Tag Archives: sue

Why Our Chickens Crossed the Road

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Our girls, Lu Ellen and Lula Bell (asleep).

It’s often hard to believe, but God has our best interest at heart, even on the darkest of days. Earlier this year, God let us know that He loved us and was caring for us–by way of two chickens crossing the road. Here’s an excerpt from the blog, which is now posted at Lift Up Your Day.

 

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Lula Bell in the dandelions.

 

We didn’t know when Sue would leave this world, but God did. We didn’t know what joy the chickens would bring us, but He did. He orchestrated the whole thing and brought us encouragement by way of the Smiths and two plucky hens, Lula Bell and Lu Ellen. 

When the night seems the darkest, we should remember that God is not blind. He is not surprised when our circumstances change, and He is not hindered by our grief. All things work for the good to those of us who love God and are called according to His purpose (see Romans 8:28).

 


To read the full blog, click here.

 

Do pets go to heaven?

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Sue 2015. (Photo by Ashley Jones.)

I’m sad to report that our sweet fur-baby, Sue, passed away earlier this month due to cancer. Sue was a big part of our lives for over four years, and we’ve never known a sweeter, kinder creature. This has been a devastating loss for Robby and me, but we take heart knowing that Sue is in heaven and that we’ll see her again.

[To read more about Sue’s story, click here for the blog “Faith lessons from my cat, Sue.”]

 

The Wonder

When I was a kid, Grandma and I would marvel at God’s creativity, in the way He made everything so unique and varied, from sunsets to giant whales. Eventually, our talks always meandered to heaven; we’d wonder what heaven looks like, what people eat there, and what kinds of animals and other creatures are there (and, of course, if they can talk).

Throughout the years, I’ve heard laymen and pastors alike say that animals don’t go to heaven. As a child, this didn’t jive with my understanding of God—and it still doesn’t today. I’ve searched the Scriptures for answers, and I believe whole-heartedly that there are animals in heaven.

I normally don’t write about these kinds of topics because I don’t want to cause confusion or detract from the main teaching of salvation through Jesus. However, I’ve noticed that a lot of confusion already exists in this area. Pet parents grieve the loss of their furry friends, and if they can’t find comfort in the Church, they search for it elsewhere. I think it’s time we just explored what the Bible has to say on the subject.

 

Perfect Beginning

In the beginning, God created animals and let Adam name them and rule over them in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 1). God gave all creatures “every green plant for food, meaning all animals were herbivores (see Genesis 1:29-31). All of the animals lived in harmony with one another and with Adam and Eve.

 

The Fall

Then there was the “fall,” when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were banished from the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3). It was then that animals began to kill and eat one another, and man began to eat animals. This is the state we’re in now.

 

The Flood

Man became so sinful that God flooded the earth. Only Noah and his family found favor with God. When God directed Noah to build the ark, He made sure that every kind of animal would fit on it, as well (see Genesis 6).

 

Perfect Restoration

Genesis gives us a glimpse of what our life is like without sin: direct communion with God and harmony with all His creatures, both man and animal. It seems that everything God has done and is doing right now is intended to restore us to that state of direct communion with Him.

God told the prophet Isaiah what this kind of peaceful future looks like: 

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9 NAS)

No doubt this is a figurative reference to peace among God’s people. But I see no reason why it doesn’t also speak of a literal peace among God’s animals and between man and animal.

 

A Revelation

Then there’s the book of Revelation, which describes John’s vision of the end times and the hope Christians have in God. John writes of many different creatures and animals, some familiar to us and some strange; some originating from heaven, and some from the earth. He even states that Jesus will ride a white horse when He returns (see Revelation 19:11).

In fact, all of the creatures John mentions serve God and do His bidding. They also praise Him:

And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’” (Revelation 5:13 NAS)

John gave an account of an amazing event and, again, there is no doubt that much of it is figurative. However, much of it may also be literal, such as God using animals in heaven for His glory.

 

Comfort

It seems that the fate of animals is intertwined with mankind. When we live peaceably with God, there is peace in the animal kingdom. When we fall from grace, they suffer with us. When God saves Noah’s family in the flood, He also saves every kind of animal. In the end, when the whole earth praises God, the animals will praise Him, too.

