Tag Archives: cats

Lucky!

The following is an abridged version of story I wrote about our cat “Lucky.” His full impact on us and our journey along the spectrum can’t fully be put into words. Lucky prompted Lan to initiate conversation. Lucky also taught him responsibility. I strongly recommend parents of any special needs children to consider a pet. Their contribution is often priceless. 

One Lucky Cat!

I don’t like cats. 

To my dismay, the children I was desperately trying to get ready for school abandoned their oatmeal to see the pretty kitty.

Annoyed, I began shooing it away with a broom, and trying to coax it off my deck. I glanced beyond the cat only to find both boys staring at me like I’m Cruella Deville.

I take a deep breath and bite my tongue. At this point in my life I’m mentally fried. Two kids under the age of four, a husband who travels all week and I’m running late for my new full-time job!

I grudgingly decide I can teach my kids a lesson in compassion. Besides, the last thing I need is for Cam to go marching into school and telling everyone I tried to kill a cat. From previous experience, I’m confident that would have been his translation of the morning’s events!

So… I grab a can of salmon and stick it outside the door. By this time it seems that the cat is gone. I’m grateful, yet annoyed I just wasted a can of salmon.

When we return that afternoon, the first thing both kids do is run toward the back door. No cat, but the food is gone. I’m thinking the cat has found its way home.

No such luck.

Over the next couple of months this cat increasingly comes to my house. It doesn’t just come, it lingers.

Reluctantly, I finally concede. How much trouble can one outdoor cat be?

I never get to find out.

I come downstairs one morning to find my husband standing in the kitchen holding the cat….and a litter box!

By the way, he doesn’t like cats either.

One huge vet bill later, I name the cat Lucky. It’s a bit of a stretch for a black cat, but it saves him from being named after a Ninja Turtle.

By now, you’re probably thinking what does this cat have to do with God, autism and me?

I learned God sometimes answers prayers in the most unexpected ways. It is around this time that my four year has prayed for his brother Lan to talk.

Lan would occasionally say a word here and there. Yet, once Lucky entrenched himself into our home, Lan became more talkative.

“Where’s the cat?” “Can I feed the cat?” “Lucky where are you?” 

Lucky Raphel 7-15-15 ripLucky helped draw Landon out of his shell.

He hasn’t been a perfect cat but he’s come close.

As the kids watched television, I was horrified one day to find Landon’s pillow wasn’t a pillow at all. It was the cat!

I started to fuss but then realized Lucky wasn’t trying to get away. He looked up at me with those big yellow eyes as if to say “it’s okay. I don’t mind.” He then he turned away from me and back to the kids.

His kids.

Lucky worked his way into my heart.

The world didn’t end when I found him snoozing on my “good” sofa. Or, when I woke to find him asleep beside me… in my bed!

Did I mention, I don’t like cats?

I don’t know that I’ll ever consider myself a “cat lover” but I certainly love this one.

God’s answers to our prayers aren’t always how we expect them. Blessings and miracles often arrive in disguise.

I almost chased away one of mine.

Not all angels have wings. Some have paws, of this I am sure.

Lan is now a teenager and talks up a storm.

I look back on it now and realize we didn’t do the cat a favor at all.

We were the lucky ones!

**Rest in Peace “Lucky” Raphael, you loved us well!

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22 NKJV

Advertisements

Looking in From the Outside…

When Lan was younger, I often worried about him. Not merely about his development, but also his loneliness.

He and his brother shared common friends in elementary school. But as their friends grew older, their interests drifted toward those things middle school kids do. However, Lan’s interests remained with Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers or whatever he deemed cool at the time.

Lan’s longtime friends looked out for him in school for sure, but they didn’t “hang” with him.  Very few called to ask if he could come over or go places with them. This became more apparent as his older brother accepted invitations from kids while Lan remained at home.

I think we can all relate to being an “outsider.”

Maybe you’ve been the new guy on the job or moved cross country without knowing a soul. There may be times you don’t get the joke. Yet, most of us can eventually move from the outside in.

Being an outsider can hurt. It often lasts longer than expected. When Lan was first diagnosed with that vague “pervasive developmental disorder” I certainly felt alone.

