Family Scripture Study: Preach My Gospel (Week 2)

chococatania:

Here is week two for the Preach My Gospel Family Scripture Study Program. :)

Originally posted on chococatania:

Preach My Gospel Family Scripture Study

Just thought I’d let you know that I’ve updated the Preach My Gospel Family Scripture Study Program. You can find it here.

I will update this each week (with another week of lessons). You can always click on the sidebar (where you see the picture and the link for the scripture study program). This link will take you to the most current version of the program.

Thanks!

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Rendering the Enemy Powerless (Alma 50:12)

Currently, for my scripture reading, I’m still working my way through the Book of Mormon and studying about the Atonement (you can see the Atonement Study Project here).

Let me start by saying, If you believe in Christ; if you believe that God so loved the world that He sent his only Begotten Son so we wouldn’t perish; then you will love the Book of Mormon. I love the Bible and I love the Book of Mormon. As I’ve taken the time to study the Book of Mormon and the Atonement, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned about it.

I’ve been studying three main points about the Atonement:

  1. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
  2. There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Jesus Christ.
  3. The Atonement is the greates evidence we have of the Father’s love for His children.

All of these points are important, but today, the second point, in particular, stood out to me as I studied Alma 50.

For the most part, Alma 50 is about wars between two groups of people: the Nephites and the Lamanites. At this point in the history of these two groups, the Nephites were a little more righteous, while the Lamanites were apostate. The Lamanites (and some dissenting Nephites) were trying to overthrow the Nephite government (which, by the way, was a democratic system). They wanted to kill all of the people who professed to believe in God, and they wanted to instill an oppressive government. (This sounds familiar…it’s a lot like what is happening over in Iraq and Syria).

The Nephites, however, had a very powerful and brave leader: Captain Moroni. He championed the cause of freedom, including and especially religious freedom, and he rallied others to help him protect their inalienable rights.

Okay…so, Captain Moroni was a good guy. And the thing is, he was such a good because Captain Moroni believed in Christ. Because of the power of the Atonement, and because of Captain Moroni was committed to his covenants, he overcame the natural man and became a disciple of Christ. Captain Moroni’s example shows us that discipleship doesn’t mean we are weak-minded fools. Discipleship will refine us and make us powerful.

David A Bednar Enabling Power of Atonement

Real Power

(The only kind of power that matters)
I realize that power is a loaded word. Captain Moroni wasn’t powerful over other people (that kind of “power” really doesn’t mean much, does it?). Instead, he had the most difficult kind of power to obtain: self-mastery. (See Alma 48:17.)

We also learn in Alma 50:

“Thus Moroni, with his armies, which did increase daily because of the assurance of protection which his works did bring forth unto them, did seek to cut off the strength and the power of the Lamanites from off the lands of their possessions, that they should have no power upon the lands of their possession.” – Alma 50:12

Not only was Moroni a master over himself, but he was able to use his resources to protect his people. Because of Moroni’s strength, vision, and organization, he fortified the cities of his lands, and the Lamanites had no power over them.

What this Means for You and Me

Okay. So what. I don’t really have anyone actively trying take away my possessions or lands. However, I feel like there is a daily battle I’m engaged in. The enemy is the devil, and he is very real.

When I choose to honor the covenants I have made, when I allow the Atonement to be a power in my life, then the enemy I fight against will have no power over me.

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There are so many battles people are facing. Some of the battles we face are physical and obvious. The people in Iraq and Syria, for example, are experiencing excruciating stress and oppression. And, while I don’t intend to compare myself to them (because my life is super great), the fact remains that I have my own battles. People in the U.S. or other developed countries don’t seem to fare any better than others around the world. Just last week, a famous, rich, beloved celebrity took his own life.

We are all in a battle.

And, if we want to render our enemy powerless, then we simply need to come unto Christ and allow the power of His Atonement to enable us.

Family History, I Am Doing It (Again)

Years ago, I was very interested in family history work. I guess you could say that I had caught the “Spirit of Elijah,” the feeling that often accompanies Family History work.

The idea of the “Spirit of Elijah” comes from the following scripture:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” – Malachi 4:5-6

This time has come. We, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believe that Elijah has come again and that he has fulfilled his duty in turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.

This promise is all centered in the temple.

Mesa Temple at Night

Mesa Temple at Night

Many people might feel like the Mormon temple is a place shrouded in mystery. It is not. The Mormon temple is a sacred place where we as individuals and families can covenant with God.

I have experienced the blessings of the temple in my life. I made covenants with God in the temple for the first time when I was 19. It was shortly before I was to be married (to my first husband). Even though this marriage would end less than seven years after we covenanted to be together for time and all eternity, I was blessed by the temple. I had never broken my covenant. I was always endowed with God’s power in my life.

Additionally, because of my knowledge and testimony of the temple, I began to do a lot of family history work. As I searched for the names and lives of my ancestors, I began to feel a closer connection to each of them. I was able to experience miracles, and I felt a surge of love for my family that had passed on in addition to my future family. My heart was both turned to my fathers and mothers and my own children.

There is nothing like the feeling of belonging in a family.

Sometimes, I’m tempted to feel like I could be happier as an individual – that I’d be happier chasing temptations and so called dreams (usually fleeting fun) all on my own. There is a side of me that is tempted to find the idea of “no strings attached” alluring. Now, some of those dreams aren’t bad, in and of themselves, but I also know, thanks to experience, that I’m not happier alone. I’m happier with my people: my family. We are all connected. We can’t get around that. And when we learn to embrace that, we find fulfillment and joy in our lives.

Over the next several months (or longer), I plan on blogging about my own adventures in Family History work. I feel like I need to start it up again. I have been blessed by many miracles as I’ve sought out my ancestors.

I encourage you to seek out your ancestors, too. Because of the experiences I have had, I know that If you want to experience a miracle in your life, then do family history work. Your family wants you to find them. They want you to remember them. They want you to learn from their mistakes and keep their good legacies alive.

Family Scripture Study: Preach My Gospel (Week 1)

chococatania:

I just wanted to share what I’ve done for my family this week. We have started a Preach My Gospel Scripture Study program.

I hope you like it!

Originally posted on chococatania:

In our homeschool, we are studying the Preach My Gospel manual for missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.



Preach My Gospel Family Scripture Study

Our course of study will include pages 31-126 of the manual and it will last 36 weeks.

We are currently doing it, so I will try to update this weekly. So far, our first week went really well. What I love about this scripture study program (so far), is that we will be learning the basics of the gospel, we will be studying all of the standard works, and we will be learning how to mark our scriptures.

You can download the first week of lessons here.

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My Faith, Captain Moroni, and The Atonement

Eczema Rash

It’s been a while, I know. These past few months, I’ve been consumed with teaching for BYU-Idaho and also prepping for homeschool (for the first time ever). Recently, my husband has also made some big life decisions, which are very exciting.

