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In the day of Moses, the Jewish people in Egypt were looking for a deliverer, someone who would free them from their oppressions. Pharaoh ordered the midwives to slay all the male sons of the Jews, but the midwives refused. He then ordered his people to save the newborn girls, but to cast every newborn male into the river. When the mother of Moses saw that he was “a goodly child,” she managed to hide him for 3 months. At last, fearful for his safety, she prepared a water-tight basket and placed it at the bank of the river, where it was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, who had come to the river to wash herself.

Some years later, the grown Moses fled into the desert after he slew an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. He married and settled down until the fateful day that he was led into the mountain where he saw a bush that was burning but not consumed. There he spoke with God. God told him that Israel was crying out for relief from their oppression, and Moses was to be the means whereby the Hebrews would be freed.

Moses returned to Egypt and contended with Pharoah, who continued to harden his heart. Plagues fell upon Egypt: the river turned to blood, Egypt was overrun with frogs, with lice, and with flies; the cattle of Egypt died, but the cattle of Israel did not die; the people and animals were stricken with boils; God sent hail mingled with fire; locusts swarmed over Egypt; and three days of palpable darkness followed the locusts, after Pharoah’s heart remained hardened. At last the ultimate plague was sent: the firstborn of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh himself to the firstborn of the lowliest of servants, as well as the firstborn of the animals, would die. But the firstborn of Israel would not die, that Pharoah might know that God had set a distinction upon Israel.

At last, after this great calamity befellEgypt and Pharaoh’s firstborn son was dead, he at last relented and sent Israel on its way.  Later Pharaoh was angered and his heart was again hardened, and he and his men went to recapture the Jews.  But God had not finished working miracles. The sea parted, and Israel walked across on dry land. As the Egyptians began to follow them, the water returned to its accustomed course and the chariots and horses of the Egyptians were drowned in the depths of the sea.

On Mount Sinai, God gave Moses the commandments, and instructed him in what became known as the law of Moses. Because of disobedience, Israel wandered for 40 years in the desert, but at last they entered their Promised Land.

From that time until the time of Christ, the faithful members of the house of Judah followed the law of Moses. When Christ began his ministry, the Jews were again enslaved. They were ruled by the tyrant Herod, a pawn of the Roman emperor. They, too, longed for a deliverer, a Moses, someone who would smite their enemies and free them of their oppressors.

But just as the laws of Christ are higher laws than those of Moses, so too was the deliverance that he brought. Jesus Christ gives his people redemption and eternal life. He offers exaltation. He gave himself as the sacrificial lamb to pay the price for our sins. He has redeemed us, and we are his. After his crucifixion and death, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom, and the law of Moses was done away.

Moses was truly a great man, a great prophet, and he laboured diligently to serve the Lord and to free Israel. When Christ came, the Messiah, people were expecting another Moses. They didn’t know that they got something even better.

I don’t know why this hit me with such great force right now. I was just watching a documentary debate about Jesus, and it suddenly dawned on me. I had to stop what I was doing and write it down so as not to lose the thought. The gifts Jesus has to give us are better than the greatest good that had hitherto existed. I must be sure not to reject it because it is not what I expected.

Life is hard. It’s full of challenges and sorrow and grief. But it’s also easy if we but follow the Lord. Easy doesn’t, I think, have the same sense we traditionally apply. It doesn’t mean it’ll be a walk in the park on a sunny day. I think easy means that we know what to do. We know how to do it. We have someone who has paid the ultimate price for us, and he offers it to us freely. It means that in those hard and painful times, he has felt our every sorrow, our every grief. He knows us more intimately than we perhaps know ourselves.

I’ll never forget one day when I was having a meltdown. It was before I was married, I think even before I knew Joe. And I was storming around my little basement apartment yelling at Heavenly Father out of hurt and sorrow and frustration, wanting to know why I hadn’t been brought up in the church, why I’d had so many horrible things happen to me, why everything had to be so hard. And I was crying, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. And then the Holy Ghost whispered a scripture to me: “Know thou, my daughter, that all these things shall give the experience and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than He?”  And instantly I felt peace. And every time since, when I’ve cried out in desperation, “O God, where art thou, and where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?” I am again reminded of that incident. He is there. He is always there. I know it. I feel it. He is there.

