Dana's Valleyby Janette Oke
Erin Walsh thinks her family is as close to perfect as it can be. When one grim diagnosis is all it takes to shake her family to the core, she wonders if they can ever go back to they way they were. Erin's attempts to go about life as usual feel empty and as each member of her family seems to
New Look for a Bestselling Author's Mother-Daughter Collaboration
Erin Walsh thinks her family is as close to perfect as it can be. When one grim diagnosis is all it takes to shake her family to the core, she wonders if they can ever go back to they way they were. Erin's attempts to go about life as usual feel empty and as each member of her family seems to struggle alone, she is about ready to give up on God. However, Erin has yet to learn that God will never give up on her.
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I slipped the butterfly bookmark between the pages of the journal and gazed out the window of my bedroom. I had been determined to keep any tears in check, but the familiar handwriting and the long-ago memories filled up my heart and tugged at my emotions, and I wiped at my damp cheek. It was more nostalgia than pain, though, that evoked my deep feelings. I guess I was rather surprised when I realized that fact. Then came sweet relief, and I felt myself smile as I picked up the book to continue my perusal. But I didn't resume reading immediately. I sat staring at the small volume in my hands, musing silently. The journal's story was not minebut it was so intricately involved with my own personal journey that the words on the page seemed like my own.
Perhaps it is only when we are deemed adults that we really begin to understand, to appreciate, to evaluate our formative years. I think it has certainly been so for me. Looking back, I feel I am beginning to put some events from those years into a broader context. I am discovering the roots of the values I hold dear. Those mental images of childhood I have now been able to frame and arrange in some kind of order so I can step back and look at how I have been shaped into who I am. My understanding of life, of its joys and struggles, of family and of relationships, of how they mold and stretch us beyond who we might have been on our own, takes on new significance.
I know no family is perfect. But I also know that my average midwestern Christian family tackled the changes and trials we faced remarkably well, all things considered. Our parents must have started us out with a pretty solid baseor our story might have had an entirely different ending. We are closer to one another now than we have ever been.
My understanding of my heavenly Fatherwho He is, how He loves ushas been changed as well. This fuller view of God can only happen when one has faced challenges and trials, when one has been stretched beyond what is secure and comfortable. God is now more real, more present, more involved, in every part of my life. As my grandmother shared recently with me over a cup of tea, that is indeed the goal of our journey here on earth.
But perhaps you will understand more fully what I am attempting to say if I tell our family's story. To do that, I must take you back some years....
* * *
Corey had taken a third helping of oatmeal, and no one seemed to notice. It was the first day of our new school, and attentions were diverted elsewhere. Dana had been late coming to breakfast, and even now she was complaining of aches and pains. Mom tried to question her, wondering if she might be coming down with an other flu, but there seemed to be no symptoms other than the aches. We'd already nursed her through an episode of flu since we had moved into the new house, and now I was a little perturbed. Surely she wasn't doing this just to get out of school on the very first day. But in my heart I knew this wasn't in Dana's nature.
"How'd you sleep?" Dad inquired.
Everyone was so preoccupied with Dana that no one was paying any attention elsewhere. I decided since no one else had noticed the dribbles of oatmeal running across the table from the pot to Corey's bowl, I'd better step in. "Corey, I think you've had plenty."
He looked at me crosswise. "I'm big today. So I can eat more."
"Dana, I just can't figure it out," Mom was saying.
"You don't have a fever. Maybe it's just a growth spurt that's making your back and arms ache. Though it seems like I've heard more often about leg aches with growing pains. What do you think, Dave? Should she just stay home?"
By this time Dad was standing behind Dana and feeling along her spine. "When you say it aches, honey, what do you mean? Does it hurt in one place like a bruise, or does it feel more like you've strained a muscle or something?"
Corey began pouring his third serving of milk into his bowl, splashing freely.
"I don't know, Daddy. It just sort of aches. It's almost like the pain moves around. I can't explain it. Maybe I should just take some Tylenol. It'll probably go away once I get to school."
"Dave, I don't like it," Mom murmured. "It's too strange a thing to just let it go. I think I'll call Dr. Miller. I'd feel better if we got it checked out. Though I'm not sure what more he can tell us."
Dad nodded, and Mom headed for the phone in the office, where she could hear better.
"I know just how you feel, Dana." Grandma, who was now frequently joining us at the breakfast table, patted Dana's hand. "I get those aches and pains too. Lucky for you, you'll outgrow yours."
When Corey had dumped three large spoonfuls of brown sugar into his bowl, I couldn't keep silent any longer. "Doesn't anybody else see this?" Once I had their attention, I motioned at the mess around Corey's dish and its heaping contents.
"It's just sugar, dear." Grandma smiled at Corey. "It won't hurt him."
I wanted to argue with her but instead turned back to Dana as she spoke.
"I'll be okay, Daddy. But I'd like to go lie down. If I can just rest for a while, then I think I'll be okay. Maybe I could go to school after lunch."
That was as much as I could take. I had piano to practice, and I was glad for a chance to get away from the chaos around the table. Corey could eat all the oatmeal and sugar he wanted. I was just glad to wash my hands of it.
Copyright © 2001, Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan
ISBN: 0764224514 (paperback), 0764225146 (hardcover), 0764225162 (large print),0764225254 (audio)
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.