So, even though I don’t feel particularly “stressed out,” I know that my life is stressful. In fact, I know this is true because of this crazy eczema rash I’ve gotten all over my hands and arms.

I’ll spare you a picture.

When the crazy rash started getting bad, I asked Homey for a blessing. In this blessing, it was indicated that the rash was caused by stress, and I needed to learn how to manage it. (Getting rid of stressors isn’t really an option right now).

The rash got worse.

Well, I was getting pretty desperate, and one of my friends gave me a topical prescription cortisone product for my rash. It would clear up for a few days, I’d stop with the prescription, and it would get worse. This went on for a few months (!) Over time, the rash got much, much worse. What started as a small rash under my wedding ring became a rash on 8 of my fingers, up both hands and arms…yikes.

I’ve asked Homey for two more blessings. The same basic info was related: Heavenly Father Loves me, Christ has suffered the Atonement and has perfect empathy, this is caused by stress, and I needed to find natural ways to alleviate the issue.

As I write this now, I realize what a blessing that Priesthood blessings are. However, I will admit that during the final blessing, I wondered why I could just be healed. I know that God has the power to do it, so why can’t I be healed?

Of course, as this thought went through my brain, the words of the blessing rang out: this trial is to help you build faith in your Father in Heaven.

Okay.

Captain Moroni

Today, I read about Captain Moroni in my scriptures.

“Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” – Alma 48:17

In the past, I’ve read this scripture with complete awe for Mornoi. What a cool dude. Untouchable. Untouchable by Satan, and also – by me. I want to be like Moroni, but he is so good…too good. I can’t come close.

However, I’ve been studying the Atonement in the Book of Mormon. I know that There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Christ. With this in mind, I have come to the realization that Moroni wasn’t just born cool and faithful. His faith and example come through his discipleship, which came as a result of his >firm faith in Christ. (See Alma 48:13. This means that becoming like Moroni, who could shake the very powers of hell, is possible–through Christ.

Part Three
So..if I want to be like Moroni, then I need to develop stronger faith.

I’m not sure if I’m a super faithful person or not. When I was younger, like most young people, I had faith. I was innocent and closer with nature. Then, I got older, more disconnected with what probably matters, and logic became important to me. I have always had a testimony because I’ve been able to logically understand the gospel. It makes sense to me, and discovering the mysteries of God is important to me as it galvanizes my testimony (logically).

Yet, I need to have faith. I need to be willing to suspend my so-called logic, and just develop a purer faith in the Savior. I suppose that is what this skin rash is designed to do in my life because my faith is wavering.

Now, I want to say that carefully. My faith isn’t wavering in a “I wonder if the gospel is true” kind of way. I will not and cannot deny the truthfulness of the gospel and my testimony. Instead, I think my faith is wavering in the same way as the man who uttered to Christ, “Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.”

How I relate to this man!

I believe. I believe that Christ created the world, that He came, lived, suffered, died, and was resurrected. I know that He answers prayers. I know that He loves me. I know that He will speak to my soul when I search and am willing to listen. However, I have this rash that is spreading and getting worse despite my pleas.

And, as I plea for help, I feel the doubt creeping in my head, “He can help, but I doubt he’ll help me. I’m not strong or special like some people. (ie – Captain Moroni)” Stuff like that. Not helpful, and ultimately self-fulfilling.

So…as I read the story of Captain Moroni, I am both humbled and comforted. I don’t have to be a Captain Moroni to become like Captain Moroni. Instead, I only need to humbly go to the Lord, ask Him to help my unbelief, and let Him work a miracle in me through the Atonement.

His Atonement will help me to be the faithful woman and disciple that I want to be – rash or not.

***
What do you do to strengthen your faith during times of trial?

New Testament Study Companion: Luke

It has been a little over a year since I shared my last two Scripture Study Companions. (Matthew and Mark) Today, I release my third – LUKE!!! (I’m hoping that John, the last installment, will be out next month).

New Testament Study Companion: Luke

New Testament Study Companion: Luke


This book takes you chapter by chapter through Luke with questions and exercises/ideas for in-depth study. You can get this book a few different ways.

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New Testament Study Companion: Luke – free eBook

Click here for the free eBook. This format will work for just about anything. :)

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New Testament Study Companion: Luke – PDF

Click here for the free downloadable PDF version. If you prefer you can download this version to your computer.

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New Testament Study Companion: Luke – Kindle Version

This will be updated soon.

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New Testament Study Companion: Luke – Print Version

Click here if you are interested in a print version of the book.
You can also choose to have this book printed and sent to you for $3.04. This might be a nice option for people who like to hold things in their hands. It is also most likely less expensive and more durable than printing the eBook yourself.

About the New Testament Study Companion: Luke

This book is designed to help you study the book of Luke. It is like the scripture study series–in that you will read a block of text, and I have included many questions that will help you to ponder the scriptures you read.

Additionally, each chapter includes several exercises that will help you to find patterns, themes, concepts, scripture chains, cross-refernences, etc. These exercises will help you to study each chapter in-depth. I hope that each time you use this study companion, you will be edified and excited about scripture study.

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Okay…so check it out. Let me know what you think. You can also find The Scripture Study Companion for Matthew and Mark. Be on the look-out for John!

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Oh…and HUUUUUUUGE shout out to my very talented friend Stephanie Clawson. She has created the art for all of these scripture study guides. You can check out her blog here. It is both beautiful and inspiring. She truly lives the gospel. She also has an Etsy shop here.

Joy Project – Week 13 of 52

Week thirteen of the joy project.
3-23 – 3-29

March 23, 2014 – My Little Homies

I <3 These Two.

I <3 These Two.


I love these two.

There are times when I just look at these two, and my heart overflows with love. Nothing special happened in this moment. It was just a usual Sunday night with us eating dinner and the T-Rex going crazy. He can barely stand to finish a meal because he's got too much excitement. He loves to entertain all of us. After he's finished with his meal, he hops on Homey's lap. They are so cute…or should I say cool.

Joy is family. Joy is having a little boy that is a spitting image of his father, your best friend, lover, companion…everything!

March 25, 2014 – Swedish Furniture

We are so Swedish!

We are so Swedish!


Last week, we painted our bedroom. I love it. And Homey put together our desk.

Today, I was cleaning, and I had to smile when I saw this pile of Ikea tools.

Joy is a new desk and a fresh coat of paint on your walls.

March 26, 2014 – A Text from my Brother and Mrs. Featherbottom

Mrs. Featherbottom

Mrs. Featherbottom


I received a random text from my brother. I love him. In case you’re not familiar, this is a quote from Arrested Development. Over the years, Arrested Development has brought me a lot of joy. I believe in laughing a lot. Nothing releases stress quite like a laugh does.

Joy is awesome siblings who refer to awesome characters on awesome TV shows.