Who could understand my wants and fears while watching other kids move along carefree?

God understood.

His child was viewed as an “outsider.” Jesus didn’t talk like everyone else. He saw things differently. He broke the rules. Even as part of a larger plan, I can’t believe any parent is “okay” watching their child suffer or hurt.

Not even God.

I don’t doubt God was with us even when it didn’t feel like it. I’ve learned feelings can be deceptive. I don’t allow them to smother my faith!

Yes, Lan and I were a bit melancholy that first year of high school. I was standing in faith that God would bless him with one “good friend” his freshman year. Despite my prayers, that didn’t happen.

I now realize that first year “alone” was a blessing in disguise. Or, more accurately, a lesson in disguise.

I initially feared Lan would be taken advantage of in high school. I didn’t want him blindly following others just to be included. Instead, that first year taught Lan he could live on the “outside” and still be okay.

I also learned that lesson.

My normal doesn’t have to mirror everyone else. We can deal with autism. Our lives may be a bit different from the “norm” but then again what is normal?

God was with us.

We were never really alone. We didn’t break under the pain. Crack?

Maybe.

However, we are still in one piece and Lan is lonely no more!

Lan spent yesterday at an arcade with his best friend. They met this school year in a visual arts class. They both have their quirks. They “get” each other. They have a shared love for “Hero Up!” and its superheroes. There is no need to “conform” when they are together.  DSC_2934 (3)

God is good like that. His timing is perfect.

So whatever you are going through, remember you don’t have to go it alone. God is the Father we can run to! Better yet, God carries us until we find the strength to walk again.

It is often the loneliest times that make us stronger.

And should you see someone peering in toward you, show a little love! Act on that urge to take the new guy out to lunch. Stop and say hello to the new neighbor. You don’t have to move out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes, all God really wants is for us to let someone into ours.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” Proverbs 18:24 NKJV

 

Face Forward!

“Don’t let something in the past trip you up!”

I read those words on a church sign driving home last night. Not scripture, but wise words nonetheless.

Sometimes we can allow a loss to make us lose sight of all we have gained.

At other times we would do well to change things up a bit and break away from the familiar and open ourselves up to something fresh and new.

Just because something was, doesn’t mean it always will be.

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5 NKJV

In the past, I was plagued with fear. Much of that concerned Lan’s future. He always struggled in school. The constant struggle was something I’d become accustomed to.

This year, through hard work and lots of prayer, has been different.

Yet, I found some old mindsets could still creep in. Doubt. Uncertainty.

I could become fixated on old struggles of just scraping by to earn the required credits.

Freshman biology with the toughest teacher in the school was a struggle. It is still fresh in my mind.

When I met with his guidance counselor last week, I was informed that chemistry was designated as his science for next year when Lan will be a junior.

Instead of looking forward, I was momentarily caught in the anxiety of the past. Lan’s study habits and grades have vastly improved. Yet, chemistry is unforgiving. It is absolute. Abstract.

I asked, solemnly, “Is chemistry required to graduate?”

The counselor’s answer was “No.”

Freshman biology and the physical science Lan is currently taking will suffice for his “required” sciences. He can finish high school taking zoology and anatomy both of which will also help him with graphic design.

If I hadn’t asked, next year could have been very frustrating.

In the past, I wouldn’t have thought to ask if there was an alternative. I would have just accepted the status quo. And struggled.

“you do not have because you do not ask,” James 4:2 NKJV

Sometimes instead of allowing our experiences to make us wiser, we can allow them to encase us in fear. Fear paralyzes. It doesn’t allow us to look forward toward a positive future.  DSC_9566

Now, I’m motivated to explore opportunities as the nation slowly realizes there is a vast need for resources and alternatives in higher education.

One friend who is a university professor informed me there are individualized education programs for college students with special needs. Accommodations for people on the spectrum are increasing.

Instead of my “ideas” about the future, I am learning to trust God and allow Him to reveal His plan for Lan moment by moment.

This isn’t easy for me, but most things that are best for us are never easy. Or quickly revealed.

They require faith.

And in my case, the ability to leave past disappointments, struggles and preconceived notions behind me.

