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As baby birds mature,

as tiny bodies and wings outgrow downy fluff,

and feathers emerge, and lengthen, preparing for inevitable flight,

mama birds know just the time for nudging their hatchlings out of the nest.

Recognizing, if young ones are to learn to use their wings,

to fly, to hunt for food on their own,

they have to leave the comforts of home.

Mama birds understand nestlings are easy prey

the longer they stay in the nest.

So at just the right time

the mama pushes them up and out and over the edge,

to try their wings.

It’s a good thing those mama birds don’t worry about their babies.

(Imagine the air permeated with their cries.)

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The car had been at the mechanic’s for weeks. The weeds are starting to grow around it, he laughed, wondering when we’d be driving it away. The bill was paid, so it wasn’t an issue of funds.

As soon as we get everything filled out for DMV, I said. We’re almost done—should be this week.

I think.

I hope.

The fees were also paid for transferring legal paperwork from one state to another. I had spent an unforgettable afternoon sitting, waiting, for two hours at DMV… I mailed the forms to our son for his signature (he’s loaning the car to his sister)… waited and waited while school and church and family events took over my schedule.

Forms got lost in the mail… printed new forms at DMV online (without a two-hour wait at the local office!)… autographed by son’s hand while home for a weekend (perfect timing!).

Made the appointment for a smog inspection… finally picked up the car, poured in the fuel injector additive, drove it the requisite miles… then pulled into another mechanic’s garage…

It failed.

Three times.

After failing the first time, he said to drive it some more.

So I did. Put over 125 miles on it in 24 hours.

Second time. Third time.

It wasn’t enough.

Back to DMV for more temporary driving permits.

We’re closer to passing the inspection, but still need to drive it farther and faster.

Yet, there’s another story here:

How freedom feels when she’s 18 and driving on her own for real… without Mom in the seat beside, analyzing her every move.

The first day, she reached home before me.

Opening the front door, I called, I’m home!

From the back of the house I heard, I’m alive!

On the same day I lost my chauffeur, my car-pooling-duty ended.

She’s now a high school graduate… a new employee at a local business… a productive member of society… a connoisseur of fruit smoothies, protein drinks and those overly-frilled, artificially-flavored, intensely-sweetened coffee drinks that I don’t dare touch.

In other words, she’s found her wings.

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Lately friends have asked, How are you doing?

I tell them of graduation and the final sleepover with NINE giggly girls and—

No. I asked, How are YOU doing?

Yes. And I’m telling you… because what my baby birds are doing is directly related to how this mama bird is doing…

This tired middle-aged body sighs with relief.

And on days when work beckons, I stand by the window, watching her car pull up the driveway, with my baby behind the wheel. Leaving this mama bird trying desperately to govern these conflicting emotions.

My heart is most full of gratitude, triumph, amazement, praise…

while also struggling with a vague sense of loss, the emptiness of these two arms—

Remembering, was it only eighteen years ago? Standing at another kitchen window, washing dishes with her held close (yes, at the same time—she hated the playpen).

Then, she, sitting in the car seat holding her sippee cup, with her mama behind the wheel. Didn’t that just happen yesterday? Or the day before, maybe?

My nestlings were well taken care of. Their daddy and mama, and heavenly Father provided all they ever needed.

But finally the day came, as it always does for grown birds to fly away, to make their own nests, find their own food, nurture their own babies.

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This life seems to constantly hand me something new to worry pray about…

It’s hard not to worry. I am a mama after all.

Remembering, though, God loves my baby birds even more than their mama does, makes the praying a little a lot easier.

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.  –  Matthew 10:29-31

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