Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Unnamed Women of Infuence

Many people feel sorry for the woman with the issue of blood because of the confines of the Law of Moses which would preclude her from a normal life. That would be tough but personally having dealt with a low thyroid and then being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue on top of it, I think her biggest trial was no energy. Can you imagine how anemic she must have been. Whatever her greatest burden, there do seem to be two types of healing in this story. First her body was restored and then her spirit.(From Matthew 9: 20-22)

The Woman Who Touched the Hem- Illness

My life began as a happy one. I was married to a wealthy man, soon became pregnant and expected a full life and large family. But it wasn’t long before I lost the baby I was carrying. The grief was difficult, but in addition I carried another burden- oddly my bleeding never stopped. Jewish law considered me unclean, and my poor husband was forbidden from being in my presence. At first we sought the advice of doctors, but I only grew worse. After a few years we decided it would be best if we divorced. He gave me a portion of his wealth, and I continued to try and find a cure.
Despite my efforts, nothing seemed to help. Although some worry about my grief, loneliness and loss, the hardest part for me is that I’m always tired. I used to be full of joy and enthusiasm. I was fun, smart and beautiful. But now I find myself dragging around like an old woman, and hardly have enough energy for my brain to function. In the morning I find myself caring little about how I will fill my empty days. I don’t even like to gaze at my pale face in the glass as it only reflects a sorry shadow of the real me. Once I was a beauty, but any trace of what I was has been replaced by this broken shell. It is just so much to have taken away.
When first I heard of this Jesus, I didn’t want to hope again. In the past when news arrived of some doctor who may be able to cure me, it was as though a great light filled my heart only to have it extinguished and deflated after months of pain and handfuls of gold coins were spent. Still, somehow this seemed different and I set out at the break of day, unsure of my resolve.
The crowd was surprisingly thick in the narrow streets, and I tried to work my way through them without coming into contact with anyone. You see, touching me would make them unclean. It took most of the morning. By the time I finally got within about five feet of him, I could see his face and was filled with an unexpected hope. I simply knew he could heal me. His power was real, and as I watched him speak to those around him, I could feel his love.
Suddenly, a man bumped against me and continued forward. It caught me off guard, and I wondered if I should tell him of my condition so he might cleanse himself. He moved away so swiftly that I didn’t get the chance. I watched him kneel before the Savior with a look of utter sorrow and beg the Messiah to come to his home. His daughter was sick, nigh to death. As they began to leave, I fell to the ground. I knew if Jesus left, I might never get another chance. Closing my eyes, I prayed with more fervor than I thought I had. I asked God to heal me through his Son’s great power, even if I was only able to touch the tassel of his shawl. As the words danced through my mind, I was filled with fresh hope and felt certain I would indeed be healed.
When I opened my eyes, I was horrified. He had already passed by. I pawed my way through the crowd, not caring who I touched, and reached out to put my hand against the blue and white wool of his garment. The minute I did, I felt my body fill with strength. A smile found its way to my lips but disappeared moments later when Christ stopped and turned asking “Who touched me?”
His companions shook their heads, saying with so many how would he ask such a question, but I knew. Looking at the people pushing against me, I knew that they were each even unclean after my healing since seven days had to pass after my bleeding stopped before I could be around anyone. For me to reveal my plight would also entail a confession of my sin.
A single tear slid down my cheek. Taking a deep breath, I stepped forward and bowed my head. Whether I was punished or publicly ridiculed for exposing those around me and breaking the law, in gratitude I decided to confess. “It was I, Lord.” I began.
He touched my hand, and I lifted my eyes. “Daughter, be of good cheer.” There was joy beaming from his face, and all my concerns dissolved to nothingness. “Thy faith hath made the whole.” Although touching his hem had healed my body, it was his words that filled me with strength and gladness. As he walked away, I felt a new gratitude for these restored gifts and vowed that from then on I would use them well, lifting others as the greatest of all had lifted me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Unnamed Women of the Scriptures

So I've been preparing a program for Enrichment on the unnamed Women of the Scriptures and thought I'd post each one for you.

The first is the wife of Nephi. (1 Nephi 7, 16, 18)

My name is never mentioned in the Book of Mormon, but I was the daughter of Ishmael and wife of Nephi. I’d like to say that I didn’t know what I was getting into when I married him but from the beginning it was one challenge after another.

