Out of Character

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

I have been blessed with amazing people in my life. People who do things just because. I have been overwhelmed by their generosity, whether I have personally been the recipient or simply a bystander. I like to think that people are genuinely good, and are always a cheerful giver.

I have recently been exposed to a growing population of donors who seem out of character from those I have described above. It has me questioning if a greater part of society now has ulterior motives when charity is involved. For example, I had one guy tell me that he donated because he wanted the recognition. And a girl confessed that she only gives if she gets something like a t-shirt out of it. Charity, to them, is seen as a good deed in which they receive an immediate reward. In their cases, they justify giving for superficial or materialistic reasons. Upon further questioning, they knew very little about the organizations that they contributed to… and they weren’t concerned about how their donations were put to use.

Even local businesses seem to want to gain from charity events. My brother has been planning a tweetup to benefit a local food bank. He and I were both shocked at the number of restaurants wanting us to pay to reserve a space. Similar events hosted by my brother have driven large amounts of people into businesses. When he explained that he would bring in new customers, increase sales, and promote the venue in exchange for a small space to hold the charity event, the restaurants still asked for money.

So, I have to ask… does anyone give to support a valid cause? Or more so, does anyone give from the heart, just to give?

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Giving should not just be confined to our debit cards either. There are many ways to give without money being involved. If making a monetary contribution leaves you feeling less-than-cheerful — which in this economy is possible — consider giving in other ways. What makes you happy? If you enjoy cooking, make a little extra and take part of the meal to a local soup kitchen. Are you a shopaholic? Try eliminating an article of clothing for each new piece you purchase, then donate the old clothing to a nearby homeless shelter. Love music or art? Contact area nursing homes to schedule a time to make crafts with or sing songs to the residents. Do you like when someone gives you a compliment? If so, extend a nice comment to a stranger. Even telling someone that you love their outfit (and mean it) is a way to be charitable. Whatever fills your heart with happiness, take the time to share that with others. Giving without expecting anything in return will be more rewarding than expecting a t-shirt.

How Bad Is It?

Recently, my family has had car trouble. My sister had to have a coil replaced in her sedan last week. My niece’s car was towed to the shop on Wednesday. And the caliper in my car’s front, passenger-side brake locked up. It overheated, melting several seals and a hose. In each instance, we feared the worse. We knew we had to do our part and pay the price to have them repaired.

Yesterday, my pastor started his sermon with a similar scenario. He pointed out that, no matter what material possessions we have that break, our first question is usually, “How bad is it?” We then worry How long will it take to repair the part? Can it be fixed quickly? How much will it cost? Before any of those questions can be answered… before anyone can solve the problem… the source must be identified.

He went on to share a message out of Genesis 3. He dissected this chapter explaining the fall of man in depth. Humans are broken [problem] and have been since Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan to eat the forbidden apple [source]. In scripture, we learn why we hide from God, why we blame one another for our actions, and why we’re slaves of sin.

I spent the better part of the remainder of the day thinking about how broken I am. About broken relationships I’ve experienced. About broken spirits of friends, family, and co-workers. Examples of our broken society played through my mind. Our environment is broken. Our economy is broken. And even, at times, our faith is broken. It is overwhelming to consider how damaged our world is. How bad is it? How long will it take to repair? Can it be fixed quickly? How much will it cost? I rarely worry over it, but I should. We should all recognize how bad it really is. We can’t fix it by ourselves and it won’t be an easy mend. And although Jesus has already paid the costly price, we still have to do our part in the repair.

I kept going back to Genesis 3:11 when God asked, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Adam’s response was essentially, “She gave it to me.” [Accusing Eve of encouraging him to eat from the apple.] Eve then replied, “The serpent deceived me…” It was at that moment blame was first placed onto someone else. It was then in history that man did not accept responsibility for his own actions. And with each day that passed, humans have become more and more comfortable with passing the blame.

