October 31, 2010

I am not a "cat" person; however...

some cats are not typical cats.

To tell the story of the latest "happenings" in the Secret Garden, I will begin with a bit of background information.

This is about a cat. There are many cats that roam around in the Secret Garden. Some are wild, being born and raised without a human caretaker. These cats are not "people friendly"--which is just fine with me. Some are pets of the residents of Copper Creek and will occasionally approach you (the way cats do when they want something). I have not been interested in either variety.

One morning, upon rising, Michael and I were sitting out on the balcony enjoying our morning cup of coffee, when we heard a faint "meowing" coming from the giant oak tree that grows alongside our balcony. As we looked through the branches, we saw a small yellow tabby cat (perhaps a teenager) sitting in the nook of the tree. This tree had a trunk that grew straight up (at least 15 feet) before the first branches sprang out. This poor little cat was just staring at as and crying. He kept climbing up higher into the branches and then coming back down to the lowest area to rest. He would look down the 15 foot trunk, cry, and then climb back up again, only to return to the lowest area. We guessed that a critter must have chased him up the tree the night before.

Well, we needed to get going on our day and hoped that by the time we got home that afternoon, he would have found a way down out of that tree. But, alas, at 5:00 pm that night, he was still in the tree. By this time, however, all the "climb" was out of him. It had been in the 90's all day and he had been in that tree all day. He was no longer attempting to even try to find a way down. He was just laying in the nook where the trunk met the first boughs, with his legs hanging down in exhaustion and panting and crying. There was no way we could help this cat and we didn't know if he was a wild one or a tame one. Even if we could borrow a ladder that was tall enough to reach him, we figured that he might tear us up out of fear of humans. What to do?

We really could not tolerate the idea of sitting out on our balcony and waiting for him to die of starvation or dehydration. So, I said to Michael, "Do you think Firemen still rescue cats out of trees?" "I don't know", was Michael's reply.

We decided to call. There was no "non-emergency" number listed for the fire department and we knew this "emergency" would not qualify for a 9-1-1 call; so, I called the non-emergency police dispatch instead. When they answered, I explained the dilemma to her and asked, "Do firemen still rescue cats out of trees?" She laughed and said, "I doubt it". She did provide me with a non-emergency number for the local fire station. I called and "Guess what?" Firemen do still rescue cats out of trees. Of course, that probably depends on what else happens to be going on at the time.

Within 6 or 7 minutes, we had a huge fire truck and three fire fighters with us in the Secret Garden. It was delightful to watch them go to work. The one that climbed the ladder, had the same fear we had, "What would that cat do if I grabbed him?" He went up the ladder with a thick coat on, his helmet with the face visor down, and thick leather gloves. When he got to where the cat was, he hesitated--not sure just how to proceed. His buddy on the ground yelled up, "Don't be gentle - Just grab him by the scuff of the the neck"-- so he did. To his surprise and ours, that cat just snuggled up to the firefighter and went limp in his arms. We stood on the ground, clapping and cheering.

With a grin from ear-to- ear the firefighter descended the ladder and placed the cat safely on the ground.

Well, since that day, we still do not know who owns this cat; but, we are pretty certain that he has an owner as he smells good, has no signs of fleas or ear mites, and appears at the base of our stairs often or appears out of no where and joins us on our walks in the garden.

Yesterday, I decided to pick him up and carry him in my arms as we went on our journey through the garden. Since I had my camera with me, we could not help but take some pictures of this amazingly sweet cat. He seems to love being held and sniffs, kisses and nuzzles up to us. Well, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy!

And, finally, the "I am not a cat person" picture. Like I said, this is no typical cat!

October 10, 2010

In A Different Garden Today!

It was Saturday morning, October 9, 2010 when we arrived in the parking lot of the Covenant Reformed Church in Sacramento. We were there to hear Joel Beeke speak on the topic of the (forgotten) doctrine of assurance. Dianna knew of Dr. Beeke from the books he had written and published and had also exchanged a few emails back in 2001 regarding the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and potential church planting in California.

As we parked the car, a small older black lady was strolling by on a morning walk with her little dog. Michael (as is his customary way) walked over greeting her with a "Good Morning and how are you doing. My name is Michael. I would like to share with you a short poem that I have written?" as he handed her the small accordion folded paper with the title, "His Wrath Satisfied" printed on the top of the 2 1/2 by 3 1/4 inch square.

As a side note: The Lord used a sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Romans 3:25-26 as an inspiration for the words of this poem. Since writing the poem, (which is just one of hundreds) Michael has passed along well over 700 copies of this poem to people he meets.

As she took the poem, she thanked Michael and said, "One of these Sunday's I'm going to attend a church service at this church." "What is your name?", Dianna asked, “and how about tomorrow? There is a guest pastor who will be preaching tomorrow and I am certain what he has to share will be a blessing to you. We will be here again tomorrow. We hope you will seriously consider coming.”

"I just might do that" she said as she walked off. "Lillie Mae is my name". "Okay, Lillie Mae. It was sure nice meeting you--hope to see you tomorrow" we said as we waved goodbye and walked towards the front of the church.

The morning zipped by, as it often does, when one is swept away by Christ exalting preaching of God's truths. Before turning in for the night, we thanked the Lord for the encounter with Lillie Mae and wondered if she would indeed show up Sunday morning.

Before leaving out for Sunday morning Worship Services, we spoke briefly of Lillie Mae and prayed again that the Lord would draw her to the church.

Between the Sunday school session and the Worship Service there was a short break. As I was walking back towards my seat, there she was talking with Dr. Beeke. Apparently, she had gone right up to him and shared with him that she had been back-sliding for quite sometime and had felt the tug to come back to the Lord. Michael and I were filled with joy to see her and invited her to sit with us.

She opened her bible and pulled out Michael's poem. We all smiled and she took her seat to the right of me.

During the sermon, while we were instructed to turn to Romans, I glanced down to see little "x" marks in the left margins of many of the passages in Romans. As Dr. Beeke would read passages, she would mark the left margin with an "x" if it did not already have one. As Dr. Beeke spoke about Chapter 8 of Romans, I glanced down to see Lillie Mae circle the chapter heading and write "READ THIS" in big letters next to the chapter heading.

What a sweet morning it was. Here we were with Lillie Mae sitting right next to us, a woman we had but met for a brief moment in the parking lot the morning before. After the service, we got to know more about Lillie Mae and prayed with her. She again had tears of joy rolling down her face. Turns out she lives behind the church in an upstairs apartment. We exchanged phone numbers with a promise to check in with one another in the coming weeks.

We are amazed a we marvel at God’s providence in all of this. The timing of our arrival on Saturday; parking were we did; Dr. Beeke's presence at this church on this weekend; and on and on it goes. What a true and profound blessing to witness how the Lord had moved providentially over the past days and to witness how the message Dr. Beeke preached was clearly used by the Lord in a mighty way in the heart of this woman. She was moved to tears (as was I) many, many times.

Lillie Mae spent most of her early years in Atlanta, Georgia attending baptist churches. We are not sure how long it has been since she attended church services here in California; but, it has been a long, long, time.

After conversation and prayer; we trust that the Lord is drawing her back to Himself in a mighty way. She is a sweet and precious flower to us and we will include her as we walk together through the garden of our morning and evening prayers.

Thank You Lord for the sweetness You showered upon all of us today!