I have not found Scripture that specifically states our pets will be in heaven. But if there are horses in heaven, why not cats and dogs? And if God created them with such love and care, why wouldn’t He want to keep them near Him?

If you’ve lost a beloved pet, seek comfort in God’s Word and in His presence. Regardless of whether you believe animals are in heaven, the Bible is very clear on one point: God loves us and wants to restore us to Himself. Above all else, take comfort in that.

The Meaning of Christmas

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Our first Christmas with Sue, 2011. She loves Christmas (but not the Santa hat).

 

I admit it: I’m hooked on Christmas movies. I like the sweet, funny, crazy ones, even the low budget ones. I appreciate that they’re wholesome and family-focused, with themes about forgiveness, love, and generosity.

Most Christmas TV shows and movies tell us Christmas is a time for:

  • Gifts
  • Children
  • Forgiveness and second chances
  • Rebirth and renewal
  • Telling the truth
  • Falling in love
  • Being generous with the needy
  • Hope and faith
  • Family traditions
  • Wishes and miracles
  • Christmas spirit.

 

All of this is nice, but it’s incomplete. The truth about Christmas is so much bigger and more meaningful.

 

Words of Meaning

The term “Christmas” comes from “Christ mass,” or a church service in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The word “Christ” is a descriptive title that means “Anointed One” or “Messiah.” The Jews were looking for the promised Messiah, or Savior, for thousands of years because the Old Testament indicated He would come to save them. When Jesus’ followers referred to Him as the Christ, they meant that He was the promised Messiah; He was the Savior they had been looking for.

Even the name Jesus has special meaning. Mary didn’t thumb through baby name books before settling on Jesus. No, an angel of God told her specifically to call Him Jesus (Luke 1:31). Why? Because the name “Jesus” means “the Lord saves.”

Paul said the following to the church in Philippi:

Philippians 2:9-11, NAS  Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

That’s why Jesus is the name above every name – it summarizes the one truth that we should all know and accept: Jesus is Lord, and He saves. Fortunately, He isn’t just the Savior of the Jews; He’s our Savior, too.

 

His Story

The Bible says that Jesus was and is God and that He took the form of a man when He was born of a virgin about 2,000 years ago. He taught people that He came to serve and to save the lost. Jesus then gave Himself up to die on a cross as a sacrifice for our sins – the only sacrifice that could put us right with God the Father. He then raised Himself from the dead three days later so that we might share in His resurrection. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God the Father where He intercedes (prays) on our behalf. (For more on Jesus’ life on earth, you can start with Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.)

You see, when the story doesn’t include Jesus, it’s not complete. When it’s not centered on Jesus, it’s out of focus. How can we talk about real hope, faith, and forgiveness without talking about the One Who gives us those things? How can we really bless our children if we don’t share with them the real Blessing? What value is there in gifts, if the real Gift isn’t shared?

 

The Line in the Sand

Have you ever wondered why characters in TV and movies talk about everything but Jesus? I’ve even seen movies where the characters actually pray to Santa for miracles. Why not just pray to Jesus, the real God? Why do movie producers go to such lengths to keep Him out of it?

I believe it’s because most people love the trappings of Christmas, but they’re uncomfortable with the real meaning of it. The gospel – the good news of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection – gives us no wiggle room. We either believe in Jesus and go to Heaven or we don’t. He’s the ultimate line in the sand, and we’re either on one side or the other.

John 14:6, NAS Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

For those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, our job is to love God and love our neighbors. Through that love, we can share the hope we have in Jesus with the rest of the world.

 

More than a Day

We can fill our holidays with gifts, Santa Clauses, and reindeer, but we can’t really celebrate Christmas without Jesus the Christ.

But this also means that we can’t limit the spirit of Christmas to one day out of the year. If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, then our hearts should be full of His presence and love throughout the whole year. Christmas should be a reminder to us to be thankful for the gift of our salvation and to be generous as we share the meaning of this gift with others.

Yes, I still love corny Christmas movies, but I keep them in perspective. I remember that Jesus isn’t just the “reason for the season,” He’s the reason for everything.

