Easter Eggstravaganza!

Easter Eggstravaganza

Since¬†we celebrated the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this past weekend, I thought today’s post ought to take a slight detour from my usual topics in honor of this important holiday.

Not discounting the magnificent gift of Christ being born in human form, I believe the Easter holiday to be the most important. For all of our faith rests on that which we celebrated this weekend. If Jesus did not truly die and rise again to reign at the right hand of our Father in heaven, then our faith is for naught.

1 Cor 15_17

That said, do not worry. It is not my intention to suddenly attempt the impersonation of a pastor. ūüėČ

Instead, I shall focus today on one of the funnest parts of our Easter celebration traditions: ¬†the Easter Egg. Decorating and hunting these eggs, which are said to represent the empty tomb and resurrection, are¬†one of the most anticipated parts of each years’ celebration.

However, this year my family thought we would try something different. So instead of the usual dying and hunting, we made Wobbly Ninja Eggs and experimented with Easter Egg Rockets. You can click the links for the original instructions which inspired our fun, but truthfully, this was a last minute decision and we didn’t have all the required materials so we tweaked things to fit what we had on hand.

In place of the recommended googly eyes and duct tape (which I know we have, but which seem to have found a super secret hiding space somewhere in our home), for the Wobbly Ninja Eggs we used permanent markers, sticky foam squares (left over from scrapbooking), and scotch tape. We also used some left over air dry clay on the inside in place of the recommended modeling clay.

Ninja Eggs Blog Image

Our results may not be as Pinterest worthy as the originals, but my kids had a blast making and playing with them just the same.

For the rocket eggs I grabbed a generic box of seltzer tabs and a cheap bag of plastic eggs from Walmart while I was there picking up some other necessities. Then we used some leftover painter’s tape to cover the holes in the top and bottom before decorating (again with permanent marker). ¬†Also, since our eggs didn’t come with feet, we made little cardboard “launching stands” to hold our eggs vertical.

Rocket Eggs Close-up
The two I doodled on.
Egg Rocket Process
As you can see, we tried both water and vinegar in combination with the seltzer tabs to see which would produce the best results. Conclusion:  both worked equally well.

Although we did achieve success, I admit we had more fizzles than pops because the eggs were so flimsy. So if you are going to try this, I would recommend shelling out another buck or two to get the stiffer/stronger plastic eggs (the cheaper ones didn’t always have a satisfying snap when closed and those without a good *snap* didn’t pop). The stronger ones will just make your life easier.

That said, here are some clips of two of our successes:

More Easter Fun:

If you’d like to make some beautiful decorative eggs that any book-lover would adore, check out these Book Page Eggs.

If you’d like to learn more about the origin of Easter, check out this article.

How did you celebrate Easter this year? Do you have a favorite Easter tradition?

TWEETABLES:

If Christ is not raised, your faith is futile & you are still in your sins. 1Cor15:17 – Click to Tweet!

Fun Easter Egg-tivities for kids! РClick to Tweet! 

A Tale of Two Kitties – Part 2

Ana watches Athena from a distance while Kathleen Denly pets Athena. Photo by Kathleen Denly

If you haven’t read Part 1, you may want to read that first as this will make more sense if you have, but for those in a hurry I’ll put what you need to know into a boring nutshell: ¬†We brought home one cat (Ana), then 2 years later brought home a second cat (Athena). (Trust me, the previous post is much more interesting.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, our boys were over the moon with excitement about the newest addition to our family. Ana… not so much.

Bringing Athena Home

When we first brought Athena home we took her immediately to a bathroom where I had set up a litter box, food bowl, water bowl, and small cat tree just for her. We shut the door and I sat in there with her while the boys took turns coming in to visit her. This would be her sanctuary room for the next 24 hours.

When it was time, I went and found Ana who was sleeping on the other side of the house and hadn’t yet noticed the new arrival. I picked her up and carried her over to the closed bathroom door where she could see Athena peeking through the crack at the bottom.

