missing the runt


Two weeks ago this morning we were all waking up to the joy of new birth.  Oreo had given birth in the dark hours of the early morning, right there in our reading chair, in the mudroom where she’d been sleeping for weeks.  I found her first, then ran and told my husband, then woke up my daughter.  At the time, we couldn’t tell if they’d all been born, and not knowing, I also went and woke the three little boys.

We were up all day, happy for the new additions.  Our oldest son was at camp, at it felt like forever waiting for the 7AM wake-up bell to ring.  Oreo was his buddy when we thought he was a boy, and even more special once we found out she was pregnant and was actually a girl.  My husband texted the counselor, asking if he could send Ethan home for a minute, that Oreo’s kittens had been born.  He ran home to see.

Later that day, when we were eating lunch together (minus Ethan), Elianna went to check on the kittens.  Three out of four kittens were still in the chair, but Oreo and the runt were gone.  We had several minutes of panic, thinking the worst, wondering what she would have done with it or where she could have taken it.  We looked around until we finally found her in the corner of the little boys’ closet, nursing the runt.

One by one, about every fifteen minutes, she came back for the others.

This morning we had to tell the kids the runt died.  I had chicken broth simmering on the stove, ready for the kitten, to see if by some small chance it might help him grow.  He died a little after 2AM, after waking, and meowing enough to wake both me and my daughter.  We used a warm flannel wipe on his eyes.  First one, then two eyes opened.

“His eyes are open now”, I said, “Twelve hours ago they weren’t. He’s making progress.” He opened his mouth, looking more like a newborn baby bird then a kitten.  No sound came any more from his mouth, and I looked at my daughter and said, “Honey, I don’t think…” We watched him die.  She left the room.  I picked him up.  He wasn’t there.

Somehow he’d made it through the night.



nursing the runt

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There’s a newborn in the house again, four to be exact.  One of our cats had her first litter of kittens two weeks ago tomorrow.  There’s one that’s awfully small, and I mean awfully small.   This is our first litter of kittens as well, so we don’t really know what we’re doing either, but based on the looks of the runt, my daughter and I felt like we needed to do something.

So, this morning, we loaded up the little boys and headed to the pet store for some kitten formula and baby bottles.  We searched Google for ‘bottle feeding runt kittens’, and I called my mom, hungry for any advice she might have.  We had close to ten litters of kittens when I was growing up, and I remember having runts, but I don’t remember anything else about them.

This one is half the size of the others.  It’s been the runt since birth, but something about the past few days, when the others started opening their eyes and this one didn’t, got us paying closer attention to it.  The mother has not abandoned it, and seems attentive and concerned about it, but we’re not there all the time to see if the others are preventing him from nursing or what.

My mom suggested putting him in front of the mother and letting her lick him, and then seeing if we can get him to latch on to nurse.  We’d been doing that for the first few days after he was born, but then stopped when it seemed like they were all eating okay.  We tried again this afternoon and the mom licked his face, and we did get him latched on to nurse.  Then we left, not sure whether to leave the mom alone so she doesn’t get too nervous, or to stay and wait to see if the runt was going to need any more help.

It’s hard to know when to intervene and when it’s best to leave them alone.  This morning we had found the three healthy ones nursing with the mother, and the runt alone in a corner, weak and looking disillusioned.  That’s when we did something.

Worry, regret, and doubting yourself.

Welcome to the world.


Dear Jesus,
Keeper of the world
Thank you for the kittens
Please help the runt.

hopes and dreams

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I never know what’s going to show up when I show up and sit down to a blank page.  The past few mornings, I’ve haven’t slept very well, and have woken up confused about what day it is.  Yesterday I thought it was Saturday.  It was actually Tuesday.  I don’t remember what I thought today was.

My husband and I were talking the other day, and I asked him if he was looking forward to the end of the summer.  He said not really.  Summer is his busiest time, but it’s a systematic kind of busy.  The rest of the year for him is more random, and it’s the randomness that he doesn’t look forward to.

For me it is the opposite–at least since we moved here.  Summer is the randomness and the rest of the year is systematic and more structured.  The randomness really does start to mess with your head, and I think decreases your sense of satisfaction and purpose in life.  I understand because I lived that life for almost ten years.

There’s a part of me that keeps waiting for a light bulb to go off.  I keep waiting for him to say something like, “Oh my goodness, wow.  This is what it was like for you all those years. This is what you were always trying to tell me.” It seems like though, the more you want or beg someone to sympathize, the less they actually do, though I’m sure my crying and yelling wasn’t helping my cause.

I wonder though, if God allowed that period of life, not so he would sympathize with me then, but so I could sympathize with him now.  It feels good when someone understands how you feel.  It also feels good when you help someone feel better.  It doesn’t even need to be something we talk about all the time, but something that guides my steps.  Maybe this is my chance to use what I’ve been through to be encouraging and supportive in ways I’ve always wanted to be but was unable to do when my life was so random.

