Lehi Loved His Sons – 2 Nephi 3:1-3

You can read 2 Nephi 3:1-3 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Shortly before his death, Lehi spoke with and blessed each of his sons. In 2 Nephi 3, we read of what Lehi said to his youngest son, Joseph.
  • Lehi prayed that the land (the promised land) would be consecrated to Joseph and his seed.
  • Lehi also prays that the Lord will bless Joseph forever.

Lehi Loved His Sons

So…as I’m studying today, I know that there is a lot that we could learn from this chapter. There are a lot of intellectual things to research. There are exciting prophecies to consider. Sometimes I wonder why I thought I could “blog the Book of Mormon.” There is no way that I can be exhaustive in this study.

So, I have to remember that I can’t even try to explore every little thing in the Book of Mormon. Instead, I need to simply study that which the Spirit is prompting me to study.

Of course, we benefit the most when we study as the Spirit guides. Not only that, but when we study as the Spirit guides, then our study may look different at different times. Perhaps the Spirit will guide us to notice a topic. Maybe the Spirit will guide us to find out more about the history and context of a chapter. Who knows. It depends on day to day.

As I read through this chapter today, I keep feeling overwhelmed by the great love that Lehi had for his children.

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One
In 1 Nephi 1:1, we read

“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;” …

“Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.” – 1 Nephi 1:1

Here, we read that Lehi taught his sons. Lehi taught his sons how to read and write. According to Nephi, Lehi taught them all he could. Such teaching would only be undertaken by a father who loved his children.

Two
Time and time and time again, Lehi pled with his sons – that they would choose faith and righteousness. He named the valley where they camped Lemuel, and the river that ran through the valley he named Laman, so that they would be reminded to be steadfast and continually righteous.

This pleading, like his teaching, was motivated by Lehi’s love for his sons.

Three
Lehi’s love for his sons wasn’t wrapped up only on them – in some kind of unhealthy way. Not only did Lehi love his sons, but he loved his wife. When she was having a hard day, he didn’t get frustrated with her. Instead, he kindly comforted Sariah while they waited for their sons to return from getting the Brass plates.

This behavior from Lehi to Sariah shows Lehi’s great love for his family.

We read:

“And it came to pass that after we had come down into the wilderness unto our father, behold, he was filled with joy, and also my mother, Sariah, was exceedingly glad, for she truly had mourned because of us.” – 1 Nephi 5:1

You know, in the past, I’ve always focused on Sariah’s gladness because she had truly mourned for her sons. But here, we also read that Lehi was filled with joy.

It would have been a sacrifice for both Sariah and Lehi to send their sons back to Jerusalem. They had just recently fled because people wanted to kill their father. It probably wasn’t all that safe for them. Not only that, but the sons of Lehi had to travel through a desert wilderness. I imagine that they worried. Maybe Lehi didn’t mourn, but this doesn’t mean that he lacked concern or worry for his sons who were on a difficult journey.

Four
Another interesting manifestation of Lehi’s love for his sons comes when he talks about his vision of the tree of life. First of all, during the vision, when he partakes of the fruit of the tree of life, he immediately desired to share it with his family. We read:

“And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.” – 1 Nephi 8:12

Lehi was also deeply concerned for Laman and Lemuel. I’m sure it must have been a difficult conversation, but he voiced his worry – that they didn’t partake of the fruit in the dream. We read about this exchange between father and sons:

And he did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them, and not cast them off; yea, my father did preach unto them.” – 1 Nephi 8:37

I love that phrase: with all the feeling of a tender parent. Truly, Lehi loved his sons – even though they were sometimes wayward and rebellious.

Five
Throughout 1 Nephi, we read of times when Nephi and his family conversed in the tent of their father.

Maybe this isn’t important, but it is a touching concept to me. There was a place, even when they were homeless and wandering in the wilderness, where Lehi and his family convened and discussed various things.

Truly, Lehi loved his sons enough to spend so much time with them.

Six
Lehi loved his family enough to repent. While in the wilderness, when Nephi broke his bow, the hunger (and stress, and difficulty, and years) got to Lehi. He broke down and he murmured. I truly cannot imagine what Lehi was going through.

And yet, he had a special witness of Christ. He was expected to keep a higher standard of faith and devotion to the Lord.

After murmuring, Lehi loved his family and the Lord enough to repent. Here’s the thing: I know what it is like to get frustrated. Often, when things aren’t going your way, and you are frustrated, the last thing you want to do is give up the frustration and anger.

Yet, Lehi humbled himself. He repented. He ate humble pie in front of all those he had led into the wilderness for those years. This selfless decision actually kept the entire company alive.

It seems like a strange way to express our love, but perhaps it is one of the most important things we, as parents can do for our children. We can repent. We can give up our pride. We can let go of anger and other issues. And instead, we can lead our family in the love of the Lord.

Seven
Lehi blessed his children. We have been reading of these blessings in the last few chapters. Lehi loved his children enough to teach them and bless them.

Up to his dying day, he was teaching his children, guiding them, praying for them, and blessing them.

What’s the deal

Okay…so what’s the deal with this. It’s cool that Lehi loved his children. I don’t know if it was worth an entire blog post. Maybe not.

But maybe we can learn from him for ourselves. Am I teaching my children? Am I pleading with them? Am I letting them into my “tent,” where they can ask candid questions? Am I a tender parent? A goodly parent?

What can I do to be more like Lehi???

  • I can listen to the Lord
  • I can boldly teach my children all that I know
  • I can make big sacrifices even if they seem to be difficult – knowing that we are in the hands of a God who loves His children more than I love mine.
  • I can be patient with my children and with my spouse.
  • I can repent when I make a mistake.
  • I can endure – loving, guiding, and teaching my children until my dying day.

