Right in the midst of a mess of storms brooding everywhere we turn, our hens take to brooding a clutch of eggs, and to say we stumbled into a miracle of sorts wouldn’t be clutching at straws.
It was somewhere about the middling to end of July that our 4 fowl ladies, Daisy and Sadie, Haddie and Lady, they took up nesting like it was nobody’s business, and our rooster, Strut, well, he took to what he does best, strutting around the coop as cocky as well, yeah, you guessed it — a rooster.
“In a season of death and heartache and frustration: New life!”
We counted down incubating days and kept our eyes on the calendar, and on the tally of coronavirus cases in our county, on how many weeks until school began, on any news of what this pandemic means for one kid with half a heart, one in nursing, working at long-term elderly care facility, and another kid with Type 1 diabetes, always with a bag of needles and insulin.
We sewed masks, wore them before the mandatory bylaw passed for our county, sweet-ached for summer to linger longer so we could gather with safely physically-distanced family and friends outside on front porches and around fire pits, before the cold drives us back indoors and into a bit of pandemic loneliness.
So when we heard the faint cheeps early one fine August morning as we carried out a pail of corn grits for our girls, and spotted little gold fluffs peeping out from under Haddie’s speckled wings, well, yeah, you guessed it — you could have knocked us over with a feather.
“Hope is a winged thing that rises every day with the sun.”
In a season of death and heartache and frustration: New life!
I’d knelt down in the coop with these three swirls of softness dancing in peeping song.
Hope is a winged thing that rises every day with the sun.
And there is new life, new hope, every time we get to wake to a new day without any missteps yet, knowing Grace Himself is always coming to meet us.
The trio of fluffy peepers darting in and out, cheeping about, Daisy and Sadie, Haddie and Lady seemed to abandon the rest of the clutch of eggs and move on to scritch-scratching around the coop, the whole lot of them pecking for bugs.
So I kinda gathered that the abandoned eggs were duds.
“And there is new life, new hope, every time we get to wake to a new day without any missteps yet, knowing Grace Himself is always coming to meet us.”
Late that afternoon, I scoop up the remaining half a dozen eggs the fowl ladies had punted out of their nest and let them roll out the pouch I’d made from the hem of my shirt into a tiny pile, like a cairn, an ebenezer, a landmark, a waymarker, there at the edge of the wheat field.
Come evening, Baby Girl and I meander out to feed our wee flock of three sheep another heap of hay and check on the chicks.
And as I’m scooping some grains in a bucket for the sheep, Baby Girl tilts her head, raises that one eyebrow of hers, like she does when she’s lifting ideas up and hunting around for understanding:
“Mama? You hear that? You hear it? I can hear it – – like there’s a baby chick out here.”
And I smile – –
“You bet, Baby Girl. There are 3 baby chicks right there with their mamas in the coop” I nod toward Strut and his scratching crew of clucking hens – – “You see them? If you count the chicks right there — I bet you can count all three.”
She’s already shaking her head —
“No, Mama — listen — I can hear another one. I can see it!” She’s already made a mad dash toward the wheat field.
Girl’s not wrong.
I glimpse something move too.
When I catch up to her, look over Baby Girl’s shoulder — there’s a wet and flailing chick squawking beside the ebenezer of eggs I’d left there in the field. One of the shell’s cracked right in two. What in the actual world? How did one of the chilled eggs, rolled from the hem of my shirt into the hem of a field and into a little inukshuk of sorts, a waymarker, how many hours ago, end up being an egg cracked open all alone by one damp and mangled looking chick?
Our daughter kneels down.
Our daughter who doesn’t know her own miraculous birth story.
Our daughter who defied all the odds and three open heart surgeries, and whose brave half a heart still beats on.
Our daughter reaches out her open hand to hold the straggling chick hatched at the edge of a field alone.
“The brooding storms that feel overwhelming — can be exactly what moves us to live safe under God’s brooding care.”
Though we’ve contacted searchers in China to try, there’s no way right now to know the how or why of our daughter’s whole story, but this is what I do know:
Someone knelt down and stretched out an open hand.
“Mama, can I take care of her?” Her upturned face is wide open with hope.
And I kneel down to kiss her button nose.
“Yes, Sweet —” I cup the sprawled chick in palms — then place its dampness in hers.
“She’s all yours.”
And she wraps herself right around that baby chick, tucking it under her warmth.
And in a global pandemic, in a wild world of unrest, with children learning to live with masks and upended plans, and teachers learning to manage direly fraught environments, and parents trying to navigate a whole new world of broken, we are never abandoned, but “the children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of [His] wings” (Ps 36:7)
This moment, I memorize this moment, her with her wing sweater, enfolding a disoriented chick, because this is what we hold onto right now, this is what we tell our children right now, this is the hope we pass on right now:
“The thing that feels like a shadow — it can be the shadow of God’s wings.”
