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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
M. R. Wells is the co-author of Four Paws from Heaven, Purr-ables from Heaven, and Paws for Reflection. She has written extensively for children’s animated television and video programs, including several Disney shows, Adventures from the Book of Virtues and Bibleman. She shares her Southern California home with her cats and dogs Muffin, Bo, Munchie, Becca and Marley.
Connie Fleishauer is a retired teacher and writer, and is the co-author of Four Paws from Heaven, Purr-ables from Heaven, and Paws for Reflection. The wife of a Bakersfield, California farmer, she is a mother of three and grandmother of one. While many cats have warmed her home, currently, she has two dogs.
Dottie P. Adams is a teaching director for Community Bible Study in the Los Angeles area where she has taught a Bible class for twenty years. Co-author of Purr-ables from Heaven, she is the wife of a retired physicist, the mother of three children, grandmother of five, and currently has cats Midnight and Mooch.
Visit the authors' website.
A new devotional for cat lovers will delight and impart truth about God’s ways, workings in our lives and our relationship with Him. Entertaining true accounts of the antics and personalities of cats are interwoven with anecdotes from the lives of the people who love them and timeless biblical truth. Suitable for adults, youth or children, the stories are filled with gripping moments that reveal God’s love and would lend themselves well to family or personal devotions.
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Relationships Take Time
We always have time enough, if we will but use it aright.
JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE
I love sitting at the dining room table on spring mornings, watching the stark darkness turn into a misty dawn as the birds sing to announce the new day. It’s a great time to be alone with the Lord. The house is quiet because I’m the only “early bird” up besides the real ones chirping outside.
As I sat praying one particular morning I heard a loud thump on the window behind me. It was Midnight, asking to come in for breakfast. She always bangs her head against the windowpane to get my attention. Then she rubs her nose against the window frame and meows softly, knowing I will come outside to fetch her. I call this her “rapid transit,” even though she could come in much more quickly through the cat door. But it’s not the quickness she desires—it’s the contact.
As Midnight softly meowed and rubbed that morning I pulled on a jacket and headed outdoors to perform the rite we both love. I cozy up to the air conditioner, which is exactly the height of my shoulders. She steps from the machine to my shoulder as I guide her. She drapes herself around me with her front paws on my left shoulder, her belly nestling the back of my neck, and her back paws hanging down over my right shoulder. As her face presses against me, she purrs into my left ear. I understand that this is her ride to her food bowl—but it’s so much more. Not only do I get a smell of the morning air, I have precious moments of special closeness with my “living fur shawl.” It’s a joy to have this relationship with one of God’s little four-foots—a joy I treasure!
Like my cat, my youngest grandchild also loves to cuddle. He and his brother and their parents live with us right now. I often spend part of the morning upstairs working on lectures for the Bible study class I teach. Eli and Jayden are awake by the time I come downstairs. Jayden (age two and a half) is content to smile, call to me, and continue his play. But Eli (18 months) wants more. He rushes over to me, crying “Maw-Maw!” Then he tugs at my clothes till I pick him up so he can snuggle. As soon as he’s in my arms, he lays his head tightly against me, his ear pressed against my chest. He stays that way for what is a long time for a toddler. It’s a joy to have this special time with him, and I treasure it too!
I also treasure the special relationship time I spend with God. Most mornings I go to Him in prayer, even if it’s just to ask His blessing on my family. I spend a few moments reading the Bible, even if it’s just one verse to connect my mind to Him. I call this “having coffee with Jesus.”
I get my coffee and intentionally ask Jesus to sit with me as if He were here in the flesh. I picture Him sitting right across the table. I talk about the previous day or the day to come. I weep with Him over hardships I’m facing or the suffering of others. I laugh and rejoice with Him over answered prayer. I share my needs and thank Him for being my friend. Sometimes I imagine Him smiling back at me, and other times I believe He brings a verse of Scripture into my mind to correct me or give me hope or courage.
