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Winged gifts

One morning this week, I found Sweet William sitting on the edge of the bed looking out the window.  He had spotted a Pileated Woodpecker on the plumb tree in our side yard.

I eased over quietly to see it, not only because it’s a rare occurrence around here, but because I had been wishing-praying-asking God for this very thing.pileated-woodpecker

A bulletin board hangs in the kitchen where a monthly calendar counts off the days. There are a few other things posted there. Like is a card someone sent with a drawing of two little girls in dress-up cloths.  It reminds me of my grand girls when they were young. There’s also a cutout of a little dog with the caption, “Wag more. Bark less,” a reminder to consider the words and attitudes I freely share with Sweet William.

Up in the corner of that hanging board was a picture I had cut out awhile back, the very woodpecker with its brilliant red-head feathers. It was a wish, a desire, a dream to see this creature up close and personal again.

(Photo from myrustichouse.com/)

Years ago, when the grandchildren were very small, I spied a woodpecker on the utility poll that connects electricity and phone lines to our houses. Those were the days when our family-too-far-away lived in the house next door, and it was a joyful arrangement.

The woodpecker was pecking that pole as if it were alive and he was going to find some treat in its battered surface. That’s the last time I recall seeing a critter like him around our area.

We have lots of birds making their homes in our yard and surrounding little woods. They build nests in our bushes and houses on poles, and they generally help keep the insect population under control as they swoop and flutter about. They serenade the morning dawn and entertain me throughout the day with songs and antics.

We are blessed to live across the lane from a lake that is home to a number of Canadian geese. This spring there are two pairs with three little goslings each, and Little Girl Maisie and I often see them waddling along or swimming in line as we take our walks.

My little corner of the world is full of blessings, especially the winged ones.

But it was a woodpecker I longed to see.  When I cut out the picture, I just decided to ask for one from the God who gives good things to His children. Of course, it was not a necessity for me to survive, but it was something I really wanted. Why not ask Him?

The morning I sat on the side of the bed with Sweet William and watched the woodpecker, waiting for him to make his way around the tree so I could see all of his foot-long frame, I was thankful for this gift, a gift I had asked for and had been lovingly, graciously granted by a good, good Father.

Some might think it just coincident or happenstance or the way fate destined it.

I choose to believe it was from my Heavenly Father’s hand because He delights in seeing His children enjoy the life and world He made just for us. His Word says, “He has filled the hungry with good things,” not just food to keep me from starving to death, but rich and tasty, good and pleasurable.

I pulled the picture from the bulletin board and pasted it in my journal, a reminder of this day’s joy.  Is it significant that the woodpecker sighting came at the time I was in an emotional skirmish?  I think it is. That bird appearance was a gentle hug from above.

And I think I may have heard a voice deep within me say, “Now what else do you want?”

I’m not a name-it-claim-it kind of believer. I don’t think I can influence the universe or bring things into existence by some power within me. Truthfully, none of us are that strong.

There is a sovereign Lord of lords who will do whatever He pleases, and I’m far from being wise enough to know what is best. I find the most effective prayer I can pray is “Not my will but Thine be done.”

Yet, there is a God who has given all good things for us to enjoy, given us opportunity to know Him and to become His child. He invites me to come and somehow when I do it gives Him pleasure. That’s impossible for me to understand because I’m not always the best company.

Do we shortchange ourselves by not asking more, knocking consistently, seeking until we find? Do we expect that suffering is all there is, resign ourselves to this lot in life so that we never expect deliverance, victory or joy? Do we fail to pray for big things from the God who is more than able to do what we cannot even imagine?

Perhaps I limit God by my small requests and thus minimize Him in my own eyes.

He fills the universe and beyond. He counts the hairs on my head. He stores my tears in a bottle. He keeps a journal on me. He loves me more than I can comprehend. He asks for my friendship, my time, and my attention because He desires me.

Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name forever!

He longs to be gracious to me and rises to show me compassion.

I will ask for my daily bread. I will pray for those who are sick and suffering. I will seek His presence and wait for Him, wait on His timing, wait for His “Yes” to my requests. I will trust Him when the answer is “no” and believe that He has something significantly better in mind.

And I will look for the next surprise gift He has planned just for me.

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Sunday grace

On a walk down my lane yesterday, the flock of robins surprised me.  Their appearance is a reminder of a coming spring.  The sighting brought delight.

Robin

My God is faithful.  He set the world in its orbit of sun, moon and a billion stars.  He called forth the mountains and settled the waters into their places.  He planted a garden. He planned the seasons.

He made a man and a woman to inhabit His creation.

It was His plan.

He knew we would fail.  He knew we would fall from grace.  But where sin abounded grace flowed down.  Grace greater than the defeat.  Grace enough to give victory.