Every one of us has accused someone else, with or without considering our part in the problem. Remember the lamp that mysteriously shattered when you and your sibling were playing catch in the house? (Disclaimer: You should never throw a ball in the house!) Every kid swears the other one did it. Or that argument you had with your spouse? Both of you think the other isn’t doing what they should around the house. Maybe you have had a disagreement with a neighbor, friend, or acquaintance? Instead of talking through it with them, you start talking about them to others. You may have even embellished the story to exaggerate their negatives, thinking it minimized your own faults. No matter the situation, we all have pointed our fingers at others.

It’s time that we have ourselves serviced. We must stop hiding from God and allow Him to begin repairing our brokenness. In turn, we have to do our part and stop placing blame on everyone else. It won’t be easy. We’re human… slaves to sin. But we have to accept responsibility for our actions in order to be restored. Then, God can (and will) use us to help repair others.

The next time you are faced with a relationship problem, will you fully consider the source? Will you accept your part? Allow God to repair you… for free!

A to Z

I recently attended my first Beth Moore Living Proof Live. As a matter of fact, this was my first introduction to a Beth Moore Bible study. I was invited by a friend to attend a simulcast at a local church. It was an awe-inspiring experience.

Beth spent the larger part of the event comparing two scenarios: Girl A – described as a girl who has nothing, and Girl Z – described as a girl who has everything. These women are reflective of two women in the Bible, found in 2 Kings 4. Their names are never revealed. As I listened to Beth speak, I was convinced that I fell somewhere in the middle. Guessing, I would have said that I was Girl R. But the more Beth spoke, the more I was astonished. Could I really be Girl Z?

Girl Z spends a better part of her life answering most questions with “I’m fine.” Sometimes, this isn’t even a negative response. “Need help with that?” –No, I’m fine. “How are you today?” –I’m fine! It’s certainly a common reply. I seldom allow help because I don’t want to bother anyone. And even if I’m having a terrible day, I don’t want to worry anyone with my troubles. Fine is comfortable. It doesn’t ruffle feathers. It doesn’t sadden hearts. It’s a happy neutral. Or so I thought.

But God doesn’t call us to fine. He calls us to faith.

Beth asked the audience, “Do you want to live in the supernatural provision of God? Or do you just want to live a humanly explainable life?” She explained that need is the invitation to supernatural provision… or in more simple terms, the awesomeness of God. Essentially she was stating, if you have everything you need… you’re missing the bigger picture. God blesses EVERYONE.

The woman who appeared to have everything, was actually unable to have children. And she had become fine with that. She was content in all that she had. So much so, that when prophet Elisha explained that she would be blessed with a son, the woman was upset by the news. She didn’t want to have a son because she knew one day, she would lose him. Years later, when her son was [probably]  about 7 yrs old, that happened. The boy died in her arms. The woman was no longer fine. She was in need, and it was then that she invited supernatural provision into her life. She asked for a miracle, and eventually her son was resurrected.

Girl Z doesn’t ask for things because she is scared of being disappointed. I am Girl Z. But if I never asks for miracles, I will only live a mediocre life. God doesn’t want that! He wants our lives to be astonishing. He is ready to shower us with blessings beyond measure. I can no longer allow fear to keep me from these blessings. Are you a Girl Z too?

Let’s stop being fine. Let’s pray together for miracles. Let’s be faithful and live in the awesomeness of God.

Saying Goodbye

Dealing with death is seldom easy for anyone. It can be especially hard for children to understand.  Or so I thought!  Last week, I was up mentally and emotionally preparing myself to say goodbye to my grandpa.  He had been in the hospital with pneumonia several times, but this time he seemed to not be able to kick it and come off the ventilator.  Sometime around 2 am on Wednesday, September 5th, he passed away while the song “I’ll Fly Away” played on the radio.  My granny, my mom, and my stepdad were there to see him off.

