2010: A Year of Miracles

2009 closed with me being just barely baptized and recovery from a year’s worth of heart illness.  I received my first healing blessings.  While stuck on bedrest, I dove into mormon literature, devouring all the books I could find and exploring doctrine and beginning my line-upon-line.  I was finally cleared to “go outside”, and promptly packed up and went camping, reading “Jesus the Christ” overnight.

Christmas was spent still recovering, with a little tree in my little scary apartment that had no heat and a fireplace that gave me pneumonia.  But me and Neitzsche had the gospel, and we were happy and content.

But also, cold.

I got my Patriarchal Blessing at the end of December, and I was so new that I didn’t understand much of it beyond being aware it was amazing.  However, in a paragraph about my personal study and things to memorize, it specifically listed the Family Proclamation.  So I started there, just because it was specific enough for to know something to do.  I started memorizing it while in cardiac rehab, and would read it out loud to my “family” – my first names of my family I had begun to do at the Temple every week!

 I did not see my family still last Christmas, but the Family Proclamation got me to thinking about them.  So I did, for Christmas, send my a letter each to my mother and to my father.  My mother wrote back.  Then I started writing her every week.  Then we started emailing.  That’s how I got my mother for Christmas.

The Queens came and caroled to me, which was awesome because people just don’t go Christmas caroling Deaf people!  I laughed so hard!  It was AMAZING.  I loved it!

After being so sick, and all that hospice nonsense, I was very, very happy at the sight of Spring bursting forth.  I did not think I would see Spring, and this began my understanding and the increasing of my testimony of blessings and healings and faith.  To me, Spring was a miracle.

I began to walk again, resuming my Neitzsche walks that I loved before getting sick, which now had been a whole year ago.  I did not yet know that I qualified for cochlear implant surgery, and that there was one more year of surgeries ahead of me.

After studying the lesson manuals about the different prophets, and re-reading the Joseph Smith one that I had started in the middle of (in Relief Society, when I started going to church), I decided I wanted to learn more about that Joseph Smith place and the whole Nauvoo thing.  I googled it, researched it, and decided just to go see it for myself.  On a whim, I invited my newly re-discovered mother to go with me.  She agreed!  Three hours later, we were on our way to Nauvoo!

We raced ahead of a snow storm, literally making it to St. Louis twenty minutes before it hit!

AND, I could not just drive through St. Louis without stopping to do baptisms!

 The next day we drove through snow, staying ahead of the ice that followed, and made it all the way to Nauvoo!  We left St. Louis at 6am, and made it in time to tour Carthage Jail.  It made me cry.  It was amazing.  We were the only ones there, and so we got a special tour by the missionaries, where we got to go inside areas normally closed to tourists.  It was so special and amazing, and my mother accepted a Book of Mormon there, for the first time.

From the Carthage Jail, we headed to Nauvoo.  When I saw the river, THE RIVER, where the pioneers crossed, beginning on a day as cold and icy as that day I was there, I did weep and weep and weep.  I cannot describe how incredible the experience was, and how powerful it was to me.

Then, finally, up the road just a tiny bit,
around the corner and on the hill, was the Nauvoo Temple.  It was amazing.  While I went in for baptisms, and a personal tour (the Temple president said they were waiting on me – it was so CREEPY!  In that good, mormon kind of way!), my mother toured the little village there.  It was a very special day for both of us, I think.


After we saw all we could see in a single afternoon and evening, we drove all the way back to St. Louis that night!  We both only had the weekend off, so yes – we drove to Nauvoo after work on Friday, and were back in time for work Monday morning!  It was CRAZY!  But the time together in the car was precious and amazing, and so healing for us.  After this trip, we were friends indeed.

 The next exciting adventure was my first lesson in the blessings that come from tithing!  I got a house for my birthday!  No joke!  It was finished being built by my birthday, and we closed just after.  It was such a sweet experience.  To get baptized, I had to move out of my giant house the summer before… I lost a lot of furniture and fancy things, and I lost a gorgeous house.  I lost my best friend of three years, whom I thought I was going to marry.  Because I wanted to get baptized, I had to just let go of the contract and everything, just sacrifice it in obedience, my first big act of faith.  I was also paying for cardiac bills at the time, and started tithing, and lost all my equity and everything – it was a picture of financial ruin for foolishness from any other perspective, but it was an act of faith for me, part of preparing me for baptism.  So to me, this house was a miracle – a miracle of blessings for obedience, and a miracle of tithing blessings.  It was amazing.  I got a really good deal, but it was quality work from the builders… but they made several minor mistakes (nothing damaging the house) that also provided for me the free fence for my puppy, all new appliances for free, the garage door opener, etc.  It was AMAZING.  I cried every night, and drove all the way to Owasso everyday to see it.  This was my miracle house, given to me by my Heavenly Father.  And everybody knew it!  That was part of what was so amazing, because all my non-member friends were watching and seeing it all unfold, and even they knew there was no other explanation than it all being a God-thing.  It was AMAZING.

