We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Look at the Birds . . .

I've been watching them since last fall when, for the first time, I planted a shepherd's crook outside my front window and hung a bird feeder. There's a quiet joy watching these little creatures up close, flitting and swooping and eating. Every week I fill up the tube, and every day I see how much they've eaten.

Now my late husband was a real birder. Even after giving multiple bird books away, we still have enough to fill a library shelf along with several pairs of binoculars. He joined the Audubon Society and took regular bird walks. He practiced learning the calls and songs of the local birds. Sometimes he took the girls with him on his birding trips, where they not only learned about various birds but also plants and flowers. One day he and I got a close-up look at an eagle flying over our heads.

Birding was always his "thing," so for me to venture into his territory made me feel a little intimidated. At the same time, perhaps in a very miniscule way, I felt I was carrying on his legacy. As the months have passed, enjoying the birds has become increasingly more than that for me. Watching the black-eyed chickadees and sparrows brings peace and reassurance to my heart. I gather courage from them when I feel afraid, when I face yet another decision, and when my faith falters. Each time I pause at the window, I remember the words of Jesus when He said,
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? . . . Therefore do not be anxious . . .
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 6:26, 31; 10:29-31 

Jesus, the ultimate story teller, knew how to take the common everyday things of life and draw spiritual truth from them. These constant reminders have a wonderful way of giving us perspective and inviting us to trust Him.

So, whether you're a real birder or just a novice like me, there's hope to be found in nature's object lessons all around us. 

Just look at the birds!

*Photos from Bing.com/images

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Out With the Old - In With the New


After digging out of the blizzard of the century, the soft breezes of spring come as a welcome reprieve. Robins' songs greet us with each morning sunrise. Geese honk their way across brighter skies. Peepers sing their joyous refrain as gilded shadows give way to twilight. Brave perennials of all kinds push last year's dead debris out of the way as promising buds burst into bloom. And the grass . . . it just keeps looking greener.

This is the first year for me to do the spring clean-up in the yard by myself. To be honest, I felt overwhelmed when I first took a look around. So, on every nice day, I decided to bundle up (when it's cool), find my garden gloves, and rake for an hour. What a job! For days, I've been raking up matted dead leaves and sticks that have covered up my flower beds. I've picked piles of stones out of the lawn, thrown from the snow plows. I've trimmed bushes and uncovered delicate blossoms that make me smile. And, you know, I'm starting to see a difference, a transformation. I have more to do, but little by little, I'm clearing the way for . . . all things summer.

I bet you've been doing the same thing! There's something about the smell of earth and the promise of warmer days that bring life to our routines. We open our windows to savor the fresh air. We're drawn to the outdoors like a magnet.

I like to think of spring as a reflection of new life . . . of laying aside the cold grip of the old and embracing the warmth of the new. Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on a theme scrawled on parchment to the ancient believers in Colosse:

Since you have been risen with Christ . . . Put off "anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk . . . seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self . . .

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and . . . forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you . . . And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony . . ."

So as we go about our springtime chores, let's also remember to ask God to clean up the dead sticks and leaves in our hearts. He "rakes" out the old and plants the new . . . fruits of righteousness . . . transforming us from the inside out.