Hugs! – 2 Nephi 1:15

You can read 2 Nephi 1:5 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Lehi is teaching his sons one final time before he passes away.
  • Lehi bears His testimony of the Lord to his sons.

Hugs!

This has got to be one of my favorite scriptures.

“But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” – 2 Nephi 1:15

As a quick reminder, Lehi is preaching and prophesying to his sons a final time before he passes away. Lehi reminds his sons of the miracles that they have experienced. Lehi also teaches his sons the conditions of the promised land. Finally, Lehi urges his sons to wake up from the sleep of hell.

For the most part, Lehi is speaking to Nephi’s older brothers. He is pleading (hear the words of a trembling parent!) that they will turn to the Lord.

Now, in verse 15, Lehi gives his testimony. And it is absolutely beautiful.

The Lord Hath Redeemed My Soul from Hell

First, Lehi testifies that the Lord has redeemed his soul from Hell. It should be stated that “the Lord” refers to our Redeemer – Jesus Christ.

Savior Praying

We will learn more about redemption in the coming weeks as we read what Lehi teaches his son Jacob.

Additionally, in 2013, Elder Christofferson gave a great talk about Redemption. You can read the full text here.

Elder Christofferson explains the concept of redemption:

“Among the most significant of Jesus Christ’s descriptive titles is Redeemer. … The word redeem means to pay off an obligation or a debt. Redeem can also mean to rescue or set free as by paying a ransom. If someone commits a mistake and then corrects it or makes amends, we say he has redeemed himself. Each of these meanings suggests different facets of the great Redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ through His Atonement, which includes, in the words of the dictionary, “to deliver from sin and its penalties, as by a sacrifice made for the sinner.” – D. Todd Christofferson

Lehi understands that, first of all, based on the conditions of mortality – he needs to be redeemed. He understands that 1) He needs to be physically redeemed from death. Through the resurrection, Christ made that possible to each of us. 2) He needs to be spiritually redeemed from hell. Through the suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross, Christ paid the price for the sins that we commit – therefore redeeming us from hell.

Now, we have to understand – yes, Christ suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross so that we could be redeemed, but it doesn’t happen automatically. We must exercise our own wills in order for the redemptive salve of the Atonement to be applied to our souls.

Elder Christofferson explained:

“Because we are accountable and we make the choices, the redemption from our own sins is conditional—conditioned on confessing and abandoning sin and turning to a godly life, or in other words, conditioned on repentance (see D&C 58:43).” – D. Todd Christofferson

Remember, Lehi has been urging his sons to awake from the sleep of hell. He has been urging them to shake off the chains of sin that were dragging them down to hell. If they will wake up, by turning to the Lord in humility and repentance, then they will also know and experience what Lehi has known and experienced: redemption.

And remember – hell – as Lehi described earlier – was an eternal gulf of misery and woe.

I don’t think I’d like to experience an infinite abyss of despair. It sounds terrible. I mean, no brainer right? If you have the obvious choice between a pit of agony and joy, which would you choose?

We must make a choice. And no matter what we do or don’t do, we are making a choice. Turning to the Lord is an obvious choice. Rebelling against the Savior is another obvious choice. However, we need to remember that sleepy complacency is also a choice!

So – if we will follow the example of Lehi, if we will repent and turn to the Lord, listen to Him, seek Him, and trust in Him, then we will experience what He experienced: redemption from hell.

I Have Beheld His Glory

From the first chapter of the Book of Mormon, we learn that Lehi has truly beheld the glory of the Lord. We read of His experience:

“And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.

And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.

And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.” – 1 Nephi 1:7-9

Lehi had a true witness of Christ and His divinity. Lehi was a special witness, and he therefore had the distinct duty to testify of Christ. Lehi knew of the Glory of the Lord because he had experienced it.

Isn’t this cool? Imagine beholding the glory of God. Sometimes, I sit and think – what would it be like to behold the glory of God, to see Him, to be a true witness? I wonder what it would be like to have Lehi’s experience.

And though I haven’t had Lehi’s express experience. Sometimes, I realize – we behold much more of God’s glory than we realize…

Bird of Paradise
Bird of Paradise
Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
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Tall Larkspur
Kahuku sunset
Sunset on the North Shore
Midway
Beautiful Midway Utah
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The Temple
Rose
Rose
sleeping beauties
Family
View from Guardsman
Mountaintops from the Mountaintop

Though I have never had an experience like Lehi’s, I think that I’d be foolish to say that I’ve never beheld the glory of the Lord.

I Am Encircled about Eternally in the Arms of His Love

This sounds like a hug to me.

Compare this with what Lehi said earlier: shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains with bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.

Isn’t it interesting how Satan tries to get us to think that the Lord’s commandments are confining – as if they hold us captive??? Yet it is sin that wraps us in heavy chains and burdens down our soul.

Instead, the covenants and commandments of the Lord will support us and liberate us. When we covenant with the Lord and when we keep those covenants, we walk into His outstretched arms and are uplifted by His love.

The Lord doesn’t burden us with chains and captivity. He lifts us up. He lifts us up in the arms of His love. He elevates us and brings us joy. He fills us with purpose, hope, and happiness.

I don’t know what to say – this concept is so beautiful.

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The Lord truly loves us. He loves each of us as much as He loved Lehi, or Nephi, or any ancient prophet. He loves you and me – as much as He loves any church leader or “great,” successful person. He loves us so much that He laid down His life, He suffered in Gethsemane, and He was resurrected so that we could be redeemed and enjoy eternal happiness with Him.

This is why He wants us to come unto Him. This is why He wants us to wake up! This is why He does everything that He has ever done or will do.

Truly, the gospel is a message of peace, hope, and joy.

“Teach Us Tolerance and Love”

Today, I’m studying the talk, “Teach Us Tolerance and Love,” by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 1994 General Conference.

