems now my prayers are about much weightier matters. I hate to admit there are times I find the more I need to pray about the more daunting the task. And there are times I can't get on my knees fast enough. The word safety takes on about twenty different meaning as does the word pain. Thankfully, I always get to start out with gratitude. There are few things as therapeutic for me as telling my Father in Heaven everything I'm grateful for. It grants peace, perspective and ability to sort through the rest of my thoughts.

It's funny how writing this has made me realize how huge prayer has been to me in my life. I've always known of its importance to me, but writing about it has made me see how prayer has been the gateway to many, if not all, of the blessings I have today. Another thing I love about it--everyone can do it. No matter who, when, where or how. Everyone can pray.

One of my most favorite talks on the subject is by Elder David E Bednar in the 2008 General Conference titled: Pray Always. I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard this talk because it was such an "Ah-ha!" moment for me. If you're interested in learning more about the subject you can read it here.

One of the Stupidest Things I've Ever Done

***Now before you read this--I'm not saying you shouldn't do fun things with your kids--I'm just saying, be careful with what fun things you choose to do with your kids.***

(These photos are from a couple of Sunday ago, where our afternoon activities were chosen a bit more wisely)

After a wonderful weekend that included a date with Phil and uplifting Stake Conference meetings, we found ourselves in our usual spot on Sunday afternoons: the couch.

We figured after our kids' twentieth plea to go play we thought we should make an effort to be decent parents and, I dunno, take them outside or something.

So we decided to go to the park. An easy fun-loving activity perfect for a late summer day. We even walked the block and a half to get there because we're just so spontaneous like that.

And apparently the spontaneity was catching because the park we were at has a lot of hills and Hazel and I found ourselves atop one of these said hills. Hazel began squeaking out some sounds of apphrehension about walking down the steep terrain so being the adventerous mother I am, instead of picking her up or taking her hand, I told her:

Lets roll down the hill! 
(stupid, stupid, stupid)

And then I proceeded to lay in the grass perpendicular to the slope to perform what in my head was going to be a very simple demonstration.

Now, it's important to note here, that even though it had probably been a decade (maybe even more) since I had done such a shenanigan--I don't know if it was that the hills I used to roll on just weren't that steep, I don't know--but I had this vision of me doing two or three rolls then, happily sitting up to show my baby girl how fun it was and then see if she wanted to try it. It was one of those rare moments in life, I threw caution to the wind and embraced that fun-loving, carefree mom who spends her days running in fields of wildflowers with her children.

So I went for it.

By the third roll, it was clear I wasn't going anywhere but down that hill. I tried to stop, to sit up (ya know so I could show Hazel how much fun I was having), but I'm pretty sure at this point I was measuring about 8 G's down what felt like to be a never-ending cliff. Everything inside me was churning. All of the parts outside me (that didn't used to be there a decade ago) were being whipped around me in an abusive manner.

And yet in the faint distance, I hear Hazel. Concerned. Schtop! Mommy! Schtop!

Oh, sweet girl...if only I could--if only. I. Could.

What was in reality only 5 seconds, felt like 5 minutes. Why am I not slowing down? I've got to be about two shakes away from hitting the church about a block down the road....

It was was about this time that I felt a noticable decrease in speed. Finally! And so I tried to sit up again.    My head was spinning so....hard, I felt like I was going to pass out. Wait. No, no--I wanted to pass out. If there was anyone out there who ever wanted to torture me, it would be to put me in a barrel and roll me around. I would tell you ANYTHING you wanted to know.

I did stop. And after laying there in spread-eagle position for who nows how long, I made it up onto all fours and hoarsly called out "Phil...? Phil...!" I hear a voice fighting the urge not to laugh reply, Are you okay?

No. No, I am not okay.

I later told him that was easily one of the top ten most stupidest things I've done (at least this year anyway). He told me that he was surprised I did it, but that I looked whimsical and in complete control while doing so.

So even though it almost killed me. At least I looked totes awesome while doing it. So, ya know, I've got that.