I continued becoming friends with my mother, and we continued healing.  It was very good for us.  I also continued writing to my father each week as well, but he never responded.

My mother, however, was up for another spontaneous weekend trip!  This time it was because I found family that were members!  Distant, but family!  I was doing family history work and connected to another line through my mother’s great-grandfather (the one who settled Eureka Springs), and this lady and I began to email back and forth.  She was so sweet, and turned out to be a Temple worker in Mesa.  I was so desperate for family, and so excited to have found family that was a member, that I decided to go meet her!

So, my mother drove over Thursday night, and then before dawn on Friday morning, she and I started driving west!  Just like that!  It was so fun!  Such an adventure, and again it was good time for us in the car, with nothing to do but talk and heal and chat and laugh.  Like Nauvoo, it is one of my best memories ever of my mother.  We drove all the way to Albuquerque the first night!   Of course I made it there in time to go to a baptism session at the Temple there!

We slept a few hours, and then left all our stuff in the hotel and got in the car and drove all that day to Mesa!  It was so fun, because we  had many adventures along the way… like dinosaurs!

 And my mother and I got to see the Really Grand Canyon together!

Then finally, right at rush hour, we made it to the Mesa Temple! 

I got to meet this lady, who helped me do baptisms, and while I did that my mother filled the car up with gas and got us food… so by the time I was back out again (and finished taking hundreds of pictures of the gorgeous garden grounds!), we were back on the road to Albuquerque!  We made it in the middle of the night, slept a few hours, and then drove all the way back to Tulsa the next day.  It was CRAZY!  But it was amazing!

After that adventure, it was time to say goodbye to my little river apartment:

 Because my house was finished!  Just in time for my birthday!

It was March when it closed, but I was moved in by April.  I missed my Brook Hollow friends very much, but I still got to see them at different things… such as Family Home Even
ing nights at the Masons, whom I love with all my heart.  I am so grateful to them and their teachings, from my first days as a visitor at church almost two years ago, to the friendship that has evolved since.  Mutual edification, I say.

Then I had my first Easter as a Latter-day Saint, and found out that means General Conference, WOOT!

Since I went to TOES to watch General Conference, and like after Stake Conference, I got to go out to eat with Brook Hollow friends afterwards.  But by now my worlds were starting to overlap, such as my terp at BH really being in my new ward at Ranch Creek, so that helped me transition into my new ward.

Then we found out, after being denied for four years, that a new procedure meant I qualified for cochlear implant surgery!  It was very exciting, a very emotional decision to make, and then it all happened very quickly.  We almost did not have time to say goodbye to my hair!

Recovery from surgery took more than two months.  It was horrific and horrible, but it was a miracle-in-the-making, no doubt.

I was supposed to get my staples removed at 14 days, but my surgeon left the country for a conference!  So I was stuck with staples in my head for another week!  I couldn’t handle it!  My body was pushing them out, so they were becoming painful and I was worried about them getting infected.  So I started taking them out myself with jewelry pliers.  HA!  Because that wasn’t the proper way to remove them, I could only do a few at a time… also, I really was trying to wait for the surgeon, so I was only taking out the painful ones.  But finally, it was so bad that my friend who is a surgery tech did use the real staple-removal-clippers to get the rest of my staples out for me.  My doctor was so mad that I had taken them out myself!  Excepting then, after he realized the time frame, and how we did it, he said I did the right thing.  So.  Whew.

Summer was spent simply, recovering from surgery.  I dropped off the planet from the social world, disappearing from friends and playtime to just be at my new house, my first time to live completely on my own, appreciating self-reliance, and celebrating each day in my little garden that I loved.  It was a beautiful, healing summer that did strengthen the fibers of my soul.

At the end of June, Sherry Campbell got assigned as my visiting teacher.  We made a newspaper dress!

Another thing I did in the summer was watch my hair grow back, so painfully slow… By July, I was clearly in the chia pet stage!  This is me at my mother’s Relay for Life, where I bought a luminary to honor my friend Brother Fish from the Oklahoma City Temple.

At the end of summer, it was time for my first missionary, Elder Max Black (from Idaho), to go home.  He was finished!  It took almost his entire mission to get me baptized and endowed! HA!  But we made it!  This picture is with him and the Hamiltons, the family that baptized me.