March 27, 2014 – The Orchid Tree

The Orchid Tree

The Orchid Tree


I have been envying/coveting a tree for some time. A few weeks ago, I noticed that several people in my neighborhood and around town had this tree that seemed to bloom orchids–giant purple orchids.

Now…rewind to last year when we moved into this house. It was late in the year – nearly Thanksgiving. We have this big tree in our yard. It seems nice enough. Then, last winter we had a week-long freeze. This is unheard of in Phoenix. Our Lemon tree didn’t die, but many branches did. Some of our plants were frozen to the point where they died. This large tree in our yard seemed to be under a lot of stress. It lost all of its leaves. We didn’t know if it would come back to life.

Throughout the spring it struggled, but leaves came back. It never bloomed. It was just struggling to get back on track. Throughout the summer, it continued to gain strength. There was hope for the tree. I was glad that we waited to see what would happen–we almost took the tree out.

I never thought much of this giant tree in our yard – other than it is great for shade and many birds love it.

I had noticed the orchid trees around the valley, and I started thinking I wish I had one. Oh how I wish I had an orchid tree! Imagine my surprise when I noticed a few orchids blooming on this tree. A few days later, and the tree is covered!

Yay!!!

Yay!!!

It’s funny. All along this tree has been here. Even though I hadn’t expected to find such joy in this tree, I have. I nearly feel guilty that I didn’t appreciate it in the past. There is something about that – about how often huge blessings are right under our nose. It just will take a while for them to bloom.

Joy is a gigantic, mature tree covered in orchids in your backyard. Joy is feeling God’s love in something as simple as a flowering tree. Joy is having a prayer answered before you even knew you had it. Joy is an unexpected orchid tree.

March 28, 2014 – Hiking

Hiking with the T-Rex

Hiking with the T-Rex

I had a few minutes alone with the T-Rex this morning. I figured that instead of our usual morning routine, we’d go and hike. So we did!

We went over to the trails and found a mountain to climb. This little boy loves climbing mountains. He jumped on rocks, oohed and ahhed over the views as we climbed to the top of the mountain, gasped at every single “yucky cactus,” and then chased a lizard into the desert.

Joy is being outside with this little T-Rex. Joy is living in this world, experiencing it, and watching a toddler experience it, too.

March 29, 2014 – Unexpected Blessings in Disguise

I was fully expecting that I’d be saying today’s “joy” was taking my daughters to the Women’s Meeting.

However, we had an emergency. A lice emergency.

I washed and combed hair for hours. After that, we got out the vacuums, clorox wipes, sprays, and cleaned every surface in our home. In the meantime, we washed every single sheet, blanket, pillowcase, and stuffed animal we own. It was madness.

Where’s the blessing and joy in this.

1) We’re alive and can even experience the adversities in life.

2) Only one of my children had lice.

Joy is remembering that even sucky things can be considered a blessing. Even sucky things are reminders that we are on this earth and enjoying the blessings of mortality. My five year old asked, “Why did Heavenly Father create lice?” Often, I’ve asked similar questions (about mosquitoes, ticks, and scorpions). But the answer is, so we could have joy. No, I don’t necessarily enjoy having lice in my home, but I can joy in the reminder of the blessings I have. And I can even joy in the fact that I’m experiencing it at all. I have children. I have a family. We all have heads of hair. There is much to rejoice in–even in something as repulsive as a louse.

What is the Relief Society?

Sorry I haven’t written on the blog for a couple of weeks. We’ve had spring break, and I’ve actually started teaching for the Pathway program, so I feel like I’m on the computer all the time. ANYWAY…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Mormon Women lately. Here is a list of reasons why:

  • The Ordain Women group has been gaining traction in the media. While I don’t agree with their movement, they have been making me think about being a woman in the LDS church including my roles, rights, and blessings.
  • In what seems to be a reaction to the Ordain Women movement, another Movement has sprung up – Mormon Women Stand
  • I often get overwhelmed by my duties and the challenges of this world. I crave a sisterhood with like-minded women who are noble, nurturing, and strong.

As these three things swirl in my brain, I find that there is one common solution to them, and that is The Relief Society.

What is the Relief Society?

First of all, it is important to understand what the Relief Society is. According to mormon.org, the Relief Society is defined as follows:

“The Relief Society is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. Relief Society was established in 1842 for women 18 years of age and older. Its purpose is to build faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need.”

Now – onto how the Relief Society has been able to be the solution to the mind-swirling I’ve been having lately.

The Ordain Women Movement

According to the Ordain Women Group, their purpose is:

“Ordain Women aspires to create a space for Mormons to articulate issues of gender inequality they may be hesitant to raise alone. As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.”

First, and foremost, I don’t necessarily agree with the assertion made by the Ordain Women group. I don’t agree that there is an issue of gender inequality in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Neither do I think that the Family Proclamation perpetuates antiquated ideas or inequality between men and women.

This being said, I don’t deny the fact that some women might feel marginalized in the Church. I understand this. I have experienced being in counsels with men who won’t listen. I don’t personally believe that if I held the Priesthood I would have been seen as any kind of authority. I just think that some dudes are like that a little chauvinistic and kind of jerky – even if they don’t mean to be.

For some reason, this kind of attitude has prevailed over the millennia. I think that men have a hard time understanding why the women think that the way they do. Straight away, I think of Peter and Mary Magdalene:

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.” – Mark 16:9-11

To be fair: these apostles didn’t believe the disciples who saw Christ on the Road to Emmaus. And Thomas didn’t believe all of the apostles that had seen the resurrected Lord.

But I’ve always found this striking: Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene. She didn’t hold any kind of Priesthood authority, but He came to her and revealed himself to her. And the apostles didn’t believe her.

Sometimes I think that all of this misunderstanding between men and women comes only because men have a hard time understanding women, and it may seem that they tend to belittle and downplay women. I hate making this blanket statement because I have met and known many open minded men. But let’s just say that I have had discussions with men about women and emotions.

Really quickly – so – some men seem to downplay women because we can be a little more emotional or intuitive. Some men seem to only be able to respond to logic and reason. I totally understand this. And I say, It is totally illogical and unreasonable to ignore our intuition, emotions, and spirits! We are people, we aren’t robots. We have emotions and unique Spirits how would it be logical to discount this side of who we are when making any kind of decision in life???

(Oh, and I have also found that men have an especially hard time with women who react emotionally. I, too, find that it is best to not react, but this isn’t because I want to deny my woman-ness. Instead, it is because I want to make a wise decision. AND BESIDES, sometimes I think that men forget that anger is an emotion, and reacting in anger is often more illogical than a woman’s weeping…Interestingly enough, in the General Relief Society Broadcasts, I have experienced listening to prophets compliment and comfort the women. My opinion – it just takes some men, even good men, about 80 years to really understand the value of a woman’s emotions, opinions, and intuitive nature).

anyway!!!

