A Family That Prays Together…Finding Strength in Prayer

Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith [and] prayer.”                                                           The Family: A Proclamation to the World


The LDS Bible Dictionary defines prayer as “the process by which the will of the father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other” (752-753). I have been a believer in prayer from a young age. Family prayer was something I grew up with. Before every breakfast or dinner we would kneel around the table and pray together. I don’t recall when personal prayer became an important part of my life, but I remember several times as a teenager going to my Father in Heaven with heartfelt prayers and having them answered. From that time on, I have known there is power in prayer, that my prayers are heard, and they are answered.

After marrying, prayer with my husband became a unifying action. As we added children to our union, family prayer was incorporated. Through the past twenty-three years of our marriage, I am grateful for the strength and unity prayer has brought to my marriage and family. There are three specific occurrences where prayer strengthened us and helped us endure some difficult times.

Three years into our marriage, we discover I was expecting twin boys. We had a 14-month old daughter, and while this news should have been exciting, it was coupled with the discovery that they were sick—very sick. They had what is called twin-to-twin transfusion, a condition which, in very basic terms, occurs when the two babies are sharing one placenta unequally. One baby gets too much fluid and suffers from the effects of that (congestive heart failure) and the other baby doesn’t get enough and suffers from not getting enough fluid and nutrients. There were only two doctors in the country at the time I was expecting that treated this condition and offered a surgical solution to try and rectify the transfusion. One was in Indiana, but on sabbatical; the other was in Florida. Long story short, I ended up delivering the twins stillborn at 22 1/2 weeks gestation in Florida before the doctor could perform the surgery. Up to that time, that was the hardest thing I had ever gone through. Prayer was such a healing tool as we mourned the loss of our babies and buried their little bodies in Twin Falls, Idaho. It was a time where I relied on the strength of the Savior and the promised blessing of the resurrection, knowing someday I would hold those little boys again and be able to raise them, but in the meantime, the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ helped ease my pain and sorrow.


An ornament a friend made after I delivered stillborn twins in 1998.

Another unexpected death in the family came years later. In 2015, my husband, Steve, was riding with his younger brother, Arland, in one of his work trucks as they returned from a service call. Arland suddenly slumped over as he was driving the truck 65 mph down the grade toward Albion from the Pomerelle Ski resort. Steve had the calm sense to get control of the truck, get it stopped, call 911, and start performing CPR on Arland. But he was gone. Leaving behind a wife and four small children, our beloved 33-year-old Arland’s heart had stopped. Prayer and the subsequent tender mercies of our Heavenly Father were the only way we made it through that painful time. When tragic things happen, some people may ask, “Why is this happening to me?” Rather than questioning why things happen, turning towards God during difficult times can strengthen our faith. An African American father expressed, “When you believe in God…yes, the boat still gets to rockin’ but [God] says, ‘In me you can weather the storm” (Marks, et al., 2008, p. 179). Prayer helped our family weather this storm and grow closer to God and each other.


Arland and Cherece Baker a few months before Arland’s death.

The last experience I share happened as we were building our home. My husband was working as the general contractor on the project and we broke ground April 1, 2010. In case you don’t know, my husband is in the water business. He installs pumps into wells and configures water systems for homes, dairies, and other applications. His older brother owns a well-drilling business. We have an “in” with water, right? David, Steve’s brother, drilled the well in the early summer and Steve installed the pump, but we didn’t turn it on at the time. Progress on the home-building was steady and later in the summer, we finally started up the pump and discovered there was very little water. The well was inadequate and a new one would have to be drilled. By this time, though, David was very busy. There was also the concern as to where to drill the new well. A septic system and drain field would also need to be installed, far enough away from the well to comply with the plumbing code. The water system was put on hold. By November, we were installing fixtures, carpet, and other finishing touches, and still there was no water. David was finally able to get started drilling and we were relieved! But as he approached a depth of 450 feet, deeper than most of the wells in the area, there was still no water. We were getting concerned. My husband and I decided all we could do was take the matter to the Lord in prayer. We went into the basement of our almost-finished home, into the storage room that already held food-storage moved over from our existing home. Kneeling on the concrete floor, we pled with the Lord for the blessing of water. We expressed to the Lord our past willingness to be obedient and faithful and then petitioned Heavenly Father for a specific blessing—water in our well. We closed our prayer and left it up to Him. Thirty minutes later, David hit big water, far more than we expected! Our prayer was answered! That experience taught me that when you are faithful and obedient, the Lord will hear and answer your prayers. You can expect it.

