On Friday our beautiful boys turned one year old. Hard to believe they’ve gone from tiny, hairless bubs to fat, fluffy adult rats so quickly. To celebrate I decided to act like the crazy rat lady I am and throw them a little party!
One of my favourite hymns – one of those I chose to be sung at our wedding – is the beautiful ‘Ode to Joy’, also called the ‘Hymn to Joy’ or ‘Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee’.
It perfectly captures the state of my heart today, even though I am ill with a cold and feeling otherwise rundown. Yet after spending time worshipping my great God, I forget the silly shackles of my weak earthly body while my spirit soars to sing this song to my King.
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.
Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.
Music: Ludwig von Beethoven, Lyrics: Henry J. van Dyke
Hello friends and followers 🙂
It’s Christmas tomorrow, and I’m so thankful at this time for the birth of the only Saviour – Jesus Christ the Son of God. Although perhaps only a few of you reading this actually know and love the Lord, I hope none of you will let the true meaning of Christmas get swept away by the ridiculous hype that the world has made of it.
This Christmas, I hope you will realise that that baby whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow can only bring us joy, hope and peace at Christmas because He also grew up to face the cross at Easter. His birth was only the beginning of the promise – and there’s really no use celebrating it if you haven’t also trusted in His work on the cross. Jesus was sent into this world, not to bring us candy and gifts when we’ve been good, but to stand in our place to take the full wrath of the Most High God for all the times we haven’t been good!
And yet… in His kind providence and common grace, the Lord does also grant us the other side of Christmas as we’ve come to know it: the rest as the year draws to a close, the chance to see friends and family, the opportunity to travel away from home, the fun of sharing gifts with those we love and the time to enjoy delicious meals together.
All of these things, while they have nothing to do with the biblical reason for Christmas, are still good gifts in and of themselves. By grace we have the freedom to enjoy them – with moderation and gratitude, of course. This common grace extends even to those who reject Christ as the only way to reach a holy God. He’s good to them too, even when they don’t acknowledge it.
So tomorrow I look forward to both aspects of the special day. I am eager to celebrate and worship with my church family, knowing that ‘Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief’ (1 Tim 1:15). And I am also keen to spend time with friends and family, enjoying special meals, sharing gifts and thanking God for placing these people in my life.
I wish you the same 🙂
After more than a month of living with us, it was time for our ratties to experience their first free-range run. We’ve let them run on the furniture so far, but last night we braved it to set them loose on the bedroom floor for the first time. And really, it wasn’t that bad. My vague fears of being unable to retrieve them from some tight spot melted away as I watched them bounding around with glee
Moon and Knight were naturals, Vodka was the first to leave the castle, and Mishka took a very l-o-n-g time to warm up to the idea of roaming…
Hello there! It feels like an age since I last posted here… life’s been getting in the way a bit lately 😉 Summer has hit Johannesburg at last and the heatwave has been surprisingly draining. Ninja and I have been very busy with everything from work to trying to get fit for my first 5km run. My to-do list is overflowing, and often that’s meant that blogging drops down a rung or two. Sigh. I do miss my days at home when I was a full-time blogger, baker and bookworm!
Anyway, for now I have a moment to share a few recent pics of our ratties. They’ve been here for almost a month now and they’ve taken over the home
I’ve tried taking a few nice photos of them and have entered a few into a competition hosted by our rat club – which means I can cross off Goal #64: Send in a photograph to a contest 🙂 Would be so great if one of my shots got picked! But for the most part I have dozens of not-quite-awesome-yet-still-quite-cute pics…
It’s not easy getting good pictures when the rats are on the go all the time, so I also try to catch them unawares for sweet sleeping shots. Here are some of my favourites:
So far it seems our first impressions of the boys were pretty accurate. Their personalities are quite distinct and a joy to discover.
Moon (nicknamed Rover) is still the curious adventurer, who’s often awake when the other three are asleep and vice versa. He’s gentle and fast but in some cases still a little unsure of his place. You know how in big families you often find the one quiet kid who’s easily overlooked in the mayhem? Sometimes I think Moon is that kid, though his odd circadian rhythms do make it easier for us to give him special attention 🙂
Knight (nicknamed Tiny) is still very sweet; he’s bold with his brothers but gentle and trusting with humans. He only has one fault: he is sooooo squeaky!! He squeaks for anything and everything, be it a thorough grooming from his brothers or an unexpected poke from a playful human. It’s definitely not pain related – it’s all attitude and noisy protest from the baby of the bunch 😛
Vodka (nicknamed Voddy – I know, it’s lame, but sometimes the good nicks only come after a while) is the bright spark: I’ve been teaching the rats to leap from the open cage onto my shoulders when I ask them to, and Vodka was the first to catch on and make the jump. All the boys know two commands already: ‘Up’ for standing on their hind legs to receive a treat, and ‘Jump’ for leaping onto me or whichever surface I tap.
