Every boy I ever loved.

I used to do this thing with every boy that I loved, I would gather up everything. Everything I ever wrote about them. A compilation. A ceremony. Of me and him. I would give it to him, at parting. I think I was trying to say, “That me will always give this much to you. This me will let you keep it, but this me will say goodbye.” I often think of those people, and hurt. I cannot believe I am not theirs to need. To love is to let yourself need. And though you can love many, you only let yourself need one. They were pieces of me, but I gave them back. In me are many holes now. To fill them is my quest. Like so many old rooms, rented for free.

In you I find a permanence. You could go in those rooms, and know them. You would sit down in my vacantness, like you do, and say, Come, let’s look into this. You could name the settled dust, the empty frames. You would know why and how they changed me. And then you would say, I will buy you a house full of rooms. For you to own. And you can fill them with things that will last you. And you can empty them when you are ready. And always, always I will help you fill them again. For you, a home. With me.

(My pages of you: I keep them. Because I have kept you.)

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Thoughts on: Having a Baby

I have to tell you something awesome:
There is a little human. In my belly.
I am a Mom.

I feel ten million things about this.
Mostly I feel: A Certain Type of Excited.

Not Disney World Excited. Not like sitting in the back of the mini van with zero reservations shouting YEAHHH THIS IS GOING TO BE SO FUN LET’S GOOOO!

More like the type of excited I felt before I became a missionary. Like I have so much hope and desire to do this but I am also SCARED because I want CHANGE THE WORLD and am I really READY or CAPABLE of such a MONUMENTAL venture?
…YES! What?! Noooooo! Wait, yes yes yes!

There is a word for this certain type of excitement:
awe |ô|
noun
1. a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

The source of this reverence, fear, and wonder:
I believe that every person is made of a spirit–you might call it a soul–and a body. While our bodies began existing sometime in the womb, our spirits existed long before that, and will continue to exist long after. In other words, I believe all of our spirits are infinite, that we have no definite beginning or end.

The idea that our spirits live on after we die isn’t new, but the idea that our spirits existed before we were born– sometimes that’s new. And that is what I’m getting at here.

That’s what the Lord was getting at when he said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” He’s saying, before you were born, I knew you personally. I gave you a purpose that you were to fulfill while you were here on earth. For Jeremiah it was to be a prophet, but I have specific work to do here to, and so do you, and so does my little baby. Before this baby was inside of me, his or her spirit lived with God, learned from Him, and was prepared to come here and learn more through the experiences of his or her life. So was I. So were you. And while God is our parent in Heaven, Ken and I get to be this little person’s parents on earth. We get to teach and prepare and help. And that, is something to feel awe about.

A time when the awe really got goin:
A little over a year ago, as I was thinking about having children, I felt something strange. I didn’t know how to describe it for a while except that it felt a little sad, but in a loving way. Why, when I thought about my future children, would I feel this strange hint of sadness? It puzzled me for a while, and then a thought came to me that felt very true. “It feels like I miss them,” I thought. Yep, that was it. It felt just like missing someone. But how could I miss my kids if I’d never met them? And then I remembered what I believe about our spirits, and that if my spirit existed with God before I was born, and my children’s spirits did too, then I probably have met them. In some part of me, I probably do know them, and miss them. Since then, there has just been no other way to describe it. My mind doesn’t know this little person — we haven’t met face to face yet. But our spirits know each other, and that little soul is growing in me. I am calmed to know that someday soon we will be face to face family.

Learn more about this idea: here.

Answers to the usual things people ask:
How far along are you? 10 weeks today.
When is your due date? September 15th.
Are you sick? YES. Yes yes yes.

brad

Quote

Identity poems today.

I wear knee-length jean shorts.
I wear jorts.
I cut my old jeans off at the knees,
and roll them once or twice,
to make my jorts.
I wear knee-length jorts even though my thighs
pudge out a little at the bottom,
Because I am Mormon,
and it is dang hot this summer.

I read things on my Kindle.
They are electronic books.
Like the paper version,
Only you swipe instead of turn the page.
Having a Kindle makes me feel Official.
Because I own a tablet
Not made of stone.

I argue with my husband.
Useless banter.
Sometimes for fun
And sometimes by accident
And a few times,
on purpose.
Because I just have a lot of emotions,
And that is a weird thing to handle.
I’m sorry.

I live in Texas.
Austin, Texas.
That has been true
For exactly seven days.
I live in Texas
And I embrace that.
But I need a job
And a friend
Please.

jorts

This is me talking about God.

Story time:
I used to be a teacher at the MTC.
That stands for Missionary Training Center.

I often asked the new missionaries,
“What do you need to feel in order to experience conversion?”
I wasn’t looking for any one answer in particular, just trying to get them thinking.

I often heard things like:
“Feel that God loves you.”
“Feel a desire to believe”
“Feel that He is listening.”

Once, from a brand new sister missionary in the back corner, I heard this:
“You need to feel uncomfortable.”

She explained that conversion requires a change of heart.
Some sort of self-renovation.
You cannot change or progress without leaving your comfort zone.
And so, she concluded, you need to feel uncomfortable.

I believe she was right.

Let’s talk about this.
Maybe the word conversion is strange and foreign to you.
You could call it inspiration or enlightenment or something more ambiguous if you like.
For me, that move can sometimes be deceiving.

