Today I have invited Joy DeKok to write a guest post, based on her newly released devotional book, Under His Wings: Lessons Learned from God While Watching the Birds. This book is a delightful glimpse into how Joy observes life. If you’d like to read my review, you can do so at Amazon here. You can purchase your eBook copy of Under His Wings at Amazon for $3.99 here. Thank you, Joy, for the wonderful post about Cha-Peep the goldfinch and the lessons you learned from watching him. What amazing insights we can learn if only we’ll slow down to glimpse them.
Cha-Peep! by Joy DeKok
Life in the country was different for this born-and-bred city girl, but I adjusted quickly. I loved walking the deer paths in the woods and sitting on our patio watching the birds.
The first bird to impact my life was an American goldfinch I named Cha-peep. Early one morning, I heard him sing and I spontaneously sang his song back to him. He came closer, and after that we spent time together every day that summer singing to each other
Looking at him in this picture is a gentle reminder of God’s generosity to me in what might otherwise have been a lonely time. Instead, with the help of my heavenly Father and this yellow bird, it was the start of an amazing journey in my walk with God and His plan for me to be an author.
My pictures of my feathered friend aren’t great, and because this bird often came much closer, one might think I’d have a better one. However, when he came close, I was so interested in watching him, talking to him, and thanking God for him, that taking a picture didn’t enter my mind until he was leaving, even though my 35mm camera rested beside my Bible, journal, and cup of coffee. I was so engaged in the finch, I usually had to reheat my coffee in the microwave.
A reader wrote and told me,
“Cha-peep is my favorite story in Under His Wings, and I read this sentence over and over again, ‘Each day I would call, and he would come.'”
Over and over God has taught me more about Himself through His creation. Today, I celebrate the truth of this verse: “And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (Psalm 116:9 NLT)
In the book, I close the story of Cha-peep this way and she included it in her note:
He was gone, but so was my loneliness; God used my beautiful yellow friend to remind me we are never truly alone.
excerpted from Under His Wings
The woman shared that she was dying and alone except for the birds outside of her hospice window. The little finches, who gladly ate the niger seed her caregivers put out for them, were bright reminders of God’s tremendous love for her. She wrote, “My faith is renewed daily by the story of Cha-peep and the presence of the finches here. Soon I will rest under the wings of the Father forever.”
When I tried to contact her via the hospice, they told me gently that she was already gone, that her passing had been both peaceful and joyful. One of the woman at the hospice center knew of Under His Wings and was glad I’d called. She told me that they’d added the worn book to their library and that it was rarely on the shelf but often in someone’s hands.
So, in a way, the little bird that helped me adjust to life in the country helped another pass from this world to her eternal destiny.
In June 2013, after the revised version of Under His Wings went “live” as an eBook, I sat in my comfy chair, drinking a hot cup of coffee. I closed my eyes and prayed that it was okay with God that I chose a cover that honored the memory of a bird. It didn’t seem like the most spiritual of reasons. Then as is the way with God, He gently reminded me that the bird and the encounter came from Him. I agreed with Him and then asked, “Please assure me, Lord.”
When I opened my eyes, on a branch near the window, was a bright male goldfinch watching me. I smiled at him. To my delight, he cocked his head and moved to a closer branch. Moments later, a female landed nearby and our moment passed. As the pair flew away, I sensed God’s tender, but powerful approval.
For all my bird encounters from the past, and the ones to come, I am grateful.
Thank you, Joy, for this beautiful post. Readers, you are in for a special treat. Joy has graciously shared Cha-Peep’s story below, as it appears in Under His Wings.
Moving out of the city was a lonely time for me. I was used to busy streets and human voices. As I adjusted to the many changes, I was sometimes afraid, and discouraged. Longing for company in the woods, I bought bird books, binoculars, bird feeders and many varieties of seeds.
A few days later, the yard was full of song and bright yellow birds. One of the males caught my eye. He was bigger than the rest and willing to wait his turn to eat at the feeders full of thistle seeds. The others were usually settling in for the night when he was finally done feeding.
Early one morning he sat on the feeder pole and sang out, “Cha-peep!” I sang his song back to him. He moved closer and seemed to enjoy my company.
The next morning I wondered if he would answer me. “Cha-peep,” I called to my new friend. Instantly, I heard him echo, “Cha-peep.”
Each day I would call, and he would come. As spring became summer, a little female joined him at the feeders. Soon, two baby goldfinches came with them, and I watched as they taught their young to eat the tiny seeds.
As the number of my finch friends grew, so did my love for our secluded country home. The days flew and although not all goldfinches do, it was suddenly time for Cha-peep and his family to migrate to a warmer climate for the winter. He was gone, but so was my loneliness; God used my beautiful yellow friend to remind me we are never truly alone.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
“And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (Psalm 116:9 NLT)
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b NLT)
For the Birds:
Feeders need occasional cleaning. A sponge on a wire is great for cleaning the liquid feeders.
Others can be sprayed with a garden hose and left to dry overnight. Be sure to refill them early the next morning. Jelly cups, often mounted on a pole, need a drop of dish soap and a small brush to scrub them. Always rinse thoroughly.
Julie Saffrin is the author of numerous published articles and essays. Her latest book, BlessBack: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life, explores the power of gratitude and offers 120 creative ways to journey toward positive, lasting change.