Prayer, Fasting and Balloons

When I was a Beehive (the first class in Young Women’s back in the 1960’s), my teacher was an adorable newlywed named Cindy Clark. She simply sparkled. She and her husband, Steve, eventually had a gaggle of equally sparkly and creative children (one of whom took a class from me and brilliantly, delightfully broke every rule I gave).

I never saw Cindy without a smile—and I’ve seen her often over the past forty years.

Last Saturday, Cindy and Steve and their family met a tragedy. Their daughter, Stephanie, was in a plane crash with her husband. The flight instructor who was with them died soon after the crash, but Stephanie and her husband are still clinging to life. She is burned over 80% of her body, and he over 30%. They have four children.

How do sparkly people handle such a blow?


Stephanie’s sister, who blogs humorously about domestic issues and speaks constantly about joy, continued blogging, and interrupted her humorous musings with the news of what had happened. She invited all readers to join the family in a fast—and then linked to to help non-Mormons understand the LDS-specific way of fasting, and its significance. She also invited anyone who loved Stephanie—or who simply cared about the devastation this family is enduring—to send balloons into the air. I believe this will happen all over the country, 5:00 MST. I will be at the designated park to send my balloon up like a prayer.

Two days ago, I was in the hospital with my daughter, who was set to give birth. I massaged her head and urged her on with words like, “You’re doing so well!” as she labored. In the last moment of birth, when the baby’s head and shoulders were delivered, the midwife told my daughter to lean forward and bring her baby out. She did, and I witnessed the circle of a mother helping her baby into a world which includes so many possibilities, including the most tragic. I thought of Cindy, sitting beside her daughter in another hospital, another unit.

Years ago, I wrote a book loosely based on my sister-in-law’s slow, terrible demise from M.S. I created a courtship scene with the protagonist and her soon-to-be husband—before the M.S. had manifest itself. They are helping clean up the big oil spill in Santa Barbara, and he (a lapsed Mormon) asks her about faith. “So you believe in God despite all of this,” he says. “No,” she answers. “Beyond it.”

That is the kind of faith which has always undergirded this remarkable, sparkly family.

If you would like to join in prayers and a balloon launch, go to cjanerun dot blogspot dot com.


  1. Steve Evans says:

    Beautiful, and thanks for the link for supporting this couple. Amazing resilience.

  2. Devastatingly beautiful. Thanks Margaret.

  3. “Devastatingly beautiful.” What a wonderful summary, J. That is exactly what I wanted to say, but I could not have found that phrase.

    Margaret, thank you. I know it’s a corny song, with a love-hate relationship in the Church, but there truly is beauty all around when there’s love at home – even in times of deep sorrow and pain. Our prayers will be with them.

  4. Thanks for this post, Margaret. It’s a beautiful wish and idea. You’ve got me humming the song, now — ninety nine red balloons go by.

  5. Kaimi, I don’t know if you went to the blog, but indeed, red balloons are requested, though any color is accepted. App

  6. Finishing that sentence…
    Apparently, there will be big hot air balloons in Stephanie’s hometown of Provo, Utah. Launching from Kiwanis Park.

  7. Thank you for this. What a beautiful post and introduction to a family of true faith. I’ve just spent about 4 hours reading past posts on Stephanie’s blog, getting to “know” her and her family as one does through a blog, and now feeling the heartbreak for the pain that they are going through.

    Thank you again for this reminder of faith in the eye of tragedy.

    They will be in my prayers.

  8. Lovely post Margaret.

    You can find more info on the Provo balloon launch here (see Stephanie’s brother Jesse’s comment) and here. If you are not in Provo there are other balloon launches taking place as well. The Provo launch will take place at 6p.m.

  9. Lovely post, Margaret

    You can find more info on the Provo balloon launch here (see Stephanie’s brother Jesse’s comment) and here. If you are not in Provo there are other balloon launches taking place as well. The Provo launch will take place at 6p.m.

  10. Capt Jack says:

    I’ll be sending positive thoughts their way, Margaret.

  11. My daughter–fresh from childbirth–and two of my grandkids joined me at Kiwanis Park. My former student (and still very good friend), Stephanie’s brother, stood on the pavilion to count down the launch. I have no idea how many balloons there were. Hundreds. Very few tears, but lots of hugs and smiles.

    Go to the cjanerun blog for updates. Also, to help out and participate in a great giveaway, go to my sister-in-law’s blog (a famous one you should become aware of anyway) at http://www.designmom dot com.

  12. I just checked cjanerun, and there are photos of our launch. They’re lovely.

    My daughter and Stephanie were frequently the stars of films made by my brother and Topher Clark–pictured on the pavilion roof. Now Topher has gone on to make real movies (see _Stalking Santa_), and my brother (married to DesignMom) just finished his PhD in education.

    I was so touched that my daughter felt strongly enough about being present at the launch that she would attend three days after giving birth. There were remarkable moments of unspoken compassion (the balloons spoke for us) and there were sweet, sweet reunions.

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