Of kittens and Love

The other night we went to the movies. We enjoyed the movie and chatted as we walked back to our car. Suddenly I spotted a very small kitten silhouette in the darkness. It was lying on the footpath. As people  approached on the way to their cars, it got up and ran. I got worried about it and  followed.

It charged across the road and under our car. I have seen many cats run before – this was literally the fastest cat I have ever seen! We walked slowly towards our car, quietly calling to it and trying to calm it. It dashed off into the gutter.

I work at a pet store. A couple of days earlier I had got some old food from work. Suddenly my husband remembered that we still had it in the car. He fetched it for me and I tried desperately to use the food to coax the poor little kitten out. No luck. By this point I was sitting in the gutter inching closer and closer with the food in my outstretched hand. It inched further backwards as I approached. Cars dashed past but it seemed to completely ignore them. It was used to this life. Used to hiding on the streets. Just not used to love.

Eventually we had moved down the gutter towards the streetlight on the corner. I could now see her clearly, sitting in the mouth of a large drain. A beautiful little torti, one of the cutest kittens I have ever seen. We sat there for ages, she and I. Both scared. I, that I would make the wrong move and she would run and I would not be able to help her. She, that I would get too close and hurt her. After some time, she vanished into the gutter.

My husband and I looked and looked but could not find her anywhere.

Eventually we gave up. I emptied all the food I had next to the gutter for her. In case she came back. In case she was hungry. In case, in some way, I could help her after all. Then I sat on the edge of the foot path and cried. Cried because I had wanted to save her and give her the love she was born for. Cried because she wouldn’t let me, because she was too afraid. Cried because there was no way I could make her understand.

And suddenly it hit me.

God sees the exact same thing. With tears in His eyes He sits in the gutter and watches His precious, most beautiful child. Running frantically, aimlessly. Lost. So used to this life that we are afraid of Him. And while we are hiding in that gutter, He empties everything He has in order to save us. In case, somehow, He can make us understand what He wants so desperately to do for us.

In case we come back to the Love we were born for.

 

#prayforparis

Yesterday many of us woke to news about shootings and explosions in Paris. From what I can tell it appears to have been a coordinated terrorist attack. The last article I read stated that over 120 people had been killed. As nations around the world heard of the tragedy, many lit up their nation’s icons with lights in the colours of the French flag as a show of support and sympathy. The hash tag #prayforparis emerged quickly as many Christians lifted prayers for a devastated city.
But this morning as I scrolled through Facebook I discovered a French cartoonist’s reaction to #prayforparis. Basically his thoughts were that Paris doesn’t want or need prayers thank you very much. They don’t want religion forced upon them. There have also been other responses such as ‘prayer does nothing anyway’.
Oh but it does. There is a God out there. And He cares for you even if you don’t want to hear about Him. He hears and answers prayer even if you refuse to believe that He does.
Paris, I am praying for you. If you were drowning and I knew someone who could save you I would be deemed a horrible person if I did not ask them to help. And guess what – I do know someone who can help. His name is Jesus. And I will not sit idly by without bringing your plight before Him. I will #prayforparis. And I make no apology for that.

The Emotionally Healthy Woman

This year I am participating in a marriage reading challenge. The goal is read at least one book per month from a selection dealing with a specific topic. So far I have really been enjoying participating in this challenge!

The topic for March was Setting Healthy Boundaries. Due to life being so busy I have only recently finished the book I chose last month which was The Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero. While there were a couple of things that I disagreed with in this book I mostly found that it was a good read and contained helpful tips to being emotionally healthy in yourself, which is necessary of course to a healthy marriage. The book deals with 8 things that you should quit in order to become more emotionally healthy.

1. Quit Being Afraid of What Others Think. This is one area that I have improved in recently. Such a great reminder that as long as our identity is grounded in God’s love for us, we don’t need other people’s approval to give us value.

2. Quit Lying. This is something I really struggle with. Not blatant lies as such. Little things like ‘Whatever you want to do is fine’ (when I do actually have a preference), or ‘I’m fine’ (when I am really not), or ‘It’s nothing!’ (when in fact it is something!). I really got a lot out of this chapter – so much encouragement to always tell the truth. One thing I particularly liked was Geri’s approach to telling the truth – respectfully, honestly, clearly, and in a timely fashion. Such great ways to make sure communication lines are clear and open in marriage!

3. Quit Dying to the Wrong Things. A great reminder not to ignore important relationships and activities and not to expend so much energy for others that you burn out.

4. Quit Denying Anger, Sadness, and Fear. This chapter particularly points out that having these emotions is not a bad thing! It is not wrong to feel angry or sad or afraid. It is what we do with those emotions that is important. Geri stresses a three-step process: feel your feelings (allow yourself to have those emotions); think through your feelings (work out what you are feeling and why); and take appropriate action by working out the best way to handle those emotions.

5. Quit Blaming. This was a great reminder to stop blaming others for problems in your life and to stop looking at the past. Take responsibility for your own life. If it is not how you would like it to be, change it!

6. Quit Over-functioning. This is another big one for me. I find it extremely hard to say no, even if I am already overloaded or stressed.

7. Quit Faulty Thinking. This is expressed in so many ways and Geri goes into a few in this chapter. The one that really stood out to me the most was ‘taking things personally’. I had never really seen that for what it is, but she is right. Such a great chapter that had me thinking for days!

8. Quit Living Someone Else’s Life. This chapter is all about working out who you are and what you want out of life and, instead of living out other people’s dreams, living your life the way that you want. In marriage a big part of this is couple-related as well and should be discussed before marriage if possible. But for me this one is not a big issue. I feel completely happy with where I am and what I am doing in life.

In a nutshell, this book was a good reminder of how to be emotionally healthy. It waffled a little in some parts but was a good book in general and gave me a few things to think about.

A perfect relationship?

Lately I have been noticing a lot of Facebook posts about wanting perfect relationships. It appears that every teenage (and probably older!) girl out there wants a guy who is perfect. Someone who will bring home flowers all the time, who is a great cook, who loves to cuddle, never gets upset, and is just generally, well, perfect. But as my mother always said, ‘If you did manage to find a perfect guy, why would he want to marry you?!’ (Thanks by the way. *feel the sarcasm*)

But she is right. We are human and as such we make mistakes. We are not perfect. No relationship with another human (be it spouse, family, or friends) is ever going to be perfect.

I believe that we have forgotten that movies are fiction. The relationships portrayed in them are not real. And we get so busy looking for ‘perfect’ that we sail right on past ‘great’. A lot of the time even when we get ‘great’ we aren’t satisfied – we keep looking for or demanding more. And I think that is sad.

About two weeks ago I had surgery. My husband couldn’t be there. But as soon as he got home from work he rushed to look after me. He didn’t have flowers for me when I got home. But when I woke at 3am the next morning in pain, he got up. He got painkillers, food, and set me up on the couch with a movie. (And he did buy me flowers later that week.) He didn’t cook me a three course meal that night. But every time I even mentioned food over the next week he has jumped up and got me anything I wanted without even being asked. He did try to cuddle me but that just hurt my jaw so we settled for holding hands. And he did get upset – mostly due to me being an annoying and grumpy soul when I am sick or in pain! But even when I could tell he was thoroughly frustrated with me, he still noticed if I was in even a hint of pain and did all he could to help. He was so busy over that week – but every time I called or sent him a text he answered straight away.

Last Sunday evening we mixed and poured concrete for our new letterbox. And after it had dried a little my dear husband suggested that we carve our initials into it. And I was reminded all over again that while we don’t have a perfect relationship by any means, we do have a great one. And since we have our whole lives ahead to keep on learning together, great is well and truly enough.

Where I am thankful and terrified at the same time

Over 10 years ago I started getting headaches. Around the same time I got chronic fatigue and got hit in the face with a basketball. Hence, it is somewhat understandable that doctors never took my constant headaches seriously. They all just told me it was part of chronic fatigue. Helpful really.

And so I prayed. Numerous times I asked God to take away the chronic fatigue. Or just the headaches. Or make them occur less often. Or just make them less painful. But each and every time nothing happened. Well, not exactly nothing. I was always reminded of a verse – my verse – that got me through so many times. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” And He always gave enough grace. Just enough to remind me that He was still in control.

Now its 10 years later. I have not had trouble with chronic fatigue for the past few years, but the headaches have only gotten worse. However, finally there is light. In 4 days I am having surgery to remove 6 horribly impacted teeth and the cysts around them that appear to have been causing the pain all these years. However, four of the six teeth, plus two cysts, are sitting right on important facial nerves. And the surgeon has warned me that it is possible that he will accidentally break my jaw during surgery (something to do with the cysts having eaten away a portion of the bone, making it more fragile).

Therefore, I am terrified. (Plus I’ve had three whole weeks since I found out – which gives me longer to get freaked out!) But then I remember God’s promise to me so many times over the years – “My grace is sufficient.” His grace is enough. Enough for me as I go into surgery. Enough for the surgeon as he operates. Enough for my husband as he works that day and can’t be by my side.

So if you happen to think of me in four days, please send up a prayer. Not to remind God of His promise, but that He will remind me.

Three Months On

Three months after moving we are finally settled into our new house. Apart from a damaged table and a small moment of panic when we thought the fridge wouldn’t fit, the move went really well. And thanks to help from family, unpacking was relatively quick and easy. There are still several boxes to be unpacked but everything is organised. Finally. (The boxes appear to be breeding, but I refuse to let this get to me. Remain calm. Don’t panic.)

On a more cheerful note – I love our new house! It’s  about the same size as our first house (read ‘small’) but it is a lot brighter and airier. And it backs onto a nature reserve! Which means that I can look out of the window and see trees, not another house! We get regular visits from a variety of birds and lizards – our new kitten enjoys making friends with them from the other side of the glass.

The adorable Bella about 2 months ago

The adorable Bella about 2 months ago

In the 3 months since the great move we have unpacked, purchased the aforementioned kitten, had a wonderful Christmas holidays with family, gone away for a couple of days for our anniversary (which was lovely until my husband got sick!), attended a 21st for a dear friend (who was one of my bridesmaids a year ago!), and enjoyed numerous other outings with friends and family. (It is so good to be near them all again!) Somehow I have also managed everyday housekeeping without killing myself or the kitten.

I also finally finished my course at the zoo. I am sad that it is over, but so glad I had the opportunity – it was so much fun! After dramas with a teacher ‘losing/not opening their eyes and seeing’ an assignment and all the fuss that resulted from that, I was really happy to finish the assignments part. Now I am just waiting to receive my certificate.

I have been looking for some work but for now I have just been doing lots around the house and taking a break (if tidying, sorting, and trying to sell things we no longer need counts as a break!). It is nice to have time to do more crocheting and music too. Loving getting back into viola lessons, and teaching my mum to play piano.) And I am enjoying making respectable dinners for my hard working man. And catching up on sleep. Sleep. Sleeepp…………………

The night before the great move…

Mum and I are currently sitting on mattresses on the floor. My husband drove off about 10 hours ago with most of our belongings. Unfortunately someone had to stay behind to clean the house ready for the final inspection tomorrow morning.

So here we sit. On the floor. In an empty house.

Have I mentioned I hate empty houses? No? Well, I hate empty houses. They sound hollow. And they just feel wrong. I also hate sleeping on the floor. And without my husband. So far tonight isn’t going well for me!

But I have been blessed.

The truck hire company ran out of the smaller truck that we booked. Which meant we got a larger truck for the same price, and were able to fit everything in without stressing or cramming.

My husband and one of his friends managed to load said truck in 3 hours. And nothing got damaged. Yet.

The house is almost clean and there are only a couple of things left to go in the cars in the morning.

And we are going home. Tomorrow. Leaving our first home together and starting on a new journey.

Can’t wait to see where this road leads.