Monday, September 20, 2010

What We Saw Today

Walking near Faneuil Hall in Boston
We saw this monument and were captured by it
Who was this bronze man and how did he earn the statue?
No signs, no labels, no answers.
We asked a passerby who also didn't know.

Our son, 4 years ago, apparently wondered the same thing.
His 6'2" frame was dwarfed by the bronze man
but he tried to match his stride.
Later, reading our son's blog to remember what he did in Boston
We came upon this photo.
Rachel's precious camera work.

Today we walked where he walked
Without knowing.
Without knowing
We breathed his air.
We noticed what he noticed.
We walked in his footsteps.
Without knowing
We shared this memory.

Time and distance are relative things.
It was our own monumental shared moment.
A gift for today.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baby Kaia in the Arms of Jesus

bleeding heart flowers
I do not know the details, I only know from Marina that precious baby Kaia went to Heaven today. Please pray for the Zautner family who I know are heartbroken beyond words, intensely missing their beautiful little girl and grieving deeply. Please surround them with love and comfort by leaving a message of condolence on their blog link HERE.

Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pray for Baby Kaia

Double-click here for the link to Baby Kaia's blog

Baby Kaia was born to our dear friends, Jared and Alana, in January. She was born with a damaged heart and has been fighting for her life for the past eight months while awaiting a heart transplant. Yesterday was a day of crisis, and the family has asked that we put out an all points bulletin for prayer. So please remember this beautiful little girl and her family in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Best Friends

Joey's best friend, Kevin, and his beautiful family came to visit us last week. Kevin, his wife Molly, and adorable baby Josie, who was named after our son, brought love, laughter and comfort to our home. His mom, Melissa, who is my best friend, and her husband and her other two sons also came, and it was like the good old days when we all used to go on vacation together. It was emotional to see them, as we rarely ever saw Kevin apart from Joey, and it definitely felt like someone was missing. . .but seeing him also brought us tremendous joy and comfort. Jaime said it was like being with her brother again, and there was much happiness in our home while they were here.

Here Isabel gets to hold our sunshine girl, Josie.
Josie is always smiling great big twinkly smiles and she's obviously inherited major IQ points from her double veterinarian parents. At just over a year, she "speaks" sign language and can parrot just about anything you ask her to say.

On our last night together, we watched home movies of all of our kids growing up together those many years ago just a few doors apart on the same street. We have so many memories, they all run together. They grew up going to the same schools and the same church, and shared every barefoot summer vacation. Some of the videos we hadn't looked at in years. It was just so good to remember how much fun they all had together as children, and how richly interwoven our lives have been for so many decades. It takes time and hundreds of experiences to create that kind of bond.

In order left to right: Tom, Jeremy, Molly, Kevin, Joe, Josie, Ryan, Melissa.
I can't tell you how much I love these people.
They are the best kind of friends--with you on the mountain tops and down in the valleys, and every place in between.

Proverbs 18:24
There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Hope in a Troubled World

This is the last time I saw my baby bird last weekend. He was nestled under the hedge and under his father's breast and trusting him to take care of him. In a similar way, I am trusting my Heavenly Father to take care of me. The father bird continues to stay in our yard, so I think the baby is hidden someplace safe.

At the beach on Sunday, I watched our pastors baptize some new believers. I love these beach baptisms. It's just a breezy, relaxing and refreshing way to worship God in one of the most beautiful places He created.
I especially like it with an assortment of people on the beach and body surfers all around watching the show. I think a beach baptism gives spectators pause to think about their own souls, and that's a meaningful thing for any of us.

Here's our little church, gathered on the sand and watching as Joe plays his guitar.
The question is, "Why would anyone in our modern world bother to get baptized?" Some view it as an outdated and irrelevant ritual, meaningless in our high-tech, but troubled world. With all the suffering around us, it's hard to believe in a God who cares, anyway.

