As a mother, I pray often. Multiple times throughout the day. I pray more now for my adult kids than I did when they were growing up. Gosh, after typing those words, that sounds terrible. I’m sure that statement just ruined any chance I might have at being voted Mother of the Year in 2021.
Maybe I shouldn’t say I pray more often, but my prayers are more specific. When my children lived in my house, there was a sense of control that I don’t have now. We provided for their basic needs (and many wants), and hopefully my husband and I were nurturing, and available during both good and bad times. I always had easy access to Band-aids when they were physically hurt, and soothing words when they were emotionally struggling.
In reflection and comparison, I now see how my prayers are different. When they were young, I prayed that I would be a good parent, guide and direct them in the ways they should go, and most importantly, raise them in the church.
And then I watched them leave the nest and fly away…
Somehow they survived, and both of my boys have grown up to be outstanding young men. They make me proud everyday.
For several months, my prayers have been for specific, individual breakthroughs and requests for each of my children. Night after night, I diligently pray the same prayer, and day after day I wait for these prayers to be answered. I keep on praying, even when it seems I’m not being heard. I keep asking, and praying, and seeking God’s will in their lives.
Throughout this process, I have had to resist the urge to sound my opinion to them about certain things. It is so difficult as a parent of grown-up kids to not come across as controlling, or micromanaging when your kids seek your advice, or when you decide to give the ever-infamous unsolicited advice. I honestly do my best to be helpful, supportive, and encouraging, and hopefully leave my “control freak” nature out of their lives. BUT it is soooooo hard!!!
Last week, in the midst of a very busy season of life, I was about to leave for work one morning. I went to the sliding glass door, attempting to coax Lorelai to come inside. I could see her peering into the pool with a concerned look on her face. When I stepped outside and called her to come in, she wouldn’t move.
I cautiously walked toward the pool, praying to myself that there wasn’t a snake in it! I would take a frog, turtle, or any other pest, but please Lord, let it not be a snake!
When I was close enough to see what had captivated Lorelai’s attention, I was completely caught off guard. It was a bird. A sparrow. And it was struggling to get out of the water. I quickly ran and got the net and scooped out this feathered friend. I walked to the fence, opened the gate, and gently emptied the bird onto the grass. The morning dew was fresh, and it was a cool morning for the end of April. I was afraid that the trauma of being in the water might be too much, and my mind was racing for ideas of what to do to try to save this little bird.
I was calmed a bit when I heard a short chirping sound, and ran to the garage to scoop some bird seed from the bag. I returned to the bird, dropped the seed around it, and went inside to grab my purse. After all, I had a real job to get to, and I certainly wasn’t trained like Dr. Doolittle when it came to saving animal lives.
When I checked on the bird one last time, the seed was gone. Its feathers were fluffed out (which is something birds do to warm up), and I felt a little better about things. I did grab some pine straw and built a make-shift nest around my new friend, hoping to add warmth, comfort, and a happy ending.
On my way to work, I prayed for this bird. I prayed that when I returned that afternoon, it would be gone. I prayed for healing, and for the bird’s future. I prayed for protection, and I thanked God for Lorelai’s concern which led me to rescue the bird before it ended up in the swimming pool skimmer.
As I drove down the highway, I thought of the song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” and the verse from Matthew 6:26 filled my mind:
“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?”
I was immediately overcome with a feeling of peace. I relinquished my tendency to worry, and my need for control. I had done all I could do. The situation was out of my hands and I had to simply have faith (which is easier said than done).
You might think that I am being completely over-dramatic, getting so involved with trying to save the life of this little bird. But it was so much more than that. The bird (although real) served as a metaphor for the things going on in my life. The things I have been trying to “save”——the events I have tried to control. By physically scooping a bird out of the pool, feeding it, providing it warmth, praying for it, and putting my faith in God to handle the rest, I was actively putting into practice the things I should be doing when I pray—-speaking my requests, giving it all to God, and having faith in the outcome.
Happily, when I came home from work that afternoon, the bird was gone. I will never know what actually happened to it, but I choose to believe it spread its wings and flew away.
