Alright, so I'm back in Madison. Beau just looked at me with that angry stare of his; he doesn't like to be left alone. The other two could care less, but Beau gets emotional about it. But I bent down and kissed his head and he forgave me right away, so now all is well at the homefront.
I drove 16 hours in less than 72 hours! Yikes...that's a lot of driving. I had entirely too much time to think about things, but I also had time to pray. It was Easter weekend, after all, and I took some of that time to reflect upon the meaning of Easter. Being at the temple helped me remember the Atonement as well.
I was feeling pretty vulnerable on my drive home yesterday. I said a prayer and asked for a spiritual companion as I drove, to keep me going and to take away the growing loneliness. It seemed that my prayer was almost immediately answered. I remember as a child, my mother always told me that each of us has a guardian angel who watches over us. I was fascinated with this concept, and sometimes tried to speak to my guardian angel. Many times, frustrated that I couldn't speak, hear, or see him or her, I would stand there, and then make a really quick move to see if I could sneakingly "catch" my guardian angel off guard, and grabe his or her robe :) Yes, I was a silly little girl, but even then I had a need to understand things.
I also remember sitting with my mother at night, I on one side and my brother on her other side, as she would read the Book of Mormon and/or Bible stories for children to us. I loved spending that time with her each night, and learning about Nephi and his brothers, or learning about Daniel and the Lion's Den, or about my big brother, Jesus Christ. During those evenings my mother taught us different gospel concepts, and I remember well the one when I learned about how if I asked the Lord for something that I wanted or needed, he would grant me with it according to his will. Ok, so I was about 5 years old, but I had the faith of any 6 year old girl, and I was immediately certain that this would work.
One night I was determined to put the power of prayer into action. I knelt down by my bed, and I prayed and prayed that Heavenly Father would send me a princess dress. All I wanted in the world was a beautiful princess dress, just like the one that Cinderella had. I could hardly sleep that night, because I kept waking up and looking around for that dress. I was so excited; I felt like Christmas was the next day!
The next morning, I woke up, and I eagerly jumped out of bed. I looked down at the floor, and all around the room, but there was no dress. I was disappointed, but even at that time, I had my first lesson of prayer, and when I talked to my mother about it, she explained better the concept of prayer. I have to admit that a few months later, that prayer was indeed answered. For my 6th birthday, my Aunt Maureen and Uncle Mike bought me the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. My eyes just lit up as I opened that present. I'm guessing that my mother probably played a hand in it, but even so, Heavenly Father did answer my silly, childish prayer. I never prayed for a princess dress or anything so inconsequential again, but receiving that answer did teach me a valuable lesson. I used prayer throughout my childhood to seek comfort, answers, and to just ask my Father in Heaven for help when I needed it. He always seemed to answer my prayers when I would lose something, and get down on my knees and ask Him to help me find it. Often I would find the lost object somewhere where I had already looked several times before praying. I prayed for help in school, and i prayed for my family. One of my most fervent prayers as a child was praying for my Uncle Mike's life when he had his heart attack.
These days, I still pray to find lost items, I pray for help at work, and I pray for my family. But the valuable lessons a loving mother taught me helped me to develop a relationship with my Father in Heaven that has sustained me throughout my entire life. I have always felt as if He was someone with whom I could speak about anything. I knew He loved me, and I had no need to be afraid of Him.
I love to say my morning prayers as I am walking to work. I pray in the car when I am driving, because I find that is when I can find the most silence and privacy during my day. I just sit there, and I talk with Him like I would speak with a close friend or a family member on the telephone. Sometimes I worry that I may be too familiar, and because of this habit I am not quite adept at saying eloquent prayers in church or at family gatherings, but at the same time, I feel that the familiarity I feel with Him helps me to develop a more personal relationship.
Easter was good this year. Little Corey said the prayer, and he made us all smile. My Aunt Colleen made a great meal, as always. My brother wasn't there, as usual. But I spent the time laughing at speaking with my family...soaking up the love and the comfort that one can only find at home. I just wish those who should have been there would have been able to come. I missed seeing my brother and Louisa, Alyssa and Jason...and another presence was sorely missed. A young man who visited earlier this year, who immediately became part of my family...he was missed, too.