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The Purest Love

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of transformation. It takes us as men and women of the earth and refines us into men and wom...

Thursday, June 30, 2016

If It Gets Me Convicted

I woke up the other day with this song playing over in my head.  It's one of those where the tune didn't grab me right away but I instantly loved the lyrics.

"Guilty"
by, Newsboys

When did it become breaking a rule
To say your name out loud in school
When your names the only one that sets us free
When did it become incorrect
To speak the truth about life and death
When your life gave us all eternity

Even if it gets me convicted
I'll be on my knees with my hands lifted

If serving you's against the law of man
If living out my faith in you is banned
Then I'll stand right before the jury

If saying I believe is out of line
If I'm judged cause I'm gonna give my life
To show the world the love that fills me
Then I want to be Guilty

I'll rise up and honor you
I'll testify to all the good you do
Cause your Grace and your Mercy have overtaken me

 I want to be Guilty by association
Guilty of being a voice proclaiming Your ways
Your truth
Your life
I'll pay the price to be your light

Then I want to be Guilty by association
Guilty of being a voice proclaiming Your ways
Your truth
Your life
I'll pay the price to be your light

Oh I want to be Guilty

When we choose to follow Christ, we do not follow the popular crowd.  Think of all the martyrs, all those prophets and apostles who have gone before!!  When have they ever been applauded, appreciated, respected, or admired by the mainstream of society?? 

In our scripture study with the children, we discussed how real these persecutions are today.  I told them of the time President Hunter was threatened with a bomb when speaking at a BYU Fireside and how the congregation courageously stood and sang, "We Thank Thee O' God for a Prophet."  Tears welled up in my eyes and I testified to my kids that there is no doubt they will have opportunities to display this kind of conviction and faith.  I expressed my confidence in them, I know they will stand strong no matter the cost and that they will be a light and a beacon in a very darkening world.  

 In our ward Book of Mormon study today, we read the story of Abinidi.  In these last days, I can't help but feel we need to do all we can to strengthen and fortify our faith.  I believe it's going to get rough for us.  We will need to seek courage like Abinidi, stand with the prophets, and "stand as a witness of God, at all times, in all things, and in all places, even until death." (Mosiah 18:9)

 This is the courage we must cultivate and it starts with speaking up and speaking out, especially to those within our stewardship.  It is not about maintaining popularity, forget popularity! (Isaiah 2:22)  It's about what is right and true!

When I think of how boldly Abinidi stood before the court, I think of this incredible story Parley P. Pratt told about Joseph Smith:

“We had lain as if in sleep till the hour of midnight had passed, and our ears and hearts had been pained, while we had listened for hours to the obscene jests, the horrid oaths, the dreadful blasphemies and filthy language of our guards.”

 Elder Pratt Continued:

“I had listened till I became so disgusted, shocked, horrified, and so filled with the spirit of indignant justice that I could scarcely refrain from rising upon my feet and rebuking the guards; but [I] had said nothing to Joseph, or any one else, although I lay next to him and knew he was awake. On a sudden he arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, or as the roaring lion, uttering, as near as I can recollect, the following words:

“‘SILENCE. … In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!’”

Joseph “stood erect in terrible majesty,” as described by Elder Pratt. He was chained, without a weapon, and yet he was calm and dignified. He looked down upon the quailing guards, who were shrinking into a corner or crouching at his feet. These seemingly incorrigible men begged his pardon and remained quiet. [See Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. (1938), 210–11.]

This is courage! This is majesty!  This is honor!
The truth is always worth standing for, even if it means we stand alone.
-Alicia

http://artofchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/02/please-pray-for-our-country.html
http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/elder-christofferson-religious-freedom-under-fire




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ground Control to Major Tom

 "I wanted to tell you, that song 'Major Tom'... 
That song is about courage and going into the unknown. It's a cool song." 
- Cheryl Melhoff

I love the movie Walter Mitty with Ben Stiller.  There's something so familiar to me about how Cheryl's influence transforms Walter.  She awakens him to everything his soul has ever wanted to be.  Because of her confidence in him, his heart burns with a new-found courage to step out into the unknown, run after his dreams and jump with both feet into a world of endless possibilities.

