Friday, September 23, 2016


Words don’t relay
They catch in your throat besides

You pray
And you say
Make me thine

Grace is something like falling rain
For after the years of changing pain


He says

You are mine.

(You can listen to this song too, if you'd like to.)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Irene and the Miscarriage

This post is the eleventh in what will be my Explorations in Womanhood Series. Please understand that while I intend to write things that are consistent with church doctrine, this blog is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For this reason, I ask that you consider prayerfully interacting with anything published here.

A still from Women of Faith, 2013.

"And then shall that which is written come to pass: Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord."*

I've recently reached a tipping point of sorts. I think the scriptural turn of phrase is "a mighty change has been wrought" in me. It doesn't look the way I thought it would, and it didn't happen through any predicted mechanisms. In fact, the weight that tipped the scales was something unbearably sad. Two somethings actually. A baby boy and a baby girl. Each belonging to someone dear to me. The boy didn't have a name. But the girlher name was Sequoia.

Five years ago, in August of 2011, Anna and I started developing a project we dubbed "Women of Faith."  2011 had been a harrowing year for me, and it was poised to get quite a bit worse. The depth of pain that I would become acquainted with in the following months would have been entirely incomprehensible to me in August, but by the end of the season it would become as close to me as an old friend. Closer than Anna probably.

But there we were. Sitting in my basement living room I had painted grey and robin's egg blue. Camlyn was there. And Caitlin. And Alex. And Daughters in My Kingdom. And we prayed and we asked to be led to the stories that we were supposed to tell. The women that we needed. We asked to be led to stories of women of faith.

If I were to paint a picture of myself at the time... well she's not too unlike me as I am now. Same unruly hair and unusually skinny arms and the same kindness in her eyes. But she carried more pain than I do now and more doubt too. And I think that's the important part. The mighty change.

In February of 2016 I felt expectantfiguratively speakingbecause these two dear ones, one Anna and one not, were expecting. The second mother-to-be had waited for her baby for a long time. For Anna though, the growing daughter was... more of a surprise, at least relatively speaking.

Both were due near the end of the summer.

"God will you please send me a woman to help me through this? Someone who knows what this is like? I can't relate to the men I read about in the scriptures anymoreand I need a woman. Please, I need a woman."

We'd made it to October of 2011. And it was General Conference. I'd written down my list of questions in my journal prior to conference. Standard procedure. And then Sunday afternoon as I was putting together my things to watch the session at a friend's apartment, a question popped into my mind with uncharacteristic spontaneity.

"I wonder if anybody Mormon was connected to the Titanic?"

The thought passed. I laughed. "Not likely that question is getting answered in General Conference," I responded.

You can imagine my surprise when near the end of the session, not quite four minutes into his remarks, Quentin Cook segued his teachings on tragedy into a history lesson on the unsinkable ocean liner. And then, at 5:42 he said, "There were at least two Latter-day Saint connections to the Titanic."

"For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God."

The baby boy went first. His heart stopped beating before he would have been ready to leave the womb. I read a post about it on Facebook. Inhaled sharply. That breath was suspended for what might have been months or years. Don't know how long it was really. 

You don't know what to do in those moments. I don't at least. Do you string together a few vowels and a few consonants in a white digital box when someone's world has been shattered? Aim for somewhere between pithy and pathetic and pray that what comes out is some shade of comforting? Probably. That's what I did. At least I think I did. Can't remember now. 

By the time the vertigo of the coincidence had passed Elder Cook had reached the really important part. Important for me anyways.

Her name was Irene. Irene Corbett. What I knew after listening to him relate what happened to her that April night was this:

She died when that ship sank.

And she was my answer twice over. Irene would be my she-mentor and my story. The story I was supposed to tell. The woman of faith I had asked for.

Knowing these things, of course, didn't change her story. And I was about to discover that there was quite a bit lurking under the surface there. Her story was a kind of sea-buried wreck in it of itself.

