Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Season—A Time for Giving

Christmas is a season of giving, a time when we show our love to others. During this season, how many times have we thought about giving of ourselves? The importance of serving others can never be over-emphasized. The measure of our love shows in what we do for one another. Just being there and being supportive can bring so much joy to others. There are many opportunities to help those who are feeling down, depressed, or alone, and need our support. It is not where we serve, but how we serve, and we must serve with love. We have our rewards when we serve, rewards that will bring us great joy.

In 1945, a young soldier sat in the trenches, trying to keep warm. Every night the enemy would attack precisely at midnight. He would hear their footsteps just before battle and knew what was about to happen. There were many wounded from the last battle and now it was Christmas Eve. His comrades were blue and depressed. Everyone was thinking of home and their loved ones, just wishing the war would end. The young soldier could feel their needs and his heart went out to them. The only gift he could think of to give his comrades was to sing, hoping to uplift their spirits and give them hope.

The young soldier began singing “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” with feeling and fervor. Every note he sang was clear and beautiful. The soldiers stopped what they were doing and listened. Next he sang “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World,” and “The First Noel.” He continued singing one Christmas song after another. Every one listened, including the enemy not far off. Many hearts were touched, silent prayers were said, and there was no battle that night but complete silence…for the exception of one lone voice singing Christmas songs.

Christmas is a season of giving, so I would like to show my thankfulness to all my friends by giving a few books away for Christmas. "Melinda and the Wild West" and "Edith and the Mysterious Stranger" are the first two books in this series: A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho. To find out what each book is about, visit my website and read the synopsis and a sample chapter at Make Believe. I will e-mail the winners on December 16th. Watch for more Give-Aways during the following year.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hope and a Christmas Miracle

We hope for things not seen but it must accompany faith. They go hand in hand. Hope helps us to bear our afflictions. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Hope sustains us through despair. Hope teaches that there is reason to rejoice even when all seems dark around us.”

I would like to relate a true story of great faith and hope about a twelve-year-old boy and the answer to a mother’s prayer, written by Opal Clarke.

“Please, Don’t Let Him Die”

I first became aware of my twelve year old son’s illness when the choppy rendition at the piano of “Hark! The Herald Angels sing” had stopped. Glancing at him, his head resting on the piano, I asked, “What’s wrong?’

He replied, “I don’t feel good.”

As he looked up I saw his cheeks were flushed; on closer inspection it proved to be a fine rash. He had a temperature. I called our family doctor and described the symptoms. He said it sounded like the measles that were going around and he prescribed a well-known drug.

The next day, George complained of his eyes hurting. Blisters began to appear on his ears and lips, and his temperature rose. After sitting by his side for several hours, I had to leave the room momentarily. As I returned, the sight was so shocking. I rushed from the room, dropped to the floor and cried. George had rubbed all the skin from his blistered lips. His ears, neck and face were a mass of blisters, with one large blister hanging like a sac on one side of his face. George did not sleep. He kept asking us to please turn out the lights. It was frightening to hear him ask this; there was only a small night-light burning and I had a small folded towel over his eyes.

Upon our arrival at the hospital, we were taken to an isolation room. As the ambulance attendant lifted my son onto the bed, the large blister on his face, a hanging sac of sloshing fluid broke.

Now, lying naked on the sterile sheets, coughing and choking, his body a mass of blisters and skinless places, he looked like someone wearing an ugly mask. I wanted to cry out, “No! No!” But I prayed that for my son’s sake my voice would be calm.

Nothing could have torn me away from my son at this time; so I was given a hospital gown and a mask. The next few days were crucial ones. Large areas of skin that had gone dark and looked as if they were scalded, pushed off from George’s back and he stuck to the sheets. The skin, pushed up on his upper arm, looked like a wrinkled nylon stocking. George’s mouth and throat were blistered, as well as the bronchial tubes, and he was coughing constantly. I covered my face, put my head on the windowsill and fought the tears.

The eye doctor said his eyes were blistered, even on the cornea, and added, “If he comes along—we may not be able to save his eyes.” It came to me that my son might be blind!

A new nurse coming in to put drops in George’s eyes, leaned over him and said, “George, I have something to put in your eyes. Can you turn your head this way?”

She leaned over, and as he turned his face with it’s black rimmed hole for a mouth, one side of his face practically skinless, and skinless ears—all this was too much for this nurse. She became nauseous, gagged and hurriedly left the room.