I just want to say that while I don’t necessarily agree with the Ordain Women women, I don’t doubt that they honestly feel the way that they do. Additionally, I don’t think that it is necessarily wrong to feel confused, belittled, or unequal. That happens sometimes! And sometimes that happens for a good reason.

However, there is one thing that I do disagree with – and that is the way that the Ordain Women group has gone about their purposes. I believe that the best way to take an issue up with God is by taking it up with Himand praying! I know that God answers our prayers. I know that He listens to us. I know that He will influence our prophet and apostles if it is the right thing to do/pray about.

I mean, think about it this way – when members of the church desire to have a temple built in an area we are taught to pray, we are taught to pay our tithing, we are taught to attend the temple. We are not taught to write a letter Salt Lake and petition the prophet to have a temple. He isn’t in charge of the Church, the Lord is. Priesthood or not, every woman, every man, every child has access to our Heavenly Father. We just have to get on our knees. Heck, we don’t even have to get on our knees! Just Pray!

And now – to the Relief Society, I think that the Relief Society is the answer to this problem. When we understand our role in the church and in our family, and when we understand the blessing and honor it is to be a member of the Relief Society, we will understand what we need to do in order to have our concerns addressed.

The motto of the Relief Society is charity never faileth. Can you come up with anything more inspired, more enabling, more beautiful, more Christlike? As members of the Relief Society, we will seek to understand Charity more. We will be cognizant of the fact that Charity is a lot more than quilt tying and giving service. And as members of the Relief Society that understand the meaning of charity, we will also remember that Christ’s love never fails. Mormon teaches us about Charity:

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” – Moroni 7:45-47

It just seems to me that if we, members of the Relief Society, understand what Charity is, then, when we have questions about the church – legitimate questions, when we have qualms, when we are wronged, when we have issues that come from our hearts, then we will address them with faith and with charity.

Relief Society can help us when we struggle.

Mormon Women Stand

I was invited to be a part of Mormon Women Stand. This is a group that seems to have sprung up in reaction to the Ordain Women movement. Here is their mission:

“Mormon Women Stand is a collaborative online effort to join like-minded female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who share a desire to make a public stand as witnesses of Jesus Christ and in support of ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’. We believe standing together will reflect the divine nature and power that LDS women are endowed with to influence others for good. We unequivocally sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—commissioned by God and sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. We support how the Lord has delegated priesthood authority to organize and administer the gospel among all of His children.” – Mormon Women Stand

Like the Ordain Women movement, I believe that this group is thoughtful. They want to stand up for their beliefs at a time when they believe that their beliefs are being assailed.

Initially, I went ahead and “liked” the Facebook group. I, essentially, agree with them. I believe in standing as a witness of Jesus Christ. I have promised to do so …in all times, and in all things, and in all places [I am in] even unto death.” (See Mosiah 18:10.)

But I started to think about this group. And I wondered, Why isn’t my membership in the Relief Society and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints enough. As I just mentioned, because I’ve been baptized and have covenanted with Christ, then I have already committed myself to being His witness.

Additionally, as a member of the Relief Society, I have also decided to live up to it’s motto – that Charity never faileth, which means that I wouldn’t really be provoked or threatened by other groups or adversity – whether it comes from an external or internal source.

My membership in the Church and in the Relief Society is enough, and instead of singling myself out (whether with the Ordain Women group or with Mormon Women Stand), I ought to simply seek sisterhood with all saints in the gospel. I feel like Satan is trying to destroy us by dividing us, and even if our intentions are good, if we aren’t careful, then we might stop being charitable. And if we aren’t charitable, then we will fail.

I Crave Sisterhood

This leads me to my last point, and why I love the Relief Society, and why I need the Relief Society.

Yesterday, I read an article about Peter Lanza and Sandy Hook in the New Yorker. It was sad, terrifying, horrible, depressing, you name it. I also read An article about the rising generation and problems with p*rnography. It was sad, terrifying, horrible, depressing, you name it.

Both of these articles, read within hours of one another, had me wondering, how do I do it? I have four little children. I have three beautiful girls, and one delightful son. I see the good in them, and I want that to shine throughout their lives. I want them to know the good in themselves. I want them to know God, and to know the truth.

But there are so many lies. So many difficulties. What do I do???

And, I realized, the answer is The Relief Society.

Through the Relief Society, I have been able to meet like-minded sisters who also are striving. Some of the sisters are young, married mothers; some of these sisters are women who have never married; some sisters are women in the middle of their lives like me. Some are old, some are divorced, some are tall, some are short, some are thin, some are blonde, some are white, some are black, some are from Mexico, some are from Croatia, some are just like me, some are nothing like me. but we are all sisters, and we are all striving to obtain charity – that pure love of Christ which never fails.

This Saturday evening at 6PM MDT, the General Women’s Broadcast will be aired. We will be meeting as women – as sisters – ages 8 and up – to be taught by our leaders, the apostles, and prophets. We will be able to attend this meeting, for the first time, with our mothers and young daughters. All together!!! We will be reminded of our work, we will be edified, and we will be able to leave the meeting resolved to keep striving and overcome the sad, terrifying, horrible things that the world is trying to throw at us.

***

Moi, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and the Relief Society.

Moi, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and the Relief Society.

I am so grateful for my membership in the Relief Society. Ironically, the longest I’ve ever been in Relief Society was when I was a teacher for about three or four months. Otherwise, I have served with the children or youth. But this doesn’t nullify my membership in this divine group of women. I love knowing that anywhere I go, I will find women that I can call my sisters. I’m convinced that we, members of the Relief Society, can change the world – little by little. I don’t think my claim is outrageous, either. After all, the Relief Society claims that Charity never faileth, and we have the opportunity to live up to this standard.

Through my membership in the Relief Society, I have become a better woman. I have come closer to my Heavenly Father. I have been able to better understand the meaning and purpose of my life, personally. At Relief Society, I have felt camaraderie, I have laughed, I have cried, and I have been elevated.

***
Are you a member of the Relief Society? How do you feel about being a member of this sisterhood? What can you do to commit yourself to it’s motto – that Charity never faileth? What are your feelings of Relief Society and being a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

If you are not Mormon, what are the questions that you have about the Relief Society and about women in the LDS church. I am open to a kind and honest dialogue, so ask away!

Joy Project – Week 7 of 52

Time for a little catch up…

Week seven of the Joy Project

February 10, 2014 – Priesthood Blessings

Homey and Little Homey at the Gilbert Temple Open House.

Homey and Little Homey at the Gilbert Temple Open House.


This isn’t about the Gilbert Temple Open House. Instead it is about Homey. I chose this picture of the temple because it is through temple covenants and the Priesthood that Homey has become the man he is today. He takes his covenants seriously and serves our family.

Today, I went to the doctor because I’ve been having earaches. The doctor gave me advice, and I was feeling a little bit unsure. I decided to ask Homey to give me a Priesthood blessing.

