Notes from Jan

Life is for the Birds

May 16, 2024

For sure, I’m not a birder. Those people are serious about their fine feathered friends. But when I stop and sit for a spell on my deck, it’s often the birds that grab my attention. However, mostly I catch seagulls dive-bombing and screeching, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

But, yesterday, I saw a Baltimore Oriole for the first time, and its mate. We were at Shelly’s house, near Wingaersheek Beach, for a gathering of our Community Bible Study group. Before long, I headed to the back porch. Fortunately, Shelly followed and invited me to take a seat. And that’s when she pointed out a Baltimore Oriole(not a baseball player) and other birds. Shelly identifies some by their songs. Which I find, remarkable.

As I watched, awed by the beauty of these birds, I remembered these words. “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:26-27, NLT),” Or as the Message sums up a bird’s life, ” careless in the care of God.”

Well, apparently God enjoyed creating birds. According to, there are 9,800 bird species. And “There are approximately 300 references to birds in the Bible, including ostriches, quail, doves, owls, ravens, peacocks, eagles and sparrows.”(from Bible

Then, Philip Yancey in his May 13th entry in Grace Notes referenced Flannery O’Connor’s peacocks. And according to Flannery, as they strut about, they unfurl “a galaxy of gazing, haloed suns.” One trucker screeched to a halt to watch, some walkers are stunned into silence. “But her favorite response came from an old black woman who simply cried, ‘Amen! Amen!'”

Well, I need to take a seat more often and pay attention to the birds. Above all, to do less worrying. If Life is for the birds, then how much more is Life for us.

” Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7, NIV)

Well, judging by my hairbrush this morning. God has fewer to count. But, today I’m focusing on keeping an eye out for different birds and worrying less. However, it can’t hurt to hunt a good hair-thickening shampoo. Peacocks aren’t the only ones who like to strut their stuff.

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  • Reply Dale May 16, 2024 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks Jan, I have never relished the comparisons to the birds who leave reminders on our deck, but I do believe all nature shouts His glory, so I give this is a wide interpretation. With the past forgiven and the future assured, I guess it’s time to focus on today and be grateful. Thanks for seeing beauty in all of God’s creation, but I do hope you don’t share one about a possum! Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 16, 2024 at 5:23 pm

      Hah! Probably not going to happen But a few days after Jud died, a raccoon showed up and tried to snatch the Thanksgiving turkey chilling on my deck. Unlike the governor of South Dakota, I don’t tote a gun. I just put my hands on my hips and said, “I can’t handle much more. So drop it and I won’t press charges!” So he did. And the next day, after scrubbing it well, I stuffed and baked a delicious turkey with no hint of raccoon. What a bird!

  • Reply Evelyn Morgan May 16, 2024 at 2:27 pm

    Jan, this gave me a different perspective. My favorite pastime is sitting on the back porch watching the birds, not thinking about all the birds in the Bible. I spend almost more on food for the birds than I do on myself. Sunflower seed for the Cardinals, suet for the woodpeckers and Bluejays, sugar to make nectar for the hummingbirds, mixed seed for the sparrows, and then special houses for the wrens and bluebirds. It is amazing what we do, not thinking about how our Heavenly Father takes care of them thru all the storms. Living in the Midwest, we don’t have the seagulls. God even provides the right environment for the different species. And then, on the farm we had chickens, ducks and geese. What an interesting study.
    I am so grateful for God’s care for us thru any circumstance. He even prevents bad things happening to us that we don’t realize until we look back and realize God was there all the time.
    You are a great inspiration to me, even though so many years have passed. Thank you.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 16, 2024 at 5:25 pm

      Thanks, thoughtful Evie. It’s always good to hear from you. It sounds like you live in a park with all those beautiful birds around you. I pray they are daily reminders of God’s love and care for you, my dear college roommate..

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe May 16, 2024 at 2:36 pm

    We love watching the birds at the feeder on our deck (other than the crows muscling their way in.) We brought home two placemats from Norway with this little Norwegian prayer that parents and children say around the table:
    “Du som metter liten fugl velsign var mat o Gud” (“O Thou who feeds the little bird, bless our food, O Lord.”) But I love even more watching what you do with words, my fine-feathered friend!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 16, 2024 at 5:29 pm

      Oh, how beautiful, dear Maggie. Norwegians love nature, for sure. Thank you for the reminder through that sweet prayer. And, as always, I’m grateful for your ongoing encouragement. You never ruffle feathers, unless it’s to provoke and challenge us through wise words.

