For the Birds

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Allison Barnhart is an Ashland native and a member here at Park Street Brethren Church. She is a freelance graphic designer and full-time mom. She and her husband, Jason Barnhart, have 2 precious kids, Miles & Clementine. Thanks Allison for sharing about how God has spoken to you through your kids!

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When he was almost five, I could trust the little blond boy enough to stick to the driveway while riding his bike. We were ready for spring and he was bursting to get out of the house. Much like now, a year later! I kept the window open and the side door cracked so I could yell out if I needed to but mostly so I could hear the sounds of a four year old boy racing his growing collection of outdoor toys up and down the way. 

And then it was quiet. I wasn't alarmed, he sometimes gets into things like the bubbles or his toy gardening tools. After a few minutes I peeked out and saw that his Miles-sized shovel was out, dirt was strewn about and two of my terra cotta pots were now filled with soil. 'Where did he find the dirt...' ah, from the flower bed of emerging daffodils, okay...'and where is that culprit...?' And there he was, with a medium sized bag of bird seed and an old broken plastic feeder I had placed by the trash can in the garage to be thrown out. He had taken both things out to the white rusty crook near our garden and I watched as he very carefully poured the bird seed into the top. He hardly spilled any. I watched silently. My four year old attached the top, and hung it on the crook, so very, very proud of how he helped mommy and daddy, yet more importantly that the birds now had some food to eat.

We had put that feeder out months earlier with bird seed and most of it ended up wet and packed in the tube from some bad weather. I hadn't seen a bird on it in ages. We were too lazy to clean it out and try again. Lots of other things were on our list to get done and that was not one of them. But this time, within a half hour, I spied about four or five common house sparrows happily feasting on what Miles had set out for them.

It's so, so ordinary. So simple, so uneventful. Isn't that how God speaks to us so many times? In my struggle with fighting wrong battles of early parenthood, choosing to stand back and watch a little boy have a helpful and compassionate heart was a big step. Adults are always concerned with doing something. Micromanaging to the fullest extent of our parental powers. Safety is one thing, but sometimes we use it as a cop-out for keeping things clean, safe and orderly. We want so desperately to fix instead of rely on the relationship we are building. Building the foundation along with watching the mistakes AND the fruit. I didn't want him to make a mess. I didn't want him to waste bird food and therefore money if he spilled it. That feeder was broken- meant for the dump. I have no idea why I refrained from yelling at him out the window, rushing out and rescuing the bird seed from a pre-schooler's clutches- avoiding certain disaster...but I'm glad I did nothing. Nothing but choosing to be silent and watch. 

Does God intervene in every situation so we don't mess up? So we don't get hurt? We wish he did sometimes! If we have faith in him and listen closely, he gently telling us, "I will be right here, you may not even know I'm watching, but I've given you tools and the foundation to take a risk. You might make a mess, you might waste money. You might get hurt. But your heart is in the right place, I have faith in you."

"Mommy- see what I did for you? I filled the pots so you can plant your flowers in them, and I fed the birdies so you and daddy didn't have to."

"Look, Miles, the birds are eating the food you gave them, look at them all!"


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