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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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