Monday, August 29, 2011

The Risk in Relationships: Lottie

(Sorry about the wonky sideways pic, but I couldn't get it rotated!)

There comes a point in every relationship when each party has to take a risk. Many people have already decided not to take that risk before they enter into even a first conversation. These are the people with whom you can never get past the surface. Every conversation seems to be taxing and forced because there comes a time when you just simply run out of things to say if no one opens up.

With our pets, it's different. They are usually the opposite of the surfacy conversation person. They give love and receive it as they trust their owners with their every need. They let us in to even their messiest details. We see them when they are hungry, tired, thirsty, needing attention. They don't hide behind masks, hoping no one will ever find out who they really are. And so, especially when we adopt them as babies, they work a special way into our hearts and families. 

Lottie was like that. From the moment we laid eyes on her, both Brandon and I knew she was supposed to be a Berry family member. We adopted her on December 23rd...kind of on a whim as we were hosting Dad for Christmas and missing Mom tremendously on our first Christmas without her. She loved kitties and cats have always been part of their households. Plus, Ella had asked Santa for a puppy for Christmas, but Brandon and I knew that we didn't have enough time or expertise to take care of a puppy the way he/she deserves. Kitties are different. Not that they don't need time and love and attention, but generally they are a lot more self-sufficient than puppies. So...we went on a hunt for the little kitty that would light up our lives on Christmas morning. After searching multiple adoption options, we found this little blue-eyed kitty who was recommended to us by an ex-con (think John Coffey from "The Green Mile") who was working there. In fact, his exact words were, "You should wait for the kitties in this here box. They took 'em to go get their shots. Them are some real cute kitties." Who wouldn't take his advice?

Through a series of events that couldn't be described in any other way except the Lord working it out for us to take her home, we had her in our car on the way home just before the place closed for the holidays. We sat in the driveway trying to figure out how to hide her until Christmas morning, but underestimated our oldest daughter, who had gone up to the bonus room, peeked out the window, spotted the kitty on Brandon's chest through the windshield and ran downstairs yelling, "Pappy, pappy, Mommy and Daddy bought me a kitty." That solved our problem on hiding a little kitty for 36 hours.

The first person Lottie captured was Brandon. She must have known that he didn't really like cats. He had what we called "cat baggage" and the only other cat he'd had he had nicknamed "Lucifer". Lottie climbed up onto his chest at every opportunity and purred her little heart out...until she had captured his.

We meant for Lottie to be an indoor cat because of the obvious safety hazards associated with outdoor living. But she found ways to sneak outside, and then we kind of caved. We lived on a safe cul-de-sac in the back of a neighborhood without many dogs, so it wasn't too stressful.

When we moved to Charlotte, our new home was only one house removed from a main parkway, which made me nervous for both my kids and our pet. But we'd allow Lottie to go into the enclosed backyard some times when we were enjoying a morning outside.

This past weekend we hosted Brandon's family at our new home for the first time, and celebrated Papa John's birthday on Friday night. After going out to dinner, we all returned home, and Lottie was inside as usual, waiting on us. I took the girls upstairs, but I guess as everyone was getting inside, Lottie slipped out somehow. I didn't notice until the next morning when she wasn't asleep at the foot of our bed as usual. We searched numerous times for her that day, and made up fliers for our neighbors to be able to keep an eye out for her. One neighbor said she heard a cat the night before near the creek that ran by the golf course. So we went looking for her around there, but realized we couldn't really get back there without scaring the neighbors tromping through their yards at night. So we decided to get there through the golf course route. But unfortunately, before we made it to our destination to start the search, we found Lottie. She was soaking wet, and only 20 yards from home and had been hit by a car.
I think she had been trying to find her way home, and was just so close. It broke my heart.

The risk in every relationship comes with the fact that as we get close to someone, we could get hurt. The closer we are to one another, the more risk there is to be hurt. When we lose someone whom we were close to through death, divorce, or other means, we lose parts of ourselves that we gave away. But real relationship is always worth it. Whether it's with a two-legged or four-legged friend, our lives are richer when we are in relationships. The hurt we feel when we lose them is outweighed by the enrichment we received while we were in them. If we took off our masks, put in the time and energy, grew through the process, and committed to seeing the best for the other, then we have become better, more fulfilled people.

