Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Update 2008

Merry Christmas!! It is Christmas Eve and I finally made a Christmas card (of sorts)!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Temple Square 2008

Click to play Temple Square
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Friday, December 19, 2008

A Touch of Faith

This is a long post, but believe me, it is worth reading. (The majority of it was written by my friend, Wendy Fayles, who is a true writer.) The photo above was taken by Marshall Barker from my stake.

"And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole." Matthew 9:20-21

I have had a couple of wonderful experiences this year related to this woman. As a counselor in the Young Women program I got to go to camp in July. Unfortunately, because of tests at school, I was only able to go for 1 day and, therefore, was not a lot of help. We didn't have a camp director and our YW president had just had a baby, so the other counselor (Julie) had to totally take care of camp. We had an assignment to prepare a short presentation of a woman from the scriptures who had interacted with the Savior for a spiritual hike. Julie chose the woman who was healed and said she would write the material if I would present it. The week of camp came and Julie had not had time to write the script and asked if I could possibly take care of it. I agreed, knowing that she had so much on her plate already. The problem with that was A. I am not a great writer and B. I was trying to study for 2 big tests. I looked around for information about this woman and the only thing that I could find was the song "Close Enough to Touch". I thought about just reading the words to the girls, but knew that it really wasn't enough to bring the spirit. I was getting very stressed out about the whole thing, when, at 9:30 PM, I was prompted to call my writer friend, Wendy Fayles. I don't know why I hadn't thought to call her sooner, but I am so grateful that I was inspired to call and even more grateful that she agreed to write something for me. Here is the incredible monologue that she wrote and that I got to "perform" for the Young Women of our stake (I left her directions to me for visualization):

Kacie: After thinking about how to do this, I thought it would be easiest to present it from the woman’s point of view after she had been healed. So I envision the scene opening with you (as the woman) standing in your little kitchen sweeping or washing the dishes or some routine household chore like that—keeping in mind that this woman probably had not been able to do any of these things for the past 12 years because of her illness. So she performs the routine chore with joy and appreciation for being able to do it at all.

Sighing contentedly, the woman stops her work. “Oh, my,” she says. “I’m tired.” Slowly, she smiles. “Yes, I am tired. And it feels so good! It feels so good to be tired from working and caring for my family – and not from laying in bed with an illness no doctor could cure.”

Twelve years. Twelve years I was sick! Twelve years of exhaustion and pain. Twelve years of watching everyone around me live their lives while all I could do was watch and wish – wish that I could be whole, like them. Wish that the doctors could find some way to help me. Wish that I could just have the strength to do something as trivial as sweeping my own floor or … or, braiding my own hair! (At this point, if you were wearing your hair in a long braid, you could kind of touch the braid with a sense of wonder and awe.)

You know, I was even beginning to question God. I just didn’t understand how he could let this thing happen to me. And yet, I knew that there must be a reason. And I knew He cared. In my darkest moments, when it was almost impossible to feel anything but pain and despair, I could feel God. I could feel His love. And I hung on to that feeling with every last bit of strength that I had.

And then, one day as I was lying in my bed after a particularly bad night, a neighbor came to visit me. She said she couldn’t stay long because this man named Jesus had come to our town and she wanted to go see him. She had heard that he might be passing near where we lived.

Jesus,” I thought. Even as sick and bedridden as I was, I had heard of this Jesus. People were saying he was a mighty prophet. They were saying he could do miracles.

After my neighbor left, all I could think about was this man named Jesus. Could he really do what people said? Could he maybe even help me?

I decided I must try to see him. I carefully rose from my bed, praying that God would give me the strength to find Jesus and ask him for his help. One step at a time, I made my way outside, and then began to walk towards the center of our town. (Kacie—you can act all of this out as you are telling it.) I had not gone very far when I heard the noise. It was the sound of a large crowd of people, coming my way. “It is Jesus!” I thought, and joy leapt in my heart. I was actually going to be able to see him! But then the crowd rounded the corner and I saw the huge press of people, and my heart broke. How could I, a sick woman, ever make my way through all those people?

But then the crowds parted briefly and I saw Him. I saw Jesus. And there was such kindness in His face. Such love. Such compassion. I felt like I had known him forever, and yet I had never seen him before.

In that moment, I knew I had to reach him. Gathering all my strength, I pressed forward into the crowd. As the people pushed and jostled and bumped into me, I found it hard to breathe and even harder to stand. I could feel myself getting weaker but I knew I could not stop. If I could just get close enough to … to what? This man obviously had very important things to do and lots of people who needed him. Who was I to demand his attention?

But maybe there’s another way, I thought. And at that moment, I felt my strength finally give way. I crumpled to the ground. But as I lay there, gasping for breath and struggling to rise to my feet, I saw that Jesus was only a short distance in front of me. Without thinking, I reached out my hand and touched the hem of his garment.

(Pause here.)

And I was healed.

(Another pause.)

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. But then I heard Him speak. He said, “Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”

The men who were with him tried to argue with him, saying with all the people crowding around him it was impossible for him to notice one touch among the many, but he insisted he had specifically felt one person touch him.

Now I was frightened. He was obviously a very powerful person. Maybe his power was only supposed to be for very important people. I was not anyone important! Was I going to be in trouble? I just wanted to run away and hide. So I stood up and started to back away, but then he turned and looked at me, and I knew he knew.

Trembling, I fell down before him, and told him what I had done, and how I had been healed immediately. And then I waited to see if he would be angry with me. but all he said was, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”

And so I went back to my home. For a while I had people coming by all the time, wanting to see “the woman who was healed” and wanting to hear the story. But no one comes anymore. They’ve all pretty much forgotten about it. But I will never forget. Never.

I had never thought much about this woman before, never really paused to consider what her life had been like for 12 years, never truly contemplated the incredible faith that she possessed.  Wendy's insight made this woman real to me and gave me such a profoundly better understanding of her circumstances and faith in our Savior. 

A few months after this experience, I got a phone call from my friend, Cheryl, who was the Enrichment Leader in our ward. Her committee was preparing for  our December Enrichment and were trying to find sisters who could sing to perform the "Women at the Well" program. She asked me to sing a solo and I reluctantly agreed with the condition that my song be for a low voice. Imagine my surprise when the song that I got was, "Close Enough to Touch". I was excited to again be portraying this woman for whom I had gained such love and admiration. It had been about 20 years since I had sung a solo and I was quite nervous. I practiced a lot on my own and spent some time with the pianist  to prepare. The entire group of singers and narrators got together only one time. I felt pretty good about my song up to that point, but singing in my own house, at my own piano and singing in front of a group of ladies with amazing voices are two different things. That practice did not go well for me. My voice shook and squeaked and just did not sound good. And then I was terrified. Why had I agreed to do this? 

After a couple of days of doubting myself I realized that my own faith was being tested. If this woman had faith enough to be healed simply by touching Jesus' robe, then certainly I could muster enough faith to be able to sing in front of a group of women who I love and who love me. I said a prayer that I could sing without being nervous & that I could help to bring the spirit to our meeting.  When my turn came, I felt peaceful and calm. I was able to get through my song without any major problems. It was as good as any time at my own piano. Was it perfect? No. Was I the best singer in the group? Definitely not. But, was it my own personal best? Yes, it was.

How grateful I am for the opportunities that we have to test our faith and to become stronger. I am so thankful for the experiences that I have been blessed to have based on the story of one woman who is mentioned only briefly in the scriptures. Her story and faith have helped me to lean on my Savior just a little bit more and to trust in Him more fully.