Crayon Crinkle Project

Well, I guess I’ll start by stating the obvious. This was a really good talk. Tolerance. Love. President Nelson stated:

“I have been impressed to speak on the subject of tolerance—a virtue much needed in our turbulent world.” – Russell M. Nelson

This talk is so relevant today. He gave this talk 24 years ago – before the 24 hour news cycle – which, I believe, has made so many people so angry. Instead of surrounding ourselves with that which promotes tolerance and love, it seems like everyone is getting angrier and even tribal.

Not only has a lack of tolerance and love been problematic for society, at large, I can also see how this lack creeps into my personal life. It causes rifts, judgments, and misunderstandings. Instead of having love, patience, and long-suffering for others, I tend to get annoyed easily. This talk was timely, and I hope you will read it.

President Nelson quotes the following scripture story:

““Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

“This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” – Russell M. Nelson

When the Savior was asked about the most important commandment to keep, he didn’t mention keep the Sabbath Day Holy or Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. He didn’t tell this lawyer any commandment that the lawyer may have expected.

During a political climate that exacted an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the Savior proclaimed that the greatest of all commandments were to 1) Love God, and 2) Love Others.

President Nelson explained:

“Hence, our highest priorities in life are to love God and to love our neighbors. That broadly includes neighbors in our own family, our community, our nation, and our world. Obedience to the second commandment facilitates obedience to the first commandment. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God,” (Mosiah 2:17)” – Russell M. Nelson

Recently in my personal scripture study, I’ve been reading and studying the vision of the tree of life – when Nephi sees the vision and learns what each symbol means. In studying this, I’ve learned a lot about desire, and Nephi, himself, learns that the tree of life represents the Love of God, which is the most desirable above all other things. (You can read more here.)

Isn’t it interesting that most important commandments – to love God and to love others – is the most desirable above all other things? I’m convinced that God’s commandments are never little rules given by a power hungry and arbitrary God. His commandments are the secrets to a happy life.

Anyway, if we want to be commandment keeping people, then we need to love God and love others. One way that we show this love is through our kindness to others.

Love Begins at Home

President Nelson shares a cute experience:

“I was amused recently when one of our grown children confided that she had always thought that she was her daddy’s favorite daughter. She was surprised to discover later that each of her eight sisters harbored that same feeling. Only when they had become mothers themselves did they realize that parents hardly have favorites. (Incidentally, our only son never had to wonder who was our favorite son.)” – Russell M. Nelson

Reading this, I wondered, do my children feel this way? I think that my younger two know that they are the apple of my eye. But my teenagers may not realize how much I love them. So – I’m stopping for a second to write them a note. They need to know it! And if your children don’t think that they are your favorite children, maybe take a second right now to tell them how much you love them. If it means that you stop reading this blog post, then great. You can finish reading it later. (or not).

Just imagine what this world would be like if children were reared in homes where they felt confident of the love that their parents have for them.

Heavenly Father Loves us, Too

Ideally, our examples as parents would help a child understand the great love that Heavenly Father has for each of us. Additionally, our children would learn that – just as contention, selfishness, and general unkindness are not acceptable in the home they are also not acceptable ways to treat our other brothers and sisters on this earth. We are all children of God, and we should treat each other as such.

President Nelson stated:

“Yet His children can be so intolerant with one another. Neighboring factions, whether they be identified as groups or gangs, schools or states, counties or countries, often develop animosity. Such tendencies make me wonder: Cannot boundary lines exist without becoming battle lines? Could not people unite in waging war against the evils that beset mankind instead of waging war on each other? Sadly, answers to these questions are often no. Through the years, discrimination based on ethnic or religious identity has led to senseless slaughter, vicious pogroms, and countless acts of cruelty. The face of history is pocked by the ugly scars of intolerance.

How different our world would be if all parents would apply this inspired instruction from the Book of Mormon: “Ye will not suffer your children … that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another. …

“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.”

If such training occurred, children and parents around this globe would join in singing, “Fill our hearts with sweet forgiving; Teach us tolerance and love.” Men and women would respect their neighbors and the beliefs held sacred by them. No longer would ethnic jokes and cultural slurs be acceptable. The tongue of the tolerant speaks no guile.” – Russell M. Nelson

This is the true pathway to peace. Marches, protests, wars, laws, or legislation – won’t change anything in this turbulent world. Instead, we need to change our hearts. And parents have the power to do this. We can teach our children not to quarrel with each other at home. We can also teach our children that all of God’s children are our brothers and sisters, so the same love and tolerance applies to those outside of our family.

I love this quote! I love it so much.

I would love to live in a world where we can truly feel safe. This doesn’t come through segregation and “safe spaces.” This comes as we stop pointing fingers at one another. All of us need to stop making assumptions about one another. We need to simply love one another, listen to one another, and be kind. We can change the world – starting in our own homes and neighborhoods. We don’t need world leaders to make treaties, laws, and speeches. We can do it ourselves if we choose. The feelings of safety will come when we simply choose to love one another.

The Risk of Tolerance

Even though President Nelson has taught tolerance, He does warn us:

“Now may I offer an important note of caution. An erroneous assumption could be made that if a little of something is good, a lot must be better. Not so! Overdoses of needed medication can be toxic. Boundless mercy could oppose justice. So tolerance, without limit, could lead to spineless permissiveness.” – Russell M. Nelson

Though tolerance is important, we also have to be aware of a bigger picture. Too much tolerance may end up destroying the very thing we are trying to protect with our tolerance!

I’m reminded of an experience in the Book of Mormon. In the Book of Helaman, we read about the Gadianton Robbers – basically a “Mafia” of sorts – organized crime – secret combinations. We read how both the Lamanites and the Nephites reacted to this troubling development.