Now, I had already told my girls, who are four and eight years old, that Sam [which is what we called my grandpa] was sick and in the hospital. The next day I prepared myself to tell them that he had passed.  I actually Googled it so I had the right words and didn’t get into too much.  I found a very helpful article on babycenter.com that gave me some great tips and verbiage. There were actually two articles that I came across on their site that broke it down by age groups: preschoolers and school-age.  I sat them both down and told them that Sam had died.  My oldest’s response was, “Awe…..can I have a snack?”  My youngest wanted to know, “Who is Granny gonna have now?” (She meant who would live with Granny.) I told her that Granny has Scooter, her dog, that we would visit, and that Granny has friends too. And that was it. There were no questions after that. They handled that part well. I decided not to take them to the funeral home because I didn’t think the youngest would handle it well. My husband stayed home with them while I went.

The next day was the graveside service and we took them with us.  It wasn’t graveside actually… it was a service held in the mausoleum. On the way there, I explained what they would see. I told them about the casket being kind of like a big pretty box and that Sam was in that box but they wouldn’t see him.  I told them about the pallbearers and how they would roll the casket in the room, and someone would say a prayer and talk about Sam a little, and then they would pray again.  I also told them that they may see Granny and other people crying, and that was ok because Granny was sad.  We arrived at the graveyard and started walking towards the mausoleum. They were getting ready to pull the casket out of the hearse.  We stopped while they finished that part.  My husband was holding our oldest daughter’s hand and he said that she squeezed his hand at that point.  He was worried about them getting upset during the service.  He loves his girls more than anything!  We proceeded down to the family and stood outside while they prepared for the last viewing.  After that was done, we were led into the room.  The girls sat quietly. My youngest checked out all of the flowers that were on the walls and was amazed at how they got them all up so high.  While walking out, she looked up at me with her beautiful blue eyes and said, “I’m sure gonna miss Sam.”  I lost it there for a minute!

The rest of the day was filled with laughter and memories!  The girls know that Sam is in Heaven and have dealt with it well.

Looking for Blessings in Everyday Life

This past weekend I was feeling very sorry for myself. Tons of bills were due, my back was hurting a lot, I was depressed (I was diagnosed with clinical depression a few months back), Sadie was acting up, my hubby was working for the 6th day in a row…everything seemed to be hitting me at once. I was cranky and feeling absolutely miserable.

…And then God stepped in and I found thanks in all of it.

He showed me that I really need to give thanks in all circumstances like the Good Book says. Perhaps these circumstances seem trivial to you but they felt overwhelming to me. I was in tears when He showed me that His blessings are in all areas of my life. As I complained silently (and not so silently) He very obviously showed me what I needed to focus on to adjust my attitude.

Thank God I had all those bills! I had the money to pay for the fancy cell phone, the electricity in my comfortable house in a safe neighborhood, the renters insurance on all of our material stuff, and other “necessities” than so many people cannot afford. We even had enough money left over for lots of nutritious food, gasoline for our two working cars, and a little bit left over for our vacation in October. It humbles me that God has blessed us with so much. I was a little embarrassed that I complained about those bills when we obviously had enough to cover them. Sorry Lord…sometimes my humanity gets in the way. Thank you for reminding me to keep my eyes on you.

My back certainly did hurt but God blessed me with wonderful medical care and medicine! Sure it wasn’t fun to have that backache (which still hurts today), but I had medicine I could take for the pain and I could go get excellent medical care from a doctor if I needed it. So many people even in this great country can’t say that…but I can. Thank you, Jesus for taking care of me!

I was depressed. So the chemicals in my brain make me feel depressed, make me have panic attacks, and sometimes life feels like it gets too hard…but it could be so much worse! I am very guilty of letting this overtake me, especially in the last few months. It’s been my go to excuse to not do things I to have to do, or like to do. However bad this depression is, I could have a terrible, debilitating mental illness, or a brain tumor, or a terminal illness instead of treatable depression. My illness is pretty effectively treated by the miracle of antidepressants. What a blessing the Creator of the Universe has bestowed on me! Thank God I am only depressed and have Him (and my family) to lean on when it gets hard!