He came to Jerusalem and told my father of the visions of his father Lehi. His strong testimony convinced my mother and I right away that our great city would be destroyed and that the Lord had a plan for us. Soon after we left, a few of my brothers, along with Laman and Lemuel rebelled. They tied up Nephi and wanted to leave him behind to be devoured by beasts.

My mother and I with one of my brothers begged for his release. We knew they might attack us as well but we knew even more that we were following the Lord. Our pleas are what finally softened their hearts to release him.

Soon after we were married, Nephi broke his bow and we nearly starved. I struggled with my testimony but watched my husband stay faithful through the entire experience. On the boat, Nephi’s brothers rebelled again and tied him up. A great storm nearly killed us and I plead before them but they would not listen. All I could do was pray below deck as I huddled with my sick children and tried to comfort his parents who almost died through this trial.

From the moment we landed, Nephi led the people to build a city, only to leave it and build another. He was gone from dawn until dark working or writing records. Often I was left alone to make up the difference. At times when he was so busy, it was hard- as hard as going without food- and I must admit that I struggled. But I knew he was called of the Lord and stayed faithful by his side all my days.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Christmas Stories in August

I participated in LDS Publisher's Christmas story contest. Many people voted for me but alas, I came in a not so close second. Still, if you're interested, here is my story. It is true and my husband even said that I didn't embellish that much.

