I Can’t Save My Kids Anymore Than I Can Teach Birds to Fly

I was involved in an exciting (failed) bird rescue attempt!

The kids and I had been watching a little nest in the bushes for a few weeks. I’d noticed lots of erratic bird activity around the area so I started hunting for the nest and found it. Not long after, the two eggs hatched and we were able to peek in at the baby birds.

Momma bird sitting on the nest

Then on Saturday I went to see how they were doing and snap some pics. As I walked up to the nest, one of the babies darted out of the nest in a flurry and plopped to the ground.

It couldn’t fly yet, but hopped around the yard as it tried to fly. I was mortified. I thought for sure that I’d scared the bird out of its nest much too early and doomed it to die a slow flightless death.

I lost track of where it was and came inside, guilty, to confess my sin to Tom. Then I went back out to re-check the nest and look for the bird. I saw him hopping spryly around and found a chance to redeem myself. I thought, “If I can just catch him and put him back, it’ll be like it never happened. So I did. (Later Tom reminded me that I shouldn’t have touched it because my scent would scare the parents off. My bad.)

Baby bird still in the nest.

I put the bird gently back in the nest. To my surprise, the other baby bird was no longer in the nest. It had flew the coop of its own accord. Well, the baby bird stayed put and I came back inside, very relieved to have at least returned it to its nest, but still wondering if I’d ruined their chances at a happy flying bird life. 5 minutes later I went to check on it and it was gone from the nest, again.

My bird rescue attempt. Photo credit: Seth

The next morning the kids and I were eating breakfast and Eliza squealed, “MOM! It’s the baby bird, out on the deck!!!” I slowly came to the sliding glass door and sure enough, there was the tiny baby bird. The other kids ran over and scared it, and it flew away, off our second story deck.

Yep. Flew.

I didn’t rescue it or teach it to fly. I happened to scare it out of its nest at the right time.

But I did think to myself, flying is a little like the new birth. It happens. I can’t make it happen or prevent it from happening for my kids or anyone else.

That’s not to say that what I do doesn’t matter. It does, it does! I teach them. I create the environment they’re growing up in and all of that matters immensely. That bird wouldn’t have flown if its parents hadn’t made a nest for it and sat on it and fed it the right food. Likewise I make a home for my kids, I teach them and sit on them if necessary (ha!), and I feed them the food of God’s Word.

But I don’t make them fly and the new birth isn’t born of me. It’s born of the Spirit through faith in the Son. I can read them the Bible, but I can’t make it taste good to them. I can pray with them, but I can’t make them pray. I can love them, but I can’t make them love others.

I can effect their behavior, but I can’t give them a new heart. God can.

That’s why there is no parenting formula to make sure we don’t raise Cain. There is no secret tip, or foolproof method.

There’s The Book.

The Bible is not a secret. It holds the words of life, the Good News. And everything pertaining to life, if we have the discernment to apply it with grace and wisdom from above. Lord, grant this mom more of that wisdom!

So, I take heart that my call as a mom is to faithfulness, not flying. Faithfulness to the Book, faithfulness to the God who wrote it, faithfulness to the Jesus who saves in it, and faithfulness to the Spirit who grants me faith and opens my eyes to behold wonders from the Word.

The saving belongs to God. This knowledge fuels our prayers. Save our children Lord, by the power of the Gospel of Jesus, give them His righteousness. Spirit come and awaken dead hearts to think on Jesus and well up with loving affection.

Happy hopping bird, now able to fly. Phew!


the miraculous sermons in my front yard

A couple of weeks back I was cleaning out flower beds. That, in itself, is a minor miracle, considering it was mid-march in Minnesota.

As I raked out a few leaves and pulled off dead stuff, I had no expectation of seeing growth–none whatsoever. So imagine my surprise when I saw this.


Amazing right? I had been lulled to sleep by winter, but these little shoots jolted me awake to the reality that God had done it again. He made life come out of the ground. Spring does not usually catch me by surprise, (at least not since I’ve lived in MN and so desperately longed for it) but this year, it did.

Now comes one of the sermons my front yard provided.Image

Can you see it? It looks kind of watery, but it wasn’t. It was pure ice. There were green shoots growing straight through a block of ice attached to the ground.

Just look at it! Leftover death in the form of the long brown leafy things and present death in the form of the ice. And the small green shoot is the miracle of new birth in Christ amidst it all screaming at me to take notice. That shoot is saying, “LOOK at me! This is what happened to you when God quickened life into your dead and sinful heart!” And that is a true testimony. Out of past death and present darkness my new heart was born through Christ.

And here’s sermon number two, just a foot and half away from sermon number one.


Yep, that’s a thistle. Oooo, I hate them. I pulled this one out with my bare hand. Because sometimes I need to know what sin feels like to my skin. I can mask what it feels like in my heart, but when it makes my hand bleed, there’s no denying it. And the thistle did its God given job of yelling, “Sin isn’t a soft pet that you keep and coddle. It’s prickly and voracious. It is a living, spreading death.”

Our God, El Roi, The God Who Sees, sees us in every little thing we do, and His creation testifies to greater things than mere shoots and thistles. Do I have eyes to see what the Father has revealed in His spoken world? Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to hear!

“’Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’”   Mark 4:3-9