“Nothing great is ever achieved without enduring much.”  ~~St. Catherine of Siena

Hi all,

I hope you had a happy Halloween! 

I'm coming off of a couple of busy weeks so decided to do something of a "re-run" for this newsletter.  In honor of All Saints' Day, I'm re-running a few of my favorite Dyeland story scenes featuring saints.  I hope you enjoy!

God bless,

From "Believe":

Circa 3 BC

Maryam's eyes shot open when she heard someone pounding on the door.  For a moment, she feared it was the Romans come for her father.  He had paid what taxes were due... but just barely.

"Yehoyakim!  Hannah!" a voice bleated.

Maryam's concern over Romans was soon replaced by a new worry.  That was Yosef pounding on the door!  Gone was his deepened voice.  He sounded like a boy again.  A frightened boy!  She bolted up in time to see her father rush the door and throw it open.

"Yosef!  Whatever is..."

Yosef pushed past her father, not answering.

"Hannah...  Please, Hannah..." he pleaded, searching.

A lump in her throat, Maryam watched as her mother pushed away the curtain that surrounded her and her father's cot.  She hurried to the young man.

"Yosef, what is it?  Sit.  You look..."

"I cannot!" Yosef interrupted.  "My Ama..."

He spoke so quietly then that Maryam could not understand.  She only knew that she longed to embrace him... to make him smile and laugh as he usually did.

Maryam saw her mother's gentle smile fade. 

Without breaking eye contact with Yosef, Hannah began giving orders.

"Yehoyakim, wait outside with Yosef.  I will grab my bag.  Maryam, get dressed.  You will come with us."

Maryam nodded and stepped back behind her own curtain.  She prayed as she pulled on her outer robe and wrapped a shawl around herself.  She recalled Samiya's joy when, eleven years after her daughter Danya's birth, she had discovered she was once again with child.  Yaqob, Yosef, Matthan, and Danya, too, had been overjoyed at the prospect of welcoming a new little one.  They had all admitted that the child, boy or girl, would rule over them. 

But Maryam knew it was much too soon for the baby to be born. 

"Please, my Lord, whatever is wrong... please make it right.  Please do not take this baby away from Samiya and her family.  And if I can be of help... let me be a good help.  Thy will be done, my Lord," Maryam petitioned.

Hannah tugged at the curtain.

"Come along, my own," she called.

Stepping out into the open, Maryam took her mother's hand.  They exited the house and, hands still joined, followed Yehoyakim and Yosef.  The latter was speaking quickly, his voice faltering at times.

"Abi is... is in Sepphoris.  A job.  He... he thought it would be safe.  Ama's time is... is not... not yet...  It is... too soon.  I... I woke up to Danya shaking me.  She... she said Ama was breathing very hard and... and was blee-bleeding."

Maryam shivered as she imagined Danya having to see such a thing.  She squeezed her mother's hand.

"Matthan is beside himself.  I... I did not want to... to leave but..."

Yehoyakim squeezed Yosef's shoulder.

"You did the right thing, my boy.  I am glad you came to get us.  Hannah will do everything she can and, you must remember, the Lord is with your mother and the baby.  He gives them strength."

Yosef nodded but said nothing.  His house was in view and he ran towards it.  The other three followed as quickly as they could.

"Maryam, you entertain Danya.  Yehoyakim, try to distract the boys," Hannah directed in a hushed voice as they entered the house.

Maryam and her father looked at each other, doubtful that either would succeed, but nodded.  They were, at least, helped by the fact that the house was larger than their own.  Samiya would be in her and Yaqob's room.  They could keep the siblings in the room the three shared.

Hannah gave Yosef a brief hug then entered her friend's room.

Maryam was reaching out to console a weeping Danya when Samiya bellowed.  Danya screamed and hurried to her eldest brother.  Maryam winced when another cry resounded from behind the closed door.  She glanced over at Yosef whose eyes were screwed shut as he sat on the floor with Danya in his arms.  Nearby, her father was patting Matthan's back.  His lips were moving and Maryam knew he was reciting a psalm to calm the boy.

