The Cats Eat the Houseplants

Nearly all my houseplants are a blend of vibrant green, and a pathetic shade of darkened brown. Lack of sunlight, or too much water aren’t the issues. Actually, it’s that the cats love to gnaw on them.

I’ve tried a few different tricks in the book. I’ve placed double-sided sticky tape around the plant to detour the cats from stepping too close. I’ve sprinkled cayenne pepper on the top of the soil, and sprayed lemon juice all around it because I’ve heard those are both scents cats hate. Everythinag short of simply getting rid of the plants, I’ve tried.

But Dash, my precious, plant-eating cat – she only licks the tape and comes back to the plant once the scent has worn off later. When one of the reviews for the tape mentioned a demon cat eating the tape off its surface, I thought: Surely not my demon cat. Wrong.

It’s been an annoying, frustrating journey of trial and error. But the worst of it happened last week when we cleaned up cat puke. Multiple times.

The first time it happened, we didn’t think much about it. The second time? We thought it was only what was left of the first. But by the third time, we knew something was up.

And so it went on for 2 days: listening to the cat heave, and then cleaning up puke.

Bless her. I knew she wasn’t feeling well. Her food bowl sat full those days, and we held our breath until she went back for water. She seemed even more put-offish than normal (if those you that know Dash can even picture it.)

As bad as I felt for her, it only took one whiff of her mess to assume what had made her sick: the aloe plant. That same one with the hardened, brown tips – evidences of her chewing. Apparently, my ridiculous attempts to detour her had been ignored.

First off, I don’t get why she even goes to the plants in the first place.

But secondly, why does she go back to the plants, even when they make her sick?

We watched her do it. Just moments after getting sick, she’d go back to the very source of her sickness.  Time after time. Eventually we’d have to completely move the plant out of her reach. But until we did that, we waited anxiously, hoping she’d get the point and stop going back to the very thing that was damaging her.

As much as I wanted to be like WHYYYYYY??!, the strange realization hit me: I do that too.

No, I’m not confessing that I eat my aloe plant and puke it up every day. No, not quite. But this is a confession that I go back to the things that damage me. It’s not an aloe plant, but it’s a whole list of other things I go back to –

My phone for comfort and distraction.

Social media to desensitize.

Unkindness to myself and to others.

The crippling list of could haves, should haves, and would haves.

Believing lies.

Telling lies.

Literally, stuff.

All these places, and more I’ve not listed, are the ones I run to. I know they’re not good for me. I know they’re not helpful to my life’s vision, and I know that these are not things that I want to be marked by. These things don’t refresh me, or enliven me. These are not the will of God for my life.

They bring me anxiety and worry, fear and cowardice. They cripple me, causing me to feel stuck and think that my Savior doesn’t care for me. They leave me out, make me feel unworthy and far from my best. It disgusts me every. Single. Time.

And yet, I keep going back. Even though I know full well that these things make me sick with regret and discontentment, I return.

It’s stupid because my Father promises to give me the opposite of these things. He promises kindness through and to me. He promises to give me the truth, and assures me that when I believe it, I will truly live. He gives me permission to be content and joyful, staying focused on my tasks ahead without the hindrance of the regrets. And when I believe him, I am restored and nursed back to health.

But when I don’t believe him, it’s damaging.

We all have something that tears us up, but we keep putting stock in. For Dash it’s the aloe plant. For me, it’s that whole list – and more. But today, I am remembering that I don’t have to go back to the things that make me sick. I might have hunger pangs for them, but I don’t have to thirst for them.

What if instead of going to them, I ran to the things that do enliven me?

Like writing, both here and in my paper journal.

Reading the story of Jesus.

Talking to God.

Reading my current book (The Hobbit!).

Serving and doing well toward my people.

Snuggling with the cats (always necessary).

Setting screen time limits.

Jotting down goals.

Taking the time to hike beneath a sky that is beautiful and fills me with wonder, being sure to breathe in deeply and say thank You.

I might look at Dash returning to her sickness time after time and be like WHYYYYYY??!, but one beautiful thing to remember is that is not how God sees me. He looks at me with a tenderness, not an astounded frustration. I’m surprised by Dash, but God is not surprised by me. And yet, he still fully loves and accepts me, despite my sickness and crazy. I’m glad for that.

Here’s to a day another day of practicing running to the things I love, not the things I hate. It feels more awkward than it should, but I know this is going to fill me with a life and health that I didn’t know I was missing. That’s worth it.

Trying Not to Litter the World

A scene that describes my early mornings lately: waking up early to grab a cup of coffee and cast vision to bold ideas. Like, really bold ideas.

On Tuesdays that means teaching a class before my “real” job.

On Wednesdays it’s a Bible study.

On Thursdays it’s project planning.

I didn’t really set out to make this the summer of making important plans at 6 AM, but I’m glad for it. Tuesday is fun and Wednesday speaks to me, but today, let’s talk about everything that’s tied into Thursday.

Thursday is shaking my world right now. It’s a place of eager anticipation and preparation, where both hope and fear are equally woven together. It’s a morning of peacefulness and joy, but there’s also worry and confusion. Maybe the honest thing to say is this: On Thursdays I muddle through my thoughts, discerning what’s valuable and sifting through what isn’t, and attempt to tidy the ones worth saving.

And so I’m here – nestled in a coffee shop with my favorite pen and the hardcover green notebook I’ve been saving since Christmas for a special project. It’s freeing, really. I’m writing notes between sips, and not worrying about what will be scribbled out later. “Let’s give each wild, reasonable, lame, lovely idea its fair chance,” this fearful, perfectionist heart is learning to mutter. Sometimes the only voice an idea gets is a single line on the paper, and that’s plenty to show me its heart before striking through it and writing something better beneath it. I’m learning that.

This is scary though. No way I could do this alone though. 

But I’m with a friend who is already like a sister. We’re dreaming. Planning. Building off one another. Listening. Note taking. Making decisions and wondering what the Lord would have us do.

It’s a safe place where the conversation is easy and we both show up with cat hair on our shirts. We share even the least of our ideas, and there’s no shame or ridicule when we decide it won’t work. We just listen, hear it out, and let it take us to the next idea. When words start to fail us, we sit in quiet. Sometimes for several minutes, and I think I’ll never underestimate the power of simply sitting again.

We’re nothing special, she and I. We’ve got just enough courage to show up, wrestle with our ideas, sit in the quiet, and ask God for more. Some mornings that feels like all the courage I have.

And when the overwhelm of the task ahead starts to get to us, we reach across the table to grab hands and ask our Creator to help us create something meaningful. Let us not litter the world with more junk. Lord, help us to only add what will draw others and ourselves nearer to you.

And when our eyes open, the realization hits us – that this is a privilege that we get to share the heart of Jesus through our conversations with one another. No, we’re not perfect. Honestly, I’m not even sure if we’re qualified to do this. But, we’re going anyways because we’ve learned just enough to trust that sometimes the most inspiring work comes from the most common of people. Like us. We get to speak up about the beauty of life and humanity, process the lovely and meaningful things together. Not because we’ve done anything to earn this, but simply because we believe in this.

She and I. We’re just girls with cat hair on our shirts, sitting in a coffee shop with a dream to light the darkness with the kindness and hope in our words. Once we get that, there’s peace in the muddling.

So we pick up the pens again, and get back to work. We’re just out here, working through beautiful questions and ideas. Belonging in a space of intentional living means something to us, and we think it’s worth sharing. We want to do it well. And we certainly don’t want to keep it to ourselves.

If you need me on a Thursday morning, find me here: staying golden and daring to believe that today is the day to do something that scares the crap out of me.