Later on, in the stillness of the night that followed, I realized the importance of this life lesson. I prayed my same prayer, but this time, without the urgency and worry. I prayed for wisdom, and peace, and acceptance of the outcome of my prayers which I knew at some point would be answered.
And over the next few days, I continued to pray daily, but I prayed with the attitude of mustard-seed-sized faith. I reminded myself how God cares for the birds and how much more He cares for me.
And less than a week later, mountains were moved…
And the best thing is, they were moved in ways that I never expected, and were bigger and greater than I ever imagined.
*****At this point I need to apologize*****
I am about to be guilty of something I used to refer to as “Vague-booking” (a term used when people “vaguely” post things on Facebook). I want you to know that several BIG prayers have been answered, but it also isn’t the time for me to share the details of those prayers. I feel that the information isn’t my story to tell, but once my sons decide to spread their big news, I will definitely fill you in, so keep reading my blog!
My purpose in this post is to remind you not to give up. To stay the course, even when you’re filled with doubts. Even when your worry is bigger than your faith. Even when you feel out of sorts, or lost, or alone.
Because one day, there will be a little bird that comes into your life, and changes it in miraculous ways. A tiny being whose purpose is to remind you to stay strong and courageous. To keep your faith, and to put all your hope in God. A reminder to never forget that “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me.”
As things usually happen, I thought this blog would end here. But I had an experience a couple of days ago that I can’t get get off my mind.
I’ve mentioned before that as a school counselor, I have seen and heard some truly overwhelming things—-both good and bad. It’s a job that isn’t for the faint of heart, and a job that will break your heart more times than can be counted.
There is a little girl I meet with once a week who has captured my heart. She is precious—–beautiful inside and out, and in the midst of great uncertainty, has a relentless spirit that most people only dream of obtaining.
My little friend is a “foster child.” She is with a loving family, and has flourished in this environment. She is always happy, or has the ability to put a “happy spin” on things. She can adapt to situations as they arise, and knows how to survive. But she’s still just a little girl, and at times, she’s worried about what her future holds.
The other day she shared that she recently talked with her social worker who informed her that she will be going to a new family soon. She added, “It will be my forever home.”
When she said it, I wasn’t convinced that the next stop would be “forever.” I could hear it in her voice that she didn’t believe it either. I couldn’t help but wonder if breaking the news to her by selling the forever home idea was simply a way of easing the pain that this little girl might feel, knowing that her entire world was soon going to turn upside down. I hate to sound jaded, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that there aren’t always happy endings…
And if her words weren’t heart-wrenching enough, my little friend added, “I was sad today, and I almost cried on the bus. I don’t know why some people like me (foster kids) get to go home, but I never do. Why don’t I get to have a forever home?”
There aren’t enough Kleenex in the world to handle that comment. Of course, tears from me would have only made it worse, so in that moment, I had to keep it together. Her words, however, remained with me the rest of the day, and again, haunted me that night.
But in the middle of my sorrow, I remembered that little bird. The one I helped save a little over a week ago. The resilient little bird that was given warmth, and nourishment, and love. The little bird that was prayed for. The bird whose purpose was to enlighten, embolden, and replenish my faith. The little bird that spread its wings and flew away.
I’m not sure how my sweet friend’s story will end. I don’t know how many homes she’ll have to land in before she finds a permanent one. I don’t know if her faith and resilience will endure, or if her spirit will be broken by the cruel and harsh world.
But I do know this, His eye is on the sparrow and He watches over her. And one day, years from now, when she leaves this uncertain, unfair, and mixed-up world, she will find her Forever Home. And isn’t that what we all should hope for? That when it’s time for us to leave this temporary place, we go to our Forever Home?
So as I add to my list of prayer requests, I pray that God will use me to help fulfill His purpose in the lives of the little ones I serve. I pray they have Jesus in their hearts, and they will be able to overcome the obstacles that are already in their paths. And I pray that they will have the mustard-seed-sized faith that will give them the strength they need to move the mountains ahead.