A Simple Redbird Can Change Everything!

021

This bird was in our backyard this weekend.

When I started writing my blog in 2011, an old friend, Cheryl, was one of the first to encourage me to keep writing.  In fact, she also bought a copy of my book and posted it on her Facebook wall. She was a true encourager. I had not seen her in years, but God was using her to encourage me.  The last time I saw her was backstage at the Kenny Roger’s concert.  She beamed when she saw me walk through the door.  She knew I loved him and was so excited for me to be able to meet him in person like she was doing.  She was such a wonderful lady.

I knew she was ill the last couple of weeks and when I saw a red bird in my back yard this weekend, I was reminded of her story.  I felt it was appropriate to re-blog a blog from 2011 with her God story, as Cheryl went home to be with the Lord today.

I know heaven is rejoicing…here it is…

I prayed for a home that had nature and trees and feel truly blessed that I got exactly what I asked for!  Every morning as I am preparing breakfast, I have one or two squirrels out my window hanging upside down from tree branches getting their breakfast of seeds from our tree branches.  They are about twenty feet or more up in the tree so I feel privileged to be able to see their daily activities so clearly from my kitchen window.  I never really knew this about squirrels until now since I don’t typically get to see them one-on-one that high up!  I truly enjoy watching the show every morning.

One thing that totally fascinates me about our trees though is the number of redbirds living in them.  When we first moved in, the leaves weren’t yet on the trees and I counted fifteen one day at one time dispersed throughout my trees.  Wow!  I was in awe as I have never seen anything like it.  I rarely see one redbird let alone fifteen at one time!

This reminded me of a story an old friend shared at least twenty years ago and I would like to share it today with her permission.  My friend, Cheryl, had Cystic Fibrosis and was very ill.  In fact, if she didn’t get a double-lung transplant soon, she would die.  As she tells her story, she described her outlook one day as having no hope of survival.  As she too, looked out her kitchen window, she remembers feeling numb.  She asked God, “Where are You?”  Just as she did, a beautiful redbird landed on her deck as close to the window as possible and stared at her for the longest time.  From that day on, she continued to see redbirds whenever she was down or discouraged.  They seemed to be everywhere she looked! God had given her a gift—one that encouraged her through the next weeks and months as she continued to battle her disease and awaited her transplant.

I was looking into a few facts about redbirds this morning as I was writing my blog and I was once again encouraged.   You see, redbirds don’t migrate; they stay the same place all year around.  This morning as I went out to snag a photograph for my blog though, there was not one to be found.  The funny thing is however, redbirds are quite vocal.  They even have various songs that they sing for different reasons.  Although I couldn’t actually see any of them, I knew they were there.  They were belting out their melodious tunes from all over but were hidden from my sight for some reason or another.  I love that God chose to use the redbird for encouragement for my friend and I.  It never leaves, is always there, whether you see it or not.  Hummm…sound familiar?

God is so cool like that.  He uses nature sometimes to bring us closer to him.  It inspires us, entertains us and even encourages when we least expect it.  When I asked Cheryl (Yes, she is still alive and well!) this week to remind me of her story, I had to laugh!  Since we moved a few weeks ago, we have had one thing after the other go wrong with this home not to mention many personal struggles as of late.  It seems like we will never get life back to normal! But God has shown me He’s got my back through Cheryl’s story.  He knew one redbird here or there wasn’t going to keep me going like it did for Cheryl.  This was a job for a whole flock of redbirds!  So now as I count my redbirds every morning and marvel at the beauty of nature, I am encouraged to know God is watching over me.  Why do we worry when we serve such an awesome God?  May God’s peace speak to you with whatever means He uses to assure you it’s going to all be OK!

Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)  For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

John 20:29 (NKJV)  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Blessings, my friend.

What Is Bugging You This Week?

015As I age, I have grown to appreciate bugs.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t like them in my house.  However, they fascinate me when they’re outside.  Did you ever stop to think about how they feel being called a bug?  Did you ever look into their eyes and wonder what they’re thinking?  OK, I’m being silly.  Seriously, have you ever taken the time to look at the wonderful design of each one?

Since I love to take pictures, my photography has really given me a chance to examine bugs  up close and personal.  As I look at these, often times beautiful creatures, I am in awe of God who designed each one.  This week as I was reflecting on my latest bug picture—a dragonfly in my backyard—I knew God had a lesson in it for us this week.

As most of you know, I’m still recovering from my treatments for breast cancer.  I have been discouraged because I am still having low energy and other problems that bug me.  However, I know it is a process, so I am taking time to allow myself to heal.  As I was thinking about bugs this week, it dawned on me.  God has taken care to create some beautiful bugs on the earth.  We take them for granted and often look for ways to get them out of our lives.  They bug us and we simply want them gone.

bug

Just as bugs torment us, so do certain situations in our lives.  We often just want to stop the pain and suffering and get on with the things in life we enjoy.  We don’t want to be bugged by inconveniences of illness, job loss, financial difficulties, divorce, etc.   We simply want to rid ourselves of the problem.  However, could it be that these bugs have been perfectly designed just for us?