One thing I’m really grateful for is the fact that any man in the church, as long as he is found worthy, can officiate in the priesthood. This service isn’t relegated only to those who go to seminaries. It is available to all men starting at the age of 12. The Priesthood teaches men to serve God and honor the commitments and covenants they have made with Him. When men magnify their priesthood, they also magnify womanhood. They show more love and compassion. They serve others. I really think that the priesthood is what makes a man. Instead of being married to some “guy” or some “boy,” Homey is a loving, strong, and capable man. This is because of the Priesthood that he bears.

I asked him for a a blessing, and I was filled with joy as I felt the words that Heavenly Father had for me.

*If you are not Mormon, but want to understand what a Priesthood blessing is, you can either email me or read more here.

As Homey began the blessing, I was verbally reminded of how much Heavenly Father loves me. As Homey uttered the words, I realized that every blessing I’ve received or witnessed has started in a similar way. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love each of us, and they want us to know this, too.

Joy is being married to a man who honorably holds the Priesthood and uses this power to serve our family. Joy is receiving a blessing and being reminded of God’s love for me, specifically. Joy is knowing that I’m on track, I can stay the course, and that I can be confident.

February 11, 2014 – Tiger

T-Rex and Tiger

T-Rex and Tiger

There are times (a lot of them) when the kids cry, tease, and are just mean to one another. I don’t really understand it. Well, I suppose I do. They are tired. They are dealing with changes in their own lives. They are human.

My oldest two (Tiger and Panda) are really good to one another, but every once in a while, they can be – well – jerks. They have their own little power-plays, and the contention drives me up the wall.

Yesterday, after an altercation, I made Tiger and Panda apologize and then take a time out in their rooms. While in their rooms, they had to write an entry in their journal – about how to be better to each other. I didn’t make them read what they wrote, I simply told them to do it.

Today, I had another experience during a quiet time of the day. It brought me a lot of joy. I was reminded of what a good girl Tiger is. She wants to do what is right. She doesn’t want to fight with her sister, but they disagree at times. Her life is changing. She is in the Young Women’s now. She is in Junior High. Her world is shifting, and sometimes that is difficult to negotiate, but she wants to choose the right. She has a testimony. And, even when I giver her punishments, she loves me.

Joy is a daughter who wants to do what is right.

February 12, 2014 – Art Closet

Today, I started on a big project.

Big Time Clean-Up Job

Big Time Clean-Up Job

I have an art closet. It is supposed to be a linen closet, but I have to admit, I’d rather stuff my linens under the sinks and above the toilets so I can have space for all of my craft supplies.

If you think this is a lot, you should know 1)This isn’t even half of the closet. 2)I have downsized from a craft room to a craft closet, and that was a big deal.

Like anything in life, you can go along, ignoring your art closet (or anything else, for that matter) until the point comes when you can’t open the door for fear of being crushed by your junk. That’s when you need to clean it out!

So I did. It took a little while, but it was fun. I was able to find some things that I had been looking for. I also found things I didn’t even know I had…like this gem:

Hahahahaaaaa!

Hahahahaaaaa!

Joy is cleaning your closets. I forget this all the time. Whenever I need to clean a closet, I put it off telling myself how much I loathe cleaning and organizing. In this procrastination, the mess usually gets so bad that it reaches a fever pitch where I finally give in and clean. And then, every time I do, I’m so happy that I did it! Joy is finding old stuff and being reminded of projects that need completing. Joy is finding an organizing book in the back of your horribly crazy craft closet.

February 13 – A Sleeping Boy

I know that a lot of these posts are about my kids. But really, nothing brings me more joy than something like this:

I don't have enough kisses for him.

I don’t have enough kisses for him.

Our little T-Rex is always full-throttle. He is “all boy.” He loves to run, jump, play, and do anything that is life-threatening.

He is happy, happy, happy, but is also a little on the aggressive side. (I don’t mean that he is mean-aggressive, I just mean that everything he done is rougher and tougher. When he plays, he is playing aggressively. When he hugs and kisses, he squeezes and slobbers. Everything is more intense with the T-Rex.

I love it.

Yet, it gets a little tiring, and I have to admit that one of my favorite things in the world is when he is peacefully sleeping after a long day of playing.

Joy is a little boy that is all boy. Joy is having a fourth kid that is still teaching you so much about everything. Joy is seeing that active little boy rest.

February 14, 2014 – Valentine’s Day

My feelings about Valentine’s Day have changed throughout the years.

Valentine's Flowers

Valentine’s Flowers

There were times when I was against it (the principle of it, of course). When I was in high school, I thought of myself as smart and not bound by convention. In fact, I loved to buck against convention. All of my friends were skateboarders and had dyed hair. (I never did that – and not because of convention – it was out of being even more unconventional. I didn’t want to follow the group of kids who were doing something just because everyone else wasn’t. I just wanted to do what I wanted to do. I’m sure a psychiatrist has something to say about this). Anyway – during those years, I hated the idea of Valentine’s day because it seemed so contrived and fake. We should just love one another.

When I got married (to Rusty), I was originally feeling like Valentine’s Day was a load of phooey. I would tell him that I didn’t need any jewelry or card. I didn’t want a teddy bear. Whatevs. I worked at a Hallmark store, and there was more than one man who rushed in 10 minutes before close and asked me, “Do you think that you can find me a Valentine’s card that my wife would like?” (uhhhhh)…

My feelings about Valentine’s day began to shift while I was married to Rusty, however. Our marriage was *lacking* to say the least. We rarely dated. I rarely felt like Rusty knew I existed. Valentine’s Day became a day that I felt, “Surely he’ll do something for me today. Surely he’ll care about me today. He has to.” I was originally grateful that there was a day where we were forced to remember our loved ones.

Then, Things fell apart between Rusty and I (Were they ever not?). This happened only a few days before Valentine’s Day. I spent Valentine’s Day 2005 feeling sorry for myself and every other person on the earth. (Whether or not they were in a relationship, I was sorry for them. It was a cynical time in my life).

While I was single, Valentine’s Day got a little better. One year, a man I dated got me roses and chocolate. It was cheesy and cliche. It was conventional and normal. It was everything I was against (when I was younger), but I was grateful for the attention. This man’s romanticism (and machismo, I dare say), was exactly what I needed after nearly 7 years with Rusty).

After this experience, though, I kind of went back to my original feelings about love/Valentine’s Day – cheesy and kind of stupid.

Then, I met Homey (online)… Even though we were 2,000 miles apart, I had my best Valentine’s Day ever. It was simple and honest, and that is when I started to like it.

