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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)

TITLE: Litter Box Ministry
By Joanne Sher
05/20/08


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It felt like a completely ridiculous and uncomfortable request, but I had to make it.

Our needs at the time were wide and deep: money, day care, prayers, meals, transportation, companionship, clothing, groceries, yard work. Some we had graciously received from our church family without even a request on our part. Others had been granted after we made the need known.

Every person in our family had been blessed by the gracious and giving natures of the body of Christ. Whether it was a church member mowing our three-acre yard so my husband wouldn't have to, a ready-cooked meal so I could stay out of the kitchen, or a toy to keep my son occupied, each member of our household had been blessed abundantly by the giving of fellow Christians.

Well, almost every member. It seemed our two "feline children" needed ministering to as well.

Twix and Squeak were already getting food and water, and even a bit of love. Their needs were a bit more sanitary in nature.

You see, for the past several months, my husband had been taking care of the cats' "business" after they relieved themselves. Prior to this, cleaning up after the cats had always been my chore, as my husband's sense of smell was a bit more acute than mine. This was certainly not a job he enjoyed, but he had done it, nonetheless, because of the warning in my most consulted book (besides the Bible, of course): "What To Expect When You're Expecting."

My second child was on the way, you see. Every pregnancy book known to man, it seemed, discouraged expectant females from contact with cat poo (I can be straightforward, can't I?). It seems feline fecal matter can carry a disease called toxoplasmosis. This disorder, though having little effect on the mother-to-be, can be spread to the unborn child and cause serious complications, including blindness.

Well, my husband was now physically unable to take care of this, and cats will only put up with an unsanitary lavatory for so long. And, as much as I adored my kitties (and hated asking for yet another favor), I was unwilling to risk my newborn child's eyesight.

So, I called Barb, our pastor's wife and a dear friend, who had been coordinating our assistance (do you know what a Godsend it is to have someone coordinating your assistance?). Apparently attuned to my plans, our calico curled up on my lap, gazing up at me with that "rub me or else" look. I obliged, of course.

"Hi Barb."

"Hi, dear! How are you doing?"

"We're doing okay. Barb, thank you so much for all you've done. You don't know how much we appreciate it."

"I just thank the Lord that I can."

I sighed. "I have one more thing I need help with."

I could hear her shuffling papers. "What do you need, hun?"

"Well, I need someone to come and clean out the litter box." I paused. "Of course, my husband can't do it, and I'm not supposed to because I'm pregnant."

Barb went right to work, with a smile I'm sure. Within a day or two, she had found a cat lover (had to have been!) and sister in Christ willing to come to our home and take care of Squeak and Twix's "leavings."

Now if that doesn't require a selfless attitude, I don't know what does. And she performed her litter box ministry cheerfully and without complaint for three months.

The body of Christ blessed every living being in our home during our trial, it seemed. Some prayed. Some gave us rides. Some watched our son. And some cleaned up our cats' waste. Every one was a blessing.


Questions: Do you ever feel embarrassed to ask for help when you really need it? Do you let your pride get in the way of asking for, or performing, assistance that may seem "below you"? Do you feel like you need to do something important in order to really help someone?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to remember that Your Son was willing to do the lowliest of jobs when He was on earth. Help us not to be ashamed to ask for help, and not too prideful to do even the lowliest of tasks for Your sake. Thank You for hearing our prayers in Jesus' name. Amen.


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This article has been read 1135 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw05/22/08
What an incredible story and devotion wrapped into one. Well done!
Lynda Lee Schab 05/22/08
Whoever took on that job will definitely have a little extra something waiting for them in heaven. LOL. Nicely told.
Beth Muehlhausen05/23/08
Entertaining and inspiring, right to the end! Nice flow, and good intro to bring us up-to-speed with that all important phone call to Barb!! I liked your story-telling followed by some thoughts/questions to ponder. Nicely done...purrrrrrr.....

