In Others’ Words: On a Hummingbird’s Wing and a Prayer

After eight years living in Niceville, FL (yes, Niceville), my roots ran deep into Florida’s sandy soil. My kids were happy. My husband was happy with his job at Eglin Air Force Base. And me? I was happy too.

I treasured a wonderful circle of friends, taught women’s Bible studies and helped lead the women’s ministry at my church. My phone rang constantly – one of my kids labeled my pantry with a sign that read “Phone Booth” because I often retreated there to enjoy uninterrupted conversations.

If God had pushed the pause button on my life, I wouldn’t have complained.

But I know there’s no pause button—especially for a military family. The time came for us to PCS, military slang for move.

“I want you . . . to go to Colorado,” the military, aka “Uncle Sam,” declared.

What? Move from the land of white sand and emerald waters to a landlocked state with not a drop of humidity?

Several months later, we pulled out of our driveway. I drove one of our cars, suitcases in the back, my two young daughters in the middle seat. My husband drove our van, with our son riding “shotgun.” I cried for an hour—all the way to the Florida and Alabama border. The only reason I pulled myself together was the alarm on my daughters’ faces—and their anxious chorus of “Mom, are you going to be okay?”

My car may have been pointed west, but my heart’s compass did not budge off of south. I burned emotional heel marks all the way from Florida to Colorado.

After telling my husband, “I can’t live in base housing again,” our Florida home didn’t sell. Not wanting to juggle two mortgages, we chose to live on base. As I clambered over my bed to get to the miniscule bathroom, I tried to banish images of my large, comfortable still-on-the-market Florida home. Only two people could fit in the galley kitchen at one time. Colorado weather assaulted my body—in mid-July I crawled into bed wearing sweats and socks. July!

Most of the family settled into Colorado easier than I did. My husband had a job to go to—a reason for being there. And once my kids started school and began making friends, they had a reason to be there too.

I struggled to adjust.

One morning at the base gym, I pounded out my loneliness and frustration on the stair-stepper. I also prayed. I’d never been much of a “Could you send me a sign” kind of pray-er, but I was desperate for a tangible bit of hope.

God, I need some encouragement. I need to know You love me, even though You let my life turn upside down. Could You give me a sign? Nothing big. How about a hummingbird? Would You send one to show me that You love me?

 With my hope set on a small, fleet-winged bird, I gathered up my water bottle, gym bag, and car keys and headed home.

Several days later, I visited a nearby nail salon for a manicure. Gail, the nail technician, introduced herself, and directed me to her work area. Walking down a narrow hallway, I rounded a corner—and stopped short.

At her worktable she had set up an adjustable, white architect-style lamp—and dangling from the arm of the lamp was a crystal hummingbird.

My sign!

That wasn’t all. On the wall behind her table hung a hummingbird calendar.  Next to the calendar was a stained glass image of yet another tiny, ruby-throated bird. The final touch? Taped to the wall beneath the picture were the words: God loves you. I think God wrote his answer to my prayer in black and white so I didn’t miss it.

Since my hummingbird encounter at Gail’s shop, I’ve scattered reminders of God’s love throughout my house. A crystal hummingbird adorns a vase in my dining room. Another dangles from the lamp in my office, and yet another handcrafted hummingbird hangs from my car’s rearview mirror. Whenever my family hikes in the Colorado mountains in the early spring, my ears tune to the sounds of hummingbirds in flight. And whenever I hear the whir of hummingbird wings, I hear God whispering, “I love you.”

 In Your Words: I know today’s post breaks the pattern of a quote and a brief bit of thinking out loud from me. Some of you know my hummingbird story … some of you are reading it for the first time. How has God whispered “I love you” to you recently? 

 

*Photos by  the amazing LisaAnne Meeter. 

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48 Comments

  1. December 5, 2012, 4:32 am   /  Reply

    Oh how I love this, Beth!!!!! I’m glad you went in a different direction today. If I knew your hummingbird story, I’d forgotten it. A hummingbird will always remind me of you. What a beautiful story of God’s love and faithfulness…He is so, so good to His people. Much love, Patricia

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 7:59 am   /  Reply

      I’m glad you enjoyed the story, Pat.
      It was a tough transition to CO (that’s a much longer story), but God knew what He was doing — and rubbed off a lot of my rough edges in the process.