  • Reply Nancy Vecchio May 16, 2024 at 3:35 pm

    You are such refreshment and joyous to my soul!

    I love birds especially my hummingbirds that come back every spring to get their much needed nectar.

    I’m so glad life is all about Jesus and never about us. Hair or no hair (which, just sayin’, I could use more of it myself!). My performance doesn’t impress God. He just loves me. Although it does please him if we just listen and obey so He can protect us. And don’t forget the rewards we wish to lay at his feet. Worry has no place in our lives it’s true. Be anxious for nothing it’s all in our Fathers hands. Unlike birds, we sheep have a lot to learn!

    I love you Jan Carlberg!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 16, 2024 at 5:33 pm

      And I love you, dear Nancy. “All we like sheep have gone astray…” We have daily reminders of how much we need the Shepherd. We can learn a lot from birds about their trust in God to care for them. And sometimes the care comes from God through us, and not only for birds. Thank you for being one of God’s care givers.

  • Reply Lorraine Utley May 17, 2024 at 7:37 am

    Oh Jan It’s been too long and I have been remiss to not reach out sooner!!! My wonderful friend, Linda Brownell shared your talk that you shared with the ladies from her church which encouraged me more than I can express! And now as I am with her enjoying a get together with my college friends, She has shared your blog for which I am so thankful!!! By God’s grace, I am reconnecting with you. I am signing up to receive your blogs. Hallelujah!!! Our amazing Lord just keeps on bringing joy to me through your encouragement and wisdom. He started a sweet wonderful relationship with Patti during our days at Gordon and now I look forward to rekindling this gift of hearing your thoughts. Thank you for allowing God to continue His work through you of igniting hearts to draw near to Him. I love you so much!!! Lorraine (DeYoung) Utley

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 17, 2024 at 9:44 am

      LORRAINE! What a wonderful surprise. Thank you, LINDA, for reconnecting us. When I saw your name pop up I couldn’t help but think of Patti and Betsy and the wonderful class you were part of at Gordon. I can still hear your laugh, if I shut my eyes and open my mind’s ears. And I’m so grateful if something I wrote or said gave you a shot of encouragement. As for the retreat, one of the best parts, for me, was to look out and see Linda in the audience. You “girls” will always have a special place in my heart. Happy getting- together -time with your college friends. “Birds of a feather flock together.” Keep soaring!

  • Reply Jeri May 18, 2024 at 9:57 am

    Thank you for this sweet observance, Jan. My mother began in me the love of birds with her seasonal offerings of suet to the neighborhood birds in the frigid NH winters and I continue providing options for our lovely “flying ornaments” that come through. We have the joy of living near a very large – and former – farm in southeastern PA that has been turned into a park for all to enjoy and that brings in every type of bird you can imagine. Owls in the fall grace our trees and call out each evening, answering to one another. Blue birds, red-tailed hawks, Coopers Hawks, cardinals, many types of sparrows, cow birds, mockingbirds, phoebes, titmice, blue jays, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, red breasted woodpeckers, northern flickers, etc. all come on a regular basis to our yard and makes me so happy when I spy them outside while eating. The occasional unknown (to me) winged creature will come through and I hurry to find my books on birds and am reminded of my mother when doing so. Hoping to pass along this love to my grandsons in the years ahead. Always, always am reminded of scripture when I see them and am grateful for God’s beautiful love in His creation of these delights!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg May 19, 2024 at 6:51 pm

      Oh, dear Jeri, what a gift your mother gave to you. And you’ve given us one as readers of this blog can picture some of the ones who come to your feeder as ones who fly and feed near them. I’m astonished you know so many. But then, your mama started you early. I’m a latecomer. but an big appreciator. But, you are right, it turns our attention to God who is the creator of such variety in birds, flora and fauna. And people! Sending hugs to you and Ron.

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