Heaven on Earth

It’s Thursday night, and I have very nearly survived my first week back at work.  Treatment plan updates are finished, and intakes are scheduled.  Patients are seen and school schedules coordinated.  Appointments are made and Nathan’s violin lessons falling into place around my schedule and first grader pickup times.  It’s really happening.

I am home.

I finished my four finals, grateful that I did all that work early as I was prompted, because I haven’t actually been in class since the middle of June.  I passed my classes well enough, even if not the exact highest set the curve like in the past.  I watched and listened and read and got everything turned in, and then jumped into finals after being away in the hospital with the baby.  There is no way I could have finished if I had not followed the prompting at the beginning of the semester to turn in all my classwork early.  I am so relieved.

I am home.

Chaplaincy is set, too, with only one more overnight to do in Tulsa.  The other hospital where I had half a semester yet to go has accepted my essays, my time already given, and my own clinical hours and just letting me be finished.  It’s kind of a miracle, and not for full credit, but enough that if I am sent to do a residency later then I am ready to go.  It’s another huge relief, and it’s the relief that means I am back home with my family after a very hard summer with a baby fighting for her life, which was preceded by six months of chaplaincy away from home, which was preceded by six months of fighting for my life against cancer.  And so it goes.

I am home.

It’s like I am home for the first time in over a year, and I could just collapse in exhaustion.

I am home.

It’s a good thing I have all these kids to keep me from getting lazy!  I finished in time today to pick up the first graders from the first day at school (“be at the crossroads,” they said at church last Sunday).  We went to pick up the preschoolers, and invaded the baby’s quiet world at home.  The kids had no homework yet, so they helped me make dinner, and we actually ate at a normal time because I wasn’t out late working at some hospital!  I loved it!

I am home.

I do have to return to the ER shifts starting this weekend, just because we need the financial support, and the thought of it just makes me tired.  I would like to let that job go, but it is not my season to do so, and for some reason Heavenly Father thinks the experience or the qualification is good for me.  So I will keep being obedient, trust Him for time and energy, and be grateful for the added income.

Regardless, life seems way easier than when I left, just having two places to work instead of four!

I am home.

Nathan has switched roles with me, suddenly having about eight productions happening all at once.  He is working so hard!  He doesn’t have to direct or produce all of them, which helps, but is saving money with the ones he is doing by making all his own props.  They are amazing!  His next show locally, if you want to come, is an old school radio show kind of style, with five different “plays” and some special musical numbers.  It’s this Saturday night at the Women’s Club building.  You can see his page Seven Lively Arts on facebook for more information or check out this article from the local paper.  The cast is rehearsing in our living room right now!

I am home.

I also had some extra doctor appointments this week.  There is still some “unusual or abnormal cell growth” happening, causing some spots in different places, so I have to get some scans of my head (where it was causing the weird eye problems) and some other organs, along with my first mammogram.  That’s exciting, let me assure you.  They are going to take some more biopsies as well.  The doctor reminded me today that I am “one of three people in thirty-two years who even made it one year with ovarian cancer,” and I got quite the lecture about staying on top of this and taking care of myself and not taking any day for granted, with some imaginary five year date looming over me with one year already gone in a blur.

I am home.

I assure him that I live every day very conscious of what it means, and what I am being prepared for, and what I am trying to prepare my husband and children for as time passes.  I live very intentionally, which makes me extra guilty when I fail, but mostly soaking in the beauty and joy given me every day by my Heavenly Father.  Last night I woke up on my own with no alarm to run outside in time to see the meteor shower, and then somehow threw together breakfast and lunches and morning scripture study when I slept late because of it.  My “big kids” are suddenly in first grade, no longer interested in holding hands on the way to school and no longer needing me when we arrive there.  My “babies” are in legit preschool, with required attendance and full class sessions, and plans for preK next year.  My newborn is suddenly four and a half months, already picking things up, rolling over, laughing, and almost crawling around during tummy time.

I am home.

It slips by so fast, and I want to treasure every moment.

I know, too, that treasuring every moment comes through the mundane routines of life – like dishes and laundry – just as much as the secret adventures like wishing stars.  We went through closets tonight after dinner, pulling clothes that didn’t fit and clearing space for winter clothes and the next size up as they grow.  We loaded up in the van just to run across town to sing happy birthday to our favorite family champion, even though the new car seat laws mean it takes us a good thirty minutes to load up in the van each way.  Some things are just worth it.

I am home.

Other things you fight for, like words on a quiet evening when the children are finally sleeping but the husband is busy with theater.  Books and essays and poems and blogging.  Words have built up in me for almost two weeks plus a year, and there are so many things to say.  Other things you have to let go of, like putting the baby down because she needs to sleep, even though you want to hold her until morning.

I am home.

This is how we should live, regardless.

Every moment matters.

Every moment is creating something of our lives that haven’t even started yet.

Every moment is a sign of the covenants made with our Father, and every moment brings us closer as we travel back to Him by becoming more like Him.

Or not, when we are far too weak and human and such a mess.

But we keep trying.

And we keep learning.

Oh!  And I have to go to Salt Lake for training for a week in October, and we are supposed to bring the children as well, and our place to stay fell through but we found another place with a safe and understanding family, though we still have no idea how to get us all there and home again.

That and we were entered in a drawing of foster-to-adopt kids for a post-adoption trip to DisneyWorld, which scares me to death because I have a serious phobia of mascots and costumes (yay for marrying a theater man), but would be absolutely hilarious in the whole scheme of things if they picked us.

There are so many adventures unfolding, because preschool and first grade is pretty exciting.  There is spilling paint on your new shirt and wiping it on mama, and there is running to greet her with peanut butter smiles.  There is “helping” by dropping plates, and “accidentally” knocking over glasses.  There is having such good days, with so much happiness, that you forget you are six and just collapse into bed crying because you are so very worn out.  There is the sound of actors chatting with my husband, with the sing-song of his laughter over the din.  There are corners of the house still to clean, and the smile that comes across my face at being home to get it done.

There is something about being alive, about being married, about being family, something that is just warm and cozy as a smores pizza coming out of the oven for the strangers gathering in my kitchen.

“We are responsible for the home we build. We must build wisely, for eternity is not a short voyage. There will be calm and wind, sunlight and shadows, joy and sorrow. But if we really try, our home can be a bit of heaven here on earth.”

~ Thomas S. Monson

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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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