May 18, 2006Find joy today

I wrote this column around this time two years ago, before we embarked on France. I found it today. This morning I heard the bird’s sing in France as I jogged the hills. Perhaps God is answering my prayers…


Birds are everywhere—at least they keep bumping into my days. It seems every time I look out my window, a chirping bird is cocking its head in happy song, peering at me, daring me to fly.
While driving on vacation, we hit a bird that flew right into my field of vision. Though a thick windshield protected me, I winced when the poor bird thudded at eye level. I silently hoped that bird recovered and flew back to its nest. Lately I’ve felt like that poor bird, a bit battle weary and banged up.

I hope I can still fly.

Today in the car, I saw several birds—perching on light posts, fearlessly hanging out with feathered friends on high wires, hopping on sidewalks as if they were trick or treating, splashing in puddles left in road ruts. Even in the confines of suburbia, the birds exist, thrive even.

I’m trying to discern the reason behind this ornithological phenomenon. I’ve decided my avian friends serve as a reminder—that life is too short to wallow on the ground. One must fly.
I’m afraid the lesson has been lost on me lately. We’re nearing the time where our family flies to Europe to relocate to Southern France. We are flapping far away from our comfort zone—to a land of great food, great people and great spiritual need.

And in the midst of frenetic preparation, birds are colliding with my to-do list as if in playful mockery.

“Fly,” they say.

“No time,” I retort.

“Fly,” they beckon.

“Must finish packing,” I grumble.


More often than I’d like to admit, I turn away, grudging through my day—not flying. Just existing.

Moving is hard. Draining, really. Moving overseas is even more strenuous with visas, containers shipped on boats, consulates, language barriers. I fear that I’ve let the hubbub ground me.

So maybe sending flocks of happy birds my way is God’s sense of humor. To not take life so seriously. To let the worry for tomorrow slip away. To sing instead of putter. To flit and fly through tasks instead of murmur. To trust that my Creator sees me, delights in me, even mounts the Texas air with Eagle’s wings to rescue me.

I wove a happy nest here in Texas. I feathered it with amazing friends, a terrific church and the changing relationships of my little family. As the saying goes, I bloomed where I was planted. Coming from the mountains and sea air of the Pacific Northwest, I didn’t realize how precious this dry, flat place would be.

Now I know. And I understand. It’s not so much the location we live in, as it is the people who love us. And I love so many here just as I love so many in Seattle. But, like the birds, it is time to spread my wings, encircle new friends while holding the others in my heart. It’s time to fly.
Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6: 26).

Maybe that’s why God sent me birds these past few weeks. To remind me all will be well. That His footsteps are on every continent of this earth. That even though leaving everything familiar and comfortable is excruciating, He will feather my nest. That I am worth even more than the winged messengers He sent me this week.In a month, our family will fly on wings of anticipation to the great unknown. When we land, I expect to see a French bird cocking its head in happy song, peering at me, daring me to fly.


Heather in Madrid: This post is for you.