The latest addition to our family is our cat Bella. She came to live with us in late December of 2015 when she was just a kitten. Bella was born on a farm and when I picked her out from the litter she was living with her brothers and sisters in a shed. She was well cared for with a light to keep her warm, food and good company from her litter mates; however, being a farm cat, her contacts with humans was limited. I remember walking into the shed to see the kittens and all the kittens immediately scattered. They were all so very cute and so I had no idea which one I wanted to take home to Trinity Lane. The kittens were hiding behind boxes and scrambling to get as far away from me as possible. Honestly, the kitten I chose, Bella, was the only kitten that I could catch and even she was not easy! I saw Bella hiding behind a box and I could not coax her out so I reached down behind the box and grabbed her quickly with my hand. I had to hold on to her by the scruff of her neck as it was the only way to keep her from escaping. If I had held her in my gently in my arms she would have jumped out in the blink of an eye. I carried Bella to the car by the scruff of her neck and put her in the box I had brought with me to transport her to our house. I closed the lid on the box and as I was in the process of shutting the car door, Bella bolted from the box, the car and was making a direct escape back to the shed as fast as she could go. I went back to the shed and found her once again hiding behind the box. The entire process of catching her, grabbing her quickly and holding on to her by the scruff of her neck had to be repeated. I carried her to our car once again and this time I did not put her in the box. My husband Ed, was driving our car, so I sat in the passenger seat with Bella on my lap, holding her in place by the scruff of her neck so she would not bolt again. She did not budge, did not make sound and that is how we drove home. When we arrived home and I did not release my grip on her neck until I had her safe and sound inside the house. I put her in our mudroom with food, water, litter box and gave her a warm blanket inside a basket. That is where Bella stayed for the next several weeks. It was not my choice to leave her in the mudroom for several weeks. I wanted her to come out into the house and to enjoy being part of our family but Bella did not want anything to do with us. The minute we entered the mudroom she would run and hide in the closet, under the dryer or behind her basket. She wanted nothing to do with us. Each day I would giver her fresh food, fresh water and talk softly to her. I tried to hold her and stroke her fur, when I could catch her, but there was never a purr or any indication from her that was she content or that she wanted to be with us. All Bella wanted to do was to be left alone to live out her life in the mudroom by herself. I wondered if she was ever going to trust me and if she was ever going to be a cat that would enjoy being part of our family. After about 3 weeks, she reached the point where she did not bolt when I entered the mudroom. She would stay in her basket but when I reached out to pet her she would run and hide. I figured we were making progress if she no longer bolted when she saw me, and yet I still wondered what kind of pet she was going to be if she never let me touch her. Plus what kind of life would she have if she never left the mudroom?!
I continued on with feeding her and giving her water. There were little steps of progress over weeks and weeks of time. She progressed to the point where she would come out of her basket when I was feeding her and I took the opportunity to just be next to her while she was eating. I would talk to her softly so she could get use to my voice. I told tell her that we wanted her to have a happy life and that there was so much waiting for her outside of the mudroom if she would only trust us. I told her that she was safe and that she had a good home and that we would love her and take care of her for the rest of her life.
My days of feeding Bella and talking softly to her were having an positive impact on Bella. When I would put her food down she would approach her dish and me! I continued to talk to her while she was eating and one day, while she was eating, I reached out my hand to stroke her fur. She flinched, but she did not bolt, so I knew that we were making progress. Each feeding time became an opportunity for me to stroke her fur and to talk to her gently. As soon as she finished eating she would retreat back to her basket and curl up in her blankets to continue her life in the mudroom.
Then one day, while we were eating dinner in the dining area, we saw Bella peeking out of the mudroom door!!! We held our breath and watched. She gingerly and very, very cautiously and slowly walked out the mudroom into the dining area. This was her first time leaving the mudroom in over 6 weeks!!!! We could not approach her and she quickly found safety behind the hutch in the dining area. It was such a huge step for her and after that we made sure that we left the mudroom door open so that she could continue her brave attempts of expanding her life outside of the mudroom. Each time she left the mudroom she would explore a little bit further and so I decided to move her feeding area out of the mudroom into the kitchen where we fed our other cats. She did well eating out in the kitchen and this move encouraged her to explore even more. I continued to stroke her fur while she was eating and I began to pick her up while she was eating so I could hold her and pet her. I would hold her just for a few seconds and then would put her back so she could continue eating.
I knew that we were making slow steady progress with Bella and this was confirmed when one day, while I was holding her midway between her feedings, I heard a noise. What was that noise? Could it be? Yes it was!!!! It was a purr!!!! It was the very first time that I had ever heard her purr and I knew that with that first little purr she was on her way to trusting us and towards being a wonderful family pet.