Valentine’s Day isn’t about chocolate, jewelry, teddy bears and cards. It’s about honesty and love. Being with Homey has taught me this. Valentine’s day is a day we can celebrate our relationships. One legend tells that back in the day, Christians couldn’t get married, and St. Valentine would marry them in secret. Pretty rad. Another one says that Claudius II (I believe) felt that unmarried men made better soldiers, so marriage was outlawed in Rome. Valentine would marry these men in secret. (Also rad). I believe in marriage, and it seems like every legend of St. Valentine centers on marriage and love.

And now that I’m married to Homey, I feel love in my marriage all the time. Valentine’s Day came, and I wasn’t even looking forward to it – not because I hate it, but because it doesn’t matter that much to me anymore. I don’t need it to exist so that Homey will recognize me, pay attention to me, or express love to me. I know he loves me. Valentine’s day is a nice date night, where Homey buys me some flowers and maybe a little gift. But he really doesn’t need to because his real gift to me is his willingness to make me feel secure and loved in our marriage every single day.

I will say, though, Valentine’s day has the cutest decor. :)

Joy is a holiday dedicated to love and marriage. Joy is knowing that you have a spouse who cares about you, prays for you, cheers for you, listens to you. Joy is having evidence of this 365 days a year, not only when he is forced to by Hallmark.

February 15, 2014 – Gardens

We took a family adventure to the Desert Botanical Gardens. It is beautiful.

Chihuly in the Garden

Chihuly in the Garden

This Saguaro is dying, you can see its "skeleton"

This Saguaro is dying, you can see its “skeleton”

Butterly

Butterly

Deedle's Dirty Toes

Deedle’s Dirty Toes

Hummingbird in the garden

Hummingbird in the garden

More Dirty Toes.

More Dirty Toes.

Blooming Cactus

Blooming Cactus

Severed Cactus Limb...pretty

Severed Cactus Limb…pretty

Touch me

Touch me

BZZZ

BZZZ

Blooming Cactus

Blooming Cactus

:)

:)

So much love.

So much love.

It was a nice day, the kids ran and played. T-Rex got too close to cactus and would say, “ooohhhh! Yucky Cactus!” (He has learned that cactus are painful through sad experience). I loved spending time with the family.

Joy is taking a ride to public(?) professional (?) gardens. Joy is taking time with family on a Saturday afternoon. Joy is a bunch of cute kids and dirty toes.

February 16, 2014 – Happy Birthday!

My old man is 60 years young.

Senior Portrait

Senior Portrait

I’m grateful for my dad. He adopted me when I was four, and I’ve known him since I was two. He raised me and cared for me. He taught me to read, enjoy baseball, bake cookies, and have a sense of humor about everything. I’m grateful for him, and I love him.

Joy is having family. Joy can be laced with melancholy knowing that your dad is thousands of miles away. Joy is looking forward to visiting him. Joy is having a good example of how to be a parent. Joy is having a dad – no matter how he came into that role in my life.

***
What has brought you joy this week? (Don’t worry, I’ll be updating more later today/tomorrow!)

The End of the Beginning (Part 32 – the finale – of the HaM Love Story)

Homey and Me

Homey and Me

This is part thirty-two of the Homey and Me Love Story.

While waiting for the cancellation of my first temple marriage, Homey and I decided to keep moving forward with our wedding plans. I still needed to meet his parents and we needed to find a place to live in Mesa, so he sent me a buddy pass, and I flew out to AZ.

The flight to Mesa happened to be the worst ever flight of my entire life. Because I was on a buddy pass, I was flying stand-by: which means no assigned seats. I ended up in a seat between this large older man and a and thin older woman (I later realized she was the man’s wife).

I had my book, but was honestly a little too excited to read. It had been three weeks since I last saw Homey. I was going out of my mind.

The plane took off, and that’s when the bodily functions began. Not my bodily functions. The man next to me – kept farting, burping, and breathing on me. It was so disgusting. He seriously lifted up one of his *cheeks* and let out audible gas! And smelled incredibly gross. I shoved my face into my book so that I could breathe in the pleasant smell of books rather than the putrid odor of his flatulence. About twenty minutes before we were supposed to land, the woman sitting next to me starts speaking to him in German. I realized, they were married! Gross! And I had to sit next to him. Although, I admit, she lives with this man. I can understand why she’d want a five hour break from him.

Not only was I excited to land so I could see Homey, but I longed to felt free after being stuck to the large, gassy, German dude.

(super gross…I know).

I got off the plane, recounted my experience to Homey, and laughed, taking great pleasure at my suffering. We are perfect for each other.

The weather was sunny and beautiful in Arizona, and it felt like a good sign.

I honestly can’t remember most of the details of this trip, except how I felt one night. For most of the trip, Homey and I had fun plans. I spent about a week in Arizona. We went to a baseball game, we went to a Shins concert, we ate at In and Out, we toured apartment complexes and even put a deposit down on one of them. I was feeling overwhelmed with happiness; my life was changing.

Though we always had a lot going on, one night, Homey and I stayed in. I was staying at his parents house. He cooked for all of us, I chatted and got to know his parents, and then Homey and I watched a Stranger than Fiction. I had never seen it before, and was excited to see it. The movie was a bit of a departure for Will Ferrell, but it was still really good.

I have to admit, I’m not much of a fan of romantic comedy. I know that sounds like a cardinal sin. But, for the most part, I hate romantic comedies. There are a few that I like, but for the most part, romantic comedies are so far-fetched that they have ruined the process of dating and love for so many women (and men). Plus, most romantic comedies have very poorly developed characters and even worse dialogue. I know I sound picky. And, for the most part, I am.

While Stranger than Fiction is more along the lines of romantic comedies, I liked it. There was an unrealistic, even magical element to it, but it was executed so well. I felt like the situations were actually more believable, the characters were developed, and the dialogue was interesting.

Most of all, I liked this movie because I felt like it highlighted the beauty of ordinary love.

***
When I was first going through my divorce from Rusty, I struggled between feeling like love, loyalty, and marriage was a hopeless notion and hopeful notion. One day, I went into church and sat in my pew. I looked around at our congregation, and the ugly thought surfaced,
I wonder how many men here have their own dirty little secret. I wanted to believe that every marriage was a lie.
Yet, as soon as that thought surfaced, another chimed in, Catania, there are good men in this world.
But Rusty seemed so good, and was so bad. My stepfather cheated, my father cheated, my biological father isn’t a part of the picture and never has been. It’s easy for these guys here at church to act good. But Really? Rusty acted good, and we know the truth. Are these men really any different?
Just as I had these thoughts, my Bishop caught my gaze. I tried to force a smile, but he didn’t really smile back. Instead, as he acknowledged me, he simply began to weep, and I knew that yes there are men who love their wives, there are men who love their children, and there are men who love their God. I could see, from my Bishop’s sympathy, that marriage and love could be a sublime experience.

This small gesture became a small ray of hope.

