Tuesday, December 25, 2012


2012 Christmas Letter

Dear family and friends,                                                        

(Sung to: Chipmunk Christmas Song)

Christmas, Christmas time is here
Time to bore you one more year
With our little Christmas rhyme.
This might be our final time.
We won’t be at home next year
Or the next. We won’t be near.
We may be in Timbuktu,
Lucerne or Kathmandu.

We are putting in our papers for a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in late spring. Our availability date is sometime after the 1st of August and we’ll probably be gone 1 ½ years. After that, we’re thinking people might be sick of our poems.

Glenn’s retiring soon you see
Then he’ll have some surgery
We can’t go on one more trip
‘Til he has a brand new hip.
Whitney moved her family west
Spokane suited them the best.
There they chose a place to dwell
It fits them rather well.

David finished his physician training in June. Whitney had a baby in July. David started working in a clinic in August. They named the baby, Claire, and she looks like Whitney and Whitney looks like her Grandma Clare. They are excited to be in the mountains. Jonas, Miles, and Abel are looking forward to skiing. David is glad to be back in the real world.

Cassie had a girl this time
Nomi makes their lives sublime.
Well, she doesn’t sleep that great
But, her sweetness is first rate.
Brad loves his new job a lot
They are in a happy spot
For their kids still love the rain
Our Flora, Grey and Jane.

Cassie and Mike are so happy with their new little girl, Naomi. Sam, their two year old just keeps her entertained all day long. He calls her Nomi. His singing rocks the rafters. Mike is working full time now for the county. They have a nice home in Utah. They planted a huge garden. I think their pumpkins tried to eat me.  It took over the back yard.

Brad works for a subsidiary of Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast. We all imagine he dresses in a black robe at work with wand in hand. Meg was in charge of costuming hundreds of teenagers in a huge dance festival this year. Brad and Meg love Seattle. They  have been there for almost 6 years. They really love having cousins nearby. Spokane is only 4 hrs. away. They got to have Thanksgiving at David and Whitney’s this year.

Angelynn and Brett live near
Bringing joy throughout the year
When we need a grandchild fix
Their two kids show us new tricks.
Hayley bought a house this year
Byron’s liking his career.
Eli needs someone to play
But baby’s on it’s way.

Angelynn and Brett are expecting a baby, too. Angelynn is due in May. Angelynn has been making gorgeous quilts this year. Their kids, Isla and Isaiah keep us all laughing. It is so nice to have them close. Brett likes his work in Arcadia. Their family is going to be staying in our house while we are gone for 18 months.

Hayley’s baby is due in April. Hayley and Angelynn had babies two days apart last time. This time they could be a couple of weeks apart. Byron has been flying all over the world with his filming. He’s been working on some of the “I’m a Mormon” videos. Hayley’s been singing all over the Wasatch front. Christmas is her busiest time. Eli resembles Glenn's baby pictures but now looks more like Byron.

Christmas season’s in full swing
May we mention one more thing
We are thankful for you all!
Christmas isn’t from a mall.
In our friendships through the years
We’ve shared lots of  joy and tears
Christmas is the promise true
That God will be with you.

Glenn and I are anxious to go out on a mission and remind people that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I hope you all have a very wonderful Christmas and I hope we see or hear from you sometime soon.

Susan and Glenn

Ho! Ho! Ho! Eli, last year.

Disneyland with the cousins: Isla, Jane, Flora, Grey.

Stroller buddies.

In Spokane Grey, Miles, Jane, Jonas, Flora and Abel pose.

Sam, Abel and Flora concentrate on rock skipping skills.

Eli and Isaiah contemplate a deep end plunge.

Grandma takes a little spin around the backyard with a load of boys.
Miles, Sam, Abel

"Is there room in there for both of us?"
Isaiah and Eli

Why do they all like the blue flavors?
Miles, Jonas, Grey, Jane

The two newest additions.
Claire and Naomi

Jonas and Jane 
Thinking about their next adventure?

Jonas, Jane and Isla

Which one is two?
Sam and Eli
Peace out!

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Glenn asked me what I'd like for Christmas. After thinking for a few seconds, I told him I'd like to get rid of many of the things I have collected over the years that are no longer needed in my life. I would love to remove junk from my life.