  2. Gerrie Rue
    December 5, 2012, 5:55 am   /  Reply

    Not only does God answer prayer and let Himself be known to us, He does it beautifully and lavishly!

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 8:00 am   /  Reply

      Yes, yes, He does.

  3. December 5, 2012, 6:32 am   /  Reply

    I love this, Beth! Pure love.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 8:00 am   /  Reply

      🙂

  4. December 5, 2012, 6:39 am   /  Reply

    I needed this post today. Thank you for going in a different direction.
    God whispered “I love you” in October when He gave me my heart’s desire which I think came in part because I had released them to Him. And waited for His timing. Which is always perfect.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 8:01 am   /  Reply

      Wise words, Pat.

      • December 5, 2012, 8:17 am   /  Reply

        Oh, and I forgot. I love the visual of you burning emotional heel marks all the way to CO!

  5. December 5, 2012, 6:58 am   /  Reply

    I so appreciate this and hadn’t heard before. Just last night in a home-church mtg. God affirmed His love for me again through a (another) friend who prayed–that He sees my heart, zoned-in focus, and is pleased. Initially surprised, I am very blessed . . .

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 8:02 am   /  Reply

      I love how God often speaks to us through times of prayer … when others pray for us and when we sit and listen for His voice.

  6. Jeanne T
    December 5, 2012, 7:11 am   /  Reply

    This Colorado girl is so very glad God brought you here, sans heels on your shoes (from all the skidmarks you left behind 😉 ). I love how God met you where you were and showed you His love in such a beautiful way. He’s so good like that.

    God often shows me His love through people–a timely word of encouragement, a hug. And also through devotional words spoken yesterday at Bible study. And through a song. And….. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 8:03 am   /  Reply

      You were one of God’s blessings waiting for me in CO, Jeanne. I just didn’t know it when I resisted God all the way across country …

  7. Alena Tauriainen
    December 5, 2012, 7:11 am   /  Reply

    Beth,
    How neat! I see God’s love for me in that I’m alive to see my children. Seriously. My mother died at 29. She didn’t get to see her kids grow up. I experience so much of God’s love just by the relationship with my kids. Thanks for switching gears this morning. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 8:03 am   /  Reply

      And I’ve seen you with your children, Alena, and have seen God’s love through your interaction with them.

  8. Elaine Clampitt
    December 5, 2012, 7:53 am   /  Reply

    I loved hearing your hummingbird story and how you dragged your feet to our beautiful state. I love the water and sand so I think I would have struggled with that one too. I remember going kicking and screaming from New Mexico to Texas in my teens, but that turned out to be the best thing that could have happened for my relationship with the Lord. He loved me enough to bring me to a place (and many more since then) of growth and change.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 8:04 am   /  Reply

      Exactly, Elaine.
      Exactly.

  9. December 5, 2012, 8:06 am   /  Reply

    I LOVE this, Beth. God’s really been whispering His love to me lately through other people. But it’s so special when, like with that hummingbird, it just really feels like it’s coming so directly from him. Earlier this year I had a moment, in South Carolina actually, when I know God whispered straight to my heart…pointed me to a Bible verse in Romans…and reminded me who I am in Him. And that was awesome and unforgettable.

  10. December 5, 2012, 8:40 am   /  Reply

    When I was preparing myself to go to Bolivia in 2008, my husband was saving up ransom money. He was CONVINCED I was going to the next Ingrid Betancourt, a French/Colombian journalist held by the FARQ for years.
    I knew God was calling me, so I basically told hubs that he was arguing a point with God and had better back down. He did.
    But I still had to raise a heap of money to go. Back then, before the nerves in both feet gave way, I’d walk the highway with my dog. I prayed that if I was going to go to Bolivia, that he’d show me a purple flower. About 10 minutes later, where they should NOT have been, were tiny purple flowers. And then a purple car drove by. Then another. And later that day, I saw all kinds of people wearing bright purple clothes. It went like this for months.
    Then RIGHT before the trip, I was out with my dog, now this was October, in Eastern Canada Fall. Autumn. Certainly not blooming time for anything.
    What did I see waving at me from the grass?