One night, shortly after my separation, I was talking with Spunky on the phone.
“I just want to find a sexy man, hold hands with him, and walk with him on the beach at sunset.” She said.
It was like high school all over again for us. “That sounds nice,” I returned, dreamily.
“The sea breeze flowing through my hair, and every once in a while, he’d kiss my cheek.”
Her dream sounded perfect, but after a moment, it was sitting right with me. “You know,” I started. “I don’t want that.”
“Well, then, walking through the streets of Paris or Rome,” she countered.
“No,” I said. “I don’t mean it that way. I mean, don’t get me wrong. A walk on the beach or in Europe would be nice, but I want something more. Or actually less.”
“What do mean?”
“Well, I mean, just imagine, sitting there, with a dude that you like, that likes you, and you’re just laughing together. No beach. No Europe. Just you, and a guy who actually cares about you.”

At that moment, I realized that I just wanted to have an experience where I was loved for who I was – physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. I looked forward to an experience where I was with a man who was undistracted and kind. I looked forward to a connection. I could enjoy a walk on the beach, or a trip to Europe with anyone – male or female – or even alone! But my dream was to experience a deep, meaningful, intimate relationship without the aid of a beautiful backdrop.

Having been married, I knew that there were happy times, beautiful times, low times, and ugly times. I knew that not every single day would be a walk on the beach. I knew that we would need something real, and that was my dream.

***
While Homey and I started watching Stranger than Fiction, he began to fall asleep (a marathon week of concerts, baseball games, apartment hunting, and more led to a really tired finale). I snuggled up to him in a very mushy way and watched the movie. After a while, he woke up.
“Tired?” I asked.
“Yeah, but it’s a good tired,” he replied.
“Keep sleeping.” I offered.
“I feel bad, though. I’m missing the movie.”
“We can watch it again.” I assured him.
“I’m going to watch it.”
“Okay. I bet.” He laughed, and stubbornly tried to watch the movie. His exhaustion won out, and he snoozed the rest of the time.
I didn’t mind, though. Everything about the moment felt right. As much as I loved going to baseball games and concerts, sitting together and enjoying a nice evening was just as amazing. I felt like the vision I had years earlier was being realized.

I was with someone I felt comfortable with. And he felt comfortable with me.

A lot of times, people say that you know you are comfortable with a person because you can fart, burp, or do something else gross in front of them. And maybe that’s true. But there is a difference between comfort and lack of respect. I thought of that woman who didn’t want to sit next to her stinky husband on the plane, and I was grateful that I was with a man who respected me, but was also so comfortable with me that we could be doing nothing and be happy.

***

The week in AZ went by too quickly. I was back in PA, and now we were counting down the days until the wedding. We still hadn’t heard about the cancellation of my first temple marriage. We were planning the wedding without knowing if it was going to happen.

Two weeks after I returned back to PA, Homey would come out and would stay in PA until we were married, home from our honeymoon, and ready to move to Mesa.

***

Thankfully, the Bishop agreed to let Homey stay at his house for a few weeks before the wedding. Though the Bishop had met Homey before, this time, when Homey arrived to PA, the Bishop had a little bit more to say to Homey.
The Bishop invited us into his living room, and began to question Homey.
“So…what do you do for a living?”
“I am selling my Smoothie Business and just got a job working for a CPA. I have a Masters in Accounting.”
“Oh, okay,” the bishop said with a nod. “Where did you study?”
“BYU” (another mental check in favor of Homey).
“Did you serve a mission?”
“Yes.” (right answer, thank goodness.) It was funny to see the Bishop this way. While he wasn’t being mean, he also wasn’t his usual jubilant self. He was very serious as he interviewed Homey. Neither Homey nor I were expecting it.
“Where did you serve?” the Bishop asked.
“The Italy Milan Mission.” With that, the Bishop jumped up out of his seat. The Bishop’s wife, Homey, and I just sat there as the Bishop ran into another room.
A minute later, the Bishop returned with three large binders. Family History binders.
As the Bishop began to open them, he asked Homey, “Have you ever heard of the Waldensians?” At that point, Homey’s eyes lit up.
“Yes. I actually served in a small town called Pinerolo, Italy for about seven months. It was near the mountain where the Waldensians hid.”
At this point, you *the reader* probably have no idea what the Bishop or Homey are talking about. If you do know, then you’re probably an Italian-American with Mormon Pioneer heritage – a descendent of this group of people. I had no idea what Homey or the Bishop was talking about. Sister Malan, the Bishop’s wife, sounded like she had heard these stories before. Sister Malan and I exchanged pleasantries while the Bishop and Homey discussed Italy and the Waldensians.
I was fidgeting with my watch when the Bishop’s wife declared, “I think that they have a place to be.”
We all laughed, and the Bishop excused us to go. As Homey and I left, the Bishop took me aside and whispered, I really like him.
I responded, “Me, too.”

***
On May 1st, 18 days before our scheduled wedding, I received a letter in the mail from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“It’s here,” I told Homey.
“Wow. Open it.”
So, we took it to my mom’s kitchen, and opened the letter.

The first presidency approved my request! My temple marriage from Rusty was cancelled! I called the Washington, D.C. Temple and confirmed with them that we’d be getting married on May 19.

I had my Bishop’s approval. I had the approval of the First Presidency. Now, I needed to get approval from my dad.

***
When I told my dad that I was marrying Homey, whom I had met online, he asked, “When are you getting married?”
“May 19th.” (It was a month away at the time).
“Wow. May 19th. So, is that the day he gets out on parole?”
“Ha ha, dad. I know I met him online, but I promise, he’s a good guy. He’ll be out here soon, and you can meet him.”
“I’d like that.”

So, at the beginning of May, Homey, Tiger, Panda, and I headed up to Boston.

I can’t remember the details of this visit, but I remember that it went well. We hung out together as a family, we chatted. Homey was interested in talking to my dad because of his interest in stocks (my dad is a stock trader). They had actual adult conversations about money and stuff that I still don’t understand. Later on, my dad said to me, “That Homey, he’s a pretty sharp kid.” That’s about the best kind of compliment you can get from someone like my dad.

One evening, during dinner, as we were having usual dinner-time banter, Homey cracked a few jokes that left us all laughing – especially my step-mom. She said to me, “He’s really smart. And funny…I like him.”

We had a great weekend in Boston, then headed back to PA to make final preparations for the wedding.

Wedding Preparations

You might be wondering, how on earth do you prepare for a wedding in less than three weeks.

hahahahahahaaaaaaaaa! The secret is: have the world’s best wedding ever.

Our wedding consisted of: inviting our very closest friends and family. (Less than 30 people, total!), a reservation to be married in the smallest sealing room at the Washington D.C. temple, and a reservation for lunch at Bucca di Beppo.

So, I was able to make both reservations in one afternoon. We called all of our friends and family, telling them that the wedding was happening, then I went shopping to get a wedding dress. Easy peasy.

