I love to think about how God knows us by name before we’re remotely aware of him. He’s laying the groundwork for some really own great plan or surprise for us, before it ever occurs to us to ask for direction. So many times we look back on the way things came together and we say, “If I hadn’t been in such and such a place…this or that might not have happened….” But I’m convinced that there are no simple coincidences.
I didn’t know this at the time, but now I can say I’m very sure that it was God who gave me the idea to take a certain sociology class. I didn’t need that particular class to graduate; It was a lot of hard work and there were other choices that would have fulfilled the same requirement. But for some reason this one caught my attention. So there I was, writing a sociology paper – a huge project! – about the three-gereration Americanization of a family from another country.
Fortunately I had just “happened” to meet a guy who was full blooded Italian. Third generation in this country.
John and I had been on only a couple of dates when we took a drive over to Novato so I could interview his Grandfather, and see the family roots.
Zippity-doo-dah! It was a day to be happy! Glorious blue skies over one of the lovliest little towns I’d ever seen. I met Grandpa Guido, and chatted with Aunt Anna. I met Uncle Cherubino, and saw the house Grandpa built, where all the little Paladini cousins played. I even took a picture of John standing beside the street sign that said “Paladini Road”.
I already had lots of material for my paper when John came up with still one more idea. “Let’s drive down this road and I’ll show you the house where my Grandfather worked for shares of the crops before he built his own place.”
We drove down a long shaded lane and stopped a little distance from the white farmhouse. We didn’t want to go too close because it was private property, owned by someone we didn’t know. I drank in the view – the most picturesque little ranch! We stood by the car talking, and enjoying the day, and that first shy feeling of falling in like.
“Hallooo,” a man was walking toward us. “Can I help you?”
John apologized for trespassing, and explained that his Grandpa had worked here, and that this was where his dad grew up.
Mr. Weidemeyer knew all about the Paladini family and became instantly hospitable! “Come on! I’ll show you around.” He explained that he worked in San Francisco, and it was sort of a hobby for him to be a weekend rancher, working a few acres of his land land with some of the antique farm equipment.
He knew all about the history of the place, and the Paladinis. We traipsed around, looking at this or that, and finally ended up in his kitchen where he offered us a drink of lemonade or something. He introduced us to his wife. “This is John Paladini, and this is Andrena. Andrena Paladini — what a beautiful name!”
“Thank you.” I may have blushed, but I didn’t correct him. Neither did John. Even though we barely knew each other, I think we both were thinking that there was a certain ring to it! (And, of course, the Lord had that name in mind for me all along.)