“Face forward.” That’s what Lan said to me last week. Not exactly scripture, but wise words nonetheless.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV

 

 

 

 

Evolution!

God teaches me things in the strangest of ways.

Which brings me to cats.

I am not a “cat person.” Even though my house is home to one lucky indoor cat, named Lucky.

Seriously.

I feed the Aristocats on my side porch, “Rocky” and three kittens in exchange for not eating my birds, At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

“Rocky” is the meanest of three sisters that called my abode home last year. She hissed at us when we put their food out!

I wasn’t surprised when she left for the wild leaving her sisters behind. Out of the original four kittens that once called us “home” I just knew she would never stick around.

One year later, Rocky has kittens in my yard, Shows you how much I know!

Rocky was not an ideal mother. She abandoned the runt. She bullied her litter mate “Gracie.”

Eventually, Gracie tired of her sisters shenanigans and camped out on the porch in spite of her. Gracie even nursed Rocky’s abandoned kitten.

Rocky merely looked on, unimpressed!

I don’t think Rocky was feeling the whole parenthood thing. I think her newfound responsibilities were overwhelming.

We’re not quite sure just what happened but poor Gracie died. Yet, shortly thereafter I found Rocky nursing both her sister’s kitten and the kitten she abandoned!   DSC_2934 (3)

Rocky evolved into a good mother.  I’ve seen her licking unwilling kitties clean!

She matured and does what needs to be done.

Maybe Rocky didn’t understand her role before. Maybe grief for her sister stirred something in her. Regardless, her mothering skills improved.

I think this cat family found a place in my heart because I can relate to Rocky.

I’m not sure I always dealt with Lan’s diagnosis “correctly.” In the beginning, I didn’t have a clue.  But like, Rocky, I eventually got the hang of it.

I’m no longer weary and afraid. The uncertainty and my stress are much much less!

I’ve evolved. I understand my role better. I’m probably a bit more nurturing to my “kitten.”

Looking back, God did the same for me. God engineered my evolution so I can be the mother I need to be.

Some lessons God reveals when we take time to “see” them and “hear” Him.

This isn’t the first time God has used a cat to teach me how less than ideal situations can work out unexpectedly.

And I suspect it won’t be the last.

Cat Lady

Over ten years ago, our black cat Lucky showed up hungry and homeless. I thought we were a blessing to him but in fact he was a blessing to us, especially for my youngest son Lan. Lucky really pulled him out of his shell and made Lan more in touch with his surroundings. This all occurred during a crucial time when we weren’t exactly too sure how much talking Lan would ever do.

Fast forward ten plus years and here we are again. It’s Lan’s first year in high school and we’ve had a few bumps along the way, the latest of which was an upperclassman trying to bully my child. From what I can tell, it seems the cat or rather cats showed up at another pivotal time for him.

Several weeks ago, a family of stray cats took up residence at our house. At first we believed it was just a mama cat “Grey” as we call her and two kittens. I’d seen four kittens across the street weeks earlier but suspected something had eaten two of them.

Lan would continuously keep an eye out for them, making sure they were provided for as best we could.  We would put out food and water. Lan never gave up hope that all the kittens survived. As usual, he can see the best in any given situation. His faith is at times is stronger than mine.  I can learn a lot from my child.

Today Lan was proven correct!

All four kittens have survived, I found them sitting in rocking chairs on my porch. Lan’s hope was not ill-founded. His fascination with the cats and protecting them has been an escape I believe from the problems he was having at school. I suspect if not for the cats, the issue at school could have caused my child to “shut down.”  As usual, God finds a solution when I don’t even realize I have a problem!

He is not a child of many words and we certainly don’t want to lose any ground that we’ve gained. I’m now grateful that mama cat and kittens have taken up residence.

How I’m going to round them all up and get them to a vet I don’t know. We have had four-footed angels before (even if our resident house cat has been more of a devil as of late). I will entertain our kitties for as long as I can and hopefully find them the best of homes. It’s the least I can do. And if that’s not possible, I’ll be content to be the cat lady on the corner.

My experiences thus far make it awfully hard to remember that I don’t like cats.

