His Eye is on the Sparrow

Last week, if you’ve been following along, I posted about using up my leftovers. My Instagram feed shared how I made some little treats for our backyard friends. It turned out to be great timing, because shortly thereafter, we had a wackload of snow dumped on us! I’m sure the birds and the squirrels have tucked themselves away and hunkered down in their hidey-holes to wait out this extreme freeze and snow. Which got us a-musing: How do those teeny little birdies survive this cold? They seem so petite and frail.

Turns out, birds are a little like us humans. Some prefer to give up entirely on winter and fly to the tropics. Let’s just say, those migrating types don’t count. A few of us who can’t afford the time and effort of flying south, choose to batten down the hatches and hibernate for a few days in this extreme cold. Technically, with wildlife, it is called torpor and involves a period of “slowing down” in order to conserve energy. Much like some of us who choose to stay inside and drink hot chocolate on snowy days. I love it when I see evidence of God’s handiwork in nature! It’s all so interconnected and perfectly orchestrated!

This was brought home to me, again, a few weeks ago (before the snow) when I happened upon a tiny clutch of wing feathers. Putting aside the gruesomeness of this tiny winged creature’s demise (discovery and education has a dark side), let’s focus on the science for a minute. Feathers are uniquely designed like tiny, little zippers. If you observe one under a microscope, miniature little barbs link together to keep the fibres tightly attached.

A bird preens and fluffs up to keep the zippers zipped… enabling air to be trapped underneath the layers. The tight barrier allows for flight as the wind gets pushed down, and helps the bird stay warm in extreme weather! Fat build up and specialized body feathers help too… literally the birds wear a down jacket! The piece of wing I found was so small. Perhaps a sparrow? It’s feathers were layered so tightly and knit together so well, I marvelled at the intricate design. Tiny. Perfect.

And so, I am encouraged, again, by the promise in God’s word, that if He takes care of the tiniest sparrow, how much more are we loved? They were uniquely created to survive the harshest winters, knit together and infused with warmth by God’s own breath. As are we. May you be encouraged of that fact, my friends, as am I. Until next week — stay warm!


My backyard goodies were made with leftover gingerbread house pieces and pine cones (from a winter centerpiece) spread with some nut butter and dipped in bird seed! You can also use coconut oil or lard for the “sticky” part if you need a nut free option! It’s a fun Sunday School craft if you need an object lesson on how God cares for us!!

First Fruits vs. Leftovers

I wanted this post to be about first fruits. I wanted it to tell you how I have practiced setting aside time in this new year to make God and my spiritual journey a priority. I wanted to brag about how I resolved to pray and study and claim God’s promises. I wanted to tell you all about what methods I had for keeping on track and share with you all the muses and insights I’ve had since the beginning of January. However, I must admit, that the more I thought about it, the more this post is going to be about Leftovers.

My apologies from the get go if you were looking for inspiration. I was hoping to give it to you — I really was! But if your house is anything like mine, you will understand, because we have been living on leftovers for the last few weeks. I have not done a proper grocery shop for eons! It was only yesterday that our refrigerator was once again filled with “fresh” bounty. The kids have survived on scrounging whatever they could find. I have lived on cheese and crackers and fancy red pepper jelly — hosting my own wine and cheese parties (minus the wine) at every lunch. Only I was the solitary guest to the festivities because I happen to like goat cheese and my family does not. The eldest Mitton went back to University to get balanced meals again. At least her Starbucks has fruit smoothies. So much for home cooking. I did discover turkey soup can be repurposed at least 3 different ways. Yup, leftovers it is.

I giggle when I get coffee at church now. Inevitably someone has brought in that leftover tin of cookies to share because they are trying to clear out the goodies in their own homes. Youth group prizes become repurposed chocolates because, well, kids and teens will eat anything sweet. My backyard squirrels are gonna love our old (and now slightly stale) gingerbread house. We are sometimes a little too blessed aren’t we? We celebrated the holidays with Joy and abandon and are now trying to clear out. We attempt to share and not be wasteful. We recycle and repurpose and be good stewards of the wealth. But it’s still leftovers.