Building close relationships takes time. It must be intentional. It can’t only happen when it’s convenient. Jesus lived this out when He walked the earth. He called each of His disciples and poured His life into them for three years. And He always took time to pray and be with His Father in heaven.
Midnight intentionally bumps the window to begin our special time together. I intentionally respond, even if she’s interrupting something pressing. When Eli wants to snuggle, I take time to enjoy his toddler love, even if I’m in a hurry. I have coffee with Jesus in the same way. Whether it’s convenient or not, I take the necessary time not just to go through my prayers, but to be with my Lord. I believe He delights to hear me purring in His ear as I start the day with Him!
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3).
Do you set aside time to be with God each day? If so, how does it enhance your relationship? If not, would you be willing to try?
Perry’s Good Shepherd
Be a Shepherd for God
The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His,
And He is mine forever.
HENRY W. BAKER
Perry is a very special kitty, the first to live indoors with my in-laws, Harold and Doris. They got him from relatives who could no longer keep him. He is totally enjoying his new life as he chooses where to sleep and whose lap to jump on for some pampering. This gorgeous fluffy orange cat with bright peridot eyes knows just what he wants and how to get it. He loves Harold and Doris, but like all ornery kids he knows how to work them.
On one particular evening when I’d been visiting with them, Perry decided to be a bit more playful than anyone desired. When we walked out the back door, Perry slipped out behind us and followed. He darted under my car to hide. I saw him first and began to call him, but there was no way he was going to obey me. This was playtime. He raced to the back of the vehicle and sprinted down the long driveway.
Harold and Doris live in the country, but their home is near a popular road where cars drive fast. Perry could have been in great danger. He would have had little chance of survival on this road in the dark of night. Fortunately, his faithful master took care of him. As I started to go after the truant, Harold stopped me. He said, “Cover me with the flashlight and I’ll go get him.”
Although Perry was ornery, perhaps this cat had some “horse sense.” He got close to the road but turned aside. He darted into the pasture at the east end of the farm. Perry slunk down in the high grass while Harold, age 82, tried to sneak up on the mischievous feline in his stocking feet in the dark. I felt bad that Harold would not let me join him in the pursuit, but this was his cat, his “child,” his responsibility. He was Perry’s “good shepherd,” and he was acting as any good shepherd would. Giving up or giving in was never an option.
Finally, Perry seemed to realize that Harold was in charge (or he chose to let Harold think he was). Perry hunkered down and let his human grab him. I could tell that even though Harold was tired and his stocking feet were muddy, he was pleased to have Perry back safely in his arms.
Harold probably just thought of this as another one of many chases he had with Perry. But to me, it was more. It was a reenactment of the Parable of the Lost Sheep. In Matthew 18:12-14, Jesus talks about the shepherd who left the rest of his flock to search for the one little lost sheep that had wandered off.
Many years ago, I was just such a lost sheep. Just before entering high school, I had been making some very poor choices. I had accepted Jesus as my personal Savior when I was six years old, and I had gone to church all my life. But at this time, I decided to explore my small world in ways I didn’t need to. I had chosen to be with some “friends” who weren’t true friends, and we had done some things we needed to confess.
My older brother talked to me about what I was doing. He asked if I really wanted to go to high school with that baggage. He stayed with me until I prayed and promised that I would try to obey God and behave like His child. Darrell was my shepherd at that point, and many other times through my teenage years. When I was lost, he went looking for me till he found me. He’d bring me home and nurture me the way a brother or a shepherd would.
The story of the lost sheep had great meaning to me as I was growing up. I loved thinking about the caring shepherd picking up the scared, tired little lamb in his strong arms and carrying it home. I still take comfort in this parable today. It is a way of telling us that we will never be left alone. No matter what our age, if we choose to run off by ourselves, like Perry did that night, our Good Shepherd will always go after us and bring us home in His loving arms, if we allow Him to.
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent (Luke 15:4-7).
