Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Baby Bird, Baby Bird

Baby Bird, Baby Bird

It’s that time a year when baby bunnies and baby birds are venturing out.  Today I was driving through a neighborhood and saw a little bird in the middle of the street flapping its wings.  I thought it was hurt until I got closer and realized that it was probably just in the middle of flying lessons.  I was sure that there was a momma bird sitting in a tree overhead chirping out flight instructions. 

I learned the hard way not to get involved with this procedure.  Once, I found a similarly aged little fellow flapping around in my yard.  I immediately called the local bird sanctuary and they gave me instructions about how to get the baby bird in a paper sack without touching it.  I gathered up all of the supplies necessary to save the bird and went back out into the yard.  It was about this time that the lady on the phone cautioned me that at that time of the year, a lot of birds are learning to fly and that there was probably a momma bird nearby that was keeping an eye on her baby. 

Really?  Maybe you should have lead with that. 

I left the bird alone and went back into the house.  I peeked out the window every so often to check on the bird.  During one of the bird checks, I saw the baby bird flap its wings and take to the air – where it was joined by its momma - that apparently had been supervising the yard flopping activity.

That episode of “Shelly Saves Another Little Critter” was foremost in my mind when I saw the little bird in the road. 

I didn’t want to stress out the little bird any more than it already seemed to be so I slowly drove past him.  I thought about stopping to help him out of the street but I didn’t have a paper bag and I was confident that the momma bird was nearby and would not be happy with me for messing with her baby. 

As I was watching in my rearview mirror with excitement to see the baby bird take flight, a large utility truck turned onto the street and was barreling towards the little bird.  The little bird was flapping its wings ~ trying to move.  It flapped and moved.

The truck kept going.  

The bird flapped again and lifted itself off of the street. Then landed in the street.

For a second, I thought the truck’s wheels would straddle the bird.  For a second.

I sat helplessly and watched the truck completely flatten the baby bird! Completely! 

I just sat there in my car.  I was mad at myself for not moving the bird out of the street. (That’s the last time I make that mistake.)

I just sat there.  

All of a sudden I was flooded with emotions.  I wanted to cry. I wanted to call my friend, Jessica, who cries easily so that we could cry together. I wanted to turn around and follow the truck and let the truck driver “have it.”  (Husband, you are welcome that I restrained myself!  I knew that if I chased the utility truck driver and chewed him out for running over a bird he probably didn’t even see, my sanity would be questioned. You are welcome, Husband.)

I just sat there.

Then I questioned why I was sick to my stomach over a baby bird. A bird. 

Now, I’m all about saving the animals.  Ask my kids about how many times I’ve stopped the car to save a turtle crossing the road. I’ve tried to rescue baby bunnies. (Haven’t read that yet? You can do that here.)  Once I rescued baby birds from under our boat. (You can read about that here.)  I’ve rescued hummingbirds. And lizards. (And rescued a daughter from lizards.) But I don’t usually get emotional about the loss of an animal life. 

I try to reserve that for the humans in my life.  And my dogs. But mostly the humans.

So why the emotion?  Somehow, the baby bird represented new life and new adventure and hope.  

And then because of one, big, stupid move, all of that was gone. 

That momma built a nest for that baby bird’s egg, she (or he) sat on that baby bird’s egg and waited for new life to emerge.  The baby bird’s “parents” took great care and concern to find food and deliver it straight to the mouth of that baby bird.  In case you have ever wondered what happens to the poop from the baby birds – well, the “parents” carry it off!  I’m not making that up! I've witnessed it! Gross!

The “parents” provided protection, warmth, food and comfort.

When it was time for the baby bird to leave the nest, they supervised the flight/fall.  And then they watched from overhead, as the bird lay lifeless in the street.

I have three daughters all on the verge of big life changes.  One became a first time mother four days ago.  One is graduating from college and one is graduating from high school.  They are all about to soar into new worlds.

And I am about to have an empty nest.  I’m okay with that. But I will still worry about my little birdies.

My husband and I have sacrificed to give them shelter, and food and kept them warm in body and spirit.  And there were times when we had to remove the “poop” in order to keep the nest clean.

We long for them to fly into their new adventures.  We will be cheering them on.  Encouraging them.

