Sunday, November 28, 2010

He might even use a cat to show love.

When I look back on the life of my precious pet I start to see the lessons I didn't know I was learning at the time. God knew I wasn't yet ready to follow Jesus completely, but that didn't stop Him from teaching me how. He loves us so much He will even send a kitten to help.

Roughly three and a half years ago while pregnant with my youngest I discovered I was sick. Really sick. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Although I was grateful I knew what was going on, it was very overwhelming. I was so busy with two small children and a husband who was gone often for the military, there wasn't much time to be scared. Right around that time my DH (dear husband) brought home two adorable little kittens. They were presents for our daughters, we all loved them. I especially fell in love with the little fat brownish one.

Lesson #1 ~ It always starts with falling in love.

Close to six months later my mother in law passed away very suddenly. It was horrific on my husband, they were very close. I held him while he sobbed and lost control. I helped him pack for the plane, he needed to leave right away. I told my children. The three year old didn't understand, my seven year old on the other hand did. Unfortunately she is too much like me, she wouldn't cry, she stayed busy. I tried to hold her, but I understood her need to help. She helped me prepare for our trip. She helped me keep her sister entertained on the plane. She even held my hand when she was worried I looked sick while on our layover. My sweet baby girl, please just be a child and let me comfort you. Too much like me, ugh. I prayed that she would mourn and release her pain. My prayers were answered at the funeral. She finally unloaded her broken heart, she cried and talked with her older cousin. Totally oblivious I didn't realize I should pray to be more like her, and learn to let my pain out. Few busy days later we flew home without DH. That night when the girls were finally in bed, I sat in a living room full of suitcases and it hit me. I missed her too. She was such a good friend. We talked daily on the phone, sometimes two or three times. She would fly out to help with the kids while DH was away. Her sense of humor was awesome, this little old lady could make me laugh till I thought I might pee my pants. I sat crying... and then a little fat brownish kitten came and sat on my lap, she slept with me there all night. And I felt better.

Lesson #2 ~ He wants to hear your hurts. You can hold on to them forever, or start to hand them over to Him. You will feel better if you hand them over.

DH was back home within a week of us. Before the death he was already slipping into deep alcoholism. But this sent him over the edge. If possible he got worse, he got abusive, verbal and occasionally physical. He would spend entire paychecks at casinos and bars. And I stayed busy. I had decided before that I would help DH, and felt I was failing. Keep it up, keep it up, was the motto going through my head most of the time. I had my daughters, and was preparing for our son to be born. They would never know their daddy had issues. Our neighbors wouldn't either. We will be the perfect family. He will get better, he goes to church once in awhile with us. It takes time. Keep it up, keep it up, keep it up...  Instead of getting better, I was getting sicker. DH wasn't worried, and I didn't want to worry the girls so I kept it mostly to myself. But my little brownish cat knew the truth. She sat with me when it hurt to bad to sleep. She was patient with me when my hands would cramp so bad I couldn't pet her. By then I was sure she knew I needed her more than she needed me.

Lesson #3 ~ You can keep it up for awhile on your own... but eventually on your own is not enough. He doesn't need you, He wants you and loves you. You need Him.

About three months after MIL death, I went into labor. I was very sick. Before I got pregnant I was a healthy 120 pounds. I delivered at 126. I don't remember the whole day my son was born, only snapshots of the day in my mind really. I do remember waiting in the bathroom while DH ran outside to find someone to help. All consuming panic was setting in. All the blood, thinking the baby was dying, thinking I was dying. Then a little fat cat came into the bathroom. I focused on her. She sat on the floor near the blood, then jumped onto the counter and I watched. I no longer saw the mess only her.

Lesson #4 ~ There will be messes. He will get right there in the middle of your mess, and He will show you how to focus only on Him and not your mess, no matter how awful and scary.

Few days later we came home from the hospital, with a beautiful baby boy. I still wasn't well and was put on two weeks bed rest. So not my style. So much that needed to be done! DH was still a drunk mess, I still had two older kids that needed me, and my mom wouldn't be arriving to help for more than a week. That little cat sat with me day in and day out. When the kids were down for the night,  DH was out drinking and I was still stuck on the couch on bed rest, she would sit with me. I would cry and fall asleep with her. In the middle of the night the baby would wake, all I could do was sit with him when I wanted to stand and rock him. I would be so close to tears, then she would do some silly kitten antic and get me laughing. I would relax and so would the baby. And we got through the weeks of bed rest.

Lesson #5 ~ There will be times when your stuck, and there is nothing you can do about it. He will sit with you, and wait with you. He can even make the waiting fun.

Approximately three months pass. Its time for a new duty station. DH moves before the children and I.   We stay behind to let my daughter finish second grade with her class. Those three months my faithful cat was there through all the craziness. When the multiple tornado warnings came, she sat with us in the closet while we sang songs and ate Cheetos. She saw me through a gas leak, a toddler in a leg cast, friends moving, two kids with the flu and giant spiders. She was there for slumber parties, family camp-out movie nights, baby learning to roll over and food fights. Such a faithful little animal watching out for her family.

Lesson #6 ~ He is there in the day to day grind. He is there enjoying your children and silliness of your house with you.

The baby is now six months old, and the boxes have already been sent to the new house. We move. Our little fat brownish cat is now a huge fat cat. Very concerned about her new place, she started to patrol. I joke you not, this silly cat would sit on the front porch and hiss at people until told it was OK to let them pass. Doing her best to watch out for us, protect us. Wonder if she felt the danger? That's around the time a friend called from the duty station we just left. Just a phone call from a friend no biggie. But irrational fear caused me to pray right then, please God sit with me. With no more than a hello my friend told me she had slept with my husband. She gave me details, she gave me the words he said to her. I heard enough and hung up. I felt Jesus for the first time in my life. I felt his arms around my shoulders, more real than any hug I have ever had. There was no panic, I was calm. I looked down and in my lap there was my huge fat cat.... hmmm I didn't realize she was with me during the phone call. I sat awhile with Jesus and my cat, then I went to sleep. It was a very restful sleep, deep and long, no dreams. That sleep was Gods love and mercy.

Lesson #7 ~ He is with you watching out for you. He sees the danger way before you do. He will be there to comfort and hold you. And sometimes He will even send a cat as a physical reminder to sit with you, to show you your never alone.

In the aftermath of the phone call I felt like it would all work out, at the same time knowing it would be a hard ride to get there. I tell my SIL what has happened. Start getting christian advice for the first time. I tell DH drinking is out of the question if he wants to keep his family. He swears he wont drink, it will be better. I believe him. Start telling myself it was only the alcohol, that could be the only possible reason anything could have happened. We are in a new place, in a new house, its a whole new start.  Life is pretty good. When DH is home he is all about the family. Everything I had always prayed for. The suspicions I had were fading. He is proving himself daily. He goes to church nearly weekly now. The kids are loving all the attention. I forgive. He still isn't into reading his bible, but then some people are not big readers. I push thoughts like that aside, lets not be picky, he stopped drinking. He works odd hours, not surprising in the military. When he comes home the house is asleep. Crawls into bed gives me a kiss before zonking out. I sit up, do I smell beer? My fat brownish cat wakes at my feet. She walks along his side and takes a big whiff near his mouth, looks at me then strolls back to her spot to fall back asleep. And I wonder...

Lesson #8 ~ You might get away with lying to people, but don't think you can hide anything from Him.

Six more months pass. Mom calls, probably wondering how our New Years went. I'm all ready to tell her how awesome it was. Why is she crying? Its bad. My cousin has killed himself. My mind goes blank, shes lying I know it. For all purposes my cousin was my brother. I was raised with him. Our childhoods were not the easiest, but he was there, we faced stuff together, a team. Friends as adults, he lived with us when DH and I still only had one kid. My children called him uncle. They loved him. Everyone loved him, he was that type of guy. I loved him.
I. Cant. Breath.
DH hugs me, tries to find the right words. Gives up, hands me my cat and leaves the room. Can't stop crying, and my cat doesn't leave me. Finally I calm down, clean up my face a bit to head downstairs. Its hard to walk when nearly ten pounds of fur is determined to stay underfoot the whole way.

Lesson #9 ~ Sometimes the pain is so great that other people cannot help. You can clean yourself up a little so others can't tell how bad you hurt, but He knows and wants to be so close you can't take a step without Him.

Nearly six more months go by.  I'm not as happy as I was. Permanently stressed inside, trying to smile on the outside. He died, its done, I cant undo it. Get over it. Life goes on. DH is stressing me out. Somethings off, but can't put finger on it. What can I complain about? According to everyone I know, he is a rock star. Perfect dad, loving husband. It must be me. We start to fight more again, mostly money. I budget but there are always holes in balancing. Lame excuses for all the money he spends. I don't trust him, whats my problem? Isn't he the one my friends tell their husbands to be more like? Phone bill covered in a number I don't know. I send the number a text hoping I'm being paranoid. Some women writes back. She sends a steady stream of angry texts chewing me out for being an awful wife. The pain was intense. I call DH. Hes defensive, says I snooped. Shes a friend, how dare I get upset. He needs a friend to unload, someone to talk with.
You can talk to me.
No I cant, you don't get me.
He might as well have just slapped me in the face. I scream at him, accuse him of having an affair. He hangs up. I sit on the phone with my SIL, the whole time the phone bill still up on the computer screen. I watch as the number of texts continued to go up. It is her number. He hung up on me to talk to her. Ever want to claw your own brain out? SIL try's to calm me down, go find somewhere quiet she says. Where?? I cant get away from my own thoughts, and they are LOUD. Maybe I should go to sit in the house in the quiet with my kitty. But I had forgotten all about her right then. I no longer knew quiet existed. 

Lesson #10 ~ He is waiting to comfort, but you have to go to Him to receive it. It is very easy to get so caught up in your problems to remember you have a quiet spot to rest in Him.

So started my next crazy six months.  We had a new church. All I wanted was to really be that family we pretended to be when we were there. I was busy as usual, but kicked it into high gear. Keep it up keep it up keep it up...... I started homeschooling. I got more involved in church. If every spare minute was cram packed there wasn't time to think. Your husband isn't happy.... Your husband doesn't love you... He doesn't want kids and wife...  He wants to be single.... Then my son started to get sick. Oh no. He was losing weight. Doctors, testing and vomit were the norm around here. The day before his first birthday he was officially diagnosed, he had the same disease as me. That same month my oldest starts to get sick. God where are you? Please stop all this madness. She is tested. Fine for now, but most likely will show to have same disorder later in life. Seriously? Keep it up keep it up keepitupkeepitupkeepitup..... Your husband finds others to talk to, because who wants to be in a family full of special needs?..... He wants to leave, you all are too much trouble..... And then I dropped the ball. I just couldn't hang anymore. I freaked out on DH. The kids were in bed, but I didn't keep my voice down. My mind was in a million different places. I grabbed the car keys. A big brownish fur ball chased me to the door, I tripped over her. I got so mad I kicked her out of my way before I slammed the door.

Lesson # 11 ~ He will always run after you. You have the choice to kick Him aside, or stop running and sit with Him.

I jumped in the car and took off in my pjs and no shoes. Doubt I had any intention of coming home. I wanted to be gone. I wanted to get wasted and pick a fight with somebody. Anybody. Would have felt great to punch something and to have it fight back. I flung my wedding ring out the window going 30mph over the speed limit. Had a fleeting thought of driving straight into the oncoming traffic. Not gonna lie, sounded like a excellent fix. But I couldn't do that to the kids, they deserve so much better.  After awhile I noticed the radio was playing. It was left on a local christian station from earlier in the day running errands with kids. I listened to song after song. I cried till I was a little worried my eyes would swell shut. I fought with God in the car that night.  I didn't know where to put my pain, there was so much it was scary. Song after song seemed to be just for me. After a few hours I gave up. God take it all, I don't want it. I drove home. DH was on the couch. He told me I had scared him, and the girls. Damn the girls had heard, I felt like the worst mom. I told him right then I forgave everything. I couldn't go on if I didn't. I did it for me not him, I was worn out. When I headed upstairs there was my sweet fat cat. I had kicked her! I was so awful. I curled up next to her and said sorry. She purred and loved me like I hadn't done anything wrong.

Lesson #12 ~ He forgives although we do not deserve it. And loves us completely.

Now its February. We were doing great. DH and I are getting along, I am seriously in love. When I gave it all over to God, He was faithful to take it. My son is starting to get better and gain weight. My daughters are healthy. Homeschool is running smooth.  DH and I are in bible studies together. We become members of our church. I study the bible almost daily. My grandfather dies. Even though it was expected, it was sad.  Unlike the last funeral, DH was there for support, he flies home with me. I'm blessed with trusted christian friends who watch my children for a week. I had given God my pain and now life would be easier. Even sad things seem less painful now. My big worry wart cat is still doing her patrolling. She is getting to the point where she will follow me up the street on walks.

Lesson #13 ~ Dont buy the lie that when God takes your baggage your life will always be easy. You usually don't know this, but He still walks with you and keeps watch for the next thing life will throw at you.

Its march. I haven't seen my cat all day and I'm worried. I find her in my back yard. As soon as she sees me she tries to stand, but slumps back down. I yell for DH. He comes outside, picks her up and tells me not to look. I was hysterical. Later at the vet I get a call, a neighbors daughter saw my cat get attacked by a great dane. Apparently she never once backed down, no surprise there. Shots for the pain, x-rays, a full exam and 3 hours later, I bring her home. I'm optimistic, shes a fighter. Vet said she needs rest in a quiet room over the weekend, continue medicines, then on Monday we will decide if surgery is necessary. Downstairs bathroom gets all set up. I check on her. She used the floor instead of her box. She has never done that. I check after the kids are down for the night. Shes laying on the cold floor. She couldn't get back into the little bed. I spread towels over ever inch of the floor for her. She hasn't touched her food. I sit and pet her for what seems like a very long time. She purrs and rests her head on my leg. I stay till she falls asleep. The next morning its a rush to get out to church on time, its  my day to work in nursery. DH will meet me later for second service, and bring the kids. I don't have a chance to check on my cat on way out. Shift in nursery is over, now just waiting for DH. He calls my phone. Shes gone. I walk into service and sit with friends. I sing along with the worship. The big racking sobs start. My friends are worried, they have never seen me cry. Whats wrong? They hug me. Sorry your cat died. They try to say nice things, but how can they understand, she was my best friend. I have never cried so hard in my life. My beautiful cat died.

Lesson #14 ~ God will send things to help you in your journey.  I didn't know it at the time, but my pets whole little life pointed to Jesus. His forgiveness, protectiveness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness and love. When I remember my cat, I remember Gods love.

Lesson #15 ~ Sometimes God wants you to remember all these lessons and keep them close to your heart.... because maybe all those lessons were there to prepare you, if and when your world gets rocked again. I'm glad I recognize and remember lessons #1-14, I'm gonna need to if I'm going to make it through lesson #15.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

sucky island

I have been told this time in my life my emotions will hit me like waves.
The people warn, since they probably think the waves would be the scarier emotions like anger, fear and panic. There are waves, but they are calm, happy, and relaxed. Unfortunately the beach I'm standing on is all the left over awful feelings. When I'm lucky, I get slapped full on by a huge wave, and get covered up. That's a good day, even a great day. I feel the sand under my feet but its not bothering me, I feel calm. I'm having a nice day with my family, and dare I even say it even with my husband. But like any wave the water comes up and slowly goes back to where it came from. The waves have been lasting a few days at best before they are completely gone. When the wave of happy is gone, I'm stranded sitting on my little island of suck.

So there I was hanging out on my sucky beach last week when it was time to go group. This week it was about confession. I did my homework but really wasn't getting the point. How was confessing to God, Jesus and all the ladies in my class going to help? My plan going in was sorta like OK so I tell them all how I used to be awful. So what I'm gonna find out me being a sinner is the reason all this happened? The past is full of drugs, selling them, doing them, stolen cars, running money, fighting, the works. Then I'll probably hear how trying to fix it on my own, with the good mommy, good wife didn't work. I will learn my cover up didn't work, sin is like a stain that wont go away. So into the class I go, with my mind pretty much set on how its gonna go. And... once again I was mistaken.

I sat in the large group and listened to the speaker talk. By the time it was time to split into small groups I had no idea what I would even talk about. I sat back and listened to the other women talk. I watched them open up and talk about things like guilt that they had, stuff that hurt their hearts. I watched in amazement them be released from the strong hold of their guilt. They all talked about different things, no two had the same problems, but they all hit a spot in me. I could see their real pain see how deep their cuts were. I felt like I had no big heart confessions, so I shouldn't share this week. But just in case I sent up a prayer, I asked if there was anything I needed to say out loud and own. Anything God that you don't want me carrying? Something I don't even notice I have? Nope still notin. So I sat feeling OK with the fact I had nothing to really confess. Sweet I'm off the hook! When the last lady was done talking, the leaders turned to me, and wham! My heart was beating like crazy and I was nervous.(My honest first thought was, what the hell is this??)  I needed to talk, and needed to talk now!

Stuff that never crossed my mind came popping out. I confessed that I had anger towards God. I was mad that He has been slowly taking away all my security. First God sat back and let my brother kill himself. That was my family, where I would run when I was scared. (Whoa where did that come from? wasn't on my mind before) He took my husband away, the center of my world, the kids and I revolved around him. He took my best friend, He let her betray me. She was who I ran to when I needed to unload.  The guilt I felt when confessing was huge. In my head I KNOW God didn't do this to me, but in my heart I held on to it. I know people have free will, people will choose what they want to do.  I wanted someone to be at fault I wanted God to be to blame.  I could see everything I was confessing lined up in front of me. When my dark thoughts were brought into the light, I saw the bigger picture. I saw what God really wanted me to look at, what He really wanted me to confess. I was relying on others for what only God can give. He didn't want me to run to my brother when scared, he wanted me to run to Him. He doesn't want my life to revolve around my husband, and He doesn't want me to teach this to my children. He wants me to revolve around Him, and set an example for my children. And he doesn't want me to only unload to my friend, He wants that job first.

So I confessed.  I was released from the pain of blaming God. It felt great! I have felt lighter ever since. My own little miracle that I didn't know I needed, and that I hadn't understood  I could ask for. I learned, by relying on people before God, I was setting myself up for a big fall. He wants to be the place I stand, He will hold me up and keep me on my feet. My sin was hoping other people would keep me from falling. But how could they? They are in the same position I am, they need somewhere safe to stand. If your not standing on a rock your going to eventually get stuck and then sink in the quicksand.  My brother, my husband and my friend were all sinking. Don't get me wrong, God wants us to be there for each other, and help each other. But how can we help each other stand if we are sideways in the sand ourselves? You need to be able to stand strong, if you want to help pull someone else up.

Psalm 40:1-3 

  I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
      and he turned to me and heard my cry.
  He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
      out of the mud and the mire.
   He set my feet on solid ground
      and steadied me as I walked along.
  He has given me a new song to sing,
      a hymn of praise to our God.
   Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
      They will put their trust in the Lord.

I get this now! Its my life at the moment. How did I get through life before understanding I needed to have my feet planted?? Oh don't get me wrong I rather not be going through any of this! But now I realize why my waves are not scary. Jesus is in the water, He is the water. I can see Him out there in the ocean on my good days. My goal is to get drenched and swim out to that His rock, and stay there forever. And leave this sucky little island for good.

John 4:14-16

 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again."

John 7:37-38

Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”