It took Ana a moment to notice her, but I knew exactly when she did. Her ears perked up and she immediately tensed.

I set her down next to the door and waited to see how she would react. By this time Athena was mewing up a storm at having been left alone in the bathroom and was reaching intermittently under the door with her paw trying to gain attention. When I set Ana down Athena stopped pawing and mewing.

For a tense few seconds, the two cats smelled each other under the door. When Athena mewed again Ana flinched but kept smelling under the door. Then the lonely, playful Athena made a strategic mistake:  She reached a paw toward Ana.  Ana immediately hissed and tried to run away. I scooped Ana up and tried to soothe her but she was having none of it and kept hissing so I let her go.

Athena seemed completely unphased by the event, although she was still unhappy with being alone in the bathroom.

Of course, I went in and pet her for a while, but I couldn’t spend the entire day sitting on a linoleum floor petting the world’s softest fur ball – no matter how cute her purring and nuzzling.

Ana Is Less Than Thrilled

Over the next several hours Ana made it abundantly clear that she was NOT happy about this new addition to our home. In fact, she was quite angry with me in particular and would hiss anytime I went near her.

Clearly she blamed me for Athena’s existence.

Ana kept well away from Athena’s bathroom. She wouldn’t even go into the hallway near it. Most of the time she literally stayed as far away as the limits of the house would allow her.

Eventually, Athena had settled in and it was time to let her explore the house. So we let her out but kept an eye on her to see how she interacted with her new environment and to watch for her first encounter with Ana.

About two hours after we let Athena out, she was playing in the living room when Ana wandered in… and froze. Then hissed and immediately ran away. Athena, again, seemed unphased and simply resumed playing. This was typical of their interactions for several hours. So we decided to help things along a bit and brought out two new cat toys. One I used to play with Athena. The other my husband tried to get Ana to play with after he brought her out from hiding.

Ana did not want to play. She wanted to run away.

This time, however, my husband held her firmly, but gently in his lap and stroked her and spoke to her in soothing tones while I continued playing with Athena about ten feet away. Occasionally, Athena would try to approach Ana to play, but I made sure to keep her from getting too close. Eventually, Ana relaxed a little in his lap and sat watching Athena play, still alert for danger. Thus began a new phase of their interaction.

At night we kept Athena safely tucked away in her sanctuary. During the day, my husband and I would take turns interacting with each cat once Ana decided to forgive me for Athena’s presence.

It was a remarkable success the first time we convinced Ana to play with the other new toy in the same room where Athena was playing with her new toy. Gradually we lured them into playing incrementally closer together until they were playing side by side. Still, Ana was tense and alert for signs that she needed to run away and would often stop playing to watch Athena suspiciously.

Ana watches from a few inches away as Athena plays with a toy. Photo by Kathleen Denly
Ana watches from a few inches away as Athena plays with a toy.

Ana Is Scared

One time, Athena pounced immediately in front of Ana before I could catch her, scaring Ana. Ana hissed, swatted at her, and growled. We noticed, though, that Ana did not use her claws but kept them retracted. Ana was not aggressive. She was defensive. She was making sure Athena knew she did not want her that close.

Eventually, Ana graduated to climbing to the top of her cat tree in the living room and staring down at Athena as she played. Athena wanted to climb up, too, but we kept her down. We brought in a second cat tree and Ana wanted that one to be hers, too, but we made her share that one with Athena by ensuring they took turns using it.

The Pivotal Moment

As time went on, Ana would allow Athena to come closer and closer to her. On the morning of the third day, I caught the two of them nose to nose smelling each other for a few seconds before Ana hissed and ran away again. It was a pivotal moment.

By the next day, you could see that Ana had accepted Athena’s presence and would no longer freak out any time Athena approached her. By day eight they were chasing each other playfully around the house.