There are so many changes ahead, we really don't know what to expect but we're determined to be ready for whatever comes our way!

We just purchased this new van...  and guess what I've named him??
It's going to take a couple of months for the specialized license plate to be made but I'm super excited.

It's a twelve-seater.  It will be perfect for when we get our two foster children with plenty of room to spare.  It was $20,000 with only 7,000 miles! We took it to two different mechanics before we purchased and they both said the engine was brand-spankin' new!  We feel very fortunate to have found it.  We were very prayerful and spent a lot of time searching and waiting for the right vehicle.  One of the selling points for us was to buy something that would not only bless our family in need but would aslo be a tool for serving and helping others.  I know it will be.

I really like the name, "Major Tom".  It makes me think of the movie, Mitty, and the power of Cheryl's influence.  Plus, it kinda looks like a space shuttle (if you squint).

"Commencing countdown, 
Engines on
Check ignition 
And may God's love be with you"
-Alicia
Reaching for the Stars!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Oh, Thank Heaven - Ponderize - Week 39

Yesterday, my husband and I rode his motorcycle to attend a family meeting with my father-in-law and all the adults.  When we arrived, it took a moment to adjust because my entire face and arms were numb from flapping in the wind at 80 mph for an entire hour. That's the furthest I've ever ridden with him.  

I love that my father-in-law does these meetings a couple times a year, that he recognizes his stewardship continues in many ways even though his children are grown.  At these meetings, he shares insights and lessons, gives counsel/ warnings, and bears testimony of the power of the Priesthood in our lives (both men and women).  Last night, he bore testimony of the ability we have to call on the powers of heaven, that God hears our prayers, and that no matter the difficulties we face in the future we can count on a sure knowledge that by faith, miracles happen!

After the meeting was over, we visited with one another for almost another two hours.  A couple of times, I looked around the room and was filled with gratitude for such an amazing family.  How I love these people!  I had a great conversation with my niece, Morgan.  She's back home after being away at college for a few years and it was so awesome to see how much she's matured.  She's just one of the adults now.

We left my father-in-law's home around 10:30.  I hopped on the bike with Joseph and before we entered the freeway I noticed the 7-11 sign, "Oh thank heaven!"
"Yeah" I thought.  I began to list the incredible blessings in my life:
The blessing of having an abundance of everything I need to stay alive.
The blessing of having four outstanding, creative, talented, beautiful, fun, and big-hearted children.
The blessing of holding on to my husband and knowing that we can get through anything together.
The blessing of knowing without any doubt that God is real, that He loves me, that He knows me, that He hears my every prayer, every longing, every desire of my heart, and that He's working things out in His timing for my good.
The blessing of knowing that no matter what happens in life, no matter the difficulties we might face now or in the future, we can call down heaven, and it will be alright.
My eyes began to fill with tears as my mind flooded with thoughts of every blessing, big and small, even the ones that have come through heartache and sorrow. I looked up at the stars and whispered a grateful "Thank You."

Riding late at night on the interstate at 80 mph with helmets as our only protective gear, caused my mind to drift to a few other thoughts.  "What if something went wrong right now? What if we hit a break in the road or had to suddenly dodge some debris? What if something happened that took both our lives right this very moment?  How exposed we are!  How vulnerable we are in this current situation!"  I held tightly to my husband's waist, the opposing force of the wind almost made my neck tired.  But I felt an awesome sensation.  I felt complete peace and totally calm! "What if it were my time, right now?" Without hesitation my whole soul answered, "I'd thank God for everything. What a ride it has been!"  I closed my eyes and the rushing speed of wind pulling on my body no longer felt like opposition but like a thousand angels surrounding me, enveloping me in a cloak of heavenly power and glory.

This morning, I read the verse where King Benjamin exhorts his people in Mosiah 2:19, "If I who ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!" I thought of my experience on the motorcycle last night and the sensation of being embraced by a thousand angels.  I cross-referenced to several verses about gratitude and found a song that David wrote in Psalms 34:1-4.

