Cats vs. Dogs, Which is Smarter?

Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
Matthew 26:35 ESV

"Which do you think is smarter," my friend asked. "Cats or dogs?" A few weeks ago, she adopted a dog as a companion for her cat, Dillon.

"Cats," I said without hesitation. "In my opinion, cats are smarter than dogs."

Now, before all you dog lovers get upset with me, hear me out. My opinion is based on experience.

You see, I've been owned by many cats. In fact, I once had five of them living with me at the same time. This wasn’t my choice. Without going into all the details, I’ll just say that before you make a deathbed promise to a friend or relative, think with your head along with your heart. Anyhow, I was owned back then by Freckles, Molly, Andrew, Sonny and Cher. The last two came already named. They were the adopted ones that I added to my fur family of three. You can imagine the giggles in the veterinarian’s office when the receptionist asked in front of God and everybody, “Jean, are Sonny and Cher neutered?”

Having five cats at once was kind of creepy, especially when they moved through the house in a herd. They’d walk through the living room together and give me dirty looks and then head straight to the kitchen where they’d sit in a row staring at the refrigerator. All heads would turn together toward the fridge and then toward me. I was intimidated, wondering if they were making a sinister plan to shove me into the freezer or something. It was scary.

So, why do I think that cats are smarter than dogs? Because they don’t give their loyalty freely, like dogs do; you have to earn it. I also think cats are smarter because they are loyal to each other. They work together to defeat the enemy – most often, me!

Take Freckles and Molly, for example. They both knew that I kept their cat treats in a cabinet above a counter in my laundry room. No amount of meowing could get me to open that cabinet door, unless I wanted to, so these two geniuses took the matter into their own paws. At night while I slept, one of them (Freckles, I later discovered) learned to get on the counter, stand on her hind legs and pry the door open. She couldn’t get the treats though, because she wasn’t tall enough. After a few nights of listening to Freckles working to open the cabinet, I heard a suspicious rustling sound. I got out of bed and quietly peeked into the laundry room. Freckles sat on the counter while Molly stood on tiptoes batting at the treat bag on the shelf. She was just enough taller than Freckles to knock the bag out of the cabinet. It fell to the floor, and by then the rest of the herd had arrived to enjoy the stolen treasure.

So, you see, working together is often the key to defeating the enemy, and cats are loyal to their fellow felines till the bitter end.

Believers are supposed to be loyal to one another, too. I have a favorite Bible story that illustrates this. It’s Genesis 17:8-13:

“When the Israelites were at Rephidim, they were attacked by the Amalekites. So Moses told Joshua, ‘Have some men ready to attack the Amalekites tomorrow. I will stand on a hilltop, holding this walking stick that has the power of God.’ Joshua led the attack as Moses had commanded, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur stood on the hilltop. The Israelites out-fought the Amalekites as long as Moses held up his arms, but they started losing whenever he had to lower them. Finally, Moses was so tired that Aaron and Hur got a rock for him to sit on. Then they stood beside him and supported his arms in the same position until sunset. That's how Joshua defeated the Amalekites.”

Isn’t that great? Aaron and Hur literally held up Moses’ tired arms.

The Bible is filled with stories of believers working together to "hold up each other's arms." It is what God requires of us.

I especially like these instructional verses from the New Testament:

Hebrews 3:13 “You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called ‘today.’ If you don't, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn.”

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

It is part of the Christian character to stick together. Like Freckles and Molly, we work as a team, supporting one another to defeat the Evil One.

Are cats REALLY smarter than dogs? I think so, but that’s just my opinion. What do you think? Do you have a dog story to share that will change my mind?

Dear God: I pray for every reader of this blog that your Holy Spirit will hold up their arms when they grow weary in prayer. I join together with my readers, Lord, praying for their needs and asking that the circumstances they bring before you might be healed through your endless mercy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

Unless otherwise noted, all verses in this post are from the Contemporary English Version ®
Copyright © 1995 American Bible Society. All rights reserved.

Who's That Ringing My Bell?

Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.
Isaiah 28:23

Has your doorbell rung in the middle of the night? I would feel defenseless and small if at three o’clock in the morning someone pounded on my door or rang my bell.

Is the house on fire? Sniff-sniff. I don’t smell smoke, the smoke detectors aren’t going off.

Maybe someone died. But if someone died, someone would call me instead of ringing the doorbell, wouldn’t they?

What if somebody is out there trying to find out if I’m in here? What if they try to break in?

Is my phone next to the bed?!

Those are thoughts that raced through my eighty-year-old aunt’s head last week when someone rang her doorbell in the middle of the night. It frightened her so much that she couldn’t move to get out of bed. She told me that she just laid there and prayed. Whomever it was went away, but she lay in her bed till dawn listening and wondering who had been at her door at three o’clock in the morning.

I had my own doorbell moment recently. An issue with my health struck me head-on and sent fear rushing through my body. This “thing” that happened to me didn’t require hospitalization or even a quick trip to the doctor. Even so, it scared me enough that I immediately started a course of therapy: walking on the treadmill, taking vitamins, eating healthy foods and praying –- a lot. God gave me a jolting wakeup call. He rang my doorbell when I least expected it. He roused me out of a sound spiritual sleep to remind me that I hadn’t been taking care of my body or my prayer life for a very long time.