On day ten, I walked in to find this:

What I Learned From My Cats

When Athena first came home Ana was completely terrified of her. Now they are best friends. I think this is a beautiful example of the way God sometimes works in our lives. Ana wanted nothing to do with Athena and would have gotten rid of her if she had the means to do so. Yet now they spend much of their days playing, sleeping, and hunting bugs together. I think this shows that although we may be terrified or unhappy about (to say the least) certain events in our lives, we may after time and with a little trust, discover that God has worked it out for our good.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

~Romans 8:28

This message seems especially appropriate at this time of year as we pause to consider the gift of Christ’s birth. One of the most beautiful and touching songs of this season considers His birth, life, eventual death and resurrection from the perspective of Mary, His mother. I encourage you to take a moment and put yourself in her shoes, with all the struggles she faced as the mother of Christ.

Being the mother of three boys myself, it is both awe-inspiring and heartbreaking to consider what she went through from seeing her son perform miracles to watching his death on the cross. Yet, God had a plan more intricate, precious, and full of blessings than any of us could have imagined.

Ana & Athena lie beside each other on the bed, looking up at the camera. Text reads,
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get two cats to look at the camera at the same time?

What do you think?

Have you ever experienced something that at the time seemed truly terrible, but in the end, God used it for your good or the good of others?

Please share your story in the comments below. I’d love to read about it!

A Tale of Two Kitties – Part 1

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Are you a cat person or a dog person?

My husband, Luke, used to say he’s a dog person, but I have always been a cat person. Regardless, we both put off owning pets for several years after we got married. Why? Simple. We were broke. Then later it was because we had three kids and didn’t need anymore food spills, poop smears, or vomit piles to deal with. (You parents know what I’m talking about.)

Luke and I are very active in our local foster youth community. Over the last few years we have been foster parents, volunteered as foster youth mentors, and volunteered at events held to give siblings in separate placements a chance to spend time together enjoying fun excursions.

Well one day Luke¬†called me on his way home from a visit with a foster youth mentee. At the mentee’s request, they’d visited¬†a Petsmart¬†and looked at all the animals up for adoption. (You know where this is going don’t you?) He told me about this one particular cat that had melted both his and the mentee’s hearts. He sent me a picture he’d taken and proceeded to tell me how this cat is nine months old and had been rescued from an alley in Tijuana, Mexico. She had scaring on her right eye where the vet guessed someone has stabbed or clawed her eyeball. Yet she was friendly and playful.

Ana - gray and white cat looks up with pa over cat toy on the ground in front of her. Photo by Kathleen Denly

Luke wanted me to meet this cat. I wasn’t so sure.

Yes, she was beautiful and sounded lovely, but we were in training to become foster parents at the time. What if our potential child were allergic to cats? Not to mention I still wasn’t sure I was ready for the added responsibility that came with having a pet.

Luke convinced me we could handle it and deal with any allergies that came up.  So I went to meet her and the rest was pretty much history. Ana Banana was the name she came with and it suited her perfectly. A little lady with a bit of the silly won my heart that day and amid the excited squeals of our three children, we filled out the application to bring her home. It took a few days, but we were approved and Ana became part of our family.

Ana - Gray and white cat curled up beside Kathleen Denly on a soft turquois blanket. Photo by Kathleen Denly
Ana sleeping beside me on the bed.

Two Years Later…

We are in process for an¬†international adoption and on this particular day I’m taking my three boys in their costumes to the local Humane Society’s Howl-O-Ween event. The event is a sort of reverse trick-or-treating where the kids make treats for the animals at the shelter, then deliver those treats to bags hanging on the door knobs and handles of the rooms or cages the animals are currently staying in.

I tell the boys before we go, “We are NOT bringing home any animals today so don’t even ask. It’s not gonna happen.”

When we leave the shelter without the boys asking me to bring home any of the animals I give myself a mental pat on the back. Nevermind that I checked the labels on each of the cat rooms and mentally compared them to the type of cat which would best get along with Ana and our kids and determined that none of them would fit anyway. Never mind that I had this secret text conversation with Luke while I was there and the kids weren’t looking:

Text thread between myself and my husband discussing the timing of getting a new cat and how cute the kittens are that look like Ana Banana. Screenshots by Kathleen Denly
(The white haired cat thing is a long story.)