Of all our lovely rats, Mishka consistently steals the show. Not only is he the biggest and boldest; he’s also the only dumbo so he keeps catching our eye with expressions we’re not used to after our succession of standard-eared ratties. My friends go all mushy when meeting him and even Ninja admits there’s no denying Mishka’s charisma.
As for me, well… this boy is rapidly achieving ‘heart rat’ status. I always said Muesli was my heart rat, as he was my first, but I’m learning that the heart is big enough to hold more than one special furry object of affection 😀
I think what gets me about Mishka is that he has different sides to his personality. Ninety percent of the time he’s the big forceful alpha rat who ‘power grooms’ his cagemates and shoves human hands aside to get to what he wants. But then there are those odd moments when he suddenly turns sensitive. He’s really earned his nickname of Teddy Bear.
The pic above was taken after I’d disciplined Mishka for nipping my fingers instead of taking the food from them. From the look on his face you’d swear I’d whipped him with a cane or something! All I did was squeak at him and tap him on the nose (trying to mimic a ratty way of saying ‘That’s enough!’)
Well, it crushed him. He backed up immediately and shot me this devastated look. Flattening his ears against his head, he dashed upstairs and leapt into his Sputnik. And there he stayed, refusing to be comforted or bribed with treats; just giving me the ‘Mommy how could you?’ look for over an hour. Oh my goodness! How to make a rat mommy feel like rubbish! LOL
So that’s the kind of thing that’s been keeping me busy… but I do hope to have more opportunities to blog more regularly. I’m itching to bake something new or take a day trip or do something creative again. As soon as I do, you can be sure I’ll share it here 🙂
Yesterday we had our old Flea put to sleep 😦 Ninja and I couldn’t bear it anymore to see her struggling so much; the smallest movement became a flailing effort to our arthritic old ratty. We felt we’d done everything we could, and there comes a point where treatment becomes more stressful for a pet than a peaceful passing would be.
Afterwards we took her to my parents’ garden, to bury her near the spots where Muesli, Scribble and Coffee were laid to rest. Of all the options available to pet owners for saying goodbye to their furry friends – be it cremation, burial or leaving the body with the vet – I’ve always felt that burial provides the most honour and closure.
Looking back on her 60-odd rat years, I can see how this fancy rat lived up to her proper name, Faith. First, when she was tiny, Ninja named her because she seemed to need a good dose of faith to venture out into the world. Later when she became comfortable roaming around our home we called her Leap of Faith, because she was never afraid to cover great distances in one bound… just like a small black flea, of course 🙂
Much later, after her tumour removal and the loss of her sister, she continued to live up to her real name, fighting bravely to heal after such an invasive op. And finally, just before her second birthday as she began ageing rapidly, her faithful little personality still led her to wake us up every morning for breakfast, even if she could only just drag her tired legs around.
Another thing that I loved about Flea was that she always seemed – if one can say this of a rat – grateful for the smallest thing. Towards the end when I had to pre-chew all her meals and wipe her face with a cloth because she could no longer groom herself, she would always brux and boggle happily in thanks afterwards. Ninja and I got to have many very sweet moments with the old lady as she cuddled with and slept by us for long periods.
Rest in peace our sweet old Flea. You were the softest ratty I’ve ever kissed and I loved your beautiful fluffy and colourful coat. You showed us the very best side of girl ratties and left us with so many funny and heartwarming memories.
I’d like to share with you a poem that was given to us by the vet yesterday (it’s marked as anonymous so I don’t know who to attribute it to). It was a blessing to me and I hope it’ll bring comfort to you if you’ve also had to make that tough decision to say goodbye to a furbaby. (But I warn you, keep the tissues handy!)
If it should be…
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep
Then you must do what must be done
For me, the last battle can’t be won
You will be sad – I understand
Don’t let your grief then stay
For this day, more than all the rest
Your love and friendship stands the test
We’ve had so many happy years
What is to come can hold no fears
You’d not want me to suffer, so
When the time comes, please let me go
We’ve been so close, we two
Through these years
Don’t let your heart
Hold any tears
Take me where my needs they’ll tend
Only stay with me until the end
Hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see
I know in time you too will see
It is a kindness you do to me
Although my tail its last has waved
From pain and suffering I’ve been saved
Don’t grieve that it should be you
Who has to decide this thing to do