Small blessings

Lots of patience and a tripod. I didn't even see Mrs. Bluebird sticking her head out of the house until I blew up the photo. [Gretchen Lord Anderson photo]

Lots of patience and a tripod. I didn’t even see Mrs. Bluebird sticking her head out of the house until I blew up the photo. [Gretchen Lord Anderson photo]

I suspect the photo could just stand on its own, but then it wouldn’t be much of a blog entry.

The state bird of Missouri is the bluebird but I swear that even though I was born and raised there, I never laid eyes on a bluebird until we moved to Wisconsin a few years ago. Knowing we were heading here, a member of my congregation at the Ft. Pierre (S.D.) United Church of Christ, Charles McFarling, constructed this bluebird house and gave it to us as a going-away gift. He said, “There are a lot more bluebirds in Wisconsin.”

That’s true. I never saw one in South Dakota either.

And while we have had one other bluebird couple in either that or another house we have nearby, they have proven to be elusive. It was 16 years ago when we moved to Wisconsin.

This year, after being a little wary, we have decided that the Bluebirds have taken up permanent residence to lay their eggs and raise their brood. Right now they are busily weaving the intricate nest, finding just the right materials to ensure comfort, warmth and protection. They fly to the tops of the highest evergreen trees where they survey everything going on in the neighborhood, watching carefully for predators, and then it’s as though they are beamed down to the house, Dad keeping guard on top and Mom making things tidy inside. Sometimes they trade those chores. Nevertheless, they seem to appear and disappear on a whim leaving a photographer frustrated as she monkeys with the focus.

I used to carry a huge bag of camera equipment with me. I had a lens for every occasion. I have loved photography since I discovered that it could be more than just a grade school snapshot, since I learned about composition, since I learned that photography is a form of artistic expression. I celebrated that because I was never an artist in terms of pen and paper.

After years of carting that bag of equipment around with me, I had to give it up. Neck injuries were exacerbated by the weight. I turned to a simpler digital camera, just a step up from point-and-shoot; one with a long lens. Then I discovered that an irreparable torn rotator cuff made it difficult for me to hold the camera steady enough to capture anything that was moving.

It seems like a small blessing, then, that I was able to bag these two lovely additions from our backyard this morning. Two small blessings actually: the photo itself and the fact that the Bluebirds have accepted us and Mrs. Wren in the neighboring house as part of their community.

Yesterday I came upon a woman who was hastily chowing down a hot dog and rhubarb bar at a homeless ministry. She told me she was starving and it tasted so good. I invited her to sit down and “just enjoy it” but she said she had to rush to catch a bus to the east side of the city for a doctor’s appointment. When I offered to drive her, her eyes got big. “We wouldn’t have to leave right away, would we?”she asked. “We can leave whenever you’re ready.” She found a chair, polished off her lunch and then returned for seconds on the rhubarb bars.

When we left for the car, the rain was pouring down and we were ill prepared, but it was only a single block to the parking ramp. We didn’t melt and I pumped up the heat in the car as we drove off.

On the way, she told me how grateful she was for the ride. She didn’t have to stand in the rain and wait for the bus. She didn’t have to worry how she was going to make her bus pass go far enough to even get home that afternoon. The free ride (she even offered to pay for the parking ramp which, of course, I refused) meant she would not only see her doctor, but she would get home and have enough bus fare to get to work the next morning. This morning.

She not only thanked me profusely, but she repeatedly thanked Jesus.

A free car ride to the clinic. Bluebirds in the back yard.

Small blessings yet such great ones. We never know how God might use us on any given day.



Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:6-7


26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. – Matthew 6:26-34

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2 comments for “Small blessings

  1. Kristin
    June 1, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Most excellent. i also love the small things, and the God things!

  2. Susan
    June 1, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    There is always, always something to be grateful for. I love and appreciate blessings of all kinds, including my “adult” friendship with you, sweet Gretchen. ❤️

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