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Disguised Blessings

Joe lost his cell phone this weekend. Such a bald statement that evokes none of the drama that took place at our house. We don’t use a landline at home, and Joe is on the road at least 45 weeks out of the year for his job. Our cell phones are our lifeline. 

Usually when something is missing, I pray, and we find whatever it is within a few minutes. And I have been praying about that phone since I got home from church on Sunday to find that he’d lost it. Since faith without works is dead, I, Faith (haha) was working diligently to back up my prayers by searching everywhere I could think of. No luck.

Joe’s been on vacation this week, and he’s continued searching for the phone. Again, no luck. So today he bit the bullet and went to get a new phone. The new phone cost something like $57, and there’s a $50 mail-in rebate, and they gave him a $70 credit on our bill, but he needed to buy a new protective carrying case thingie, so we’re ahead about $30. From losing his phone, we gain money. Go figure.

And there are some other disguised blessings that we’re seeing right now. We’ve been paying ghastly amounts of money for our cable tv service. He doesn’t use it (see paragraph a, above), and I virtually never watch television. We do need to keep our internet service, but he can voucher that as a work expense, since he uses it for work related purposes. I’ve been paying for Net*flix out of my personal allowance, and we’ve decided to keep that.  I talked to the cable company today, and am arranging to cancel the cable television service and keep only the internet. So a bill that was costing us about $150 a month has now effectively shrunk to $20 out of pocket for us.

We’ve been having I*R*S problems this week. Well, the problems have been ongoing for a while, but they reached a head this week. But because of the problems, I think we’re actually going to come out better because it’s forcing us to work together on the whole budget issue. The budget has been in his hands the last couple of years, but we’ve been rather cavalier about the whole things, beyond making sure that our obligations are met and that we’re diligently paying down the credit cards.

So it’s been a terrible, awful, no good, very bad week. And yet, it’s been a wonderful, beautiful, blessed, lovely week at the same time. It’s a mystery.

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I was sitting in Sacrament meeting. My IVF had failed–the two embryos were dead. I was still trying to keep on, but it was excruciating. Joe didn’t go to church with me that day for some reason, so I was sitting by myself. I watched all the families coming in together, and my heart ached.

While the sacrament was being passed, I was praying with an earnest desire to know if I would ever be a mother, if we would ever have children in this life.  One of the scheduled speakers that day was sick, and someone else filled in at the last moment. I was trying to pay attention, but my mind kept wandering despite myself.  And then it happened.

I’ve only had them a few times in my life, but I treasure those moments when pure intelligence is being poured into my spirit by the Holy Ghost. I knew instantly that this was something I had to record. I grabbed a fireside announcement that had been tucked inside the program and scribbled notes to myself with a dull pencil. I was told not to worry about something that was beyond my control. I was told that I had to live my life, and not keep putting things off that I wanted to do because I was going to get pregnant or have children or adopt or whatever.

I haven’t been the same since that day.

When I was going through my piles of family history and genealogy research, I found that piece of paper. The pencil marks are fading, and I want to capture it before it fades so much I can’t read it anymore. There are things I wanted (at the time) to do, things I’d been putting off, and some counsel.

  • Attend school – BA degree. Check. I got a job at a local university that December, and started back to school the following autumn. I graduated cum laude with a degree in English in 2004.
  • Manhattan
  • New England (Boston, Walden Pond, American lit.) – this became a dream of mine while I was studying American literature. I wanted to plan out and take an American literature tour through New England.
  • Europe – London, Stratford Upon Avon
  • Egypt
  • Teach middle school — I pursued this, but ultimately decided against it.
  • pay off house – in the process
  • buy new car – we bought a new-to-us car
  • write book – I finished one book and am working on several others
  • home library – I think I probably meant organize my home library, and that so hasn’t happened yet
  • season tickets to ballet & symphony – we did get season tickets to the symphony once, but as it turned out we had to miss every concert. 😦 However, we gave the tickets to people who truly enjoyed going, so it definitely was not wasted.
  • plan my life
  • do things
  • don’t sit around & wait
  • Have courage to accept Heavenly Father’s will
  • IVF? Sure. But only 2 more; if no kids, accept it. — as it turned out, we were still repaying the loan to ourselves for the first IVF by the time my endometriosis was causing me so much pain that I had to get a hysterectomy. So I had to accept no kids sooner than I wanted to.
  • Reinvent myself
  • LIVE

 

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Easily Fooled

I’m verbose today, no? But I’ve had this thought brewing in my head for a while, and wanted to put it down before it vanished.

