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  • Gladys Childs

One Simple yet Powerful Story of How God Provides for His Beloved People.

Have you ever had one of those days where everything fell apart? It may be weeks, months, or years of turmoil and chaos. When everything is falling apart, it can often feel like things will never get better. Hope is lost.

During the last week of December 2022, my family visited my in-laws in Alabama. It is time we always look forward to as my husband reads and sleeps to his heart's content, and I was going to work on finishing writing my book. However, my husband did not sleep the week away, and I did not write one word as we both had Covid.

On the mend, we left Alabama early on New Year's Day to drive to Arkansas. My older brother, the trustee of my late mom's estate, was now sick and unable to finish the work. I was second in line for the task and would be taking over. We had a vague idea of what we would be walking into but would only know once we got to my mom's house.

After a ten-hour drive, we walked into my mother's house, a disaster zone. I had not been there since she passed away a year and a half ago, but it was clean when we left, yet stuff was everywhere: countertops, the floor, on the beds. A few pieces of furniture were gone, and the rest was in disarray. Shock and devastation engulfed me. What I thought would be a challenging but manageable scenario turned into a worst-case scenario. What had my brother been doing?

We cleaned the house the best we could that evening and rearranged the furniture so we could at least wake up to a clean kitchen and living room. The next day, we cleaned my mother's house all day and took countless trips to Goodwill. I was up at 5:00 a.m. and went to bed at midnight for several days as the work on her house continued.

Compounding this chaos was the fact my brother was very sick. I went to see him two days after we arrived in Arkansas. When I last saw him a year and a half ago, he looked like any healthy person, not too thick or thin. Now, he looked like a 90-year concentration camp victim and was skin upon bone. More shock and devastation filled my heart. Being overwhelmed does not do the entire situation justice. Going through all my mom's stuff, meeting with a lawyer to become trustee, realizing how much with mom's estate still needed to be done, and my brother a broken shell of who he used to be.

Long story short, we arrived on Sunday night, and by Wednesday, the house was ready to be looked at by a realtor. By Friday, around 11:30 a.m., the house was officially on the market. By 1:00, there had been three showings, with more scheduled later that day. I went to see my brother again between showings to spend as much time as possible with him. By 4:00 p.m., I was back at my mom's house waiting for the realtor, and then it happened.

I heard a noise but ignored it. The noise became louder and persisted. Finally, I stood up and went to the window. In Mom's front yard were hundreds upon hundreds of brownish--black birds. The entire yard looked like a thick covering of brownish-black snow. It was beautiful. They stayed in the front yard for a while, then flew to the other side of the street and the trees. Then, one bird at a time flew up and over my mom's house. It was my bird show. While all this was happening, I felt God say to me: "God provides," and joy filled my heart.

It reminded me of when I was a young child in Oklahoma, looking out my bedroom window one morning as hundreds of birds flew over our house for sunnier and warmer days. It was a memory seared into my being and one I had thought of a great deal, for some reason, in the months leading up to my unexpected time in Arkansas. I knew at this moment, as the birds were continuing to fly and land around Mom's house, that God was providing this feathery show for me, and I knew God would give everything I needed to get through what I was dealing with, and all was well. I told God thank you, and then all the birds flew away.

Thirty minutes later, I was at my childhood kitchen table sifting through five house offers, all above the asking price. The house had not even been on the market for six hours. And a car dealer had shown up and paid in cash for my mom's car. God provides.

The following day, I went through my mom's entertainment center again to ensure everything was gone before my niece came to get it. Inside I found a baby picture of my brother. In another cabinet, I saw nothing and was fixing to move on when something caught my eye. I pulled it out, and it was a purple glass bird, a tiny thing. Purple is my favorite color; as always happens, when I see purple, my heart leaps with a spark of delight. Then it dawned on me it was a bird, and I thought back to the display of birds on Mom's front lawn and the profoundness of that moment. God indeed provided and gave me a physical reminder never to forget. He will provide.

God continued to provide the next day as I revisited my brother. I could feel God's holy presence and peace filling the space, and I spent hours talking with my brother and massaging his ever-so-painful limbs to ease his suffering. My brother even said my name. My sister-in-law had told me a few days earlier their daughter was upset because my brother, her father, hadn't used her nickname in ages. I remember thinking and telling God I would love to hear my brother say my name again, but I told no one else. God provided that day.

I continued visiting him every day, and on the Wednesday morning after the house sold, my sister-in-law called and said hospice had to take the feeding tube out of his stomach due to complications. It would be a matter of time before he passed, and I should come. I was blessed to spend the last five and a half hours of my brother's life with him. While he could not speak then, he was entirely cognitively aware and could respond with a movement or grunt. His friends came and went saying their goodbyes. Finally, it was getting late; it was just his wife, and I left with him, and then he passed away.

I was privileged to be there when he died. I had been praying to God if it was His will; I would like to be there when my brother passed. However, I thought it would have to be in God's will, as what are the chances I will be there when he goes? God heard me and provided. My brother loved me as I came into this world, and I was blessed to love him out of this world.

Immediately after his death, as a few people arrived, then hospice, and then the funeral home, there was a complete sense of peace and joy in my heart. All was well. No words can explain the feelings God provided to me at that moment.

The room was packed at his funeral a week later, and I heard so many stories about my brother I never knew, stories of blessing to me. As is the case at funerals, flowers and plants surrounded the chapel. During his service, I kept staring at one for some reason, and I couldn't take my eyes off it. I kept thinking, why do I need to keep looking? Then I saw it. What I thought were red flowers were not flowers at all, but birds, cardinals to be exact. My heart leaped. After the service, my husband and I went up to look at this particular arrangement, and I asked him, "In all of the funerals you have presided over, has there ever been a flower arrangement with birds in it?" My husband said no. He thought it was strange birds were in it, to begin with. I did not. Even amid my brother's funeral, God was telling me He provides.

So, why do I tell you this story? So, you will remember God is the ultimate provider and cares for His children. In moments of chaos and desperation, if will continue to seek Him and trust Him, God shows up for His people. God provides. On my shelf now sits a purple glass bird and a cardinal to remind me lest I forget.

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Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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