I knew that Bella needed to be held more because she would still run away from us when we tried to pick her up. The only time I could pick her up was while she eating. I decided the best time to hold her was when I was watching television in the evenings. Every night, right before I sat down for the evening, I would give Bella a snack and let her eat for a little while. Then, I would pick her up and bring her into the living room to watch tv with Ed and I. At first she would only let me hold her for a few seconds before she wanted to get down but night after night her time with me on the couch would increase. I would always let her go whenever she wanted to get down as I wanted her to choose to be with me.
To our delight, Bella has chosen to be with us and to be a part of our family. Today she is a sweet, loving and shy cat. She loves her family and no longer spends anytime at all in the mudroom but rather has full run of the entire house. The thing I love the most about Bella is how much she loves spending time with her family. She is always seeking us out and if we sit down at the computer or to watch tv Bella is right there to jump in our laps. She purrs non stop when we pet her and she trusts us 100 percent. She is still very shy and cautious around strangers and if you come to visit you will probably never see her. She has a stranger danger mentality and will disappear the minute guests arrive and will not make an appearance until hours after our guests are gone.
So why am I sharing this story with you about a farm cat that came to be part of our family? My main reason for sharing this story with you is not to tell you a story about our cat Bella but to rather give you a living example of how persistent God's love is in reaching out to His children. I often thought of God when I was spending time with Bella. So many times we run away from God rather than running to Him and embracing the full and wonderful life that He wants to give us as His children. God wants us to come to Him and to trust Him completely with our lives and yet all we want Him to do is to leave us alone. Thankfully God does not give up easily in seeking us out. He pursues us consistently and lovingly as it is his desire that we have a loving, trusting and deep relationship with Him. When Bella was little and would not come out of the mudroom or her little basket, I would think of all the things she was missing out on because she would not trust me. I wanted to love her and care for her and give her a nice warm home with plenty of food and joy but she wanted nothing to do with me and wanted nothing of what I had to offer her. She didn't trust me and so I had to woo her into trusting and loving me. Just as I wanted to give Bella good things and lots of love so God wants to give us good things and lots of love. Just as I had to woo Bella into trusting us and loving us, so God woos us and pursues us into a loving relationship with Him.
If you are reading this and you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus, I encourage you to open your eyes and open your heart and look into the ways that Jesus is pursuing you and loving you. No doubt about it....I had to chase Bella from the very first time that I chose her to be a part of our family. I had to love on her and care for her even when she would push me away. God does the same for us. He is patient when we push Him away and He loves us even when we don't want anything to do with Him.
There were times when I wondered if Bella would ever become part of our family. Bella had to decide what kind of cat she was going to be. She could either be an aloof cat and live on her own or she could choose to be a loving, trusting cat and be part of our family. Either way, we would have loved her and taken care of her but she would have missed out on a wonderful life had she chosen to be aloof from us. In all my attempts to love on Bella I never forced her to return our love. She had to chose to receive our love that we were giving to her and what a joy it was for Bella and our family when she decided to accept the love we were lavishing on her and in return to love us with her whole being. Bella is a pure delight and I love when she jumps in our laps and spends time with us. Likewise, Jesus is reaching out to you, loving you and waiting and hoping that you will come to Him. He has a wonderful, joyful plan for your life if you will accept His love and in return love Him with your whole being.
I hope that if you don't know Jesus and His love that you will make that decision to accept Jesus into your life. He is waiting for you to spend time with Him, to love Him and delight in Him as He loves and delights in you. Don't spend your life in a shed or a mudroom.....trust Jesus, love Him and when you do all that God has to offer in this life and the next is yours.
499 Trinity Lane
When we were living in New Hampshire I was employed as a Home Visitor at Early Head Start in Concord. There were several aspects to my job. Some days required that I stay in the office for meetings, to complete some paperwork or to plan for the upcoming home visits with families but the days that I enjoyed the most were field days. These were the days when I was out visiting the families and their children on my caseload. I would visit the families, most of them single Mom's, and their young child or children under the age of three. We would spend time together working on child development, nutrition, health, safety and education. Overtime I would develop a very close relationship with these families as I was in their homes every week for sometimes up to 4 years. It was the time spent with these families, not my time spent in the office, that made my going to work everyday worth my time and effort. Spending time each week with these families in their homes was the reason why I did what I did for my job beyond the obvious of earning a paycheck.