A Time for Christmas

I shifted the screaming toddler in my arms and cast my eyes at the clock against the wall of the crowded terminal. There was still another two hours before our connecting flight would be here.
“It’s okay. We’re going to Grandma’s for Christmas.” I told him with a smile, but my eighteen month old was so tired that words had no meaning. He continued flailing much to the annoyance of the dozen people within five feet of me. What he needed was a nap, but there was no space on the floor and I feared that if I stood I’d lose my seat and be forced to stand the rest of time.
Beside me, my husband held our three year old who slept in his arms. The day before Brian had a slight fever but seemed fine that morning. He slept during most of the flight, and I envied him. As Marcus’s cries intensified, I reached into my large carryon and pulled out his last full bottle. He finally took it, but I knew the reprieve would be a short one.
It was my own fault. To save money I had purchased tickets with three layovers which meant we could afford to rent a car. But between the snow, fog and other delays it took us over twenty six hours before we finally arrived in Medford. Then we began the three hour drive to the ranch where my husband grew up with Marcus still crying, and Brian still sleeping, As we rolled past the vast snow-dusted pastures filled with fat cattle huddled together to stay warm, my only thoughts were of how much I couldn’t wait to flop in a soft bed and close my own eyes.
We pulled up to the door in the middle of the chilly December afternoon and were greeted by an exuberant crowd. Greg’s parents, brothers and sisters swarmed around us. Yolanda, his older sister, was perhaps the most excited. She had arrived the day before from Utah with her two sons who were just the same ages as my own. The boys had never met, and we were all looking forward to seeing the young cousins become friends. After exchanging hugs we entered the main room where the bedecked tree in the corner sat swaddled in hundreds of homemade ornaments, the result of many crafty family nights over the years. Underneath it laid a fan of brightly covered packages. One of Greg’s younger sisters ran out to the car and got the bag that added our offering to the mix. It looked to be the perfect Christmas.
I volunteered to go upstairs to try and get the children settled down for a nap, hoping I might be able to steal one at the same time. Greg deposited the sleeping Brian on the bed beside me and headed downstairs to his family. Poor Marcus, still hiccupping and blotchy from his hysterics, was covered in sweat. As I peeled off his wet clothes, there was no question the child needed a bath. I started the tub, left him on the bathroom floor playing with a bottle of soft soap and hurried back to the bedroom to wake Brian.
“Honey? Come on.”
With his eyes still half closed, he sat up, took my hand and shuffled to the bathroom where Marcus was lifting the toilet lid to play with the water inside. I yanked off his diaper and stuck him in the half-filled tub and then turned to his older brother. Brian stood before me swaying slightly.
“Hey, can you believe we are here? This is going to be so much fun.” I said, trying to get the child alert and excited. “Tomorrow we’re going to see Santa in town, and the very next day is Christmas!”
Brian let me pull his shirt over his head and begin to unbutton his trousers, when I looked in his eyes and stopped. “Brian?” I said taking him by the shoulders. “Look at me.”
I could tell he was trying to comply, but he could barely focus on my face. There were dark rings around his eyes and his lips were pale, almost white.
“Brian?” I said again.
He said nothing in reply.
An awful fear gripped me, and I screamed for my husband who rushed upstairs. “We need to take Brian to the hospital right now. Something’s wrong.”
“Are you sure? I mean,” Greg stammered.
“How many times have I ever said that? Listen, I know something is seriously wrong. Please, we need to go now.”
Clutching Brian in my arms, I grabbed a blanket and ran to the car. Greg was right behind me, pausing only to give his mother instructions on caring for Marcus. The entire twenty-minute ride I tried to get Brian to respond, but he seemed to be fading further and further away. When I lifted his arm, it fell with no resistance and his eyes looked is if they had sunken slightly back in his head. I felt as if he was struggling to cling to life and had no idea why.
With the hospital in view I was filled with relief and threw the door open while the car was still moving. Rushing through the emergency doors, I screamed, “Help, my son is dying!”
The doctor was standing right there and without triage rushed him into a room and began an IV while asking for details. Through my tears I told him of our arduous plane ride and that he hadn’t been feeling well before we left. The older physician looked in my son’s eyes with his pen light and gave a faint smile. “Little Brian here was severely dehydrated. Twelve percent of children under five who pass away do so from dehydration. Your gut was entirely accurate. Another half an hour and he might have not made it.”
“But he never said he was thirsty. I didn’t think about it.” Guilt washed over me.
“We’ll need to admit him and run some tests to see if this stress has affected his organs. If all goes well and he’s eating and alert, you’ll be home for Christmas.”
Greg left, and I stayed that night, cuddled beside my small son in the narrow hospital bed. Brian smiled at me now and then but said very little and would only take a sip or two of the bright red, yellow and blue liquids I offered. The next morning he opened his eyes but still looked so tired.
He drank a bit more but would only nibble at his food. In the afternoon the family arrived, hoping for the best only to have their Christmas Eve ruined by the news that Brian would be spending Christmas in the hospital.
I hugged Marcus and patted Greg on the shoulder. “Have a great day tomorrow, and don’t worry about us. We’ll be fine.” As I watched them leave, I wished things could have been different. I wondered why we couldn’t have a miracle of healing where Brian suddenly recovered and would be magically home on Christmas day. Instead, I looked down at my normally talkative three year old and sighed. He lay in bed without enough energy to even care that he was missing the day he had looked forward to the last four months. The evening hours inched by and somewhere in the night Christmas began, but not for us.
The day was lonely and uneventful. A few good Samaritans came caroling and delivered stale candy canes. Some people I never met before came by to tell me they knew Greg as a child and heard we were there, but that was usually followed by awkward silence before they left. Greg came alone and spent the afternoon reading Brian a story and bringing me a much needed change of clothes. When I bid Greg goodbye at the hospital entrance, I could tell we both felt more somber than the season should allow. Walking back into my son’s room, Brian looked at me and said, “Mom, is it really Christmas? It doesn’t feel like it.”
I smiled and brushed his blond hair from his forehead. “You know, sweetie, we can celebrate Christmas whenever we want. Christ was really born in the spring, but we remember the day in the winter to make us happy. We’ll have Christmas as soon as you get home. It will still be there waiting for you.”
He seemed comforted, but I wondered how he would feel when he saw that his brother and cousins had all opened their presents. I knew he’d miss the anticipation of being surrounded by family and the wonder of walking down the stairs to a room filled with plenty. There would be other Christmases, but in that hospital room with my arm around my frail son, I felt abandoned and alone- like Christmas had left us behind.
Still weak, Brian slept through the night again. I watched the clock on the wall tick away the last minutes of Christmas before falling asleep beside him. Any hope of my Christmas miracle ended at midnight.
The next morning I awoke to someone shaking my arm back and forth. Brian was kneeling up and smiling. “Am I going back to Grandpa’s now?”
Seeing his bright blue eyes sparkle, I nodded. “I think so.”
The doctor was impressed by his recovery and discharged him first thing that morning. By ten we were headed back to the ranch. Brian was talking away in his booster chair. “I can’t wait to see Grandpa. Justin’s my age, right? Where’s Marcus?” He looked at the empty car seat beside him.
“They are all home waiting for you.” Greg smiled over his shoulder as he turned into the driveway.
It looked like a repeat of three days earlier as the family congregated on the front porch and
greeted us with hugs and cheers. But when I stepped into the living room, I had to stop. It was like Déjà vu. Under the tree the bright presents sat still unopened. Suddenly from the kitchen the sound of sleigh bells jingled through the air.
“Uh oh,” said Grandpa. “I think Santa finally found our house. You boys better hurry upstairs and jump in your beds as fast as you can so he can come or he’ll have to make his way back to the North Pole.”
Brian’s mouth dropped open in surprise. “I knew we didn’t miss Christmas. I knew it.”
All four little boys hurried up the stairs, Marcus managing each step as best he could and hid under the covers of the big guestroom bed, giggling and wrestling in anticipation. Before long it was time to line up on the stairs with all the children, Greg, his sisters and parents. We descended the steps to a room filled with wonder and spent the day celebrating the best Christmas I’ve ever had. So in the end, we really did have a miracle. Despite illness, common sense and time itself, that year Christmas waited for us.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