So that was the emotion.  

I’ve spent the majority of my life preparing my girls to fly on their own.  I don’t want one, big, stupid move on their part or someone else’s to cause harm to body or spirit.  To completely flatten them. 

My job is done.  Now I have to give it over to the Lord and let Him lead and comfort them.

Train a child in the way that he should go,
and when he is old, he will not turn from it. Provs 22:6

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

I have no greater joy than to
hear that my children are
walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

So, carry on momma and daddy birds! Carry on, baby birds – but watch out for big, stupid things!

Painting by Nancy House (my very talented mom) 

Can you relate?  Comment with your "baby bird"  or momma bird story. 

Chuckling…even though I wasn't chuckling,
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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Have a Nice One

Have a Nice One

Whenever I check out at the grocery store or department store or corner gas station and the person hands me my receipt and says, “Have a nice one,” my brain almost explodes.  It is only with great restraint that I don’t pipe up and respond with, “Have a nice one what?  A nice walk in the rain on the way to my car? A nice dinner? A nice trip and fall? (Which I’ve done on the way out of a store more than once.) A nice day at the dentist? A nice shark attack? A nice hernia? A nice, big glass of iced tea? A nice life? A nice one what?”

If my kids are reading this, they are probably dying about now.  I can just hear them, “Mom, that is just how people talk.  Chill out!” 

And my reply is, “Well, it’s lazy! It’s vague and insincere.”

Have a nice one!  A nice one what???

I guess I’m supposed to know what that means.  But the funny thing is that the person saying it doesn’t even know what it means.  How do I know that? Once when I responded to the poor check-out person and asked, “A nice one what?” I got a puzzled, blank stare.  They don’t know.  I don’t know.  No one knows. 

Try it. When someone says, “Have a nice one,” ask them, “A nice one what?” 

(Now, I know my kids are horrified if they are reading this and they think I was rude to a check-out person.  So, kids, just know that I was nice about it and used humor. And keep reading – it gets better.)

Why can’t we just be clear? Can’t you just tell me to “Have a nice day?”  Would that be so hard?

I guess we are just all supposed to have a nice one.  Whatever “one” is.

I’m not suggesting we all start speaking in King’s English but it would be nice if a more precise sentence were used.

But wait. 

Don’t I do the same thing in my marriage? I say something and I expect that my husband will know exactly what I mean.  And sometimes I say things only in my brain and expect him to know what I’m thinking.  There are many times when I thought I told him something but realized that the thought never left my brain and escaped my lips. 

“Honey, I told you that!”
“No, you didn’t,” he says.
“I’m sure I did.” I say in a not-so-sure tone.
“Nope.  Never heard about that,” my husband says in a very-sure-tone.
“Hmm...Maybe I thought I said it but maybe it never went any further than my brain,” I admit.

Just like the check-out peeps that drive me crazy with their vague, “Have a nice one,” I’m pretty sure at times I drive my husband, my kids, my family and friends crazy with my vague communication.  Sometimes I make these people that I love have to work to figure out what I mean.  What I need.  What I want. Because I am not precise in what I say and how I communicate.

Communication is one of the hardest things about relationships.  Communication is one of the most important things.

Dear Lord, help me be better about communicating with others.
 Help me to put in the effort to speak and to listen.

Now, everyone, go have a good one!  I mean, have a wonderfully, blessed day!

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Bunny Rescue

Saving the Bunny

A few years ago, my girls were visiting an aunt during Spring Break and I had a few glorious days at home – all alone.  I decided to use the time to organize closets and cabinets and create an uber organized sewing center.

I was working hard to finish up one night when I realized that our dog, Jessie, had been roaming in the woods for some time. When I went out to call her and yelled "treat," she came running out of the woods and up the hill.  She hesitated when she got to the door.  I could see that she had something in her mouth and thought it was a bone.  As she got closer, I realized that two bunny feet were sticking out of the side of her mouth! 

I commanded her to "DROP THE BUNNY!" Nothing. Then I tried the common hunting vernacular, "give."  Since Jessie only hunted what was on the coffee table or lower shelf of the pantry, she just stood there looking at me ~ with bunny feet sticking out of her mouth like a cigar. She had no idea what the “give” command meant. 

In her defense, she did have a terrified, confused look on her face. Some force of nature caused her to hunt the bunny, capture the bunny and hold the bunny in her mouth.  But she was a sweet dog and I think she wished the force of nature wasn’t so strong.  But the force was strong and so she held the bunny in her mouth.

I could see the bunny was still breathing when I lifted Jessie’s “lip” so I went into full bunny rescue mode.   In case you don't know what bunny rescue mode is, let me explain what my version of it looked like. 

Bunny Rescue Mode:

  •  After donning garden gloves, I tried to pry Jessie's jaws apart.  When that failed to work I...
  • Called my vet neighbor - but he, along with the rest of my neighbors, was away on vacation (I later learned that he did research at the vet school – not a veterinarian – no bunny experience whatsoever.)
  • I called my husband who was in another state.  (Don't ask me why.)
  • I tried to pry her jaws apart again.  Nothing.  (All the while telling her to "Drop the bunny! Drop the bunny!”)
  • Next, I tried to cover her nose - thinking she would have to open her mouth to breathe. HA!
  • I put her on a leash and let her walk back towards where she got it thinking maybe she would want to put it back. HA! HA!
  • Finally, I figured eating would make her open her mouth - so I shut her in the garage while I went into the house to get her a "treat."
  • When I came back to the garage, Jessie had dropped the bunny so I grabbed her - and the bunny took a hop. It was still alive!
  • I called the A&M veterinary school but it sounded like the bunny would be a science project if I took it there.
  • So, I made a little nest for the bunny with a small towel and took it back to the edge of the woods and left it. I was hoping that once the bunny’s shock of being in a dog’s mouth and having a lunatic women screaming, “drop the bunny!” for a solid twenty minutes that he would hop back to his mama.
After finishing my sewing center project, back out I went to check on the bunny.  It was still there but had turned around in the towel/nest.  I heard a lot of rustling in the woods a few feet away so I scrambled back inside for a brighter light – and better footwear.

I had a fractured heel and was in a boot cast so I covered my cast in a trash bag and traded the flip-flop on the good foot for a rubber boot.  When I got back to the bunny, I scooped it up and headed into the woods in the direction of the noise - thinking it was the mama bunny. Only there wasn't any noise. All was quiet.  I still pressed on  - hoping that I wouldn't encounter a skunk. 

I hope you can appreciate the picture here - I am trudging through the woods holding a traumatized baby bunny, I have a trash bag wrapped around my cast, it is after 10:00pm and no one except for the bunny knows where I am.

I found another baby bunny so I set "mine" down next to it (still in the towel/nest) with great hopes that the mama would come get her baby bunnies and take them back to safety.

I looked up from the two bunnies towards the woods to see if maybe the mama was coming to get them.  What I saw instead were a lot of glowing eyes! I did not stay around long enough to figure out what kind of animal the eyes belonged to because there were a lot of eyes. I was trusting that they were a lot of bunny eyes and the bunnies were waiting to welcome the baby bunny back home.  But what if they were the eyes of the coyotes I had heard earlier?

But I saved the baby bunny.

Or so I thought.

When I went to check on the baby bunny the next day when the sun was bright and the eyes weren’t glowing, the towel nest was empty!  I was so relieved to know that the baby bunny hadn’t died where I left it. Successful bunny rescue!

Until I turned around and saw a headless baby bunny!  Maybe it wasn’t the bunny family welcoming the bunny home.

I had the best of intentions to save the bunny but I may have just served it up on a platter,  uh, I mean a towel/nest.

I think of other times that I have had the best of intentions and they did not go as planned.

My list of “best intentions” is long and runs the gamut from trying to give food to a homeless person that growled at me to flawed parenting tactics.  Best of intentions.

But I cannot let the failures stop me.  I will continue to try to “save baby bunnies.” I will continue to reach out to people.  I will continue to parent - however flawed my parenting skills might be.

I will try.

All things work together for good for them that
are called according to His purpose!” Romans 8:28

Not sure how that verse relates to a bunny death ~ but it is a good reminder about other difficulties in our lives.

