Houston Sabbath

We were so glad, all of us, to finally arrive in Houston safely.

We were, all of us, less thrilled to unload the van in the Houston heat.

But we all took a backpack in, and the second graders took turns helping me with the rest while the others stayed and watched us from the window.  I was grateful for their help, and grateful to have almost nine year olds who can be safely left with little ones for five minutes while I run down to get more out of the car.  Their increasing independence is a great relief to me!

Working that hard made us very ready for the pool, and the kids were more than delighted to discover the indoor pool was connected to the outdoor pool by a little swim tunnel.  They thought this was hilarious, and are working hard to pass the swim test to get to try it out.  I can’t believe they are so grown up!  My five year olds will come out of life jackets this summer, and my eight year olds are real big kids with more pre-teen in them than baby.

Kyrie is growing up, too!  We managed at the last minute to get someone from children’s hospital to come give some special water play safety lessons for Kyrie.  She loves the bathtub and swimming, but even drops of water can be dangerous for her.  Cincinnati had trained us for what we have done so far, but she’s full on toddler going on big kid herself, so I had some questions and she wanted permission for more play.

Plus, you know. Ocean.

I am terrified.

But she needs the experiences, and a real life, no matter the limitations.

So what can we do to provide that? And how do we do it safely?  I wanted to know!  At the very least, we needed to know as she becomes more and more independent even just for baths and showers.  I was so grateful!  The other children had a blast with her, all six children enjoying water play together for the first time.

We got showers finished, and had soup we brought from home and heated in the coffee pot!  Everyone was cold from being out in the sun and then coming inside, so it was perfect and kept things easy until we get settled in more today.

We all got loads of sleep, and all of us woke feeling much better, and I am so grateful!

This morning was all about not getting anxious for finding out ward to visit, and pacing the children with Sabbath Day activities while getting them dressed but keeping them clean.  Because of the importance of the Sabbath, we don’t eat the breakfast buffet or go out on Sundays, but we were prepared with a special breakfast of cereal that Papa sent, and then lunch of cold meat leftover sandwiches with mayo and relish and applesauce.  

I was so anxious to find our local ward, but it was super easy and we found the gas station and grocery store and pharmacy on the way!  Now I know where we can run our errands tomorrow!  There was one empty pew big enough for us, and the kids were all intrigued because it has organ pipes visible all across the front wall.  They loved it!

I was so proud of them for being so quiet during Sacrament meeting, and grateful to the family next to us for entertaining Kyrie.  I was so cared for and rested and it was a beautiful Sacrament meeting experience!  The talks included the Prodigal Son story I used to talk about with my own father, and then all the children went up with this ward’s Primary to sing!  It was so funny!  Everyone was wondering who they were and where they came from!  But they did great!  We easily found their classes after, and even Kyrie loved nursery because they gave her a baby doll to play with right away!  Whew! 

That was a win, Houston!  Thank you!  The kids heard Vietnamese, Chinese, German, Mongolian, Spanish, and English!  

Mary said, “there are brown people everywhere! I am so happy here!”  

And while the children were in classes, I got two hours of rest!  It was the best church day ever!

And Sunday School was about the Word of Wisdom (our law not to drink alcohol, coffee, or tea), and we talked about what else it commands: to eat vegetables, to exercise, and to refrain from finding fault in others.  

Because parenting.

After church, I had a surprise for the children that was perfect for keeping them out of a tiny hotel room on the Sabbath: checking out the temple in Houston!

Our budget is so tight and careful that I wasn’t sure we even had enough for the toll roads.  But I worked hard on the maps this morning, and got a route figured out around the tolls before the children woke this morning.  I was worried the gates would be shut so we couldn’t even get on the grounds since it was Sunday, but knew we needed to go.  There are always so many reasons to not go, but I know going to the temple changes everything – means everything – even to my little family with children too little to go inside, except for the four times they got to go inside for sealings as our adoptions happened.

I knew we had to go, and prepared as best we could, and prayed for help.

It was amazing!  We had such a special experience!  Not only were the gates open, but the security guard lady was driving a golf cart around and stopped after awhile to talk with the children and then took them on a tour of the gardens in the golf cart!

They loved it!

And I loved her for being an angel to us, for being an answer to my prayers to give the children a special experience today!  They loved it!

Except for this one, who stayed with me and missed most of it until then end:

But she woke in time to sign her “K” she does for autographs now, because giving the kind woman a book was the only way I knew how to thank her.  What a blessing she was in such a simple way!

Not only that, but by the time we got back to our hotel room, it was suppertime!  We could do pajamas and relax and settle in for the evening.  I am so grateful for the rest of the Sabbath, and how it becomes a temple in time instead of space.

We needed that spirit juice, even if it wasn’t a day to be inside the temple for hours alone in the quiet.  We did go, and we were there, and we are doing our very best at covenant keeping – even in the mess of a process we still are.

And that’s enough.

And that act of faith, to just touch the walls, and the flowers, and the water, that’s enough.

It fills us up and carries us through and gives us spirit power to do the impossible.

Because with Him, all things are possible.

Even if what you needed power for was preventing a whole herd of baby fits before they happen, or love bombing little ones instead of criticizing them, or simply remembering at the end of a hot day that you chose each other as family for a reason, and that it matters more than anything.

And, and, and, the temple is a place to say hello to you Daddy on Father’s Day.

And to tell your children about him.

And to tell them their favorite stories, like the time he blew up a fireworks stand.

It reminds them of where my crazy side comes from, in case they get too bogged down by the seriousness of my mother’s very dry wit.

And it’s the place to call Nathan, and tell him Happy Father’s Day, and to model for them how much he is loved and respected in our family, and how much he has sacrificed beyond imagination for us, and how much he serves us everyday.

And to tell them family matters, and is more important than anything.

Because family matters.

And to prove it by sucking in the sting that comes when it’s time to call biological families and say Happy Father’s Day to them, too.

Because family matters.  That much.

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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