“Is This a Test?” Ensign, Aug. 1991, 48–49
When my husband, Will, first talked about spending three months out of town for special job training, I was not overly concerned. It wasn’t ideal timing—he was leaving three weeks after the birth of our fifth child. But I felt confident that though it would be difficult, we could handle things fine.
My first task after he left was to finish filling out our tax forms. A herculean task at best, it became a nightmare as I tried to work at the job while taking care of the housework, four kids, and the new baby. I was exhausted. When I finally got to the bottom line of the form, only to discover we owed a thousand dollars, I went into shock—we had expected money back! I got some sympathy from my distant husband as I made the necessary arrangements to get the funds and finally put that envelope in the mail. What a relief! Now I could relax and enjoy the children and my free schedule.
Less than a week later, our old car suddenly started belching out clouds of steam. It turned out to be the radiator hose. Two days after that was replaced, the lug nuts on one of the wheels flew off while I was driving along the road at fifty miles an hour. I pulled over with one lug nut left.
Next, our two-year-old daughter fell in the bathtub, cutting her chin. She charmed everyone in the hospital emergency room—until the needle went into her chin. It was heartbreaking to hear her scream. Again, my husband could only sympathize over the phone.
Two days after my daughter got her stitches removed, I missed my footing and fell down the front porch steps. I knew immediately that my ankle was badly injured. By the time I got my shoe off, the swelling on my ankle was orange-sized. Sure enough, the doctor said it was a bad sprain and I must remain on crutches for at least two weeks. As I sat on the couch nursing the baby, my leg propped up and topped with a bag of ice, I was still trying to laugh. However, when I realized I couldn’t even carry Joshua upstairs to his crib, the situation lost some of its humor.
I spent some time thinking while I was forced off my feet. I resolved that when things settled down, we needed to get back into the habit of family prayers. And both the children and I needed to start our personal prayers again. With all the goings and comings, we’d let our prayer habits fade.
I was just getting to the point where I could limp around when my oldest girl, age eleven, began complaining loudly and dramatically of a stomachache. She had, of necessity, been doing a lot of baby-sitting, and I initially thought she was looking either for an escape or for sympathetic attention, both of which she probably deserved. After she had done a lot of moaning and groaning, I finally called the doctor’s office. Three hours later, a surgeon removed her appendix.
Our valiant home teacher had helped us through several of our recent challenges. When he was called again, his first comment upon entering my daughter’s hospital room was, “Is this a test?” We all laughed, but I wondered. And again, I determined that as soon as things settled down, my family needed to get back on the prayer track.
A week later I came home from a late afternoon meeting to discover a note from one of my children stating she had had enough and was running away. She’d “be fine” and I was “not to worry.” We got her home within hours, but this time when I called my husband, I burst into tears. I had never felt so incompetent, and I seriously doubted that things would ever settle down.
The day after this incident I received a telephone call from my five-year-old’s preschool teacher. “Do you think you could come get Jonathan?” Not really—my car was in the shop again. “I think he may have broken his arm falling off the trampoline.” He had, in fact, broken both the bones in his forearm. The cast was still on when Dad finally came home.
My eight-year-old had a tantrum because he was the only one who hadn’t been to the hospital in the last six weeks. I was afraid for him. In fact, I was afraid for all of us. I felt helpless to escape from the dark cloud that seemed to envelop us.
When I called Will this time, his instructions were specific: I was to call the home teachers and have them bless every person in the house and bless the house. I did and they did. We were inviting the Spirit into our house, and I explained to the children what we were doing and why. They seemed to understand the solemnity of it. We decided to have family prayers and personal prayers morning and night, no matter what else we did. The children were eager to participate.
That evening after everyone was in bed, I pulled out my scriptures and looked through the Topical Guide. I remembered hearing of a scripture about trusting in God instead of in the arm of flesh. I found it in 2 Nephi 4:34 [2 Ne. 4:34]:
“O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.”
I finally realized that in the confusion, my priorities had been totally reversed. Rather than waiting for things to settle down, I needed to first gather my children for family prayer and say my personal prayers and help my children do the same, and then peace would come—whether or not our family faced disasters and calamities.
The next morning, and every morning thereafter, we gathered in family prayer. Then I sent the children to their rooms to say their personal prayers. We gathered at bedtime to pray again. Within a few days, a feeling of peace began to return to our home, and the fear began to subside from my heart. There were no further incidents while my husband was away from home. I will not forget the lesson I learned—that peace of mind is a gift from God that comes from relying on him.