Anna's miscarriage was less sudden. Drawn out over an entire night and day. We had texted that evening about meeting up with some friends to attend a poetry slam. She was going to bring her sister and her sister's friend. Thirty minutes into the slam she still hadn't turned up.

"Are you here?"

"No. Something weird just happened. Like pregnancy weird. And my on-call nurse thinks I should go to the ER. So I think I'm going to go :-("

Later text messages revealed that her gestational sac was hanging out of her cervix and that she'd been moved from the ER to Labor and Delivery. She was only 18 weeks along, so I knew almost immediately that there wasn't a whole lot that could happen in Labor and Delivery at the hands of its human workers that could save this little one. It would take a miracle, definitely.

Why did Irene go to London? 

That's a question I've asked God many times.  The knot at the heart of Irene's story was wound more tightly in controversy than most knots I'd seen. And I didn't want to risk it. How could she be a woman of faith when she acted against the council of the prophet?

We, Katie and I, went to see Anna in the hospital that night. I was worried about her. Her husband, Paul, was out of town. You could see it in her eyesthe apprehension, the fear. If you know Anna, really even at all, you too would probably react with intensity to seeing those emotions in her demeanor. They're so completely antithetical to who Anna is, at her core. I can't think of a person who's taught me more about gratitude and sunbeams and trusting than Anna.

So I held her hand in the rigid way that I usually do and something fumbled it's way through my teeth and I cried a little and so did she and I prayed prayed prayed for God not to pain Anna like this. "She's already suffered so much in this last year," I reminded Him (and Her). Katie and I drove home and I cried some more. Didn't really sleep.

I can't quite put into words how much it hurt me to see her on the prow of a sinking ship.

Nobody really knows why Irene went to London. Her parents and siblings were so grief-stricken by the tragedy that they burned all her letters and personal effects. Irene's three children were too young to remember anything. And so what we have now is a handful of puzzle pieces passed down through hearsay over the hundred years that have elapsed since that fateful night.

What is clear is that Irene wanted to go to London to study anti-septic midwifery. The infant mortality rate was high in Utah at the time, and the school Irene had been accepted to, The Lying-In Hospital, was the first in the world to merge germ theory with birthing practices.

Irene did have three children at home. And she had a husband, Walter, who understandably didn't want her to go. But for some reason she persisted in her desire. She had the support of her parents, Levi and Mary Colvin, who mortgaged their farm to pay for her schooling. Her mother-in-law, Mary Harris, decidedly did not feel the same way. She was a favored niece of the prophet, Joseph F. Smith.

The way Irene's grandson tells the story, Irene had made up her mind to go. She and her father went to see the prophet, because Irene figured that since she was going to be in England for six months anyways she'd like to be set apart as a missionary. The prophet did not give his blessing. He'd already spoken with Irene's mother-in-law and so he duly informed Irene that she had a duty to her husband and to her family.

This didn't change Irene's mind. 

Next morning I was up early. Put on a dress. It was a Sunday. I fretted around for an hour or two before driving to the hospital. I arrived mid doctor's visit, so I waited in the lobby. The thickness that hung in Anna's room quickly relayed to me that things hadn't improved. Anna still thought that they might. And I wondered if perhaps they could.

The rest of the morning was a blur. There was a sacrament meeting we attended. There were more tears, lots of them, that landed on that vinyl hospital floor. 

Anna asked me to read the scriptures to her. And here: a tender mercy. Just that morning a piece I'd written about Eve had been published on another blog. Anna and Eve are very close. If you can say such a thing.  And so a bit of gratitude found me in the midst of those grieving tears. Because I'd been prepared with a bit of Eve for Anna.

"In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but in everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer."

I knew. The answer was in my heart already. Irene went to London because God called her to go. But who would believe such a thing? Would God call a woman to leave her family and travel to the other side of the world to pursue advanced training? By itself it's far enough outside cultural expectations surrounding who God is and what He (and She) will ask of a woman. But when you add on top of it that she died... that she didn't make it off the Titanic alive. That her breath and heartbeat ceased in what has to be the greatest maritime miscarriage there ever was. Well it seems like the moral of the story speaks for itself.

And yet God told me. He (and She) told me that Irene was a woman of great faith. And in his own way, Quentin Cook said the same thing. "She was careful, thoughtful, prayerful, and valiant."

And besides all that in her I saw myself. It made sense to me that her path of revelation could be misunderstood by those she loved, it even made sense to me that it could take her, lifeless, to the bottom of the icy sea. Because in a very real and figurative way that was where my path of revelation took me.

I don't know as much about Heavenly Mother as I want to. But among the many gifts Anna's miscarriage gave me was this: from now until forever when I think on Her my mind is filled with an image of Anna on that hospital bed, and the choice that she made.

Anna chose to move forward with the birth knowing that it would and only could be a death. Choosing it despite the promise of life and health she'd carried in her womb for the previous 18 weeks. It was a very visceral moment of agency. The Eve kind. 

I wasn't present when she decided. I had gone home to eat after Anna's mother had arrived. After I finished my meal the Spirit said to me in an unmistakable voice, "Leave your house at 6:00." So I did. And I returned to her hospital room a few minutes after the pitocin had been administered. 

What neither Anna nor I realized was that miscarriage is still, for all intents and purposes, a birth. Shorter in its duration, sure. But all the other trappings, the water, the blood, the contractions, the pain that produces the screams you've never heard and surely never wanted to, they would all be present and accounted for.

I've often thought that if I could pick my death I'd choose to drown. I nearly drowned once, when I was twelve. And it was pleasant, almost. Of course I've always been comfortable, probably too comfortable, in the water.

I was river rafting with my grandfather and aunt and cousins. After a long day on the water we came to a portion of the river the guide called—I still remember it—Cherry Rapids. He told us that the swells in this part of the river were caused by the current rather than any submerged rocks, so we'd be safe to ride them outside the raft. No undertow.

One by one the four of us bailed out. I was last. I didn't jump quite far enough away from the boat. So rather than getting guided around the raft by the current I was sucked under it. The life vest I had on posed a significant problem, as it was pulling me towards the surface as the inflated raft above me pushed me down. 

A brief sensation of terror swept through me that fueled a lot of futile kicking. I have no idea how long I was under the water. But I do know that enough time passed for the terror to subside. A kind of oxygen-deprived trance took over. 

But somehow, I felt peace too.

I thought that if this was the end of my life, I should probably pray. "Dear Heavenly Father," I said, "If this is the end please help my father and my mother and Diana, and Eli, and Emily. If not, please help me now. In Jesus' name amen." It was a total and genuine submission. 

I opened my eyes after the prayer. Not something I often do underwater. Sensitive eyes. And at precisely this moment a thin orange rope floated into my view. I grabbed it and was yanked out from under the raft. 

So sometimes, you are saved.

I've been trying to write this passage for some time. And I've decided that I cannot adequately express the horror that is a miscarriage. 

I remember Anna, bloodied and crippled with pain. The anesthesiologist arrived with his needle, but a bit too late for it to really take effect before too-small Sequoia left her. He grabbed Anna and flipped her body over in the midst of the kind of screams that tear through your ears and the rest of you.

But somehow, I felt peace too. 

He was there. He always is. 

I've wondered why Irene didn't make it off the ship. She was 1 of 22 second class female passengers who didn't. Quentin Cook put forward something I heard from Don Corbett, Irene's grandson. "It is believed that she didn't get into one of the lifeboats because, with her special training, she was attending to the needs of the numerous passengers who were injured in the iceberg collision."

But my research has indicated that nobody was injured. At least not in the collision.

If you've seen James Cameron's Titanic you probably have a frame of reference for the third class passengers. The historian I've talked to said that they weren't truly locked in the bottom of the ship. Even still though, many of them would have died down there, as the iceberg tore its way through the hull, and those lower compartments were the first to take on water.

52 third class children died. 52 out of 79.

Irene had been working with mothers and children of the lower caste during her time in London. Prostitutes. The uneducated. The homeless. One of the postcards she sent home that wasn't destroyed describes how she would pick fleas off of the babies who came to The General Lying-in Hospital. So I like to think that she was down there. With them.

Of course she was.

And suddenly there she was. Sequoia. So, so tiny. So unready for the world. She had a fragile little body colored like a grape. But so beautiful. The way her tiny toes and fingers rounded. Her cheekbones visible and her eyelids too.

I cried for what could have been. And I cried for what was. And I cried for Anna and Paul. And for the things I didn't understand. There were so many. I cried for Anna's grace, for her courage, grateful for her strength to let go and to clutch.

I went home a few hours later and sat parked in my car outside my darkened house. I wailed into the steering wheel. Some sad song coming out of the speakers. To help me finish. Because, sometimes, you have to feel it through to the end. All the way.

And I also cried in a different way. Cried to the Lord for my own strength to let it go. Like Anna.

"O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted! Behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones."

Sapphires come in bluemost people know thatbut my aunt who was a jeweler taught me that sapphires also come in yellow, pink, and green. Agates are multicolored. Orange and purple, often. Carbuncles are a red stone.

They call babies that come after a miscarriage rainbow babies. And a few weeks ago Anna announced that she is having two. Twins! An exquisite and intimate fulfillment of Isaiah 54:11-12. But it took time. For my other friend, no such relief is in sight. And for Irene... her tragedy might take even more time to be righted.

And for me?

I don't understand it. But somehow, I too have been healed. It didn't go backwards though. My questions haven't dissipated. My awareness of the wrongs I've been dealt, the wrongs womankind, and more largely humankind, have sufferedthey haven't disappeared. But they have moved from centerstage. The love that found me is so big that it's swallowed up the grief. It happened because finally my capacity to trust has deepened. I believe. Something.

I believe that Jesus Christ is who he says he is. For now he's given me a crown and, given time, he has true recompense for every injustice, every pain, every malady that I've suffered here. He has this balm of mercy and justice for all of us. I don't know how to describe it. Except for this way:

And somehow, I feel peace too. 

Me as Irene Corbett on set for Women of Faith, June 2013.

*The italicized verses of scripture are all pulled from the 54th chapter of Isaiah, which I think has to be among my top five favorite chapters ever. Such exquisite female imagery.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Eve, the Temple, and Fruit that is Bitter and Sweet

Another version of this post was written for Q.Noor (a modern temple dress start-up run by a friend of mine) and published there February 28th, 2016.

Me in my temple dress August 2015. Photo by Arielle Nelson.

I wanted to go on a mission. God told me no. I wanted to get married. God told me yes. Then my heart, made of glass as it were, was dropped from a skyscraper. To say it shattered wouldn’t be the most apt description, because what was left was a pile of fine, sparkling dust that grew as my heart was somehow dropped over and over and over again.

But I’ll let you in on a secret. Below both of these desires, mission and marriage, was another. I wanted to go to the temple. Badly.

God told me to wait.

I’d always had questions. Loads of them. What I didn’t have were the words to ask them or the courage to verbalize them. But after all this yes, no, wait runaround with God, I found myself in possession of both.

I wondered, asked, demanded at times if I was of worth. As a woman. If I had a valuable role to play. My life experiences up to that point had taught me that I didn’t.

In early fall of 2012 a friend gave me a priesthood blessing. I had requested it because the previously mentioned heartbreak was mutating into a case of depression that would stick around for the next three years. The blessing was comforting and inspired, but about halfway through it I found that my spiritual ears were being filled with something in addition to what was coming out of my friend’s mouth. An impression the Spirit was firmly repeating: “Study Eve.”

So I started.