One Lucky Cat

Nearly ten years ago, as I was giving the boys breakfast and frantically trying to get them ready for school, a visitor came boldly calling at our door. At first, I thought I was hearing things (my mind was really frazzled back in those days) but lo and behold there really was a cat very loudly meowing at my back door.

My first thought was I don’t have time for this nonsense. I don’t like cats. At all. However, the kids I was desperately trying to get ready for school had abandoned their oatmeal to come look at the pretty kitty.

As short fused as I was, I’m sure I was in no mood to entertain a cat let alone try to figure out where it came from.  I started shooing it away, and yelling at it to get it back down the steps and off my deck. By now both boys are looking at me like I’m Cruella DeVille and Cam very pointedly says to me “Mommy, that’s mean.”

I take a deep breath and bite my tongue. After all I am trying to teach my kids compassion and the last thing I need is for them to go marching into their Christian pre-school and telling the whole world how I was trying to kill a cat that morning (that would have been Cam’s interpertation).

So… I find a can of salmon in the pantry, put it on a paper plate and stick it outside the back door. By this time the cat is gone or at the very least, I can’t see it. Good riddance, for sure, and I’m just a bit annoyed that I just wasted a perfectly good can of salmon.

When we return home the first thing both kids do is head for the back door. No cat, but the food is gone.  Grateful, I’m thinking it has found its way home.  We did a good deed (albeit reluctantly) and that is that.

No such luck. Over the next couple of months this cat would increasingly come to my house. It didn’t just come, it lingered.

I finally relented, but only after posting signs throughout the neighborhood.

Okay, we now have an outside cat. No harm in that. The kids are happy. I’m no longer viewed as “Cruella” and it shouldn’t take that much effort on my part.

Well, a few days later I come down the stairs and my darling husband is standing in the kitchen holding the cat….and a litter box! And by the way, he doesn’t like cats either.

One week and one vet bill later, I name the cat Lucky.  For some reason I decided it would be a good name so he isn’t stigmatized by his black coloring. The other is to save him from being named after a Ninja Turtle.

By now, you’re probably thinking what does this cat have to do with God and autism?

I have learned through my journey that God answers prayers in the most unexpected ways. It is around this time that my oldest son, still in pre-school prays for his brother to talk. This prayer wasn’t anything we prompted him to do. Cam thought this up all on his own.

Lan would say a few words here and there, but we really had to pull them out of him. However, once the cat was here to stay, Lan became enamored with him and started asking things like, “where’s the cat?” “Can I feed the cat?” “Lucky where are you?” Landon even started telling people he didn’t know about his cat.

I figure this cat must have been desperate for a home because he allowed a three-year old and a four-year old to pretty much drag him around as their real life “stuffed toy.” Lucky never once scratched or bit them.  He was actually more social than the two dogs we had. He was also smarter too.

Lucky helped draw Landon out of his shell. Consequently, Lucky worked his way into my heart. As the kids lay on the floor one night watching some Christmas special, I noticed Landon’s pillow wasn’t a pillow at all.

It was the cat!

I started to fuss but then realized Lucky wasn’t trying to get away. He looked up at me with those big yellow eyes as if to say “it’s okay. I don’t mind,” and then he turned away from me and back to the kids. His kids.

He hasn’t been a perfect cat but he’s probably come close.

From Lucky, I have learned the immense value of an afternoon nap and how it’s important to get one when you can. Lucky has shown me how to be flexible, eating the dog’s food when she eats all of his. He has proven that the world won’t come to an end when you sometimes break a few rules.

The world didn’t end when I walked in to find him snoozing on my “good” sofa.

Armageddon didn’t erupt when I woke to find him asleep beside me… in my bed!

Did I mention, I don’t like cats?

I don’t know that I’ll ever consider myself a “cat lover” but I certainly love this one.

I have seen God’s answers to our prayers aren’t always what we expect them to be. Our blessings and miracles often arrive in disguise. I almost closed the door on one of mine. Don’t you make the same mistake and miss out on an answer you’ve been waiting for.

Not all angels have wings. Some have paws, of this I am sure. I look back all these years later and readily admit I didn’t do the cat a favor.

I’m the lucky one!