“And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.

And it came to pass on the other hand, that the Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations.

And thus they did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God.” – Helaman 6:37-39

When the Gadianton Robbers started to proliferate in the communities of the Lamanites and the Nephites, the Lamanites show the example of love and tolerance that we need to adopt.

The Lamanites did not tolerate this wickedness. They understood that it would end up destroying their society. So, the Lamanites hunted down this band of robbers, and then notice what they did: they did preach the word of God.

Because of the love that the Lamanites had for their brothers, but their unwillingness to tolerate the cancer that was growing in their society, the Lamanites were able to eliminate the Gadianton Robbers.

Now look at the Nephites. They not only tolerated the people, but they also tolerated the behavior. The Nephites built up and supported the Gadianton Robbers. This eventually destroyed the Nephite civilization.

We can be loving and kind, just as the Lamanites were, while also rooting out the sin and wickedness that will destroy our society and bring misery. This requires that we are obedient to the commandments and worthy of the constant companionship of the Comforter.

President Nelson stated:

“Real love for the sinner may compel courageous confrontation—not acquiescence! Real love does not support self-destructing behavior.” – Russell M. Nelson

The Lamanites in the example above are the perfect examples of courageous confrontation. Their love compelled them to preach the pleasing word of God – even to the most wicked among them – and they were able to root out the Gadianton Robbers. The Lamanites had true love – even for those who were destroying the society – they didn’t support the self-destructing behavior of the Gadianton Robbers. Instead, they boldly and patiently preached the word of God.

We can’t make choices for others. We can’t force others to see things the way that we do. It isn’t god-like to do so. But we can be good examples. We can live worthy of the Spirit. The Spirit will then direct us on when to “preach” and when to remain quiet. The Spirit will help us how to show tolerance for others without tolerating behavior that is destructive.

***
There is so much more in this talk, but I need to wrap things up right now.

I’m so grateful to know that we are led by a prophet who is tolerant of others – of their religious views, their ethnic backgrounds, their tastes, etc. I’m grateful to know that not only is he tolerant, but that he preaches tolerance. I have been in the presence of our Prophet during a sacrament meeting once. I remember the overwhelming feeling of love I felt while he spoke to us.

I know that President Nelson isn’t a perfect man. I don’t intend to mythicize or deify him. But I’m grateful to know that we are led by a man who preaches tolerance and peace – especially during a turbulent time when it seems like everyone wants to be “right” at the expense of happiness and peace in our society.

I know that if we follow the advice of President Nelson, we will have more joy and peace in our personal lives and in the world, at large.

Life Lately

I haven’t been super consistent at posting lately. But I feel drawn to blogging again. I sat down to write today, wondering what should I write about? There are so many things to say. There are concerns I have. People are losing their faith in God and their love for one another. Our country is in turmoil.

In January, I decided to break away from Facebook. It started to take a bigger portion of my life than it should have. (read: I was addicted to it). I feel like after eliminating Facebook, I probably freed up about 60-90 minutes of my life!

I also have freed up feelings of anger, frustration, and general depression about this world around me. I turned off my phone, got up and started getting out more and tuning into my family more.

Here’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods…

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Oh Deer
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Quilty fun
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Tiger made a dress. And Sasquatch has glasses.
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T-Rex being a boy and finding things like dead snakes (and bringing them home!)
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There IS peace in this world. Just go outside. Look up.
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Handmade Pixie Shoes. (The show off the cutest little dirty toes).

I know that life isn’t perfect. And I don’t want to claim that mine is. Am I blessed? Yes! Absolutely!!! Despite my bounteous blessings, this is life, and I’m experiencing my share of trials. However, we can remember this:

“…thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” – 2 Nephi 2:2

Know the Greatness of God

I guess that this is what I mean by wake up, put down the phone, and get outside. I find that one of the quickest ways to feel God’s greatness is to go out for a walk.

Put down the phone, get off the internet (even before you finish reading this post!) and serve someone else. Into instant gratification? Get out and serve someone else. Nothing is more invigorating or electrifying as feeling the love that God has for all of us, and this comes to us as we serve each other.

And I know what you might be thinking! It’s easy for you to say, Choco, You aren’t dealing with _____[fill in the blank]_______ problems. However, I guarantee that anyone reading this can find someone who is happier than they are while having it worse than they do. When I’m feeling frustrated or down, and I don’t want to let God into my heart, I can’t help but remember Viktor Frankl. Who found purpose and stayed positive to his purpose WHILE IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP!

Know the greatness of God.

He Shall Consencrate Thine Afflictions for Thy Gain

As we come to know the greatness of God, trusting Him follows. We realize and remember that He isn’t just some arbitrary God up in heaven finding some kind of entertainment in our suffering.

He is our Father.

” Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” – Matthew 7:9-11

If you are a parent, then you should be better able to imagine our Heavenly Father – and why He allows us to endure adversity. No he doesn’t want to see us suffer, but He knows what we will see when we get to the other side of suffering.

Yes, there are horrible things happening in this world around us. But maybe there are some pretty great things, too. Maybe we can take a few minutes to know God, trust Him, and then count the ways that He is consecrating all that we are enduring for our gain.

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Creativity is pretty. And joyful.
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🙂
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Take a breath and look around!
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If you blink, you’ll miss it. 🙂

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.

Joy – Week 2 of 52

Week Two of my Joy Project.

January 5, 2014 – Spiritual Revelation At Church

So, this isn't the whole fam, but it's a nice picture of the girls.
So, this isn’t the whole fam, but it’s a nice picture of the girls.

