Thanks, Candace


I was wallowing in anger and self-pity after a miserable day. It took a brave four-year-old to knock on my door and announce that it was time for family prayer.

Thanks, Candace

It was a Thursday night, and I was not exactly in the best mood. The day had gone from bad to worse. Not only was I late for seminary because I had slept in, but in the bustle of getting to the car, I managed to forget my math homework. The whole day continued in this miserable pattern until I came home, pounded upstairs to my room, and slammed my door, daring anyone to disturb me. No one did.

Now with chemistry homework half complete, I slammed shut my book and sat against the bed I had not even had time to make. I felt nothing but empty frustration and anger. What did I do to deserve this? Why was everything going so wrong? I thought wallowing in self-pity.

I glanced at my scriptures and suddenly remembered I had forgotten to read. I flipped them open. I stopped and felt rebellion building within me. Why should I bother? I thought. I had dragged myself out of bed at a ridiculous 5:30 A.M., to get to seminary and all for what? So I could forget my homework and have one of the worst days ever?

I was at my breaking point. Deep down I knew my troubles and poor attitude were my own fault. It was just so much easier to blame someone else. I was contemplating what to do next when a brave soul dared to knock on my door.

“Time for prayer!” shouted Ronnie’s sweet four-year-old voice while still pounding with all his might. I groaned and unlocked my door, emerging from my cave of self-pity.

“Hello, beautiful!” my dad said, kissing my cheek. I only scowled as we walked into my parents’ bedroom where the family had begun to congregate—all seven of us.

“There you are, Catherine. I have hardly seen you all day,” Mom said to me just as Baby Candace, as we like to call her, entered the room. I was greeted by the adorable two-year-old with a bubbly, “Hi, Ratren,” and a hug around the knees. I always find it amazing how much love is stored in that tiny body of hers. I felt slightly better, but I was still annoyed with the way my day had been going. Then I began to think of all the tests waiting for me Friday. I turned to my dad and, with a touch of that attitude which accompanies most 15-year-olds, asked, “Can we just get this over with?” (Luckily, my father was in a better mood than I was.)

“All right then, let’s see,” Dad said looking around the circle and counting as he went, “Where’s Steven?”

“Steven!” Ronnie shouted, cupping his small hands to his mouth as though his 11-year-old brother were across the street rather than in the next room. With that, Steven came bounding in, did a half-somersault, and took his place in the family circle. I only rolled my eyes.

“Now,” Dad began again, “whose turn is it?” I sat back on my heels hoping he would not call on me. The last thing I felt like doing was praying.

“Me turn, me turn!” shouted Candace, waving her hand wildly in the air.

“I guess it is your turn, Candace,” Dad said, smiling. “Do you want Mommy to help you?” Candace nodded and scooted closer to Mom.

“All right then, fold your arms, Candace,” Mom said gently. The small girl glanced around the circle to make sure all eyes were properly closed before she began. I was totally unprepared for what followed.

Before Mom began her usual whispered prompts, Candace started all on her own: “Heavenly Father, tank dee for Mommy, Daddy, Tistine, Ratren, Steben, Nonnie, and me, Tandace. Dat we are a family togeder. Help us choose da right.” The room was silent, except for the voice of a small girl speaking with her Heavenly Father. She had no thoughts of personal gain, only asking a blessing for Daddy at work and to help us “choose da right.” From the mouth of a two-year-old came one of the most humble and pure prayers I have ever heard. I was filled with shame as she closed, “Name of Jesus Christ, amen!”

We gave hugs and praises for the wonderful job Candace had done. After good-night kisses, I once again departed for my room. I gently closed the door and walked over to the corner where my scriptures lay waiting.

In Matthew 18:1–4 [Matt. 18:1–4], I read, “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Tears gathered in my eyes. For the first time, I knew the meaning behind this scripture. Yes, my day had been tough, but only because I had allowed it to be. I realized that throughout life, trials would come and go, but if we humble ourselves to become “as little children,” the Lord can help us get through anything.

After kneeling by my bed to pray, I opened my door and crept into the room where Baby Candace was supposed to be sleeping. “Hi, Ratren!” she shouted as she jumped out of bed, throwing her small arms around my neck. “Shhhh. I love you, Baby,” I said to her, as I tucked her under her sheets.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Paul Mann