Hey to all my FRIENDS of HALLIE out there!
It's hard to believe that we're already into September, isn't it? Any die-hard summer fans out there? Or are most of y'all ready for fall?
Well......I have a bit of personal news to share! After we took our time visiting landmarks on our way to Louisiana for a very special wedding, aka our Grand Adventure Trip which you can read about here, I began to hear murmurings from my family about...adopting a kitten.
Since my husband was doing some consulting in another state, he and our daughter, Bree, thought it would be good for me to have a furry baby at home. As most of y'all know, we lost our dog, Lucy Belle, in 2021, and then our twenty-two-year-old cat, Patches, in April. "No, I said firmly, "I'm not ready yet."
But clearly God had other ideas. What follows is an amazing, miraculous journey of hope, patience, excitement, disappointment, frustration, and finally .... a gift. A GOD WINK.
The week after our return from Louisiana, Bree started her "Get Mama a Kitten" campaign. Daily she scoured all the local shelters, sending me photo after photo of adorable kittens. My responses were full of reluctance.
She pushed. "If you were going to get another kitten, Mama, what kind would you want?"
"Orange," I said impulsively, thinking I'd never had an orange kitten before, and I didn't want anything that would compare to my others.
Over the next few days, she sent dozens of texts featuring orange kittens, but none of them sparked any emotion in me at all. Still, the seed had been planted. Then one day, she texted me a picture of Ava, a beautiful long-haired orange and white kitten. I cracked. Just a little. And for Bree, that was all it took to get the ball rolling. She filled out an application and emailed it to the shelter.
Unfortunately, the shelter denied my application because (you really won't believe this) there were "no other pets in the house." However, they told me I could adopt two kittens. No thanks.
But Bree didn't give up though, and the random kitten texts continued as she searched other shelters for potential adoptees.
Meanwhile, storm season had hit Kentucky with a BOOM, and we got rolling storms for the next few weeks---with LOTS of power outages. I found myself alone and down in the dumps, so when our neighborhood got power again, I decided to go to our local Pet Smart. Sometimes they had kittens, I thought, and I'll just look.
But they didn't.
Just as I was about to leave, a woman who'd been working in the back cleaning cages peeked her head out. "Can I help you?"
I told her the story of losing Patches, and what I wanted, and she said she ran a shelter in Danville, Kentucky, and they supplied kittens to places like Pet Smart. She said she thought she'd heard of one coming soon that looked similar to Ava, the orange kitten at the other shelter. "If I come across one," she said, "I'll send you a picture." She added, "But I may not remember."
I left feeling at peace about it. I mean, maybe I wasn't really ready for another cat. God knew better than I did what was best, and if this lady came across an orange and white kitten, and remembered me, then maybe it was meant to be.
Several days went by without a word, and then, DING, a text from the Danville lady. She told me she'd found an orange kitten that I might like. I waited, but there was no picture. When I prompted her, she said, oops, I forgot, and as I could see the dancing dots of promise in the text, I half hoped the cat was double-dog-ugly. Then I'd be off the hook.
But she wasn't......
Oh no, I thought. That face. She was a hundred times cuter than Ava. My heart opened up and I started to imagine scenarios with this little mug in my life. Linda from Danville said as soon as the litter of kittens arrived at the vet to be vetted, I could meet her. FYI, "vetted" means the shelter gets the kittens, spays/neuters them, and gives them their first round of vaccines. (Right? It's been over twenty years, so I had no clue either.)
Anyway, several days passed, and then a week. I'd begun to lose hope. Again.
The next day I trudged to my mailbox and rec'd my Guidepost's All God's Creatures monthly devotionals. (I highly recommend their daily devotionals, especially for animal lovers!) As usual, it was in a white envelope, and all the way back home I kept thinking, I wonder what will be on the cover. A duckling? A bunny? A robin? As much as I love All God's Creatures, they rarely feature a cat or a dog. But, I think, as I neared my door, if there's a cat, or better yet, a kitten, this is going to work out with Piper-----yes, I'd already named her in my mind.
