Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Cat Whisperer

"Temper is a weapon that we hold by the blade." ~James M. Barrie

"He is happy whose circumstances suit his temper but he is more excellent who can suit his temper to any circumstances." ~David Hume

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." ~Isaiah 40:11

I figured he would punish us when we got home.

Before we left, I even wrapped the curtains up over the drapery bar so he couldn’t shred them in his angst. He settled for tattering the couch instead.

Poor guy, the cat stayed home virtually alone while we were gone for five out of six weeks. My friend who came over to feed him told me that toward the end of our absence he relinquished any particular expectations of how things should be done (pet me this way, brush me here, I want that kind of treat, etc.) and, throwing caution to the wind, planted himself on her feet in a desperate attempt to acquire even the smallest morsel of attention.

Though quite talkative before, he has now added to his repertoire psychotic whines and calls that ring of a horror movie. It’s like he’s having a conversation with himself about the frightening dream he just had.

Last night I crawled in bed and he meowed and quickly settled at my side. As I petted him, he thought it best to crawl up onto my chest. (I thought it best to let him; what’s wrong with me?) After turning around a couple of times, he laid down with his fluffy bum against my right cheek. (Oh, lovely.) Eventually he curled his head around and began licking my left cheek, bum still firmly planted on my right. He gave me about seven or eight sweet little kitty kisses and then demonstrated, lest anyone think differently, that he’s not a woosy-cat.

What are you doing?” I exclaimed. “Surely you did not just bite me!”

He bit me again.

When I protested, he got altogether feisty, rearing back and glaring at me with “you-wanna-piece-o’-me?” eyes.

We exchanged aggressive sentiments as he bit my shoulder (that one broke the skin a bit) and I snatched him up and headed for the garage.

Cat Whisperer, I am not.

Before I’d gone to bed, I had read Angie’s new blog entry. The way she described her continuing struggle to surrender her right to Audrey was not altogether unlike the encounter I subsequently had with the cat. Hurt by my actions (leaving him alone for weeks), he is struggling with the tension between his desperate love for me (I know, it’s a stretch) and his feelings of betrayal and abandonment, and both emotions are subject to display at any moment and without specific provocation.

Yesterday, too, I came across a synopsis I had recorded five years ago of a bad night we experienced with our son. Just barely one year old, he awoke in the middle of the night screaming wildly. We desperately looked for what could possibly be wrong, but could find nothing. My husband and I engaged in zone defense as we took turns trying to sleep and dealing with his fit. He would scream until he was completely exhausted and fall asleep, but the reprieve would soon end and the fit ensue. Finally, at about 6AM, we both wearily sat on the couch and watched him fully engage in the height of his tantrum. He screamed, threw things, cried, flopped himself face first on the floor. Any attempt to reach out to him, to comfort him, was met with disdain and ire. Like the cat, he gave us his best “you-wanna-piece-o’-me?” look.

Finally, when he was all tantrumed-out, he looked at me with pitiful eyes and came running to me. Hot tears stained his cheeks as he melted into my arms, releasing his feelings of anger in an exhausted surrender. Of course, I was more than ready to comfort and hold my precious child. The struggle he’d gone through was no longer important. All that mattered was he had come back to his momma and given up his own desires. I just had to wait patiently for him to get it out of his system.

God is like that. I am so very grateful for a Savior who is not intimidated or put off by my emotions. (Apparently, he created them.) There are times when I, too, engage in an all-out fit, feeling like God has let me down and glaring at him with “you-wanna-piece-o’-me?” eyes.

He isn’t woken up in the middle of the night so he has no reason to nap. Instead, he sits on his couch and watches me with warm, empathetic, sovereign eyes, just waiting for me to get it out of my system. And when I’m finally willing to surrender, his arms are open wide, ready to enfold me in his grace. He gathers me up into his lap, wipes hot tears from my cheeks, and whispers words of comfort to me, his precious child.

Shhh, it’s okay. I love you.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Something Worth Counting (On)

“That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~2 Corinthians 12:10

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” ~Philippians 4:12-13

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.” ~1 Timothy 1:12

I never meant for it to be a competition, but apparently three of my friends have taken it upon themselves to try and beat our “record” of 46 state license plates (plus D.C. and three Canadian Provinces) spotted on summer vacation.

One of these friends, who had just, herself, returned from a driving trip to Kentucky and Pennsylvania, called me while we were en route home on Thursday. “We thought we were going to beat you,” she said, “but we only got forty-six.” We compared notes as to which states we were missing, and she made an open-ended comment about whether or not I would be allowed to combine our two trips.

An hour later, when we were still approximately 30 miles from home, I suddenly had reason to call her back.

“Ah-HA!” I exclaimed. “We’re not home yet, and I just saw West Virginia!! We win!”

She rolled her eyes at my chuckling and told me it didn’t count – that I could only use one trip. I relented, of course. I suppose it would be unfair to compare our 9000+ miles to their 3500 and to our other friends’ even shorter trips (those families are going no farther than Colorado.)

9,100 miles.

It exhausts me just typing it.

I’ve always loved to road-trip, and could, in my 20s, drive cross-country by myself and not blink an eye. Now, pushing 40, with two kids in the backseat, I think I had it out of my system at about 4000 miles. I am sure that one all-nighter didn’t really help, despite the cappuccino, but I only have myself to blame for that one. Regardless, I think I am good for a while.

I have to hand it to the kids, though. They were great travelers! We have no complaints. And say what you will about our parenting, but I thank God for the person who invented portable DVD players.

9100 miles.

Can you believe that that is actually more miles than it would be to go to Papua New Guinea? If a crow were to fly it, (according to this cool website I found), he would log just over 8000 miles from our home to Port Moresby, the capital city of PNG. Just think of the license plates he would spy on that trip!

We, on the other hand, probably won’t see many license plates from 30,000 feet, but we are going to make the trip. It’s official. We have received and accepted our invitation to serve in Papua New Guinea. We just returned from my training in Florida, and my husband will start his here in August. We are starting the work permit and visa processes (oh my, the paperwork!!) and details from all the various aspects of our plans are falling into place. In some ways it seems like we have been at this forever, but we are definitely watching the pace pick up almost exponentially. It’s utter craziness.

We know, though, that this is something we simply can not do. It is a God-sized task. I am working constantly to resist my “need to control” and to step aside and allow God to be God ~ to allow Him to do something that we could never accomplish in our own power.

I am so very grateful that in my weakness, God proves Himself to be so very strong. That’s something we can definitely count on.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” ~Ephesians 3:20-21

Oh, Rats!

“A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.” ~Sarah Jessica Parker

“I wouldn't mind the rat race - if the rats would lose once in a while.” ~Tom Wilson

“Money often costs too much.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If it were me,” she said to me as we were driving back from our trip to Florida on Thursday, “I would want to know before I got home.”

In a split second, my heart fell into the pit of my stomach and my mind began to race. Oh no! The cat! What happened to him? How will I tell the kids? How am I going to keep from crying? And how will I be able to drive when I can’t see through the tears?! Should I stop the car? Oh, good grief! Pull yourself together!

“Okaaaaay …,” I slowly replied, bracing myself for bad news.

“Well, um ….” She hesitated. Not good. “You have something living in your garage.”

Come again?

“Whatever it is tore into the bird seed and the cat food. It especially likes the cat food. It could possibly be a mouse but its droppings seem to be too big … more like what a rat would leave. I put out some glue traps and …..”

She continued, but as I was recovering from my fear of what horrible things had happened to the cat, I only heard snippets. It was obvious my friend was more freaked out about our loitering rodents than I, and I was trying very hard not to laugh. I was simply grateful that the only critical information I had to share with the kids was to be careful around the glue traps.

I appreciated my friend alerting me prior to our arrival, and my husband and I figured it could have been any of a number of critters - mouse, rat, squirrel, or even possum. (The picture to the right was taken in our garage just a few months ago.) We surveyed the damage when we pulled into the garage about two hours later, but after two days on the floor the adhesive was still shiny new. Despite my daughter’s protests, we decided that the cat would actually make a better mousetrap, er … rat-trap, so that night we ousted the glue-topped cardboard and put the cat in the garage.

Speaking of rats, my conscience constrains me and I must confess.

Remember the motel that promised not to charge us for the room we did not actually get to sleep in? Well, true to their word, they did not charge us. However, the motel where we apparently actually had reservations did, in fact, charge the credit card.

Yes. You read that right. It took some research and a phone call to the establishment named on the Visa bill before I figured out what had happened. For those of you who just can’t stand not knowing the gory details, I was the idiot who wrote down the correct phone number with the incorrect motel name, and then directed my husband to stop at the incorrect motel which was named on the offending piece of paper. I feel like a rat. I still wonder why, though, when we called the correct phone number, no one answered, for if they had, we surely would have figured out we were in the wrong place and had a room for the night after all. But, then, I would have missed out on some great blog fodder. (I am referring to the previous post, of course – not this one. It is never enjoyable to admit you made a mistake.)

So, though he will never read this, my apologies to the gentleman at the incorrect motel for my sarcastic blog comment about him actually listening to me.

My apologies to my family for the stupid mistake that cost us one night’s rate.

I already apologized to the woman at the correct motel for getting flustered on the phone (not with her, but with my own idiocy.)

My apologies to you, both of my faithful readers, for giving you a false impression of the fine citizens of Dubois, Wyoming. I’m sure they’re actually very nice people.

I think I’m going to sleep in the garage with the other rat tonight.

We are missionaries serving God and the task of Bible translation by serving the missionary community in Papua New Guinea through Personnel Administration and MK Education. We thank you for your prayers!

For the Bibleless Peoples of the World ...

(Updated 13 April 2013)