The frigid air stole my breath as I opened the back door on that morning not long ago. It stung my eyes, clung to my nostrils. I could not believe the blast that hit my face as I headed out to start our minivan.
It had been a rough night. I think I maybe managed to catch a combined three (four if I was lucky) hours of glorious sleep in between trips to my twin boys' bedroom. I had pulled out all of the stops: gas drops to calm the gurgling tummies, Orajel to sooth the hurting gums, and even a 4am feeding for one little man who just wouldn't take “no” for an answer.
But alas, just as it always does, the morning had broken and found me. Broken into something unbelievably brutal. Negative 16 degrees is what the thermometer had read -- not even taking into account the wind chill. This incredible cold snap -- the second of the season -- had again meant the closing of many schools in the area, including the school of the other family’s children who our regular babysitter watches. Of course, this also fell on one of the two days during the week that I work. Long story short, this meant that I would be taking my four children to the sitter’s house, instead of her coming to us as she had taken to doing ever since the boys were born.
So waking up on this morning -- a morning shrouded with a cold that seeped into my bones and easily chilled me from the inside out -- I knew I had to be at the top of my game despite the lack of sleep. The moment my feet hit the floor I was moving from one task to the next. I walked with purpose through the house, dressing my 3 ½ year old daughters, making them breakfast, setting up bottles for the day ahead for the boys, dressing and changing the boys, feeding each of them, packing the diaper bag, packing my lunch, getting myself dressed and finally filling my own empty stomach with some Cherrios and orange juice. I quickly placed the girls’ coats and boots on the floor in front of them and instructed them to get themselves dressed for the cold adventure to the sitter’s we had ahead of us. After securing both little man in his car seat, I headed for the back door to start up the minivan which had sat outside all night due to our lack of a garage.
As I grabbed my keys and stepped over the threshold into that icy morning my skin felt raw, almost instantly numb. The moisture from my nostrils seemed to evaporate immediately. I felt as though I had to consciously tell my legs to move me closer to the van. And that’s when I heard it.
In fact, at first, I wasn’t even sure I had.
But there it was again. A bird. Singing.
It was a chickadee to be exact. “Hel-lo. Hel-lo.”
Really? A bird, smaller than my fist who had spent the entire arctic night outdoors was singing. As I stepped back into the house to round up the children, I smiled to myself. And in that moment, I wondered just where did that bird sleep all night. And what in this present minute was making him sing?
I turned the corner back into our living room to find both girls right where I had left them, one with her coat on upside down, one with her boots on the wrong feet. Both with smiles. The little men still sat snug in their car seats, each peering out at me under their still-too-big knit hats with gigantic grins on their faces.
And suddenly, my heart began to sing, too. I glanced out the window at our minivan -- it had started. It was warming up so that we could make the ten minute drive to the sitter's in cozy warmth. I had a husband at work. I had spent the night in a warm house, even if that night didn’t consist of as much sleep as I had wanted. I had a reason to leave the house today: my job. I had four grinning children who were looking to me for what to do next and loved me no matter what that was going to be.
And most importantly, I had a Savior who loved me more than He loved that little bird. I had JOY.
That’s when I realized it didn’t really matter what the thermometer said: my heart was full and I had every. reason. to. SING.
You see, that chickadee may have been singing simply out of habit. But that’s just the thing: God had kept that small bird safe through the night, through the cold, to live out his life that next morning just as he had every morning before. My heavenly Father, the Creator of all things, had protected this tiny, seemingly insignificant part of His creation and sustained him. And He had done the same for me.
1 I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. 2 Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. 4 One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. 5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works. 6 They tell of the power of your awesome works— and I will proclaim your great deeds. 7 They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. 11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. 14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
If the Lord had watched over this little bird, if He had cared about him that much, how much more must He care about me, my husband, my children, all people, as the crown of His creation? In fact, He loved all of us so much that He had sent His only Son to die a brutal death on the cross. Why was this ever not reason enough to sing?
As I continued to load everyone in the van and backed out of the driveway, a true sense of peace and gratitude washed over me. And in that moment, my heart couldn’t have felt warmer.