not too long ago, our youngest dog, lucy, found a little kitten in our backyard. when i called the dogs back in, she came up with this thing in her mouth. since it had been raining for a couple of days, i assumed she had found a dead mole and was bringing it to me. i kept telling her to drop it, but she stood there, stubbornly holding on to whatever it was in her mouth. i finally put my hand out and told her to drop again and she very gently dropped this emaciated, dehydrated, alien looking kitten in my hand. and when i say alien looking, i mean she had this huge head and this tiny little body that made her look exactly like roger from american dad. anyway, since it was right around 4th of july, we named her betsy, in honor of betsy ross. neither ed nor i thought betsy would make it. she was only around 3 weeks old and so so tiny. but betsy proved us wrong and has grown into a beautiful kitty.
not long after lucy found betsy, i let the dogs out and immediately they started barking away near our side fence. they had been barking over on that side of the yard for a couple of days so i figured our neighbors has been doing stuff in their yard, but it was storming and i was fairly certain the neighbors weren't working in the yard in a storm. i called all the dogs back in, but lucy wouldn't come. she kept on barking. so i went outside and there was a cat, back arched, hair standing straight up, tail puffed out as far as it could puff, hissing and charging at lucy. poor lucy didn't know what to do! she had never had a cat do that to her before and she was completely bewildered. i finally got her in the house and went back outside to see about the kitty. when i walked up to her, i saw three itty bitty newborn kittens. and all of her posturing with lucy made complete sense. i went back in the house, made a bed in the guest bath bathtub and went back out to gather everybody up. sadly, there were a couple of babies who hadn't made it, but there were still the three that had survived. i settled mommy and babies into the bathtub and hoped for the best. well, mommy kitty was an excellent mommy and all three kittens survived. one of them, elbie, was much littler than her siblings so ed and i used what we had learned with betsy and supplemented her nursing with kitten formula. when they were old enough to be weaned, elbie was still a good bit smaller than the other two so we decided to hold on to her and take mommy and the two bigger kittens to be adopted out. just like betsy, elbie proved to be a little fighter and she too is growing into a stunning kitty.
i wanted to tell their stories for a couple of reasons. one, they are pretty cool stories. but more than that, betsy and elbie have taught me about perseverance. they were both so little - betsy, at three weeks, weighed the same as elbie's siblings did at 3 days and elbie was always 3-4 ounces behind her brothers. but, in spite of being the runts, they tenaciously clung to life and doggedly sought to get their needs met. betsy would make sure we knew whenever she was hungry by letting out the loudest, most pitiful cry ever. and she would persist in crying until someone gave her a bottle. elbie would push her way in between her brothers and refused to let them keep her from nursing. both she and betsy refused to give up on themselves and refused to let us give up on them either.
as i said, i learned a lot about perseverance by watching them grow up. i learned that i need to be persistent in prayer - i need to keep crying until someone answers. i need to be tenacious in seeking out nourishment and not give up until i am full. i need to refuse to let others keep me from growing into the person god wants me to be. i need to persevere even when others think i don't have a chance. i think the most important thing, i learned, however, is that i need to not give up on myself. because even when i am at my worst, when i am the scrawniest one in the litter and all the odds are stacked against me, the one who matters the most refuses to give up on me. and if he refuses to give up and instead insists on persevering with me, who am i to say he is wrong?