You gotta love David, this is a guy who knows how to speak my language. :)

"I will bless the Lord at all times: 
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: 
The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, 
and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he heard me, 
and delivered me from all my fears."

-Alicia


Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Impossible Dream

I know two songs from the movie though I don't recall ever watching it.  I've never read the book either... even though it has sat on my shelf for years.  When I was a little girl, I remember my mother singing The Impossible Dream and Man of Lamancha.  She'd dance through the kitchen like a cheerful songbird and often get the lyrics messed up... but she sang her heart out anyway.

After reading the book that came in the mail last week, I took interest in the way the author mentions Don Quixote in her last chapter.  It reads as follows:

After [Don Quixote] tells [Aldonza] of his quest - to follow the impossible dream - she pleads, "Once, just once - would you look at me as I really am?"
He gazes into her eyes and answers, "I see beauty.  Purity.  I see the woman each man holds secret within him. Duclinea."

...In his quest to "add some measure of grace to the world" he became alive to new visions, to the vision of one who values all life - Jesus Christ.

Though she fights his vision as being unrealistic, her heart longs for it to be true, and in time the presence of his love, gentleness, and glory transform her life and her very nature.  

His triumph in the quest to "add some measure of grace" comes as he lies upon his deathbed and Aldonza comes to see him.  
She cries for him to regain the quest, "Please!  Try to remember!"
"Is it so important?" he asks.
"Everything.  My whole life.  You spoke to me and everything was different!" she pleads.
As he fades and dies, she is resurrected into a new being and walks away with his quest instilled upon her heart, and thereafter calls herself, Dulcinea [which means -sweet above all that is sweet]."

The part she describes here sounded so familiar to me.
"I know this story" I thought to myself.  " I know it well."
 It's a story of transformation, a story of redemption, a story of what happens to a soul when someone sees them differently, when they are seen by the light of truth, and it awakes them to who they are meant to become no matter how impossible it might seem.

There's no doubt in my mind that God knows and loves us beyond our mortal comprehension.  He answers our prayers.  He has great plans, tailor-made opportunities, and custom-fit challenges to help us grow into who we're meant to be.
...And sometimes He sends angels to help us along our journey.   I will thank God for my angels every single day of my life.  How could I ever forget the measure of grace they added to my world?!  Their quest is my quest now. It is written and instilled deep upon my heart forever.


From Don Quixote

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
And to run where
the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
And to love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march,
march into hell
For that heavenly cause
And I know
If I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart
Will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest
And the world will be
better for this
That one man, scorned
and covered with scars,
Still strove with his last
ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable,
the unreachable,
The unreachable star
And I'll always dream
The impossible dream
Yes, and I'll reach
The unreachable star


"It is not that something different is seen, but that one sees differently.
It is as though the spatial act of seeing were changed by a new dimension."
- Carl Jung

Thursday, June 23, 2016

For Time and All Eternity

This evening, my husband and I had a unique experience that doesn't come around to many people.  Our good friends, Regee & Loraine, from Zimbabwe are converts to the church and Regee has never been sealed in the temple to his parents.  They passed away when he was still a baby and most memories he has of them are only from stories he's heard.

 About a year-and-a-half ago I went with Regee and Loraine to the Salt Lake Temple where he was able to be baptized as proxy for his brother who had passed away. That was an awesome day!

But tonight was even more incredible because Regee had Joseph and I be proxy for his parents while he was sealed to them as if he had been born in the covenant.  Regee also performed as proxy for his deceased brother so he could be sealed to them as well.

It was a small group, just us, the temple sealer and his wife (who they are close friends with), one other neighbor from the ward, and a long-time friend of theirs from Zimbabwe. The evening sun shone perfectly through the stain glass window of the sealing room causing everyone's face to reflect its golden light.  The Spirit was strong and all who were present could sense the sacredness of the moment.  What a beautiful experience we had!

-Alicia

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

More Than Words - Ponderize - Week 38

Man, time just doesn't stop for anyone, does it!  This week will be over before I know it.  I guess half a week to ponderize is better than none.  Honestly, I've been thinking quite a bit which scripture would be best but can't seem to decide on one.

