Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Another Farewell

by H. Linn Murphy

I'm going in a few minutes to dress a lady for her final hours. I can't express the emotions running through my head and heart. I didn't know her well, but I know her daughter-in-law. I know how she's already missed. I can't keep the tears from falling, despite knowing that there is nothing truly sad about continuing the journey beyond the veil.

She puts me in mind of another sister who waits to follow her into the next phase of life. This one I do know. I go to her immaculate house and sit near her, reveling in the calm quiet. She grins at me past the cannula in her nose. It's a new development since last night's bout with breathlessness. She's still fighting it. She probably thinks of it as one of the last clinging strands holding her to this earth.

Dianne has been ready to go for twelve years, since her husband breathed his last. She has filled most of those years with love and service. Her last wish was to bring her children back to the church. One son, at least, is finding his way into the fold, bringing his family with him. She asks me to find the temple-ready card which bears her mother's name so a friend can take it and finish what Dianne cannot. I rifle through years worth of trappings and memories and finally find it tucked away in an obscure corner. I wish fleetingly that I could be the one taking that name to the temple.

She grins at me and I feel the peace of the next life wafting from her. I love her personality. She has such a twinkle in her eyes, even knowing that she's spending her last hours here. They've told her several times that she is terminal, and then that she has dodged the so-called bullet. This time there is no dodging. But she's okay with that. In fact, all of the backing and forthing has exhausted her. She'd rather be running full tilt into her future--into her husband's arms.

I'm so grateful I've gotten to be by her side. Although I'll miss her greatly, I know, except for her children, the things holding her here mean less and less to her. She's ready to leave the shackles behind and soar.

My grandmother was like that. By the time she died, her body was so pain-wracked that her last breath was a pleasure. I feel her sometimes up there, mostly dancing in a white 1920's dress. I know she wishes sometimes that she could leave a little money clenched in my child's hand as she once did. But maybe her aid is much more important. Maybe she's very busy making sure that I reach my proscribed ending. Maybe she's hovering around my missionary son. Whatever it is, I know it's important. And I know it's a labor of true love.

My mind turns inward. How ready am I to meet the Savior? Will He smile or will He shake His head and sigh? I can't help thinking that I'll never be quite ready. There's so much left to do that I can't leave in another's hands. And I'll always be wondering if I've done enough to warrant the smile instead of the sigh.

They're coming to get me soon. I need to dry my eyes so the wise, previous Relief Society President doesn't think her new one is a basket case.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Writing Retreats

by Cindy R. Williams

Much has been said about attending writing retreats. I am adding my two cents. Last Thursday about twenty ANWA members attended the ANWA Writers Workshop/Retreat hosted by Angela Morrison and Janette Rallison. It filled my well and gave me the writing spark I needed.

How magnificent is it that we have such gifted writers all around us in this wonderful organization. Everyone is so willing to share their knowledge, much of which was earned by struggle and hard work. THANK YOU TO all of the wonderful ladies in ANWA who had any part in this event. There is a special place in a snugly overstuffed chair in Heavenly Libraries for each of you!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Rainy days and Tuesdays

By Beckie Carlson

My daughter got married. I know….how am I old enough for that to have happened? And it wasn’t like she was an underage mail order bride or anything. She is the ripe old age of 22. She married a terrific guy that laughs at my jokes and doesn’t get upset when she throws fits.
The day of the wedding was full of miracles. My hair looked amazing, everyone made it safely to the event and the weather was perfect. It had rained most of the day before. This might not be a big deal in Florida or other non-desert parts of the world, but here in Arizona it was a freaky day. When I say it rained, I don’t mean it just rained…it literally poured buckets from the sky. Torrents of rain came down. We had more rain on that Monday than we normally have in an entire year here. The rain washed the world and made everything sparkly and beautiful for the wedding. It wasn’t even very humid. Everything went off without much of a hitch.
The reception was Tuesday night. I drove over to the reception hall, nervously glancing at the dark clouds circling above. Surely it wouldn’t rain again….not after we had gotten more than our fair share the day before. It wasn’t in the rule book. Someone would oppose. It rained. It was that beautiful dark, cloudy, mysterious, everything-looks-better-in-this-kind-of-light afternoon but, I couldn’t enjoy it. My hair still looked good but would cease if it rained. There was a lot of stuff to carry in and set up, including a photo booth and cake. Both of these items rebelled against rain. I got a bit worried.
I sat in my car, wishing the rain would stop, and knowing it was in reality getting darker and wetter. I did the only thing I could think of. I put my hands together and said a prayer. “Please Heavenly Father, just one more blessing today. Please make the rain stop.” I’d said a lot of prayers over the last few weeks and I felt a bit guilty asking for one more. Was it really important for the rain to stop? In the grand scheme of things?
Heavenly Father cares about what is important to us. He knows us and wants to help us. He knows what we need, but wants us to ask for it. I asked. The rain stopped. It literally, slowed, and stopped. The clouds parted, held back, and obeyed. We were able to move everything in, including my hair, the cake and the photo booth. People came, instead of hiding at home from the rain. We had pictures outside in the amazing light. All in all, it was a perfect evening.
Heavenly Father knows. He cares. He answers prayers. Was having the rain stop important in the big picture? Maybe not, but to us….it was a big deal. Not because we got to take pictures or stay dry or have a huge amount of people show up. It was a huge deal because we were given a witness, once again, of how much He loves us.
Prayers are answered.
Photo credit:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Meeting My Daughter Part II