When I was a college student, I took a Household Management course.  There was a budget unit, an equipment unit, a values and attitudes unit and others. The unit on values and attitudes was particularly interesting. The teacher had us read the book Gift of the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindberg. When I get overwhelmed by all my varied interests, the thought pops into my head: Remember the Channeled Whelk.

Of all the sea lessons Lindberg learned, that one sticks out in my mind most. A whelk is "a snail-like creature".  The shell of this animal is about the size of a thumb. It is small, perfect, and clean. She describes it as having a winding staircase that opens wider in the center and narrows in the right places. In comparing this little shell to our homes, she points out how cluttered we make our houses with all the stuff we think we need.  The more complicated our lives become, the more untidy our habitat becomes. Some people are good at managing their collections. They box and store and organize and stash so cleverly that they don't realize how much time they are investing in the shuffling of their goods.

Others of us are NOT good at handling the worldly items we have acquired through our industry. Pretty soon it seems that the acquisitions are taking over the house.We don't realize how much of our subconscious mind is tending to our possessions. As Lindberg observes, "This is not a life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of." She suggests that it is a problem mostly inherent in a woman's life.  Because of all the duties and interests a woman has that come with household management, there is a huge problem of distraction. She describes women as the center of a wheel or giant web where all other responsibilities spread out like spokes or threads. It is so easy to get caught in one spoke of the wheel and neglect another which makes the wheel lose balance.

In the midst of my child raising adventure, I needed a lot of things that I no longer need. But, even back when I was deep in the ditches shoveling like mad to keep them clear, I could have made my life easier if less junk was filling my trench. As our family grew, our shelter needed to change from one that was too small to a larger one and then the need came to have a large enough place for extended family to return for visits. It is in this place that I have stopped to take a look at what I need.

While at the beach, Ann learned that "there is an art of shedding; how little one can get along with, not how much." If we have to carry everything we need, we will either break our backs or get along with less. She starts talking about clothes and then shelter and the things we keep in our shelter. Maybe that's why I love camping on the beach. We sleep in a tent with one suitcase of clothing and bare minimum of cooking supplies and plenty of food. The beauty of the sunsets and waves are our decor. If only we could figure out what to do with the sand at the end of the day.

This Christmas, I didn't put ALL my decorations up.  But, I used enough of them. It seems less cluttered and just as festive.  I even gave my kids some of the decorations that belonged to them (I sent some large nutcrackers to Hayley). I am going to try to simplify my life by shedding some of my worldliness in both my physical as well as my spiritual life. Remember the Channeled Whelk

Thursday, November 8, 2012


If I were the devil, I would be feeling pretty great lately.  I would be happy that fewer people are being born into this world. Yup, since the devil rejoices in misery, he is happy knowing that right now there are increasingly more elderly people to babies being born. If you don't understand what that means, it means fewer people will be around to take care of elderly people as time goes by.  This will be a drain financially, emotionally, and physically on you young-uns. But, we probably don't need to worry too much, because probably by then, the devil will have numbed us enough to have us scheduling euthanasia for those without anyone to care for them in their waning years.

If I were the devil, I'd be rejoicing that people are starting to think that China got it right on limiting size of families. Hey, we didn't even have to put a limit on family size, we just made it so stinkin' expensive to have a baby, young people had to arrange and agonize and analyze before agreeing to welcome a new little bundle into their homes. You know it's true from the cost of insurance to the cost of food and clothing. Our pioneer ancestors knew nothing of these concerns, a child was insurance against their eventual aging problems. Of course they'd feed and clothe the little ones that came into their homes.  They'd just work hard and teach them to work. What a novel idea, teenagers with summer employment.  The schools have shrunk the summer so far that it is hard to find that kind of work.

If I were the devil, I'd be happy that hospitals are expensive and communities are shocked at a family with more than two children or three. Mothers walking around with lots of children following after them are looked at with suspicion as if they were sucking the food and sustenance out of  Mother Earth in alarming amounts, putting the rest of the world in peril. (I loved making the devil angry by walking around with my 5 little ducklings close behind seeing the shocked looks on passers-by. I also love spelling the devil without caps.)

Now at the half-way point of my post, I want to say that the devil would love it if you readers misunderstood me and thought that I was criticizing those of you who (for whatever reason) have less than a large family.  I'm not. I'm just saying that the devil throws roadblocks at everyone and some of them are crippling if not paralyzing. No one should judge anyone on their family size, ever. I know several families who are lucky to have one child because of physical limitations.