How grateful I am for the power of prayer. The three example above are just a drop in the bucket of the times Heavenly Father has heard and answered my prayers. When we align our will with His, I know we will receive the answers, direction, and comfort we seek. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). Incorporating prayer in our marriages and families can help us weather the storms in life, and when they are over, we can be stronger and closer to God. 


Marks, L.D., Hopkins, K., Chaney, C., Monroe, P.A., Nesteruk, O., & Sasser, D.D. (2008).          “Together, we are strong”: A qualitative study of happy, enduring African American marriages. Family Relations, 57, 172-184.

Fatherhood: An Eternal Calling

light sunset people water

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”

(The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

As Father’s Day approaches, like many of you,  my thoughts are turned to the fathers in my life. We buy them cards, gifts, plan a BBQ or a visit—at least a phone call. But do we take the time to truly consider the importance and influence of a good father? President Howard W. Hunter said of fathers: “Leadership of the family is [his] most important and sacred responsibility” and the “family is the most important unit in time and in eternity and, as such, transcends every other interest in life” (1994, p. 50). Fathers have a role to help those in their influence become who our Heavenly Father intends us to become. How do fathers accept the charges to preside, provide, and protect?

Nephi begins his writings describing his relationship with his father. “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father…” (1 Nephi 1:1). Lehi was a father who presided. Enos later says, “knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord…” (Enos 1:1). “Fathers are directed to take upon themselves the responsibility of spiritual leadership in family life as part of a loving Eternal Father’s plan for family functioning” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 141). I am thankful for a father who presided in my home growing up. He led the family in scripture study, prayer, and family discussions. He didn’t dominate my mother—they were a partnership. But he upheld his role of presiding. In Jewish culture, the father has the role of teaching and instructing. Abraham Heschel, (1975) a Jewish philosopher, “suggested that fathers are meant to be teachers and holy figures in the lives of their children” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 141). This is beautifully illustrated in the novel The Chosen by Chaim Potok. David Malter taught his son Reuven, “A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one’s life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here” (Potok, 1967, p. 205). Presiding includes teaching, guiding, counseling, mentoring, anything that helps children find meaning and purpose in life. As I have watched my husband preside in our home, I am so thankful for the way he patiently teaches and guides our children. And like David Malter says, it’s hard work! “Significant teaching is required to bring about positive outcomes” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 119). The foundation of effective presiding in a home is love. “Children will be most open to instruction when they feel loved and accepted by their parents” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 120). Just as the Proclamation states, “fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness….”

Providing for a family can be a daunting and overwhelming responsibility. In Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives, three key aspects of providing are defined: financial and resource capital, human capital, and social capital. Fathers have a responsibility to provide for the basic needs of their families including shelter, food, and clothing. Ensuring their children’s ability to learn skills and knowledge, as well as sharing his own skill and knowledge is another aspect of providing in the human capital sense. Social capital refers to relationships that will help his children grow and develop (see Hawkin, 2012, p.146). When considering providing in these three aspects, one can see that a father’s responsibility to provide includes more than just bringing home a paycheck. Dollahite, Hawkins, and Brotherson (1997, p. 28) wrote, “Stewardship work involves creative, dedicated efforts to provide resources for children and families and provide opportunities for children to develop and learn to care for their own and others’ physical and psychosocial needs.” The responsibility of providing is a necessary part of raising a secure, well-adjusted, self-reliant child who can move forward in life, sharing his or her own gifts with the world, and one day, their own families.