But I didn’t actually ask. That’s what counts. Right?

Then he texts this:

My husband admits that now would actually be the best timing out of the next 18 months. Screenshot by Kathleen Denly

What?! That is so not fair! I was holding strong and you throw this at me?

Then I get home and, after putting the kids to bed, discover that he has been checking out the local shelter’s online photolistings all night. Of course I can’t let him have all the fun and next thing I know we are both pouring over the pictures and descriptions until one particular kitty catches our eye. Her name is Athena, she is 6 months old and she is at the local animal control shelter near us.

Black & white kitten, Athena, in her cage at the shelter. Photo by Kathleen Denly
Athena at the shelter.

The next day I drive over to the shelter to meet Athena while Luke stays home to watch the boys. At first I can’t find her, then a worker explains she is in the back because she has just recovered from an illness and¬†they haven’t moved her back up front yet. So they take me back to the sick kitty room and¬†the first thing I notice is her eyes. Well. Her right eye in particular. She has scarring just like Ana. They let me hold her and play with her and… you have never met a more loving cat in your life. She could not get enough of me petting her. Better yet, she didn’t react to all the sick kitties making a racket from their pens. You could just tell she had a crazy chill personality which encouraged me to think she and Ana would get along well.

I sent Luke a video of her and he agreed she seemed perfect. So later that day he smuggled our cat carrier out to the van and went back to the shelter with our youngest boy (we only told the older two that Daddy and little brother were “going to run an errand”). After confirming she got along well with children, Luke filled out the paperwork to take her home.

Athena in her carrier on the trip home. Photo belongs to Kathleen Denly
Athena on her ride home.

You should have seen the shocked expressions and heard the squeals of joy when the older boys saw Athena for the first time.

All of our boys were absolutely thrilled with the newest addition to our household.

Ana…. that’s a whole other story.

Athena cuddled up next to me while Ana looks on from a safe distance away on the floor. Photo by Kathleen Denly

This story isn’t over, but I’ll be taking a break before sharing A Tale of Two Kitties – Part 2 to bring you my very first ever AUTHOR INTERVIEW!!! ¬†

I’ve been offered the opportunity to interview inspirational romance author, Terri Reed!!!!!!!!

(Can you tell I’m excited?)

So make sure you subscribe to be notified when the interview is posted next week and when A Tale of Two Kitties – Part 2 is posted at the end of this month. ¬†In the meantime I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have any pets? How did they become a part of your family?

Please tell me about them in the comments below so we can all “awww” together!

Is Fiction Christian?

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Is fiction biblically acceptable?

This may seem like a silly question in light of the hundreds of thousands of books sold every year under the subcategory “Christian Fiction.” Yet I still come across those who would argue that writing and even reading fiction is wrong from a biblical standpoint.

There are many varying degrees of latitude among these critics. Some will make allowances for those stories which are blatant allegories in the mode of Jesus’s parables. Some will go so far as to make exceptions for those stories with a clear gospel call worked into the plot (i.e. the main character begins the story as an unbeliever, but through the course of the story becomes a believer and the reader is not-so-subtly exhorted to accept Jesus as Lord¬†in the process). Others will accept¬†anything that at least mentions God and features Christian characters, but turn their nose up at anything they would view as “secular fiction.” A few will even maintain that anything other than indisputable, nonfiction fact is wrong.

I’ve personally met members of¬†each of these camps and those who fall somewhere in between. A recent encounter with one such person led me to feel the need to post on the subject, but before I did I wanted to see what others had written on the subject. In my search I discovered¬†that another has already perfectly expressed my thoughts for me. So, today I am simply sharing a link to what they have already written: ¬†https://gotquestions.org/Bible-fiction.html

When you have finished reading their post, I would love to hear from you.

What are your thoughts on Christian fiction? Which camp are you in?