Faith lessons from my cat, Sue

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Faith lessons from my cat, Sue

It’s funny how God uses small things in life to encourage us and teach us deep truths about Himself. This time, He used our little cat, Sue.

Robby and I have had Sue for almost four years. She’s truly the sweetest cat we have ever seen. All she wants to do is sit with us and love on us. In fact, she sees this as her main job, especially when she thinks one of us is ill or feeling sad. In times like this, we refer to her lovingly as Nurse Sue.

Sue giving a big hug to Ashley.  (Photo by Robby.)

Sue giving a big hug to Ashley.
(Photo by Robby.)

This year, though, the tables were turned. We noticed a few issues with Sue’s health, leading to various tests, surgery to remove a tumor, and a permanent change in her diet. Robby and I have no human children, so Sue is our “fur-baby.” This made Sue’s illness as difficult for Robby and me as it was for her. I see now, though, that God used this experience to broaden and deepen my faith. You may be able to apply these lessons to your life, as well.

1. Sue doesn’t like being around other animals, so the vet’s office is a pretty scary place for her. However, she never acts mean or ugly when she’s there or even after we get her back home. Some cats will pee, scratch, or hiss, but not Sue. She just curls up in our arms or in our laps to feel safe and secure.

Lesson: When I’m scared, I shouldn’t lash out or be ugly to those around me. Instead, I should seek the Lord and curl up in His arms to receive strength and comfort from Him.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’” Psalm 91:1-2, NASB

2. Sue’s pre-op visit was long and intense. The very next day, Robby had to put her back in her carrying case to take her to the vet for her surgery. Robby later told me how she looked so scared to get back in that carrier, knowing that it was going to take her back to the vet. He sat with her for a while, petting her and assuring her that everything was going to be OK. Eventually, she looked up at him with her big green eyes, let out a little kitty sigh, and walked into the carrier. I think Robby’s heart just broke, knowing that she trusted him so much, even though she was afraid of where he was taking her.

Lesson: When I’m afraid of what the Lord is doing, I need to trust in who He is. Instead of running from the Lord, I should seek His face and His will in my life, even when I think it’s going to hurt.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28, NASB

3. We picked Sue up from the vet right as she was coming out of the anesthesia. She couldn’t walk straight or even open her eyes fully. For a minute we thought she would be angry with us or scared and would try to hide under the bed. Instead, she loved on us like never before, with lots of purring and head-butts. It was if she was just happy we had come back for her and saved her.

Lesson: We know the Lord loves us and wants good things for us. Therefore, we shouldn’t be mad at Him when something seemingly bad happens to us. Instead, we should continue to trust in the Lord and seek His will for our lives.

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You.” Psalm 40:5, NASB

Additionally, when someone we love does something that hurts us, we should forgive them without hesitation, for this is how the Lord forgives us.

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15, NASB

4. We waited for days after the surgery to find out the tumor was benign (thank God!). We then waited on blood work results, only to find out she has the beginning stages of kidney issues. Sue is now on a special diet. It’s not her favorite, but so far she hasn’t gone on hunger strike. We have always trusted the Lord would give Sue a long, healthy life with us, but we still worried over tests and outcomes. But Sue didn’t worry; she just trusted.
Lesson: When you trust in the Lord, give it over to Him. Place the issue in His hands and walk away, thankful that He has it under control. Anything less is worry, not faith.

Jesus speaking – “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!…So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:30 and 34, NASB
I’m happy to report that Sue’s health has returned, and she’s adjusting to her new diet. I think Robby and I feel more like pet-parents now that we’ve gone through this experience with Sue, which only makes us appreciate her more. I also find myself convicted and my faith stretched a bit. I plan to continue seeking the Lord to grow in areas of faith and trust, to dig a little deeper, and search a little harder. Thankfully, as I read God’s Word, I’ll probably have a black cat curled up in my lap – a little fur ball of a reminder that God is still good.

Sue relaxing in her carrier.  (Photo by Ashley Jones.)

Sue relaxing in her carrier.
(Photo by Ashley Jones.)