Monday, November 25, 2013

Birds

I love birds.  I currently have 11 feeders of differnt sorts hung outside my windows and around the yard.  Some people (my husband included) think I'm a bit of a fanatic.  But I'm not.  After all, I only have one bird book and I don't even have a pair of binoculars.  But I do love birds.  Something about watching them fly around and eat at the feeders is just amazing to me.  One of my feeders is hung right outside Josiah's bedroom window and when the birds are coming in to it to eat, we (I, Josiah, and the cats) will sit there and watch them.  And last week when I filled the feeders, I put some sunflowers on the top step of our back deck so we can watch them hop around on the deck from the sliding door.  It drives the cats crazy.

Of course, we also get lots of squirrels.  We put out corn cobs for them every few weeks and they get the bird feed that falls to the ground but I've managed to set up my feeders so the squirrels can only get to two of them (they're on a shepherds hook outside the kitchen window).  I have a jelly feeder for the Baltimore Orioles on one side and a finch feeder on the other.  The squirrels can't get to the finch feed because the feeding holes are too small and now that the Orioles are gone, I don't mind the squirrels eating the jelly.  Besides, when one climbs up the hook to the jelly feeder, we get to watch a squirrel up close.  There's been many a morning when Josiah was distracted from his breakfast by a squirrel right outside the window. 

We also get some not-so-desirable birds like crows, grackels, and starlings.  I always hate to see a flock of them come flying in.  They scare away the other little birds and empty the feeders in the yard, spilling a lot of the feed on the ground.  Last year they were pretty bad until I moved the suet feeder away from the other feeders.  Evidently those types of birds really like suet and they kept coming back for it and then eating everything else.  The suet is now in the far corner of the yard, hanging from the electric pole.  Hopefully it won't be such an issue this year but if it is, I'm going to try moving it to one of the trees.  Maybe the branches will keep it hidden enough that the bad birds won't find it. 

What kinds of birds do I see, you ask?  Well, this past summer, I finally got Orioles coming in to the nectar and jelly feeders.  But I have yet to see a hummingbird even though I put out a hummer feeder every summer.  Every week or so, I'll see blue jays and cardinals (cardinals are my favorite).  The birds I see most often are sparrows, purple and "regular" finches.  I see lots of robins in the summer and this past summer, I noticed some wrens playing in my garden.  I've also seen what I think is a veery and a thrush at different times.  And I've had some pigeons stop in at the feeders for a snack. 

This morning, we had a real treat.  Josiah and I were sitting on the floor in front of the sliding doors, watching the birds on the back deck.  Suddenly a hawk or hawk-related bird came swooping into the yard and missed, by inches, the head of a squirrel that was sitting under the feeders in the yard.  In a nanosecond, every bird had disappeared and the squirrel retreated to the protection of a tree.  The hawk perched on the branch of one of the trees in our yard and kept looking around, hoping for a juicy meal to appear.  I watched him for a few minutes but decided finally that I'd better scare him away so that the other birds could come back and eat in safety.

And now it's naptime for my son and reluctantly, I'll give up watching the birds to feed him and put him down for his nap.  I have things to do today but as I go about my chores, I always keep one eye looking out the windows, hoping to catch sight of little birds flitting through the air.   

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?  Matthew 6:26

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trips, Family & Thanksgiving

Josiah and I got home from Wisconsin late last night.  My parents live north of Green Bay and since they live so far away, they don't get to see Josiah very often.  The last time they saw him was in September and, if it weren't for this trip, they wouldn't have seen him again until January.  Four months is a long time to miss in a baby's first year.  I want my son to have a close relationship with both sets of grandparents and that means making some sacrifices to ensure that he gets to see my parents at least a few times a year.  As he gets older and our family gets bigger, it'll get harder to travel that distance (either by plane or car) but family is very important to us and we'll do what we need to to make sure our kids see their grandparents.

Josiah also got to spend some time with two of his uncles and his great grandfather.  Both of my grandmothers are gone but my grandfathers are still living and in relatively good health.  Josiah has seen my dad's dad twice now and he'll get to meet my mom's dad next June when we all go down to Phoenix for his 90th birthday.  Lord willing, all five of Grandpa's great grandchildren will be at his birthday party. 
 
The day after returning from a trip is always weird.  I'm more tired than usual because I was up later than usual.  I have things to do today that I don't normally do on a Wednesday (laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning, etc.).  I want to spend some extra time with my kitties since it's obvious that they missed me.  Plus, Thanksgiving is a week away and I need to start thinking about the menu for our Thanksgiving dinner.  The first Thanksgiving Daniel and I were married, I went a little non-traditional and made Cornish game hens and a turkey breast for our Thanksgiving meal.  He loved them so much that of course it became a Thanksgiving tradition for us.  And, due to my father-in-law being forced to work at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving, the parents/siblings Thanksgiving has been moved to Friday so we'll be doing our own Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day.  The big extended family Thanksgiving is scheduled for Sunday.  Lots of good eating coming up next week!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Repentance

The Christian life is one of constant and frequent repentance.  Just when I think I'm starting to get it together, I'll read something or hear something and realize how wrong and sinful I've been.  An example: I have very strong opinions on the importance of Christians having kids.  Jesus had a heart for children.  One of the commands in the Bible is to go forth and multiply.  I believe Christians need to be adopting and being foster parents as well.  The world is in desperate need of Christian parents who raise godly kids who raise godly kids who raise godly kids for generations.  Our society is, instead, churning out people who are selfish and would rather have a new car or house or vacation home than kids.  It's a travesty and the church is buying into it.  It makes me angry and sad because I know it grieves the heart of God when we put our standard of living above children.  And I tend to judge couples who I know aren't having kids or are waiting because they want to accumulate a bunch of stuff first. 