In 2 Nephi 32:8, we’re told that “. . . if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.”

So when I allowed myself to get caught up with the crystals, the Holy Ghost was warning me that I was treading in deep waters. But when those thoughts came, that scripture came to mind. And I would think, No one is telling me not to pray and would justify it to myself. And I prayed, perhaps not as much as I had been in the habit of, but I did still pray.

It wasn’t until one day last week, after I’d visited with the bishop, discarded the crystals and books, and changed my focus that I realized the subtle snare that I had walked right into. I was told that this crystal will help you feel calmer, and that crystal will do that, and so on.  So I had a little bag of small crystals that I was carrying around with me, and I had larger crystals on my desk at work.

You probably already see where this is leading, don’t you? I’m ashamed that it took me so long to figure out. I was turning to something other than God for the answers to my unuttered prayers. If I wanted to feel peaceful and calm, I wasn’t praying about it; rather, I was depending on a crystal to help me find that peace. And it was working to a certain extent, not because of any inherent virtue in the crystal, but because I was falling into that trap and the opposition was letting up.

But the Spirit did continue to strive within me, and I saw very clearly that I was at a crossroads. I had to choose which direction to go. And it was a conscious decision. I had sort of drifted aimlessly into the path I was on because of the love and acceptance I was feeling from my friends. But then the enemy wanted me to decide to continue on that path.

I’m so glad that at that time my husband was there for me and spoke to me very clearly, and we read scriptures together, and talked, and by the end of an hour I had resolved to turn back around. And I’m so glad that the bishop was able to see me right away, so I could unburden myself and begin repenting.

That was a difficult, yet important, lesson to learn. Just because someone isn’t standing in front of your face, wagging a finger and saying, “Now don’t you dare pray!” doesn’t mean that you aren’t being told not to pray.

I’ll bet I’ve prayed more in the last 2 weeks than I have in the last year. And I’m so sorry that I got so far astray. I’m just so grateful for an atonement that allows me to repent and come back in my figurative sackcloth and ashes.

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The Lump

Lumps in the throat–more figurative than literal. Can be very uncomfortable, though.

Lumps in snow–I read this in a book somewhere: “Snow, snow, beautiful snow. You slip on a lump and over you go.”  I never slipped on a lump of snow, although I have fallen in snow plenty of times. I’ve slipped on ice, and even while I was sliding friction-free across the patch marveled at how ridiculous I must look in the effort to keep my balance and keep from falling down.

Lumps in gravy–annoying more than anything else, and really unnecessary, if you know the trick to making gravy.  Instead of making a roux with drippings and flour and then stirring in the milk or water, just heat the drippings in the pan and shake the flour and milk or water together in a sealed jar. Then add the flour liquid to the drippings, heat slowly and stir constantly until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat, and continue cooking until it’s just the right consistency. Voila, no lumpy gravy.

But a lump in the breast, scary. Very scary. And real, even if it’s not anything malign. It’s still terrifying. I had a mammogram on Tuesday. I griped about it, because it’s not pleasant. In fact, it’s downright uncomfortable, getting your boobs smashed between a cold metal plate and a hard plastic tub thingie. But it’s just one of those things you have to do, and I should have been doing it the last three years and hadn’t. So I griped, but wasn’t worried.

Yesterday I got a phone call from the doctor with the results of my physical. Blood sugar’s good, thyroid’s good, cholesterol is still too high so back on the Crestor. Bone density, well, my right femur is looking a little light (-1.2) but nothing to worry about–just make sure to take calcium and vitamin D.  I thought that was the end of the conversation, not knowing they’d already have the mammogram results back.