We live in a world where people all around us “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). More than any other time in history, we need fathers who can protect their families. Being a strong leader of religious practices in the home is one of the best ways fathers can protect their families. “Research from the past decade or so has linked religious beliefs with higher levels of fathers’ care for and commitment to children, as well as increased father involvement”(Hawkins, 2012, p. 191). In Alma 49 and 50, we read how Moroni fortifies the cities in the land to prepare against attacks from the Lamanites. The Lamanites “were astonished exceedingly, because of the wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security” (Alma 49:6). How can fathers help prepare their homes for the attacks of the adversary? That is something each father needs to pray about and seek personal revelation for their family. Following the counsel of our leaders in implementing family prayer, family home evening, family scripture study, implementing the Come Follow Me lessons, family meals, and participating in wholesome recreational activities are all things that can strengthen and protect our families. Extra fortification may be needed in weak spots, just as the Nephites fortified weakness in the walls surrounding their cities. In our family, my husband and I had felt concern about the amount of time screens were occupying. We made a plan to reduce that this summer and have loved the results so far. As fathers and mothers go to the Lord with concerns and problems, I know they can receive answers for their families as we strive to protect our loved ones from the adversary.

President Ezra Taft Benson taught that a father’s calling “is an eternal calling from which [he] is never released” (1987, p.48). I am grateful for the fathers in my life as well as the fathers around the world who recognize their great responsibility and role in the Father’s plan. As fathers continue to implement the principles taught in the Proclamation, I know families will be stronger and love will grow in our relationships, helping our children grow and develop into who they need to be to fulfill their God-given missions in life.


Benson, E.T. (1984, May). Counsel to the Saints. Ensign, 14, 6-8.

Dollahite, D.C., Hawkins, A.J., & Brotherson, S.E. (1997). Fatherwork: A conceptual ethic of fathering as generative work. In A.J. Hawkins & D. C. Dollahite (Eds.) Generative fathering: Beyond deficit perspectives (pp. 17-35). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Hawkins, A.J., Dollahite, D.C., Draper, T.W. (Eds). 2012. Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University.

Heschel, A.J. (1975). The Wisdom of Heschel. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

Hunter, H.W. (1994, November). Being a righteous husband and father. Ensign, 24, 49-51.

Potok, C. (1967). The Chosen. New York: Fawcett Crest.

Joy in our Posterity? Yes, it is Possible!



 I remember a time when my children were young and life was one child-causing-major-even after another. My youngest, Trenton, the worst culprit, was nicknamed “Torrent” because of the havoc he caused. The phase from 2 years-4 years of age was the most challenging with this particular child. The following things happened during this time: he broke apart a fuchsia pink Dot marker on the fairly new family room carpet (to this day, the crime-scene-like splotch is still visible); he flushed a Wii remote cover down the basement toilet, causing the toilet to flood into several rooms; he smashed our 3-week-old flat screen TV with a hand weight in hammer fashion (he later ruined the replacement TV when he and a friend were throwing Duplo blocks at each other and one made a nice bullseye on the screen); nail polish on a bedroom carpet; a set of keys flushed down the toilet. He’s pictured above in the buff trying to liberate the chickens and after having a fun time emptying a bottle of baby powder ). Do you now understand the nickname? This kid would not stop! In exasperation, I said one day, “I thought we were supposed to experience joy in our posterity?!” Life with this kid was primarily a lot of clean up, hair-pulling frustration, and costing us A. Lot. Of. Money! So how can we find joy in parenthood, often said to be one of the most difficult jobs on earth?

