What No Eye Has Seen, No Ear Has Heard, No Heart Has Imagined

Sitting cocooned in a luscious, lemon minky blanket as a brace against the damp chill of an early May breeze, I conceal myself and wait in the southwest corner of the back patio. You must make yourself small and discreet when bird watching. Our fully blossomed, lush purple lilac tree sends its bouquet of deliciousness, so sweet I can almost taste it, around the corner of the brick wall serving as part of my cover. A couple of mature, verdant green, newly leafed-out river birches dwarf the trio of bird feeders directly between them. The birches’ treetops are full of Goldfinches, Carolina Chickadees, Cardinals, House Finches, and Tufted Titmice singing in brilliant chorus as they rise and fall on the quivering branches with the waves of the wind. Bluejays, Mourning Doves, and Chipping Sparrows hop along in the fast growing blades of grass as they hunt for and peck at seeds on the ground below the feeders. Near the trunk of one of the birches a pair of shy, but gorgeously vivid, Blue Buntings huddle close together . A Baltimore Oriole, clothed in his jet-black hood with a juicy orange throat and chest, hesitates to leave his perch in the tree canopy before carefully alighting on the feeder tray to snack on sunflower seeds. Four male Red-breasted Grosbeaks swoop in and spread out on various limbs, followed moments later by a female. Their striking v-shaped patches of rosy red on a clean, linen white chest reminds me of cool summertime treats like strawberry ice cream.

Blue Bunting
Rose breasted Grosbeak
Baltimore Oriole

I can’t describe the incredible joy it brings me to be near these tiny creatures, to share moments of their lives with them. I’ve been trying to learn and recognize the songs and calls of a few of the species that regularly visit our feeders. Some of the common songs have been easy, but each kind has several sounds and I’m often stumped. It has also been fascinating to learn that Chickadees, Titmice, House Finches, Goldfinches, and Chipping Sparrows are plucky and not very afraid when I’m close to the feeders. While, on the other hand, the much larger Cardinals, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves,and White-brested Nuthatches are much more reserved and hesitant when they see me.

Every single time I watch the birds, without exception, I find myself praying with thanksgiving to God. I think it is the natural result of spending quality time with other creatures or features of His creation. I find myself praying when I am holding my cats, or watching dragonflies and frogs at our neighborhood lake, or am near the ocean or in a forest, or surrounded by mountains. I often think of how God has revealed Himself and has shown us the awesomeness and majesty of His mind through His creation. Muggy, hot, swamps full of crocodiles and toads; blindingly white, frozen, snow and ice covered tundra with polar bears and walruses; mesmerizing shades of brown, dry, barren, sandy, dune-laden deserts; eye-popping colors of coral reefs swaying in the vastness of the oceans; mossy, earth-smelling, leafy forests with arms lifted up toward heaven. These are just a few of His many carefully balanced ecosystems and all are interconnected through meticulously designed life-cycles of plants and animals. His ability to create such diversity and His attention to detail astounds and humbles me.

Mourning Dove in the rain
Downy Woodpecker

Of all He has made, His detail and attention to color is the most overwhelming aspect to me. This may be one of the reasons I am so fascinated by birds. Consider the common Mourning Dove. At first glance it seems like a dull, gray bird with some black dots and stripes on its tail. But if you look closer, it has stunning pastel blue eye rims and lids! And, if you look closer still, you will notice a small, round patch of iridescent pink on both sides of its neck. It’s as if God wrote His name there in a flourishing signature. The color of Cardinals is so distinctive and singular we have called it by it’s moniker, “cardinal red”, and made millions of crayons duplicating it so it can be scribbled across children’s artwork. Goldfinches fly around sporting dazzling, buttery-yellow feathers topped with ebony heads and wings, like rays of sun flashing across the sky. In the style of modern art, the black and white markings of Downy Woodpeckers are set in extraordinarily striking patterns. And then there is the Painted Bunting. Many years ago, long before I knew anything about birds, I used to drive all over Southwest Missouri seeing patients at their homes as a speech language pathologist. I remember driving down the highway at 60 mph and seeing a crazy flash of color in front of the car and then watching it stop and land in a tree at the edge of a park. It was so arresting and marvelous that I actually took the nearest exit and drove to the park hoping it was there, not caring if I was late for my next appointment. Thankfully, the little critter was still perched on the branch of the tree on which I had seen it alight. I had never seen anything like it before. It was so tiny, yet it was an unbelievable array of vibrant colors. I watched it for several minutes before it flew away and was so impressed by the encounter that I still harbor hopes of seeing one again someday.