The thing that feels like a shadow — it can be the shadow of God’s wings.
The darkness that feels too close — can be the darkening of what doesn’t matter, that draws you closer to what does.
The brooding storms that feel overwhelming — can be exactly what moves us to live safe under God’s brooding care.
I kneel down beside Baby Girl, and stroke the baby chick’s damp head slowly, willing it to be brave, to miraculously live, to not give up, to let herself be loved to life. And I choke it back, because Baby Girl is living this story.
We’d read it later in another story, in the pages of this book that have become an actual wing of hope for any child living through both the global pandemic of a virus, and an everywhere pandemic of distrust, each page carrying a child to wonder and wisdom they can always trust:
“…God is not just strong and powerful, but tender and caring too. He is a shelter and a refuge; a safe place that we can go to whenever we want. He like a mother bird who hides and protects her young underneath her wings. He holds us close.” ~ Tiny Truths, Wonder and Wisdom, Everyday Reminders from the Psalms and Proverbs
“The darkness that feels too close — can be the darkening of what doesn’t matter, that draws you closer to what does.”
And I think of how the Secret Place of the Holy of Holies had wings overshadowing the ark of the covenant…
And in the hardest of hard, our holy of holies is that secret place under His wing.
And I enfold her close, and she smiles underneath my own smile, and she whispers,
“Mama? You know how you named your sheep?
Can I name my chick?”
I nod and she doesn’t have to hesitate to think or wait, because she knows:
“Lovey. I’m going to name her Lovey — because I found her and I really, really love her,” she wraps her arms in her wing sweater around me, and I am wrapped in wings, and I know how this feels, to have found her and really, really love her, and God, how He knows.
“Lovey — is perfect.” Just — perfect, little Love.
“What feels like a shadow over your hopes, can be the shadow of God’s wings over your life.”
And I wrap up Baby Girl, who has her own hard story, who is wrapped close around a baby chick with its own lost story, and this the story that we have to keep telling our children, our people, our loves, in the midst of the hard, disorienting year that is 2020 so they actually feel it like a tender, enfolding comfort:
Darkness isn’t ever the presence of God leaving us — but the shelter of God always coming nearer to us.
What feels like a shadow over your hopes, can be the shadow of God’s wings over your life.
What feels like a shadow of all kinds of sorrow, can be the shadow of the Almighty tucking you under an all—encompassing shadow of safe.
And when you feel under any kind of attack, feel yourself under His kind wing.
This changes everything.
Every night before I tuck Baby Girl into bed, she asks to read again from that book “that tells us that God hugs us under His wing like a mama holding us tight.”
“Darkness isn’t ever the presence of God leaving us — but the shelter of God always coming nearer to us.”
And I read the wonder and wisdom of the Psalms and the Proverbs again to her, to me, because I get it:
These are hard, big days for our kids, for us, and they, like us, need very real images, very tangible truth, of God’s closeness and care to fight the fear and ward off trauma.
When I finish reading again how God is the Good Shepherd who protects us, who watches over us and guides, again how God soothes and nurtures us like a Mother Bird who protects us under her wings, how God is bigger than storms and we are Never Alone but Always Loved — I turn out the light.
We lay there in the dark.
“You know what, Mama?” She whisper-lisps through that adorable gap in her teeth.
“When Lovey’s under my sweater, like the wing one? It’s dark, but she’s safe.”
And she reaches up and clutches my face in her hands and I kiss my little Lovey and these are the days that we can all living the miraculous wonder and wisdom of safely winging it.
And what better way to help to hide big truths in little hearts than these free framable printables for a child’s room and these finger puppets! They are designed to coordinate with multiple stories from both Tiny Truths, Wonder and Wisdom and Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible, giving you a meaningful way to act out and retell the stories over and over again with your little ones. We can’t wait to give your family this free resource.
With whimsical illustrations and engaging storytelling, Tiny Truths Wonder and Wisdom creatively and powerfully presents all your favorite Psalms and Proverbs, and ensures beautiful and needful diverse representation of all people.
Never have our kids needed this more: to see how the Psalms invite us to live close with God, vulnerably sharing our whole hearts with Him —- our fears and our struggles, our hopes and our praise. And in days like these, our children need the wisdom of the Proverbs —- how to live wisely and love well.
Perfect for this challenging year: Kids will want to return to these joyful, memorable stories again and again, building their understanding of God’s Word. And the practical lessons, reminders, and truths found throughout the stories make this an invaluable resource.
Who will be steadfast stewards of the Story for our children if not us?
Introduce your children to the incredible story of God’s enormous love for them with Tiny Truths Wisdom and Wonder and be the people who Stay in the Story and stay under His wing, because this will change everything for them.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]