Monday, February 20, 2006

When I was young, an event occurred that has always remained with me. Watching a litter of kittens be born. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like it. It was amazing to watch. To see the mother cat instinctively know how to handle the event... each baby was carefully cleaned, and moved aside as the next would greet us for the first time.

It was a little disgusting, but clearly miraculous.

During the summer of 2004, an abused baby kitten was abandoned at the entrance to the camp. I had never seen or heard such a loud and persistent feline. I got out of my vehicle, cradled the limp and lame baby kitten, and took it to a place of safety. I did not think she would make it. She could not walk, her front and hind legs on the left side were badly out of working order. I thought I was nursing her along to make her death a little less painful.

Much to my surprise, she began to improve rapidly. She ate aggressively, and even began to limp around. Before long, she was walking normally. She remained loud and boisterous, but was very friendly. I named her after one of our summer missionaries, Jillian... Jilly for short. She was brought to our camp home, after she healed, and became our resident mouser (and we needed one, this is the country).

During the late winter of 2005, we noticed that tomcats started to hang around. It wasn't just one or two, but several. I figured a simple solution. I closed her in the garage with a litter box and food. I had the upper hand in this little situation!

Last spring, I learned how wrong I was. Jilly was a teeny little cat. She was malnourished before she came into our possession, and had never gotten very large. It didn't take much to reveal her pregnant state.

I cannot explain how attached I got to her. When her time was drawing near, I began to hope that it would happen when BJ was home from school so he could see the miracles I had seen, first the kittens, then years later, each of my children. The day came. BJ wanted to stay home from school. I almost let him. I wish I would have.

Jilly went into labor, and it became apparent that her small size was causing complications. I had two options. Let her and the kittens die, or take her to the vet. Whether or not you are a pet lover, this decision came down to the fact that Jilly had cheated death once, and did not really have eight lives left. I could not let this happen. I took her to the vet.

Did you know that kitty c-section rarely happen? I didn't. When they told me how much it was going to cost, I could see why. I spent the money, and four little fur balls were presented. They showed me a large male that had been stuck in the birth canal. His head was kind of triangular. They told me he would probably not make it.

I brought them home, and began to call family. When BJ got home from school, he ran straight to his closet. You see, we had set up a little den in his room for Jilly. When the time to deliver drew near, she frequented that little space. It now was filled with four tiny little kittens and one disoriented mother. BJ was elated! He cuddled them up close to his face, and spoke softly to them.

It wasn't long before we noticed that there was a problem. Jilly had not delivered naturally. She had been sedated, was still woozy, and since she had not had the opportunity to clean off each of her little bundles, she could not figure out who they were, and why they had such a fascination with her underside. She resented the little invaders. They were loud, noisy, and very hungry. They knew she was the solution, but she didn't.

BJ and I worked to show her what to do. We helped her lay down, and "plugged in" her little ones. She reluctantly complied. In time, she learned her role, and even became protective. But soon, another issue arose.

Her small little body was not producing enough milk. I picked up a substitute from the vet, and Beej and I fed them with little medicine droppers. We worked hard to give them enough nourishment.

On day 5, the unthinkable happened. A small female died in my hands. I could not believe it. We wrapped her up carefully, and buried her, together. I wept for her loss.

On day 6, it happened again. This time, a male, but not the one who wasn't supposed to make it. I grieved hard. I was surprised by how much this hurt. BJ and I had tried to give them a good chance of survival, but the simple fact was, I had not gotten to the vet soon enough (during labor). We stood side by side, and buried him beside his sister.

The other two would survive. The large male still runs around our yard, chasing anything that moves. The female does likewise at my brother's camp. BJ loved on them daily.

Jilly became a good mother. She mothered the male for too long. He just did not want to stop, nursing.

A week after BJ passed, so did Jilly. The grief, though not as deep as we were already feeling, was evident. The timing was hard to understand.

Deanna and I have had frequent conversations about whether or not we reacted to BJ's illness quickly enough. If we had gotten him to the doctor earlier, could he have survived? By his symptoms, we would only have gained a day at most. That would not have been enough. We did not have earlier symptoms, or more time, because God had a plan. BJ fulfilled that plan. But not before he poured his gentle spirit into the lives of many, including, a litter of kittens.



At 2:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a gift this posting was. thank you for sharing. i am up late studying and wanted to stop by to see if by chance there was a weekend posting. praise god for your words and their encouragement to pour love into others. sometimes when i feel like i am out of energy and out of pleasantness and out of patience it is hard to smile, much less love on others. however, your message reminds me that i too will be rememebered some day and i can only hope that it is by stories of how i showed christ's love to every piece of creation i encountered, as your son seemed to. bj and your family continue to motivate me to be a better person, to seek god's face more earnestly and to consciously decide who i will praise in each moment. thank you for your encouragement and blessings.
i cannot imagine how difficult it is to retrace those last few months with bj and all of the what ifs. it is things like that that lead some people of little or no faith to live paralyzed lives worrying. your faith and understanding of god's plan is so humbling at times. thank you for sharing your ups and downs with all of us who still check in. may god bless you richly this week.

At 4:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this insight so early in the AM. It has touched my heart, and made me realize even more that God truly is in control of every aspect of our lives. I hope and pray that you and Deanna have a wonderful week.

Lori Burkert

At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This site continues to encourage me and give me something to think about. I appreciate your family and your openness to what God is wanting to do through you. I am praying for your family.

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey parents--

Thanks for sharing your doubts.. cuz as i mentioned in my BJ moments.. i've been having them too. what if there was a shot for it.. would he have made it? but i know its useless what ifs.. God did have a plan.. and BJ did fulfill it. Thanks for saying that you struggle w/that too.

i love you guys.. still praying.


At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your message. I check often and I am always blessed.

A friend from FBC

At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Nikkis parents have wondered should they have rushed her to the Hospital in the middle of the night when she awoke vomitting but she said she was ok and took a shower,,dressed in her bra and panties and went to sleep and about 6 am her sister checked on her and she was gone to be with the Lord already..So unexpected...she had been dancing the night before...Good Friday..she had gone shopping at Wal Mart..bought a new shirt and said "Mom I dont need an Easter Basket this year..dont you think I am getting to old??{14} The point is for me that God knew she wouldn"t need the Easter basket.If there can be any clue that this was the Lords plan and timing for nikki I guess that is it..Oh the sadness and the pain for her parents and siblings and grandparents,aunts and uncles and just all who loved her...Already we are beginning to prepare for Easter a Most Holy Day...and how do we celebrate with the Joy of the resurrectiuon of Christ but for knowing of the presence of my precious grandaughter in the arms of my LOrd...Rona

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your posting. It was beautiful. I pray that God gives you a peace about the decisions you made for BJ. Your love for BJ was immeasurable and all that could be done was. BJ's life still reaches out and his testimony will win the lost.

Pat Davila

At 11:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey you guys! I miss yall so much! I just read your friday entry and it reminded me of our last indians game. I sat in the backseat with BJ and talked(well mainly listened)with him about his trip to Peru and his opportunities to share Gods love! We talked all the way there, during our walk to the stadium, during our wait to get in... during the game we joked around--he loved to mess with me just like his dad:)--Then we talked all the way back home about what God was teaching him! I will never forget that. God used him to affirm that Germany will be my foreign mission field one day. I am not going to be able to go this summer, but I know that I will go one day!! You all had such an impact on my life this summer! I wish I could come back this summer!! I loved the whole experience!!! I love you guys! God Bless---Karen

At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Pray for BJ it never ceases to amaze me how creative people are, especailly the young ones, gives me hope for the future. Anyway I was looking for information on how to pray and landed on your page. I was looking more for how to pray so this post wasn't an exact match but I enjoyed reading your posts. Take Care. I'll bookmark your blog for future.

At 3:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


We have many cats at home. We recently lost our 20 1/2yr old
Siamese named Mai Tai.
We have another cat named Molly;
she had a interesting way of becoming part of our family. It happened one October morning while I was getting the kids into the car to go to school. When I came home from taking the kids to school, I went into my son's room .The room was real dark, so thinking the cat on my son's bed was our black and white
cat, I went over to pet it. When I got up closer, I discovered the cat on the bed was not our cat at all!! The cat was gray and white and she had just given birth to 4 kittens on my son's bed. Apparently she had entered the house while I was getting the kids ready for school.
NEVER leave the front door open un-attended!!You never know what critters will enter un-noticed.
I put the mother cat and kittens in a box and carried them to the kitchen and left a note for my wife explaning why this strange cat and her babies are here.
After I left the house, a fifth kitten had been born. My wife came home from attending Bible Study Fellowship and was surprised to see the mother cat and her newborns. There was one kitten who looked dead to my wife because it appeared to have no fur. But one hour later, the kitten's body was covered with white fur and very much alive!
We kept the mother cat and her kittens in our room. One night I was awakened by the strangest sounds coming from the mom cat.I have never heard sounds like that from a cat before.While the mom cat continued to make these
sounds, I noticed the five kittens were climbing up on my side of the
bed.I realized Molly was giving her
kittens climbing lessons in the wee hours of the morning.

Roger Allen ,California Awe Star Dad

At 11:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awww Freddy! I love Freddy so much! Beej told me the story about the kittens when I visited y'all. I love you family!


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