I've been focusing on the part of Christ's Sermon on the Mount where He says, "Blessed are the peacemakers."  This is something I want for my home.  I want my kids to learn to communicate well with each other, to avoid whiny remarks or personal jabs that fuel contention.

  It's been said that the mother is the one who often sets the tone so I'm trying to be more conscious, more careful of the words I choose and any tension in my voice.  I can see an improved difference when I take the time to really think about my responses especially when trying to break up a fight between the kids.  I've been praying specifically that the Spirit will help me slow down and think more before I react.  Practice. Practice. Practice.

I've also had this goal to memorize the Sacrament prayers and they've caused me to think about what I am doing to "always have His Spirit to be with me."

 I know that if I want to be a peacemaker, having the Spirit truly is key.  I love the verse I read this morning and maybe this can be the one I ponderize for the rest of the week...

"Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels?  And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost:  Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ." - 2 Nephi 32:3

That's the language I want to learn to speak.... the language of angels.

-Alicia
"You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don't wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don't wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth"



Sunday, June 19, 2016

What a great day!

Today was a very good day.  The meetings and speakers were all so perfect and the atmosphere was beautiful.  It felt wonderful to celebrate our fathers and I had so much fun making it an enjoyable day for my husband.  He really is such a fantastic dad!!

Another thing I loved about today was I just finished reading the book that came in the mail yesterday.  This author has a very powerful spirit because just reading her words, her presence seems to transcend space and time.  I can't explain it but it's very tangible.

If I were asked to choose three favorite parts in this book it would be hard because she shared some really wonderful things.  But nevertheless, if I had to choose...I'd narrow it down to these:

I like this part because she mentions Superman and where real superhuman power comes from:
"We live in a society which idolizes the heroes - Superman, Luke Skywalker, etc.  In fantasy we dream of becoming such a wonder.  Yet, through the divine assistance of a living God, we can in fact perform mighty miracles - superhuman miracles!  This is superhuman power and no pretended Hollywood character can match it.  To be willing to go forward on a sure course with the Spirit is to enter a whole new real of gospel living.  Living by the Spirit is exciting, unpredictable and- I choose my word carefully- fun! Yes, fun!" - Mollie Sorensen

I really like this first part because she touches on being 'mothers' not only in a physical sense but in a spiritual sense...  and I like that in regards to my journey to become a foster mom.  
More especially though, I love this quote she shares from Parley P. Pratt because I've experienced "such persons" in my life.
"To become a mother in Zion refers not only to the begetting of physical children, but more specifically the begetting of Christ-like qualities in others... Parely P. Pratt explained, 'In the presence of such persons one feels to enjoy the light of their countenances, as the genial rays of a sunbeam.  Their very atmosphere diffuses a thrill, a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy, to the heart and nerves of others who have kindred feelings, or sympathy of spirit.  No matter if the parties are strangers, entirely unknown to each other, each will be apt to remark in his own mind and perhaps exclaim, when referring to the interview, 'Oh, what an atmosphere encircles that stranger!  How my heart thrilled with pure and holy feelings in his presence!  What confidence and sympathy he inspired!  His countenance and spirit gave me more assurance than a thousand written recommendations or introductory letters.' Such is the Gift of the Holy Spirit and such are its operations..." (Key to Theology, p. 102)

And last but not least, I like the very ending of her book because I feel that in just a few short years, my eyes have been opened to some amazing sights and I have enjoyed some very precious experiences, for which my soul is forever grateful!
"Amazing sights of glory are opened to the one who is willing to grow and yield to the Spirit: sights of faith and hope that make every day exciting and adventurous, sights of love and caring that make meeting the new neighbor down the block a precious experience, sights of living that cause one to relish a new sunrise and the morning dew, sights of freedom that prompt one to dance up and down the street, sights of joy that seem to overflow into ecstasy, and sights of glory that defy description.... We must decide to what we are now, or to become what we can become through the Spirit.  The 'sights' are glorious and well worth whatever effort to obtain A New Spirit Within You." - Mollie Sorensen

- Alicia

Saturday, June 18, 2016

It came today!