If we take the time and lean into God during tough times, there, we find the beauty in the situation.  We begin to see our trials from His viewpoint.  He knows exactly what it’s going to take for us to grow into the person He has created us to be.  Just as He has concerned Himself with every little detail of a bug’s design, He concerns Himself with every little detail of our lives as well.

001So this week, if you’re feeling bugged by life’s trials, relax.  Know that God knows every detail about your situation.  He doesn’t allow us to go through hard times because he wants to bug us.  Rather, He is interested in teaching us to find the beauty in the design.

Matthew 6:25-34   “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

May Your Skies Be Blue and Your Dark Clouds Be Few!

Wow! I rarely whine but, wow! Have you ever had a week like I had last week? I haven’t felt so beat up in many years as I did coming out of last week. Talking with my friends, I realized that I was not the only one. One friend said she felt like she had a dark cloud following her. Others had times of immense struggle and persecution too.  As I was driving down the highway early in the morning on Friday, the sunrise ahead of me seemed to speak to me. In the far distance, the sun was trying to rise to brighten the sky but just above it, there was a dark wall of clouds that appeared to be pressing down on it from all sides. All you could see was the sun’s little light peering out from under all the darkness. That particular sunrise was a picture of exactly how I was feeling inside that day.

I feel as a Christian, it is my duty in life to let my light shine. I can’t cower because someone doesn’t agree with me or thinks I am false.  Although, it would make life a lot easier!  I have been writing for God for nearly two years now and saying things that some may or may not agree with me. However, clouds of disagreement will not keep me from doing what I have been called to do. God knows I’m not perfect but He loves me and chooses to use me anyways. He knows I will faithfully serve Him in everything He asks me to do. Clouds of judgment will not discourage me because I know He knows my inmost being and that’s good enough for me!

Tomorrow I will be sharing my struggles, pain and triumphs through life with a group of women as I share my testimony of how I came to know Christ as my personal Savior. When I’m not being transparent in my writing or speaking though, I tend to always try to stay upbeat and positive in my Facebook posts and Twitter tweets. Perhaps they paint a picture of a more perfect me than what you get in my speaking and writing—or even real life for that matter!  I just choose not to spew negativity on everyone reading my posts every day, so I keep it happy. In one conversation this week a friend said, “Lori, Christians have struggles too. Life can’t be perfect all the time; it’s not a good witness to be cheerful everyday!  People need to see we have down days too.” I agree to some extent that we need to be real, so that is why I share candidly through my writings and in my speaking. However, I do feel it is more edifying to God when I share what He is doing in my life versus whining everyday about what He is not. It’s when we start to rise and shine so to speak, only to look up, see the wall of clouds above that are pressing in and give up without trying that we are ineffective for the kingdom.

We are currently doing a study in our small group by John Piper called Desiring God. I like John’s statement, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” If we as Christians continue walking around with dark clouds over our heads crying woe is me, how are we glorifying God? But you say, “Lori, you don’t understand. I’ve had a rough life. I have had people hurt me; I’ve made bad choices that are irreversible, everyone’s out to get me.”  I say, “How is God glorified in that? If we have a world of miserable Christians walking this earth, day after day after day, who would want to join us?” I wouldn’t!  I would also say, “Haven’t we all suffered?  What makes your suffering any worse than mine?  However, I will tell you that what you may not see is on the other side of all of those dark clouds is a blue sky! Knowing that, do you really want to stay where you’re at and never get beyond the darkness?”  What do you need to do to push past the uglies and darkness that have been prevailing in your life up to now?

I have learned that when my focus is on the blue skies above all of this mess of ugly clouds we call trials and persecution, I don’t seem to even notice their threat after a while. They no longer are a hindrance or hold power to squelch my daily walk of being satisfied in the Lord and joyful in heart. I do admit that sometimes the clouds can get dark and scary when there are many crowding together instead of just one here and there. I even become weary and downright exhausted at times from their intensity as I did last week. But I have learned the hard way to trust there is not a cloud in the sky or wall of clouds for that matter that God can’t move. I don’t need to worry and fret.

So please, if you’re going to insist on carrying your dark clouds around over your head year after year, please don’t ask me to join you in that. I promise to pray for you, help you through the tough times, and do whatever it takes to get you out of that mess. But don’t ask me to agree with you or insist I choose to hang out under your clouds too. I have learned that not only is He most glorified when I am satisfied in Him; but, I am also most satisfied when I am glorifying Him! I can’t see that it is glorifying to have a black cloud accompanying me everywhere I go. Will there be cloudy days ahead? Sure! Will I struggle through them? Of course! But for today I don’t apologize for this smile on my face or the freedom that I feel in Christ. I praise Him that He has set me free from the bondage of worry, strife and all of the other clouds that have tried to get in my way. It’s all because I choose not to focus on the clouds, but rather on the One Who created them. Won’t you make that choice with me today too?

Proverbs 3: 5-6  (NKJV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

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