Are you a lazy pray-er? I am. Funny thing about prayer: most of us pray more often and most fervently when faced with a crisis or an urgent need. My health scare brought me to my knees, a place I hadn’t been for a while. Prayer for me meant sitting in my favorite chair, hands folded, head bowed, talking to God. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But sometimes God wants us on our knees engaged in fervent prayer.

I tend to babble when I pray. God, this person needs this, and that person needs that . . .and I need a few things, too, and thank you, God for watching over me. . . I’m like my aunt that way. She told me once that she prayed so long at bedtime that my uncle had to remind her to stop talking and come to bed. When I got on my knees to talk with God about my health, surprisingly I had nothing to say. I was dumbstruck by God ringing my bell in the middle of the night. All I could do was kneel and listen.

Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; 
I know them, and they follow me.” Get that? The sheep LISTEN. They don’t do a standup monologue for God. Instead, they stand and listen to His voice. By “stand” I mean that they stop. The sheep stop grazing, bleating and whatever else sheep do, and they listen for the shepherd’s voice. When they hear it, they find comfort knowing that the shepherd is near. So, I knelt and I listened -- and nothing happened.

I got up off my knees, disappointed in myself for allowing my health to fail and in my God for not speaking to me. I still felt afraid. I walked to my computer and opened a new e-mail, a devotional from 66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God that Invites You into His Story by Dr. Larry Crabb. This is what it said:

Love Letter One: Genesis

God says, I want you to realize that I never underestimated how thoroughly you'd mess up your life or how painfully you would struggle and suffer, and I don't want you to underestimate your failures or struggles either. They're all part of the story I'm telling.

But neither have I underestimated My determination or ability to enter the mess you've made and the pain you feel and turn everything around. I can, and I will, make everything good again. Never, never underestimate Me. I have a plan, a very good one, and it will move ahead to completion. Guaranteed! Trust Me. Why? Because I love you even when you're messing up badly. I love you in the middle of your pain even though I don't relieve it as quickly as you wish. I am worthy of your trust, no matter what happens in your life. I have a good plan, and nothing will stop Me from carrying it to completion.

You must live now in the tension between anguish and hope.

Amazing. Our Shepherd is endlessly creative in the ways He communicates with His “sheep.” I am learning to listen for His voice and to take better care of the body that serves as a temporary house for my eternal soul. Wherever this journey leads, I know that I will learn much along the way.

Has God rung your doorbell lately? How do you listen in prayer?

Dear God: Teach us to be quiet and listen for your voice. Amen

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Will You Be My Monkey? Living With Panic Disorder

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1

Will you be my monkey?

I made up that silly question. It came from a documentary I watched about a woman suffering from severe panic attacks. She had no family or friends for support, so to avoid becoming housebound by her disability, she adopted a companion monkey that went everywhere with her. The monkey gave her a sense of security.

Sometimes, I call my best friend and ask her, “Will you be my monkey?” She’s asked me the same question. In other words, will you support me? The question sounds bizarre to anyone who hears it, except my friend and me. We know exactly what it means.

Like the woman in the documentary, I suffer from panic attacks. The first one happened when I was in my twenties and in college. As I walked down a long, narrow hallway in my dormitory, I suddenly felt my legs turn to rubber. I needed to walk shoulder-to-wall to steady myself and feel safe. I’ve had panic attacks sporadically throughout my life, most often while shopping in grocery stores, standing in lines, traveling over bridges and driving on the Interstate.

I’m not alone suffering with this affliction. Christian author and speaker Patsy Clairmont writes about panic disorder in her book, I Grew Up Little. Food Network star Paula Deen’s panic disorder was so intense she couldn’t leave her house. Charles Schultz had panic attacks, and so did Lucille Ball. The list of celebrities with panic disorder is a long one. How am I like these famous people? I refuse to let these hideous attacks stop me. I push through them and keep moving on with life.

Medication and years of Christian counseling help curb the intensity of the attacks, but I still have them. I’ve learned to live with them. When I feel one coming on, I ask my friend to be my monkey -- to go with me into a grocery store or other place that triggers my anxiety. We all need someone to lean on, and my trusted friend gives me support.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about being given a “thorn” in his flesh. He calls it a tormenting “messenger of Satan.” We don’t know what Paul’s thorn was, but he suffered because of it. Three times, Paul asked God to take his affliction away, but God replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

For decades, I kept my affliction to myself, afraid of being judged and labeled “crazy.” Then, about ten years ago, I went public with my disability. I told family members and friends, and, surprisingly, I received love and support in return. Today, I talk openly about my “thorn.” Acknowledging my panic attacks strips them of their power.

Paul puts it this way: “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10.)

I can’t say I “delight” in my panic disorder. Like Paul, I’ve asked God to take this thorn away. So far, He hasn’t. One thing I’ve learned is I’m pulled closer to the Lord through my affliction. When I pray and ask Him to help me get through an attack, He never lets me down. God and my friend are my “monkeys.” In their presence, I am made strong.