I’m currently serving in my church as the Primary Chorister. To those of you who aren’t really familiar with Mormon vernacular and custom, you should know that there is no paid clergy in the Mormon Church. This means that nearly every member will be called to serve in various capacities throughout their time as a member of the church. People may be called to serve the congregation at large (as a Bishop – which is like a Pastor or Priest). There are also organizations for children and youth. I’ve spent most of my adult life serving either as a Youth Group leader (to youth ages 12-18) or as a Primary leader/teacher (serving children ages 0-12). Currently, I’m the chorister for the children. I get to teach them songs, and really it is a ton of fun. It is the fifth time I’ve served as a chorister.

You might think that when you’re busy doing stuff like singing with the children that you won’t get much of a chance to learn or grow yourself. This, simply, isn’t true. There is nothing more Christlike than serving. And, we can be taught through the Spirit in many ways.

Today, I felt joy as I had this profound impression of God’s love for us. Another woman who serves in the Primary was teaching a lesson. She asked the children how they knew that God loved them. I thought about the question myself.

I realized that one of the strongest ways I’ve felt God’s love for me is as I’ve had children of my own. I love my children, and this, in turn, has taught me how much patience and love God has for me. It is amazing to be able to think that God’s love for me is perfect and even stronger than the love I have for my little ones.

As I thought about His love for me, and as I basked in the love I have for my children, I was also awed by Heavenly Father’s wisdom – to organize us into families. We truly learn to be better people when we are in a family setting. I can’t imagine a better organization for society.

I am so grateful to feel God’s love. It’s amazing how such a simple realization can have such a profound impact.

January 6, 2014 – Art and Running

Painting with Sasquatch. She is such a super cutie.
Painting with Sasquatch. She is such a super cutie.

Today, I felt pure, unadulterated joy twice. Lucky!

1) I felt joy when I was painting with my little ones. We were painting pictures of Nephi and enjoying the beauty of an Arizona summer. I love hanging out with my kids. I love seeing them being creative. I can’t believe that I get to spend my days with these super-cuties.

2) I felt joy on my run. Today was an interval day. Those are really hard, but they are so totally worth it. Interval running helps you to get in better shape-cardio vascular-wise. They also help you to get faster. Plus, they are interesting…you are constantly doing something new. Sprinting, running, walking…catching your breath.

Today was great, and about 3/4 into my run, I felt so high. The afternoon was beautiful, my body works, and I like running.

January 7, 2014 – Funny Things

I recently got a job working for BYU-Idaho, teaching English in the Pathway program. (I’m pretty sure that Pathway will be its own blogpost pretty soon. Pathway is AMAZING)

So, the semester has started, and there has been a little bit of confusion, as my online instructor profile has the picture of the man on the left as me…as opposed to me (on the right)…

You have no idea how much this cracks me up.
You have no idea how much this cracks me up.

So, this is a funny mix-up, but I really love when things like this happen in life. I love hilarious things. And the thing is, I know that Heavenly Father knows this about me. I think that this is why He allows hilarious things to keep happening in my life. I mean, I met Homey thanks to his David Hasselhoff blog! When things like this happen, I chuckle, and say a prayer of gratitude that Heavenly Father allows for my sense of humor and gives me things to laugh about all the time.

January 8, 2014 – Trail Running

This tree...it's smell is absolutely intoxicating.
This tree…it’s smell is absolutely intoxicating.

I know that I’ve written about running before, but it keeps bringing me joy, so I’ll keep writing about it.

I love trail running, especially. In fact, if I wasn’t training for a marathon, I’d probably do trail running, exclusively. I love going up and down hills, jumping over rocks, and almost dying for about 85% of the run.

Right now, running to the trails is especially great as there are some trees in bloom that smell amazing. I mean, they smell so good that I wish I was a bee so I could just fly around in their blooms all day long.

January 9, 2014 – Answers to Not-Really-Important-But-Important-To-Me Prayers

No picture for this one.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m working for BYU-I, and I’ve been trying to come up with some content for my class. One very important aspect of working for BYU-I is having the Spirit with you, and bearing testimony. I’m not only teaching English, I’m also teaching how the gospel will enrich our lives–and help students learn to write. Just to be clear, I’m not teaching a gospel class, but at BYU-Idaho, we are taught to let the Spirit be a part of every class, every learning experience. It is very powerful.

With that being said, I was working on a note for my class, and I wanted to be able to give some kind of spiritual message, but I didn’t really know what to say. I took it to the Lord, and felt prompted to forget about the Spiritual message for a moment. Instead, I needed to just read my scriptures for the day. I felt assured that as I studied my scriptures, I’d have the prompting I’d need for my class.

And that’s exactly what happened!

I felt joy and a slight adrenaline rush as I typed up my spiritual thought. I also felt humbled that the Lord would answer my prayer for something that seems so silly. Heavenly Father loves us…and I’m also beginning to think that the small stuff may be a lot more important than we realize.

January 10, 2014 – Mom Win

Happy cute girls.
Happy cute girls.

I wish I could tell you that my kids are always perfect, they get along, and that our family is pretty much like the cover of an Ensign magazine. But we’re not. The kids pick their noses and pick on each other. Sometimes they get especially chirpy, and this drives me crazy. My older two have been picking at each other a lot more than usual. Maybe it’s because they’re both nearly teenagers. I don’t know. But every time they start to fight about something stupid (it is always stupid), I nearly go berserk!

Not a good reaction.

I’ve been wondering how to help increase peace and harmony in our home.

Today, it happened, just on the fly. The girls were arguing about something, can’t remember what, but it was dumb. I wanted to yell and scream and banish each of them to their rooms. This is what I usually do, but I already know the result of such a course…I don’t want to go insane.

So, I had a moment of clarity. I needed to train them to rectify their differences. I needed to train them to compromise. I didn’t want to have one of them completely give up to the will of the other. I wanted to teach them that they both could be happy.

Their fight had to do with it’s my turn to…
(But mom, she always gets to!)
(No. You did it last.)
(So. I asked first)…
you get the idea.
I reminded the girls of how we kept track of who checks the mail (once a favorite fight in our home). They switch off weekly. Whoever throws out the trash gets to check the mail.

Panda’s eyes lit up. “I know,” she remarked, “We can switch off weeks.”
Slowly, Tiger seemed converted to the idea, “Yeah…so this week, you can do it, and next week I’ll do it.”
I chimed in, “Great. Now, let’s try to prevent future fights. Part of being a peacemaker isn’t just stopping the fight right now, but thinking of a solution so that we don’t fight in the future. How will we keep track of whose turn it is to make cookies.” (Yes, the fight was about making cookies).
Panda offered, “Whoever does the dishes can make cookies that week.”
Perfect! We all agreed.

Finally, I decided to make up a little jingle and cheesy dance to help us remember that whoever does dishes gets to make cookies. Moms: doing dances where you look dumb/crazy really helps to stop the fighting and start the laughing. Don’t be too proud to look dumb for your kids.

I feel joy when my kids are happy. I feel joy when I have those moments of hey…maybe I’m finally getting this whole “mom” thing.

January 11, 2014 – Finishing a long run

Yes. Another running entry.

16 miles. Tired. Sore. Sweaty. Chafey. Fun!
16 miles. Tired. Sore. Sweaty. Chafey. Fun!

After a long run, a long session of foam rolling. It really helps, yo.
After a long run, a long session of foam rolling. It really helps, yo.

I did my long run on Saturday. 16 miles. 16 very long miles. It was nice, but I’m not sure that I like the really long distances. I’m staying upbeat because I want to run this marathon, but I’m finding that my “sweet spot” for running is about an hour-long run.

In any case, I finished this run. I was feeling dead, but accomplished.

January 12, 2014 – Being Outside in Winter

I love Phoenix in the Winter.
I love Phoenix in the Winter.

Today, we went to church. Afterward, we ate lunch, then went outside. It’s beautiful. I love it here in the winter. I took a nap on the hammock, in the sun, holding Clyde Miller. Good life, I know.

***
How was your week? Joyful? Share!

Italian Dinner for St. Patrick’s – Part 30 of the HaM – Homey and Me – Love Story

Homey and Me
Homey and Me

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

Homey’s trip to PA was short, but nothing short of amazing.

When he got back to AZ, we returned to our break-neck pace of texting, talking on the phone, and writing emails.

In fact, on the morning of Monday 12 March (the day after Homey arrived back to Phoenix), I arrived to work with an email. The tone of the emails were more serious. Now that we had met, we were discussing marriage. Oh, and not like some distant-far-off-fantasy-marriage, but a real marriage that would be happening in the very near future.

It was very exciting.

I mean, seriously, what single woman, who wants to get married wouldn’t love to receive an email saying this:

“So I just have to say that this weekend was the absolute greatest time of my entire life. In soooooo many ways, I felt confirmed over and over to me that you are the right woman for me to marry. It was really great to go to the temple with you. That was the most powerful experience I’ve had in a very long time, and I want to thank you for it.”

Eeeeeeeekkkkkkkk!!!!

or this:

“I am sooo glad that we had a chance to spend time with Tiger and Panda. They are the raddest kids. I really can’t describe how natural and easy it was to be with them. It really felt like I have met them before. And I’m pretty sure that things will work out fine in that department. I’m a quick learner and will hopefully pick up on the father-ing thing fast. This is an opportunity I am really excited to start. I LOVE YOU.”

blaiohagleiboigaspohtasooaisdpfiha!!!!! (That is a good sentiment, I promise!)

I mean, seriously. Did you just read that last paragraph? Even as I read it now, seven years after it was written, I’m totally amazed. Dreamy-land amazed.

After the visit, Homey talked to his mom about me, and she was adjusting to the idea that he was falling in love with a woman, a single-mother, on the other side of the country, that he had met online. (That’s a lot to take!!!)

On my end, things were really feeling great, too.

My children loved Homey. Tiger was over the moon because he had brought her a stuffed-animal monkey and some candy. (Kids are so easy to please!) And Panda’s reaction to Homey was the even bigger surprise. Even though Panda was excruciatingly shy (she still is), she warmed up to Homey immediately, and I think that she had a crush on him. After he left she kept proclaiming, “Homey is cute, momma.”

When Homey was in PA, I was watching him. We didn’t spend much time with my kids, as I didn’t want them to really develop any kind of attachment to him before I knew if I really liked him or not. I was always guarded about the men that my children met while I dated. That being said, I wanted to see him with them. He was pretty perfect. More of the Dreamy-land feelings for Homey. 🙂 🙂

Not only did my kids like Homey, but my mom seemed to legitimately like him.
With the men that I dated in the past, she usually had nothing positive to say about them.
On the first Monday after homey’s visit, when I was picking the kids up from my Mom’s house, she asked, “How was Homey’s flight? Did he get back to AZ okay?”
“Yes. It went without any problems at all.”
“Great.”
“Yeah…so, what do you think?” I asked, a little worried about her opinion. I never could tell what she would say/think.
My mom sat there for a second and then said, “I’m glad he smiles.”

My little brother Sam also liked Homey, and Sam was probably one of my closest friends at the time. Sam laughed at Homey’s jokes and even drew a picture of Russell Crowe wearing a kilt and riding on a flying lion for him. Naturally, Homey loved it.

My dad still didn’t know that I was thinking about marriage, though he knew that I was receiving a visit from Homey.

My Relief Society President seemed to really like Homey. I trusted and valued her opinion. She remains one of the most faithful, intelligent, and with-it women I’ve ever known. I want to be like her. So to get her approval was nice.

My Bishop, however, still hadn’t met Homey, and I wanted to know what he thought, too. I was hoping to find out his thoughts after Homey’s next visit.

Now, I know that it might sound strange, that I wanted the approval of all of these people, not because I was worried, but it was my safety net. I knew I was in love, and I wanted other, objective opinions. Another reason I was looking for approval was because I was starting to get cold feet about everything.

Hot and Cold, and it was happening all in my head

There is no doubt about the fact that I was in love with Homey. No doubt about it. And I was super happy about being in love, too. But I was learning something new…love scared me.

Love hadn’t really scared me in the past, or at least I didn’t think that it had. But then, I started to wonder. What ifffff…….?

What if he changes his mind?
What if he realizes that I’m not really the woman he wants?
What if he changes his mind about children?
What if, when things get hard, he gives up?
What if he is addicted to p*rnography and s*x and has been lying about it?
What if he starts to hate my idiosyncrasies?
What if he is passing up the chance at a better woman?
What if he decides to cheat?
What if he realizes that I’m tainted meat, then leaves?
Can he really love me? Is it even possible?

These thoughts aren’t helpful. And instead of leading somewhere good, they led to worse thoughts (Imagine that!?)

What if I change my mind?
What if I realize that he’s not really the man that I want?
What if I change my mind about having him be the step-father to my children?
What if, when things get hard, I give up?
What if I have been so damaged by past experiences, I destroy him and make him turn to p*rn?
What if I start to hate his idiosyncrasies?
What if I’m passing up the chance to meet and marry a better man?
What if I decide to cheat?
Can I really love him? Is it possible that I’m in love?
What is love anyways?
What is the point of marriage?
What is the point of anything?

Ahhh…the fun of thinking.

But the thoughts were there, and I knew that I shouldn’t ignore them completely because that doesn’t actually solve anything. I needed to answer them honestly for myself. The thing is – every relationship is a risk. There is no way around it. I had been burned pretty badly before, and although I was ready to take another chance, I hadn’t forgotten the pain of the last burn. The scars were still sensitive.

So, I made it a matter of prayer.

I wish I could tell you that my prayers were answered immediately. I wish I could say that a light came down from heaven, and a voice proclaimed, “Catania, stop it! You can trust Homey. He’s amazing. Everything will be fine.” I even would have accepted a voice saying, “Catania, stop it! Don’t talk to him! You’re an idiot! Don’t you know?!?!?! You can’t trust men!!!”

Neither of those things happened for me. Yet I wasn’t left alone.

As I prayed, I would feel quiet comfort. I felt reminded of the fact that I was making my choices prayerfully, and that the Lord wouldn’t let me go astray. I also felt that I would need to learn to trust in God, and that it might even mean making myself vulnerable to other people.

Homey’s Second Visit

Homey was scheduled to arrive to PA on March 16th–the same day that a massive ice/snow-storm was scheduled to arrive.

The ice storm actually arrived ahead of schedule. I was getting a little worried, but received a text from Homey when he had boarded his plane and then explained that they were taking off. Phew. We’d be spared the trouble of cancelled flights.

Or so I thought.

I left work, and decided to head straight to the airport. I wasn’t exactly sure how long it would take me to get there with the horrible combination of freezing rain and sleet. It was one of those storms that were too wet for salt/trucks to make much of a difference, yet just cold enough to make everything slick. The traffic was beyond horrible, and I saw three different cars slide off the road.

It took about an hour for me to travel about 5 miles. I was beginning to worry. Even though Homey would make it to Philadelphia, I wasn’t sure if I would!

After seeing a fourth car slide off the road, my phone rang. It was Homey. I was at a stop anyway, so I answered.
“I’m sorry!” I exclaimed. “We’re on our way to the airport.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he replied. “Just head back home.”
“No. I’m already on my way. It’s no trouble.”
“No. I mean, don’t come to the airport. Our plane was diverted. I’m in Richmond.”
“Virginia?” I asked.
“Yeah.”
“That’s like five hours away.”
“I know. I’m going to let you go for now because I’m losing battery, and I’m not sure what they’re going to do, but I’ll call you back in like 15 minutes.”
“Okay.”

I wanted to cry. Curse the stupid snow!!!!

I turned around and started to head back to my home. I called my mom and explained what was happening. Then, I started thinking of a plan in my head. I’d just drive down to Virginia to pick him up. I hated the idea of him not coming to PA. It wouldn’t be a big deal. I’d just get the girls, get some snacks, and head down to VA. The weather wasn’t bad south of us. As soon as I got south of the storm, everything would be fine. It would be an adventure.

I was still trudging through traffic when I got Homey’s next call.
“Hey.”
“Yeah, so they have cancelled the flight completely.”
“So you’re just stuck in Virginia?” I asked.
“Yeah. They are offering to re-route us in a day or two, or give us vouchers and send us back to Phoenix. Of course, I came on my mom’s buddy passes, so I am not sure what they’d do for me.”
“Oh man. That sucks. I can’t believe it. They can’t even get you in a little later?”
“No. They’ve completely shut down the Philadelphia airport, so there are no flights in or out for the next 24 hours or even longer.”
“Okay. Well, you know what,” I began, “I’m on my way home. I’m going to get the girls, then I’m going to head down to Virginia to get you. It will take me about five hours, but then–”
“No. Don’t. You can’t drive down here.”
“It’s no problem at all.” I said, committed.
“No, Catania. You don’t understand. I’ve already rented a car. I’m going to drive up.”
I was a little flabbergasted. I hadn’t thought of that solution.
“Okay.” I said. “Great! But be careful. The weather is much worse here than it is in VA. I mean, everything is horrible here.”
“All the more reason that I don’t want you to drive, then, Catania. Just get the kids and get warm.”
“Okay. And I want you to stay safe, too. Don’t try to drive here tonight if it is too icy. Just stay in Washington, D.C. or somewhere along the way. Don’t risk getting in an accident. The roads are worse when you get further north.”
“Okay. I’ll do that. Thanks. Hopefully I’ll make it tonight.”
“I really don’t think you will. It’s a five hour drive, and the roads are the worst. Tomorrow, when the storm is over, it will be better. Drive for a while, but please stop when it gets bad. We’ll just see you tomorrow. I can pick you up from the rental car place tomorrow in the morning. Then you don’t have to have the rental for more than a day.”
“Alright…Look, I need to go. I’m running out of battery. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”

In that phone call, the concerns I had about marriage, trust, and commitment were beginning to evaporate. I was truly worried about Homey’s safety. And I was completely amazed by what he was doing: driving up to PA, in a snowstorm, to be with me. As I drove home, I was feeling emotional. Homey was doing all of this to be with me.

***
I finally made it home, and then I decided to stay the night at my mom’s house. (Our little white house was always soooo cold, plus the girls were already there). I talked with Homey throughout the evening. His drive was smooth sailing up to Washington, D.C., then, just as I had predicted, he met the storm, and was going nowhere fast. He decided against risking it, and just stopped at a hotel.

We talked on the phone for a short time. We wanted to save our energy for when we were actually able to see each other. So, we spent a few minutes cursing the weather and lamenting the fact that we were so close to each other, yet so far away.

March 17, 2007

In the morning, I got a call from Homey, and knew I had a few hours before he’d be in Philly, so I decided to go for a quick run. It was cold, but the road crews had been working all night long. The road was clear and run-able. I decided that I’d release a little bit of nervous energy before Homey arrived.

I went on a typical run – to the Church and back home. Thinking about it actually makes me ache for Pennsylvania.

The view on a run.
The view on a run.

You can’t really tell from this picture, but it is hilly in PA. My mom’s house, in particular, is at the top of a really big hill. No matter what route I took, I’d have to go uphill at the end of the run back to my mom’s house.

Running up hills are particularly hard. Your legs and lungs are burning. You wonder why you’re doing this, yet you also think, I’m gonna make it up this hill!!! In order to make it up the hills, sometimes I’d visualize certain things. At first, I’d visualize my kids, my bishop, or Snoop at the top of the hill–cheering me on. If I made it to the top of the hill without stopping to walk, I’d give each of these imaginary cheerleaders a real high-five. (It probably looked odd…)

Throughout my time as a single-mom, it was encouraging for me to think of the people who were waiting for me, cheering me on. This idea gave me the strength to keep pressing forward. It might sound strange, but it really helped me on both my runs and in my personal life.

This cold March morning, I found myself at the end of a run–about to face the dreaded, steep hill that leads to my mom’s house. I wanted to walk. I was tired. But then I told myself, Imagine…Homey’s at the top. He’s cheering you on.

As soon as I told myself to visualize him at the top of the hill, another part of me realized that he wasn’t there. I realized that, if this was real, and there were people standing at the top of the hill, cheering me on, Homey wouldn’t be in that throng. Instead, he’d be along-side me. Cheering me on as he took those final steps with me up the hill. Even though we weren’t officially committed, I knew that he loved me and wanted to be committed to me forever. The commitment he wanted wasn’t like the companionship of a fair-weather friend, sex partner, or even a pet. The commitment he desired was more. He wanted to be the person who would help me move forward as I struggled. He would truly rejoice in my victories because he had suffered with me.

I realized what I couldn’t put my finger on the day before when he announced that he was driving up to PA. In the past, I had relationships with men who were happy to stand by and wait for me. I was happy and willing to do the work because I believe that’s what we do in relationship. I was happy and willing to do the work for Rusty in our sham of a marriage. I was happy and willing to cross the ocean to see Markus. I was happy and willing to listen to Roger, drive down to cheer him up, or calm him during his anxious moments. I was happy and willing to spend time, money, and energy on men who were only willing to stand at the end of the line and cheer me on…maybe.

And for the first time, I was courting someone who wouldn’t stand idly by, but was happy and willing to work to see me. He’d rent a car and drive to me, even though he had already flown 2,000 miles. In my mind’s eye, I could see Homey running along side me up Glenside. And at the top of the hill were my kids, my bishop, my parents.

I knew that despite my many concerns and fears, I could proceed with faith in this relationship that would change my life.

***
The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind. I picked up Homey, and we hung out at home playing games with the girls. They were delighted because he had bought each of them giant Easter baskets filled with Reece’s peanut butter eggs. We watched movies, and tried to stay warm in my cold little house.

As evening fell, I took the girls to my Mom’s house again. She’d babysit while Homey and I went out. We got dressed nicely, and went to dinner at a little Italian Restaurant named Anthony’s. It was a nice night. (Live in PA?…I suggest Anthony’s in Malvern. Great Stromboli.) Even though the Stromboli at Anthony’s is practically perfect, I was able to refrain from scarfing it down because of nerves. I couldn’t help but wonder:

Is he gonna propose to me? When will it happen? What will he say? What does the ring look like? I thought he was going to propose. I hope he didn’t change his mind.

We ate dinner, exchanged pleasantries, then headed back home.

We talked (okay, mostly kissed), and Homey seemed to be nervous. He’d stop to say something, then start kissing me again. Then, he’d pause, gaze into my eyes, shift like he was going to say something, then change his mind, and kiss me as if kissing was the only way to relieve his nerves.

Finally, he was able to stop for a moment. He made a quick movement down to the ground. He got down on one knee, pulled something from his pocket, and then, he made a proclamation that I’ll never forget.

Click here for part 31.

***
This post is also my response to the Weekly Writing Challenge – Cliffhanger. Click on the link to find other entries.