If I were the devil, I'd be dancing today because same sex marriage was approved in three more states. He thinks it is great when heterosexual parents have fertility problems. He thinks it's even better when homosexual couples get together. How many children do glbt (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender)  couples have. Not many!  I wonder why. Nature had a big part in that one. See, the devil wins when gay people marry. Do you see that if he can prevent births, that thwarts God's plan to" bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." If he can prevent them from even being born, he doesn't have to worry about them turning to God once they are here. It's like preventive medicine. Plus, if babies do grow up in glbt households there is a good chance they will also embrace that lifestyle but the jury is still out on that one. Don't get me wrong on this one either.  Some of the kindest, most talented people I know are gay.

If I were the devil, I'd be tickled to death that abortion is legal and subsidized by lots of agencies including our government (funded by our own taxpayer dollars).  I'd be glad that late term abortions are not abhorred and abandoned by all of society. The devil is probably dancing in his dandelions about the fact that Americans feel entitled to free birth control especially for those that shouldn't even be old enough to get it, like Jr. and Sr. high school students (without parents being consulted). Heaven forbid that parents should be able to talk a child out of being sexually active. Never mind that schools can't even give a Tylenol to a student without a parents consent. This only makes sense to someone like the devil.

And lastly, if I were the devil, I would be partying in the park because he's tricked so many young men  into being so terribly afraid of marriage or unsure of their fitness for fatherhood that they live, unmarried, with their parents until they are nearly 30.  Then all those girls they eventually marry will only have a very few years of fertility and that means fewer babies!!! Are you seeing a pattern here?

As Paul Harvey once said, "If I were the devil, I'd just keep on doing what I've been doing." And don't forget that babies cry; make diapers smell;  make mommy's tired and also daddies. But, once you've snuggled with a little baby and kissed those little fingers and toes, you can see why the devil doesn't like them. They are a threat to his whole plan. They make you want more.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Classic Case of Celiac Disease and One They Missed

Most people thought I was a little bit crazy having another baby when my first three children had so much tummy trouble and rashes and ear infections.

 But, I was determined to find out the cause of their distress and I wanted to have my children while I was young. I come from a family of six children and I hoped to have six, also. I had a hunch that if I found out what was wrong with one of the kids, it would be the answer to what ailed the others. I thought they’d grow out of it.  That’s what the doctors were telling me.
 Brad had been on an elimination diet of chicken and rice, suggested by his doctor. His rashes were driving him crazy but the vomiting was worse. They wanted me to feed him potatoes but at first he couldn’t even hold those down.  So, I started adding other things into his diet one by one as we waited while Dr. James Tipton, a pediatric gastroenterologist, scheduled Brad for a upper and lower endoscopy. The scope proved to be inconclusive for all maladies they tested for.  It wasn’t until 3 years later when Brett was diagnosed that I found out that Brad had been screened and biopsied for Celiac Disease. I had never heard of Celiac Disease (I know now that Brad should have been on a regular diet when they did the scope because it was useless or nearly useless for them to look for damage to Brad’s intestine caused by Celiac Disease when I had him on an elimination diet amounting to a gluten free diet for 6 weeks or so. He had probably healed a lot and thus became a missed case of Celiac Disease.) In the picture below Brad had sores on his face from scratching his itchy rashes. 

Southern California’s best gastroenterologists had exhausted all their ideas on what was causing Brad’s rashes, abdominal pain and general gastric distress. They really did their best to get us off the merry-go-round we were on.They told me to be my own detective and find out what foods were causing Brad to have problems and eliminate them from his diet. They said he had juvenile irritable bowel syndrome , a catch-all term meaning his bowel was irritated and immature. They said it didn’t appear to be anything life threatening. They were convinced it was diet related. Truly, I WAS glad to rule out stuff that was pretty scary. I was grateful that they leveled with me and admitted that they didn’t know why Brad's intestine was irritated.
   I had decided to start being really careful with what I fed my family making sure to feed them whole foods with lots of vegetables and unprocessed foods. I found that any thing with sugar, whether sucrose, lactose from milk, or fructose from fruit, caused both boys to have abdominal pain. (It was later explained that sugar ferments in the stomach and causes gas pain when there is a digestion problem. That also causes bloating)

Soon after this photo we had a NO JUNK FOOD policy.  I began baking whole wheat bread. We really did eat a lot of vegetables, meat and bread. I made 10 loaves of bread a week and of course the symptoms continued. But, surprisingly, because we ate no simple carbohydrates like sugar and honey,  fruit  and milk they weren’t in as much pain. There wasn’t anything to ferment in the intestines.  BUT, I always joked that my kids had the ”fastest bowels in the west.” We didn't venture too far from a bathroom.

Brad took Atarax to deal with the constant itching. But, it made him sleepy. 

Brett was following right along in the colicky pattern of his siblings.  He started getting really fussy when I started solid foods.  Brett had 3 ear infections before he was 6 months old. They put him on an antihistamine for his rash and hives. During one treatment for ear infection, he had a terrible reaction to penicillin and broke out in giant hives. He developed a rash on his stomach when he was a year old and had hives a lot. By the time Brett was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, at age 4, he had fluid on his inner ear and his doctor was afraid of permanent hearing loss.  With successful administering of a gluten free diet, the fluid went away. He had no lasting hearing loss.
If you look closely you can see a red spot near the corner of Brett's mouth on his right cheek.  That spot   was a sign that some food had irritated him.  It would flare and fade for many months.
Brett vomited quite often but didn’t act sick every time.  It was just a "puke, run, and play" sort of thing.  He still didn’t sleep through the night most nights at age 3. He had a really bloated stomach too.

 Brett was so small that he was beginning to get frustrated about not being able to reach things.  His size wasn’t keeping up with his age. He was really crabby and not his normal sweet self.
Brett was 4 years old when doctors confirmed that his height and weight had flattened out on the growth chart. Brett had been a chunky little baby but when he started eating solid foods, he began slowing and then flattening to very little growth to bottom out off the chart below the 3rd percentile. 
Notice in the picture below that Brett's little sister, Hayley who is more than two years younger than him, is almost as tall as he is. Can you see Brett's bloated tummy, as well? His legs, arms and buttocks had no muscle.  But his tummy was huge, a typical sign of malnutrition. 

I had unwittingly, been feeding my kids so much gluten, it made Brett into a text book case of Celiac Disease. Here is Brett playing in the flour bin. That bin should have had skull and crossbones on it. One morning, I discovered that there was a collection of cups under Bretts bed that had sugar crystals on the inside. Brett admitted to waking up in the night hungry and going out to get a cup of sugar and eating it before falling back to sleep. (The doctors explained that he wasn't digesting food so he got hungry in the night and needed a quick energy source.  This is also a sign of malnutrition.) All my kids had trouble sleeping through the night and this was probably why.

The doctors tested Brett for Cystic Fibrosis and a myriad of other things. But, when they did a blood test on him to screen for Celiac Disease, it was positive.  They biopsied him to prove it.  He had serious damage indicative of the positive diagnosis.  They said his intestinal folds were so worn down, they looked like the inside of a garden hose.  
Because Brett had broken his arm at 18 months of age, they were able to take an x-ray of his arm and compare it to the 18 month x-ray.  In doing so they determined that his bone age was about 18 months less than his real age. He was 4 at the time. 

After we put them on a gluten free diet, Brad and Brett grew twice the normal rate of children their ages for the first year.  Then they grew at a normal rate. They grew 4 inches in one year. Because I had to get all the gluten (wheat, barley, and rye) out of the house, all the kids started feeling better.  But, the surprise came when I started feeling better too.  I started being able to put on weight and I had more energy.  I felt bad again every time I ate wheat when I ate out at a restaurant with my husband. I quickly became very strict in what all of us ate in and out of the house. My husband, Glenn was the only one that didn't avoid gluten. But, there was none to be had in our house.
The doctors shook their heads at my insisting to keep all the kids away from gluten.  They would not test them because of the expense of the test and the rarity of the disease. (Or so they thought then.  Now we know that at least 1 in 133 people in the general population have Celiac Disease) But, the results were worth the criticism.  We started noticing they had more energy; they were no longer anemic; they lost their Budha bellies; they had fewer rashes; their eczema slowly went away; headaches went away; they slept through the night; they were happier and felt like playing outside more; hoarse voices went away; runny noses dried up; no more ear infections; but most surprising of all was the bed wetting stopped. Meals  and food preparation were not easy in those days but life was good. 
Brad would later decide to go back on gluten at age 18, to get a definitive diagnosis.  His rashes recurred along with his intestinal symptoms.  But, the rashes were diagnosed as Dermatitis Herpetiformis, a skin reaction caused by Celiac Disease that some patients get.  I will do another blog on DH at a later date. An intestinal biopsy proved Brad had Celiac disease at that time.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Progression of Celiac Disease

