I used to have absolutely no interest in the great outdoors. In my opinion, outside was just a place to get bug bites and allergy attacks. I could never understand why people stood around under trees peering upward through binoculars until they gave themselves a crick in the neck.
Then I went to a homeschool support group meeting and everything changed.
We had lived in our new hometown for almost two years but we had dragged our feet in becoming active members of the community again. There were painful circumstances surrounding our move, and it took me some time to feel like being a contributing member of society again.
A lady named Molly (you may know her as the Counter-cultural Mom) spoke that night about a birding competition. One of her sons wanted to enter and needed a teammate. She was also considering entering her next youngest son who would also need a birding buddy. My boys were the perfect ages to partner with hers, and the four boys had already met at church and hit it off.
My boys really needed friends at the time. Here’s where I could rehash hard feelings and tell a big blubbery tale but will instead let it suffice to say that the boys had been hurt before our move, too, and really needed good friends.
As Molly spoke that night, I didn’t really comprehend what she was saying concerning bird watching or a competition. I just heard “teammates” and knew that would require my boys spending time with her boys and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to develop an already budding friendship. After the meeting, I eagerly volunteered us as their teammates.
The next day I realized what I had done.
I had made a commitment to go bird watching!
And competitively at that!
I barely knew what a robin was. How was I going to teach my children to identify enough birds to be competent teammates?
Fortunately, Molly, whom I call the Queen of Resourcefulness, set me up with several great books, field guides and audio collections. She helped us find binoculars that Orville, who is legally blind in one eye and wears progressive bifocals, could use. She introduced us to Audubon birds, too. Boy, did that change our lives.
We also started a weekly bird watching club for the boys and alternated teaching responsibilities. That's when I caught the birding bug. As I prepared fun ways for the boys to memorize calls, to learn how to use binoculars, to practice using a field guide and to get outside to find birds, I finally understood exactly why people stand under trees peering upward.
Please don't read too much into this, but I did a lot of healing while bird watching. I could not have recovered from painful events without the Word of God, prayer, worship, Christian counseling…but I needed that time with good friends and a good hobby, too.
It was comforting to spend time with the Counter-cultural boys and their sweet mom, Molly, just being friends and doing something we all loved. Each time we saw a new bird, the excitement of it was a salve to my soul. Reminders of God's greatness and goodness were all around us, and every time He sent a bird our way, it was a reminder that His eye is on me, that He loves me, and that He wisely governs all things, even minor details like where little birds fly and perch.
In months to come, I am going to share some of the lessons I developed to teach the boys during those early days of birding. I praise God for His unwavering faithfulness to me and for blessing me with teaching ideas and I look forward to what He has in store for me in this new venture.
Until we tweet again...
Dawn, for the Olive Plants