No Nuts Policy

Our elementary school just instituted a "no nuts" policy which means that no child can bring anything with nuts in it of any kind. No peanut butter sandwiches, no granola bars with nuts, no Reeses, no nutty buddy bars, nada, zip, zero.

I understand the concern that has caused this knee-jerk reaction but am upset by this decision for three reasons:

1. Parents were not informed of this new policy until a few weeks before school began. It is as though they tried to slip it under the wire when our backs were turned and they didn't think anyone was looking. It was never brought up for discussion at all. If parents agreed, I'd feel more compliant.

2. It is not scientifically sound. Sometimes I wonder if the people making educational decision are really educated. There have been articles on this topic in Time Magazine,8599,1869095,00.html, New York Times and in a British Medical Journal

3. What is it teaching our children? Do we as Americans bend to every special interest group or do we believe in freedom and personal responsibility? If we stop bringing nuts to schools, do we then stop selling them in stores? What about fish and eggs, both more common allergies than nuts? What about bee stings which cause more fatalities still? Do we get rid of all the bees? Where do we stop?

I don't know the answer, but I'm definitely making a few calls on Tuesday and sending a number of emails.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Willamette Writers and a New Beginning

Last Friday I attended the Willamette Writers Conference. I did two group pitches with agents and spoke to a film producer about a possible film idea. I wasn't my normal grounded self and was more withdrawn than I'd like to be.

I did see Jina and Tom from my critique group which was really fun and poor Gina Harris had to endure my awful pitch but other than that I'm glad I went. The best part for me was the last little bit of Irene Radford's workshop. Irene is a prolific author who has published the Dragon Nimbus series and Merlin's Guardians. She talked about production writing and told that her first draft is plain ugly. She said she doesn't worry about the holes but leaves blanks and notes to herself until the story is down. Then as she edits she fills in the blanks and cleans it up.

I want to try this. She also said that she likes to have three different projects at three different stages so that she doesn't get bored. She has one that she is editing, one she is creating and another that she is researching. Then when she hits a tough spot in one, she can switch to another. Helpful advice. I've been so linear.... but she doesn't have kids home. Still, I hope to be her.

Lastly, I have decided to join another blog because I don't have enough to do. is our new site and I'm chronicling the weight loss journey I should have gone on last year and the year before that. Oh, well, I think I'm taking a sound approach. We'll see how it turns out.

This week is the last week before I've got the birthday onslaught. George's is on Mon., Greg's a week later, Camron the week after that, then Anna two weeks after. Then school will be here. I'm not ready!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I'm Naughty

Wow, it's August 1st, and I last blogged July 11th. I don't think many people are still going to my stagnant blog, but know although this page doesn't reflect it, I am busier than ever. It looks like my husband may lose his job in the next month. For some strange reason I have real hope that my next manuscript has a real shot of being popular. I feel compelled to focus and finish it so I can start trying to sell it.

I'm hoping it will be a success and then I want to apply to Education Week for next year on the same theme of Herod. My poor children are so sick of hearing about my new plot lines but I need to finish. I'm looking forward to the future, and my husband feels like maybe when I finish this project which may take as long as five years, that I'll probably go to graduate school. Wa-hoo!

I love having life to look forward to.