Though winter may seem long, cold, and my heart frozen in lifelessness, there is the promise of spring.

And there will be grace enough to get me there.

Sunday grace.

 

I wonder

I wonder if the birds in my backyard know me at all?

I feed the birds regularly during those cold months when they fluff their feathers to hold in body heat and need extra energy to stay warm.  Sometimes the squirrel sneaks in to pick up the leftovers, and I get aggravated at him and shoo him away.

In winter, it is my pleasure to provide extra food for our feathered friends.  Their variety amazes me. The personality traits can be seen in each species. The blue jays are big and bossy, always taking over. The doves are complacent, minding their own business.  The woodpecker checks out hidden places in cracks and crevices the other birds can’t reach. The cardinals come in pairs.  And the little birds – chick-a-dees, wrens, and tufted titmice – they wait their turn and pick up small seeds left behind.  And I wonder if they know I am the provider of the seed and the fresh water on my deck?

Sometimes I call to them, “Come on, birdies.” And I imagine they recognize my voice and are just waiting for my invitation.  But do they really?

If I go outside my door, the birds all scatter.  They appear more afraid than friendly to me.  But why should they be?  I like them.  I enjoy them.  I feed them.

But they don’t know me.  They just like the seed I spread out for them.

How often have I gobbled up all the Father has provided for me without noticing Him?

How much do I take for granted that He will provide?

How quick am I to say thanks?  Do I just run scared if He tries to communicate with me?

I don’t want to hide when God comes near.  I want to know Him.  Because He wants to be known by me.

That in itself is astounding.  The Creator wants the created to know Him. He reveals Himself in so many ways so I can.

His provision is just one of those ways.  His gifts come regularly.  His voice is heard throughout the earth.  He offers grace upon grace for those who will receive.

He calls to me, and sometimes I don’t even notice or pay attention.  How sad that is.

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The birds in my back yard teach me a lesson.

God loves me.  He takes care of me.  He wants communion with me.

How then shall I respond?

 

 

The helping hand

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I notice them gathering even before the sun appears.  The birds.  The hungry, cold birds needing food to give warmth and energy in these below-average temperatures.

bird on rail

Taking courage, I walk out the door to the back deck in my robe and house slippers to spread seed on rails brushed clear of snow,  I can’t even get to the feeder in the yard without donning tall garden boots. They are my only shoes that are higher than the drifts.

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While they scatter at my appearance, the birds return soon.  They are hungry.  They flutter back and forth there all day long. The peaceful mourning dove, the tiny wrens and sparrows, the bright red cardinals, the bossy blue jays.  I am delighted by the sighting of two red-wing blackbirds.  Even the starlings come seeking a little something.

I put out more food late at night for the early birds tomorrow.

I worry about them, yet I remember that God created them to endure with their fluffy feathers (who doesn’t love a down comforter on a cold night).  They sit and eat in their ruffled up way to manage this extreme cold snap we are having in what most call a southern state.

A verse comes to mind.  “[God] provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.”

God provides for all His creatures.  And I put out seed for birds and dress little dog in a sweater and booties to go out so his feet won’t be frosted.

God provides for people.  And I help my neighbor who needs someone to care for her daughter in the early morning hours.

God provides for people we care about.  And I text my friend who had surgery this week, praying for her recovery, like many have done for us.

God provides what we need.  And two sweet daughters-of-my-heart send someone to clear my drive so I am no longer housebound in the deep, deep snow.

God provides shelter and daily bread.  And I have food and warmth and Sweet William is being cared for by medical professionals who know what he needs.

God provides mostly through . . . us.

Because we were never meant to live this beautiful life alone.  Not islands unto ourselves.  No self-made men or women who don’t need anyone else.

God created the earth and all that is in it to work together, to move like a well-oiled machine.  Sun warming earth to bring forth food.  Moon moving tides in and out.  Honey bees taking pollen to flower after flower.  Plants to grow and produce seed that is planted again.

The beauty of it all is just astounding when I think of it.  And that I get to be part of the process is even more amazing.  That the greatest of all, the Ancient of days, the One who is from everlasting to everlasting, who is complete in Himself and has no need of anything, the I AM – He has called me, has called you, to be part of His work.  He invites us to come along beside Him in what He does.

Jesus’ teaching about the Good Samaritan, His admonition for us to love one another, His laying down His very life for mankind is the beautiful demonstration of the hand extended to one’s brother or sister.

We are made for each other.  We’ve been given gifts and talents that are needed by someone else in our little corner of the world.

I love the story of the woman who brought her expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus.  When criticism arose, Jesus responded lovingly, “She did what she could.”  It was what she had in her hand and she offered it to the One she loved.  She did what she could.

What is in your hand today?  I have bird seed in my hand and a warm sweater and a prayer and a word here and there.  I will do what I can.