Tag Archive | life with pets

Winning Lulu

DSC00960Author’s note: Usually Friday is my simple living blog. Well, it seems I tore a muscle between some ribs in my back, so at the moment I’m doing more whining than decluttering, and my schedule is mostly simple because I’m being lazy until it heals. So, for the next Friday or two I’m throwing in some different posts. Today, meet another one of my pets, who teaches me more about life than I care to admit.

About four years ago, I had to put a kitten to sleep.  She was nine months old, named Salamander, and to this day my heart hurts when I think about losing her.  She was a rescued feral, and I really loved her, but she had an illness that couldn’t be cured.

Salamander had a brother named Cricket, and for six solid weeks after she died, he looked for her and called for her.  My broken heart proceeded to break into still smaller parts, so I went to PetsMart during an adoption weekend and found a five-month old cat to be Cricket’s new sister.  Her name was Lulu.

Lulu was a very pretty cat, bright eyed and full of energy.  When I got her home and opened the paperwork that had come with her, I realized she’d had four names in her short life.  She’d been passed to different families and had even been returned after an adoption.  The result, unknown to us, was that Lulu didn’t really bond with people.

Eventually we renamed her Sprite.  In a few days she and Cricket bonded, and they raced around the house like cats will do.  When Cricket wandered through the house calling for a playmate, she came to play.  Cricket was happy again.

It didn’t take long to realize Sprite barely noticed the people in the house.  We had her over a year before she would make eye contact.  She didn’t like to be petted, and she certainly didn’t like to be held.  Because she’s an incredibly soft, long-haired cat with a small body, it was hard to respect her boundaries, because she just screams to be petted and held.  But, we tried to respect that and loved on her any way she’d let us.

Slowly, Sprite is coming to bond with the people in the house.  Now she looks us right in the eyes.  When she’s hungry, she’ll climb on the table and chirp at us, pawing at us for attention.  She doesn’t yet like to be held, but she’ll tolerate being petted.  Recently, in a shocking move, she sat down on my youngest son’s lap, and I had to laugh at the gentle way he treated her, like a child with a butterfly on his finger he was trying not to frighten away.

Whatever fears came with Sprite are being released.  We didn’t return her, and we didn’t push her.  We try to treat her well, and we didn’t take it personally when she wasn’t the cat we wanted her to be right from the start.  She’ll always be a little off, but that’s okay.  She’s Sprite.  She’s our cat.

I’ve met a few human Sprites in my life.  (In many situations, I’m the human Sprite in the room!!)  There are people with whom I don’t immediately bond.  People who don’t live up to whatever expectations I have for them. Sometimes people who aren’t nice to me. And it’s easier to avoid them than wait for them and care for them. Regardless, I don’t always treat humans as well as my family treated a cat.  And that’s kind of shameful.  If I can wait a year to have a cat look me in the eyes, why do I give up on humans when less time passes?  Maybe if I can accept more people as they are, those who are broken, even if I don’t know anything about what broke them, will feel safer and be able to push through their fears.

I write books, and I once had a character ask what would church be like it if was safe.  What if everyone who belonged in a congregation knew for sure that all trespasses would be forgiven, all mistakes forgotten, that there was nothing but safety within the walls of the church?  It would rock the world.  Just like it rocked the life of one little, lost cat.

Surely I can learn something from Sprite and make the world a safer place for the people God puts in my path. Especially since so often I’m the Sprite, I should understand that sometimes I need to be patient, look deeper, and embrace those God sends to walk with me on this journey.

Prayer and the Cattledog

DSC00933I’ve mentioned that I’m getting serious about some spiritual practices. I am reading the Bible cover to cover this year, so that daily reading is my non-negotiable practice. In the evenings, I’m reading a couple meaty devotionals. Those are regular, but on nights when my husband is home (weekends), they don’t happen. And then I’m also learning about prayer.

Prayer requires some discipline. Distractions need to be minimal. It takes time. Clearing my head of everything around me isn’t easy. I’m a writer, so my head is full of words and stories, where prayer, while made of words, isn’t made of the random storytelling, blog-writing words. It takes focus and concentration to speak to God and listen for his answers.

But I love it. My house is normally quiet, so that part isn’t hard. When my kids were small it would have been another story, but I’m at the quieter end of my existence now. I write with music in the background, but I turn that off for prayer. I find a time of day when nobody is conversing in the kitchen, when nobody has a TV on, and I take a tiny retreat, God and me.

When I first added some serious prayer time to my disciplines, I had a vision of doing it in the morning, when nobody was up, the day was new, before I had a chance to get bogged down in whatever the day brought. However, I forgot one little detail. Her name is Skye.

We have two dogs. Sparrow is a two year-old Chihuahua who is my shadow and my tiny protector. Skye is a six month-old mini Australian Cattledog. Mini as in 13 pounds, not mini as in energy. I have no doubt she could still herd cattle if they showed up in our back yard. She loves life, people, Sparrow, our cats, dirt, food, and especially mornings. She LOVES mornings. That’s when she races in circles, leaps on furniture and people, dances, spins, and simply basks in the extreme wonderfulness of another day. I imagine God grinning every morning as Skye greets his new day with such intense joy.

My first prayer morning was spent on the couch deflecting the dog. I close my eyes to clear my head, so I could hear her coming before I felt her leap into my lap, licking my cheek or ear or hand with pure excitement. She was so excited I was up she couldn’t contain herself. Eventually I calmed her down, so she and Sparrow were both sprawling in my lap, only after three seconds she reached out her snout and bit Sparrow, a nip of Hey, friend, let’s play. Sparrow responded with his own nip: You’re on. Snarling ensued, which sounds vicious but isn’t. My lap became ground zero for mighty warriors showing their stuff. A prayer book flew to the floor, the dogs looked at me startled as though wondering why I was throwing things, and I realized perhaps early morning wasn’t the best time for this. Not until Skye grows up and learns some manners.

Now my prayer time with God happens mid-afternoon or early evening, depending on when the dogs are asleep. I plan to talk more about it, because I love what happens during those retreats between God and me. However, it didn’t start well, and it didn’t start easily. It still isn’t easy, because in the quiet I see so many truths about myself, not all good, and about God, ALL good, and what he wants for me versus what I want for me…the list goes on. But that’s the future. Today it’s simply the tale of a dog who reminded me that every morning is awesome, that I need to be flexible because my plans aren’t always the right way, and sometimes it’s best to keep one’s eyes open, or one might get one’s ear licked. It’s a lesson I know all of you needed today.