When God’s Blessings Purr Instead of Bark

Anna and cats…cats and Anna. Two things DO NOT go together…or so I thought.

My whole life, I have pretty much despised cats.

First of all, they make me sneeze…so I mean, you gotta give it to me…my hatred for them was pretty much justified. Cats make my ears throat and eyes itch, my nose runny, and my head stuffed. Second of all, most of the cats I’ve known act like they are way too cool for school. They just walk by you casually, nose in the air, acting as if they didn’t even see you standing there. When you reach out to pet them, they accept momentarily or they just pass on….they are pretty much all little snooty princesses. I’ve basically always found them despicable and we haven’t gotten along well. My friends with cats are never very happy about the snarky comments and dirty looks I exchange between myself and their cats. My claim that “they started it!!” usually gets a disapproving look (but between you and me…the cats always were the instigators…not me, I’m innocent…they made me sneeze and so yea, I’m gonna give them some side eye every now and then).

Me, I’m more of a dog person. I grew up with dogs, for one. But also, I much prefer their attitude….Dogs are not ashamed or embarrassed to show the depth and width of their love to you. They will follow you, beg after you, fetch something for you 3000 times, look into your eyes for approval, never judge you, and give you the sloppiest messiest kisses that you never even asked for. They are fiercely loyal creatures and they don’t make me chase after them, they usually come right to me. I don’t like to be coy and play games, I’m usually a “say it straight” kind of girl, not afraid to be a dork for the things I love.

Cats on the other hand…..ugggghhhh they are so pretentious.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever envision that I would have a cat…it had NEVER EVER once crossed my mind.

A few months ago, Nathan and I started talking about getting a dog. We work such long hours and are so tired emotionally when we get home. We thought hanging out with a little fur ball might help us to forget some of the stresses from the day and just remember to slow down and just enjoy life. We both missed having a dog.

We wanted a dog, but at the same time we started thinking about getting a dog….this random farm cat just starts hanging around our room….as if it had decided on it’s own that it now belonged to us. At first, when it started hanging around we would clap at it and hiss at it to go back downstairs far far far away from our room (we live above the classrooms in the agriculture building). We didn’t even want that thing on the second floor of the building. For months, we shooed it downstairs and even out of the building entirely.

Then one day I found it sleeping in the flower pots on our porch and I swear my heart just about melted…I didn’t want to think it was cute…I’d never thought a cat was cute before…but dang it….

So then, we thought OK….what harm is it to have it hanging around upstairs…so long as it doesn’t come into our room. THAT’S THE LINE! Fast forward a couple weeks….we noticed we hadn’t seen the cat in a few days. I began to get really worried that maybe it had died or something. The thing was really scrawny and at this point we hadn’t started feeding it yet (yet*… you can see where this is going) and so I was worried it had gone off and died somewhere. I was surprisingly pretty sad about the supposed death of this random cat that had no name and that I had never actually shown much love towards. It was weird…

Then, after 5 days of not seeing it, the cat showed up on our doorstep again and I was so relived and happy to see it that I quickly went it to the kitchen and fed it some scrambled eggs…not eggs I already had in the fridge…I literally made eggs for the cat and the cat only. WHO IS THIS PERSON??

Long story short….we obviously have a cat now. You can’t feed a stray and then expect it to go away. So we have a cat.  A cat that waits by our door every morning. A cat that comes into our room every evening when we come up after work. A cat that we take snapchats and pictures of at least once a day. A cat that we say “good night” and even “i love you” to every night. A cat that we even let sit on the couch every now and then and sometimes, sometimes, even let sit on our laps?!

And for some wild unknown reason, I am not allergic to this cat. I don’t understand why or how…but she is not making me sneeze or itch or anything. I mean, I don’t personally snuggle her up in my lap or anything but she is hanging around pretty much all the time. In the US, when I go into someone’s house that has a cat, my eyes and throat and nose know it within 5 minutes. But she hangs out in our room every night and nothing…..