Sadie was being a little stinker for me while Daddy was gone. Oh she was in fine form but she is mine! I know so many people struggle to conceive a child and she came to us quickly despite my polycycstic ovarian disorder. Somewhere someone would have loved to have the “problem” of a little one kicking the walls, yelling no, and acting like a little crazy person. My sweet three year old is one of the biggest blessings I have ever been given. She is a true miracle and God reminded me of that as I sat at the kitchen table bemoaning my “hardship” of a difficult three year old.

Todd had worked 18 long hours that Friday and was working again early Saturday morning. That put me in a horrible mood because I was alone the day before and again that morning with a difficult child. But God reminded me that so many people are out of work and so working long hours is a blessing. Working ANY hours is a blessing these days. And those long hours will pay for all the other blessings in our life – bills, daycare, and food. A secondfold blessing is that I have a husband who works so hard. My husband is the most honest, hardworking man I know. Thank you God for such a sweet and busy man for a husband and his job.

This whole thing might be a little saccharine to some. I get that. But this isn’t just a “look for the silver lining” reminder. This is a reminder to look for God’s hand and blessing in everything, especially the hard to understand or difficult. God is there and He will show himself in those hard times. Try to focus on the blessing and not the hard parts of your life. God blesses us all, in everything! All we need to do is look and He will show us how.

Vulnerable Love

There is a lot of talk these days about issues like homosexuality, divorce, and abortion.  These are all extremely controversial issues that stir up quite a bit of debate and especially arguments.  Regardless of your opinion on each of these issues, no matter what scripture you base your feelings on; ultimately it is not our place to judge someone’s life path.  It is so easy to declare how someone should behave, react, or live their lives but honestly, why do we feel compelled to straighten up anybody?  Are we qualified to fix people?  Is it even our place to determine what needs to be fixed?  I suppose it keeps us from dealing with our own issues and faults.

In Mark 12 Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our passion, prayer, intelligence, and energy.  He explains that the second greatest commandment is to love others as we do ourselves.  That makes me wonder, do we love ourselves?  We spend our time picking apart the lives of others under the rouse of growing the Kingdom of God.  How much do we value our own lives if we treat others poorly, hiding behind judgment and condemnation?  If we spent our time loving the Lord with everything within us, we wouldn’t have time to put the lives of others under a microscope.  Do you want them to put your life under there?

Are we afraid to love unconditionally?  As humans, I don’t think we can ever come to a place of perfect love, but shouldn’t we at least try?  What would happen if we just loved everyone?  Maybe it would make us vulnerable?  Are we scared that we will have to allow others into our inner circle?  That they will see the real us, not the mask we wear?

If someone who does not have a relationship with the Lord spends time watching us, will they want what we have?  If all they see us doing is blasting people with scripture on Facebook, hearing us preach AT others—keeping track of everyone’s wrongdoings…would they even want to be Christ like?  That’s a lot of work, sounds like a job…a really miserable one.  Consider the experience of being around someone who doesn’t always get it right, but is really trying…someone who truly just shows love to everyone in their path…wouldn’t that be a much better reflection of Christ?

Instead of a group displaying signs with written words of hate toward gays and lesbians, what if we just loved them?  Instead of telling a coworker how wrong abortion is and anyone who has had one is going to hell, you just keep your mouth shut and offer a hug, because you didn’t know she was forced to have one as a teenager when she was raped.  Instead of ignoring your friend because they are going through a nasty divorce and you are uncomfortable, what if you invited them to dinner at your home and just let them breathe?

God didn’t ask us to save the world; He is pretty capable in that department.  He instructed us to love.  More accurately, He commanded us to love, period.  There is no chart that we have to measure someone’s life with to see how much or how little love we can give them.  We are not told to analyze our fellow human being’s life, determining what degree of sin they reside at so we know how to treat them.  That sounds a lot like the Pharisees & Sadducees.   Jesus reduced their laws to dust.  When we condemn others aren’t we saying that Jesus’ death was not enough to save them?

