Even here? Even here.
I thought I knew what my tattoo meant as the Hawaiian radio DJ (long story- let’s just say it FELT like the right time and place to get it!- and it was;) inked it onto my ankle: a bird’s nest- held in the crook of a branch- a reminder of Gods tender care and comfort- as he gently holds my family. 3 blue eggs tucked into the nest of our love held in the crook of a branch dotted with 5 small blossoms representing each member of our family— because we aren’t just eggs- but still growing.
It’s a visual planted in my heart at MOPS convention in 1998. (14 years ago- really? I can’t even believe it.) when the theme was “Feather your nest.” Based on Psalm 84 vs 1-3.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. “
At dinner we were each given a small bird’s nest on a branch- to remind of us the truth of God’s presence in our lives and His promise of a nest for my family, by the altar.
Over the years- that nest sat on the sill- reminding me of God’s presence as I washed dishes, washed gum out of kids hair, held dripping ice onto bloodied boo-boos and all the other things a mom does in the kitchen.
It reminded me of the truth through our struggle to buy our first home, in struggles with fertility, struggles in pregnancy and struggles in my marriage. It always brought me back to the altar. (It also gathered a lot of dust… nests are not easy to clean.)
When I started working on a book project in process (A Mile in Her Shoes) I wanted a way to engage. To engage means to- To connect with commitment. My commitment is to the “other mom” the one who’s not like me…. She’s different. I wanted a visual reminder of that commitment. I chose to make that commitment to reach out- with a tattoo.
I settled on the bird’s nest …. because it was one of the strongest visual’s God has used in my life … (It’s possible I have birds nest jewelry, décor and photography… I may have written 6,000 nest inspired blog posts and given several talks….. nest= not a passing fad for me;)
Besides- I thought I knew what it meant.
And I kind of did. But not like I do now.
Now, I know it means much more.
Shortly before Kyle’s cancer treatment began and shortly after my diagnosis with some crummy spine issues and the fear they have involved…The nest took front and center again. This time with inspiration from a new verse:
Psalm 139: 7-12
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
I sat with an ice pack on my neck and a biopsy report in my hand and I read that verse and talked back to God. (My mother has yet to cure me of backtalk- she’s tried- poor thing- she’s my mom. But, I digress.)
“Even there? Sure- if I ride the wings of the dawn, or move across the sea- (to be a missionary of course) but what about even here?
In chronic pain and physically limited body.
In my husband’s cancer.
In fear of losing my husband.
In talking to my kids about cancer? How bout here??”
The answer was simple, yet, not. Two words:
Maybe it was a moment of psychosis…. Maybe it was my heart telling me the truth I already knew- or maybe it was God speaking to my heart.
Psychosis or not- I knew without a doubt- that all these years later-our nest is still in the still resting at near His altar.
A number of weeks later as I sat down at the radiation center- I looked up to see a tiny birds nest in a flower arrangement. With 3 eggs held in it’s twiggy embrace.
I have no doubt he is with us and holding onto us-
Regardless of what you are experiencing- personally, in your ministry, financially, or professionally- I believe he has a place for your nest at his altar…. Yes- Even there.
If you’ve never been to MOPS Convention– I hope you’ll seriously consider it….. I assure you- God will plant something in your heart- and he will grow it in your life- Even here.
Dear Lord- I know you are with me- but please keep reminding me… in times of pain and fear- I get spiritual alzheimers……..I tend to forget. I love you Lord- and thank you for your tender care- amen.