But this girl's arm says it all.
God is Love.
It fills me with hope just to see it.
That simple phrase, God's declaration about His own character, lifts me from despair and allows me to bear the loss of my son, and all the other losses of this life.
(and even the sadness about the bird's nest.)
Despite what we see around us, we have a God who says He loves us. He tells us that no matter how things look, nothing can ever really separate us from His love. It's that irrepressible love, whispering quietly in my heart, that helps me patiently endure.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Last Sweet Days of Summer

Labor Day Weekend has come and gone, and the lazy days of summer are really, truly over. Today everyone went back to school. We only have one grandchild left in elementary school which makes Joe and I a bit melancholy. We find ourselves (and maybe their mamas, too) trying to soak it all in before it's gone. We are fondly remembering those days when they were young and innocent and liked nothing better than to visit their Nana and Papa.

Of course, this new season has its own magic, and we watch with wonder as the four older ones grow and change, and become teens and young adults. But the other night, our tween-age granddaughters poured out some of the final drops of childhood and regaled us with a bike show while we sat in the front yard and laughed at all their antics. I haven't laughed like that in a very long time and it felt great.

Round and round they went, showing us their "tricks".
Feet on the handle bars...

No hands...

A shining smile for the audience...enough,
cuz he's still little, and we aren't going to allow him to grow up!

And ta-da-- standing on the frame.

I know, pretty impressive stuff.
We loved every minute of it, and they did too.
Don't grow up, please.
Not yet.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Joy Comes in the Morning

Despite yesterday's emotional breakdown, no one would accuse me of being overly-sentimental about animals. I'm just a border-line animal lover, and most of them don't even earn a nod from me. But the Mourning Dove family on my front porch was different. They didn't sniff, scratch or carry fleas. They didn't pee in my house. As they studiously sat on their nest, and warmed their eggs, and then fed their little hatchlings, three feet from my front door, I fell in love with them. I got a front row seat on a beautiful little miracle of nature.
So yesterday was devastating. Seeing the death of the mama dove and one of her hatchlings undid me. After that, the surviving baby and the daddy disappeared after I had returned the chick to the nest. I was afraid I had messed everything up by doing that. I hoped for the best and prayed for them, but I had no way of knowing what really happened to them.

Then I came home from my workout today to find this!! Yes, baby brother has found his way back up to the nest. All by himself!! Six feet off the ground, and somehow he had gotten back up to it! Quite an impressive accomplishment for a three inch tall downy/feathery person. I guess those little wings are figuring things out.

He was chirping for his breakfast when I discovered him. As I was stewing about how I was going to feed him, he did this:

He hopped/flew down to the rocker on my porch. As I was stewing about whether I should put him back in his nest, I saw this:

Papa Bird lurking on the edge of the porch! Not two feet away from his little one. Hiding from me, I think.

Ahh, prayer answered. They were TOGETHER. Papa was still on the job. What a faithful daddy he is! I know a few human fathers who could learn a lesson or two from this one.

And then this...Daddy hopped up on the porch, and the little hatchling hopped down from the rocker, and daddy proceeded to feed him his breakfast. Beak to beak.
Beautiful. Joy. Relief.

Then they hopped off together to their secret hiding place, for Flight School or Seed-cracking 101, or whatever comes next in baby's education.

Obviously, God has equipped them with powerful survival instincts, and maybe, just maybe, they can do this without me. Since I am completely clueless. And a bit emotional.

Hurricane Earl hits our shores this evening. I considered moving the nest along with all the other potted plants, but I changed my mind. I am just leaving it where it is to swing in the wild unruly winds that are coming our way. I am going to wire it to the hook so it won't blow off. And then, when the winds stop, the mourning doves will know RIGHT. WHERE. TO GO.
(Sigh...I love 'em and I can't stop myself.)

(PS-thanks for all the love and comfort yesterday. It helped a lot.)

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

If there is anything I've learned these last two years, it's that the world is a dangerous, sad and unpredictable place. I know that nature can be both beautiful and brutal. In spite of that knowledge, some of it on a visceral level, I was wholly unprepared for what I woke up to this morning.