One night, two couples were standing in the hall. One of the men looked in at George and gasped. When his wife stepped over to where he was standing, he led her away, remarking, “You do not want to see that.”

Each time the doctor entered the room, he would greet my son with, “How are you, George?”

George would answer, “Pretty good.” Always pretty good.

At one time the doctor looked at him and said with tears in his eyes, “You are a game little guy!”

My son asked me if I was praying. I assured him I was. One evening, the young doctor gravely told me things were not going well and that he had done all that he could. At that moment I felt desperately alone. What could I do except go to God for help? I returned to the room and knelt beside my son’s bed and pleaded with God to let him live.

The next day, George asked, “Is everyone still praying for me?”

I said, “Oh, yes. We surely are, son.”

Then he asked me if I’d hold his hand. He said, “If you don’t mind holding a scratchy one.”

All day I held his hand. By evening I sensed a calmness come over him. I said, “Doctor, I think he is better!”

The doctor examined him, turned to me and with a look of almost disbelief and surprise said, “I think he is!”

The crisis had passed. The miraculous powers of the body to heal took over. New skin began to grow and the old skin sloughed off. All twenty of his fingernails and toenails came off.

Suddenly we were aware that it was Christmas Eve. Kind nurses and Santa himself came to where a brave young boy with a blotched and burned looking body sat in the bed. By tipping his head back, he saw through slits of eyes a Christmas bouquet and said, “I can see! I can see!” At that moment I was humbled beyond words.

The young doctor came into the room and said, “George, you have made medical history.” Then he asked if we minded the case being written for the medical journals under Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. I tried to thank our tall young doctor.

He said humbly, “I just stood by.” But I knew he had worked valiantly to save my son.

Our family doctor came into the room and said, “George, you are a walking miracle.”

The nurses, who came to say good-bye to us, said that no one in the hospital expected to see our son go out of the hospital alive.

The eye doctor said, “I feel so humble about this boy. It certainly has made me a believer.”

At this unforgettable Christmas time I realized that, to me, Christmas would forever be a time of rejoicing; rejoicing for the gift of a son.” (Opal H. Clarke, “Don’t Let Him Die”)

This young man grew to adulthood but his body wasn’t the same. His eyes are constantly red because his tear ducts were destroyed. He coughs frequently and has a raspy sound when he breathes because he has Chronic Bronchitis as a result of the illness. But this faithful man, George Amos Clarke, my husband and sweetheart, was grateful for a miracle.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mix a Happy-go-lucky Bachelor with a Roaring 20s Woman and You Have: Elena, Woman of Courage

The “Roaring Twenties” was a time of great change, when women raised their hemlines and bobbed their hair. It was a time of adventure, courage, and independence.

In the 1920s, the new generation spoke a language that their parents didn’t understand. They had words like: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Attaboy! Baloney! You slay me! When referring to a woman, they used doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, they were goofy. If a person was a fool, they were a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for romance, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” Elena, Woman of Courage: A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho (ISBN: 978-1-58982-545-1) is filled with courage, romance, and humor.

When a woman settles into a strict conservative town as the newest doctor, a slew of problems begin to rise. The town is not ready for a female doctor, let alone one so strong and independent. Elena Yeates, the town’s newest doctor, must struggle to prove herself in this western town, while keeping her composure, poise, and femininity. As she fights to prove herself, the town’s most eligible bachelor finds it a challenge to see if he can win her heart. With the 1920’s rise of women’s rights, this novel gives you great insight at the struggles women had to go through, all the while watching a young love blossom!

“Elena, Woman of Courage is a wonderful book full of history, passion and romance, as well as a touch of suspense and humor,” wrote Kim Atchue-Cusella, Book Loons. “The characters are matched perfectly and it is sweet to watch romance develop between John and Elena. This was the last of five books in the series and it has been a joy to watch the family grow and prosper.”

Elena is a courageous woman who went to college during a time when women were not encouraged to be educated beyond high school. The 1920s was a time of change when women began fighting for their rights. After getting her degree as a doctor, she moves to the West to set up her own practice. When she arrives in a small town in Idaho, she meets Mr. Anderson who opposes her from day one but Elena’s stubborn nature will not allow her to give up. In her fight for equality, she learns to love the people of Bear Lake Valley and realizes she has found a home at last.