I ordered a book last weekend from Amazon.  A friend of mine told me the title of this book his mom had written and so a few days later I decided to look it up.  I was so happy to find a copy in print... and it came in the mail today!!

 I've read one other book by this author in an online version and I've read about 10 or 12 pages from a  a book called, A More Perfect Union.

It looks like a super quick read but drawing from what I know, I'm certain that it will be very soul filling and highly edifying.  :)

-Alicia

Yodel-aye-heee!

I had heard about him from my co-workers.  Everyone was trying to set us up but he was shy and his friend, Mike, ended up being the one basically asking me out for him.
"Do you like yodeling?"
Uh, that was about the strangest question I had ever been asked.  "Sure, I guess so..." I answered, wondering what Mike was up to.
"Are you doing anything Friday night?" he continued.
"No."
"She's available." Mike smiled and punched Joseph in the arm playfully, "There ya go man, now ask her!"
Joseph timidly announced, "Uh... yeah... um... I have tickets to the Swiss Yodeling Concert at Abravanel Hall on June 18th if you want to go."
I said it sounded great and that I'd be happy to.  I was proud of him for finally asking me out, the guy who everyone in the warehouse was trying to set me up with. He had been home from a mission for almost three years, never had a girlfriend, and never kissed anyone.  (No wonder the whole dating scene was nerve-racking for him.)  But I move quickly and well... let's just say, he learned how to kiss (quite well I might add) and we were married exactly 16 weeks later.

 Ladee-oda-ladee-oda-loo  
Woo!

Happy first-date anniversary to my Joseph!
XOXO

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Scrolling On Through - Throwback Thursday

The other day I was scrolling through my old blog to see what I had written in years past.  Just for fun, I decided to search for what I may have posted on exactly this day several years ago.  I couldn't find anything for this same day anywhere...  but a short post in June seven years ago caught my eye.  I think it stood out to me because it was only a couple of sentences long and I had highly recommended that all married couples listen to it.   The title read, "When All Else Fails, Love Never Gives Up." I remembered loving that talk.  When I heard it, it was the same year Joseph and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, This was great advice from a woman who had been married 60 years.

I tried clicking on the link to but it no longer worked.  Hmmm.  I searched the speaker's name directly on BYU's Speeches but still nothing came up.  This made me even more determined to find out just where I could listen to the talk again.  After a little more searching, I found it.  (Sister Johnson's is the third one from the top of this page.) I was super excited because this site not only has Sister Johnson's talk, it has a whole entire archive of Education Week talks.  I think I just struck gold!  

I'm glad I had these things recorded in my old blog.  The only regret I have with the posts from there is that I wish I would've written more of what was going on in my life.  There's so much in that blog where I only gave references to talks or quotes but I didn't really take time to put down more personal thoughts, impressions, and stories of the day.

-Alicia





Monday, June 13, 2016

Somewhere Safe - Ponderize - Week 37

...but there is somewhere safe.

How bad off are we as a country when a seven-year-old can't go to sleep because she is fearful of the choices we have for a Presidential Candidate?  Maybe it just means that we as parents need to be a little more cautious in our conversations or at least tone them down a bit.  Honestly, I didn't think we really said that much around her but it's amazing how much kids pay attention.

Kaylee timidly peered down the hallway with tears streaming down her face.  Joseph tucked her back in bed and sat patiently by her side listening to her express her concerns, 
"Can't we just move out of the country?" Kaylee asked between sobs.
Lovingly, Joseph responded, "Sweetheart, it's not that easy, I wish it was.  If America goes bad there's really not a lot of options left.  But, I can tell you that the safest place to live is always within reach.  Do you know where the safest place is?"
"Where?" She inquired with a feeling of hope.
Joseph pointed to her, "It's right where you are."
Kaylee looked confused.
Joseph explained, "It's right where you are because you have faith, you love Heavenly Father, and you have a righteous heart.  No matter where we live or what goes on around us, you can always be safe because you are 'armed with righteousness'". Then gently stroking her hair,  he reminded her of the story of Elisha in 2 Kings.
Kaylee's body relaxed and she was comforted to have her father at her side and to hear his testimony.