Understanding the importance of having children is essential to achieving this joy. The commandment to have children to “multiply and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28) is God’s will for us. “For those married couples who are physically able, it is a spiritual obligation as well as a joy with subsequent blessings to bear and raise children” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 55). “Parents bringing children into this world and then rearing them in love and righteousness is essential to the great plan of happiness (Alma 42:8)” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 103). Knowing we have been given a charge while on earth to establish families and “rear [our] children in love and righteousness” (the Proclamation) can help us have an eternal perspective. Nephi also testified, “…for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7)

So how do we find this joy in the thick of parenthood? Specifically, I would like to address my thoughts to mothers, who often carry the responsibility of nurturing, along with a plethora of other tasks. “Rearing children in love and righteousness, as the proclamation admonishes, requires the best efforts parents have to offer” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 115). “Mothers who are feeling exhausted and stressed are less likely to feel they are able to mother the way they think would be best” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 135). How do we extend our best efforts? 

 I have discovered three areas of self-care that have helped me find greater joy in motherhood.

  • Spiritual Care

Making my spiritual growth a priority has helped me keep perspective. I realized early on as a mother that I needed quiet, uninterrupted study time where I could immerse myself in the scriptures and prayer. Getting up before my kids provided this opportunity and for years, I have relished this alone time to be uplifted and strengthened by the Spirit., often receiving inspiration to improve my mothering. 

  • Physical Care

Taking care of my body has also helped me be a better mother. Exercise has had physical benefits in increasing my energy and stamina, but the emotional benefits of having a daily walk, lifting weights, or attending a fitness class have helped my overall well-being. Sometimes it meant taking the kids along in the stroller, but whatever I had to do to get it in, I tried to do it regularly. Eating healthy foods also improves my mood and ability to handle stress. Consuming junk has had the opposite effect, causing mood swings and fatigue. This has been the biggest struggle for me, but I continue to work to improve in this area.

  • Mental and Emotional Care 

Elder M. Russell Ballard offered some wise counsel to mothers. He stated:

“Find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give others, even to your children” (2008, p. 110).

Feeling like I was mentally stimulated was important to me when I was raising young children. Seeking to learn and become better has always been something I have enjoyed doing. I checked out self-help books at the library (often about parenting), joined bookclubs, and took local classes on various topics or skills. I now have more time for mental development and am taking classes at BYU Idaho pursuing a degree in marriage and family studies.  I have discovered that distractions can prevent us from doing what matters most. Spending extended time on social media, TV, and other media can hold us back if we are not mindful.

I am proof that there is a way to have kids and have joy!  I’m able to laugh about all the things Trenton did as a youngster now, but I’ve realized keeping a perspective on why we have children and striving to be the best mother I can be has helped me find joy in my posterity, just as the Lord intended (2 Nephi 2:25).


(Trenton pictured above testing for his high yellow belt in Taekwondo; photo fun with mom).


Ballard, M. R. (2008, May). Daughters of God, Ensign, 38, 108-110.

Hawkins, A.J., Dollahite, D.C., Draper, T.W. (Eds). 2012. Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University.


Created in God’s Image

baby holding it s parent finger

Photo by Andreas Wohlfahrt on Pexels.com

“All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” From The Family: A Proclamation to the World

One of the hottest political topics right now is abortion. More than any other time in my life has there been so much passion, opinion, and dialogue about this topic. I have always been pro-life, but lately, I have thought about why I believe this. I believe in centering my life on principles, so whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, the choice should be based on principles.

Principle #1: We are created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” To quote Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Principle #2: God gives us life. Elder Russell M. Nelson: “As sons and daughter of God, we cherish life as a gift from him….Life  comes from life. It is a gift from our Heavenly Father. It is eternal, as he is eternal. Innocent life is not sent by him to be destroyed! This doctrine is not of me, but is that of the living God and of his divine Son” (Nelson, 1985, pp. 11, 14).