Have you ever strayed from God? What lured you away? How did your Good Shepherd pursue you? Did you let Him carry you home? If not, would you like to do that right now? Is there someone God might want you to shepherd for Him?
True happiness is found in unselfish Love, a Love which increases in proportion as it is shared.
Tigret was my dear friend Patty’s treasured four-footed kitty soul mate for 17 wonderful years. He was her first real pet and best buddy. They lived together in New York, and when Patty moved to California, Tigret made the cross-country journey with her.
When Patty watched TV, Tigret would curl up beside her. He slept on her bed at night. When she gave parties, he sat on his very own chair. But he was more than a faithful companion. Patty once heard someone say that God gives us each a pet to teach us something special. She feels Tigret was given to her to teach her to be “otherly”—to love others and God with an unselfish love.
Tigret knew Patty’s moods. He sensed when she was sad or happy. He would put his paw on her lap or hand in a gesture of kitty comfort. He also seemed to know when she was sick—sometimes even before she did. He would stay close by his beloved human until he sensed she was better.
Tigret’s ultimate expression of unselfish love was to care for Patty even when he was dying. He was 17 and had developed kidney problems. He couldn’t drink enough water to stay healthy, and giving him fluids subcutaneously didn’t work well. He would yelp when the needle was inserted. Patty decided not to force this on him. Tigret got sicker and sicker until it took all his strength just to go upstairs. Clearly Tigret’s time on this earth was ending. Patty made him as comfortable as she could…even as her own heart was breaking.
One day, as Patty tended Tigret in tears, he reached out his paw and placed it on her arm. It was as if he was saying, “You’ll be okay.” When Tigret died, Patty wasn’t with him. She believes he knew it would be easier for her that way.
Someone else in Patty’s life also tried to care for her while dying. Patty’s mother passed away just one month after Tigret. She had battled cancer before—but no one knew it had come back.
Patty’s mom was a pediatric cardiologist. In her later years she semiretired from private practice and became involved in teaching and mentoring medical interns and residents. She kept this up even when the cancer returned, and Patty would not have realized that something was wrong except for God’s intervention.
It was a Sunday after church, and Patty had gone up front for prayer on a completely unrelated matter. The gentleman who prayed with her asked Patty how her mother was. “As far as I know, okay,” Patty answered. The man suggested Patty ask her mom about her health. When Patty did, her mom admitted her cancer had come back.
Just like Tigret, Patty’s mom was concerned for the needs of others, even as her own health was failing. She tried to keep teaching. She talked to Patty about taking care of her dad. When Patty finally persuaded her to go to the doctor, he said she had six to nine months to live. They could try chemotherapy, but there was no guarantee.
Patty’s mom took her first dose of chemo—and passed away a week later.
Patty recalls a moment in her mother’s hospital room. Her mom was on a ventilator. Patty saw two angels in a corner by the bed. Patty knew her mom loved Jesus and would go to be with Him. She died soon after. That experience feels to Patty like a special gift from God.
Our loving Lord Jesus was also “otherly” when it was time for Him to die. As His betrayal and crucifixion approached, His focus was to teach and prepare His disciples. In John 16:5-7, He told them, “Now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Even as He hung on the cross, Jesus asked His disciple John to care for His mother.
But Jesus’ sacrificial love went far deeper. He willingly took upon Himself the penalty for our sins. By doing so, He conquered sin and death so that all who put their trust in Him could enjoy eternal life. Patty has given her life to her Savior, and she knows that when she leaves this earth she will go to her loving Lord, who will wipe away all her tears, including the ones she shed for Tigret and her mother. And she’ll be reunited with her mom again.
Being “otherly” isn’t something that starts when we are dying. It’s a way of life. It’s what Jesus calls us to do. If you live and love with an “otherly” focus, as Tigret and Patty’s mom did, you will show that you are Jesus’ disciple!
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:10-11).
Is there someone in your life who loves you unselfishly? How do they do that and how does it make you feel? How could you focus more on others and be more sensitive to their needs? What could you do to show them “otherly” love?