Joseph returned from helping her and relayed their conversation.  We discussed together our own views of the times in which we live for a while.  He shared with me a verse he's been focusing on in his studies and decided it would be a good one to ponder for the week.

"I Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory." - 1 Nephi 14:14

I love how Nephi beheld that they were scattered all throughout the earth.  There was no particular safe area or land but the power of God was found in the hearts of the covenant keeping people of the Lord wherever they were.  No, we can't run away from trouble but we can find peace and comfort in the middle of it all.

-Alicia :)


Friday, June 10, 2016

Making Room

Our home is almost ready for the children we will be fostering.  We have a new bed set up in the girl's room and in the boy's room, including sheets and pillows.   We have one more dresser to purchase and I've just finished re-staining an old dresser for the boys.  Both Micah and Kaylee have been so excited to have a fresh empty bed in their room that they've each abandoned their bunk-bed in exchange for the "new one" until the foster children arrive.


It's amazing that we are making it all fit.  Some might say we are crazy to expand our family in this size of apartment but I honestly think it's the culture we live in.  Who says our kids all need their own rooms?!   Compared to other places and time periods of the world, no one would have batted an eyelash at our living space... In fact, they probably would see it as quite large.   It's taken a bit of *strategy*(Put it in a trash-bag and haul it out to the big can before they ever get a chance to see anything.) ;) for the children to throw away some things but it actually doesn't look too crowded, it just looks "cozy".

Well... We're almost ready...  and we'll have our license in a couple of weeks!
This mama is feelin' good.
-Alicia :)




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

"Dear Younger Me" - Way-back Wednesday

Father's Day is around the corner and I feel as if I haven't really painted my dad in the best light when I've written about him. (I have mentioned that he's not the same person I knew as a child. And that's probably the most credit I've really given him.)  When I lived with my parents, dad was an emotional mess... and it showed in his violent abusive temper. As a kid, I was terrified of him.  He was a ticking time-bomb and you never knew when he was going to blow!  I remember changing the words to the primary song, "When Daddy Comes Home" to sing, "I'm so mad when daddy comes home, mad as I can be.... Put my hands around his neck and squeeze it tight like this.  Smack his cheeks and give him what?  A great big kick." I can't remember if I sang it out-loud like that but it was definitely in my head.

Dad began to seek help from the bishop when I was in highschool.  It didn't start off well and I remember being so embarrassed when I heard from my mom that in dad's initial interview, he left the bishop's office rather livid, swearing and slamming the door on his ecclesiastical leader. 

I never saw my dad cry until the year he attempted suicide three times.  Late one night when everyone had gone to bed, I lay there sleeping when I was awakened by a strange sound.  I listened closely.  I could hear someone weeping from the family room down the hall.  I climbed out of bed, silently peeked around the corner, and saw my dad kneeling in his bathrobe, praying out-loud and crying uncontrollably with deep and heavy sobs.  It surprised me and something within my heart changed at that moment.  The anger and resentment I felt for him was replaced by compassion and empathy.  I knew I had to forgive him because he so desperately wanted to change.  He hated himself for all he had done.

As I began to study the scriptures and become more involved in seminary, forgiving him became much easier.  At that time in my life, I also learned some things about my dad's childhood that helped me understand his explosive behavior.  And just recently, I've gained more perspective from reading "The Body Keeps the Score".  I guess I never realized that he was a serious trauma victim!

My dad was the oldest of ten children.  (It was a "your's-mine-and-our's" situation.)  Even though he had nine younger siblings, his parents called him "Little Lee" to differentiate between him and his father (who he was named after).  My dad had a lot of energy as a kid.  (I don't know what normal boy doesn't.) But back then, his parents didn't understand it was normal and struggled desperately for ways to deal with it.  They took him to a family therapist who poorly advised them,  "Whenever 'little Lee' gets out of hand,  tie him in a straight jacket away from the others in the basement until he 'calms' down."  
That's how they dealt with it.  Can you imagine??!
This was only the beginning of his trauma.