And so it is the same for me here in Colorado. Going out into the field and reaching out to the homeless people on the streets gives me a deeper understanding as to why we do what we do here at Soaring Wings Ministries. Yesterday we spent some time in Fort Collins handing out blessing bags and bottles of water to the homeless. It is one thing to drive by a homeless person in our car but it is a different experience to walk up to a homeless person on the street and to go into their space where they are spending their days. The people we approached yesterday were sitting on curbs on side streets, sitting in the shade on a cement wall, leaning against a tree in a park or walking down the street. Some of them had signs asking for help but most of them did not. When you get up close to a homeless person you cannot deny their need for assistance, care and hope. You also see more than just a homeless person. You see a young girl in her early twenties whose hair hasn't been washed in a long time and whose clothes have been worn for too many days. You see a young man whose sneakers are very worn and ragged and you see an older man who wears too many clothes because it is easier to wear them than to carry them. More importantly you see their faces and when you look into their eyes you see despair, concern, worry and when you first approach them you see fear. We quickly ask them if they would like a bottle of water and a blessing bag and immediately their faces and their eyes change. The fear melts away and for a brief moment you see joy in their eyes and you see hope on their faces. They are quick to give us a smile and many of them will stand up if they are sitting down to thank us or to shake our hands or sometimes to give us a hug. They always, without fail, say thank you and sometimes they will say "God bless you". Yesterday we spent a few minutes giving out water and blessing bags to a group of about 5 people sitting on a cement wall under a tree. As I was walking away one man said "Wait a minute. I want to pray for you". I turned around and approached him again and he spent a few minutes praying for me.....a homeless man praying for me. Do you know how humbling that it is? Do you know how blessed I felt to have a homeless man who had nothing and no home to pray and ask God to protect and bless me? I cannot find the words to describe how much it meant to have that homeless man pray for me. At that moment in time there was no place else I would have rather been and nothing else I would have rather been doing. I wouldn't have missed that moment of blessing from a homeless man for anything in the world.
It is always the case, when we are out in Fort Collins reaching out to the homeless people, that there is one person, who for some reason, reaches deep down into my being and grabs my heart. There is just something about them that leaves me with a feeling of wishing I could do more than hand them a blessing bag and a bottle of water. Such was the case yesterday. My daughter Meredith and I approached a young man sitting or actually almost laying on the ground against a tree. As we approached him we saw that he was a younger man. He did not get up when we asked him if he wanted a bottle of water or when we offered him a blessing bag. He looked up at us but he did not smile and as he looked up at us we were able to see his face and eyes. He was a handsome young man with dark hair and expressive eyes. When he looked up at us I immediately no longer saw a homeless man in the park. I saw a young man with much potential and a desperate need for love and hope. I saw a human being, one of God's children. I immediately thought to myself that no matter why this young man was homeless, no human being should have the ground as their home. As we walked away that thought never left me.....this was a human being with the ground as their home. That thought needs to be repeated....this was a human being with the ground as their home and it needs to be repeated over and over again.....this was a human being with the ground as their home. I walked back to our car and I thought of this young man with the ground as his home. As I thought of him I immediately knew why we do what we do at Soaring Wings Ministries. Soaring Wings Ministries exists to create wholeness and an empowered future for homeless and hurting young adults through the love of Jesus. That is our mission statement. That is why Soaring Wings Ministries exists and that is why we do what we do what we do. We are working our hardest to get a homeless person, like this young man with the ground as his home, off the street. We are working our hardest to get the young lady with the dirty hair and unwashed clothes off the street. We are working our hardest to give hopeless, hurting people an environment filled with hope and the love of Jesus.
Yesterday we ended our time of reaching out to the homeless by praying for them as we sat in our car. We headed back to Soaring Wings Ministries on Trinity Lane in Wellington with a renewed urgency to get the addition built as quickly as possible in order to provide a home for a homeless family. We also returned to Trinity Lane with a deeper understanding of why we do what we do.....no human being should have the ground as their home.
I challenge you to reach out to the homeless people where you live. Be prepared with blessing bags and bottles of water in your car but the next time you see a homeless person on a street corner take the time to park your car and walk up to the homeless person with the blessing bag and bottle of water. It will take a bit more time out of your day but it will make a huge difference to the homeless person that you took the time to personally hand them the items. It will also make a huge difference for you because you will be able to see into their faces. You will no longer see a homeless person but a human being...one of God's children who needs hope and also the interactions of human kindness. You can be that person to offer them hope and kindness and it can be accomplished through the smallest of items in a blessing bag and one bottle of water. I can guarantee that as you walk away from that homeless person back to your car you will feel blessed from knowing that you were the hands and feet of Jesus.
Blessings to each of you as you go about your day today and as you reach out to others in the name of Jesus,
Soaring Wings Ministries
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries