This afternoon, needing some time outside in the sun, I grabbed the bag of black-oil sunflower seeds and headed out the door. I threw some on the rock near the lilac bush out front, then trotted around the back of the house. Over the years I’ve come up with a route to follow when feeding the birds, though whether I do the whole route depends on how much food and time I have available.
I put food out wherever there is some sort of cover for the birds. Wild rose bushes thrive on our property, as do wild huckleberry bushes, so those are prime spots for sprinkling the seeds. Years ago we moved three or four evergreen bushes out back. The bushes spread out so much you can’t tell where one ends and another begins, making excellent protection and privacy for the birds. I usually throw some food around there. A large pine tree occupies a space where the property transitions from backyard to woods. Quite awhile ago we began dumping rose bush clippings, weeds, and branches which fall off the trees under the pine tree, so the birds and rabbits appreciate that cover, and most days I throw some food there as well.
As I walked back toward the front yard, I paused, just in time to see a tufted titmouse spring down to grab a seed. I froze in place, not wanting to spook the shy little bird. Titmice generally avoid being close to people, so to see one just a few feet away was a treat. The bird flew up to the overhead branch of the wild huckleberry bush and proceeded to feast on the seed. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a black-capped chickadee descend from a branch and land in the grass, to choose just the right seed to eat. I finally moved quietly away, not wanting to disturb the birds’ feeding time.
This stone serves as a bird “restaurant”. Although the menu consists of only black-oil sunflower seeds, the restaurant, located close by a lilac bush, is a popular destination cold or snowy days. Black-capped chickadees swoop down from the lilac bush, grab a seed, then fly back to the bush to eat the seed. Titmice, song sparrows, doves, cardinals, purple finches, and gold finches fly in one by one to eat. Sometimes three or four birds are in the lilac bush, while several are on the ground hunting for seeds, their heads bobbing up and down. Blue jays are well-known bullies; when they arrive on the scene, everybody else leaves. Squirrels, experts at finding opportunities, appear often. Sometimes the birds leave when the squirrels show up, other times, the birds stay in peaceful co-existence.
The stone didn’t become a bird restaurant until twenty years ago or so. It was unearthed back in the 1990’s when a crew did excavating for a water line. Since it was nice and flat, we thought it would make a good stone for the yard–sort of a conversation piece. We got it for the asking. Some years later, I decided to make it the start of my bird-feeding route. Visible from the house, the stone is a conversation piece as we enjoy watching the varieties of birds coming to eat.
Earlier today the impression entered my mind: “Who are you to think you’re anyone special? Your life isn’t worth much.”
At first glance circumstances agree: I am just one of six or seven billion plus people on this planet; lower sales after Christmas means I am working fewer hours on my retail job, so don’t have a sense of productivity/ worth there; I don’t have a boyfriend or husband who can lift my spirits. Even the weather got in on the act. The sun shone dimly through an overcast sky, so it was gloomy inside, even with lights on.
I prayed about that impression. Immediately Faith kicked in and said, “No! Your life is worth much because God loves you and created you. He sent His Son to die for you. Youare valuable.”
God reminded me that the earlier impression of low worth didn’t come from Him; those were not His words.
After this, I called a relative who, like me, wants to put more emphasis on spending time with family. We agreed to meet tomorrow.
Then I spent some time outside (being in the fresh air always raises my spirits) feeding the birds, and raking leaves for mulch. It was cold, but I was helping the birds, doing something productive, and I could always warm up with a cup or two of tea back inside. As I raked leaves, the sun shone a little stronger, and beautiful blue sky appeared on the horizon.
Lastly, I am writing this blog post for anyone else who hears those words, “Your life isn’t worth much”. I am writing to tell you not to believe them. You are valuable.
Every year, beginning as early as mid-October or as late as early December, depending on the weather and my inclination, I start feeding the birds. I used to fill a couple feeders until I looked out the kitchen window and saw a large rat eating the spilled food. YUCK! Not what I wanted to see at all!
I still feed the birds but now I get exercise. I travel on a “route” around the property. As I walk I scatter black-oil sunflower seeds on the ground near bushes, trees, and rocks. It isn’t long before the chickadees, cardinals, titmice, nuthatches, juncos, purple finches and goldfinches fly in one-by-one. (I figure they post a scout to alert them to food, as in, “Food came! Pass the word! Food’s here!”) Some birds, such as the chickadees, grab a seed and fly to a nearby branch to eat. Others, such as goldfinches, stay on the ground picking up the food.
Feeding the birds helps them through the winter months and gives me fun and exercise. Sometimes the activity leaves me with a thought to ponder. As I look at the sunflower seeds laying on the ground I wonder how many of them will be eaten, how many will be missed by the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks. What will be the “legacy” of those seeds? Will any survive to produce tall plants that put forth those big cheerful-looking flowers to brighten the yard, or will they die in winter’s harshness? Then I wonder: what will be my legacy? What will I leave behind in the lives of others? Will people see “seeds” of encouragement and caring? Or will it be “weeds” of selfishness, anger and bitterness? Unlike the sunflower seeds I can choose what my legacy will be.
With this news, strengthen those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, Be strong & do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4