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Monday, February 5, 2018

Bluebirds and sinners and grace, oh my!




I know years go by fast for two reasons. First, it's always Thursday night and time to put out the garbage. And secondly, The-Great-Bluebird-House-Clean-out-Time is upon us...again.

The garbage thing is no big deal...it's Ted's job to drag the loaded can up the gravel driveway to the roadside. If he ever dies I will just leave it there.

But the birdhouse clean-out...that's a 2 person job...one to do the work, and one to write down the pertinent data. That be me.

Now, if you don't have 33 Bluebird houses to clean out you may struggle with understanding the breadth of this task. It started innocently enough with a few houses. And then the babies from those houses needed houses of their own. And every year this issue has grown exponentially until now it is akin to a nightmare. For us, not them.

So this weekend, if it doesn't rain, we'll drag out the ladders and heavy gloves, the screwdrivers and scraping tools, the drill and extra plastic entryway covers, and load them all into the car along with my trusty book and pen, and set out to see what the past year has wrought.

Don't get me wrong...I love Bluebirds and I love helping them. Not too long ago they were struggling to survive development and loss of habitat. Now the Nuthatches are feeling the same pain. Don't tell my husband, but this year I have plans to put up a few more Nuthatch dwellings just to lend a hand. I ask you...can I do any less?

Last week I was out birding with friends, and we were talking about I can't remember what and I shared how the Flying Squirrels have taken over some of the houses, and one of the women said, "Oh, how cool! I've always wanted to see them!" And I said, "Well, then feel free to come along because we've given up three of the houses to them and I'm sure they're there."

And I'm sure they are there. It's another case of "Aw, they're so cute (when they're not jumping out and flying in your face as you open the birdhouse door)...and look at their little tiny babies...even they need homes so let's leave them alone." Guess who said that? Hint...it  wasn't Ted.

And that's what's got me thinking this morning...how things get into our lives that may seem good, but they aren't helping matters any.

This thought comes on the tail end of watching the first part of Paul Tripp's What Did You Expect? Marriage Conference yesterday. Don't think because we've been married 40 years this year that we don't still need to learn a thing or two...or three or four. Before streaming, well, let's be honest...before computers...in the early years of our marriage, we actually had to go to a seminar. Now we can sit in the comfort of our Lazy-boys, coffee cups in hand, and be the old-folks-at-home. 

This past year has thrown us some major punches...sickness, death, and surgery to name a few, that have blind-sided us and left us shaky and a mite bit edgy. And these are just the biggies...the day-to-day razor cuts can be just as painful as the surgeon's knife. If you've lived any amount of time, I'm sure you can relate to what I'm saying.

So I'm sitting there, on a dark and rainy afternoon thinking, "Go ahead, Paul, bring on the comfort...the easy answers...I'm ready!"

But you know what he had the nerve to say? That we are SINNERS! Married to a SINNER! And that SIN and WEAKNESS and FAILURE are part of both our lives...and they always will be! Can you imagine??

Here I was thinking, silly deluded person that I am, that he would at least feel a little bit sorry for first the husbands and then the wives, and then feed us some good tidbits on how to change our spouse. 

Not. Not. Not.

And then he asked, "Where is the fallen world invading and affecting your marriage?"

And that's probably what got me to thinking about the Flying Squirrels in the Bluebird houses...it seemed so right that they be there...but they are not supposed to be. They were never meant to be. They have thrown out what is good and taken over. They will stop at nothing to defend their territory once they are entrenched...even to the point of killing the unknowing Bluebird as it comes to investigate a future home.

And that's the reason why I will never succeed with Purple Martin houses...ruthlessness is the key word to making them work, taking out all the other bird's nests so the Martins have a chance.

Anyway, today...and until we watch the next installment of his seminar...I'm going to spend some time thinking about Where has the fallen world invaded my marriage? My life? My thinking?

I know it has...I've been too tired to resist this past year...and probably many years before that.

What have I allowed to creep in...stealthily...slowly...kicking out what is good and setting up a stronghold of wrong belief, wrong thinking, wrong living? 

Tripp said we need to have a marriage of shocking honesty in order to experience glorious Grace. Dare I add a life of shocking honesty? 

One thing marriage and life does is expose us. No matter how hard we try to  "keep it together, man," there comes a day when we just can't dance fast enough anymore to our own preconceived notions, or the world's bellows, or our culture's allurements. 

"Just as I am" becomes the freedom call to Grace.

I'm pretty sure that doesn't mean we are going to stay just as we are...more like it's the first baby step in the right direction. But it will allow us to let go and fall into the arms of Grace.

And that's what our marriage needs right now...what our lives need right now. Grace.

Years ago, after coming out of a legalistic background, I did numerous studies on Grace. Maybe I thought I had it...and didn't work on holding on to it...but I see now it's the lifeline to loving not only my husband and others...but myself.

"We are blessed with a Redeemer Who is Powerful to make the changes we need...
and Faithful and Willing to keep on working in us." Tripp

And this gives me hope...that God will be able to kick out and clean out that which I can't.

I don't know how I'll feel as I head out this weekend to clean out the Bluebird houses. But  I know as we're doing it, I'll see Christ in the midst of it...

And welcome His help...for I desperately need it.

Stay tuned, I'm sure I'll be learning more from this conference!

And it's not too late if you are interested in streaming it also! For a small price it can be viewed over and over again through March 31st.  

Blessings, dear friends! Thanks for being a part of my journey...it's better because you are on it with me!

https://www.paultripp.com/livestream-events