Monday, August 23, 2010

I am a jealous cat god

Okay, so for those of you who read my last post about Luna Lovegood, my adulterous kitten and her ordinary adventures in my neighborhood, you may be surprised to hear (or perhaps not surprised at all) that the Facebook incident is still in my head. Now, before you judge me, know this: I was actually once diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Granted, if you spend enough time with a Psychiatrist you can eventually get diagnosed with something--so I don't worry too much about it and when I do get a little too obsessed with something I show myself grace. That being said, back to the kitten.
For those of you who are unaware, my neighbor posted a picture of himself with my kitten inside of his house with a quote that read, "My neighbor's kitten who apparently likes me and my sister more than her own family". And for reasons that I cannot explain, that has been making me a little neurotic. The rest of the Silly family I live with are more taken aback with the the young man for taking my kitten INTO his home and taking a picture and putting it on his Facebook. For me, it's the words that are still stinging.
The relationship between my kitten and I, that used to be built on trust is disintegrating. We are becoming more like strangers because of the distance I feel when she returns home. I know that she is no longer "faithful" and I am jealous. When I don't know where she is, I assume she is with "him".
And lets face it, for all intensive purposes, I am her god. I feed her, I pet her, I love her (and while she may assume this means she is God, we know that is blasphemy) and I do it all because I choose to and because I want to have a pure relationship with her. My college age son laughs at me, because when I go to find the little feline anymore--there is a desperation that emerges when I cannot. Calling to her in with the "Luna, Baby, Kitty" is no longer for her ears only, but for the neighbor's ears--as a warning.
Recently, while floating in my pool and watching her chase lizards in the rose bushes, I was struck with a thought about how God wants my attention and about how He is a jealous God. He longs for my faithfulness in all my situations. When I am lonely and I turn to Facebook to fill the void, when I am frustrated and insecure and I allow my tongue to speak in tongues that are CERTAINLY not of angels, when I am chasing after the latest (fill in the blank) to satisfy my craving for more--he is jealous. He doesn't want me to turn to other things to fill the voids, ever. My kitten comes home to eat and for me to play with her and spend time petting her and that is good. But it is not what she is doing when she is in my presence that is causing frustration--it is what she does when she is away from me. God is there for me constantly and He will feed me and nurture me through time in his word. We can meet and worship at any moment and he will listen to me when I pray--but again, it's not my behavior when I am with Him. It is how I am behaving when I place my trust in anything other than Him.
There is very little I can do about my kitten's behavior, so I will continue to take whatever affection she gives to me when she is willing to give it, but in the moments when I begin to feel frazzled from her absence I guess that's a time for me to trust in the One who brought her into our family. He continually reminds me that even when she is unfaithful, He is faithful all the time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My adulterous kitten is on Facebook