When Elena meets John Roberts, a rugged and good-looking farmer, she does not trust his intentions. As she gets to know him, she finds that he has deep respect for the education of women and abhors prejudice. John is the son of Gilbert and Melinda, but there is one thing that stands in the way of happiness. He is terrified of marriage and commitment. He is known as the “Happy-go-lucky Bachelor.”

“Linda Weaver Clarke displays an easy and excellent style of writing, blending adventure/romance/history/humor and courage. A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho is an instant classic and should put this author on the literary map all over the world. A MUST read!”– Page One Literary Book Review

About the Author
Linda Weaver Clarke travels throughout the United States, teaching a “Family Legacy Workshop,” encouraging others to turn their family history and autobiography into a variety of interesting stories. Her novel “Melinda and the Wild West” was a Semi-Finalist in the “Reviewers Choice Awards 2007.” The historical fiction series, A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho will include the following novels: Melinda and the Wild West, Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, Jenny’s Dream, David and the Bear Lake Monster, and Elena, Woman of Courage.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Welcome to the World of Make Believe

Many times our every day lives can overwhelm us and we desperately need a break. Being a wife, homemaker, and mother can be a challenge and some days we feel discouraged. That’s the time when we would like to enter the world of Make-Believe. Perhaps after we do the dishes, change a diaper, and put our children down for a nap, we may have a couple hours to read a novel and slip into that make-believe world; a world of escape when our frustrations are high and we desperately need a break and a place to relax so we can be ready for the next go-around with our children.

In that little corner is a world that can fill us with wonder, where dreams can come true, where we can go on an intriguing adventure, or we can even fall in love all over again...reminding us of the first time we fell in love with our husbands. Lucy Montgomery said, “While solitude with dreams is glorious, solitude without them has few charms.” Jerome Kern expressed it differently. He wrote, “The game of just supposing is the sweetest game I know. Our dreams are more romantic than the world we see.”

Perhaps the world we see is full of dirty dishes, soiled diapers, teenagers arguing over an item that was recently borrowed, and busy husbands that forget to give us a kiss before they walk out the door. This can make a homemaker feel discouraged. Times like this are when we would like to enter the World of Make-Believe.

How many times have you wished to go on an adventure in the jungles of South America, follow Harry Potter into a magical world, or to fall in love all over again? We need to be reminded of that romantic love. Novels are a “god-send” and can give us that extra little “umph” that we need. They can also teach us and remind us where our priorities should be, reminding us to not take our relationships for granted.

My husband and I share the household duties because he knows that his help gives me more time to do the things I would like to do. Once my husband walked into the living room and collapsed on the sofa. His eyes looked weary and his body was tired. When I greeted him, I was tired as well. I had had a long day with the kids, I was pregnant, and the children had not been complete angels. But something happened between us that made me realize what kind of relationship we really had.

Our relatives were visiting when my husband wearily said, "Would you mind unlacing my shoelaces? I'm too tired to bend over."

I didn't mind, so I carefully sat on the floor and adjusted my protruding belly, and then undid his shoelaces. One of the relatives scoffed and said, "He can undo his own shoelaces. Don't you know about Women's Liberation? We're liberated from such demeaning tasks as this."

I just smiled patiently and said, "I do for him what he would do for me.” We give and take in our marriage. He cooks when I'm tired and I undo his shoelaces when he's tired. I believe relationships are founded on compromise and love.

Many times we can forget our priorities in life. In fact, some novels can help us remember our priorities when we are so dogged tired, wondering if we were destined to change diapers and clean house for the rest of our lives.

In my novel, “Melinda and the Wild West,” we can imagine how it feels when Gilbert gazes warmly at Melinda, admiring her integrity and studying her face, as if memorizing every contour of it. We can imagine how it feels when he impulsively lifts her chin and presses his warm lips to hers, making her heart swell within. When Gilbert cradles Melinda in his arms and gazes into her eyes with adoring love, think of the adoring love you have for the man you married and how your love is greater now than the first day of your marriage. Then all your frustrations leave as you sigh and close the novel, just waiting to pick it up when you have time the following day.

Just remember that “if the things we dream about don’t happen to be so, that’s just an unimportant technicality.” (Jerome Kern) The happy ending in the novels you read can happen if you only let it. Life is worth living and will become what we make of it. Just remember to pick up a novel and take some time for yourself and “Make-Believe.”