I recovered enough from surgery that Neitzsche and I were back to our walks!  My body felt swollen and stiff and weak after the two years of being sick, and I was glad to be outside walking again.  My vis
iting teacher began walking with us every morning, and visiting teaching grew into friendship.

I love her family!  They are so sweet and kind to me!  And they crack me up!  This memory is from the time Ron was out of town, and they had a leak in their backyard.  This is Riley with his invention that sucks water out of the hole… and sprays the mud on himself!  But it totally worked!  It really did get the water out!

I flew to Philadelphia for the National Association of the Deaf conference, which meant I was close enough to go see the Washington, DC temple!  My friend Jen drove me there, and I will be forever grateful to her – and so glad for far away friendships!

On the way back home, my flight had problems and so we were held over night in Houston… that gave me time enough to take a cab and see the Houston Temple, too!

The end of summer was spent swimming and playing, a freedom I had missed out thus far because of surgery.  The Campbell kids and I spent some time at the pool, and helped me as I learned to hear and speak!

Then I got called as a missionary!  How wild is that?!  It’s a MIRACLE!

I was so excited!  I thought I had missed out on being a missionary, since I am too old to go on a mission like the young people do, and not yet married or retired to go on a senior mission.  So I was honored and excited and thrilled that there was an opportunity for even me to serve a mission!

Trying to stick to my missionary budget, I had to go camping in Springfield to see the miracle-est of all!

 It was my brother!  He got baptized!  Almost exactly a year after I did!  SO AMAZING!

And then, by some other classic Emily adventure, my mother gave me another puppy.  And I mean PUPPY.  His name is Rilke (another philosopher-poet, like Neitzsche!).  Neitzsche (Nee-chee) is getting old, and the vet has been saying that if I want to train another deaf puppy, I need to do it now while Neitzsche still can.  He also said another puppy now will help Neitzsche live longer.  Thus came Rilke (Rill-kah).  It is so true!  Rilke is CRAZY, but he plays so well with Neitzsche, and I think we all needed it him and love him.

I do love my baby puppies!

Then, one of the most powerful and amazing days of my whole entire life, seriously.

The PRIESTHOOD was restored to MY family!  My brother got the priesthood!

Esther Zonts started joining me and Sherrolyn and others on our monthly Girls Night Temple trips, and so I began to get to know her family a little.  Adding the Zonts and the King families to one dinner table means A LOT OF CHILDREN!

In October, my dream came true!  I got to go to SALT LAKE CITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was such an amazing experience!  I got to meet my mission team at Church Headquarters:

And I got to go to FIVE temples in TWO DAYS!

It was amazing.  Just amazing.  I mean AMAZING.

By the time I got home, Autumn was officially in Oklahoma!

Riley and Haleigh taught me how to play “Charades”.  I have never laughed so hard!

Neitzsche started teaching Rilke how to go on walks:

I gave my first talk at my ward, a 5th Sunday 3rd Hour lesson (only a mormon can understand that!) about marriage.  It was intense, and everyone was very gracious.

 THEN THEN THENNNNN, the Campbell kids introduced me to McDonald LAND!


It was THE MOST FUN ever, and I did love it. 

By December, I knew the second cochlear implant surgery was happening for sure.  It was so horrific the first time, that I was not sure I would be able to endure it again.  Also, my body was just worn out from two years of surgeries.  But then, then I went to the SYMPHONY, and it was AMAZING.  I knew the second cochlear implant was worth it, and it gave me the strength to be ready for it.

Part of getting ready meant decorating my new house for the first time!

Also, I was accidentally in my first ever Christmas parade!

All adventures came to a screeching halt last week, when I received my second cochlear implant – this time on the right side of my head.  Again, it was horrific and awful.  Except this time I knew it would be worth it.

A week of blessings and good care from many friends, and much help from many Relief Society sisters, and I was back up and ready for new adventures.

There are always adventures to be had in Emily World, even when Emily is baptized shiny clean, and the days are marked by Temple trips and mission hours.

And 2010 had PLENTY of adventures.

The biggest being like the great Heart Healing of 2009, which did give me LIFE to live, with the responsibility and obligation to live it well, so was this year the great “Ear” Healing of 2010… in which I am allowed to hear, and now responsible and obligated to obey.

2010 was a year of MIRACLES, absolutely.

So now, 2010 closes with 3 Nephi 7:22…

And as many as …. were healed of their sicknesses and their infirmities, did truly manifest unto the people that they had been wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and had been healed…”

I can’t WAIT to see what happens next year!

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.


2010: A Year of Miracles — 1 Comment

  1. Emily: What a wonderful year I've had to read and feel of your incredible experiences. Thank you for your sharing your testimony, your love for the gospel and what it is doing to change you and your family! I can't wait to see ALL the wonderful things that will come in 2011!