I had just fallen asleep when my phone went off at 11:57 PM. I saw that it was my daughter calling, so I answered the way all Mother’s do at the stroke of midnight,
“What’s wrong?”
The answer, that came in the form of a question, threw me for a loop.
“Mom, where’s Luna?”
Luna Lovegood is our kitten. She came to live with our family in May as a birthday present to my son whose pet cat, Max, had been murdered by a passing car on Christmas Eve. The reason I say he was murdered is because Max was the head of the Cat Mafia on the street where we live and rarely does anyone in the Mafia just die. It was definitely a hit.
Now when the my daughter asked me about the kitten’s whereabouts, I had images of having to go back out into the street and claim the little body of my sweet baby kitty. I was immediately awake and alarmed.
When I fumbled out some sort of response, my daughter said that one of her friends had seen something on Facebook about a kitten that she was sure was our Luna.
**Now, before I lead into the part of the story where I say that I went to the front door and called for Luna, please do not judge me for letting my cats go outside at night. We will just end up debating the issue and in the end, I will still let them out. It’s how I’ve done cats for 43 years.
Opening the door, I called for her in her customary Luna cat call, “Luna Baby Kitty!”
Across the lawn she came with her little bell ringing to announce her arrival. She bounced up into my arms and I brought her inside. I poured her some Kitten Chow and I sent a text message off to my protective daughter to let her know that all was well in the cat world. End of story.
Ten minutes later my daughter sent a picture to my phone. On the screen there was a picture of Luna. On Facebook. With my neighbor?
He is sitting inside his house and holding my sweet little kitten and the caption says, “My neighbors cat who seems to like me and my sister more than her own family”
My heart began to pound in my chest. What did he say about my kitten? How could he possibly infer that my kitten likes him and his sister more than her own family? I became so angry, I had thoughts of going right over and knocking on his door and saying, “No. She loves me. She comes when I call her! She purrs when I hold her! She sleeps on my desk! And don't take my cat into your house! ”
Then, I remember. She is a cat. She is a dumb cat. She is simply an animal who is driven by instinct and will not have to answer before the Lord when she dies. He is a man. He is a young man who seems most of the times that I see him, pretty lonely.
It’s kind of strange to think that the simple act of him posting a picture of himself with my cat could have ramifications in either direction. I can withhold the cat. I could start to keep her inside and never let her go out to chase lizards. I could deny him access to her by giving her very little time outside and watching where she goes when she’s out.
Or, I can let her go. Let her spend time with his family and look for opportunities to talk to them more often. Reach out to their family and find ways to show them love. I can use this moment to remember that God will use just about anything to get my attention and to draw me near to the cross.
Can God use my cat to bring me closer to my neighbor? Yes, I believe He can.
Can I allow my neighbor to say something slightly questionable about me on Facebook? Yes. I believe I can.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Imitating Christ's Humility

Last night when you went to sleep everything was the same as usual. You brushed your teeth and even took the time to floss. You set your alarm and plugged in your cell phone to charge. Your pillow was cool against your face and the breeze coming in the window was a relief to your feet. You eased into a dream that was safe and brilliant.

But, what if when morning came you felt some one tickle your face? You brushed away the irritant and tried to call back the strange and lovely dreams you had the night before. Again, the tickle, again the hand to brush it away. When the soft movement came across your face the third time you opened your eyes. A small fly wisps away. Nothing is right in the scene before you.

You wake to find yourself lying on a mat on the dirt floor of a hut. When you sit up, you feel that your body is lighter and looking down you realize that you have small skinny arms of a child. You are dark and your skin is scaly and dry. You are dressed in a shirt, but that is all. You run your hands down your chest and your stomach is extended. For all that your mind can grasp, you are a small, frail black child sitting in a hut. But, you are still you. You are able to recognize almost exactly where you must be, because you are still you in all your thoughts and have retained all of your knowledge of the world.

Fear should have been the commanding thought, but because this is so impossible, you cannot fear, you can only question the validity of it all. You rise to your feet and look around. The hut you are in is small, smaller than your bathroom at home. Outside you hear voices and they speak another language. “Maa” you say to yourself. Somehow, you know that their language is called Maa. And then you realize that you are fully aware of all their customs, even though they are nothing like your own. You are aware of their lifestyle in comparison to your own.

You step to the edge of doorway and peek outside, the men are leaving to herd the cattle and you see the woman who you know is your Mother. She turns and you see a baby on her back. You know immediately that this is your brother. And without delay you realize that you love him as though you have always known him. He is too young for a name; he is only 2 moons old and will not have a name until he is stronger. You are struck by the oddity that you know this. You think of your own family at home that you have somehow left behind. You think of your Father and how you long to see him and have him explain all of this to you.

The woman who is your Mother enters the hut and you speak to her, and the words that come out of your mouth are in the language she knows. She laughs at your sly words and then tells you to move along. As you look around the area that is yours, you find cloth that you will drape and wrap to wear—as is your custom. And while you move though this moment the one thing that never fades is your ability to be completely Maasai and be completely American. You are fully Maasai and are aware of their customs and the challenges that will be coming your way and you are fully American and are aware of the luxuries that are not here for you now.

