On Cats and Forgiveness

by Velma Amundson

Today, I’ve got another “lesson from my cats”. These two kittens were found wrapped up together on the sidewalk when they were 1 week old. Fortunately, a very nice lady took them in and bottle fed them for the next 2 weeks, until her landlord said, no.  We got them when they were 3 weeks old. They’ve been together their entire lives, and they’re now 3 years old. They look after each other, call to each other, play with each other, groom each other. But, occasionally, like all sisters, they have a spat. John and I usually just ignore these and let them settle them on their own. Pretty soon, we see them wrapped up together again, mutually grooming each other and then going to sleep together.

Remember the parable of the unforgiving servant?

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  

For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.  When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.  But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.  So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’  And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.  

But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’  So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’  But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.  So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.  

Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’  And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”  Matt 18:21-35  (NASB)

To me that says every time we are asked to forgive someone, we need to. Sometimes it’s hard to forgive one time. When we are repeatedly hurt, it gets really difficult.  I’ve been through some of that, and I know for me it was really difficult to let go of the hurt and forgive. But, with God’s grace I’ve been able to. And that’s freeing. Cats live in the moment, not holding on to past hurts. They get over it and go on. I pray we can all take a lesson from my cats and forgive every time.

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Showing God’s Love

by Velma Amundson

First, a Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the mom’s and grandmother’s out there. I also want to remember those women who have been like a mom to me. I’m sure we have all had a woman who mentored or helped us along the way.

I know I’ve mentioned that my husband had a knee replacement on April 9th. He’s doing very well. But we noticed something…he has a therapy kitty. Yep, this is another of the lessons I’ve learned from my cats. John has a therapy kitty. Every time he goes to do his physical therapy, our orange girl runs down with him and crawls up on his chest and stays with him. She comes out and sits with him while he works on the bike too. And, when I was sick to my stomach recently, she sat beside me, pressed up against my leg with her paw on my thigh the whole time. She obviously knows when we are not right and she offers as much support and sympathy as she can.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  1 Peter 3:8  (ESV)

We are told throughout the Bible that we are to help, support and have sympathy for our neighbors, our friends and families and even our enemies (feed them!) I know that we have prayer chains for those in need. In our community, when needed, we have provided meals to people who are temporarily unable to cook due to injuries or illness. We also make quilts, some of which go to World Relief, but often go to nursing home patients, people who have lost possessions to a fire, the local “boys ranch” for “troubled” youth, and several other charities. These are all examples of the charity that Jesus showed and that we are to show. Just like my cat, we are to reach out to those around us. May God richly bless and keep you, and may you show God’s love to those around you.

Anticipation

by Velma Amundson

I’ve heard the experts say that animals do not anticipate things. They’ve never watched my cats when they know they’re getting a treat. They dance around, meowing, and their tails stick straight up in the air quivering with excitement from the base all the way to the tip. Or, if we have food they think they want, they will come running, licking their lips in anticipation of getting a good bite to eat (and if it’s protein like a piece of turkey, I might give them some).

Advent is all about anticipation. First we anticipate Christmas. Christ came to earth humbly, as a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths. I know that I look forward to Christmas every year. The excitement and love that seems to surround everything. I enjoy the children’s Christmas pageant, the choir’s caroling, and having an “open house” for all our church members to come and enjoy some goodies and company.

The other thing about Advent is anticipating Christ’s return. We’re in a period of waiting. We don’t know when He will return, only that He has promised that He will do that. There was a time when I feared that, or I should say the unknown about it. I wanted Christ to come, but…. You know what, we should be excited and eagerly waiting. Christ will come and take us home with Him. We will get to go to Heaven, where there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, and Christ will be the light of the world. The old song says, “The light of the world is Jesus.”

This Advent season, I pray you have the peace and joy of knowing that Christ loved you enough to come, and the excitement to eagerly anticipate His return.

Take Your Fears to God

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding.  Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

 Around here I am sometimes referred to as the “cat lady”. Not because I have so many of them, but because I talk about them. But, my cats teach me things I need to learn, about trust, fear, anxiety…

 We got these cats as 3 or 4 week old kittens that had been abandoned or thrown out. Whatever happened they ended up with us. I remember once one of the kittens thought she was lost. We had gone into the kitchen and she followed. But she was playing when we left and hadn’t seen us leave. All of a sudden I heard her screaming at the top of her voice. I ran into the kitchen to find her standing stiff in the middle of the kitchen floor, screaming. Of course, I picked her up and cuddled her and she went to sleep on my lap. Another time, my husband and I were watching a movie. In the movie was a jaguar that was fighting and screaming. Both kittens had been sleeping on my lap. When they heard the jaguar, they both fled up my chest and buried themselves under my chin. They knew they would be safe.

The last incident I’ll tell you about happened recently. Both of the cats are loving, cuddly little beings. However, when taken to the vet, one of them becomes a little monster. She growls, and hisses, and swats any of the resident cats who dare to get too close. I recently discovered that she was doing this, not because she was mad, but because she was scared. I had picked her up and put her on the table to be examined. As long as I stayed beside her, she let the vet do anything she wanted. Afterwards, as I was sitting in the lobby talking and holding her, she actually tried to go to sleep. In other words, she trusted that I would keep her safe.

 In our lives, we have times when we feel lost or threatened by the circumstances we find ourselves. Do you know where to turn to feel safe? In Philippians we are told to be anxious for nothing, but in all things by prayer and thanksgiving to make our requests known to God. We are told that God will give us his peace and keep us. I know that’s not always easy to do. It’s something I struggle with. The last time I was feeling anxious, every time I thought anxious thoughts, I prayed: “Okay, God, you said I am not supposed to borrow from tomorrow. You said to come to you with my troubles, and I’m standing here. I need you.” The funny thing (or maybe not so funny) was that I could feel God’s peace. He was there holding me.  I pray that as you face fearful situations in your life that you learn a lesson from the Bible as illustrated by my cats.  Trust.  Take your fears to God, as often as needed.  He will be there.

Velma Amundson