    A huge blossom of purple clover.

    And in Bolivia, where it was Spring, there is a certain tree that looks like wisteria. And what colour were the blossoms on that tree, that dotted every hill in town?

    Bright, vivid, laugh out loud PURPLE!

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 8:49 am   /  Reply

      Love this.
      Absolutely love this.

  11. December 5, 2012, 8:40 am   /  Reply

    Beautiful. I rarely get such blatant signs, so this is encouraging to read. Thank you for the sacrifices you (and your family) have made for my blessing and liberty.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 2:57 pm   /  Reply

      Thank you, Bill.
      I like to say my husband was the military guy and I was the civilian along for the ride.
      😉

  12. December 5, 2012, 8:59 am   /  Reply

    I totally did the same thing when we left Langley VA for Del Rio TX. I cried when I left our house with the For Sale sign and I cried when I got to Barbie’s Dream House. We homeschooled in a 900 square foot house for 3. Long. Hot. Years. It was my favorite place to leave!

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 2:57 pm   /  Reply

      There are those “favorite places to leave,” Wendy. Mine was Incirlik, Turkey. Another story, for sure.

  13. December 5, 2012, 9:07 am   /  Reply

    Love this, Beth. Mainly wanted to comment so you know I was here, rather than my usual lurking. God has reassured me so many times but why is it never enough? It seems like each time I hit a rough spot, I need that reassurance.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 2:56 pm   /  Reply

      So glad you joined the conversation today, Charise!

  14. December 5, 2012, 9:12 am   /  Reply

    Chills. That’s what this post gave me, Beth. What an awesome, tangible way for God to show you He loved you. And isn’t it just like Him to go above and beyond what you asked? You asked for one hummingbird. He gave you more.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 2:56 pm   /  Reply

      I know, Lindsay. I never tire of this story. Never.

  15. Bernadette DesChamps
    December 5, 2012, 9:31 am   /  Reply

    This really touched my heart this morning as I thought of my sweet daughter, an Air Force wife of four years, now stationed thousands of miles from me in Little Rock, Arkansas. As I too walk her journey in marriage from the waving goodbye side, I learn that wringing my hands in worry is no match for lifting my hands in prayer. My heart is full of emotional skid marks, but Jesus never leaves nor forsakes. And even last night as she shared about her first deployment orientation…and all that would be provided for her and her two precious little ones while her husband is half a world away…I was reminded of God’s love for her and for me. As mama to a mama, her blessings are mine and His whisperings of “I’m here, I’ve got this” echo over the miles and tenderly hold my heart.

    I’m feeling pretty wrapped in love even as I’m wrapped in my fleecy plum bathrobe on my comfy little couch reading God’s epistle to Beth. Thank you for sharing your story of His faithfulness.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 2:55 pm   /  Reply

      Yes, it’s true that there are all sorts of emotional skid marks in each of our hearts, Bernadette.
      And it’s also true that God never forsakes.
      Blessings on your daughter and her family –God’s richest blessings.

  16. December 5, 2012, 9:48 am   /  Reply

    Beautiful – My wife and I had one of those “hummingbird” moments last summer here in CO!

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 2:55 pm   /  Reply

      Mike, I would love to hear more about your “hummingbird” moment! 🙂

  17. December 5, 2012, 9:53 am   /  Reply

    I made a similar request for a sign years and years ago when I was trying to market my first novel. I asked for rainbows, and OH! did I receive rainbows. Even a triple rainbow around the sun on Christmas Day. Now, when I am discouraged about my writing career, God still sends me rainbows. Knowing how much He loves us makes life so much more joyous, and even the times of trial less hurtful.

    Thank you for reminding all of us about that abundant love in your blog post, Beth.

