Adopting Twin Girls and Bird Room Meditations 5
Updated: Apr 4
Our adoption of twin girls from India continues moving forward. This week, I compiled some paperwork for Homeland Security providing details on the girls, and there are a few more steps in the immigration process on this side. I have to admit, I am so intimidated when submitting to Homeland Security and knowing that these girls' futures are in our hands, but I also feel elated when I see their pictures on the front of their child study reports and profoundly feel that we are on the road toward providing two needy kids with a forever home.
I cannot share their photos until we bring them home, but I look forward to doing that. From this point, there are about 8 months of processing. Every time we're sent new forms to complete, I will be working on them ASAP to prevent even longer delays. I have been told to expect the unexpected, especially that the Indian judge who is placed in charge of our case may ask for extra documentation and there may be delays in court dates.
We just have to persevere until we finally meet them in India and get them on a plane. I will keep you updated!
Below I'm sharing Bird Room Meditations 5. This is part of a series of essays that I'm writing with my sister, Judy, to help people find or return to the Christian faith. Please share this with any who will benefit, especially animal lovers! We started the series here and to understand how we are explaining Christianity via a bird room, check out this one on perception.
Bird Room Meditations 5: Inviting God into Your Life
Previously, we contemplated perception and sin, and our limitations as human beings became abundantly clear. But how do we enter the world of Christian living? Do we start by reading the bible or attending a church? Since we are unable to see beyond our “room of perception” and we know that those around us are similarly limited, there is a crucial step we must take at the beginning of our Christian journey. We have to ask God to come into our lives.
This feels awkward to people at first, not unlike any entirely new situation. When we begin to pray and ask God to be present with us, to walk with us, to show us the way, we hardly know what we are doing, but it is important that we acknowledge our limitations and get to know God with God’s help. God has promised to be there for us.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7
We need Him. The bible is complicated and easily misunderstood. Not every church follows the true path. In order to read the bible with eyes that can see and an open heart, we need God. Finding a good church can take several attempts, and we need God to show us which church, out of the many choices, will be best for us.
At the beginning of our faith journey, we are just babies learning to walk. We pray and the words seem strange, disorganized, maybe silly. The quality of our words, which ones we choose and how we put them together, does not matter as long as our heart is truly calling out for help, for hope, for change, for a new life with God.
Being a keeper of a bird room is a lot different than caring for a parrot, a cat or a dog. Rather than directly bonding with a single animal, I tend to the needs of a small town. I keep the population at about 20 to 25 birds with most of these being very small ones, about an inch long.
Some of the birds choose to connect with me and some remain shy for most of their lives. Let me introduce you to a few of my closest friends.
Since I let the birds have babies, most are born in the room, but few are as interested in me from a young age as was Lively, a society finch (full of energy). From the beginning, she seemed to see me as a great aunt, a natural part of her family, and she is always observing me with a buoyant, curious manner. She loves to fly and likes to fly near to me and hang onto something from the side such that she looks like a flag; society finches are good at perching with their whole body off to one side, very light birds.
Then there is Master Builder, a zebra finch who loves building nests and is capable of building masterpieces, not just beautiful nests, but different types of nests. Sometimes he builds in one of the coconut-shell houses I hang from the ceiling and at other times he builds in spaces he chooses himself, such as the high-rise he constructed within a closet nook. His love of building brings him to my side every morning. I always reserve 5 or 10 minutes for placing some Spanish moss and cut up twine on the floor near where I sit, and Master Builder comes to retrieve the materials. If I forget to provide materials—which I may if distracted by work—he flies by me, lands on the floor where the materials usually are, and pecks at nothing while glancing at me hopefully. I certainly cannot resist him.
Saga is a male canary who sings beautifully and has a gentle nature. During his very young years, he was only interested in the other canaries, but he soon became a kind of philosophical presence in the room, one who watched me and all the bird room happenings and trilled out lovely songs with a natural ease. While most birds will meet my eyes only briefly, Saga’s eyes remain in mine. When I turn to him, he returns my gaze and seems to enjoy staying in my gaze indefinitely. I usually chat with him and tell him that I appreciate him very much, especially because his kind nature is so helpful to the other birds. He is a peacekeeper.
These are just a few of my besties.
Saga is the white and brown bird second from the right.
What about those who stay far from me? Some are very shy from an early age and that does not change for years. About half are completely absorbed in their relationships with each other; I’m just the human who brings the food, changes the water and cleans. Occasionally, a bird behaves irritably when I begin cleaning—how annoying that I interrupted their plans.
Of course, birds and human beings are very different, but I believe this analogy is interesting. Some birds show a genuine desire to be near me, and these birds get to live out their lives as birds—doing everything birds love to do—and they also enjoy a personal friendship with me, their keeper. I can tell you without reservation that all of the birds who spend time meeting my eyes, flying by me playfully or enjoying their aspirations with me (the builders) are more content than the other birds. They are not as prone to fear and anxiety, and there is a sense of confidence and peace in them. I can easily see this in their eyes and also in their behaviors.
Birds exist as a group, and they scare easily. In nature, the greatest threat to small birds is birds of prey, and for this reason, any swift passing shadow can send the whole group flying for cover. Frightened birds press their feathers tightly against their bodies while relaxed birds keep their feathers loose and playful birds lift the feathers on their heads. In this way, whenever the birds are startled, I see which ones hold onto fear the longest and which ones easily let go of their fear. Those who make friends with me have something to rely on besides their instincts and their relatives, and I am pretty good at keeping the hawks and cats away with the walls and windows of the room I chose for them. I’m good with temperature control. And I’m generous with special seeds and vegetables.
