Love, New Life, and a New Easter Message

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March 3rd, just over a year ago, I posted about a stray and wandering kitty, Marbles, who found our home and adopted us.   I discussed the parallels of being abandoned and trust issues with spiritual abuse.

Just over a year later, Good Friday morning and Thursday night, Marbles brought new life into the world.  Easter represents new life, new hope.  I just had to share this story.

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This has been our first experience with a pregnant and laboring animal.   I’ve done the laboring/birthing gig with seven of my own children and also have been doula or labor coach for approximately 20-30 moms.   Hanging with and supporting laboring moms is something I enjoy doing.  I know what labor looks like.  Marbles didn’t go off in seclusion like so many laboring animals.  She went to a place of familiarity – to the top bunk where my 10-yr old was going to sleep (aka blog Resident Artist).  Going to the top bunk to snuggle with Resident Artist is her typical nightly routine, but this night proved to be far from routine.

Thursday night, I was in “doula” mode and “mom” mode at the same time.  I was watching our Resident Artist because he was pretty sensitive when watching his precious Marbles in pain and could sense her anxiety.  I stood by the bunk watching him, watching Marbles, explaining to Resident Artist exactly what she was doing, why she was walking around in circles and could not settle down, why her belly was contracting, why she looked tense.  Even as I described everything that was going on and reassured him that she was fine, he was still worried for her and I could see tears in his eyes as she made unfamiliar cries, probably in pain and fright.  Watching Marbles, I could tell birth was imminent.  I was concerned about too much emotional anxiety for Resident Artist.  The other concern was I really didn’t want a mess on the bed and she needed to be in a better place for birthing.  My husband came upstairs and moved Marbles to the prepared box we had all set up in the homeschool room.  As he placed Marbles in the box, we saw a kitty had been born – –  somewhere in transit  – from the top bunk to the box in the homeschool room- lol.

We quickly awakened two kids who had been sleeping (it was about 10:30 PM) to join the rest of us and we waited and watched more births.  She eventually bore six kittens, but two didn’t make it.  I wasn’t sure how the 7-yr old would handle death, but he took it in stride and was thankful for the four that were alive.  The kids spent the whole next day watching her from afar and near.  It was very difficult to get any school work done with those cute distractions.  Watching the beauty of life/death close up and personal is the best kind of schooling.  I knew that we were doing real school – learning that could not be accomplished from a textbook.

Yesterday, Resident Artist called out for me to come.   We were shocked to see Marbles holding one of the kitties by the neck as she walked down the stairs, kitty hanging from her mouth swaying, and placed the kitty in the corner of the family room.  Why would she leave the quiet place upstairs?  I didn’t know.  I posted a status update on my Facebook wall asking any friends who had cat experience for advice.  A couple of friends said she might have been having too much attention upstairs.  Well, yes, it’s kind of hard to tell a family with 6 kids at home to not look at those adorable creatures.  Maybe we were bothering her too much.  That was a possibility.  I wasn’t sure.

The next morning I found my answer.  I went over to her as she was nursing the adorable kittens and talked to her, telling her she was doing a good job.  I started scratching her in her favorite places beneath her chin and around her ears.  As I scratched, her eyes closed and she rested her head on the blanket.  Next thing I knew, her paw was on top of my wrist as I continued scratching her and she fell asleep.  I had my answer.  That was why she moved her kitties downstairs to the busiest room of the house.  Marbles is a family cat.  She is used to getting love and attention and being stuck in a box in a corner of a room way upstairs away from the family prevented that.  She wanted my words and affection.  She wanted love.   She and her litter has been in the family room ever since.  More often than not, there will be a kid (or this mom) observing the sweet kitties piling on top of each other, feeling and smelling for their mama in search for the nipple (or as my 7-yr old Caboose says “nibble”).