I wonder if a lot of the world’s problems would be resolved if those who proclaim to love God would just focus on Him?  We waste a lot of energy on complacency, apathy, and judging.  What would happen if we took all that negativity, pushed it to the side and loved the Lord fiercely and passionately?

Food for Thought

In 1 Kings 19 we find Elijah on the run.  He has witnessed an incredible number of miracles in previous chapters, but right now those things are a distant memory.  Queen Jezebel sent a messenger to let Elijah know that she had his number and he would be killed within the next day.  Even with all the times he has witnessed God’s provision, this lady got to him.  He fled the area with a servant, then left the guy and traveled another entire day by himself.  Elijah didn’t just have a pity party but a full on celebration.  He found a cave to hide out in and heard the voice of God asking what he was doing in no man’s land.  He responded with a string of whining phrases like, “I’ve done all this stuff for you Lord, where are You? Everyone has turned against You and I am the only one left.  Now they are trying to kill me too!”

There are a couple of things that struck me here:

1.      How arrogant of Elijah to think that if he were wiped out that would be the end of the mission to tell people about God.  But when we throw our personalized tantrums is that not the same kind of thing we say?  Newsflash!  We are part of the body of Christ, but again have to be reminded it is not all about us.  If we don’t carry out what God has asked of us, He is quite capable of using someone else.  That stings and is raw to hear, but we need it.  There is a lot to be said for humility!

2.     If God asks you, “what are you doing” that is probably a huge red flag we are not where we are supposed to be.   I’m not sure how much expansion I can provide there, I think that is pretty self explanatory.

Before Elijah found the cave he fell asleep under a tree.  An angel woke him up two times with instructions for him to get up and eat.  The second time the angel woke him up he added, “…for the journey is too great for you.”

Food for thought:

1.      Elijah had this really dramatic Scarlett O’Hara moment.  (Okay, so I am ad-libbing a little here, stay with me.)  He throws his arm to his forehead and says, “It’s over God, just take me now.  I’m no better than my ancestors who tried to tell people about you and failed.”  Then assuming that God is going to listen to his instructions, Elijah takes a nap.  Welcome exaggeration!  I’m sure we are very familiar with this process.  We don’t get the promotion we thought we deserved and it is the end of the world.  We don’t even consider the possibility that God has something way better in store for us in 6 months.  Maybe we would have been miserable in that new position?

2.     Why did this angel say that this journey was too much for Elijah?  Um, hello, he was nowhere near where he was supposed to be.    He jumped at Jezebel’s bark and ran off with a servant to hide.  Then he dumped this guy so he could truly be a legitimate victim and traveled for another whole day to separate himself from any indication of civilization.  We are very skilled at setting our pity parties up.  Step one, isolation.  Step two, relive every bad thing that has ever happened to us and play the blame game.  Step three, blow up a few balloons, get some party hats and get comfortable.  We want to enjoy being in misery.

There is a great ending to this story.  God allowed Elijah to witness how nature reacts to His presence.  He saw wind break mountains apart and experienced an earthquake followed by fire.   But God knew exactly what Elijah needed, a still, small voice that could go right to the core of his being and heal it.

It’s easy for us to say what Elijah should have done and point out his faults.  I don’t think that is the point of stories like these.  We are all going to behave like this at some point in our lives.  What a great illustration of hope and comfort.  God could have zapped Elijah because He got tired of his whining.  He could have let him die there under that tree, but He didn’t. He showed Elijah just a glimpse of His power to say, “Let me handle this, I’ve got it.”  Then He soothed Elijah with peace and comfort from within to restore him.  God knew exactly what Elijah needed to see, hear and feel.  Elijah is no different from you or me.  He was just a guy trying to share God with the people God put in his path.  If God knew what He needed why would it be any different for us?

