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.
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.
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.