How on earth did this happen? I prayed for a dog…and somehow I got a cat. I really don’t know how God mixed this up so badly this time…I mean, He literally made dogs and cats and yet he has somehow forgotten the difference between these two? Thinks he can just substitute one out for the other and we won’t notice? Thinks it’s ok just to send someone a cat when they ask for a dog?! The nerve!!

It’s astonishing and it’s appalling and strange and disconcerting. And yet, it is God.

I swear, God has a funny funny (not so funny) way of leading me down paths I swore I would never find myself on. If I ever catch myself saying “I will NEVER be able to do that, God” it’s pretty much a guarantee that one day, a few years down the road and without realizing it, I will be doing that very thing. Anyone else ever experienced that?? “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans [and act like you are the one who is in total control of them coming to be].”

When that time comes, the time when I realize I ended up somewhere I never thought I would, surprisingly I don’t really find myself mad at God for supposedly duping me and pulling a fast one on me. More often than not, I find myself thanking Him. Thanking Him for sparing me from someone or something; thanking Him for providing for me in the way that He knew was best; thanking Him for leading me in the direction my stubborn/fearful/unconfident heart didn’t originally want to go; thanking Him for opening my eyes, softening my heart, and opening my ears to be more attentive to what His Spirit had to say rather than what my flesh had to say; thanking Him for saving me from myself and my own [usually small in comparison] plans.

God didn’t just give me a cat, because if He had only done that…I would still be pretty miserable and still be hissing and casting evil eyes to the little thing. He also somehow managed to soften my heart toward this little creature and open my eyes to a possibility I had never thought of before (and somehow do it in a way that also spared my poor sinuses!).

I don’t think God is ever really trying to drag us anywhere kicking and screaming, as we claw our hands into the ground in resistance. We all know that’s not really how good leaders lead and that is not the way that I think that God is trying to lead those who love Him and seek Him. Some people think that following God means always having to choose the opposite of what you actually want to do. Sometimes following God means you end up doing the opposite of what you originally thought you wanted to do (ie I somehow have a cat now rather than a dog). But, because God is usually changing our hearts at the same time He is is changing our circumstances, it doesn’t really feel like a compromise or sacrifice at all by the time you find yourself on that path. It just feels like you are right where you are supposed to be. 

The same things happened with me and this chocolate business that we are still a part of here in Liberia. I think many people have heard me say that doing business was NEVER EVER part of my plan. I love education, I love teaching. I feel confident teaching because that is what I have my degree in and it is something I feel comfortable doing. I also love the field of education because I see it as one of the most noble, unselfish, worthy professions in the world. Frankly, my outlook on business people has always been that they are greedy after money and they have no place in the Body of Christ (yea, I get that the Bible says otherwise but this was my impression for the longest time, oooops). And yet, here in Liberia, God has me helping to oversee, mentor, and support a growing business. God didn’t just change my circumstances though, somewhere along the way He also changed my outlook and my heart. I can see SO CLEARLY now how business can be used to share the gospel, care for the poor, empower people, and disrupt systems of inequality and poverty.

I had asked God for more opportunities to teach, and no doubt He answered that prayer but not quite in the way that I thought He would. And, actually I’m not mad about it, I’m somehow pretty excited about it. So strange!! Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a little scared of it all, but not in a way that makes me want to run the other direction and give up….My fear just makes me to realize how small I am and how much I need God and it sends me running deeper into His embrace, and it is only there in His arms that I can finally start to appreciate and see the blessings that He is pouring down all around me…. Blessings I would have previously tried to send back up to Heaven saying “No thanks, God. This is not what I ordered.” But, that’s God sometimes.

God blessed me with a cat. I asked for a dog. A year ago, I would have thought you were joking or crazy if you had said I would have such strong feelings for a little thing that purred instead of barked. And yet, here we are….and I am thankful.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

PS. I can’t believe I just wrote a blog post about a cat…..

PPS. She has a name now, after months of just being called “the cat” or “it.” Her name is Sophia. She is fully grown and still only 3.5 pounds of cuteness.