The ways that you have always known are still in your mind and the longing for those ways will not falter when the day is long and hot and when your stomach is aching. You cannot escape the reality that you know what it is like to live in a place of easy fulfillment where there is too much food and too much self-indulgence. But, you know that there was also good that was happening where you were. You miss your Bible. You miss the fellowship of other believers. Awareness comes over you that life with the Maasai would be different if you were unaware of what you had left. Some of the events that are coming for you will be painful beyond anything you have ever had to bear. In this culture, emorata, or teenage circumcision for both males and females is a part of your future and in the place where you have always lived there is nothing more humiliating. If each day you wake, you continue to wake in this hut with these people as this child, then that is your future.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Obviously, this illustration of what one might experience to “wake up” in someone else’s skin is a far cry from what the Creator of the Universe went through in his humanness. God taking the form of man and leaving Heaven to live with us and as us was not a surprise to him in any way. But, what was it like to have all of the thoughts and the knowledge of God and be confined to a human body? What kind of humility did it take to come and live as we live, when He had spent eternity living as God? He had foreknowledge and he had answers and, yet, He lived among us and taught us slowly, so that we might discover the answers on our own. He chose to teach us in parables that we could understand, because the things of Heaven are too far reaching for our minds.

For 33 years He lived in human form while He had the power of the Universe at His beckoning. I cannot imagine taking the form of child and living a lifetime in an African village with the knowledge of what was coming and what I had left behind, and what Jesus did was so far beyond that. I wonder what the thoughts of Jesus must have been when he watched us struggle with things that have no eternal value. I wonder what God thinks when He watches me struggle each day. I am so grateful that His grace is so big and that it covers me.

Monday, August 9, 2010


In my past I made the choice to have an abortion. In one of my earliest articles on my blogspot titled "Little Butterfly" I shared a little about my story and how as a teenager I had an abortion. The actual date, at least the closest that I can pin-point was April of 1983. I am not going to go into the history of that, as it would be redundant to the other post. It did take many years to overcome the guilt and the grief that was attached to that decision. It was living through an abortion that convinced me that abortion was wrong. Trying to overcome my low self-esteem at times seemed impossible. I viewed myself as unworthy of the simplest blessings and I longed to return to the time and change the decision and the outcome.

I would hear stories of women who couldn't get pregnant after they had had an abortion and even those stories would make me feel guilty. I didn't struggle with an ounce of infertility. I used to make a joke and say that David would sneeze and I would get pregnant. To which David's sweet Grandfather replied one day, "Maybe that's why they keep having babies, maybe they don't know what's causing it!"

Our 3rd pregnancy was the first one that we planned and it came about easily. We breezed along with very little concern. We had baby clothes for a boy or a girl so we weren't overly concerned about bringing home another Sill.

Everything changed in April of 1993 when we got the results from a routine ultrasound that showed that there were significant problems with the baby's brain. Basically, the baby had a disease known as Dandy Walker Malformation and because of that disease she also had hydrocephalus. The doctor advised us to abort the baby. It was a horrible feeling to be lying on the table having the person who is supposed to want to cure your child telling you that she isn't worth the effort. There was no way that I would abort her. And David felt the same way.

The reason I am telling about this moment isn't to exalt myself for not having an abortion. Trust me, there was NOTHING noble about me keeping my baby girl. The reason that I need to tell you about that is because it is such a huge illustration of God's love and trust. Look at the dates of the two incidents. They match. April of 1983 followed 10 years later by April of 1993. God gave me another chance to choose life. He didn't have me travel back in time to make the choice to keep my first baby, but what He did do was allow me to be in a place to choose again. He knew that I would choose love over fear. He trusted me with her life because He had seen my heart and He believed that my repentance was real. She was so important in my understanding God's love for me. He believed in me. After all those years that I had chased after His approval, He smiled on me and showed me very clearly that I had no reason to doubt His love. I didn't have to prove that I was sorry, He knew.

Now, some cynics among you may be thinking, "Well, of course you didn't have an abortion, you're husband was a Youth Pastor!" Well, you are mistaken if you think that the mind is not more clever than that. Deception is a nasty bug that will always find a way into a desperate situation and there is no doubt in my mind that if I had WANTED to have an abortion, I would have found a way. I fully believe that there have been scared Christian women who have gone to a clinic to have an abortion and then later told family members that she had a miscarriage. We are daughters of Eve and we are inclined to sin and cover it up. I was fully aware on the ride home from the hospital that this was an option. Satan always finds a way to lead us off the path if we give way to our fears. And I had fears that were ugly.

I begged God to take my baby because I was so afraid of how she was going to destroy the lives of my daughter and my son. I was fearful that having this baby would mean that I would always have her in my home, that she would grow old with David and I, and we would never have any time together alone. I begged God to allow me to miscarry. For one day. And then I stopped and I named her.

The morning after finding out that I would be giving birth to a baby girl that the doctor's had said, "would never be normal" I stopped at WalMart to pick up a gift for a birthday party. I stood in the line with my two little children and the clerk asked if I wanted to pay $1 to a fundraiser for the Children's Hospital of Orange County. It was the kind of fundraiser where you pay $1 and you get to write your name on the paper shaped like a hot air balloon. Tears filled my eyes as I wrote "Molly Sill". Just like that, she suddenly had a name.

After the party, I went home and told David that I had named our daughter. Her name was Molly.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Truth Be Told

So, about a year ago I started writing this blog. I am super inconsistent, but since my audience is made up of family and friends I am able to get away with that. I write when I feel like sorting something out in my head. It saves me money on therapy and it helps my parents rest easy knowing that I am, for this month, still okay.
For those of you who follow me (and yes, I know, it's hard to understand how to use the Google Follow have to log in and create a profile and give them way too much information) you know that my writing tends to be sarcastic. I just write as I am. I just write about things that are happening in my life and most of things that are happening in my life are very ordinary and kinda silly at the same time.
The ironic thing is, that while most of you know who my family is, I rarely use their names when I am writing. I think that I do this to preserve some of their privacy. So, even though we all know who "The-Blonde-Who-Sometimes-Resembles-Venus-The-Goddess-of-Love" is...we don't say her name. We keep it to ourselves. We give her that place in cyber-space to be guarded and protected.
Recently, God placed it on my heart that I need to write about someone incredibly important in my life. I realized that I don't ever write about my daughter who died in 1995. I maneuver away from that subject like a balloon animal being chased by a porcupine. Well, I want to give you a warning that I am going to be writing about her. If I seem less funny, if I come across as a little melancholy, please be patient. God has led me to this place and I am convinced that it is good for me to share.
Pray for me. One of my writing friends warned me, "It's gonna hurt". That was a thought that I had considered only slightly, being more concerned with the idea that I won't know how to write without being condescending toward myself. But, after several days of the idea being confirmed and reconfirmed I am ready to the journey to a place I have fought to escape. I am ready to revisit a place that was devastatingly awful and unbelievably beautiful in the same moment. I am sure it will hurt, but when God knit together the events that brought her into my life and then took her out of my life, He also knew that one day I would need to write about Molly.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Virgin Campers

Our family is definitely made up of novice campers and I knew that our inexperience could come as a shock to the Expert Camper we decided to bring along on our trip to Shaver Lake.
For several days before our trip I was nervous about the friend we were bringing on our camping trip. She is an Expert Camper and I was fearful that she would have a seizure when she found herself with us, the Virgin Campers. I was so careful when buying and preparing food, because I didn’t want the Expert Camper to return to civilization and tell anyone the truth about my frailties as a Camper Cook. I spent $300 at the grocery store and I precooked 3 of the meals the day before we left—just to be safe. I bought way too many Marshmallows, 6 different kinds of cookies, three different types of nuts and disposable grills (as a back up plan).