    • December 5, 2012, 10:00 am   /  Reply

      I choked up about the triple rainbows around the sun on Christmas Day.

      • Beth Vogt
        December 5, 2012, 10:29 am   /  Reply

        That was miraculous, wasn’t it?

  18. December 5, 2012, 10:02 am   /  Reply

    I love your story, Beth. And I wonder how often God wants to whisper “I love you” to us and we just don’t hear it. Like the rainy – but cozy – day we had yesterday. Every time the husband God gave me smiles at me. The babbling “Mommy” of a toddler. Thanks for a great post!

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 2:53 pm   /  Reply

      Wonderful insight, Meghan.

  19. Jeanne T
    December 5, 2012, 11:54 am   /  Reply

    I know I already commented but I just remembered not a visual sign, but a verbal one. When I was really struggling with our infertility, God met me there. I’d been helping a friend with her children when she was being induced with her newest blessing. Her first morning home, I rejoiced for her full arms and the “oooh’s” of delight as she and her husband introduced her daughter to their other three children, and I cried with anguish at my own empty arms. Later that day, as I made the 2 hour drive home, I poured out my heart to Jesus. Almost audibly, the words, “I WILL give you a child.” My heart quickened at the words, grasping onto them with a tentative hold. I told my husband about it. A couple of days later, while I was journaling, those same words pounded into my thoughts, with the “I” being emphasized.

    Those six words gave me the hope to hold on to His promise until my husband and I held our own little blessing, ours through the gift of adoption in our arms about a year later. He is truly faithful to meet us where we are, to give us the strength to move forward in faith when feelings want to give up.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 2:53 pm   /  Reply

      Jeanne,
      Thank you for sharing this beautiful expression of God’s “I love you” in your life.

  20. December 5, 2012, 4:13 pm   /  Reply

    Beth,
    What a lovely piece. What a lovely God. I’m so glad I know him, too. Thank you for this. H

    • Beth Vogt
      December 5, 2012, 4:17 pm   /  Reply

      For all the times your words have encouraged me … So glad to be able to do the same for you.

  21. December 5, 2012, 7:17 pm   /  Reply

    Dear Beth,

    I’m straying from lurkdom to say thanks for departing from your usual posting style.

    God knew I needed to read your posts this week. They have strengthened and comforted me as I’m in the process of making career decisions. It has been tough to hear God saying to me, “Let it go. Release the need to be in control.” And instead open up my hand to whatever He has for me. I am waiting for further clarification from Him, but your blog has encouraged me in the middle of uncertainty. Thank you.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 6, 2012, 10:25 am   /  Reply

      Glenda,
      Thank you so much for joining the conversation today.
      I am so thankful to know you were encouraged.

  22. December 5, 2012, 10:00 pm   /  Reply

    Beth, I love this. Absolutely love it. In contrast, I’m a total freak about signs. I pray for them, look for them, beg for them, need them, so this is one of my favorite posts ever! Finding money and seeing dragonflies are two significant signs, but I’ll take anything. I bet God wishes I’d ease up a bit, but when I’m scared (more often than I’d like to admit), something tangible helps.

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. So encouraging that he shows up always!

  23. Beth Vogt
    December 6, 2012, 10:26 am   /  Reply

    So, Kim … now I am so intrigued to know more of your “sign” stories …

  24. December 6, 2012, 4:05 pm   /  Reply

    Beth, I love this! What a beautiful story about how much God loves us and sees our every need. Obviously something you will never forget. Thanks for sharing it, it brightened my day.

    • Beth Vogt
      December 6, 2012, 7:57 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks, Cynthia!
      🙂

  25. December 7, 2012, 7:24 pm   /  Reply

    A beautiful reminder of our need to embrace change. It reminds me of my childhood, when my family moved around a lot. I never found that easy – in fact, railed against it. But looking back, I can say, so much was gleaned from those experiences. Lovely 🙂

    (BTW, you may not have received my follow up comment on Coleen’s blog, because I think it was entered as a comment instead of reply! But thank you for your lovely comment, and my condolences for the loss of your beloved Midas).

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