On the left breast is a 5 mm nodule about 3 mm from the nipple. Don’t worry, she said, just go pick up your old films so they can compare them. And they’ll do some more diagnostic imaging. Don’t worry, don’t make yourself sick, don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry.

I managed to stay calm while I was talking to the nurse.  But inside my head was screaming. My maternal grandmother got breast cancer when I was a teenager. She had a mastectomy. A while later she had another mastectomy. She went to radiation, chemo, all the different things they were using back then to treat cancer. We thought she had it licked, and while I was living in Minnesota too many miles away from my family, I got a phone call one day that the cancer had metastasized. I didn’t know what that meant, but it didn’t sound good. And she died, while I was still in Minnesota, still too many miles away from my family.

So I have cried, and I have prayed for peace and calm, and I’ve talked to my family and friends, and I’m trying not to panic. I’m taking the afternoon off from work to go pick up the films from my only other mammogram, done in late 2000, and deliver them to the other location. 

Fortunately, rehearsal last night was canceled. I’m not sure I’d have been able to hold myself together. I ended up sleeping and reading. I’ve got a couple of books to review, but probably won’t get to it until tomorrow.

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Prayers Needed

This is a short one, just to ask you to please send some thoughts/prayers/white light, or whatever kind of positive thing you do Clover’s way. Chase is still in the hospital, and may be heading to Houston this week to be evaluated for a lung transplant. If so, Clover will be the one going to Houston, most likely, and Pat will remain here with the other kids. Joe and I have obviously offered to do whatever we can to help, but it’s not enough. It’s never enough.

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This is a short one, just to ask you to please send some thoughts/prayers/white light, or whatever kind of positive thing you do Clover’s way. Chase is still in the hospital, and may be heading to Houston this week to be evaluated for a lung transplant. If so, Clover will be the one going to Houston, most likely, and Pat will remain here with the other kids. Joe and I have obviously offered to do whatever we can to help, but it’s not enough. It’s never enough.

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First of all, if you’re a praying person, please take a minute to send a prayer in behalf of Klove, Chicory, and Sassafrass. Klove had surgery this morning for what I’m frantically hoping is an ancient World Record-worthy gigantic booger that has gotten stuck up in her sinuses and grown to gargantuan proportions and isn’t a tumor and isn’t cancerous and is nothing at all to worry about. Regardless of whether it’s a ginormous booger, a pearl, a jelly bean, or something far more serious, their family needs your prayers, or your positive thoughts, or whatever type of thing you do in situations like this.

The other family who really needs some positive thoughts or prayers is Clover and her family. It looks as though her son is going to be in the hospital over Christmas, something we were all hoping wasn’t going to be the case. On the positive side, he probably will not need a liver transplant. Yay! On the not-so-positive side, he may end up having to go to a hospital in Houston to have his spleen removed and a shunt installed to get the blood flowing where it’s supposed to. I’ve tried calling Clover this morning to find out when I can take Christmas dinner over there, but just got her voice mail. I’ll try again shortly.

Liz and I were at her apartment yesterday. We’d hoped to finish clearing and cleaning, but it didn’t happen. We did get a lot of the clearing finished, and some cleaning done. Salvation Army is coming on Saturday to pick up the furniture and assorted household items that she is donating, so we are planning to finish things up on Saturday. It is definitely do-able, and we will both be extremely glad to be done with that task.

When I weighed in on Saturday morning, I was down another 2.2 pounds, for a total of 34.6 pounds. I’ve had people at work tell me that I look slim and sexy. It’s nice to hear, and I will admit that I feel slim and sexy. However, with another 96 pounds to go to hit my official Weight Watchers goal, I am FAR from slim! I keep promising pictures but haven’t managed to get any taken yet. I was all set to get Joe to take one of me the night we went to see Barenaked Ladies. I had just barely snapped one of him when a security guard was in my face, ordering me to put my camera away because no photos were allowed. I asked if we could take just one more photo, pointing out that it wasn’t even going to be of the stage, and the band wasn’t out, etc., but she refused. It really pissed me off later on when, during the show, hundreds of people were taking photos and she didn’t bother to stop any of them.