Office Supplies

In our church, we talk a lot about being stretched, allowing God to use you in new ways or expanding the territory of your influence.  It gets compared a lot to a rubber band.  A simple little rubber band can take on the shape of lots of things.  It can assist in holding stuff together or keeping something organized.  Personally I feel a lot more like a paperclip.  I have been programmed into thinking, acting, or believing a certain way.  I can change my shape, but then I look funny and I really am not that useful anymore.  Even if I try to bend back, my original shape can never be quite achieved again.

I think I’ve also been more like a binder clip at times.  I can hold stuff together with a death grip that will pinch the fire out of you if not used properly.  I wonder how many times I’ve pinched someone who may have only been trying to help me.

No matter what office supply you feel more like, the great news is that God loves you just as much either way.  There is nothing we can add to our lives, take away, do or say that can separate us from His love.

Psalm 103:6-18 (The Message)
God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet. He showed Moses how he went about his work, opened up his plans to all Israel. God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him. He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud. Men and women don’t live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here. God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, Making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.

None of us are worthy of Jesus’ death, after all this passage speaks to God keeping in mind that we’re just made of mud (rubber band, paper clip, etc).  He doesn’t treat us how we deserve to be treated.  If so, there would be no hope for anyone to spend eternity with Him.  God is not looking to punish any of us.  If that were the case that would be all He could ever do!  Instead He is always showing us His mercy, His favor and His love.  Most of the time we either ignore it, overlook it, dismiss it or buzz right by it in our busy lives.

He loves us enough to be gentle when we need it and a little more raw when that is what it takes to get our attention.  These scriptures also remind us that our faith has an effect on the generations after us.  Society is so focused on doing whatever you need to be happy.  As long as you are not hurting anyone it’s ok.  This is such a tragic trap we have fallen into.  The next time you are out in public, try smiling at a stranger and see what happens.  Most of the time they will smile back.  If we can have that kind of effect without speaking a word to someone we don’t even know, what greater investment we must make into the lives in our legacy.

I, for one, am glad that God loves me, a small little piece of metal that gets a little bent out of shape sometimes, but really wants to keep changing.

Oversized

The Everhart house has been subjected to some serious spring cleaning over the last few weeks.  Yes, please ignore the fact that is now summer time!  We all have those rooms/spaces in our homes where everything that does not have a designated place seems to pile up.  It is an ongoing joke that I consider my husband and son to be pack rats, while they think I don’t keep anything.  Our son wants to keep every scrap of paper he has ever doodled on, every paper airplane he has ever made and every dried up marker or ink pen—just in case we need it to make something else.  My hubby keeps junk mail, every notebook he has ever written in and clothes that haven’t been worn in 10 years.  I guess all the stars were aligned recently because we tackled our extra bedroom, which is our personal junkyard.  We organized, put things in the attic and my personal favorite…threw some stuff away!

This bedroom also serves as our home office.  We had this massive desk that was too big for the space and really ended up being nothing more than a shrine to all things that we refused to find a place for, throw away or give away.  After getting some help from our wonderful brother-in-law, we found a great new home for the desk at our church.  We then purchased a much smaller desk that has no places or room to be a fancy trashcan.

As I thought through how I wanted the room to look, what its function needed to be, etc. it made me realize how junky some areas in my own life had become.  There were some spaces that I allowed to be overtaken by oversized memories, loaded down with traditions and even misused.  It was just easier to close the door to those spaces than to deal with them.

It’s not easy making a decision to let go of things from our past.  It is uncomfortable to realize that you have settled for a pothole in your life rather than climbing out, dusting off and moving forward.  I find it much more comfortable to look into the lives of others and determine what they need to do.  I could tell my son that life is not fair and you just have to deal with what it hands you.  I could be the wife that tells her husband just to quit fighting Lyme’s Disease because there is no cure.

