After thinking for a minute, I told him this:
I like it because it's like a treasure hunt. On any given day, you can go outside and be surrounded by dozens of different kinds of birds - each with its own unique look, song, habits, and personality. They're all different and amazing, and most of the time, we don't even notice them.My brother-in-law, whose family is also participating in our "Not-So-Big-Year," echoed the same sentiments about birding at church on Sunday. He compared it to God's goodness and greatness - we are constantly surrounded by reminders of both, but we often miss noticing them because we're distracted by the day-to-day cares and concerns of our own lives.
The picture you see here is of a Black-and-White Warbler. He was perched high in the top of a tree right next to our driveway. He was visible for about 2 seconds (when I snapped this picture with a telephoto lens), and then he was gone. I had never seen one before in my life, and I haven't seen one since. But I saw it that day, because I was looking for it.
How many times do we miss seeing the blessings of God because we're not looking for them? It's very, very easy to get caught up in all of the negatives of life... believe me, I know. But every day, there are hundreds and thousands of ways that God is showing us His mercy and goodness, and when you begin to look for them, you'll find them.
Birding is a fun hobby, but it's also a discipline. You have to be quiet, still, patient, and observant. You have to be faithful - you may look in the same place 500 times before seeing a new bird there. Sometimes you have to change your perspective, clean your lenses, or try again another day. When I took a vertebrate field biology class in college, we went birding twice a week at the crack of dawn. On beautiful spring days when it was warm and sunny, it was a lot of fun. But before that, there were many cold, wet, and miserable winter days when trudging around in the mud or snow looking for birds was the last thing I felt like doing. But we did it anyway, and I saw some birds that I never would have seen in warmer weather.
Keeping this list has been a similar discipline for me. At times, when things are good and "all's right with the world," it's easy to add ten or so items to the list of things for which I'm thankful. However, on darker days, it takes a little more thought. But that's a good thing.... Looking for God's blessings in the dark times shows us not only that God is good regardless of our current circumstances, but also that He is at work even in and through the bad things in our lives and will ultimately use them for our good...
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28
And so, I continue to count...
Thanking God today...
# 621. ... for the lessons all around us in His creation, if we just take the time to stop and take note of them.
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse..." - Romans 1:20
# 622. ... for what I'm learning about God, specifically through birds at the moment...
"Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?" - Luke 12:24
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." - Matthew 10: 29-31
# 623. ... for visual reminders of the power of encouragement and helping others, and the way God comes alongside us and carries us when we fall.
# 624. ... for a new engagement for two friends and a new job for another friend, and a fun night out to celebrate both.
# 625. ... for a husband who's bouncy and funny in the morning and
makes encourages me to get up early (I'm a pretty incorrigible night owl, but I'm working on it.).
# 627. ... for sun, fresh air, a beautiful place to live, and the health to enjoy it all.
# 629. ...that I was able to get Harvey out from under the shed when he got stuck under there chasing some wild animal last night.
# 630. ... for Black-and-White Warblers.
Joining Ann today... (a day late)