Wendy commented on how much my avatar looks like Chicory’s. I think we have the same hairdo. My hair is a titch longer and fuller, but they didn’t have a hairdo that comes any closer to mine. And my hair is reddish brown, but the red is too red, so I chose the brown as I think it’s closer. Wendy also said she thought I had blonde hair. I’ve never had fully blonde hair, although I have, from time to time, had a lot of blonde highlights at Joe’s request. Let me state here that I look absolutely hideous with blonde hair, and I think I have finally convinced Joe of that fact. I look great with red hair, or dark brown hair. I look horrible with light brown or blonde hair.

I don’t know if you can read the writing on my avatar’s tee shirt, but it says Happy Hanukkah. Joe and I aren’t Jewish, but we do celebrate Hanukkah every year in honor of Joe’s stepfather, who was. We have a lovely menorah, and our candles this year are just lovely. It gives me warm fuzzies every night during Hanukkah when we say the blessing and light the candles, and just watch as they burn down to nothing until the candles are gone. (The warm fuzzies are definitely gone the next day, however, when I have to pry the cold hardened wax out of the menorah so we can put the candles in that night. I’m going to buy an oil menorah next year, I swear!) Anyone who knew Dad Farber loved him, and anyone who didn’t get to know him missed out on knowing one of the funniest, warmest, wisest men who ever walked this earth. I swear I never met a man I loved as much as my father-in-law. So we honor Dad Farber every year at Hanukkah as much as we honor the Lord, and remember the miracle that happened so long ago. I was planning to have guests over on Friday night, and cook a lovely dinner with latkes and roasted root vegetables and a slow-cooked London broil (my attempt to mingle tradition with the WW core program). However, I’ve spent so much time and energy helping Liz that my house has completely fallen by the wayside. (That’s not to imply that Liz is a power-hungry slave driver who’s been cracking the whip; we’ve just been on a deadline trying to get her moved out before the lease is up and wanting to get it finished before Christmas. And she even kindly let me bail last week, and I went home every day after work and pretty much crashed in front of the telly and watched How Do I Look?) So instead we’re meeting at Logan’s Roadhouse and having steak and baked potatoes. Shame on me, I know. But it’ll still be a good meal with good friends and family, and we’ll have fun.

Gotta run. Remember to send love to those in need!

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Prayers

My best friend Clover has 5 kids. Her middle son, Chase, has cystic fibrosis. He’s in the hospital right now, after having to have surgery this past Saturday to stop some hemorhaging. He is a very dear young man, and everyone who knows him is eager to keep him as healthy as possible, and on earth for as long as possible. If you believe in prayer, please remember him and his family in your prayers; if you don’t believe in prayer, please send some positive thoughts their way. They need them. If you’d like to leave a note for Clover, her blog can be found here.

I haven’t heard anything about the MRI yet. I anticipate that my doctor should have the results today or tomorrow. Yesterday I was in so much pain that I could hardly lift my head off the pillow. I managed to throw a turkey breast into the crockpot so we’d have something to eat, but otherwise I spent the day in bed. I am at work today, but wish I were back at home. My head’s hurting horribly, and the air conditioning is inoperative here. I called and left a message for my doctor’s nurse begging for even a two-day supply of something to give me some relief from the head pain while they’re awaiting the MRI results.

And speaking of the MRI, that was all kinds of not fun. I managed to get through it by praying the whole time I was in that plastic tube. I felt that if I stopped praying, I’d start screaming for them to get me out of there. And there’s nothing like being inside a claustrophobic plastic tube that sounds like there’s a jackhammer going off just outside it to make a bad headache worse. If I ever have to get an MRI done again, I’m going to request a valium first.

Other than that, not much news to report. I was down another .6 pound at Saturday’s weigh-in, for a total of 9.6 pounds gone. I have some clothes that I get to take out of my closet and put in storage, because they’re too big (hooray), and need to get some clothes out of storage because they’ll be fitting soon. That’s a good feeling. I really want to be getting more exercise, but the head pain is so bad that I don’t feel like it. Yet another reason to hope for some relief from some avenue.

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