And then I'll come across something like this.  A blog that I've started to follow has a weekly truth box where people can write "what everyone thinks is true" and "what actually is true."  I was reading through the post of 60 truths and read this one:
"What everyone thinks is true"  -  we're just waiting awhile to have kids
"What is actually true"  -  I've had four miscarriages that only my husband and I know about.  Just holding my friend's baby makes me want to cry.  I miss them so much even though I never knew them.

And just like that, I feel like God hit me right in the forehead with a 2x4.  "You think you know everyone's situation" He says to me "but you don't.  You judge and shout selfishness without knowing that this poor woman's heart has been smashed to pieces."  Repentance and tears follow. 

I'm not wrong about it being pure selfishness to put material comfort or the avoidance of inconvenience ahead of children.  In fact, I truly believe that many Christians will be answering to God on judgment day for that.  But to make an assumption about a couple when I don't know the situation is very wrong and one of the sins I tend to fall into rather frequently.  And that's why there must be constant and frequent repentance. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why Me?

Sometimes I can't help but wonder why I'm so blessed.  And at times, I even feel guilty about it.  I just got done reading another story on facebook of a couple that lost their 6 week old baby to a rare disease.  I look down at my almost 8 month old with tears in my eyes because I can feel, on a very small level, what that mother is feeling and I can't help but wonder why it was her baby that had the disease.  I have a wonderful, devoted, hard working, honest husband and a healthy, bright, energetic almost 8 month old baby who brings so much joy to my life.  I have a comfortable home, a freezer full of food, money in the bank, pets, and the opportunity to stay home with my baby.  And I can't help but wonder why.  Why am I not one of the people going to bed tonight, shivering in tattered blankets under a bridge with an empty stomach?  There's a young woman in our church who was asking me about the adoption process and how we got Josiah... she's had two miscarriages already and she just wants to be a mom.  I know that there's a part of her that feels pain every time she sees me holding my baby.  Why was our adoption so (relatively) easy?  Why were we basically just handed a baby when we weren't even looking for one yet?  Why did we get the baby of a young woman who was placing because she loved her child and therefore took good care of her child while she was pregnant (no drugs or alcohol, took prenatal vitamins, went to all her doctor's visits)?  We never had to worry about getting a crack baby or a baby with birth defects due to alcohol use.
 
And amazingly enough, I still whine.  I still gripe.  I still complain when things don't go the way I want them to.  I get impatient with the beautiful little baby boy that God gave me.  I get discouraged because my husband doesn't make as much money as I wish he did.  It's bad enough that the life I have is totally undeserved.  But I add to it by complaining about aspects of that life.  I'm a royal sinner, or, as Paul puts it, the worst of sinners.  Some people may look at my life and say that I probably deserve at least some of it.  I'm smart, I've had some education, I've made wise decisions, I've worked hard to get to where I am now.  But guess what.  All of those things are also a blessing because God was the one who made me smart, gave me the opportunity to be educated, gave me the ability to work hard.  Even the things that some might say got me to where I am today (which they didn't) are blessings that I don't deserve.  And that's why I wonder.  I'm a sinner deserving of hell and the wrath of God.  But I've been saved by His amazing grace and blessed beyond imagination.  Why?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lessons Learned

I'm beginning to believe that one of the hardest things about parenting is sitting back and watching.  As a parent, I want to always be there to catch my kid before he hits the ground (metaphorically speaking) but in my head, I know that's a horrible parenting technique.  Just this morning, I was sitting in the living room, watching my son playing with one of his toys.  He dragged it over to the coffee table, pulled himself up, and, while hanging on to the table with one hand, reached down to pick up the toy and put it on the table.  The toy is fairly large and unwieldy and heavier than most of his toys.  The first attempt resulted in the toy getting caught on the edge of the table and he dropped it.  He adjusted his footing to get a little more leverage, reached down, and managed to get the toy onto the table.  However, after a minute of playing with it, he accidently pushed it off and the process of getting it back onto the table started again.  I just sat and watched.  In that moment, I could've made his life easier and put the toy on the table for him and made sure it stayed there.  But I can't and won't be that mom. 

I want my kid to succeed and fail on his own.  When he succeeds, he'll be building confidence in himself and his abilities.  When he fails, he'll learn to keep trying until he does succeed.  I think lessons like these need to start being taught at a very young age (my son is 7.5 months old).  When my son is in a college classroom and can't figure out a problem or on the job site and can't resolve an issue, I want him to be able to look back at a lifetime of successes and have the confidence in his abilities to be able to solve the problem and fix the issue.  I want him to be able to think outside the box.  I want him to just try different things until something works.  He'll also have examples in his past of times he failed.  Those will serve to keep him grounded and humble, to realize that he may not get it the first time or he may need to ask for assistance from someone else.  Doing everything for our kids so they never get to experience failure or success is bad parenting.  Our kids need to succeed and our kids need to fail.  So for your child's sake, just sit back and watch.  If they need your help, they'll ask.