Sheila Walsh is an animal lover, but she's also somewhat accident-prone. The popular speaker, author and recording artist was trying to straighten a picture in her apartment. To reach it, she climbed on the bed. And that's when disaster struck. The bed collapsed, with her kitten underneath it. Sheila was frantic. She turned to her fiance (now husband and business manager), Barry Pfaehler, for help.
"I threw the bed up in the air and dragged the kitten out," he recalls, "and I knew it was dead. So I'm thinking, 'Okay, Lord. We have to do something here.'" Barry admits the next thing he did sounds "really crazy." "Sheila was in the other room crying, and I wanted to make everything okay. So I went into the kitchen and got out some cooking oil, and I anointed the cat. I said, 'Lord, please heal this little kitten.'"
When prayer failed to bring the cat around, Sheila requested an ocean burial. "I told Barry, 'It had a terrible death. Please give it some kind of auspicious funeral.'" Back then, Barry and Sheila were living (in separate quarters) in southern California, so he took the kitten and headed for the Pacific.
"A year later," Sheila says, "we were driving past the supermarket. And Barry said, 'See that dumpster? That's where the cat went.'" It was a bit of a surprise to find out the kitten hadn't been buried at sea. But Barry had a plausible explanation. "There was a fire in Laguna that night, so all the roads were blocked. I had to turn around, and the only thing I could find was a dumpster."
And what about that picture Sheila was trying to straighten? Barry says they didn't take it with them when they moved to Nashville.
Interviewed by Ron R. Lee
1999 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.