When Whitney was a 3 month old baby, she got thrush.  It began the endless parade of ailments she would get. Tummy aches became common.

In the above picture you can see a  red spot on her cheek that came and went. This is like the one she had at age two but the one she got later was larger and darker. It wasn't like a pimple. It was about the size of a dime and it was just red and looked like a hive but it didn't itch.(Brett later got a similar spot on his face before he was diagnosed with Celiac disease). Other skin rashes and hives came and went. 

As a little toddler, she presented with allergies that affected her congestion.  She was one year old when Dr. Lindsay said she was allergic to dust or pollen. Then, he added milk to his list of possible allergies.
 She was a very picky eater and was often constipated but would swing to having diarrhea on any given day.
She was a magnet to viruses because her resistance always seemed to be down. She was put on an antibiotic for strep throat when she was 18 months old and had frequent ear infections.

 I pinned a handkerchief to Whitney’s shirt so she could wipe her constantly dripping nose. She often had fevers and congestion. 

She was a poor sleeper with frequent wake up periods with what appeared to be tummy aches. She would wake up in hysterics that took ½ hour to sooth. 

She had problems with bed-wetting until age 9. (Not coincidentally, we removed wheat from the house when she was 9) She had a scaly patch of skin on the back of her head above her hair line that was really difficult to get rid of when she was 8. It looked like Psoriasis. 

She broke a bone in her hand and later broke an arm and even later she broke a vertebra in her back. Children with Celiac disease have more bone fractures.  Whitney also had a lot of aching joints especially in her legs/knees. The doctor called them growing pains.The kids at school teased her because her breath was awful. She had frequent yeast infections.

Her doctor was concerned about muscle wasting in her extremities and buttocks. She was underweight and had short stature. At one point she had numbness in her extremities and face without explanation. She had exercise induced asthma. Before age 9 she was prone to moderate headaches. 
Whitney ate wheat on occasion during her teen age years when she was not at home. And during those years she had blood tests that showed that she had protein in her urine.  She was also found to have had 3 times the normal amount of single chain fatty acids in her bloodstream. They sent her to a specialist in Los Angeles Children’s Hospital.  They said she was not digesting fats properly. And yet....they didn't believe she had Celiac disease. All the pictures above were before going on a gluten free diet. 

What we know now is that because Whitney didn't entirely rid herself of gluten in her teens, she was probably slowly damaging her small intestine and would later be diagnosed with Celiac disease when the damage was finally obvious. But, the blood test would not be positive until she had been on a regular high gluten diet for 3 years. Our present tests are too unreliable in testing children and adults with early stage Celiac disease, especially when only minimal gluten is eaten in the home. I believe that it is the late diagnosis that made her have fertility problems. (Fertility problems are related to Celiac Disease) She was finally able to have a child through fertility treatments. She was successful with in-vitro fertilization. Her subsequent pregnancies were all without further treatments.  I believe her body was finally healthy enough to allow a normal pregnancy.  She had her first child a little less than 5 years after her definitive diagnosis of Celiac Disease. It is believed that it takes about 3 years to totally heal the damaged intestine in a young adult. 

Anatomy of a Celiac Patient

Anatomy of a Celiac Patient

My daughter, Whitney, went to college; shedding herself of the childhood encumbrances of parental oversight in the natural evolution of a young adult.  It was hard having our first born leave the nest. She was a joy to have in our home where we catered to the diet of a younger brother with Celiac Disease. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder causing one to be unable to digest gluten. Because Whitney'a health also improved while eating a gluten free diet, she had mostly stayed on it without complaint.
 Brett was diagnosed when Whitney was 9 years old. Since his diagnosis the whole house had been cleared of any glutinous products such as wheat (flour), barley, and rye so he wouldn't unwittingly pick up something toxic to himself and pop it in his mouth. Goodbye to crackers and cookies, cake and a myriad of other delightful foods.  Whitney, at age 9,  became the accidental beneficiary of improved health through her 4 year old brother’s diet.
Lest you believe that this was a sad, sad existence, you would have had to be there to see what an unfolding relief the diet came to be.  Like a jigsaw puzzle slowly completing itself, our family was healing from all our little ailments and miseries. Our family was going to the pediatrician fewer times each month; kids were being potty trained earlier; fewer days were missed in school for illness; bed wetting stopped; kids slept through the night; complaints of stomach aches disappeared; energy was restored to all of us. It was as if air was being pumped into a deflating life raft. It was a miraculous diagnosis and diet.
So when Whitney left for college, I didn’t foresee the complication peer pressure would present. It wasn’t long before Whitney’s roommates confirmed Whitney's doubts as to the necessity of such a strict diet. She ascertained that she did not really have a doctor’s diagnosis of Celiac disease and that it was her brother who had the disease, not her.  She started to resist the necessity of staying gluten free. I don't doubt that she decided that she wanted to have a definitive diagnosis. If she had Celiac Disease, she wanted it to be proven. She told me that she planned to go back on a regular diet and my heart sank at the decision from which I could not coax her.
Whitney had eaten gluten outside the home off and on, before leaving for college, when she was out with friends. I could see a difference in her health when she was totally gluten free but she was not convinced that she had a Celiac Disease. Our doctor had refused to test my other children for Celiac Disease after Brett was diagnosed because he said it was so rare there wasn’t a chance any more of my kids had it.  Also, it was an expensive test that the insurance wouldn’t cover without cause. I will say that prior to Brett’s diagnosis, my son Brad had been tested for Celiac Disease and it was inconclusive. I will address that later in my blog when I discuss Brad.
In Jan. 2001, Whitney addressed the problems she had been having for three years of college.  She had overwhelming fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, terrible breath, frequent urination, diarrhea, pale stools, occasional numbness in her extremities  among other symptoms. After trying to eliminate milk and fruit from her diet, she realized it wasn’t helping her over-all heath.  She went to the Dr. and was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  She had a biopsy at the University of Utah to confirm it. 

I keep hoping for a better, more conclusive, inexpensive test.
I keep hoping doctors will recognize the symptoms and have people tested for Celiac Disease.
Chances are, Whitney would have tested negative to the blood test if she had not gone 3 years on a regular diet.  Many false negatives have been found when the disease hasn't progressed long enough. But what a shame to lose three years of health unnecessarily. 
Celiac Disease is an inherited disorder. It seems realistic to test first degree relatives of those who are diagnosed. But, the bottom line is if no one can help you find answers; when all else fails, it makes sense to try a gluten free diet and see if it makes a difference.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I remember when I was pregnant with my last child and I couldn't keep any food down, I thought my suffering was more than I could endure; and I thought maybe I wouldn't live through this pregnancy."When dark clouds of trouble hang o'er us and threaten our peace to destroy. There is hope smiling brightly before us and we know that deliverance is nigh." Hope wasn't smiling before me or behind me or anywhere in sight. At times like this, we often think of Job. HE LOST ALL HIS BELONGINGS AND HIS CHILDREN IN A SINGLE AFTERNOON! Yet, he didn't lose hope, despite his wife telling him to curse God and die.
We read about Job and then we have Psalms and Proverbs and on the other side of Proverbs is Ecclesiastes. When I say on the other side of those books, I mean REALLY on the other side. Job, full of hope despite almost 40 pages of his so called friends calling him to repentance for his supposed sins, doesn't give up on life.
Ecclesiastes looks at the world darkly as if through the eyes of an unbeliever. If you have ever read Job and Ecclesiastes, you have experienced a lesson in frustration. Job's story can be told in three chapters at the beginning and one chapter at the end. All the middle is tortuous. Try reading through it sometime. Then imagine reading it when you have boils all over your body and you will still never know how Job felt. What a smart thing it was to have those chapters to plow through to remind us not to make our friends' suffering worse by offering unhelpful advise when someone is already thickly thrust into a trial.
The end of Job is so wonderful. He is given twice the blessings he had in the beginning. Exactly twice the livestock is restored and exactly the same amount of children are added to him when the dust settles. BUT, when the Lord gave him his second set of children, he WAS doubling the children he previously had because his first set of children are his for eternity through the covenant. So he ends up with twice the children, eternally.
To turn to the Ecclesiastic opposite or maybe not so opposite, we see 11 chapters of Eeyore like pessimism. It seems that the preacher has had his glass half full everlastingly too long. It is as hard to read through as most of Job only sooo much shorter, thank heavens. Finally, after we feel how depressing it is to look at life through the eyes of the hopeless unenlightened soul, we see that it was also just a lesson in the absurd. If life is even a little better by obeying the commandments, why wouldn't we do it. The last verses of Ecclesiastes teaches us how refreshing it is to think positively, just like we learn at the end of Job.
The little baby that came at the end of that pregnancy was so worth it and I didn't die. I didn't even come close. Even if my dad told me it was all in my head. I realized I did have some hope or I would have stopped eating and died. I hope I never have to suffer as Job or be as depressed as an unbeliever. Nevertheless, I know it is true as the psalmist says: "Joy cometh in the morning".

Friday, February 17, 2012

Moses and Me

I just happened to drop into the temple office the other day right when they were looking for a key that had been misplaced the night before. I was the only one in the temple that day that was there when the key was misplaced and I was able to tell them who misplaced it. I don't think that is a coincidence. They needed that key right that minute and they would not have been able to find it if I had not walked in at that moment. No, it wasn't me that misplaced it.
Moses' float down the Nile to the Egyptian princess wanting a child was representative of all the little tender mercies we receive at the Lord's hand. We are guided with the Lord's hand and we are all known to Him.
While teaching seminary this year, I have unearthed the stories of the Old Testament that I had only surface learned before this year. I knew most of the stories. But, I had never read the Old Testament cover to cover. These are some of the things that I have learned from Moses:

1. We all have a mission or calling. Like Moses, we feel inadequate at times and like sleep deprived young mothers, we often feel like the task is too tedious or too long. But, then come the blessings and the miracles when we are saved from the burdens of life and see the fruits of our labors grow and make us feel overjoyed. Like the parting of the Red Sea, seeing our little children learning to follow righteously is a joyous occasion.
2. Each of us have to overcome worldliness. We have to get the Egypt out of us. The sooner we do, the sooner we acquire the peace of mind that feels like the promised land. It's like taking the garbage out. If we hang on to our garbage (even if it doesn't seem like garbage) our whole world begins to stink. We have to daily ask ourselves, are the things I own, owning me? Tonight Glenn and I moved all the things out of one of the extra bedrooms so they can lay carpet in there. I WILL NOT move everything back into that room. I must get rid of accumulated STUFF. Things can suffocate us if we're not careful.
3. Faith precedes the miracle and the everyday sacrifices we make and rituals like daily prayer and scripture study remind us of the ultimate sacrifice of The Son. I'm frankly glad that we are not required to sacrifice livestock as they did in the desert. I will gladly offer up a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
4 Sickness and trials follow us on our journey. But if we look to God, we can live like the children of Israel looked to the serpent on the pole. How sick must we be before we ask for a blessing? We don't have to wait until we drag ourselves lifeless before Him. Bad things come to good people as well as bad. But, the Lord helps those who ask in faith.
5. The Lord gave manna, quail and water when they couldn't find any for themselves. The things we can't provide for ourselves can be miraculously acquired when we humble ourselves before Him.
6. When we become greedy everything begins to fall apart or become rotten as the food did when they began to store up more than they needed for the day.
7. When the children of Israel turned back to their evil ways, all the promises made to those who stayed faithful were withheld. They were not allowed into the promised land.
8. The worship of idols were wasting time in the children of Israel 's lives. They kept slipping back to superstition as we often slip into mind numbing habits that waste our time and take us from responsibilities of family. Enjoyable things come to bad people as well as good but don't be mislead into thinking that everything enjoyable lasts forever. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth....For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
9. Lastly, the importance of following the prophet (as Moses was their prophet and head) was one of the most important lessons in Exodus.
Our journey through this life is filled with all the trials of the 40 years of wandering through the wilderness. That story is to help us as we wander through the wilderness from conversion to the promised land. I'm glad my journey isn't laden with quail and desert heat.