Up with the birds….

I waited… in the still.. in the quiet, straining to hear when they would commence their singing.

At precisely 4:10 it began. The lovely chorus strained through the closed window, and enveloped me as I lay reading an old weathered novel with dog eared pages, and coffee smudges on the cover.

It is encouraging to listen to their excited chatter, and imagine what stories they are telling one another. Are they the same birds that meet every day at this time to dish about the ” goings on in the hood?” They have experiences to share and little bird lives to live.

” Remember that ole black crow from yesterday ?”

“Oh ya..thanx for your help scaring him away from my nest the dirty rotten scoundrel , he was clearly up to no good.”

” Those beady black eyes, and annoying voice.. he thinks he can steal whatever he likes.”

” positively uncivilized I tell you.. no manners whatsoever.”

“I think it’s time we took a bath, I’m feeling the need to wash my beek, and fluff my feathers?”

” Anyone else?”

” I’m in”

“Me too”

“Right behind you”

” Me three, but first where are you finding the best worms and seeds?”

My Mum used that expression all of the time. ” I’m up with the birds,” and she was .

Wrapped in her housecoat of terry towel cotton, and feet clad in her “ugg” leather blue moccasins lined with sheep wool, she made her early morning pilgrimage to the kitchen to start the ” keurig ” machine for a cup of coffee.

If I was there, she would remark, ” I wish coffee tasted as good as it smells.”

She couldn’t wait to take her favorite mug back to her spilling over with contents bedside table, and get tucked back into her bed covers making sure that her heating pad was nice n toasty. Once she was settled back in her bed type nest, her face shone she wore a contented smile.

“Open up the window” she would say, ” let’s listen to the birds…I love their singing.”

I love it too.

It is the most beautiful and gentle alarm clock ever created. Compare it to the early morning shrill call out of the jaunty rooster. Quite the opposite. Although I do enjoy the rooster making himself known at the first light of day . He is triumphantly proclaiming that we have been graced with another day, and we should get up and take notice, and not miss one thing.

The rooster challenges us, the birds invite us into community. It is such a different call, but both feel somewhat necessary to notice.

On this day 24 years ago, a little perfectly imperfect baby girl was born to me . I labored over her. I already loved her . I had no idea, but I did have a boatload of readied expectations for her life .

I had dreams… and weren’t dreams a good thing?

Expectations can be dangerous. I’ve learned this along the way . I was counseled a time or two to “manage my expectations.” At first this seemed like stoic and less than hopeful or helpful advice, but the more time I’m graced with life upon this planet the more I see the sense in the phrase.

” I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”( from a hymn )

Listening to the birds tends to put this little remembered tune in my head which I learned when I was very young.

Taking the time to listen, and enter into what your soul whispers back to you before you put your feet on the cool floor of morning can make all the difference in a day. Take it all in. The sound, the early dusky scent of fresh breeze through the wind, the way your covers lightly lay gentle and warm against your skin. The softness of a bed, and how fortunate to have a bed on which to lay.

Is it too soon to make coffee? The anticipation can make me impatient.. but wait..don’t rush, just be..take a breath, and remember her .

I honestly feel like heaven will smell of freshly made doughnuts, and just out of the oven home baked bread.

Could there seriously be a better scent, I think not .

Life with Bianca was not easy. It was challenging, it was grueling, it hurt. It was beautiful, and full of triumph and sorrow and broken dreams. It was a Phoenix rising from the ashes on the wings of crazy hope. It was personal . It was ours.

Her daily care tortured me. Her seizures wounded me every time. To watch..to bare witness, to not run away, when everything in your being flinches as if you have been burned with fire. I promised her.. She was my child. I was hers. We were bonded. I would do, and would do again, whatever it takes.

This reminds me of an angels’ wing. I found it recently on the beach, and tucked it into my pocket. As my fingers played over the ridges, and crevices, it felt like comfort .. I would love to drill a hole in it, and string a piece of lather through it to wear as a pendant on a necklace. I have seen this same wing stretched on the branch of a tree while I was walking the trail .. it was a bent piece of bark that looked like a broken Angel wing.

It seems…signs are everywhere.

I am forever looking. I want to see.

Something that recently occurred which my understanding is still in awe of happened on a trip to southern Greece with 23 other women.

We had arrived via Athens, to the isle of Tinos.

All of us in the group were gathered around a big outdoor table where our group leaders, Laura and Michelle and Tami welcomed us. They handed out cornflower blue cotton bags which we then passed from one to the other until everyone had one.

Inside was the itinerary of the week printed out, and a journal which was given to each of us. There were two photos, and something written in script on a laminated piece of paper. I briefly glanced at the contents as I listened to our briefing. At the time I thought everybody was given the same things within our bags.

Later on I would find out just how unfathomably personal these contents would be.

Laura, a dear life friend of mine had spent time collecting photos from miscellaneous sources to include in each woman’s bag. She had been praying that the recipients would receive something that would be meaningful to them . The bags had no names. They were just passed out seemingly randomly.

Not too much later, as we sat in group time, we each were instructed to take out our written piece of paper and read it out loud to the group.

As each lady read what was included in their journal it became apparent that something amazing was occurring. These words were personal and meaningful to each recipient.

If you know me well, then you have heard me say this phrase.” There he goes, he is showing off again, I just love when he does that.” By “he” I mean God.. I ask him to show me stuff, and He does. It’s like our own “show and tell class.”

This what was written within the journal in my bag that just ” happened” to fall into my lap.

I ain’t making this up …

I was speechless.. for a brief second.. What?.. Are you kidding me? When it was my time to read my phrase I was awestruck. I remarked after reading this to the other women how I say this phrase a lot. Those who knew me personally nodded their heads in agreement.

But wait.. there’s more..

I spoke about the two photos. Laura explained how she had included approximately 46 photos in all of the bags in total , 2 each, give or take.

She later on wanted us to open up and look at our photos. I should mention too that we had enjoyed some break out sessions where we got to know one another by sharing personal and vulnerable stories together. Intimacy and exchanges of life stories were occurring.

For some reason I did not want to look at my photos. I was fearful … I didn’t know why. Later on that night a few of us were hanging in my room chatting, and talking about how these different photos impacted us. It was wild. It was surreal, it was miraculous.

My friend Jeri coaxed me to look. I opened up my journal, and with shaky hands, and a lump in my throat I gazed on the photos, and really looked for the first time.

This was the first photo .. I broke into tears. I knew immediately what this was. This was Bianca with Jesus…she is hiding under the wing of his cloak. She is being held…

This photo was just for me.

I often have pictured her as she would be older. She had brown curly hair, and I thought she would likely wear it longer as young women do these days. It would be a glorious mane of bouncing chestnut curls.

This photo was so tender and reassuring, and heartstoppingly beautiful ..such a gift . It is her, with a gentle and contented smile, and the glorious face on Jesus..rapture.

There is more.

My favorite flower has always been a daisy. My Mum loved a gerbera daisy especially. I have a daisy tattooed on my right wrist.

This was the other photo.

A lone daisy flourishing on the middle of the road

As I walked into town yesterday, I looked down, and on the path was a daisy, just laying there as If It had floated down from heaven . It was the only daisy I saw yesterday, on what would have been her 24th birthday.

An angel wing shell, and a daisy . It might seem like two crazy coincidences, or is it more? To me, it’s divine comfort in these earthly emblems. It’s not happenstance.

When I notice the stuff, and take it in, I am overwhelmed to think that through it all, there is a God who loves me enough to show me stuff that is so personal it blows my socks off.


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