Have you ever had good intentions that went awry?  Comment and tell me about them.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Foul Play

Friends ~ I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging when my dear grandfather became ill a few months ago so that I could turn my focus to my family. We somehow managed to chuckle through the hard days and are grateful that he is hanging out with Jesus now.  I hope you will continue to chuckle with me.  
Oh, and as you read this blog, know that my brother and I laughed hysterically about this.

Foul Play

The snow fell all afternoon and continued into the night. The roads were icy and the snow was swirling when my brother left his office to drive home.  It was almost midnight and he had nearly an hour drive but a coworker (we will call him “Friend” from now on) agreed to follow him home.  Two things you should know about this situation.  One, my brother is a quadriplegic and, two, Friend was born and raised on a tropical island and is terrified of the possibility of being stuck in a blizzard. Got the picture?

The drive was slow and tedious but while they were on the interstate highway, the roads were fairly clear. Eventually, they had to turn off onto a county road that had not been plowed or sanded.

Though they were driving slowly and cautiously, my brother hit a patch of ice and his truck slid off the road and into a ditch.  It was after midnight so my brother didn’t have much hope of anyone coming along to help anytime soon.  He rolled down his window and hollered at Friend to come get him. 

(Since we’ve named the co-worker “Friend” and you are probably tired of reading “my brother,” let’s now rename my brother and just call him “Brother.”)

Brother’s wheelchair was in the bed of his truck and even if he could have gotten it out, the sides of the ditch were too steep so there was no way he could get to the road in his chair.  So the plan was to have his physically-less-than-in-shape friend carry him up the hill.

Tropics raised Friend was a bit panicky and debated whether or not to open his snow emergency kit and send up a flare.  Brother was trying to figure out how to get out of the ditch – realistically.

Friend decided to wait on sending up a flare and, instead, used the shovel from his emergency kit and started to carve out “stairs’ down to the truck.

Friend carefully made his way down to the truck – sliding most of the way since he didn’t want to wreck the “stairs.”  It was then that Friend learned of Brother’s plan.  Brother was going to “fall” out of the truck onto Friend’s back and then Friend would piggyback Brother up the hill.  

1, 2, 3 Go! Brother did a controlled fall out of his seat onto Friend’s back.  Friend took one step and went down flat on his belly – with Brother on his back.  Uh, oh! They rolled so that Friend could get up.

Plan two.

Friend tried to grab Brother under the arms and pull him up the hill backwards. That resulted in Friend lying in the snow on his back and Brother on top of him since Friend was not able to move Brother more than a few inches.

Plan three.

Brother tried to scoot backwards up the hill. Fail.

By this time, Brother had been sitting in the snow in thin pants for more than thirty minutes.  No cars had passed. Cell phones didn’t have service. Friend was panicked – and short of breath. 

Plan four.

Friend had a blanket in his emergency kit and the decision was made to have Brother get on it and Friend would pull him up the hill.  After a lot of pulling and tugging, they finally make it out of the ditch and onto the road. Brother lay on the road – soaking wet and cold – while Friend returned to the truck to get the wheelchair.

By the time they loaded up in Friend’s car, it was 1:30 in the morning. They left the truck and Friend took Brother home.  They were both safe and sound  - and eventually warmed up.

The next day was Sunday so Brother went to church with his family.  When they returned to the house, a very upset policeman was waiting.

Brother’s truck had been found that morning and the authorities suspected foul play because it looked like a body had been drug through the snow ~ and the snow around the area indicated a struggle! They suspected an abduction! A serious crime!

Well, a body had been drug through the snow and there had been a struggle  - but it wasn’t foul play.  A crime had not been committed.  Quite the opposite.

Instead of a crime, Friend had committed a selfless and compassionate act - risking his safety and comfort.

Are there times in our relationships that we want to cry “foul play” as if there was a crime committed against us? A harsh tone. A misplaced text. An inattentive ear. A forgotten promise. These are some of the things that might make us think someone doesn’t care for or love us.

But maybe there is a story behind the “evidence.” Maybe the friend or spouse or child is tired or stressed or scared or distracted. Just maybe.

Lord, help me to always think the best of others.  Help me to be a selfless, compassionate friend/mother/daughter/wife. 

Always be humble and gentle. 
Be patient with each other,
 making allowance for each other’s faults 
because of your love.   Ephesians 4:2
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