When he was nine, his mother passed away from breast cancer and two years later he lost his younger sister to Leukemia.  His step-mother was young (almost 17 years younger than his father).  She was terribly jealous of my dad's mom and would never let anyone grieve her loss.  

As a teenager, my dad remembered one morning laying in bed and being awakened by a sharp stinging pain in his shoulder.  He opened his eyes to see his step-mother standing over him glaring angrily.  Dazed and confused, he tried to sooth the pain by rubbing his arm.  He was bleeding and still in shock from such a rude awakening when he glanced down at the side of his bed and saw the shattered framed picture of his real mom on the floor.  He looked back up to hear his step-mother rebuking him threateningly, "I don't ever want to see this picture hanging in your room again!!"  (This is just one example of the abuse he faced but there were other moments like it.)

Despite all his trauma growing up, he served a church mission and when it was completed, he pursued a degree in elementary education and psychology.  He says that living away from home in a dorm was the most free he had ever felt in his life. (I don't blame him.) 

At the University, he made a lot of friends and was in a singing group.  I always loved the fact that my dad liked to sing.  He made a great baritone.  I think music was healing for him.  He loved to play the piano and the guitar.  His favorite artists were Anne Murray, Cat Stevens, and Simon & Garfunkel.  (I played all my dad's records and learned to love that genre.  It was healing for me too.)  We were in a choir together when I graduated from highschool. I'll never forget singing Handel's Messiah with him and the Oratorio Society of Utah at SLC's Tabernacle.  

See, life wasn't all bad... I have other good memories of my father too:  Dad loved camping and every summer we would visit a National Park as a family.  He took tons of pictures everywhere we went. (I appreciate that so much more now than I did then.) He liked word games such as Boggle or Scrabble and strategy games like Chess (at least those are the ones I remember playing with him).  Dad had a very dry sense of humor (he had a pun for everything) and any time he sneezed he tried to make it sound as goofy as possible.  I got really good at giving courtesy laughs. Dad loved books, especially children's books... he had tons on hand because he was a school teacher. He loved C.S. Lewis and from him I learned about The Chronicles of Narnia. 

These were all very good things in my life.

It has been an interesting journey over the past 20 or so years for me to come to a place of understanding about my dad, to see that his outbursts weren't my fault (and in some ways they weren't even his fault).  He had never been taught how to deal with his emotions in a healthy way.  Even still, he admitted to his wrongs, he experienced a mighty change of heart, and repented, fully repented.  I'm proud of him for it.  He has hope in and through the Savior and His wonderful, atoning sacrifice.  Today, we enjoy sharing our faith and testimony with each other over the phone or in person. I love my dad!!

I heard this song "Dear Younger Me" the other day on the radio and thought of the scared child I was growing up and how often I'd blame myself for my "punishments".  I thought of how many times I wished I hadn't been born into the family I was given.  But today... the older me would say to the younger me, "Alicia, this is the perfect family for you.  It is in this home you will learn to have compassion, you will learn to forgive, you will learn to love those who do not love themselves, you will witness great miracles, you will witness hearts change, and you will come to know the Savior in a very deep and personal way."

Compared to my dad's childhood, my life was quite easy.  I can see where he did try to give something better than what he had.  I wonder too (with all that my dad went through and with the redemption he witnessed) if he would write this same letter to himself?

-Alicia
  

"Dear Younger Me" 
by, Mercy Me

Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride
Dear younger me, dear younger me

If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
Dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Monday, June 6, 2016

"There is a God in Heaven" - Ponderize - Week 36

"...We know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them." D&C 20:17

In my studies this morning, I came across this scripture I've just quoted. All day, I've been thinking about what a blessing it is to know that there is a God in Heaven and that He knows each and every one of us, that we are His literal spirit children, and that He is deeply and intimately involved in every detail of our lives. What comfort this gives in all our various struggles and trials we face.

Tonight, I found this 2 minute video clip on the LDS youth page.  It fits perfectly!

