Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Backyard Faith

Last spring a stunning bushy-tailed fox bounded across our backyard, making a brief appearance, then ducked into the woods behind our home. The sighting stirred me. And since that fox trotted I’ve been thinking about something. Backyard Faith. Think for a moment about all the potential animals you come across in the backyard. There’s the obvious squirrels to the not so obvious moles. Well, if you’ve gotten to know me at all through this blog, you know I didn’t just spend my time coming up with various backyard critters. I made a connection and I’m hoping to make the same connection for you.

What kind of faith do you want to exude? Do you have backyard faith and if so which animal has the most desirable faith traits?

The squirrel? They scurry, they race up trees, they dart, and they often go unnoticed or annoy others. They blend in. Every now and again you’ll see an old couple amused by one, feeding it at a park. But we’re not talking park faith today. If you had a squirrel faith you’d believe, but would you be making an impact? Would you annoy people with your tracts and your proclamations? A squirrel mostly just wants to get a nut (pretty self-focused if you ask me).

The groundhog? Here’s an unusual one, but he’s so unusual he really only shows up when he feels like it, 95% of the time leaving people disappointed. They want to see the groundhog, they hope to see him, and it’s all part of a mysterious tradition. So to apply—do you have groundhog faith where you “act Christian” at church. You lead people to believe you live holy and responsibly, but at home behind closed doors there’s no hiding you’re a mess just like the rest of us. You’re more comfortable to be yourself in hiding than among people. You risk nothing.

The rabbit? What sweet creatures, right? But it isn’t often you get a good look and when you do get a good look and the rabbit’s not darting away, dear rabbit friend is chomping away at your lovingly planted vegetable garden. Rabbit faith looks good on the outside. You say the right things. You might even read your Bible, but you take from others freely and there’s a clear disconnect between what you say and how you live. I know, I must be mean to make the rabbit the example of the hypocrite (Guess what? We all struggle w/ squirrel, groundhog and rabbit faith at times).

The mole? Mole faith actually has some potential. Hear me out on this one. Moles leave traces of evidence they’ve been in the backyard tunneling underground. Often the grass pops up where they’ve traveled and this can trigger a Caddyshack (or maybe that was a gopher) anger. But when do you ever really see a mole? They’re not around, unavailable, distant and have found a way to not let people in. You couldn’t fit into their world anyway.

The bird? The starlings, tree swallows, sparrows, robins, orioles, meadowlarks, mourning doves, mockingbirds and bluebirds to name a few. What do birds do? They sing! And they fly! How do people respond to birds? People watch birds. They even buy bird feeders to summon the birds to come around more often. People admire birds as they soar skyward, free and beautiful as they spread their wings.

Hands down, I know what kind of backyard faith I want. I want to be the bird. It’s my hope that as I share my faith it invites others to want to know more, to watch and delight in my “singing” (it’s a metaphor people, my vocal chords don’t know what they’re doing). Also, have you ever noticed how very many different kinds of birds there are? It reminds me of how God gifts all us uniquely. I’m telling you…Bird Faith—it’s where it’s at!

How about you? Can you think of another backyard animal faith you’d like to have or are you a bird too?

*photos by flickr
**I’m over at
Exemplify today with a piece about fellowship.


  1. Hmmm, cool post. There's deer in my backyard. I could want deer faith. LOL I always see them, they travel together and run together. They trim my grass and I know they've been here even when I don't see them because they leave their droppings and hoof prints. :-)

  2. Hey, Wendy! Great post! I love the connections you make! I'd definitely want the "bird faith", hands down!!!

    Hey, I nominated you for an award! Check out my blog to find out more!

    Have a great day!

  3. I hope to have bird faith but probably morph into other creatures at times.

  4. This is a wonderfully thought-provoking post.

    Perhaps I'm a western meadow lark. Their song is beautiful, even haunting. They're rural and never have a very big audience. They blend into the scenery, so only their song is easily noticed.

  5. I love this post - pictures and all. Your ideas are always so fresh and new! I want to have bird faith (but not bird flu!) :) We have rabbits in our backyard, and if I'm honest, I think the rabbit is the one I struggle with the most - making sure what I SAY matches up with what I DO. You rock, Wendy!

  6. Your blog always lifts me up, thank you! You have a wonderful way of looking at the world. :) I'd like to be a bird. It must be wonderful to fly and sing--all in the course of simply living. They don't do it to show off or to get attention, they do it because that's part of who they are. That's what I would like to be like. :D

  7. I love you blog and today is a prime example of why. Certainly the bird wins hands down. Love your imagination.

  8. I love the way your brain thinks. What a cool, thoughtful post. When I read it, my first impression was, Oh crap, I'm a rabbit! But God's helping me out with this. I say the right things with the best intentions, but struggle with following through with actions. Something I've really been working on, now that I have a little man at home watching how I live. :)

    Anyway - just like you, I'd love to be a bird!

  9. Definitely bird faith! I love this post, Wendy! You've made me think and you've lifted me up. I love watching birds protect and feed their young each spring. They have love for each other and that's what I always want in my faith.

  10. Jessica, deer...of course, I forgot those. And I've been spending the day trying to figure out what the droppings could symbolize. Alas, I got nothin'. :D

    Kristen, thank you so much for the award! I've been enjoying YOUR blog. Just writing about the bird was fun.

    Diane, I imagine I do a little creature-morphing as well. Interesting thought.

    Anne L.B., yes, you are a bird! A meadow lark, beautiful and the reasoning that their song is what's noticed...ah--that is so you pointing to Christ--always pointing to Christ! Thanks for the compliment. It means a lot coming from you.

    Beth, thanks for your words! Love the joke--why do our minds joke so much alike?

    Danyelle, I loved your point about how birds behave the way they do not to get attention, but rather it's b/c that is who they are. After I finished the post, I tried to think about how birds often make people think about more...the sky, flight, freedom and w/ bird faith the bird is always guiding toward God.

    T.Anne, thank you. As I child I always knew I thought about the world in an unusual way. Now instead of trying to blend in, I go with it. Sometimes it's laughable and sometimes profound.

    Katie, you had me laughing at the oh crap. Sometimes I feel like God is entrusting me to learn so much all at once I feel like asking Him to slow down w/ the lessons, but I figure He knows what I need better than I do. :D

    Heather, I get that vibe in your blog, that you deeply and authentically care for others!

    Believe it or not I'm hosting the h.s. Bible Babes at my house for a sleep over so I need to sign off early. Not thinking I'll get much sleep tonight. Wonder what my babes will think when they awake to see 4 h.s. girls sleeping in our playroom? :D

    Get some sleep for me!
    ~ Wendy

  11. Wendy,
    Very thought provoking post. Reminds me of the parable of the mustard seed. I'd like to think I am more like a dog...faithful to death but I am sure I fall short and don't always "come" when I am called but that's what spiritual direction is for and that starts up for me again next week. :-)


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