by Andilyn Jenkins

“If you’re paying for a first class ticket, would you ride in coach until it’s time to land?”

I heard this beautiful summation in Delivery with my second child. I had learned from my first experience that if I planned on getting an epidural, I may as well enjoy it through the entire laboring process, particularly because my babies come fast.

By the time the anesthesia kicked in at Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg, Idaho, the windows were dark and the hallways quiet. It was probably well after midnight. Other than being unable to move, I was in heaven. For the first time in nine months, my back wasn’t shooting pains through my sacrum, and I felt calm. For me, anesthesia was like the Popsicle your mom gives you after working hard in the yard all morning. I put in my nine months, and I would be putting in many more in recovery. But at that moment, I was comfortable. And I was going to enjoy every minute of it.

The nurse came in and checked my vitals and the baby’s. Then she suggested we try and get some sleep. Ha! I couldn’t believe I was in the throes of labor and my nurse just told me to take a nap. This anesthesia thing defied all my perceptions of how labor was supposed to go.

Aaron made up the chair-bed, and I closed my eyes to sleep, which proved difficult seeing as I both couldn’t move and was too afraid to mess up all my cords. Soon, Aaron was snoozing. But I lay there with closed eyes, feeling the waves of contractions squeeze my abdomen and release. The pressure and release felt like a ticking clock, counting the seconds until my little girl arrived.

All the comforts of home . . .

I’m not sure if I woke from the pressure or because I never truly fell asleep, but a little less than an hour later, I felt like my pelvic bones were being pushed apart.

“Aaron, honey, wake up.”

“What’s wrong?” Aaron roused.

“No nothing. I just can’t sleep. I feel all this pressure. It’s like the baby is pushing her way out,” I explained, knowing that would sound ridiculous because she was in my uterus. Not between my legs. But that’s what it felt like; I couldn’t explain it any other way.

Aaron laughed. “Well, honey, she probably is.”

“What?” I replied, both confused and in awe.

The nurse must have heard us talking because she took the chance to come in and do checks again. I filled her in.

“Well I was going to wait an hour after we started pit., but now I’m curious. Let’s check you out,” my nurse replied, putting on gloves. “Oh—well, you’re at a nine, and hey, your little girl has some hair!”

“You can feel her head?!” How was that possible? Her fingers were shorter than mine.

“Oh yeah,” she replied, smiling. “I wasn’t expecting you to bear down quite so soon, especially since this is first,” she explained while readying the room for delivery, “but often when women get epidurals, it can actually speed up the labor because your body relaxes and the contractions can do their work without your pain getting in the way.”

Our nurse said goodbye and left, and in came the next shift’s nurse. She finished prepping the room then collected towels and mats and brought them to a table on wheels next to my bed with various buckets and tools. Then she drained my bladder into a plastic bag, while I felt like a mix between Lloyd on Dumb and Dumber and a sponge when she pushed on my lower abdomen to squeeze everything out. Oh man, labor was weird.

“Alright, you’re contractions are really starting to pick up. I think it’s time we get Dr. Watson in here,” the nurse announced, and she walked out the door. And for the first time I felt like I needed to push.

The nurse came back in and explained the process. “I will stand on your right side. Dad, you stand on her left side. We’ll hold your legs in a crouching position like this, and you can push your feet against our hands. Now, I’m watching your contractions here. When I say go, you take in a big breath, and hold that breath while I count to ten and you push. You only push while I’m counting. Got that?”

“Sounds good to me,” I said while my abdomen fluttered with a feeling I recognized as stage fright.

“Okay, here it comes. Go.”

Breathe. Push. Push. Push. Push.

“ . . . 7, 8, 9, 10. Nice job. Relax. Make sure you relax between pushes.”

We went through three more contractions before my frustration voiced. “Can I get a mirror?” I thought that question would be too embarrassing to ask, but the fact was I couldn’t feel my muscles because of that glorious anesthesia. And I had no idea if I was doing anything but sit-ups.