It reminds me of a quote from Our Creator's Cosmos by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
"In the expansiveness of space, there is stunning personalness, for God knows and loves each of us! (see 1 Nephi 11:17). We are not ciphers in unexplained space! While the Psalmist’s query was, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4), mankind is at the very center of God’s work. We are the sheep of His hand and the people of His pasture (see Psalms 79:13; 95:7; 100:3). His work includes our immortalization—accomplished by Christ’s glorious Atonement! Think of it, brothers and sisters, even with their extensive longevity, stars are not immortal, but you are."

There's a song I listen to on my Christian radio station. If you look up the lyrics, they might seem a little repetitive but honestly, I find them powerful.  You can't help but rejoice when you sing these words over and over again.
"Into the darkness you shine out of the ashes we rise
there's no one like you, none like You!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger,
God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!...
...And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against."

Anyway, I look at Who we have constantly cheering us on and I can't help but think, "What is there to fear? He's got us!  He has everything under control. He knows exactly what He's doing and He's doing amazing things with our lives we can't even begin to comprehend."  I love this!

-Alicia :)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Beauty Divine

"I looked and beheld a tree... and the beauty thereof was far beyond, 
yea, exceeding of all beauty."
(1 Nephi 11:8)

Breathtaking vision, It's a sight to behold,
Something about it that never grows old.
Its brilliance is timeless and shines like the Son-
Bright as the day heav'n and earth become one.
Age will not tarnish purest beauty Divine
Each passing year only ripen, refine
Growing in majesty and flourishing grace,
Kindness, compassion, a smiling face,
Inspiring virtue, fine-tuned affection
Hope, friendship, joy, and human connection.
A new Spirit within from heaven above
Constantly reaching with a Christlike love,
Everlasting beauty that conquers the grave
Lives on in the soul and all that they gave.
by, Alicia Rawlins


“I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and … lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives.” - President Thomas S. Monson

"I have come to know that it is the love of God and neighbor that gives meaning to life. May we follow our Savior’s example and His admonition to reach out to others with love." - Cheryl A. Esplin

"There is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving." - Henry Drummond

"You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love." - Henry Drummond



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Obladi Oblada

So.... today didn't happen exactly as we expected.  Nothing usually does, right?
But life goes on and things work out... They always do. That's my motto.

 At least I was able to get Kaylee to her date with daddy.  Our car died right as I was driving away from his work.  (It's the lemon... I mean car... we bought a few months ago and have already forked out $2,000 of repairs for.)  We were lucky to break down where we did though because my husband was able to call his co-workers to help push the car over to a safe spot. Kaylee thought it was fun to ride in a car being pushed by a bunch of guys.. and even more fun to ride home in a tow truck. (So that was nice.)

This is all such crazy timing.  Why? Just last Saturday, our other vehicle blew a head gasket and the radiator cracked.

Drawing from past experiences, whenever things have fallen apart like this all at once...it's usually been for a reason... 
If only we could see that it's not falling apart, it's falling into place.  
Really, this is when we ask ourselves, "What is there to learn?" We examine and make changes where needed and then trust that something amazing is about to happen. And we do believe great things will come out of this.

Actually, we had been talking about needing a larger van for when the foster children come.  Only, we weren't expecting to go shopping for one just yet.  We need something that will seat at least eight people.  My husband and I did a search for options tonight.  (I think I got a little distracted.)

These are my favorites...



This has a few more seats than needful but it's definitely perfect for scenic drives.  
I think the big useless fin thingy on the front is a nice touch.



We could do a repo- limo like my cousin-in-law, Brynn, did.  Their's came complete with "Support Our Troops" decals plastered all down the side.  (The kids don't seem to mind.)



I admit this one isn't really space efficient but I have a feeling it would be time efficient. (wink wink)



If we got a large van, I think it would be cool to have it painted like this. I've always wanted a hippie van with daisies, why not make it The Mystery Machine... 



Or maybe we could supe up our van like this? 
Yeah baby!  Eat your heart out Bo and Luke Dukers!



Do you think this one fits eight people?  (I'm guessing it fits nine.) 



Anyway... I think we're onto some pretty dang good replacement options. :)



And I think we found what we're going to name our old car..

"Shnitty Shnitty Bang Bang"