And then, a few minutes later we were rounding up the kiddos to walk back home, Phil sprained his ankle.

We totally just should've stayed on the couch.

Rewind: Hazel's Birthday!

Another major happening this summer was Hazel's birthday. She turned 2!  And really, what can I say about our curly, blonde-haired, left-handed, baby doll, other than we adore her and think she's the cutest wittle cutie-patootie-woo-woo we've ever known. And listening to her talk with her low, matter-of-fact voice, laced with a sassy tone, pretty much gets her whatever she wants...and then she turns into cranky, demanding, spoiled Hazel, but we won't talk about that right now. 

Also, I think it's worth mentioning at her two-year check-up, she measured in at 30 lbs and is in the 99th per centile for her height. We dunno, but we think she might be on the taller side.

Hazel LOVED her party. We spent the morning making all the preparations, but it wasn't until she woke up from her nap and everyone came over that you could see her slowly putting together that they were here for her. The cake was for her. They were all singing for her! THE PRESENTS WERE FOR HER! She talked about it for days. And for weeks afterward, the Happy Birthday song made #1 on her top requested song list for naptime and bedtime.

And deservedly so! We love you, Hazel Ane!

Rewind: Fourth of July

Gosh, I love this time of year so much I could burst. Every time summer rolls around I am so grateful for the break and warm weather I think to myself maybe summer is my favorite season. But then fall comes rolling back in along with that giddy feeling I get, and I remember there is no comparison. Autumn is my favorite. But I will say Summer is a close second. And why I need to make sure I need to get our summer memories recorded--even if it be in retrospect.

So here we are at the Fourth of July. It was totes fun. Phil's cousin Stephanie and her husband, Gideon were here visiting, which only added to the enjoyment.

We started the day at the neightborhood parade--one of my favorite parts of the day--which was followed by a little chalk fight. Then, we had a BBQ with some neighbors for lunch. We vegged for awhile and then made our way to the park for the Traverse Mountain dinner and festivities (which consisted of a lot of blow-up slides and a mariachi band)--we didn't stay long.

We finished up the day at my sister's house. We lit sparklers. I wore a fesitve scarf on my head. We ate popsicles. And we later joined her neighbors for fireworks. Which aside from their neighbor's collection, the location we were in lent a view of fireworks going off all around the valley. The pefect way to end a wonderful Fourth of July.

Temples, Preschool & Soccer Season

Whoosh, I'm still having a hard time getting used to the busy-ness of back-to-school. I'm a person who is a home-body at heart and I find the days I don't have much going on are becoming cherished little beauties of sweat pants and no make-up.

On the flip side, it does feel good to be busy too. And if that's not a complete lie to make myself feel better about life, than this week felt really good.

Monday was Labor Day and thank goodness for my sister with extra tickets, we were able to attend the Ogden Utah Temple Open House.  We did have to wait in line for 45 minutes and we lost our group because of a spontaneous potty break. But other than that, it was wonderful to see this gorgeous building and to be inside the walls dedicated to our Savior and to the service of others. And speaking from a strictly materialistic point of view--flawless. Oh how I'd love to listen in on the meeting that plans the interior design for these temples. What a fun job!

And since we were in the area, we met my parents for lunch and visited Phil's Grandpa Phil (hehe). It's rare I can descibe outings as pleasant. Even if they're fun, they usually carry and element of chaos, but I can say that this day was quite pleasant, indeed.

A couple of days later, Penelope finally started her second year of preschool. So now instead of two days a week, she'll be going three. We're (me) are all about gradual changes around here. That cute little thing was so excited so see Mrs. Barb and her friends.

Soccer season also started this week and so Penny and Ryder had they're first practice and Saturday was their first game. This was Pen's first time playing so it was pretty fun seeing her decked out in her shin guards and uniform.

And I may have decorated my front door with fall decorations even thought its still 85 degrees outside. It may clash with the summer flower pots for a couple of more weeks, but ehh, well.