I opened the door only to find that our little nest with the sweet dove family had been knocked from its hook by a predator. The geranium basket was sitting on the hedge, full of feathers, but the nest was completely EMPTY. NO babies, NO mama. Just feathers everywhere. It looked like a crime scene.

Here is the geranium basket sitting on the hedge. I suspect a cat simply walked across the railing of my porch and swatted the pot with it's fragile cargo. It made safe landing on the hedge, but was then perfectly positioned for easy attack.

I could see from the mixture of long mama feathers and short downy baby feathers, that Mama put up a huge fight to protect her babies. There were signs of struggle as the feathers covered an area three feet in diameter.

My heart just absolutely sank. I got a lump in my throat. I fought back tears. How could this have happened? Is anything safe anymore?

But the ground was covered in feathers, and it just broke my heart.
So. very. sad.

I lifted the basket with its empty nest back up on the hook. I called my husband and burst into tears, telling him the tragic story of our little doves. I called my daughters and did the same with them. I cried like it was my own child, and so I guess I was crying for that all over again too.

I cannot get used to the cruelty of death and the disappointment of life. It hurts so much. Even when it's just a family of Mourning Doves.

I had an appointment, so I donned my sunglasses to cover my red eyes and blotchy face. While I was out, my daughter, JoAnne, came and cleaned up the mess. We wanted to protect the neighborhood children from seeing it. They've been watching the unfolding story along with us.

When I returned home, I found the father bird, sitting on the ground under the nest waiting for his wife and babies to return. That undid me. It broke my heart all over again. It's too close to my own story of loss, and all I could see was my husband waiting for our son to come back.
Mourning doves mate for life, so his little grey dove of a wife isn't returning, either.

I went in the house and had a big cry/why? session with God.
My daughter, Jaime, knowing how upset I was, brought me flowers.
I've been in and out all day, checking on the daddy bird, who faithfully sat at his post.

(story continued below)

What Happened Next

The daddy bird came at his appointed time to take his shift, and to do his morning feeding, only to find the nest empty and his little family gone.
He sat under the hedge for hours, just waiting for them.

I know it's the daddy because the light blue ring around his eye is wider than the mama's.
He was just sitting, waiting, not moving, not even disturbed by me photographing him.
It was incredibly poignant.

Several hours later, as I checked on him again, this time I noticed some little eyes peeping out from behind him. Can you see that little ball of grey down with eyes near daddy's tail feathers? One of the babies survived the attack! Daddy was guarding him.
Hallelujah!! Joy and hope revived.
At least half of this precious little family survived, and somehow that helps.

But what now? The ground is not a safe place for a 2" chunk of fluff. I did some internet research and it said to put the hatchling back into the nest. So with a gloved hand, I lifted him back up. The father bird was very distressed over this and was making a huge ruckus. He was flapping his wings double time and dragging them across the grass. He was in turmoil. That was so hard to watch. I felt like a villain. I'm not sure I did the right thing. I prayed that the father would figure out what I was doing and settle back down.

He did settle, but he stayed in his position on the ground, near the edge of the hedge. He couldn't seem to find the fledgling or the nest. I called the animal control people and asked them what to do, and they told me to watch and wait till the morning. If he still hadn't found the nest by then, then they would pick up the little orphan bird and feed it.
Here the hatchling sits in the nest...on the very, very edge. He's peeking out with his beak under the center leaf. About an hour later he moved in to the center of the nest, and looked very content to be there. Ahh, breathe. It's going to be okay, I tell myself.

A half hour later I checked on him again. Alas, he was GONE. Completely GONE. Not hiding under the leaves, not hiding under the hedge and no daddy bird in sight anywhere. Strangely, that soothed me. If that loyal, protective father was gone, after standing watch all day, then I think he found a way. He wouldn't leave without his baby and somehow he just figured out a way to get his baby to a safer place altogether. In chirping bird words, he told his baby to jump and he did and he flapped and hit the ground and they took off for a better place.

I am hoping that with all my heart.
(And I am exhausted.)