In life, we have a simple choice—to do our best on our own with some advice from relatives and friends or to ask God to be present with us and to walk with us. If you know about Christianity already and are returning, you may prefer to pray to Jesus. We will explore the life of Jesus in the essays to come and also the idea of the trinity which is the oneness of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. For now, I encourage you to take the first step by asking God to come into your life.
There is no need to live life on terms you define for yourself, as your Keeper has been near you all along. If you think about those days when an especially loving moment in your family touched your heart or when you were awed and moved by the grandeur of nature, you will know that God is truly present and available to us. Those moments do not have to be fleeting. As my friend Saga connects with me, we can rest in the eyes of God for as often and as long as we choose.
When birds become elderly, like us, they slow down and start making flying mistakes such as missing a perch and landing on the floor. At that time, those who had not approached me in the past begin to observe me carefully, maybe instinctively realizing they might need my help one day. And very sick birds become tame; in their final days, they lose all sense of fight or flight.
It’s an interesting parallel. Many of us are so involved in our families, our jobs and our hobbies, we do not pause to get to know God for years. If we become sick or find ourselves getting older, we start to ask ourselves, who is that caretaker over there? Should I get to know Him? And when we recognize the imminence of our mortality, our sense of what is most important changes utterly.
God will answer our call regardless of how long we wait, but what a shame to lose even one more day of peace and security in His presence. Life truly changes when we take this first step.
Knock on the door!
Erica Rosi Tham
If you have any questions about international adoption, please ask me in a comment and I will tell you of my own experience or refer you to someone with more knowledge. Please consider a donation to our family or support us by sharing!
I love how Erica captured what it means to give our lives to Christ through her birds. This scripture comes to mind,
“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.”
The only thing that I thought to add, is simply that our experiences in life have affected our perceptions. If we are returning to faith, we might want to ask ourselves why we grew disillusioned? If we are new to faith, we may encounter these same challenges, so it’s good to consider our experiences too, and our expectations.
If we grew up in a loving home, with good friends that stuck by us, and adversity was handled in a caring way, we are in general more secure in our being. All of us have been and will be affected by the people around us, and adversity, but for some, there is still a base security that helps us grow in trust. Our good relationships help us to trust our being and that can help us trust our relationship to God. Our greater challenge will be to put our full trust in Him and let go of relying on ourselves and even judgements we can carry because we live our lives well. In this place, we may struggle to listen because we can’t be still. Apart from God, our worth is in our accomplishments.
On the other hand, if we grew up in a dysfunctional home, (which all homes are to some extent), but if our home really wasn’t secure, or safe, or if we felt on our own, or we struggled with peer relationships, we are more likely to come to a place of not feeling good about ourselves—from there, we can struggle more with trusting. We can struggle with fears and anxieties and can tend toward more hopelessness. There are two ways we go with this. We either believe God is not trustworthy, or very simply, our “truster” is broken and needs healing.
David Takle, the author of an excellent book entitled Forming, writes, “When we get stuck in these emotions with regard to other people (rather than God), our emotional state will often interfere with all of our relationships, including our relationship with God…. Given the world we live in, we would expect our “trusters” to get broken. That is one reason that God’s love and goodness are so important to us. Getting to know God’s character by our own direct experience of Him will build our trust.” And I would add, regardless of life’s circumstances.
Jesus said, “In this world, you will have troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” Giving our lives to Jesus doesn’t mean we will be protected from all the outer challenges, but our inner lives will be protected and will flourish and grow in love and trust that is greater than the challenges. “Greater is He who is living in me then he (the dark one) who is in the world.” John called the one in the world, “The thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” John 10:10 He is also known as the father of all lies, and what is he trying to destroy? Our trust in God.
We can stay distracted and more attuned to our friends and family and work than to God, or we can choose to give our hearts to God and get to know the author of life and love. Think of Erica’s birds. Those that choose to look at her from the get-go lead a life filled with more peace. They return from a scare to peace and calm much more quickly because they trust Erica is with them and will provide. The other birds have to work through more limitations to get to that trust. But oh the life of one who finds this trust sooner! I love how her canary spends time gazing at her. There’s a song I love entitled Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. Imagine Erica’s canary whistling this tune! Here’s the chorus:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
Let’s join Erica’s canary and turn our eyes upon Jesus,
and now, may
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’
Here is a tough, but inspiring video by Simon Khorolskiy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8emZjgD2uCc
It shows how much strength Christians have in adversity. Think about the huge difference between the deaths you see on regular tv series and movies and the way death is shown here. When we turn to God we find hope--even when we suffer from disease, old age, or violence. In the description, you can read more about this song. Here is a less poetic, though more direct translation, so that you can get the full sense of the original version.
1. My home is heaven, behind the clouds
where new life never ends
where friends and relations will be together
singing songs of glory to the Father.
Oh heavenly home, where my longing is
To go there I strive to forever live
There forever I will glorify God
and in miraculous light serve Christ.
2. As in sea storms sailors strive
to dock at the harbor to find rest
so longs my heart for this dwelling of light
where rest awaits all who have made their way.
3. It will be gratifying in my forever home
to see my Friend, my soul
who on Golgotha died for our sins
and reconciled all people to the Father.
4. In the sorrows of the mountains, tears to drink
forever glorifying we will sing
Separation, parting, sorrow, we will forget the pain
We will have no more need to endure.