I adore this.  I love the interactions of the kids as they watch these adorable kittens.  My Caboose was very worried when Marbles walked away from the kittens for a bit.  He was afraid that the kitties wouldn’t have enough to eat.  And so during these times, we discussed that Marbles needs to take care of herself, feed herself, have a little time alone, too (just like his Mama – lol).  We talked about how the kitties seem to fight for one “nibble,” not realizing there are plenty of “nibbles” to go around.  We talked about how after fighting, we often find them sleeping together in a dog-pile.  Wait, that’s not right – kitten pile.

There are a lot of lessons in life we’ve experienced these past couple of days.  For some reason, I haven’t been very excited about Easter this year.  Yea, I know Jesus rose from the dead and that is the Good News, but my heart has been sad.  I’m realizing that this is a new kind of Easter for me.  I’ve never felt this way on Easter before.  I think the deal is I’m saddened by what the church at large has been for me and now I see a lot of it as a fraud.  I’ve been exposed to so much abuse in churches over the last year.  I’ve read so many personal stories.  It’s disheartening that many Christian leaders I had respect for no longer hold my respect.  How do I deal with this struggle inside?

These little kitties just born have a whole new life ahead of them and I think that is what I need to do with my spiritual life.  I need to start fresh.  Just as the kitties have such an urgency to find that “nibble”, climbing over each other, often times falling in the process, I need to drink the pure milk, not the milk or interpretation of So-And-So Celebrity Pastor, or this particular Church, no, I think pure milk is where it is at for me.

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Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk,

that by it you may grow up into salvation—

if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.  

1 Peter 2:2-3

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Those kitties cannot see right now and sometimes the mess of abuse makes me so dizzy that I feel like I can’t see.  But I need to ask God to open my eyes to see what He sees, not what others see for me.  I also need to learn how to walk just like the kitties.  I’m going to walk, fed by the pure milk with open eyes to see what God has in store for me.  This Easter is a new Easter.  He has saved me by His death and resurrection.  He is Risen.  Alleluia!

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42 comments on “Love, New Life, and a New Easter Message

  1. Julie Anne,

    This is precious on so many levels. My heart has been cast down this Easter. I keep telling myself that loving Jesus doesn’t mean that I will always feel up or full of joy. I keep plodding along in faith, but I have been so sad in my spirit as I have sat in church, wondering about the emptiness inside of me, wishing I could feel His love burning in my heart as it use to. I would love to hear how others have worked through the struggle:

    “It’s disheartening that many Christian leaders I had respect for no longer hold my respect. How do I deal with this struggle inside?”

    Thank-You for bringing tears to my eyes, I might just need a good cry, perhaps your beautiful words might become a springboard for me to taste the tenderness of our dear Lord.
    Hope you have a beautiful day with your kittens & family. I thank God for you.

    Like

  2. Scared – Thank you and Happy Easter to you – – – even though it may not be so happy – – – I get it. And maybe you do need a good cry. I cry a lot. What we’ve gone through is sad. We are not alone and I suspect many of us are home this Easter Sunday instead of going to church, which might feel foreign, too. At the same time, I think it’s important to look at it positively that we do know the truth and that is good. We are not being blinded. I think before I relied too much on spiritual leaders – – that’s what we were taught to do. I need to be like those little kitties searching for pure milk. They are so adorable. I think I need to go and watch them again.

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  3. from my prayer journal yesterday… perhaps too dark for Easter day.

    Jesus, come and be with me as i sit in emptiness.
    i was taught that you would fill the hole inside of me
    that you would give me a sense of well being
    because having love, joy, & peace would result
    in feeling You… but that is not my overall experience.
    i feel empty, lonely, haunted today by the idea that
    i just don’t do enough or love you enough.
    there was a time when your love burned like
    a fire inside of my heart, i wish i could get that
    back. anyway, love me lord in this sad silence.
    help me to remember that this too shall pass
    let me be a blessing, and have mercy on
    my doubt.
    wash me from my sins, i am sorry
    till i do the same sin again & again.
    pray for me Lord, i ache something
    terrible today.