I opened the envelope, and not only is it a kitten...
...but it was an orange kitten!
To put an exclamation on that point, my phone goes off with a text. It's Linda from Danville! She says she just got word that the litter of kittens were on their way to the vet to be vetted! She'd let me know as soon as they were ready for adoption.
So, I go shopping. I buy kitten food, toys, and stare at that fluffy little face for seconds upon seconds. Okay. Minutes upon minutes. I look at my Orange Kitten Devotional and can't wait until July 1st, so I can read the first one!
But a week went by, and I heard nothing. I restrained myself as long as I could, until one day I texted Linda and asked if she'd heard anything. "I'm sorry," she said, "the people never showed up at the vet with the kittens." She apologized and told me she'd keep her eyes out for another orange kitty.
But somehow, I knew in my heart, there wouldn't be one. Not one like her. Like Piper.
Terrible weather rolled into Kentucky (again) the following week, and this time, we lost power for days. Long, hot summer days. Long, dark nights without light.
Because she sensed my gloominess, Bree upped her game on social media, once again on the hunt for an orange kitten. But I didn't want just any orange kitten anymore. I'd opened my heart just a little, but the moment had passed.
One night, while I was sitting alone in the heat and the dark (still no electricity) Bree sent me a photo of an orange kitten that was available. She'd been texting with the owner and said we could go get her that weekend! July 1st. "I'll go with you, Mama."
But I couldn't decide. Every time I looked at the photo against the dim light of a candle, I felt .... nothing.
"But we have to let the lady know now," Bree pressed.
I hemmed and hesitated, and finally, because my daughter is a bit of a bulldog, I agreed. But I didn't feel good about it. The next morning, after a sleepless night, I texted to say no. "I'm sorry," I said, "but it's not the right time." This was June 28th.
On Friday, the 30th, our electricity popped on for just long enough to charge my phone and get a glimpse of what was going on in the outside world. While I was chatting with Bree, the lights flickered, and went out again. Seriously?
In order to preserve my phone's battery, we ended the call. When I received a text, I assumed it was from Bree. I glanced at my phone with a giant sigh.
"I have the kitten!" Linda from Danville said. "She's fully vetted and ready to go."
"What?" My heart raced as tears puddled at the corners of my eyes.
(I still don't have any idea how it happened. Some confusion between the owner of the kittens and the vet's office. A miscommunication. A changing of the mind. I don't know.)
But the next day, July 1st, I read my All God's Creatures Devotional with the orange cat on the cover, and Bree and I went to Danville, Kentucky, to pick up Piper.
How can that be anything other than an absolute and total God Wink?
IN BOOK NEWS...
On June 5th, the All I'm Sayin' online book club, hosted by Mark Cermak, began an in-depth conversation of Paint Me Fearless. I had the honor of popping in from time to time to take part in their incredible discussion. As a host, Mark thoughtfully guided them through the book, chapter by chapter, and the dialogue was profound, honest, and courageous.
For anyone who has read Paint Me Fearless, you understand why parts of the book would be hard to talk about, especially with strangers. While some of them knew each other from high school, many of the participants were new to the group. Relationships were built. Friendships were renewed.
And solidified in August when the entire group met in Pennsylvania to celebrate the book, the discussion, and the unfathomable bonds that emerge from sharing a story about trauma. The human spirit at its best!
For me personally, it was a heady experience. I was brought to tears when I received a special gift from these beautiful people. A copy of my book, autographed by them.
Thank you, Mark Cermak and All I'm Sayin' book club! You are shining stars in a hard profession. FYI, if you're interested in joining an online discussion of Wolfheart, book 2 in the Shady Gully series, Mark has graciously agreed to host the conversation. It starts November 6th at the Cozy Corner! You can join here: Shady Gully's Cozy Corner Chat!
As always, I encourage you to leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon after you've finished one of my books. Reviews (even if only a sentence or two) are crucial in a writer's journey.
And with that, I wish y'all a Happy Fall!
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