Over the years that have passed since then I’ve seen many blessings come into my life from following that prompting. I worked on a play, and then a short film where our creative team featured Eve. I gave a talk about Eve in my singles’ ward during a time when many of my peers (myself included) were experiencing a lot of confusion about women in a Gospel context. This talk led to more opportunities to testify about Eve and her role, including this article. In Eve I found courage, royalty, revelation, and direction. She became my pre-eminent role model at a time when I desperately needed to know if God loved me, as a woman.  To sum up all that I’ve learned isn’t easy, but I guess it can be broken down into these two principles:

  • It was Eve’s role as both a woman and the mother of all living to enact the Fall. No one else could have done this.
  • Eve’s unique mission provides all women everywhere with an eternal feminine template. When her choice, the Fall, is juxtaposed against its partner, the Atonement, this template becomes more clear.

We know this don’t we? If you’re me at least, you inherently somehow knew before you read it, that partaking of the fruit was Eve’s choice to make. Does it ring as familiar to you as it does to me? Prophets have lauded Eve’s wisdom and courage since the restoration began.

Joseph Fielding Smith taught that “she partook of that fruit for one good reason, and that was to open the door to bring you and me and everyone else into this world, for Adam and Eve could have remained in the Garden of Eden; they could have been there to this day, if Eve hadn’t done something.”

This one is my personal favorite. Henry B. Eyring in the first general women’s meeting, April of 2014. Speaking to the women of the Church he said, “You have her example to follow. By revelation, Eve recognized the way home to God."

You mean that Eve acted on revelation? That she made an intentional choice? That she knew, at least in part, what she was doing? And that that revelation came to her—and not to Adam?

But why? Why would all of this come to a woman?

Consider for a moment, if you will, that her body was, in fact, an extension of the veil. She was the receptacle and growing place of the first generation of spirits to leave the Father’s presence after her and her husband. God titled her “the mother of all living.” He breathed the breath of lives into her. Doesn’t that make her the appropriate pre-ordained agent in that Garden?

Consider also that it was her choice, intentionally made, that created a need for the Atonement. Bruce R. McConkie taught this principle in his talk “The Three Pillars of Eternity.” Think about it. The vehicle through which we left the Father’s presence is the Fall. The vehicle through which we return is the Atonement. Sure the Atonement is the balm for sin, pride, illness, and a host of other maladies that afflict us here. But it is also a sacred doorway, the doorway we must pass through to be resurrected. Joseph Fielding Smith used this metaphor above, when he said that Eve opened the door to mortality. Think of that door as the Fall. And the Atonement is the other door. The one through which we re-enter the presence of God.

You can’t have one without the other for together they form the crucible of life. They form our testing ground.

Although I follow Christ, as his disciple, in many ways I follow Eve, as her daughter. The two, and their sacrifices, directly support each other. My role as a woman is a derivative of Eve’s. I create mortality. Christ, and members of “his order” (Alma 13:16) create it’s opposite: the resurrection, otherwise known as immortality.

“Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman.”

-M. Russell Ballard, “This is My Work and My Glory,” April 2013

Although we don’t have much revealed knowledge on this yet, it would appear that just as men play a key role in the conception of mortality, that women play an equally vital role in the conception of immortality.

Eve taught me that. She is a type of our Heavenly Mother, and a type of all women everywhere. As I continue to study her, my own role here in mortality and in the eternities becomes more clear. Because of Eve I can now write and say with certainty that I am of worth. That I have an important, eternally significant role to play. And that without me, the world would be missing something special.

In the spring of 2015, I finally got the divine go-ahead to receive my endowment. I went through the Provo Temple on August 6th. Despite a lot of preparation, many parts of my experience were jarring and confusing, and I left the temple with many more questions than I had entered with.  I was surrounded by friends and family members, but still I felt incredibly alone in that endowment room. I acknowledged then, as I do now, that I felt a powerful something that night. Something that testified to me that what was happening in the temple was good, in the highest sense of the word. But that awareness didn’t take away the searing ache I felt as it dawned on me that I would have to continue forward carrying the burden of questions.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Eve to make an appearance. I sat and watched her exodus from the garden. Her yielding to the will of God, as confusing and paradoxical a will as it sometimes is. And then I saw her putting her broken heart on the altar, and stumbling through her wilderness, and beginning her journey of reparation and healing.

I realized, as I had before, that her and I were on the same journey. And I remembered then, as I do now, her words in the book of Moses: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have… known… the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” (5:11)

And so even though sometimes the temple still tastes like it is simultaneously the bitter and the sweet fruit, I see Eve there, and I trust that if we truly are on the same journey, that someday I will know clarity, I will know joy, and I too will know my Redeemer.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Healed Woman (Part 3: With the Woman with the Issue of Blood)

This post is the tenth in what will be my Explorations in Womanhood Series. Please understand that while I intend to write things that are consistent with church doctrine, this blog is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For this reason, I ask that you consider prayerfully interacting with anything published here.

"For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit... For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee."
Isaiah 54: 6-7

My doubts about womanhood were given breath in very personal places. A path of revelation that was illuminated only as far as the entrance. An overcast trail that wound into sharp extended pain, and finally dropped into perceived Divine abandonment.  Promises unfulfilled. Now, this disclosure doesn't mean that my woman questions are less real or viablebut what it does mean is that they opened because of obedience. Which is an interesting idea, and probably worthy of its own post.

But that post might never get written. I've been slow lately. This piece for exampleI've been sitting on it for months. But not for laziness so much as for expectation. As early as April, I knew that this essay was going to be the last one in a series of three posts about healed women that I would write. And then, by September, I knew the angle I would take. But I've been waiting to write it. Waiting for a miracle.

Every part of this experience, the healing, the waiting, the writing, have felt like a slow gestation to me. And I haven't reached the end yet. However, I have been given a great boon since last sitting here in front of my keyboard. Something so great that I don't think I'll ever be able to move retroactively. At least not on this particular path.

And I'd like to tell you about it. But I'd like to tell you about it in tandem with the story depicted above. You're probably familiar with the woman with the issue of blood? She was a woman of Capernaum, and as you might recall, she was healed. But not for 12 years.

Four years ago a dear friend of mine married a terrific soul, and together they formed a wonderful union. As the months and then the years that followed their marriage began to tick by, both my friend and her husband came to know darkness. For them this darkness came in the form of infertility. My friend has Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

It's not really possible to link the phrase "issue of blood" with any contemporary diagnosis. What we do know is that in Leviticus an "issue of blood" refers to vaginal bleeding; either monthly, menstrual bleeding or bleeding after birth. One writer has suggested that this woman's issue of blood could have been something like menorrhagia, which is a heavy bleeding that persists for several weeks at a time and makes daily life almost impossible.

I don't know much about PCOS aside from what I've heard from my friend, and a few others who share her diagnosis. Between the four people I'm thinking of the range of symptoms experienced is pretty broad. For one friend, the physical pain she endures when she ovulates is debilitating. For another, there is no pain at all, but a persistent problem with weight management. For all these women though, potential fertility is a major concern, and for the friend who I am primarily writing about, it had moved from a concern to a reality.

I wonder how heavy, repeated hemorrhaging affected this scriptural woman? Did this issue of blood closely follow her childbearing years? Or was she a young woman when it got its start? She would have been isolated from any family she hadprogeny or ancestralbecause of her condition. Under the Mosaic Law, a woman with an issue of blood had to be separated from others during the time of her bleeding. And not just separated from her people, separated from her God. What a painful realization that must have been every time one of her physicians failed to heal her. Every time she bled. Can you imagine it?

I think of my friend and every repeated negative pregnancy test. The truth is, I wasn't privy to that pain. Although I've heard about the mounting grief she and her husband felt as more and more of their loved ones conceived. Or the gradual estrangement from God that grew and grew. Sitting in sacrament meeting, or in the plush chairs of an endowment room. Who was this God that would command his children to multiply and replenish the earth and then would leave His (and Her) children unable to conceive?

I don't know anything about that painexperientially speakingalthough I'm sure there must be plenty of people who do. But the person who knows it best, knows it inside and out, knows how it breathes and how it lives, is of course, Jesus Christ. We talk about that a lot. His abilityability isn't really the word is it?that innate facet of his character that allows Him access to everyone, all pains everywhere. What we talk about less I'm noticing is how He, this man who has experienced everything, has also been healed of everything. And if we are to follow Him, I think He intends for all of us to be healed eventually too.