Image by Mark Gilder from Pixabay

So, as much as I would like this post to be about first fruits, it’s really about my own leftovers. Because no matter what your understanding of Biblical first fruit disciplines are, I’m admitting to you that I’m not good at it. I encourage you to do your own study on “first fruits”. (You can see my link at the beginning of this post for ideas). There are many scholars out there who can lead you towards various thoughts about what the principle means, but as far as I understand it, the “first fruit” means setting aside the “firsts” for God. Proverbs 3 is a rich passage that not only talks about setting aside the first agricultural fruits as a sacrifice, but also about binding wisdom and knowledge on your body as a reminder to trust in the Lord first — and not on our own understanding of things.

We’d like it to be Christmas all the time. Where joy overflows and abundance of blessings is the norm. But all too often, our lives become filled with the leftovers. God’s work gets put on the back burner because we get too caught up with the mounds of blessings in our own fridges. We recycle the turkey and share the leftover cookies at church. When was the last time you sacrificed your paycheque before your bills got paid? Trusting, in faith, that the Lord will provide as you submit to Him? When was the last time you gave up your only vacation day so that someone else got a break? Do you fit in your prayer list and bible study time before your date night? We all make room for leftovers. We all know it is good to share and not waste. Better to give some offering than none at all, right?

The passage says “…Honour the Lord with your first fruits…and do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight…” Not the third helping of charity, not the plastic container stuck at the back of the fridge that only gets pulled out when it gets slightly stale. He wants our knowledge to be fresh and our sweetest produce to be shared. We give, but we don’t give “the first”. I put in my time but I don’t always make it my top priority. I guess it’s time to clean out my fridge. I’ll see you next week, my friend, hopefully with a fresher start!

My Top 5 Potluck Dishes

I’ve been baking today. Technically, I just opened up some pre-made cookie dough and plopped spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets — but that’s considered homemade, right? I like to bake. I usually make things from scratch, but I happened to have this dough, on hand, in my freezer, and they were quick and easy. I’m baking for our potluck dinner after Sunday’s service.

You’re familiar with the potluck, yes? A gathering of people who contribute to the meal by bringing a dish to share. Sometimes you are assigned a course, but I love it when it’s a free-for-all and the “luck” part comes in because you never know what will be on the table. I’m still waiting for the day when everyone brings dessert (and only dessert). Churches tend to organize such things (number one: because it’s cheap!) and the sharing and fellowship around the table brings a coerciveness to a body of believers that is reminiscent of Jesus and his followers. We just “connect” over food. It’s the same when we gather for family reunions or dinner parties with friends. There is just something about mulling over a meal that brings us a sense of comfort, peace and joy. I think we are losing some of that in this day and age when our meals are on-the-go and quick. We’ve substituted the country kitchen for the drive thru. The traditional mentorship of generation to generation is emphasized when grandma teaches the young brides her pie crust techniques. And who doesn’t love baking Christmas cookies as a family? You get the picture.

All this is not to say we can’t enjoy the conveniences of our modern day, however. I am using a premade cookie dough, afterall! But as I do, I muse about the bigger picture: fellowship. It is so vital to our world. We must continue to value it in spite of our cultural, physical and even spiritual differences. We all must eat to survive! So, this season, as you gather together to feast on the platters brought from near and far, consider yourself “lucky” to be blessed by family and friends, new and old, who care enough about you and yours to bring you a plate of freshbaked (premade) cookies!

To celebrate the great potluck, here are my top 5 shareable dishes!

  • Meatballs with BBQ sauce and grape jelly! First discovered from a friend who shared them during a summer potluck at the trailer. Yummy, feeds a crowd, and only three ingredients! Find the recipe HERE
  • Hamburger Casserole! My mom used to make this for every church potluck when we were growing up… and a quick Friday night meal before heading away for the weekend. This is also a pretty easy combination and can be adjusted to your own taste…but this recipe is pretty close to the traditional one mom used to make!
  • Pizza! Potlucks can be brutal for picky eaters who don’t like their food “all mixed together” (can I get an “amen”, oh mom of toddler or teen? No worries — I hear ya!) