It all started when Adelade turned eight. She had been begging for years, literally, for a cat. Well, you know how young parents are. Despite the fact that Chad and I didn’t have any desire whatsoever to have a cat, we one-upped Adelade’s wish and got her TWO cats for her birthday. It was one of those moments of crying, giddy disbelief, as it sank in that she was finally going to be a pet owner.
Thus began The Great Cat Saga of 2012. I had gotten the two adorable kittens from a sweet woman with way too many cats in a run-down little apartment, and they were just the most precious little things alive. I admit it. I loved them. I adored those two skinny scrawny little cats. And, six weeks after we brought them home and Adelade fell madly and passionately in love with them, they were both dead. Yes, dead. Feline leukemia, of all things.
It took me more than a year to recover from the loss of the kittens. Adelade resumed her begging for another cat. I wasn’t sure if my heart could take it. But, finally, we went to the animal shelter and she picked out basically the greatest cat in America. We named her Luna. And, miracle of all miracles, she survived. Not only that, she thrived, and she is still happily installed in our backyard to this day.
So, I was perfectly happy with our healthy one cat existence. Then, we took the kids to the Fort Worth Stock Show.
Enter the Bunny Barn.
We walked through, looking at all the beautiful breeds, admiring the colors, and marveling at the size of some of the bunnies. Then we ran across a small white bunny with huge black eyes. He looked like a stuffed toy in an expensive department store. Adelade looked at her daddy pleadingly. He took the card of the rabbitry that had entered him. Several months later, they cut us a great deal, and we wound up with not one, not two, but four of the adorable department store bunnies. If you’re counting, you will note that this means that at the moment that the bunnies entered our lives we were up to five–yes, five–pets.
And, this past weekend, when Sawyer went to the men’s retreat with Chad, someone brought out a bucket of puppies. At the shooting range, they told the boys that anyone who could hit the target would win a puppy. Sawyer has never fired a gun in his life. But, you had better believe that he hit that target, and he even brought the target home to prove it. He had won a puppy. And, today she came home.
Now, why, you may ask, would two non-animal people create a whole world of pets in their single, albeit spacious, backyard? The answer is simple, my friends. It’s because of a little lesson that I learned back during The Great Cat Saga. There is simply nothing like watching your child experience the joy and sadness of loving a pet. It’s at the same time heart-wrenching and soul-stirring. I have seen their tender hearts break into a million pieces, and I have heard them say that it was worth it all, just to have the chance to know their little pets for however long they get them.
They have learned compassion. They have prayed for their pets and seen prayers answered, and they have prayed for them and learned that we don’t always get the answers we hope for. They have laughed hysterically, spent hours setting up elaborate homes for them out of cardboard boxes, and have cried bitter tears. And, all of these things gave opportunity to teach about the goodness of God. His sovereignty. And His provision.
Yes, even little dying kittens, fluffy cats, department store bunnies, and tiny prize puppies give us opportunities to speak God’s wisdom and peace and mercy into their lives. And, as a great added bonus, non-animal people learn that we too love these little pets just because they are loved by our babies.
So, if you ever stop by the parsonage, expect for three little children to lead you directly to the backyard so that they can show off their little animal kingdom. Things are going so well these days, I’m thinking of springing for a fish and a hamster just to round out our collection.
Hey, it’s what non-animal people with animal-loving kids do.
Just wait till they ask for more exotic animals like tarantulas & snakes. Then what will you do?
Oh, I’m cold-hearted when it comes to reptiles and spiders, Brad. I don’t forsee that changing. But, never say never….