Catching his daughter's eye, Yehoyakim gave a tremulous smile.

"Maryam, my girl, your old father's voice is not what it once was.  Perhaps you could sing for us?"

Maryam returned her father's smile before beginning to sing.

"'Lord Yahweh, you have searched me and you have known me.  You know my sitting and my rising; you have understood my reasonings from the high place.  You know my way and my steps and you have investigated all my ways.  If there is an alteration in my language, you, Lord Yahweh, know all these things.  For from the beginning to the end you have formed me, and you have set your hand upon me.  The knowledge and the wonder are stronger than I and I could not master them.  Where shall I go from your Spirit and where shall I hide from before you?  If I shall ascend to Heaven, there you are, and if I would descend to Sheol, you are there also!  If I shall lift my wings like an eagle's and dwell at the end of the sea, there also your hand will hold me and your right hand will lead me.'"

Another desperate, primal cry came from Samiya's room, interrupting the song.  Yosef let out a sob.  Maryam laced her fingers through his and resumed singing.

"'You have said, "The darkness will shine to me and the night will shine upon my face."  And the darkness will not darken from you, the night will shine like the day and the darkness as the light.  Because you have prepared my kidneys and you have carried me from the womb of my mother.  I shall give thanks to you because of the wonders that you have done, for your works are exalted and my soul knows it well.'"

As time wore on, Maryam continued to sing psalm after psalm.  She was surprised that her voice was not faltering.  Every so often, Samiya's cries drowned her out but still she sang.

Then, in the pause between two psalms, there was complete silence.

No screaming, no panting, no crying.  Nothing.

Until they heard a wail.

Maryam could not tell if it was her own mother's or Samiya's.

"No... no," Yosef moaned.

"Ama..." Matthan murmured before resting his head against Yehoyakim's knee.

"A-ama," Danya echoed.  She jumped up and banged at the door.  "Ama!"

Hannah opened the door and embraced Danya.

Another wail sounded.

Yosef and Matthan glanced at each other.  Their mother was alive!  But the baby...

Maryam rose and went to her mother.

Hannah pulled her close and kissed her hair.

Over her shoulder, Maryam saw Samiya clutching a tiny bundle to her chest and weeping.

Then she heard a voice, as clear as if the speaker stood beside her.

"You shall help, Maryam, my beloved daughter."

Suddenly knowing exactly what she needed to do, Maryam slipped past her mother and entered Samiya's room.

The woman did not notice she was no longer alone with her child.  Not until Maryam spoke.

"Samiya, could I please hold your baby?" Maryam requested.

Shocked by grief, Samiya stared at the girl for a moment before relinquishing the infant.

Maryam's breath caught in her throat when she saw how tiny yet perfect the baby was.  She sat down and unwrapped the child... a girl. 

"Lord, help me," she whispered before placing her fingers above the baby's still heart.  She hummed as her fingers moved in tiny circles.

Samiya sat frozen, gaping at her closest friend's daughter.

In the doorway, Hannah, too, could only stare at her Maryam.

Suddenly, the baby jolted.  A moment later, she gave a gusty cry.

Maryam laughed as she peered down at the little one whose glare seemed to say "Who are you?  Not my mother!"  She hurriedly reswaddled the baby girl and placed her in Samiya's quaking arms.

"My... my baby..." the woman whispered.  "Oh... sweet baby..."

The infant ceased crying, momentarily giving Hannah and Maryam a scare.  Thankfully, upon moving closer they saw that the child was merely staring up at her mother with contentment.

While Maryam was still admiring the newborn, Samiya clasped her hand then brought it up to her lips.

"Th-thank you..."  Samiya's gaze traveled to Hannah.  "Both of you but..."  She looked back to Maryam.  "You... you save..."