:-)

Ann Renae Hair05/24/08
I absolutely LOVE this!
I learned something new. (I had no idea about 'cat poo' and pregnancy!)
I really enjoyed the voice of this piece...fun but deep at the same time. Did I mention: LOVED IT!
Laury Hubrich 05/24/08
Well written piece and a very good lesson. Thank you for sharing this difficult time in your life with us:)
Laury
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/25/08
What a blessed church family you've presented in your entry with examples of Christian gracious giving and receiving. I enjoyed the story. (I didn't know about cat poo and pregnancy complications either. It's a good thing that in my day we had "outdoor" cats!)
Gregory Kane05/26/08
A delightful and engaging voice. Reminds me of our first placement as an assistant pastor. I didn’t get to do that much preaching, but one of my regular duties was to clean the gents’ loo in the church.
Glynis Becker 05/26/08
LOL We all have our 'callings' in the body of Christ, don't we? I enjoyed the voice and the addition of a prayer at the end is wonderful. My only comment is that in the middle, I think you meant you weren't willing to risk your UNBORN child's eyesight not NEWBORN. Great job, my friend!
Betty Castleberry05/26/08
Oh, I really like the asides. It made it feel very personal. My only suggestion would be to leave out at least one of the "you see's", if not both. I'm not sure they add much, but that's just my opinion. Whether or not they stay, though, this is very well done. I want to read the book...seriously.
Joshua Janoski05/26/08
I liked the mixed story/devotional feel to this. I also liked the lesson about cat poo and the possible birth defects that it can cause. I was not aware of that. Very interesting.

The only thing I was wondering is what caused the husband to be physically unable to empty the litter. Did I miss something or is this possibly a small piece of a larger story? Either way, it was a good read. I appreciate you sharing it. :)
Yvonne Blake 05/26/08
This is a wonderful reminder to have a servant's heart. Well done.
Joy Faire Stewart05/26/08
This has everything, a wonderful devotional and the story is very enjoyable too. Great job on topic!
Jan Ackerson 05/27/08
Joanne--This literally moved me to tears. Absolutely perfect in every way. Thank you so much for writing it.
Dee Yoder 05/27/08
Oh, Joanne...I have tears in my eyes as I write this. Only those who have been in your shoes can fully appreciate the impact this kind of ministry had for your family. What a blessing! I love the format you have going here. The question at the end, along with the prayer, really pulled the essence of this story into sharp focus. This will be a lovely devotional/manual!
Scott Sheets05/27/08
Great example of the body of Christ demonstrating His love. I appreciated your thought provoking questions as well. Thanks!
Debbie Wistrom05/27/08
Wow! You and your family, two and four legged have been truly blessed. Again, I want to read this when published. I love the devotional aspect of this as well.
Chely Roach05/28/08
This was as beautiful as a story about cat poo could possibly be. Awesome illustration of people being the hands of God...I LOVED IT!
Beckie Stewart05/28/08
This was good. Love the challenge and prayer at the end.
Sara Harricharan 05/28/08
Wow! It does take more than something in a plain 'ol cat lover to just clean a litter box. This is wonderful and truly amazing to know. I love how it was easy to turn it into a devotional. Great job. ^_^
Lynda Schultz 05/28/08
I would have never thought to ask someone to clean out the litter box—that is ministry above and beyond the call of duty! Well done.
Cheri Hardaway 05/28/08
Awesome message tucked into this story of your little kitties. I can relate because I was on bed rest for three months of one of my pregnancies, and our family also experienced similar ministry from the body of Christ. Your story engaged me from beginning to end. I would have liked to have known earlier that it was your husband's being laid up that created the need for ministry. Many blessings, Cheri
Cheri Hardaway 05/28/08
Embarrassing... but I forgot to say on my first message: Great job! Hugs, Cheri
Mariane Holbrook05/28/08
Oh my, what can I say? It's all been said and every word is true. You forgot the "Kleenex Advisory" though and now my shirt tail is all wet with tears. :-(
Such good writing! (as always, I might add)
Karen Wilber 05/28/08
I like the conversational tone of this. Your application and prayer are spot on and really bring this home to roost.

I'm going to PM my red ink since you asked.

The message is great and every pregnant (or formerly so) cat owner will "get it" right away. That's a strangely humbling thing to ask for.
Peter Stone05/28/08
Refreshingly unique devotional, the tie in at the end was purrfect. I remember looking after my wife's 'cat' when she was pregnant too. Somehow, the job is still mine, ten years later...
LaNaye Perkins05/28/08
This was beautiful, and so well written. I love how you told this story. Great writing my friend.
Lyn Churchyard05/29/08
What a beautiful example of the love of the saints for one another getting down to the nitty gritty. Wonderfully written Joanne, well done.
Joshua Janoski05/29/08
Congratulations on placing 34th overall with this entry, Joanne!