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Things about Emily: "" I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love my family. I love my friends. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010. I will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. I enjoy taking pictures. I have two ugly puppies. I have my PhD, but that is mostly nerdy-boring... except that I love my job! Resting days are lost in gardens and books. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise.
The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. His hip and cool day job includes writing copy for UncommonGoods.com.
This is not an official Web site of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
CLICK HERE to read my latest book review for Deseret News, an excellent source for addicts, families of addicts, friends of addicts, or clinical use.
It was a quiet and still sunrise, almost as if even the birds feared to see what the morning sun revealed.
The area where the tornadoes did the most damage was mostly a rural area.
This is the good news, meaning that while one mobile home park was wiped out and the surrounding neighborhood had some damage, lives were saved.
Other than the mobile home park, the homes are spread out and far apart. Damage was to barns and power lines and trees. This doesn’t mean it is any less devastating for the affect families, but it did prevent some of the horrific carnage we see when it is a larger town that is hit – like Joplin a few years ago.
All the people are accounted for, misplaced families housed, the community fed, telephone lines being worked on, power lines being worked on, and the community preparing for round two of the storms this afternoon.
Here are some of the rural pictures from early this morning. I did not include pictures of the mobile home park because the families are still collecting belongings, and that is a very sacred and private and emotional moment.
There were lots of large trees completely uprooted:
And lots of power lines down and tangled in the debris:
Some trees were not uprooted, but stripped bare of their leaves and then decorated with debris:
Even the fences around farms now have strips of distorted tin and other debris entangled in them:
In this pile of debris, we found two uprooted trees, a car, part of a roof, and a rocking chair all tangled together:
Many barns were missing roofs or just gone all together:
Other piles, like this one from the edge of the mobile home park, were piled so high of tangled debris that it was hard to tell what was what:
The power companies have new poles ready:
And extra trucks for helping:
But everyone was almost holding their breath, still in shock and dazed, with one eye on the destruction and another eye on the storm clouds already gathering for later today:
From what I have seen so far, this scene in Shawnee is nothing compared to the loss of lives and damage we saw in Joplin.
We should be grateful.
That said, any loss of life or home is devastating to those experiencing it, and there can be no comparison made.
Tonight all misplaced families have been sheltered, and we have only one fatality with two people still missing.
Here are some pictures:
Many people have asked what it is like being a first responder, especially the team with which I get to work.
Sometimes, like Joplin or school shootings, there is no warning at all. I just get paged to go.
Always, there is very little notice.
That’s another reason you have to be trained and certified before any storms happen: once a storm happens, it is too late to get a pass into the disaster area.
There are many different ways to help and ways to get signed up and certified, but it all has to be done ahead of time.
My team usually notifies me to be “on alert” when severe storms seem to be headed into a four hour radius from which I live.
If we get enough warning of actual tornadic activity, there is kind of a timeline to follow.
The first thing I do is get my own family safe, with our emergency kits and extra equipment for my cochlear implant processors and food and water supplies ready.
I also make sure our battery-generator is fully charged:
That way it is ready if we need it here, but I can also take it in my trunk to charge my processors or phone while on site.
I stay in touch with what is happening with the storm through online connections, social media, and twitter. Here’s the Red Cross response center watching the storm:
This gives me information not just BEFORE it is on the news or tv, but also different information… Like not just where a storm is, but if it has a debris cloud, etc., which helps us prepare for and assess damage:
I also watch the weather at my own home, like noticing the clouds building up high (worse storm) or how the apple trees in my garden start to spin instead of just waving in the wind.
When the storm causes damage so that I know I have to go help, I get a page telling me when and where. If the damage is west of me, I do not go until the storm has passed over me. This is for my own safety and also because I may be needed closer to home.
If the damage is east of me, I leave immediately.
When this is my news, my job is to quickly grab my already packed bag, as well as any water supplies I can bring.
If I have to wait for safety before traveling, like tonight, then I take a good shower, knowing it may be my last one for days.
Then I put on layers of clothes, so that I am warm, with an outer layer of camp or hiking like suit for the rain and hail protection. I also pack gloves and hats because when the storms keep coming, it can be really cold (Joplin was like that). I also put on thick work boots that keep my feet safe in the debris field.
Then by 7pm, my car is packed with food and water and supplies, and I am dressed and ready to go.
Storm’s estimated local (Tulsa) arrival at 720pm.
In the meantime, we sit and do our evening couple’s scripture study.
Because that’s how Mormons roll.
And then, just like that, I am on my way to Shawnee.
We are at St. John’s.
One of Nathan’s dearest mentors has had a stroke, and he is visiting her in the ICU.
We have not been here since the day mom died, when the ambulance sent us to the wrong hospital because they were going to life flight mom from the accident scene to this hospital but then were not able to because of high winds and ice. We got all the way here before they sent us back to Pryor.
