Simple Things

Last week, Nathan told me about this poem (from the General Conference after he was born):

The sun shone that afternoon and so did you
As I opened the door.
Truth standing there and I concerned about my custard
And the kitchen floor.
You spoke, memories stirred and through the windows, darkly,
I watched the years
And wondered what it was I longed for
And why my tears.
You went on your way, but something lingered in the air,
Peace for my pain;
I picked up my mop, pretended that things could
Be the same again.

It’s about a woman meeting missionaries for the first time, and that feeling that sticks with you even if you don’t want or aren’t ready to know more, believe more, or feel more.  I remember that feeling.

My own baptism anniversary is coming up, not quite yet, but close enough to make me sappy.  I know – anyone who knows me knows – how much my life has changed since then, and this poem captures the feelings of it.  Besides any behavior changes, or new covenants that mean different choices that the kinds of things I chose before, the feeling of it is about the lifting of burdens and the awakening of Spirit.  Life is better now, even when life is hard.

On Tuesday this week I picked up my oldest niece from her dad’s, and drove her back to her mom and my brother.  It was amazing to listen to her talk about all she knows, is experiencing, and is working to understand.  I have watched her grow up and struggle to live her faith.  I am proud of her, and really cherished the time with her.  It is rare, that kind of time with teenagers.

When we got to her parents, they threw Jessica in the car and we have had her the rest of this week.  She is six and a half exactly-ish now, and absolutely (and suddenly) seems like a first grader instead of a kindergartner.  We have worked out our new dynamics now, where we are the new “us” without Grandma – though her memory is never far away.  It took us most of the summer to get through it and establish new routines without having mom here physically, and adjusting to it being Nathan who is here, but I think she gets it now.  It’s no longer us together grieving, but just the new us moving forward with mom in our hearts and memories.

We heard from DHS today, that they have our home study and it all looks good.  The house is approved, and we are good to go – except that now they want fingerprints from when Nathan lived in Arizona.  So we will go do that first thing Monday morning, and send them off, but it will take two weeks at least.  That gives us another reprieve from actually having to dive in to fostering.

In other news, the fertility specialist also called.  They were going to just call us and tell us the results and which treatment option that qualified for us, but instead they called and said we need to meet in person.  That doesn’t feel good, and it has made me anxious.  It cannot be too emergent, or they would have had us come in right away.  But our appointment is for Tuesday, and we will find out then what the big news is and what we are going to do about it.

In the meantime, I have been asked to speak at a regional conference for Seminary & Institute directors in Atlanta, and so have two weeks to prepare a workshop on Semetic and Temple Evidences in the Book of Mormon.  No pressure.  I was dying to dive in today after getting the news, but it was my last day with Jessica and knew she needed some one on one time.  That worked out, since Nathan got asked to speak at the Spanish branch tomorrow, which meant his speaking deadline trumped mine.  I have no idea if he is going to be speaking in English or Spanish or Korean.

I almost fell asleep in the pool today, and was grateful when Nathan came out and splashed me to tell me he was home (no cochlear implants in the pool).  I re-read some old institute manuals in the afternoon sunshine while Jessica slept, and then floated in the water to ponder what I have been learning and gathering my thoughts for this workshop.  I realized that I feel like one of those remote control cars, the old school kind, that would just run into the wall over and over.  I am finally pulling out of grief enough to be functioning again, but I still am short circuiting enough to keep running into the wall.  Grief is hard, and I can’t believe that just like that, both of my parents are dead.

It’s a different world I live in now, one that centers around Nathan and creating a family with him.  He is good and kind to me, and I am happy, but it is a different world than I have known.  He forgives so easily, and invites me to become all I was created to become, and shares a whole new world with me that is so completely foreign: agents and actors, composers and characters, readings and cast albums, dramaturgs and producers.  I just want to be in my garden, in the kitchen, or curled up with my laptop in my big cozy chair.

I want to be writing what I am learning, sharing lessons and revelation and insights gleaned from study.  But so much of my study has been this: to care for a husband well, and to love him well while doing so (I have already learned they are different skills, to care well and to love well).  I want to be diving into deep truths and finding ways to present them in such an engaging way that anyone could read and understand and soak it in the way I gulp down water after the gym.

But sometimes, the truths are simple: like the sacrifice of letting a six year old paint your face with makeup even though you hate makeup yourself, but knowing it is her “language” and playing in her world gives you the chance to teach her about women scientists and women engineers and women authors and women spirit queens, because it is when you play in her world that she will really listen.

Sometimes the blogs are simple: like a picture of a six year old making a pizza, the same as any other family, except this is your pizza, and it is you teaching her how to make dough the same way your grandmother taught you (except gluten free), and the tricks you learned about toppings just to please your mom, and the tradition of pizza night since your niece was still in diapers.  It’s not about the pizza.  It’s about the history, and the memories, and the story telling.  It’s the pouring into her mind all the things her heart knows, all the things her spirit remembers, all the things I want her to remember long enough to tell her little girl.

Sometimes the games are simple: like making tents out of blankets and pillows, letting the house get messy, leaving books and ponies and doll clothes on the floor.  Sometimes it’s about playing hard, resting well, and laughing really loudly.  Sometimes it’s about doing the normal memory-making things, just so that we have memories.  Sometimes it’s about making memories so the ones we already hold dear will seem wrapped up tight and safe and close.

Sometimes it’s not about Hebrew words or deep doctrines or profound quotes hidden in ancient texts.

Sometimes it’s just about little girls laughing, spending the day making your husband’s dreams happen, or the strange feeling of peaceful calm after an encounter with missionaries.

Sometimes it’s kind of all the same, this living and loving and laughing.

It’s happiness, is what it is.

That’s what the missionaries will do to you.

Happiness.

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About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but 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. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. 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, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. 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. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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