Are you hiding your thorn from everyone except God? Consider sharing your secret with the monkeys in your life! God put them there for a reason -- to help you.

Dear God, our afflictions come in many sizes, shapes and colors. We pray that you will take them from us. But if you choose not to, or ask us to wait until you are ready, then give us strength in our weakness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Learn more about companion monkeys for the disabled at the Helping Hands web site.

Paula Deen talks openly and honestly about her panic disorder and how she overcame it on InnerVIEWS with Ernie Manouse. Click here to watch.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Are You Shaping History, Or Is History Shaping You?

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Chris was 101 years old when I met him. He was a World War I veteran, frail and hard of hearing. Sometimes, his voice drifted off into nowhere, but his mind was always sharp and clear. Chris was my dad’s roommate at the nursing home. When Dad was asleep, Chris and I would often sit together and have a conversation. I never called him Chris, although that is the name he preferred. To me, he was Mr. Christiansen. I figured the man was old enough to be my great-grandfather and worthy of being called Mister, not just because of his age, but also because he was very wise.

“I remember…” That’s how Chris began many of our conversations. What amazed me was how casually he spoke of events that I had only read about in history books. For Chris, these were ordinary bits and pieces of a life that had spanned the entire Twentieth Century. He had lived through countless milestones in history like:

President McKinley’s assassination,

Orville and Wilber Wrights’ first flight at Kitty Hawk,

Ford’s introduction of the Model T automobile,

Robert Peary’s and Roald Amundsen’s successful expeditions to the North and South Poles,

American women getting the right to vote,

The invention of talking movies, traffic signals and penicillin,

The construction of the Empire State Building, Hoover Dam, and the Golden Gate Bridge,

Two life-changing economic depressions,

Several major wars,

The holocaust,

Even “The Star-Spangled Banner” being adopted as America’s national anthem. . .

and that’s just his short list! My conversations with Chris usually ended the same way. “Yup,” he’d say. “I’m grateful for all I learned in this world and all that I seen.”

I’m grateful, too. Thanks to Chris, I gained a better understanding not only of major events in history, but also how they affected the lives of ordinary American citizens. History is how we connect as human beings. The experiences of each generation link the centuries from the beginning of time until the end.

Think about the historical events you have lived through so far in your life.

The most memorable war of my time is Vietnam. I’ve lived through the assassinations of a president, a senator and a great civil rights leader. I have clear memories of segregation, Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges; of television shows broadcast in black and white, dial telephones and computers as big as classrooms. I’ve seen the beginning of NASA and the first manned spaceflight, the building of the Berlin Wall and its destruction, the end of the Soviet Union, the first heart transplant, the first Super Bowl and even the first episode of Sesame Street. That’s my short list. With each passing year, the list grows longer. I see myself moving toward a time when, like Chris, I might talk casually with young people about happenings in my lifetime and see looks of awe on their faces as they hear firsthand accounts of events they can only imagine.

We undervalue so much in our lives. Jesus said that He came that we might not only have life, but also have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Our years are filled with an abundance of historical moments--snippets of time that can never be experienced by future generations. If you think about it, that’s an awesome concept. We are keepers of time. Similar to Biblical scribes of ancient days, we share our history with our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. However, instead of writing on parchment with a quill pen, or engaging in quiet conversations, like those I had with Chris, our stories might be shared in e-mails, text messages, or God knows (literally) what other soon-to-be-discovered forms of media.

Think about how current events are shaping your life. Are you satisfied to sit back and watch history unfold, or do you stand up for your beliefs hoping to change history's course? Imagine being as old as Chris. Do you think you’ll be grateful for all that you’ve learned and seen?

Dear Lord, You said that you are the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. We are here, Lord, to live the story of your mighty plan. Help us to be aware of the abundance of history that surrounds us every day and to react to it as soldiers in the army of Christ. Amen


I'm proud to be a contributing author to the following series of humorous devotionals.
And check out my "Kid's Bible Dictionary" and pre-teen mysteries, also from Barbour.

See all the books in the Camp Club Girls series.

See all the books in the Camp Club Girls series.
Click on the picture.
I am the author of these books, but I have not been compensated for mentioning them on this blog or linking them to the seller's website. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

By Max Lucado, Published by Thomas Nelson
Max Lucado has a unique way with words, and his children's book Hermie A Common Caterpillar is no exception. With simple text and bright, watercolor illustrations, the story of Hermie unfolds.

Hermie wonders why he looks and feels so common. Whenever he asks God why, God simply answers, "I'm not finished with you yet." Then, one day, Hermie feels very tired. He gets into his cozy, leafy bed, and he sleeps. And while Hermie sleeps a transformation takes place. When he wakes up, Hermie discovers that God has done something grand. You can guess what it is. Every caterpillar that lives to adulthood knows the end of the story.

Parents, please share this book and its powerful message with your children. We are all special because God loves us, and He has a unique purpose for our lives. Whenever we slump into feeling ordinary, we know that we have hope because . . .God isn't finished with us yet!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

©text on this blog copyrighted 2012 by Jean Fischer unless otherwise credited. You may link to the blog, but please don't reprint the text without my permission.

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