Next up: Rags.

Because Loki was such an aggressive cat, when Kullervo and I started trying to have a baby, we had to decide what we would do.  Obviously, you can’t keep a cat around who hates children.  And Loki did.  He had been aggressive to children in our home before, and we were worried that he would do the same with our own kids. However, we were loathe to give him up because he was a part of our family.

So we decided that when we got pregnant, we would get another cat.  We figured that bringing a new addition into the home would be a way for Loki to learn some flexibility and how to get along with other creatures.

It just so happened, totally coincidentally, that Rags came along.  Kullervo was at his two week annual training in New York, and I had the flu.  Except, on a lark one night on the phone, Kullervo said that I should take a pregnancy test, because… what if?  We’d been trying to have a baby for a year and a half at that point, so it seemed a little silly.  But the next day I got a test… and found out I was pregnant.

That same day, some of the guys Kullervo was training with found a tiny kitten that had been mauled by some animal.  Kullervo fell in love with her.  She cuddled up to him, mewed in his ear, and let him take care of her.  He sneaked her onto the Army bus home in a box that had been filled with stuff used for cleaning weapons.  The inside of the box said “RAGS”.

When Kullervo got home, he showed me our new pet… and I wasn’t impressed.  Rags was a skinny piece of fur and bones (some of which we might have actually been able to see).  She was the ugliest kitten I had ever seen in my life.

We took her to the vet and got medicine to clean her up and make her better.  We also found out that she was actually a boy, but was so little that his testicles hadn’t descended yet.

Rags hung out with me when Loki wouldn’t, through my entire pregnancy.  He would steal broccoli off of my plate, and eat all of my mashed potatoes.  I swear, we were  a match made in heaven.  (And who’s ever heard of a cat that eats broccoli and potatoes?!)

Rags also tempered Loki’s awfulness (a bit).  Loki took on the role of single dad, and he and Rags became buddies.

Nowadays, Rags doesn’t venture outside.  He’s scared of his own shadow and jumps at every noise he hears.  He’ll hide for hours at a time.  But he loves Hazel to pieces, and lets her pet him and hug him and have her stuffed animals give him kisses.  She calls him her little buddy, and he often snuggles up on her bed with her at night.

We’ve always called him our little cat, but really, he’s a giant.  Loki is enormous (morbidly obese), and Rags might be slightly overweight, but even without the weight, both are just big cats.

Rags still loves me best and will come when I call him.  He’s an absolute sweetheart who charms anyone who gets to see him.  And he has turned into a beautiful cat with a handsome face and attractive markings.

Ten Year Baptiversary

Ten years ago today, I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  This came about after a whole ton of stuff sort of merged together to create conditions that made it an inevitability, including my very own mini-miracles.

In the church, I found Jesus.  I found home. I found my wonderful husband.  I was able to grow as a person through my work with kids, cub scouts, and the women’s organization of the Church.  I was able to develop faith in Jesus Christ, faith that is dependent on nothing but my relationship with Him–not what my family thinks, not what authority figures tell me, not what I see on TV.

I love the me from ten years ago.  I was innocent–perhaps naive.  There was joy around every corner, not the least of which was felt because of all the corners I had turned before that weren’t so joyful.  It was all simple and beautiful and the colors of the rainbow, slightly faded from all the light.  It was like getting baptized washed all the muddy browns away and everything was right.

Things have changed since then.  I’ve seen ugly, both in and out of the Church.  I’ve left the LDS Church, but not my faith in Christ.  I’ve taken the harder road, again as a direct result of prayerful consideration.  It really is so much easier to be a believing, faithful Mormon than it is to leave the Church (although I do enjoy my cup(s) of coffee in the morning).

My rainbow is still there, but it is sharply colored now; it is full of all the things I want in the world, all the things I want for my children, all the things that the world could and should be.  It’s almost hard to look at because of all the possibility and hope that it contains, along with all of the disappointment in how of it doesn’t exist.

But thinking about that–shouldn’t our relationship with God be difficult to look at?  Shouldn’t it challenge us to become better people, to become better spouses, better parents, better children, better neighbors?  I have grown up in the last ten years.  The world can’t be cotton candy forever, although that period of my life was nice and beautiful and I treasure it.  Everything isn’t ice cream and candy now, but it turns out that the rest of the meal is delicious too, or at least interesting to taste and experience.

If I could go back to the me of ten years ago, I think the only thing that I would tell myself would be to live as fully in the moment as possible, and to write it all down.  And that’s what I hope I remember to do in the next ten years–to fully live my life in the present, in the moment, and to enjoy all of the colors and meals that life hands to me.  Because ten years from now, I will be different, but I will love the me that I am now.

Sunday Oliverism

Driving to church this morning, I was talking to Oliver about church-y stuff. I asked him if he talks about Jesus in his class at church (he said no). I asked if he knows who Jesus is (he said no). Then we had the following conversation:

Me: Oliver, do you know who God is?
Oliver: Yes.
Me: What can you tell me about God?
Oliver: (bashful) I don’t know.
Me: Well, God is like Mommy and Daddy because He loves you very, very much. But He’s different from Mommy and Daddy because you can’t see or touch him.
Oliver: Oh. I think Daddy is God.
Me: No, he’s not.
Oliver: Yes, he is.
Me: Why is Daddy God?
Oliver: He just is.
Me: Is Mommy God?
Oliver: Nope.
Me: Why isn’t Mommy God?
Oliver: (laughing like I’ve just said something ridiculous) Because Mommy is a lady!
Me: Why can’t God be a lady?
Oliver: That would be silly.
Me: I don’t think that God is a boy or a girl, Oliver.
Oliver: Yes. god is a boy. Daddy is God.

I think we’re going to have to have more discussions about this…

Annoyed at “An Invitation”

Conner received a response from the LDS records department following his resignation letter. It said the standard, “We don’t deal with this in Utah, but your bishop will get back to you” stuff that we expected. It also talked about the seriousness of the decision he was making, and they encouraged him to read the enclosed pamphlet and come back to the Church. Nothing unusual or unexpected there.

However, the pamphlet annoys me. It is titled “An Invitation” and has a photo of the statue of Jesus that you find at Visitor’s Centers across the country (world?). What gets under my skin about the invitation is that it exhorts Conner to please not be offended. “If any have been offended, we are sorry.” It encourages him to come back to the Church even if he is sinning. “To you who for any reason find yourselves outside the embrace of the Church, we say come back… and partake of the happiness you once knew.”

It’s no wonder that people assume that the only reason that one leaves the church is because he is offended or committing sin. It is no wonder that accusations of adultery, fraud, etc have been hurled at people close to me. (People don’t dare say that to me–I think it is presumed that I am “offended”.) The Church assumes that Conner either offended or committing serious sin!

And inviting him to partake of the happiness he once knew? Because he is no longer happy? I suppose it may be difficult to believe it, but while there has been difficulty in our lives since leaving the Church–knowing that family members are hurting as a result, having more choices (and thus more difficult decisions to make), coming to understand how we feel about Jesus and God and religion without the restrictions of what “we” believe being placed on us… that is all difficult. But we are happy.

I no longer consider myself a Mormon (although I did not remove my name from the registry and have no plans to do so). However, I did not stop attending church because of any of the following reasons:

  1. Conner made me–I dare someone who knows me well to try to “make” me do anything.  Try it.  Seriously.
  2. I was offended–I wasn’t.  I think Mormons are great people, and many of my favorite people are LDS.
  3. I was committing sin–I wasn’t.  Nothing serious, anyway.  I left with a valid temple recommend, thankyouverymuch–and not because I had lied or cheated or just not given it back.
  4. I wanted to be committing sin–There is no sin that is cool enough or awesome enough or anything to make me abandon my beliefs.  Now, I do occasionally drink alcohol, and coffee is on my daily must-haves, but this all transpired pre- and post-church (and, due to spiritual experiences I have had, I believe that this is with God’s blessing–the coffee, anyway).
  5. I had just never had a real testimony–I knew when I joined the Church that I was doing what God wanted.  I stand by that.  I also believe that God had a hand in me being where I am today.
  6. Satan answers my prayers–I guess if that’s how people need to deal with the cognitive dissonance of me, that’s their business, but I don’t believe that God and Satan sound the same.  And if Satan told me to leave the church, Satan also told me to join it.

There.  I’ve spoken my piece and counted to six.

And, also, anyone get the reference?  🙂