In October, I use the theme of heroes and saints for the theme of my family devotionals. It’s a perfect prelude to Halloween, which is a corruption of All Hallow’s Eve, the eve of All Saints Day, November 1, a day traditional used to celebrate saints. We’ve been learning about saints from the new book, Saints Vol. 1, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love hearing these stories! I’m so excited that as members of the Church, we have our own compilation of stories of saints. Each chapter is a stand-alone story and then as you combine all the chapters, it’s a beautiful narrative tapestry of stories woven together. Best of all, it’s true! These stories show people who were heroic and imperfect at the same time. We listen to these stories in the car on my phone, using the Gospel Library app, and then at home too while cleaning up breakfast dishes.
In the past few years I have told stories of heroes and saints in October, a few every day, and then all night either on Halloween or on an evening close to that day. This is my attempt to reclaim Halloween into All Hallow’s Eve. (My friend Emily explains perfectly why I want to “reimagine Halloween” here, into Heroween.) Last year, the Saturday before Halloween, I invited friends over and we dressed up like heroes. We had s’mores around my firepit and I told a few stories from my devotional ebook. Then we played Guess Who? as we gave clues to our character and then the others guessed who were. We had Anne of Green Gables, Emma from Pride and Prejudice, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mother Teresa, Abigail May Alcott (Louisa May’s mother, one of my favorite heroes) and Elizabeth Blackwell, among others. So I was delighted to discover a new name for my event: Heroween, from my friend and fellow blogger and homeschool mom Emily Satterthwaite. (If you live in northern Utah I hope you attend her Heroween event that I just linked to!)
(If you want some more hero stories of latter-day saints, you can get my devotional ebook here. It is a compilation of songs, poetry, and stories from the magazines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with a few other resources. All these years of homeschooling seven children I have wished for a resource like this. I wanted stories, songs, and scriptures to memorize, arranged by holiday, seasonal, and monthly themes, all in one place It didn’t exist so I made it!)
Since we are talking about heroes in October, I talk to my kids about the Hero Journey. If you haven’t read my take on the Hero Journey, please go here. It explains how the Hero Journey becomes the Covenant Path when we make covenants with God and become Christians.
The following story is not in my devotional ebook. It is contained in the book pictured above, My Miracle from God: an Autobiography of Nancy Goldberg Hilton. The author of the hero story, Nancy Hilton, tells her true story of how she found God and became a Christian after growing up Jewish. She found the answers to her questions about Judaism and how it relates to Christianity in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I commend her book to everyone. It’s a wonderful, faith-filled story of finding answers through prayer and scripture reading. It was originally published as My Burning Bush. It is now titled, My Miracle from God. In this book, Nancy tells her experience of having her own “burning bush” at the Rainbow Bridge natural rock formation in southern Utah. In that moment she was changed in an instant from being an unbeliever to know that Jesus is the Christ, our Redeemer and Savior. She instantly felt a witness that Jesus is the Christ burn into her soul.
Here is my summary of her story:
As a middle-aged woman, Nancy felt a call to get some kind of spiritual guidance. She enjoyed professional success, as a business owner, but her marriage was falling apart. So she started praying the scripted prayers she learned as a young Jewish girl because that was the only way she knew to reach out to the spiritual world. She was introduced to the world of psychic media but then decided it was not for her after her search for truth exposed her to frightening evil influences.
She did not yet believe in Christ when she went on a trip to Rainbow Bridge National Monument near Page AZ. She got caught in a rainstorm after falling asleep enjoying the beautiful scenery, the natural arch and nearby waterfalls. She felt God’s presence amidst His beautiful creations, and therefore felt safe enough to fall asleep after her scary experiences. The rain woke her up, so she walked to the Bridge. As the raindrops splashed on her, she experienced a miracle. She says she heard a clap of thunder shake the whole earth.
“the sound coursed through me, and I felt a great change enter my whole being. My mind was instantly opened to understand the things of God. All my feelings of darkness and evil left me. I instantly accepted the reality of God’s being. I knew that His son Son was Jesus Christ, a person whose love extended out to me at this time of personal crisis. He was truly a Savior at that moment as all thoughts of my past trials faded, and my heart was filled with wonder, compassion, peace, and love. This experience was brief, but its effect on my life will last forever.” (Hilton, My Burning Bush, 15)
She calls this miracle of feeling instantly convicted by the truth that Jesus Christ is the source of all power and love as her “burning bush.”
This conviction of Jesus Christ as her Savior, given as a gift out of nowhere at Rainbow Bridge, gave Nancy the strength and confidence to divorce her husband of 25 years. She moved out. Then she searched for guidance in Christianity as for what to do next. She started her search for Jesus by getting copies of the Old and New Testaments. She searched for a Christian church for four years. Nancy was dissatisfied with what she found, especially when she felt contempt from a pastor towards Judaism. She also felt frustrated that the churches she found did not harmonize with the teachings of Jesus in the Bible. This study of both books led her to eventually have a conversation with a man she was doing business with, about Jesus Christ. The man told her he was a Christian and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. She devoured the book on a flight from Houston to Dallas, her home. When she met the man again, she had so many questions for him, especially about the role of Jesus Christ as Messiah. As he took several hours to kindly answer her questions, the feeling of love she had experienced at Rainbow Bridge returned to her. She met with the missionaries, and eventually got baptized.
After making this covenant, she started a new cycle of the Hero Journey. This time, it was a Hero Journey on the Covenant Path, with new gifts of prayer and dedication offered to God, and new blessings given to her in return. She had never felt happier. She offered her thanks to God in prayer for her experience at Rainbow Bridge and for bringing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ into her life. She told God she intended to dedicate the rest of her life to Him in service. She said she would sell her home and her business and do whatever God told her to do. Within two weeks she met the person who eventually bought her business. So she sold her business. Then, out of the blue, someone knocked on her door and asked to buy her home. She then went on a family history mission at the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was blessed with the gift of being able to help create a database of Jewish names for the family history library. Another wonderful gift she received was meeting a fellow missionary who introduced Nancy to the missionary’s widowed brother, Lynn Hilton, a talented, scholarly, charismatic man abounding with talents. Nancy was told by the Spirit that this man would marry her, around the same time that the Spirit told Lynn the same thing. She and Lynn got married and have now been married for 17 years.
They have completed five missions together. Nancy was able to expand her family to include 5 step-children, many grandchildren, and a huge extended family. Nancy’s story perfectly exemplifies a Hero Journey turned into a Covenant Path. She experienced relational grace as she gave her desires and prayers to God and received many more gifts in return. I am thrilled she is part of my extended family through my husband and love knowing her. She has blessed my life with her courageous example.