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Seated at the sunroom breakfast table, mouth full of Special K, I glance out the row of windows. A flutter of gray-blue against white paint catches my eye. I quickly swallow.

“Y’all, a bird just went inside the bluebird house!” We all stand in a row, mimicking the windows. Yes, my sleepy morning eyes did not deceive me. Tail feathers were protruding from the circular opening. At last, a bird had found its way to this little white house with a tin roof nailed to a lone holly tree in the middle of our backyard.

This was not the original tree that held the small hand-crafted structure. It once clung to a large poplar at the corner of the yard. The largest and tallest tree on the property, it proudly kissed the sky at 135 feet. A majestic backdrop for a quaint dwelling. The contrast was beautiful.

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However, the true beauty lies in the meaningful craftsmanship of the little house. It was the first Mother’s Day of our new family. I had celebrated six Mother’s Days prior, but this was the first of this new life, new house, and new beginnings. That Sunday morning was full of sunshine streaming across the breakfast table. Three smiles greeted mine as I was presented with the most exquisite bluebird house. Two little voices shared details of wood-cutting, hammering, and painting in the garage workshop with their daddy. 

Two lumps formed in my throat that morning. One for the gift of love they were bestowing upon their mother. One for the gift of a father. Yes, that was the greatest gift of the day. Their Heavenly Father had gifted them an earthly father. Not because of anything they did or anything I did. Not for lack of a wonderful reflection of one in my earthly father. Not to make them complete or whole. No, our perfect Heavenly Father is all we need. But He is the Giver of good gifts. And the realization that they had many more workshop moments in their future was even more special than the hand-crafted gift that sat before me on that sun-soaked breakfast table.

After much location deliberation, they hung the new birdhouse on the old poplar. With a view from the breakfast table, we eagerly awaited the arrival of a feathered family. But move-in day never came. 

Months later, an evening turned dark before its time, signaling an incoming storm. The kids were tucked in bed. Mom and Dad settled in for a cozy movie night. Other than the green glow of the lush Shire displayed on the TV screen, the only light came in the form of sporadic flashes of lightning. The rhythm of thunder announced the storm’s approach. And the ear-piercing, heart-stopping explosion of fire reflecting off of every visible surface announced its forceful invasion into our house. 3-D hobbits jumped out of the screen into our living room before scrambling all the colors of the Shire and promptly going black. After running upstairs to check on children who wouldn’t wake up even if a steam-engine train barreled through their bedroom, we ran outside to survey the damage. 

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Beams from our flashlight illuminated shards of white wood and tree chunks scattered across the yard. Early morning rays lit up a jagged stripe from tree base to tree top, with a gash where a beautiful birdhouse used to rest. I held my breath as my eyes scanned the debris for blue feathers. As I exhaled relief from my lungs, sadness settled into my heart. My beloved Mother’s Day gift was in pieces and my favorite tree was scarred with the beginnings of a slow death. 

Oh, but He makes all things new.

While the majesty of the backyard was reduced to a stump, a miracle took place in the garage. An earthly visual of the work of the Master Carpenter’s hands. My red-headed carpenter meticulously put that birdhouse back together again. The finished product was a masterpiece. Beauty from brokenness. The Japanese art of Kintsugi, repairing shattered pieces of pottery with the strength and splendor of gold, manifested in a humble house for birds. That piece of art was then displayed on the holly tree outside the row of breakfast table windows.

Little bluebird, your new residence has a story. Our dwellings are not all that different, you see. 

Broken homes, shattered pieces, scars. 

Healing, mending, strengthening. 

New life. 

Welcome home.

Originally published on the author’s blog

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Christen McKey

Christen McKey writes, mothers, and joyfully camps, often all at the same time. She shares about the world of camping in her children’s book, The Joyful Camper, available on Amazon. Christen also utilizes her communication skills at a non-profit Christian ministry. When she’s not traveling to state parks with her family and logging camping details for her website, she enjoys time at home in Virginia with her husband, kids, and mountain dog.  @christen.mckey @wordycamper

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