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  4. JA – wonderful post. My spouse and I, both ordained Baptists, missed Christmas services for the first time last fall (made one short, early Christmas eve service at a local Presby church with family) and we have missed the Easter service. However, we heard a wonderful interview by Christa Tippet (sp?) on our local NPR station. She interviewed Congressman John Lewis, who led the march across the Pettis bridge and was beaten unconscious. He said the secret to the success of the civil rights movement was the training they received in non-violence and Christian love. He taught those going with him to love the people they were up against, to look them in the eye, and say I love you, even while being tear gassed, having dogs sicced on them, and being beaten unconscious. He had gone to that bridge fully expecting to be shot. It was a remarkable testimony to the power of Christian love for one another, a love that Jesus modeled for us. It was at least as spiritually uplifting as being in a church service. Then we went outside and watched the sunrise and reflect off some scattered clouds as the moisture train was heading north to the Great Plains.

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  5. Scared: As I was thinking of my mixed feelings of Easter – – how it is supposed to be a joyous occasion for Christians – – I was reminded that for many of us, it could be bringing back painful memories as well. Your poem so beautifully articulated that struggle and pain and yes, although it is dark, we cannot deny that that is where you are emotionally and spiritually. I think it is much better to be honest and share exactly where you are than put on a facade, go to church, and fake like everything is just fine. Isn’t that what we experienced in church with abuse? A fraudulent Christianity? It seems like you are being true to yourself and just like you were honest and vulnerable last week, you are really in a place of transparency which I find so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your poem of “darkness” because I think through your darkness, people will find their light. Tell me if that makes sense.

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  6. Julie Anne, It is a grace not to be chided or fixed or talked out of where I am at, you do know how rare that is I suspect. I don’t know if others will find light, but for me, there is a sense of feeling less alone, odd, when someone responds as you did… (Wish I knew how to make those little hearts like I see on facebook then I would put a heart to heart symbol from me to you)

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  7. scared. I receive that heart 🙂
    I’ll see if it works here, but what you do is type the greater than sign + 3.
    Testing: ❤

    Nope – didn’t work. But this should:

    Heart

    Whoa, that’s big. I’m keeping it!

    Like

  8. This post made me both smile and cry. I smiled, because I am a cat person. I love cats, and it’s a tremendous joy to win the love and trust of a feline. I cried, because I, too, am home this Easter instead of in church. Even though my former church was very abusive (a cult really), how the world at large lives is not what I want either. I really want to believe that Jesus has something better than what I’ve experienced in both the world and the church. Reading Julie Anne’s post and scared’s comments made me realize that I’m not alone. And I’m sure there are many more out there.

    Happy Easter to everyone who is hurting today. I pray our joy will be resurrected as our Lord was. May hope guide us step by step into a closer relationship with Him.

    Like

  9. Faith Can Move Your Mountain

    Have you ever been in a place that seems to box you in?
    Where life becomes a struggle and there seems to be no end
    Everything you try seems to bring your further and deeper down
    The smile that you once has now turned into a depressing frown

    Each day that passes seems to grow worse then the day before
    Nothing seems to change and the pain grows even more
    Everyone around you seems to become distant and far away
    The rejection hurt and pain inside makes it difficult to even pray

    It’s times like these the enemy waits to put his plan in place
    Moving ever so slowly to camouflage his face
    We gradually move away from the safety of the throne
    And soon we feel so helpless we try things on our own

    When we get to a place like this we must stand upon His word
    Believing what we read is true and trusting what we heard
    Faith can move your mountain and turn your life around
    For what once was built on sinking sand is now on solid ground

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  10. Wow, JA, so beautiful. You didn’t just speak to us, I think you spoke your heart to Jesus, as well. I had to work today, so I had no choice but to miss Easter Service. But I did go to Good Friday service, and that service was unique, in that it was about darkness of His crucifixion. But after reading your story here, I feel as though I didn’t miss Easter service. That was wonderful.