He is the one who has largely helped to stabilize my life (and God, obviously).  Whenever I talk to people about our early years together, when we were getting to know each other, I tell them there was one main word that would come to my head when I described him, and that word was Stable.  He was stable, something I wasn’t, and that was the primary thing that attracted me to him.

He brought stability to my life.

I just want to bring joy to his.


reason and imagination


School is out for the summer, and since May 19th when we ended the year, I haven’t given it much thought.  It’s been a good break, and one we’ve all needed.  Two months into our summer vacation, and two weeks out from the end of the summer programs here, I’ve started to turn my attention back to school again.

Before dozing off to sleep on this Sunday afternoon, I found myself reading through the late summer edition of The Classical Teacher, a resource magazine by Memoria Press.  I find these magazines interesting to read, even though I have never felt particularly drawn to Shakespeare and Latin or the other things I read about there.

The main reason?  It’s simple–I don’t understand it.

Why does Charles E. Bennet, in his article The Justification for Latin write “if Latin is not of fundamental importance in the high-school curriculum, then large numbers of students are making a prodigious error in pursuing the subject, and the sooner we understand this, the better for our civilization?”

All this classical stuff feels too civilized for me.  I realize, that by saying this, I’m probably a living example of every point the classical people are trying to make.  I have never seen myself as being part of a civilization.  Civilization was not a present day something I lived in. Civilizations were things we learned about in school.

Here is an interesting section from the article Reason and Imagination: G.K. Chesterton and the Defense of the Christian West by Martin Cothran.  It stood out to me.

“For Chesterton, Western civilization was synonymous with Christendom, that majestic and all-pervading cultural ideal that still haunted the dreams of Europe well into the twentieth century.  There was no separating Christianity from the West: Their history was intertwined and their fate was one.  This is why Orthodoxy is not only a book of Christian apologetics, but one of the great defenses of the Christian West.

Chesterton’s argument in the first part of Orthodoxy is this: Western man may have lost his belief in sin, but he retains at least a belief in sanity.  But when we look to the philosophies of the modern world we find all the cultural signs of madness.  Modern worldviews possess the very characteristics of insanity, the chief of which are fragmentation and reductionism–the inability to see the whole world and the obsession with some one idea at the expense of all others…”

This I can understand–

It’s a horrible thing when the only thing you can see is yourself.

It’s a horrible thing to be fragmented, cut-off, removed, and blind.

Hell is a life without God.

the training grounds

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Our church’s summer book club is reading through author Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option.  It isn’t often that I resonate with a book to the point where I reread it.  For whatever reason, this one struck a chord.  I’ve read the book three times and then some.

I couldn’t tell you what it was about.  I’ve never been good at narrating back out loud what I’ve read.  But what I think it was, is that the book put words to what, for me anyway, my life as a stay-at-home mom is all about.  He put words to my visions.

The author speaks of shoring up our families and communities for the coming dark ages.  Western culture is crumbling, and Christianity has become diluted and unpracticed.  What we see now is not what we will see in ten, twenty, thirty years.

In his introduction, Dreher writes, “We are going to have to learn habits of the heart forgotten by believers in the West.”  I cannot get the phrase “habits of the heart” out of my head.  He joined the word ‘habits’, a concept and practice I have undervalued and blown off in my life for way too long, and combined it with the soul-stirring “heart”.

“If a defining characteristic of the modern world is disorder, then the most fundamental act of resistance is to establish order.  If we don’t have internal order, we will be controlled by our human passions and by the powerful outside forces who are in greater control of directing liquid modernity’s deep currents…

“‘The structure of life in the monastery, the things you do every day, is not just pointless repetition,” said Brotherour Augustine Wilmeth, twenty-five, whose red Viking-like beard touches his chest. “It’s to train your heart and your spirit so that when you need it, when you don’t feel strong enough to will yourself to get through a difficult moment, you fall back on your training’…In other words, ordering one’s actions is really about training one’s heart to love and to desire the right things, the things that are real, without having to think about it.  It is acquiring virtue as a habit.”  

The Psalmist writes, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee”.  This isn’t anywhere near about “do more” or “try harder”, which I’m becoming more and more convinced is perhaps an unconscious but stubborn resistance on the part of the soul to hear, love, and believe the Truth.  There is no trying.  Only believing.

We cannot will ourselves into holiness.  We cannot deny ourselves into faithfulness.  We order ourselves in obedience.  A Higher Power fashions my life, and the power isn’t me.  God is disciplining us, as sons in whom He delights.  We submit and devote to His training and guidance, this transformation that changes us to love what He loves.