“Of course you can!” She whipped one out of the closet in seconds. Then she came to the root of my problem and suggested we turn off the anesthesia so I would feel more in control. I agreed.

After a few more contractions, Dr. Watson joined us. And finally, the mirror and the lack of anesthesia combined, and I finally felt progression. And pain.

Breathe. Push. Push. Push. Scream. No screaming—hold my breath. Push. Push.

“Great. Great. Here comes another one. Go. 1, 2, 3 . . .”

“You’re amazing, Andi. You’re doing great. I see her head. Push. Push,” I heard Aaron’s voice over the counting. Her head? I had been pushing so hard, my eyes were closed.

Breathe. I felt like I was doing sprints, not able to catch my breath before the next heat.

“Okay, this is the money push. You ready to give it all you got? Breathe, and go. 1, 2, 3 . . .”

Push! Push! Plop. Ah!

“That’s a head! Okay, last one! Breathe, and go! 1, 2, 3,  . . .”

“She’s almost here, Andi,” Aaron encouraged with misted eyes. “You’ve got this.”

“9, 10, push, push! Done.”

Dr. Watson plopped an Indian-skinned baby with Asian eyes, blue lips, and thin, brown hair on my chest and handed Aaron a pair of scissors. “Dad, would you like to do the honors?”

Aaron snipped once, but his hands shook over the thick cord and he had to snip again. Then Aaron came in close over my shoulder and kissed my forehead. “You’re amazing,” he whispered as we cradled her close for a few more seconds before they stole her away for her bath and APGAR tests. Aaron followed while Dr. Watson tended to me.

“Dear,” Aaron called from across the room, “she looks like an Evelyn.”

“Okay,” I replied. That’s all I needed to hear.

After her bath, we attempted breast feeding, and then called in two anxious grandmas and my older sister. We introduced Evelyn Toni Jenkins, born at 4:57 a.m. on September 10, 2010, 7 pounds 7 ounces, 19.25 inches long. Then Aaron handed her to my mom, Evelyn’s namesake, Toni, whose birthday was three days away. In my family, Evelyn was grandchild number two.

Then Teressa, Aaron’s mom, had her turn holding her sixth grandchild. And after, Kristin took the last turn, cradling Evelyn on top of her own about-to-pop baby bump. Each woman swayed back and forth while peering in on little Evelyn’s long fingers and alert, navy-blue eyes. Her button nose was mine. The curl in her wet hair came from Aaron.

Around 6:00 a.m., the nurses sent our family home, and I sat in a wheelchair holding Evelyn to our recovery room, where all three of us promptly fell asleep after a long day’s work.

Boy, was I tired. The adrenaline wore off by this point.

It has now been four years since that moment, and Evelyn has filled our lives with laughter, play, frustration, prayers, snuggles, and joy. She adores her new baby brother and takes on the responsibilities of both mother and friend regarding him. Her favorite color is pink, and she rarely wears pants and/or tennis shoes, much preferring skirts, dresses, sparkly sandals, or her latest silver high heels. This year, she requested a fairy, butterfly, princess, ballerina birthday. She loves reading books, doctoring her stuffed animals, and putting on “performances” for Aaron and me—the captivated audience. Her emotions are both sensitive and perceptive, which makes her an excellent big sister and a loyal friend. She hates being alone—her favorite bed-time catchphrase being, “Wait, Mommy, let’s still chat.” I love this girl. Happy birthday, baby.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tag You're It

by Terri Wagner

I was recently tagged on Facebook to list things I am grateful for. Since I don't really participate in FB tags, I thought I would do it here and direct everyone there here LOL.

I'm going to place these in four categories because frankly my spiritual thanks would take up the entire Internet...seriously. So spiritually I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who is simply always there. Less often than I would have liked, God has not waved a wand and made things better or right or just or wonderful. But He has walked every path with me, including and maybe especially, the ones I shouldn't have taken.

Emotionally, I am grateful for a sturdy healthy outlook that keeps me laughing at things that first made me cry. I cannot explain what a terrific coping mechanism a "merry heart" is. I can laugh even while I am crying. It never fails to help.

Physically I have learned to be grateful for a body that keeps me alive and well. I look back at the dreadful way I always took my body for granted. I have not been blessed with a terrific looking body and so ignored it for years. Now I can see just how healthy it is and how important that is.

Intellectually, I am grateful for a sharp and quick mind, that has repeatedly gotten me into trouble. Why am I grateful for that? I learned painfully how to deal with people different from me. Smarter and less educated. I say that because I don't really believe anyone is dumb. We are all smart at different things. I know that to be true. And while my intelligence shades toward the academic side of life, I'm just as amazed at people who have more common sense than I will ever grasp.