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  11. Just to encourage you…It gets better and takes on powerful meaning. I am an SGM survivor. After 15 years gone, I watch in wonder as that place implodes. But little by little you get your faith back. Learning to relate to God in new ways takes a little time. Some things you will let go of for now and they will be given back to you when you are solidly in your new life and identity when you didn’t even miss them anymore. Love this post. Congratulations on your new additions!

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  12. Who is this Jesus to whom it is rightly said we must point? How do we make Him known to the hurting, the broken hearted, the alienated, the lonely? We can in words assure that His yoke is easy and his burden light. O.K. We can point out that He is gentle and lowly in heart. Yes, yes. We can tell them how much He loves us. Of course. Yet, when we use only words, we speak only to the mind. We fill the brain with facts. What is seen, what is experienced, what is lived is written on the heart. Indeed, the divine nature of the Father and, therefore, of the Son (Colossians 1:15) is revealed by the things that are made (Romans 1:20). If you wish to impart knowledge, if you wish to fill the mind, use speech. If you wish to speak of Jesus to the heart of somebody who is hurting, alienated, broken and hurting, let them hold–no, give them–a kitten.

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  13. I love Easter, but we haven’t had a church home for a while that felt like “home” and I’ve had to learn to be okay with that. So, we weren’t sure what we were going to do this year for Easter service since we’re pretty burned out of visiting different churches. A good friend invited us to a very small church service nearby ~ we are familiar with the pastor ~ and it was really good. He (the pastor) encouraged us to interact and share and ask questions if we needed so it wasn’t just a one man show. We may have found a new church home? Well, time will tell. We’ve been attending a home group with some good friends on Wed. nights which has been so peaceful, and attending a fellowship/potluck on Sundays (but that’s hit and miss.) So not the traditional route, but it’s been church for us. Anyway, it was hopeful to hear a pastor share the Gospel and Jesus and nothing else! It was like a warm balm for my soul.

    I love this post too! I’m a cat person and we had a similar experience with a cat that adopted us!. She showed up at my daughter’s slumber party one year and never left! Well, after a month or so she was looking a little bigger and before we knew it she was laboring and birthing her first litter. We called her Pussywillow and she gave us two litters. It was so amazing for the kids to watch the births and how she cleaned everything up (kittens and afterbirth). Anyway, we all just loved that experience. Kittens are too cute.

    Happy Easter to everyone! He is risen indeed!

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  14. “If you wish to speak of Jesus to the heart of somebody who is hurting, alienated, broken and hurting, let them hold–no, give them–a kitten”

    Gary W, when you share, you give my heart wisdom & such tangible mercy, You give me hope. Though I don”t need a kitten. ( ;

    My hands are full with a husband who suffers from a chronic illness, he has suffered so many losses, went from 5′ 11 to 5′ 1 in our 25 years together, has had multiplied surgeries & pain… My kitten is my husband, and though I have struggled with keeping my care giving apron on, I really appreciate this: “What is seen, what is experienced, what is lived is written on the heart. Indeed, the divine nature of the Father and, therefore, of the Son (Colossians 1:15) is revealed by the things that are made (Romans 1:20). Amen.

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  15. Scared,

    About the time you were posting your previous comment, I was reading that we are “. . . heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:17 ESV). I do not understand suffering. Having not suffered much myself, I cannot offer that kind of comfort that can flow only from the experience of shared suffering. My words, I fear ring hollow on the subject. Yet, I will dare to suggest that to the degree that we suffer, so we also are able to better identify with our Lord’s suffering. Just as He, by His suffering, was and is able to identify with our suffering–to know and feel and participate in what we experience in our pain–so also we by our suffering are better able to identify with Him, and thus to know him, in his rejection, condemnation, mocking and crucifixion. I wonder if our Lord doesn’t have a special place in His heart for those who, like himself, have suffered at the hands of the religious establishment. Words, and more words, but labor, however long, is followed by birth, and death, however slow and painful in coming, is followed by resurrection.