Maryam shook her head.

"The Lord saved her.  I... I was merely doing what He wanted."

Samiya cocked her head, unsure of what Maryam meant, but she was too intent on her baby to give it much thought.

Yosef, though, heard every word as he stood in the doorway that Hannah had vacated.


Fourteen days later, Samiya beamed as Yaqob fussed over their youngest.  She was the smallest baby anyone in Nazareth had seen but she was thriving!  And today she would be celebrated!

As soon as Yehoyakim, Hannah, and Maryam entered the house, Samiya hurried towards the three and embraced them.

"Come!  We have all been so secretive about our girl's name because we wanted you to know first but we are bursting!"

Hannah and Maryam smiled as Samiya took their hands and led them towards the baby and her father.  Yosef stood near them, gently tweaking the baby's thick curls.  He and Maryam exchanged warm smiles.

Samiya wrapped an arm around Maryam's waist.

"When I told Yaqob about what had happened... how... how I thought our girl was... was lost to us a-and then how you took her a-and then..."  The woman swiped at a tear and sucked in a deep breath.  "We were in agreement.  Our daughter shall be named Maryam."

"Oh, Samiya..."  Maryam began to shake her head, humbled by the pronouncement.

"Of course, we have every hope that our two families will forever remain close," Samiya continued. 

Maryam did not miss that Samiya's eyes briefly landed on Yosef whose face reddened.  Not wanting to cause the young carpenter further embarrassment, Maryam peered at Danya who was grinning at her.

"Thus, we realize that two Maryams could cause some confusion," Yaqob offered.  "However, we are determined to honor you, Maryam, and the friendship that exists between us all.  This little one will be named Maryam.  You, though, can choose what she will be called."

With tears in her eyes, Maryam took the precious bundle that Yaqob offered her.  Though now very lively, the child was still as beautiful and delicate as when she had first held her.  She reminded Maryam of a dove. 

"Yoninah," Maryam decided.  "'Little dove.'"

"A perfect name for her," Yosef praised.

It was Maryam's turn to blush but she beamed at the proud older brother.

"Yosef is right!" Yaqob assented.  "She is Maryam who is called Yoninah!"

With his words, the celebration welcoming little Yoninah began.


From "The Messiah":

Mary woke and stared up at the star-filled sky.  She glanced over at Abigail who was sleeping on a mat beside hers.  Closing her eyes, Mary said a prayer of thanksgiving for the woman's company.  Though several other women were now following Yeshua, Mary suspected she would feel lonely in his inner circle if not for Abigail.  The Twelve were good men...  Yeshua wouldn't have picked them otherwise.  But they could be loud and crass and pushy.  Mary didn't like how they sometimes competed for Yeshua's favor.  She could tell it drained him.  And Cephas, Andreas, the Yaqobs, all the rest...  They didn't understand her need for quiet moments, her need for escape when Shimeon went on one of his rants against the Romans... as if they were all the same.  As if her Lucius had been the same...  Yeshua would give her a sympathetic look and kind word.  But it was Abigail who would sit with her and remember his laugh, his smile, the way his hair stuck up at odd angles after he'd slept.

Mary rolled to her other side and smiled.  She could just make out Yeshua, walking amongst the trees.  She considered going to him but stayed put.  He needed his quiet time, too.  Besides, the way he was gesturing made her think he was speaking to his Abba.  It still sent chills through her... her Yeshua... her friend... the Son of God, the Messiah.  She willed her love to him then, turning back to the stars, she returned to sleep.


When next Mary awoke, it was to the sound of bickering men.

"Roman trash.  This pathetic creature is further evidence of their villainy!" Shimeon shouted.

"Hush!  You'll wake everyone.  And... I feel for the little one and its sad fate," Bar Tolmay lamented.

"We need to tell Yeshua," Cephas insisted.  "Where's he gone?"

And then another sound broke through the men's voices... a baby's desperate cry.