So you are all officially ANWA tagged to be grateful for life itself. I mean apparently we fought a war to have it this way, not really sportsmen like of us to fuss about it now.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Magic of the Written Word

By Claire Enos

Today, because I didn't have time to write something new, I thought I'd post something I wrote a little over a year ago on my personal blog. I hope you enjoy!

Some say Chick Flicks are overrated, and that they are "the supidest things ever." They hold no value in the world, and are nothing but the romantic imaginings of singles who have nothing better to do but to live through the lives of characters in movies. Then of course, there are the girls who enjoy a good chick flick for exactly that same reason. They want to get away from their relationships which are going no where, or from their non-existent relationships. Chick Flicks help them feel better about themselves. 
I don't agree with either side. They aren't stupid movies, and they aren't just there to escape reality. Because honestly? There's no way you're ever going to forget you're single or your relationship is going nowhere if you are sitting around watching romantic movies all the time. That's like trying to ignore a box of cereal by eating it. 
So then, what's the value of a chick flick? What's the use? Does it have a purpose? 
Well, obviously it serves a purpose, but it's not what most people think it is. I just finished watching 27 Dresses. Did it help me forget that I am single? No, it definitely reminded me: painfully. But it also reminded me of something more important than the fact that I am still single. It reminded me that love is worth it. That love isn't exactly a myth (though sometimes I like to believe it is), and that one day (if I'm really lucky) I'll find a love like the one I deserve. Not because I am me, because I personally don't deserve it, but because I am a daughter of God. I am meant to be like my Heavenly Mother up in heaven. I was born to be a Queen and God alongside a Son of God, who is meant to be a King and God alongside me. We are meant to be partners. Help Mates. Equals. 
When I watch Chick Flicks, they remind me that there is someone out there. I will most likely run into him by accident. I won't know what the future holds, because that isn't in the cards. My life will get better. Life always gets tough right before the grand finale. 
Books and movies are important because they remind us of this. Of the struggles of life. They keep pushing us through. So, if I seem lost in my own little world: it's not because I'm trying to escape reality (because that is impossible). It is because I am coping the best way I know how. Through the written word, and dramatic interpretation of life itself. 
Perhaps that's why I want to write for a living. So that I can provide that little bit of a push that someone else in my shoes needs. That dose of reality administered not through life, but through the pages of a book or the scenes in a movie. 
That is my role in this world. And I hope to one day rock at it.


You can find the original post here, including a song I posted at the end that I felt like sharing.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sally and Her Hip Replacement Episode 5

The phone rings, and I pick up.
Sally's voice is on the line. "I's quittin' the church," she says to me without even saying 'hello.'
We talk. She tells me it's too much pressure for her to stop smoking while she's in pain from her hip surgery. 

She talks for a few minutes and decides not to quit the church. (She really does have a testimony.)
She says that as soon as she has pain pills, she'll be able to stop smoking. We negotiate, and she promises to use only one or two cigarettes a day. We hang up. (I can't believe I just had that conversation - negotiate to continue smoking?)

She goes to the doctor and gets more medication, but the pain pills really don't  help.
Days go by. The doctor says that her physical therapist didn't give her the exercises he should have. She needs more physical therapy.  She's sure she can quit smoking as soon as she has good physical therapy.

More days go by. Her pain doesn't subside even with more therapy.

The city changes the bus route. Now she can't get to therapy or the doctor. Sally is sure she has to buy a car. That will solve all her problems. Then she can quit smoking.

She buys the car, but still can't quit. Her pain is bad. It's been three months since surgery. Something is wrong. She goes back to the doctor.

He says she has infection in her new hip. He gives her mega doses of antibiotics that will hopefully clear things up.

I don't think he told her that if it doesn't get better, she might have to have more surgery to clean out the infection. (I didn't mention it. She's got enough troubles as it is.)

We have our last hugs good-bye. She's feeling a little better. Maybe the antibiotics are helping. We pray for that to be the case.
She's excited to drive her car to church. Still one or two cigarettes a day.

Story to be continued . . . with the next set of missionaries. (The new senior sister missionary is a retired nurse. Blessings come in many ways.)

Have we helped Sally in any way? Maybe. We've loved her and nursed her back to health after her surgery - done her laundry, taken her to pay her bills, and been her friend.

The only thing we know for sure is that because of Sally our capacity to love has been increased. Our view of life has been enlarged. We will always chuckle when we think of her asking us to become  drug runners! What fun we had together. We will always love Sally. She has blessed our lives forever.

That's how we would sum up my entire mission experience. We don't know how much good we did, but we know for sure that we are better for having had this experience. And we had a lot of fun along the way.