We loaded into the borrowed RV at 6 AM and headed for our dusty, mountain campsite. The RV was loaded with food, sleeping bags, tents, stoves, propane, and rafts. Even though we knew the truth about our greenhorn level of camping skills, we would definitely be able to fool the people in the sites near us and we should be able to trick the Expert Camper into believing she had signed on with the real deal.

We made one stop at a gas station that was also connected to McDonald’s and in the style of my Tennessee heritage, I ran into the McDonald’s with no shoes to get some Sweet Tea. Things were falling into place perfectly. We definitely had the appearance of Experienced Campers and the Expert Camper would have no stories to tell the San Gabriel Valley.

Pulling into our Camp, the Dora Belle, we were in awe of the large redwoods. These large tree stand guard at the Campground Kiosk to ward off the inexperienced city folk who might try to enter the wooded area with their store bought fire-starters and microwave popcorn, (thankfully, I had hidden ours behind the pancake mix and the paper plates). None of us had any idea of the brute strength of the trees and how they would lash out at us in attempt to unveil our fraudulent camping skills. 

Less than 10 minutes after checking into the campsite, the tree made it’s move. Somehow the sneaky tree wedged its way between the back of the RV and the bumper. As the RV pulled away from the tree, the strong foliage-bearing brute held tight to the bumper and pulled with all its bionic tree power.  


When we gathered behind the RV to see the effects, our hearts sank and we knew that we were in over our heads. The jig was up and I feared that the truth of our amateur camping style would soon be the Facebook status update of the Expert Camper.

The Expert Camper kept her calm and didn’t give a hint to her mind, so there was nothing to do but proceed to camp and try to win her affections and loyalty with Smores. 

We began to set up camp, to level the RV, build the tents and arrange the chairs around the campfire ring with the standard amount of first day fighting. When the bickering rose to its highest level of awkward stress, I jumped in and sent the Expert Camper with the "Girl-Who-Keeps-Talking-About-Weddings" to go find the lake. (Now, mind you, the Lake was not missing. I don’t want you to think that there was an Amber Alert out on the Body of Water—I was actually using their search for the lake as a distraction from the stressful situation.)

Now at the same time that all this drama was unfolding, two of the Virgin Campers disguised themselves as Warriors. They had actually brought along swords to battle the trees and each other. Not surprisingly, the younger Warrior managed to break the older Warrior’s sword before they had even finished unzipping their tented dwelling.

Once again, as tempers began to rise, I had to make a move to divert the anger that would surely alert the neighboring campers to our intrusion onto their peaceful encampment. I sent the two Warriors to find the Expert Camper and the "Girl-Who-Keeps-Talking-About-Weddings". This could take them hours.

Later, after we had done all the damage we could do to the RV and the campsite, the RV Driver and myself headed down to the find the lake. Maybe it was missing, after all no one had returned to tell us they had found it. It was a short downhill hike to the water and when we stepped to the edge of the protective redwoods and saw the vast green water and the looming boulders, we were again filled with awe. Knowing we would have 4 more days in this beauty not only gave us a peace, but also gave us the strength to try to move our thoughts from the damaged RV and the reality that our inexperience as campers would most likely surface time and again.
We watched as the Warriors jumped from the huge boulder into the welcoming water and sent a prayer of thankfulness for the adventure that was ahead. In a few moments, the RV Driver and myself would leave the lake and walk into the town to find Wireless Internet service for one of the Warriors and the Expert Camper to register for college. We would later find that the uphill walk into town would lead the RV Driver to place of unwavering pain in his previously damaged knee. We would have to empty our brown and gray water on two occasions, we would open our marshmallows to find them melted, run short on lunch meat and sunscreen, and open the RV for sleeping to all but one of the campers. In the end, the Expert Camper will have seen all our frailties and our shortcomings, and we will rely on her grace for our reputations. In short, it will be just another family vacation.

Linking with A Southern Daydreamer for OUTDOOR WEDNESDAY.