Throwing off her blanket and hastily covering her head, Mary ran towards the three men.

"What is..."  She pointed shakily to the bundle that Bar Tolmay was holding.

"Don't let her see!" Shimeon hissed before donning his most charming smile.  "Mary, it's nothing to concern yourself with.  Why don't you go draw some water for us to..."

"Let me see," Mary demanded, holding her arms out.

Bar Tolmay looked to Cephas who shrugged.

"Just... prepare yourself.  It's... shocking," he warned before carefully handing the squalling bundle to Mary.

"Cephas and I went fishing earlier.  We found it on our way back," Shimeon explained.  "That's what they do with their unwanted children, you know.  They put them out to starve or be eaten by dogs."

Mary snuggled the baby closer then drew the blanket away.  She stifled a gasp.  The child's upper lip was malformed, split in halves.

"We should have left it," Shimeon hissed at Cephas.  "I told you so.  Now it will die and..."  He lowered his voice.  "She's already delicate."

Mary wanted to shoot the man a withering look.  She was not delicate.  But she couldn't take her eyes off the little one's.  They were the clearest blue she had ever seen.

"But Yeshua...  Perhaps he can do something," Cephas insisted.

"For a Roman?" Shimeon scoffed.

"For a baby," Cephas corrected.

Not paying them any more attention, Mary wandered back towards Abigail with the baby.  Once she was back to her mat, she carefully unwrapped the child.  A little girl... perfect except for her lip.  Mary gently stroked her belly and the baby quieted.

Beside them, Abigail stirred.  She smiled when she saw Mary was up... but then she realized what she was doing.

"Mary!  Whose baby is..."  The old woman's voice died away when she was up and got a full view of the child.  "Oh, Lord... Have mercy on that poor child," she prayed.

"She... she was abandoned on the side of the road.  Shimeon and Cephas found her.  Shimeon wanted to leave her," Mary reported, tears in her eyes as she swaddled the baby and brought her to her chest.

"Sometimes the world is very cruel," Abigail lamented.  "Sweet child...  I... I've heard of such things before.  Her mouth... it makes it difficult for her to suckle.  She... she won't live, Mary."

Mary shook her head in protest.

"But Yeshua..."

Abigail sighed.  They'd witnessed the Rabbi doing many wonderful, miraculous things.  But this...


Mary perked up when she heard Yeshua calling to her.  Gathering the baby more closely to her, she leaped up and ran to him.

"Yeshu...  Shimeon and Cephas..."

"They told me..."  He bowed his head in sorrow. 

"Could you..."

Mary held the little one out towards him.

For a moment, Yeshua saw his little Mary, crying as she held a broken doll out to him.  But this was much more than fixing a toy. 

"Let me see her, please."  Yeshua held his arms out.

Carefully, Mary transferred the child to him.  She was so quiet...

With tears in his eyes, Yeshua examined the child.  He envisioned the mother, crying and pleading for her baby as her own life ebbed away.  He imagined the father, horrified and heartbroken and making a terrible, devastating choice... 

The baby let out a wail and Yeshua swayed with her.  Then he began to sing.

"'My soul and my spirit rejoice for now, my own, you are here.  The Mighty One has done great things, best of all brought you near.'"

More tears welled in Mary's eyes.  She recognized the song.  Maryam had sung it to her son... and he had sung it to her.

"'My little one, my precious one, to you these promises I make: I will love you in the daytime, in the nighttime, in the morn as you wake.'"

Mary took up the song when Yeshua quieted.

"'As the years go by, as the seasons change, never will my love.  For you, my sweet girl, I will always pray to our God Above.  When the way is hard, when you feel alone and do weep, remember this, oh my child, my love is always yours to keep.'"

Yeshua staggered against a tree.  Mary hurried towards him.  As he leaned heavily against the trunk, she took the baby from his arms.

"Yeshu...  Are you..."