That's what makes the moment depicted above so iconic. After 12 years of trying and waiting and agonizing and enduring, with one final reach "the fountain of her blood was dried up." And it was over. Just like that.

As you've probably guessed at this point, my friends conceived. They're bringing a baby boy into the world this summer. And it's very exciting. Because they're my friends I am very pleased and full of happiness for them. Watching friends come to the end of a trial naturally makes a person feel very contented.

But there's more to this story. And it might surprise you. A little more than a month before they conceived, September it was, I received a very strong, very unsolicited prompting. I knew that if my friends continued to exercise their faith, that they would get pregnant. And I knew that it would happen within 40 days.

I can't answer your questions about stewardship. I really don't know why this message came to me. I guess it could be because I was listening? If you knew me personally, you'd probably know that strong unsolicited promptings form much of the territory that is my life. But even so, this one was pretty... big. In it of itself the information wasn't so bad. It was the second prompting that complicated things. I was instructed that I needed to tell my friends what the Spirit had conveyed to me; I needed to extend this 40 day promise to them. And stewardship questions aside, I honestly didn't know how I could possibly be the bearer of good news.

Maybe that sounds silly to you. But let me tell you something. I've followed a sizable handful of promptings in my life. Promptings that are so outrageous and uncomfortable that they make this one look like kiddie stuff. The promptings I have in mind have always been attached to promises. Promises not unlike this one. And those promptings? They haven't led me anywhere that I've liked being. And that is an understatement.

So perhaps I did know their pain after all. I knew the pain of hoping for something. Yearning for it.

"For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole."

You're willing to give up anything you possess to see the promises of the Lord made real. To see that He loves you. And maybe you're a woman, and you have reason to doubt that He does, love you I mean. You have reason to doubt that He cares about you. You have reason to doubt that there is a Mother in Heaven that you could ever want to emulate, because if She exists She's clearly silent, and subordinate; She's clearly oppressed, and how could you ever want to be like Her? Wouldn't you rather live in single hell because wouldn't an oppressed subordinate silent existence be hell anyways?

And so you pray and you hope and every unfulfilled promise and every continuing hurt feels like every repeated negative pregnancy test. And then the Lord tells you to step out on a limb. A big one. He asks you to tell your friends that after all their yearning and desperation, after all of their unanswered prayers a miracle is about to be thrust into their faces. And deep down, in one of the darker cavities of your soul you know it's Him speaking to you but still you wonder if He is telling you the truth. You decide to act in faith.

And you drive up to your friends' apartment and you deliver the message with your eyes cast down at their beige carpet. And you look up and you see a grimace on his face and tears streaming down hers, but you don't take back what you said because you've decided. Faith.

And then weeks pass, 40 days pass, and then it's been a few months. And at intervals when you catch yourself doubting you repent because you don't know what's going on here, and you don't want your faith to somehow adversely effect this miracle baby's entrance into the world. And one day your spirits are so low that you pray and ask for God to remind you that He (and She) can in fact work miracles. He (and She) sends you a cloudburst and you stand in your backyard absorbing the watery pellets through your severely dampened underthings, and in your heart you turn around and you wait.

And then, in December, you see your friends. Nothing seems to have changed. They greet you warmly, very warmly, but they don't mention a pregnancy. And you figure that just like always, God has muddied the waters a bit. That He told you the truth, you just don't understand it yet, but that you will in time.

And then your friend emails you. And she tells you that she didn't know what to say. Because how do you say it really? We're pregnant. We're due in June. Thank you.

"And He said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, be whole of thy plague."

And I still don't really know whose faith in Christ it was. And I don't really know if it matters. Certainly, I know that it was her faith. My friend's. She (and he) did it. She's going to be a mother. But it's beginning to dawn on me that perhaps in some small way it was mine too. I did it. I'm going to be a believer.