The Bachelorette Party

On May 18, Homey and I visited with my Bishop one last time. I wanted him to attend my wedding, but he’d be traveling on business. We met with the Bishop, and he gave me a Priesthood Blessing. I had received countless Priesthood blessings from my Bishop through my years as a single mom. This, he mentioned, would be the last one he gave me.
My Bishop looked at Homey and remarked, “Now, when Catania needs anything, you will be able to bless her. I hope that you will.”
Although I have no blood relation to my Bishop, I considered this my first and last Father’s blessing.

He gave me a blessing, and then Homey, my sister, and I went to Washington. When we got there, Homey met up with his family. My sister and I met up with Freckles and Spunky.
Freckles asked, “Do you have a photographer?”
“Well,” I replied. “My sister brought her camera.”
“Okay, good.” She said.
My sister chirped in, “Yeah, I’ll take the pictures.”
“Thanks, guys.”
“Well, do you have any flowers?” Spunky wanted to know.
“You know, I thought about it. I wanted to get some Gerber Daisies, but never really got around to it. No big deal, though.”
“No! You need flowers,” she insisted.
We drove over to a Giant Food store. It was about 9:30 PM. “They might not have much variety, if they have any flowers at all,” I said. “I’ll just take whatever they have.”
We walked into the Giant foods, and there was one lonely bouquet of flowers…

Wedding Flowers!

Wedding Flowers!


“Perfect!” We snatched the last bouquet. It was a little ragged, but Freckles had a solution. “Let’s just go to Wal-mart, pick up some floral tape and cute ribbon. Then it will look professional.”

So, we did exactly as she suggested, and I had a bouquet!

“How are you doing your hair,” my sister wanted to know.
“Uh…” I began.
“Have you thought of anything?” they all wondered.
“I mean, we’re getting married. I have a dress. We have reservations to fly to Cancun. And we’ll be eating tomorrow. The important stuff is covered.” I chuckled.
“We need to figure out your hair.” My sister stated.
“Okay. I guess we’ll put it in a ponytail. I don’t want anything fancy. I mean, you’ve seen my dress. I just want something simple.”
“A ponytail is perfect,” my sister agreed. “Let’s just get some ribbon for it.
We looked through the ribbon, and I originally picked a pink one that matched my flowers when Spunky shouted, “I have the perfect idea!”
She held up a spool of ribbon that read, “I [heart] my pet I [heart] my pet I [heart] my pet.”
“Funny,” I agreed.
“What?” My sister asked.
“You don’t get it,” Spunky began to explain, “let’s add an “e” to Pet. Then it will say, ‘Pete’!”
Without hesitation Freckles grabbed the ribbon and added, “We need a sharpie.”

So, with floral tape, ribbon, and sharpie in hand, I was finally ready for my wedding.

This went down as the most productive bachelorette party in the history of everything.

The Wedding

The morning of the wedding, I arrived at the temple with plenty of time. I had chosen a very informal wedding dress (and it was black), so I simply changed into my usual temple clothes.

If you are not familiar with a temple, Mormons get married in temples. There are special rooms for brides to do some last minute preparations before they are married.

These rooms are beautiful and ornately decorated. The Washington D.C. temple is large and can accommodate many brides any given day. Saturdays in May are especially busy. Inside of the Bridal room were many young women and their mothers: cinching up dresses, reapplying make-up, and fretting about last minute details for their receptions. I sat, completely at peace. Well, I was nervous. I was about to get married. But I wasn’t bogged down by a million other details. I was able to think about Homey, soak in the experience at the temple, and mentally give a prayer of gratitude.

My sister sat at the mirror set aside for brides and applied her make-up. We all laughed about it, and I felt so much relief knowing that I didn’t have to worry about a thing. All I had to do was get married.

***

When my time came, I was led to the sealing room, where I saw Homey, our friends, and our family. It was a very touching experience. I was both happy and sad. I was happy to be surrounded by the people I love. I was sad that there were several people I love missing.

The sealer spoke to us for a few minutes, then performed our marriage, and we were married. Not only were we married, but we were officially sealed to one another as husband and wife for time and for all eternity.

Yay! Newly Married!

Yay! Newly Married!

Our Family.

Our Family.

Homey and Me

Homey and Me

***

When I was fourteen, I received a very special blessing, my Patriarchal Blessing. In this blessing, I was promised, “I bless you that you might also see through to the day when you will be able to find a fine young man, a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood who will be willing and able and worthy to go with you to a temple of the Lord, there to be sealed together for time and for all eternity.”

When I married Rusty, at the age of 19, I found this phrase somewhat cryptic. I knew that marrying Rusty was the right thing to do, but at the age of 19, it didn’t seem like I had to see through to the day.

The day I found out about Rusty’s infidelity, I began to understand what this phrase meant. When I decided, finally, to divorce him, this part of my patriarchal blessing fueled me with hope. And, through God’s mercy, and his willing servant (my Bishop), I was able to find a fine young man.

My Patriarchal Blessing continues, “Recognize, Catania, that that is one of the choice blessings a man and woman can receive on this earth.”

I have come to know that this is true. This May, Homey and I will be celebrating our Seventh anniversary. While it isn’t a long time, by any means, we still love one another. We still cherish one another. I love Homey more now than I did when I married him.

Homey has proved to be exactly the man that I both wanted and needed in my life. With Homey, I’ve become a better mother, wife, friend, and woman. He magnifies my womanhood. He loves me and respects me. When we were dating, Homey would jot down little things that he liked about me on a pad of paper. It is a list of little phrases – usually based on things that I said or did. I don’t think that he knows I found this list (I found it one of the times we were moving). Obviously, when I read through this list, I was reduced to tears. Sometimes it is hard to believe that there is a person, a man who cherishes me because I’m me: because I like to crochet, because I fall up the stairs, because I have pretty eyes, because I love to study the scriptures… Yet, he does love me, and I love him. We’re pretty lucky.

Of course, we’ve hit bumps in the road. Within the first year of marriage, we had experienced a colonoscopy, surgery, and cross-country move. The last seven years have not been uneventful. Homey adopted Tiger and Panda, we had two more children. We moved cross-country again. And then again! Homey has had seven different jobs. We are still discovering more about ourselves, each other, and our children. But this journey is so much better with a companion. It isn’t always simpler or easier, but it is, undoubtably, better.

So, while this is the last entry of the “Homey and Me” Love story, it isn’t the end. Our wedding was a commencement.

I hope that as you’ve read my story, you have not only been uplifted by a love story, but you have also felt the power of and love of God. Every time I think about meeting Homey – and I mean the whole story including the years preceding my meeting Homey – I am ultimately struck by the love that God has for me. I know that Heavenly Father loves me, and I know that He loves all of His children. I know that He loves you, that he weeps with you and rejoices with you. I know that He wants to bless you with the righteous desires of your heart. And I know that when we allow ourselves to submit to His will, then we will have what He wants for each of us: happiness and joy.

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