Wearied, he smiled at her and then at the baby.

Mary looked down and stared in awe.  Where the gaping void had been was only a thin, white scar.

"What will you name her?" Yeshua whispered.

Mary beamed at the child in her arms... so small and pale and sweet... like a little dove.

"Yemimah," she murmured.

"Good choice, Ama," Yeshua affirmed, smiling widely at his friend.

"Ama..."  Mary echoed, tears of joy sliding down her cheeks.

Yeshua stroked her back.

"Go.  Introduce her to Abigail.  And you can ask the other women about providing her with milk."

"Yes..."  Mary grinned up at Yeshua.  "Thank you."

He nodded then watched, happily, as she ran off with her treasure.


From "The Glorious Impossible":

"And we were happy... and nervous... and very excited.  And then news came that we had to travel to Bethlehem for a census.  And so, with Yoktan, we set off.  We had only just arrived in Bethlehem when my labor pains began..."

As Joshua continued to look with love upon his parents, his mind filled with the voices of so many, across time and space; past, present, and future; who had told his story.

"There was no room for them in any of the inns," Yohannan preached to those gathered around him in Sheol as they awaited Yeshua's arrival.

"So they were shown to a stable," Cephas told the men with him in prison.

"And in the stable, Maryam brought forth Yeshua and wrapped him in swaddling clothes," Tzipora proclaimed, smiling at her children and grandchildren.

"And she laid him in a manger," Mattay preached in Ethiopia. 

"At that same time, there were shepherds in the fields, guarding their flocks," Loukas spoke to himself as he wrote.

"An angel of the Lord appeared to them and God's glory shone around them and they were scared," Cora whispered to the baby in her womb.

"But the angel said to them..." Sophia intoned as she swayed with baby JenniAnn.

"'Fear not!  I bring you good news that will bring joy to all people!'" Eli exclaimed.

"'Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord!'" Renata recited as she bounced Peter on her knee.

"And more angels came," a sleep deprived Andrew murmured as he rocked with Belle.  "And they said 'Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'"

"Then the angels left, returning to Heaven.  And the shepherds went in search of the miracle... the baby... the savior...  And they found him with his parents, laying in a manger," Yehuda told his family in Heaven.

"They spread the word... and all who heard them were amazed," Lucius recalled as he gazed out at the lights of Manhattan.

"But Maryam treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart," Mary added reverently, moving to stand beside her beloved and take his hand.

Joshua sighed happily as he saw the couple in the little apartment, humbly decorated but filled with love.  Mary had come... and all would be well.  He opened his eyes and gazed across the room to where Joccy and Takoda sat, shoulders touching.  A final voice came to him.

"'The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told,'" an older and wiser Takoda read to the baby in his arms.

Joshua looked out at the starry sky and smiled at his Dad, thankful for that glimpse of the future.  His attention returned to his parents and to the Friends.  He smiled at the Azizis... Liyana listening intently with Judah in her arms and Ibrahim's arms around her, his eyes filled with joy.  His gaze traveled to the Khalids, all listening in rapturous attention along with Christopher who was clasping Amala's hand.   Near them, Salma sat with Isra and Behnam and their children.  She caught Joshua looking at them and returned his smile.

For a few brief moments, theirs lives had hung in the balance... Ibrahim's, Raheem's, and Salma's... but they had been saved.  Now so had Cameron.  The tragic, painful, hate-fueled moment that had joined them was redeemed.

Joshua knew that another time of trial was coming for the Friends.  Once again, they would find themselves packed into a hospital waiting room.  Once again, they would worry that they would need to make a good bye that they weren't ready for.

But then they would find themselves gathered at Willowveil, celebrating the miracles they had witnessed, thanking God for answered prayers.

"Yes," the Birthday Boy reminded himself, "all will be well."


This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye and all of those who have gone Home before us, leaving behind inspiration, faith, hope, and love.

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(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  They are not being used to seek profit.)