If this is how God has made His earthly creation, then I sing the old hymn How Beautiful Heaven Must Be with renewed vigor! I can only imagine!!
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

May God be with you! ❤️, Amy

Topping Up Your Faith

A well stocked pantry is essential for spontaneous bakers such as myself.  Not only is it important to have the essentials on hand, like flour and butter, but also an ecclectic array of the odd and unusual, such as saffron and vanilla beans.  It takes time to grow your stock necessary to whip up something special at a moment’s notice without having to make a grocery run.  You also have to learn to keep an ongoing mental list of how much you have on hand of each ingredient.   There is nothing more annoying than having to go to the store in the middle of a recipe because you don’t have enough of something to finish the job. Keeping your pantry topped up is important.  

Much like baking, faith needs a deep repository of ingredients that are grown over time in order to create a feast that will supply daily Bread, even during times of famine.  Basic faith, all that is needed to initially become a follower of Christ, is to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that by His death, burial, and resurrection He has overcome sin and death and has given us eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  Scripture was written by about 40 different men, as the Holy Spirit prompted them (2 Timothy 3:16), over 1,500 years and is a wellspring of history, personal experience, wisdom, prophecy, fulfillment of prophecy, law, gospel, poetry, and letters giving first-hand accounts by eyewitnesses who had dealings with our eternal God across time.  All of these were written for our learning (Romans 15:4) and can be mined to give us everything we need in order to grow our faith through hope, truth, love, peace, joy, patience, endurance, faithfulness, forgiveness, mercy, grace, obedience, submission, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, understanding, wisdom… and so much more! 

The growth of faith is directly related to how much time, effort, thought, and personal devotion we put into topping it up.  Recognizing and experiencing God in one’s personal life with the aide of the Holy Spirit, when combined with listening to Him as you study scripture and talking to Him through prayer, combine to help us live our best and fullest life in Christ.  It is this fullness of faith, one that is constantly being filled and topped up, that shifts our viewpoint from life here below to that of the promises given about life above.

As we see every day on the news, bad things happen in the world. If you have lived very long at all, you know that unsolicited bad things will happen in the lives of the ones we love and even to ourselves.  Christians are not immune from failure, brokenness, loneliness, sorrow, or hardship of all kinds.  Accidents, illnesses, viruses, diseases, and death will touch and eventually take us all. 

BUT instead of despair and hopelessness when these things happen, we Christians can reach into our diligently topped up storehouse of faith and praise God through the storm instead of blaming Him.  We find ourselves resting in His ever present, faithful hands and feel a deep assurance that He has lovingly pressed us against His heart to keep us safe.  Not necessarily that He has removed the travails that happen to us in the flesh, though He certainly can do so if it is within His will! But, no, I mean the safety of our faith.  The promise of His love and His sovereignty alive and over our lives no matter what situation or diagnosis or trouble we find ourselves in. This kind of faith is possible because Jesus Christ has overcome sin and death by His resurrection and is the source of eternal life for all who call upon His name. He has overcome everything in this world and, as a result, there is now nothing that can harm those who believe in Him – not even death!

Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 8:34-39, “Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.”.

To me, the promise that nothing can separate me from the love of God through Christ Jesus my Lord tops me up to overflowing! If you are already a Christian, don’t forget to keep topping up your faith each and every day through scripture and prayer. If you are not a Christian, but you want to know more about how to become one so you too can be filled to the “whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 3:19), then send me a message and I would count it a privilege to share the Gospel with you!

To the praise of His glory! ❤️Amy