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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...

Monday, July 31, 2017

Pour Out Your Soul and Have Faith

When Helaman's army was struggling in battle, there's a couple of verses that are reminiscent of my own struggles and my own battles in my life. It's almost as if I could write these very same words.

"[I]did pour out [my] soul in prayer to God, that He would strengthen [me]..."
"And it came to pass the Lord our God did visit [me] with assurances that He would deliver [me]; yea, inosomuch that He did speak peace to [my] soul, and did grant unto [me] great faith, and did cause [me] that [I] should hope for our deliverance in Him. And [I] did take courage..."
- Alma 58:10-12

For me the "deliverance" doesn't always mean my particular trial or struggle has been removed from my life but more so I am strengthened beyond my natural capacity to handle it... peace and hope enter my heart, and the Spirit of God blesses me to take courage, to get up, to march forth in my battles knowing the Savior is leading the way.

-Alicia

Thursday, July 27, 2017

I'm Happy!


I had a wonderful birthday today! Joseph kept asking me what I wanted as a gift. I said, "I'd love for you to go with me on a morning hike up to the top of Squaw Peak." My wish was granted! 

Aug. 19th - the two of us are going to
tackle that mountain in the background. :)
In the evening, Joseph took me out to my favorite restaurant, Indian Palace. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Life and the Light

Sometimes, I wonder how often we really consider the power of God. How often do we let discouragement, fear, vain ambitions, conceitedness, insecurities, or disbelief get in the way? I believe that our Father in Heaven is a God of miracles and that he is anxious to provide ways to help us through every hardship. We discussed as a family tonight about how most adversity can be the key element to self discovery..and more importantly, Christ discovery.

This Mormon Message "Because of Him" has been on my mind for the last couple of days. I've been asking myself how much I really trust in and consider the power of our Father in Heaven and Savior. Pondering more fully such sacred truth fills me with reverence and awe!

In my scripture study today, these verses stood out the most:

“See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength. Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness… learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.” - Alma 38: 11,12 &9

It doesn't really matter what is happening in my life at the moment... There is "one thing that is needful" to always remember.  The truth of Who God is and my relationship with Him, brings me an immense amount of peace.. come what may. 

He truly is the God of Love and the God of miracles!


-Alicia


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Children in Crisis

We've taken in two foster children for crisis care and will have them for about a week. This kind of care is short-term for children with severe needs until permanent placement is arranged. We have an 8-yr-old boy and a 5-yr-old girl. The social worker gave us a heads-up informing us that both children are severely autistic, so they don't speak much and what little they do speak is in Spanish. The girl is still in diapers but it's not so bad, she's really cooperative when it comes to letting me change her..

These kids may have high needs because of how severe their autism is but I can recognize right away that their spirits are both very sweet. They were so nervous when they were dropped off. I wasn't sure if they were ever going to warm up. But after a couple hours, it was incredibly rewarding to able to break through the first barriers.

The girl is in her own little world and makes hardly any eye contact as she hums and rocks herself. The boy is able to interact a little more. Right before bed, they both shed some tears as reality began to settle in that they were staying in a completely unfamiliar place. In an effort to calm them and help them feel a little more secure, I had the idea to play the relaxing music playlist Chandler listens to when he sleeps at night. I figured since Chandler has high-functioning autism, these children on the other end of the autistic spectrum might appreciate his style of nighttime music. My assumption was right - It instantly made a difference.

Then, I pulled out a couple of back scratchers to add to the relaxation. The girl liked it right away- but the boy seemed startled by the touch. He recoiled and made a few whimpering noises. I gave him some space and just let him watch me scratch his sister's back. After a moment of watching and seeing that he was safe, he rolled onto his stomach and let me scratch his back. Every other minute, the boy and girl would glance over their shoulder with their big brown eyes so full of questions. I'd smile and whisper, "esta bien, esta bien." Then they'd smile. After 30 minutes, I had them both sleeping deep and comfortable.

I did a late-night rush to the store once they were asleep to pick up some of their favorite foods their social worker listed for us.

I'm really glad we could be available for this crisis call. Joseph, Miriam, Micah and Kaylee have all been great helpers so far with this too. Chandler is away for the week at a scout-camp so I'm not quite sure what his reaction will be. He'll only be with them a few days though. I feel good about everything.

-Alicia

Friday, July 14, 2017

No More Tears

Liz and her husband, Brett




I got news early this morning that my cousin, Jordan, took his own life. He was a soldier in Iraq and suffered a great deal from PTSD. He had just returned home and was living with his sister, my cousin Elizabeth (Liz), and her husband.  They had been trying to help Jordan. I can't even imagine what Liz is going through right now.

Liz is one of my favorite persons in the world! She's absolutely gorgeous inside and out! Liz works full-time as an amazing nurse in the NICU at Primary Children's. She considers it an incredible blessing to care for newborns everyday because Liz has spent all her marriage unable to have children of her own. Her trial of being childless has been overwhelmingly heartbreaking - yet, she forgets her struggles and is constantly serving others.

She's one of the most Christ-like, self-less, loving friends and family members anyone could know.  She has a mother heart who desires to nurture and care for every soul. There are countless numbers of people who look to Liz as a brilliant light in this dark world -I know her brother, Jordan, did. She loved him so much!

I messaged my cousin this morning with prayers and sympathy.  I dedicated a few songs to her because music is healing for me. - It hurts to see her go through so much and know that there is so little I can do to help!




Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Invincible

My little Kaylee turned 9 yesterday! She spent most of the day with her two favorite friends, Leah and Hannah. She picked her favorite music as I drove her and her friends around. She has this song called "Invincible" by, Skillet that she loves to play. I think she knows all the words by heart! It makes me laugh because it sounds a little rough for her personality. But then again, I think I surprised my parents with the hard rock I loved as a kid.

I like the fact that Kaylee has a little edge to her. Happy Birthday to my sweet, petite, Kaylee, who deep down inside is really as TOUGH AS NAILS!!  I love you! You really are invincible!!






Head, Heart, Hands, and Health



Every year I make adjustments and changes to the way I homeschool my kids. This year, through my neighbor, I discovered a really great resource called 4H. I had heard of 4H club in high school but for some reason I always thought it was some kind of agriculture club. It's actually more of a family support group. The four H's stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.

They offer free events and activities to strengthen family bonds and provide service opportunities to inspire family purpose. Children older than nine years old can be assigned a personal mentor. The mentors are college-age young adults who volunteer as a big brother or sister, who visit with your child for one hour each week helping them with their schoolwork, inspiring them in their talents, talking with them about their goals, anything to help develop your child and prepare them for the future.

Chandler hasn't really warmed up to the idea. Miriam and Micah resisted at first but when they met their mentors, they really loved it! Kaylee is in the process of being assigned her mentor. 

Last week, I was able to take my whole family camping in Wyoming for four days through the 4H program. They gave us our own cabin and provided us with food each day.  All we had to do was plan and teach other families a game one of the evenings and pay for our own river-rafting trip. 

What meant the most to me was being able to get Joseph out where he wasn't bothered by work or finances, where he could be with us and just enjoy some relaxation. It seemed to help him pull out a little from his depression for the time we were there. I was so grateful for that!





Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Finding Connection





This past week has been so full of ups and downs; some rich, full, and happy experiences - and other experiences that fill my heart with sorrow.  I woke up this morning feeling restless. I thought that maybe by writing out some of it, I could sort through it.

I spent last Thursday through Saturday on a Sister's Retreat with six of Joseph's sisters and my mother-in-law.  We usually have some sort of retreat together once a year. This year we rented a house in Salt Lake. We went out to dinner, we hiked, we played games, and had a really cool sharing night where we Skyped with Joseph's other sister, Ann. The sharing night to me is really like a church testimony meeting. We each come prepared to share a "life-lesson" with each other and they almost always involve some lesson that has helped us grow closer to our Father in Heaven and to our loved ones.


I think of the family support I was blessed with from marrying Joseph, blessed with seven beautiful sisters who fill my heart and give me a sense of being anchored in something stable. I'm filled with gratitude and pride for the choice I made to become a Rawlins.

All of my sisters-in-law are very aware of Joseph's battle with depression his whole life. They are aware of the more severe trenches he's pulled through... and they're aware that he's in a pretty deep one right now. They shared with me their same feelings of being at a loss of what to do. As one solution, we did come up with working out some sort of annual Brother's Retreat for Joseph and Jason.

Joseph needs support in this new neighborhood too. He's not connecting with any of his ecclesiastical leaders and hasn't made any friends. He has never been one to have lots of deep relationships though. He is much more introverted and really shows little interest in making close friends. He has one friend, Ryan, he met at BYU that he bonds with really well, but Ryan lives in Oregon now -At least the two of them call and write each other every week. I'm so glad Joseph has that support.

It just feels like it's been a while, a couple years maybe since Joseph has been depressed for this long. When he gets like this, he isolates himself, closes off emotionally and physically. It gets a little lonely because he's here... but he's not here... it's almost like living with a ghost - we pass each other and I walk right through him.

I've been very concerned. Through the years, I've learned it doesn't help to ask him to express what's on his mind, it only makes him more frustrated. A couple days ago, I had to pry him open though, just barely enough to make sure he wasn't feeling suicidal at all, to know he wasn't in the red zone again. It took him a while to answer but he finally said that he wasn't suicidal, he just didn't want to live a long life. I hope he lives a long life for my sake. I need him. I can't imagine spending the last twenty years of my life alone!

I had a glimmer of hope for him yesterday. He seemed happier than usual, at least happier than he's been in a long time. I think seeing family and old friends helped perked him up. We spent the evening with my best friend, Suzanne's family and our other old neighbors, the Prices. It was good for him. I want to find ways to get him out more - maybe he needs a trip for a week with his best friend, Ryan?

Speaking of old friends, I had a wonderful time Monday night going to our old neighborhood's block party. I brought my niece Alexa, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend's family. There must have been over 400 people at the party! I loved seeing so many faces of people who had also moved away from our old neighborhood. It was so good to see them again: We played. We hugged. We talked. We danced -It was the highlight of my year so far. Do you ever wish you had the power to stop time? There are some moments in life I never want to end. Moments like these spent connecting and re-connecting with people I love, even if they don't come that often, make me want to live a very long life.

But time moves on... and you try to make the most of the dull parts in-between. Maybe that's it. I think I woke up this morning just feeling a little sad. There are so many people I miss. So many at the party I didn't get a chance to talk with, to connect to.

I love what Herman Melville said about human connection,“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”

I'm grateful for my new calling in the church. I know it is a blessing in disguise because it will help me create the connections I so desperately need to make in this new ward - connections that will help me heal from or even forget my own heartaches. I have felt the blessings pour into my life already from reaching out to my sisters in this ward. I'm realizing that there are a whole lot of hearts quietly hurting, so many hearts who need to be nurtured and noticed. I'm anxious to pull them into my own... and grow together.

“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

-Alicia