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  16. Lisa – It’s good to hear from those further along in this process. Thanks for your encouragement.

    Gary – I’ve been very touched by your words.

    Scared and Raymond – -I’m thinking I need a special place to post poems here. I don’t want them to get “lost” in the comments. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words with us. I’m going to think about doing something like that.

    Gary – Your encouraging words/scripture to scared really ministered to me as well. Thank you.

    Monique – I hope this new church works out for you. Keep us posted!

    BTDT – I was home with a sick kiddo today. Just like Ed said, I feel like I had church here 🙂

    Thank you, Ed!

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  17. Julie Anne
    I was touched by your post about Easter and the kitties (and I have watched a boat load of these little tikes being born 🙂 ). I was thinking of Easter so much yesterday that my heart was bursting, but it was different; it was real. My family are now attending a small church that basically is comprised of elders (who do not like to be called elder or pastor, but only by their first name); have no membership (at least no one has mentioned it or have a class on it); and the sermons are as basic and to the point with no pretense or extra-curricular activity. When a video mens conference came up in our few weeks we were there, however, the red flags came up about who were some of the speakers (Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Voddie Bauchman).

    I decided this time I would nip it in the bud and tell the elders about these guys- I emailed the main elder of that church and he instantly forwarded mine to the rest of the elders. I got replies from two elders- one telling me “thank you” for being so discerning and he had no idea who this Mark Driscoll was; also, has invited me and my husband for dessert this weekend to discuss these issues and another telling me thank you and to continue to pray about this because this conference was doing such good for the men in the church. So then I wrote each of them another email telling them the dangers of these new Calvinists and their subtle deceptions and why it was important to ditch these guys- I was pretty blunt but polite 🙂 . I had no reply, so I was sure I would be rejected at the church the next Sunday. It has been a struggle finding a church to be loved and accepted and I just knew that this was going to be the same here. I really was struggling with the pain and just wanted to stop reading His Word and praying; I was also feeling guilty for doing so.

    The Lord Jesus really stopped me right in my tracks and said “Do you not think I can handle this, Faith? Do you not think I can handle even your feelings of ditching your spending time with me? All I have asked is that you continue to trust in Me and even when you do not feel like it pick up my Word and read and trust that the Holy Spirit will carry the rest. I can carry this burden, just like I can carry all your burdens. It does not matter how you feel, it matters if you can know and trust that I am there to mold you to be like me.”

    Matthew 11:28-30
    28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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  18. Well the good news, however, of this situation at church is that on Easter Sunday – not one person rejected me and I was accepted. The service was beautiful, the singing was joyful (I sang in the choir that day) and full of the Holy Spirit with tamborines, lifting of hands, clapping and tears of joy; the sermon was interrupted with tears streaming down the face of one of the elders and……. there was no rejection that day. I was thankful and it taught me an important lesson – that not all out there is scary or hurtful and I could stand up. I was heard for the first time and not put in a corner to be told to be a good sheep and shut up. I was invited to eat with an elder and told that I was being faithful to the Lord by sharing my concerns. Now not all the elders there probably accept my views on these men for I do not think they really know them or see them for who they are, but I was not…..rejected.

    They have welcomed my husband and I in their fold with smiling faces and warm hugs.

    So for now, I accept this and am thankful for the rest that the good Lord has provided and we will see…..what the new day will bring, but I know that my trust in the Savior will always stay sure and that He WILL make our yoke easy and burden light if we so believe that He CAN do as He says- no matter what our feelings or situation is.
    Happy Easter everyone!