Principle #3: Life begins at conception. In my nursing education, we learned that fertilization involves the egg and sperm joining to form the zygote. Within 24-hours, that zygote is rapidly dividing into many cells, already differentiating into organs and other distinct features of human beings  From that tiny beginning, the DNA is there in place to form a human. No other animal, creature, plant, or living thing will develop in the womb because the DNA is that of a human, from the get-go.

Principle #4: I have unalienable rights as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of another. “But it’s my body, it’s my choice.” This is an argument I don’t understand. A mother’s body supports the developing embryo, then fetus, as it continues to develop. But it is a distinct, separate human being. Cynthia Isabell, a former pro-choice nursing instructor, wrote a fantastic article a few years ago refuting the platforms of many pro-choices, one of which is the “my body, my choice” mantra. She explains how the baby is not a part of the woman’s body and says:

“the placenta and umbilical cord are what separate the baby from the mother. This is important, as most people would view the placenta and umbilical cord as a means by which the baby is connected to its mother and so make the fetus ‘part of her body.’ While it is true on the surface, a better and more truthful understanding is that it’s the placenta and umbilical cord which separate the mother from the baby and prove that the fetus was never part of its mother’s body. This is because the placenta and umbilical cord exist precisely because the baby has a different and separate circulatory system from the mother and their blood must not intermingle (Isabell, 2016).”

She goes on to explain that if the baby was part of the mother’s body, there would be no need for a placenta or umbilical cord, there would be no need for barriers (Isabell, 2016)

Based on these principles, it is difficult for me to see how one could justify being pro-choice. One can disagree with these principles or argue that they won’t accept them. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are correct. They are not opinions, but principles of truth.

In the past, I have said that abortion should be allowed only in the cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s health in endangered. But I have begun to rethink this position. First of all, we are talking about a very small percentages of pregnancies with regards to the total number of abortions performed each year. USA Today recently reported that 1% of women receive abortions due to pregnancy caused by rape. Less than .5% abort because of incest. (Dastagir, 2019).  I cannot imagine the horror of experiencing either of these scenarios, but if life is created as a result, choosing abortion would be difficult because I hold tight to the four principles listed above. If it would appease the pro-choicers to have the clause that abortion is acceptable in these cases, then fine, add the words. But if I ever find myself in that position, I will prayerfully consider my choices and pray for guidance from One who knows all. I do not pass judgment on anyone else having to make that decision.

Ultimately, abortion frustrates God’s plan for the family. If we as children of God follow the principles outlined in the Proclamation, we will understand the importance of life and the role the family plays in God’s purpose for us. Aligning our lives with principles such as those taught in the Proclamation will clarify truth in a confusing world. “The eternal truths in the proclamation counteract the culture and provide individuals and families with a guide and a standard, a kind of Liahona or compass to chart their course” (Hawkins, 2012, p. 311).

There are other issues to considered when deciding to abort under any circumstances, such as the emotional and physical toll of abortion on the mother, but I will leave that discussion for another time. The abortion issue will most likely continue to be a hot topic, but if people will evaluate their position with regards to true principles, we might come closer to a position aligned with God’s.


 “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).



Dastagir, A.E. (2019, May 25). Rape and Incest Account for Hardly Any Abortions. So Why Are They Now a Focus? Retrieved from https://www.stripes.com/news/us/rape-and-incest-account-for-hardly-any-abortions-so-why-are-they-now-a-focus-1.582995

Hawkins, A.J., Dollahite, D.C., Draper, T.W. (Eds). 2012. Successful Marriages and Families: Proclamation Principles and Research Perspectives. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University.

Isabell, C. August 12, 2016. How a Formerly Pro-Choice Nursing Instructor Discusses Abortion with her Students. Retrieved from https://thetorchblog.net/?p=996&utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork&fbclid=IwAR3ruapoia-cEVRyiv4dMaS73K2jSevuhYL81dXOrWW_P8xCD45B1I4RaPM

Nelson, R. M. (1985, May). Reverence for Life. Ensign, 15, 11-14.