Our family spent some time on Sunday talking about Lottie and all of the wonderful memories we had with her, how she was a great pet for our family, how we know she felt loved by us, and how we are glad that we had had her--even if it was just for a short time. We are all hurting, but we are so thankful that we opened our hearts up to love and be loved by such a special little creation.

We will miss you, sweet Lottie girl. Thank you for giving us the gift of knowing and loving you. The tears we've shed and the hurt we feel is worth it for all the love you gave us.

Monday, August 22, 2011



Things don't always go as we think they should.  I am reminded of one of my favorite holiday movies, "A Christmas Story". You know..."You'll shoot your eye out, kid!"  Yeah, that one. There is a line in the movie that keeps playing over in my head when I think of this newly revised picture. The Parker family has torn through all of the Christmas presents. Ralphie has opened his new Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle (aka, the beloved BB gun), "shot his eye out" and lived to tell about it. The dad is sitting in his recliner reading the newspaper. Randy, the little brother, is asleep amongst all the yet-to-be-thrown away wrapping paper. Mom is somewhere upstairs, probably recomposing herself after her fear of her 8 year old boy shooting his eye out just practically came true. And the narrator, Ralphie as an adult, says, 

"Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us."

I wouldn't consider this the most unthinkable disaster that has descended upon us, but it is a pretty big bummer. (Oh, by the way, for those of you on the edge of the cliff regarding what happens next in the movie, the neighbor's dogs break into their house and destroy the beautiful turkey that is about to be served for Christmas dinner. The family has to go out to the only restaurant open on Christmas night, which is a Chinese restaurant. They get serenaded with some amazing Christmas carols, and then watch a duck get its head chopped off and declared to be Chinese Turkey. Great movie.) But, in terms of us thinking things were going so swell and then feeling like the rug was pulled out from under us, yes...we kind of relate to this quotable quote. 

In this post  I shared about how wonderful it felt to have our house under contract, to come home to notice our agent put the "Sold" sign up, to be able to make real plans to move forward and relocate to Charlotte, to get to a place where we could settle in and not have to keep so super spotless (a daunting task for a preggo with a 2 and a 3 year old to say the least). 

We found a house that would work with our needs and our budget close by the area where we are going to be planting the church. We got ready to sign a contract to rent that house for 1 year. We got word that the contract on our home in Greenville had come up against some bumps in the road. We talked to our leaders, expressing our concerns about moving before things were sealed up. We were encouraged to go ahead and get on the ground. Things started smoothing out for the sale of our G'ville home. We packed. We moved. We began unpacking. We realized the A/C was broken on the hottest day of the year in our new place. 

And then we got the call.
Our agent said somethings I didn't really understand, but then after asking her to talk to me plain, she spelled it out for me. A week before closing, the buyers lost their financing. We were NOT sold. We were now responsible for a rent payment AND a mortgage. Phew. That's heavy stuff. 

But that's not the end of the story. I don't actually have an ending for you, beloved reader, but I do have a couple thoughts that God has placed on our hearts as we have walked through this:

  1. We cannot look at this situation with our natural eyes. We must ask the Holy Spirit to give us eyes to see what He is doing, how He is working on our behalf to bring about something even better. 2 Kings 6:17
  2. We cannot fear. This battle is the Lord's, not ours to fight! We have done everything we can in the natural to get out of that house, and we just have to leave the rest up to the Lord. We can't fear the future, our financial outlook or anything else! We have to just trust, trust, trust. (But, it's not always easy to do that!) 2 Chronicles 20:17
 The good thing is, these truths are not just for our situation!  Whether you're facing an army of thousands circling the city like Elisha's attendant did, or you just found out your home's sale fell through at the last minute, or you're facing any other issue that, on the surface, doesn't seem to possibly be able to work out for good, you can apply these truths and watch how God takes care of everything. It may not be the way you would have scripted it, but God is glorified through our testimonies! We are excited to have a testimony one day of how God worked all things together for us who love him and are called (to Charlotte, in this situation) according to his Name!