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  19. Faith – I’m so glad to hear of your positive experience at church yesterday. That is wonderful. I also hope you get an opportunity to discuss further your concerns about New Calvinists and what you have observed. There are a lot of pastors who truly are “pastoring” and are out of that loop. (And good for them!)

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  20. Julie Anne- Haven’t commented on your blog till now. I just had to respond to that amazing kitty video. I have watched it 3 times just to watch mamma put her arm over one of the babies with so much love, care and concern. It reminded me of how our heavenly father will not let go of us. That video really spoke to my heart. Now you have my e-mail. I remember a few weeks ago you gave me yours but I forgot what it was about! (menopause….my excuse for everything!)

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  21. Gary W- I just read your comment from 9:44 last night… I am choked up, I have never heard suffering put to words like this… far from ringing hollow, you just brought Jesus as the comforter to my heart… Thank-You Gary, thank-you Julie Anne for the love & grace & kindness that flows here…

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  22. Julie Anne

    What a wonderful heartfelt post – Kittens – Love – New Life – Hmmm?

    “These little kitties just born have a whole new life ahead of them
    and I think that is what I need to do with my spiritual life. I need to start fresh.”

    Yes – every morning – His Mercies are new every morning – Great is His faithfulness.
    Lam 3:21-22

    Yes – You’re a new creation – old things have passed away – all things become new.
    2 Cor 5:17

    And All the wonderful comments by the folks. What a blessing.

    Thanks All – And…

    Thank you Jesus

    Like

  23. scared, i appreciated what you shared with us. . [[ you mind if i begin calling you sacred? ]]

    Raymond! nice poem. [[ so were the bass biting this weekend? ]]

    regarding Gary’s let them hold—no, give them—a kitten comment: Many years ago when i was in my twenties there were several weeks of my life when i was turning inward and wanting to give up on life. During this time my mom temporarily gave me her small shy cat who always liked me (she would generally hide from everyone else; we suspected she had been abused as a kitten)… Well, as I was wanting to hide away from the world, to withdraw into my inner emptiness this little cat would gingerly come up to me and paw me, uttering an almost inaudible meow and through this bring me out of whatever numb trance i had fallen into… This cat was a real miracle of life for me.

    Faith, I’m happy to hear about your new church experiences. I pray your family finds or helps create a most healthy “church.” A community promoting an open process of discernment is a good indicator of health. I love how the pastor isn’t called “pastor.” This alone makes her stand out from the rest.

    Here’s an encouraging word from Helen Keller: Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

    We read in Romans (5:2-5): We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

    James writes: Count it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (patience, fortitude). And let endurance have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (1:2-4).

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  24. monax- i am slowly realizing that scared is not who i long to be though that is where I am at for now. however you asked: “you mind if i begin calling you sacred?” nah, but you touch my heart with the offer. because the truth of the matter is I am mess of contradictions. I am bowled over with the confidence that you & J.A. have to call a snake a snake, to call the abusers out.
    so, all that said to say, i would consider you calling me: sacred mess…( ;

    and if you travel to N. Michigan this summer, you have a place to crash at our place, it isn’t a tent, but i purposely had a overhang built on the deck, so I could sit & watch the thunderstorms rip across the lake. my husband will invite you into our world & will touch your heart with his courage, humility & wicked and somewhat irreverent sense of humor.

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  25. plus, i don’t know if it is because of the high winds. we don’t have mosquito’s. which chewed on me as a kid when we camped in w. mi.

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  26. Julie Anne- You & your family are invited too. O, the fun we would have under the stars & at the campfire, sharing our stories… xo

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  27. sacredness, what an incredibly gracious offer!

    [[ i will file that away. thank you. your husband and the winds sound most marvelous. the view of the lake and stars too ]]

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  28. Monax: Don’t file it too far away. Come visit us with your story… to share under the stars, with a great brew or two… with my family, my husband… my grown girls who chucked the gospel. & I don’t blame them because how I raised them when I was under the influence of the experts. ( :

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