Cast out our fear

Admittedly, I’m not the best faster in the world. Not even a good one. But I try. And Sunday, even though as I left for church I felt weak and as if I might have a blood sugar reaction, I kept trying. I figured if I made it to church all I had to do was sit for three hours and then I would come home and break my fast with some peanut butter (protein and sugar).

As I slid into the bench I opened the hymnal (which is weird–normally I sing from my iPad, which I’d left at home–but also beautiful, as I needed to feel the weight of these words in my hands as they sunk into my heart).

1. In fasting we approach thee here
And pray thy Spirit from above
Will cleanse our hearts, cast out our fear,
And fill our hunger with thy love

2. Thru this small sacrifice, may we
Recall that strength and life each day
Are sacred blessings sent from thee

Fill us with gratitude, we pray.

3. And may our fast fill us with care
For all thy children now in need.
May we from our abundance share,
Thy sheep to bless, thy lambs to feed

4. This fast, dear Father, sanctify–
Our faith and trust in thee increase.
As we commune and testify,
May we be filled with joy and peace

Text: Paul L. Anderson, b. 1946. (c) 1981 Paul L. Anderson and Lynn R. Carson.

I could hardly finish the song, being so overwhelmed by such a personal response to what I needed, but hadn’t yet articulated in prayer:

Verse 1: I’m desperate for my heart to be cleanse of worry and strife and for the sense of fear and foreboding I often feel to be cast out and replaced with faith and love.

Verse 2: I want to remember daily grace. And recognize in particular the sacred blessing of strength that is not my own.

Verse 3: Though I am often overwhelmed by my day-to-day life, the deepest desire of my heart is to feed His sheep and for a kinder, gentler world where we recognize that we are all His children and work together to share from our abundance.

Verse 4: Commune. I’ve not yet found the words to express how deeply blessed I’ve felt through the past year by being able to gather with members of my ward family to worship our Savior, Jesus Christ. Even though I arrive alone and sometimes find myself wondering who will make room for me on their bench, I feel such a beautiful sense of community.

C is for Cookie

Mea Culpa! Proudly carrying on the time-honored tradition of spoiling with sugar grand-babies who didn’t eat all their dinner

Some of my favorite recipes in my mom’s rusted old recipes tins are the cookie recipes. As I recall, all her batches must have been doubled or tripled, because they all called for 5 1/2-6 cups of flour.

My personal favorites are the carrot cookies, with grated carrots and iced with an orange juice glaze with real orange juice. And–wait for it–Wheaties cookies, made with actual Wheaties flakes.

Perhaps I loved them best because I could argue for their nutritional value. Carrots! Real Orange Juice! Whole grain cereal fortified with at least 8 vitamins and minerals!

Have I written about the raisin* filled cookie recipe? That’s the one I recall making the most as a child. After mixing the dough you form it into long rolls, wrap it with waxed paper, and take it out to the freezer in the garage.

When I was a little older and braver, I used to sneak out into the garage and slice off a tiny end of the roll and twist the wax paper back over it as if nothing had happened.

Which was a brilliant idea, except for when you couldn’t stop yourself from sneaking back out for another slice.

I got caught once. That is to say, someone finally noticed that the long rolls of cookie dough were no longer long.

And I lied about it.

I’m not sure I ever got caught, but it’s what came to mind when I first realized that at some point in the copying over the aged, dough splattered recipes once again, either the recipe was mistranslated or someone incorrectly multiplied the doubling or tripling. And the way I knew the recipe was no longer true was because the taste of those little snips of stolen dough is seared in my tastebud memory.

In my quest for the recipe of my childhood (and also because they are my brother Jon’s favorite cookies and I love to surprise him with them when I go visit) I did a Google search. I found recipes that seemed the most similar. I made several batches, even making adjustments on some of the recipes in my quest to find the one true recipe for raisin-filled cookies. At one point I found it and copied it from my Aunt Jean. But now neither of us can find it.

I sometimes wonder if I’m being punished. Both for my sneakiness and for my lie (which, as noted before, I generally avoid because I’m really not very good at it). And the real recipe is lost forever, a sort of curse, if you will, for my cookie treachery.

Post Edit: One time, on a whim, I made these cookies with dried tart cherries instead of raisins in the filling. Let me tell you, there was never a better raison d’ĂȘtre (for me or for tart cherries) than this.

[Day 74 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]


I was standing in the archway of Melody’s house when Shane came to the door to find me and tell me that Kate died. I’ve written about this before. But the shock and disbelief are still as real to me now as they were to me then. I didn’t believe him.

I didn’t know if I should go find Lynda to be with her, one of my best friends and Kate’s mom, or if I would be an intruder in such a moment of personal tragedy. But my gut said go so I did.

Lynda told me later about the look in my eyes when our gazes met as I held her when the coroner carried Kate’s body across the threshold of her apartment and to his vehicle. I felt guilty about not being able to hide the raw horror I felt at witnessing what up to that moment was the most awful thing I could imagine–losing a child. My face is an open book but that was one moment in particular I wished I could have rewritten to mask the distress with comfort, hope, or peace.

“Don’t feel badly,” Lynda said. “When I saw the horror on your face I knew that I would not have to endure this alone.”

Generous words, of course. Because even as a close friend who grieved Kate and grieved her grieving family, I still could never imagine the grief that Lynda bore. That she still bears. Because I’m quite sure the hole violently ripped in your heart when you lose a child never truly heals. At least not in this life.

Kate died of an accidental overdose of Methadone. She was a recovering addict whose tiny frame must have somehow become too saturated with the drug that is responsible for far too many accidental deaths of recovering addicts.

I still mourn kind, beautiful, vibrant, loving, waif-like Kate. I’m still so grateful that the last time I saw her she was looking up. So blessed I had the chance to say goodbye.

Some time ago I got a frantic call from another friend and her mom whose life has been afflicted with addiction. Her own and that of many family members. I was asked to step in and help a family friend in a way they could not. I tried to get other help–because I was worried for my own safety as well–to no avail. I finally called his number.

“This is Dalene. I’m just calling to see if you’re ok. If you need a ride.”


Then this grown man–someone I see with so much potential, so much to give, so much of the world ahead of him–broke down into helpless, hopeless, sobs. And I cried with him. Because I feel his despair, even though it is not my own.

I want to help. I want to fix this.

And I can’t.

There is nothing–not one thing–I can do to make this better.

[Day 73 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]