Thursday, November 3, 2016

Of Mud and Birds

Last week was a long one. The kind of week that seems like someone snuck extra hours, or maybe even days, in there and is watching while you try to figure out what happened. It was sometime on Tuesday when I realized that Wednesday hadn't happened yet. As much as "time flies when you're having fun", it also drags along when you're NOT having fun. In this case, we had three kids down with the stomach flu. Thankfully it was very short-lived and everyone was feeling back to normal fairly quickly.

Yes, the first half of that week was made up of the type of days that you slog through as if you were walking through a farmyard after a heavy rain. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other because you know if you stop moving for too long you're bound to lose a boot in the mire and stick your sock-clad foot in a pile of ... "special" mud.

I know we've all had times like that. It was certainly not the first time for me, and I'm positive it won't be the last. It's just a part of life. Sometimes the "mud" we're walking through is something relatively uncomplicated - like a house full of sick kids, or second grade math (homeschool parents, I know you relate!). At other times we are faced with much more difficult and/or longer-lasting situations. Chronic illness, family conflicts, financial troubles, the death of a loved one... There's no way to get around the fact that sometimes life is just not easy. Sometimes it's just HARD.

Thankfully we have a Creator who has equipped us to deal with the hard times! Sometimes that means that we can deal with the situation with the wisdom and skills that He has given us. Sometimes it means that we deal with it through personal prayer. And sometimes we need to get other people involved - people who can pray for us and with us, people who can help out with their God-given wisdom and skills, people who can stand with us and hold us up when we feel like we can't go forward on our own. This is a big part of the importance of the Body of Christ, and why we are instructed to: "...consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another..." (Hebrews 10: 24-25a, NIV) This is important as we deal with our personal issues, but also as we deal with issues that we face corporately as believers. 

Right now we are now just days away from another presidential election, the results of which will affect us far into the future, and I believe that all of us who are followers of God should be spending quite a bit of time in prayer over the next several days. Even though things may seem hopeless when we read through the headlines, we can rest assured that God is watching out for us. He never promised that things would be easy, but He did promise to be there with us through it all.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10: 29-31, NIV, emphasis mine)

I'm so glad I have a heavenly Father like that! He loves us and cares for us. What He promises He is able to do and He will do it! Sometimes knowing that is all that gets me through the rough stuff. It's what enables me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It's what is giving me hope as we look forward to the future, even though we have no idea what the future is going to hold.

I'll leave you with this: "Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!" (Luke 12: 24, NIV) Think about it. Enjoy the pictures. And remember to pray for this election and for our country's future leaders!

Common Raven.

Grey Jay.

 Find the bird! He's hiding pretty well, with his eye looking like just another cedar berry and his feathers and beak the same grey as the branches.

Here's a better look at the hiding bird. I think the fluffy one is a juvenile. He's SO FLUFFY!!!

The same bird again. Tentatively identified as the 
Townsend's Solitaire.
(But if you know better, please tell me!)

Unidentified Hawk.

 Clark's Nutcracker.

Another shot of the Clark's Nutcracker.

Unidentified Duck.

 A flock of birds in motion.

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