It was ironic, really, after spending so much time with mom at this place. Her pain management doctor was here, and she had her spinal surgery here, and her cardiologist was here. We spent a lot of time here together. Correction: she spent a lot of time here, while I spent a lot of time being sent around the corner for her Sonic drink.
I had to pray in church today, after a talk about the blessings of family history and temple work.
The last time I was asked to pray in church was the Father’s Day after my father died.
I really need to work on my timing.
All the men sang at church today, and it was my first time to experience that when one of those men was mine. Not mine in a possessive way, but in a belonging way. It was powerful, not just the men before us, but also their fathers and grandfathers and many spirits who joined in song in that ministering of angels way, most often talked about in temple dedications. I cried.
The crying is settling down. Pregnancy and miscarriage do weird things to a girl, especially three times in a row with the death of a mother in the middle of it. I wasn’t sure I would be able to get through the prayer without crying, but maybe that’s why Heavenly Father asked me to do the prayer today: so I could say thank you, and mean it.
Really, because no matter how hard it is, I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. A mother would do anything for her child, and a daughter would do everything for her mother, and that’s where I find myself right in the middle but without any of them.
This week is my follow-up appointment, including with the oncologist. I feel fine, so am not worried about any cancer, but we will do the lab work and get my tumor markers and see if my levels have gone down any. They have held steady for a year instead of going down, but holding steady is better than going up.
In the meantime, I pray, and fast, and cling to promises that I know are true. I learn more about obedience, soften a little each day, and keep trying to become a little more like the daughter (and wife and mother) He calls me to be.
My words are still stuck, but becoming tangible. I try to write, but there is so much grief to wade through that it seems wrong to burden anyone else with it. I do not object to the grief, but acknowledge my meager efforts at processing so much of it so quickly. I know it will continue to settle, and I know a greater peace will come after the temple work is done.
It is a time of specific lessons, and they are painful. But as I sit quietly, a peace falls, and I am taught. Only tears like these can soften a soul, and this humbles me with gratitude. My circumstances cannot be changed by use of my agency, but I can use my agency to choose my response to each experience in such a way that I understand my circumstances differently.
That’s why I am happy, even when I am sad.
It is not a fake Pollyanna happiness, and not a superficial layer without substance.
It is a knowledge of truth, and a faith in things that can only sometimes be seen, and a belief that there is wise purpose in all things.
That’s what teaches me to receive, instead of fight against it.
That’s what transforms my fighting into endurance, and what holds me firmly in place when I am too weak to hold on any longer.
That’s what gives me air, even when it stings to be here in this place.
This is the place, symbolically, where I lost a mother and a child. It is a place of waiting, a place of meeting the limits of mortality. But it is also a place of tenacity, a place of healing. It a place of new birth, and a place of miracles.
Faith always comes before the miracle, and so I sit in this storm and brave the winds. I let the rain be my tears, and the wind be my breath, and the debris of what is not-of-God blow away from me.
That’s the place of faith, the moment of suffocating darkness when you are left alone with yourself and know that you can only breathe by the air God gives.
That’s the moment of faith, when you believe He will do what He has promised.
That’s the moment you act in faith, and dare to breathe again.
Tonight was Nathan’s 11th Annual Headless Chicken party, celebrating Miracle Mike! The event was a deal breaker when negotiating our nuptials, and tonight it was time to pay up. You can CLICK HERE to see the artsy pictures pre-party, and scroll down to see why my face hurts from laughing.
Angry Peeps was the first game:
And there was a coloring contest:
There is the classic paper bag game:
And baby food tasting, in honor of Miracle Mike being fed by a dropper:
Finally, the chicken fashion show:
Because of a new agent and a press release coming out on Monday, we needed to organize Nathan’s creative experiences and accolades into a website for easy reference.
It has been so very fun to share more of who he is, and discover the details of his fun world in New York and London with musicals, songs, and violin performances.
CLICK HERE to see his new website!
And if you want to see some of Nathan’s work – his musicals, songs, or him playing violin, you can CLICK HERE to see his media page!
How fun is that?!
I am so proud of him, and it was so fun to discover this side of him!
It is also strange because both of us have work that requires us to be very public at times, even though the actual work is a very internal and private process, and also we are just simply ourselves – very introverted and private people who are nothing except children of God, which is everything.
So while it is exciting to discover and laugh and enjoy and even appreciate previous efforts at creative expression, we know we are not defined by them and that we still have so much to learn.
It’s a hard thing to wrestle with words, and make them into something others resonate with in some way.
There are all kinds of people, speaking all kinds of heart-languages, at all kinds of places in their line-upon-lines. It is fun to see Nathan’s corner of the world, and the ways he reaches people so differently than my own capacity, in a way uniquely his.
It’s like a dance, and watching it, and dancing it together.
It’s writer-love, that’s what it is.