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I’ve often heard it said, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I get the point; however, I don’t really feel like God laughs at our plans, but rather works with, through, and around them for our own good and the good of others.

You would think I would’ve learned that lesson during 2020 and the pandemic, but I slipped and started making plans again. Back in May, I honestly thought we were nearing the end of our pandemic woes and the world was “righting itself” once again. I figured I was nearing the end of the COVID memoirs, and I planned to get busy and decide what I’d like to focus on in future posts.

As I’ve mentioned before, this seems to be the most surreal time we’ve experienced thus far. The numbers of COVID cases, especially from the Delta variant, are above what they were in the spring of 2020. Yet, we are in many ways choosing to turn our heads and look the other way...we just can’t do this again, can we? Or continue doing it for an undetermined amount of time, it seems? That wasn’t our plan! But, here we are.

I don’t feel like God has decided we need further trials or that he is punishing us. But, I do believe he has a plan in place to work through this, to help us through this, in spite of ourselves.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with a photograph of one of my favorite birds: the beautiful Cooper’s hawk. I have always admired the strength and beauty of these birds we are occasionally blessed to see in our yard. And then one day, one of the largest, most beautiful hawks I’d ever seen flew into our garage with “prey in talons” and proceeded to tear apart his recent catch on the hood of my clean, white car! This actually happened just about a month before COVID struck, so I should’ve taken it as a sign.

Soon after this, I spotted another beautiful specimen swooping down to grab an unsuspecting dove that was singing sweetly and resting peacefully on the railing. In a flash, there were only soft, grayish-brown feathers scattered over the deck. I had been feeding the prey for these predators for quite some time. After all, we love watching all of the different birds in all of their colorful splendor as they visit our feeders. Such a delight to marvel at God’s precious creation, right? So, how dare this hawk (no matter his or her loveliness) appear and violently remove one of God’s precious little creatures from its time of nourishment?

Speaking of our strategically placed birdfeeders, many squirrels have become quite proficient at jumping ever so carefully onto these feeders to scoop out some of the fresh, new seed to devour, or land in such a way as to send seed flying out of the container into a pile on the ground...surely, this is all part of their plan. Those sneaky rascals.

Our dog has started warning us of their visits when they are within her field of vision from the window. She barks loudly and continuously until the squirrel either becomes frightened or just gets too annoyed to continue the effort. We encourage her to scare these marvelous creatures away because, after all, we intended this food to be for all of the beautiful birds we love to watch from our windows and the deck. Not for these pesky squirrels!

I approached the window to assist our faithful watchdog in her efforts to terrify one of our visiting squirrels. As I got closer, it was immediately obvious that this squirrel was a mama and was still actively nursing some baby squirrels somewhere nearby. And it dawned on me that even though I didn’t feel the squirrels were as colorful or as beautiful to watch, they, too, were hungry and had little squirrel mouths to feed. Just because they weren’t part of my plan to care for nature in the way I thought I’d most enjoy or see fit, didn’t mean they weren’t part of God’s creation and a bigger plan.

Near the same time, I watched as one of our hawks flew elegantly up into the highest treetops on our property to a huge nest, where they undoubtedly were feeding one of their youngster hawks with the food they were designed by God to hunt and enjoy. Even if, even if, I didn’t approve of their diet because it was such a treat for us to watch the many varieties of birds outside our window. The hawk wasn’t being mean or dishing out undeserved punishment to these creatures. It was doing what it should be doing to help its hawk family survive. And the squirrels aren’t trying to be devilish (I’m still working on convincing myself of this); they are creative and constantly learning new ways to help their families survive.

So, coming back to my original thoughts as we approach another wave of COVID, most of us are doing what we can to survive and to help one another. To honor God and God’s creation. And we may not like or understand any of it. But, God is still in control, not us. The more we try to accept that, the easier it will be to face each new day. I will try to remember that as well when I get distressed over the disappearance of expensive birdseed to creatures for which it wasn’t intended, or the disappearance of some of my favorite little birds to sustain another magnificent, growing family in God’s creation.

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