I could be the woman that stays under the thumb of the legalism she was raised under.  Shedding things that hold onto us is either a process or an instant freedom.  What determines that?  Well, the best I can explain it is your willingness to let go is combined with God’s plan for your life.  Just like I had to ask for help from my brother-in-law to deliver the massive desk out of our home, I have to ask God daily to help me with the things I struggle with…anxiety, patience, using my ears instead of my mouth, etc.  However, sometimes there are things I can just pray about, drop it in God’s hands and have total peace.  I can’t predict what those things are for me any easier than I could for you, but I think our willingness to shed them is the biggest step or acknowledgement.

So my question for you today is, “are you holding onto some oversized things that you can’t get to fit into your life?”  Maybe it’s time to ask for some help to get rid of them?  It might not even be something bad…my desk is in great shape, it just wasn’t right for me, but it is perfect for the classroom at church.

Unpacking

I am a huge animal lover.  My son and I enjoy cuddling up and watching National Geographic or PBS.  There are so many things that amaze me about animal instincts, behavior and even how their appearance helps them to survive in whatever environment they are native too.

I recently learned about the Cowbird.  This bird got its name because it travels with herds of cattle.  You may find it difficult to acknowledge the intellect of a small bird, but you may be about to change your mind.

The Cowbird is lazy but very smart.  It does not build its own nests.  Instead the Cowbird spends time observing the other birds in the area.  They stake out the nest and while it is unoccupied they make their move.  Cowbirds will either knock all the other birds’ eggs out of the nest or lay their own eggs and hide them among the eggs already there.    After laying the eggs, the Cowbird abandons the nest and moves on as the cattle do.

When the nest owner comes back, they continue with the process of bringing new life into the world.  The little mom and dad are left to nurture something that is not their own and they don’t even know it.

I really had to sit and digest that for awhile.  If we look at this scenario from a spiritual perspective there is a lot to think about.

1.      Someone is always watching you.

Unfortunately, not everyone in your life has your best interest at heart.  There are many times red flags are waving and sirens are blaring, but we miss these warnings.  We all need to ask God to help us know when we have unhealthy relationships in our lives and how He would want us to handle them.

2.     Protect your gifts

God has blessed each of us with gifts.  You may be an encourager, good with finances, musical, fitness instructor, dancer, minister, etc.  The least we can do is protect the treasures God has placed in us.  This doesn’t mean we horde them to ourselves, but it certainly means we nurture them, grow them and invest in them.  Take pride in whatever gift God placed in your life.  No one can do it like you can!

3.     Conflict resolution

We all have situations in our lives that have created baggage.  It is so important for us to unpack that suitcase, deal with whatever it is and move on.  Maybe your marriage ended through no fault of your own.  If you move too quickly into another relationship, you are carrying your hurt and pain with you.  You keep adding to that suitcase until it is so heavy you can barely walk through each day.  But in your head you keep thinking…I really enjoy hanging out with this guy why do I still feel so empty?  Maybe you have trust issues with men now.  This new guy is wonderful and you have no reason to not trust him, but there is always that doubt that chews on you.  How do you unload that baggage?  Spend time on yourself.  Figure out who you are, what is at your core, what you believe, what is important to you, etc.  This may require therapy, Christian counseling, and will absolutely take prayer and TIME.  Conflict could also come from childhood experiences like physical/mental abuse, molestation, etc.  If we hang onto those things the suitcase gets heavier and heavier—one day we won’t be able to carry it anymore, it then turns into bitterness.

4.     The aftermath

There is an old saying, “Bitterness is like you drinking poison and expecting it to affect the person you are upset with.”  When we hang onto things that were unjustly forced on us, we are the ones who suffer.  Anxiety, depression and stress will control us.  The person who wronged us has moved on and probably doesn’t even think about the situation anymore.  Forgiveness is an absolute must for healing and moving forward.  It certainly doesn’t mean that you forget about what happened, because honestly we are human and we don’t have a delete button in our brains.  Sometimes it is not even appropriate for you to contact the person and tell them that you forgive them.  You need to do this for yourself.

Don’t spend the rest of your life investing in raising someone else’s bird.  God promised He will not put more on us than we can bear, so be careful that you are not picking up someone else’s load.