Watch:
God >> Divine Being >> Higher Power >> Vibrations of Light >> Force of the Universe.
With each move, your subject becomes more broad.
You are covering a larger scope of ideas with just one word. This type of language is good if you’re speaking to a bunch of people from diverse backgrounds. It helps us unite and relate to a large spectrum of ideas. Yoga teachers are masters at this. But here’s the deal: in embracing that ambiguity, in trying to include every possible belief that others have, you may pass over the opportunity to clearly define what your belief is.

And so, I believe the safety of ambiguity also comes with a loss of clarity, relevance, and intimacy.
Who is God to you?
I think it can be simpler than a vast, vague sphere of ideas.
I think God is a man we can know, rather than a force that comes and goes in mysterious waves but is never quite as personal as a friend. I can be uncomfortable to try and communicate with someone you don’t know. But that is not the type of uncomfortable I’m talking about here. What I’m saying is that while the conversion experience must at some point feel uncomfortable, our relationship with God as a being, as a Father, does not have to be. It can be simple. And clear. And awesome.

Kind of like this:
There was a time when I really wanted to learn how to play the guitar. My good friend Jared offered to help. He was kind. He didn’t mind that my musical background consisted solely of jammin to the radio, he was just pumped to teach me–so I decided to try it. Still, it was uncomfortable for me. Holding the guitar, finding the chords, staying in rhythm–all of that was weird. It was a position I’d never been in before and most of the time I felt pretty embarrassed. Jared was patient. Sometimes he would explain things in a way that didn’t make sense to me, but I trusted him. I knew he was listening and that he cared about me, but learning to play like him was hard. It required much more. Same thing with God.

If you want to know Him,
You must be ready to go where you have never gone,
Learn new things. Embrace awkward positions.
Leave your comforts behind.

This means you will feel uncomfortable at times.
Not so much in your relationship with God,
but in the experience of becoming like Him.

I could leave you with a beautiful ending about how I stuck with guitar until I mastered it and was no longer uncomfortable. But that wouldn’t be true. I gave up on the guitar pretty fast. I just didn’t know if I was capable of the results I wanted. And if I was, would it be worth all the time I spent feeling uncomfortable? I wasn’t sure. So I stopped trying, and went back to the way I was. Now I listen to music like I always have, appreciating it from a distance without being involved. I think this is how I am with God sometimes too. Distant. Complacent.  But not happy. Not anywhere close to the potential he created me for. I keep having to remind myself to seek that potential–leave the zone of comfort.

So here’s the ending: I think that process is normal.
That is how you find out the details of who He is and how He works with you.
That is how God goes from someone you hear about, to someone you know.
That is how you move from an ambiguous notion, toward a firsthand, personal clarity.
It is also, I believe, the point of life.
We can do this.

Status

Six Steps.

1. I am listening to The Stable Song by Gregory Alan Isokov over and over and over again. I can’t dissect all the lyrics in my mind, but somewhere beyond that, I feel exactly what he is trying to say.

2. Today Emily took me to playgroup at the pool so I could hang out with the Moms and their kids. I am not a Mom. Does that mean I am more a kid to them? I’m not sure, but I hope they want to be friends with me anyway. I watched them all try to discipline their kids quietly but effectively, while juggling the fragile feelings of other kids:

One tells Jill, “We need to ask Benny if it’s okay before we splash him. Do you understand?” Benny’s Mom pipes in “It’s okay Benny, Jill didn’t mean it. Did you find a new toy? Does that belong to Alison?” Alison’s Mom is next: “Alison, no yelling. We need to share. We are sharing with Benny now.”

3. I would really love to be a Mom, but I’m not ready to write to you about that yet. For now, I stand waist-deep in the water. I watch the other Moms.

4. Last night Ken walked to the paper store with me. Ken is my husband. I like to take him with me. I wanted to pick out an amazing piece of paper so I could make an amazing envelope for a letter I am sending soon. I am nervous about this letter and I must have been hoping that if I encased it in something beautiful and made with my own hands, the words inside would read just right. As soon as we got to the big glass door, the lady locked it and put up a CLOSED sign. I made a very sad face at her by accident. Ken said we could go get gelato instead. He even paid the way-too-much-price for a teeny cup of fancypants gelato. Thanks Ken.

5. We are sitting by the big glass wall with our gelato. I am in the middle of a chocolate cream bite when Ken tells me he will soon be gone underwater in an undisclosed part of the ocean. For a week. With The United States Navy. To all of my follow-up questions about the possibility of blowing-up or imminent death, he responds, “I can’t tell you.” It’s just testing…engineering…secret stuff, he says. No big deal. I shouldn’t worry. “This is not NBD.” I tell him. I stop tasting my gelato. I keep eating it, but I stop tasting it because my mouth is busy articulating a million hypotheticals. Ken smiles. He thinks it’s funny when I get worked up and worried and talk this fast. I think: How is this funny? Just then we see bunch of hip people with tattoos and neon clothing posing for a picture on the other side of the glass wall. We are in the background, so we make a photo-bomb face.

6. I feel like this a lot lately: there is me, there is glass, and there is something on the other side. I can make a sad face. I can make a photo bomb face. I can eat my gelato or I can keep walking, but I can’t quite be on the other side of that glass. All these transparent barriers, like water in the pool.

I sent the letter in a plain, white envelope.

Image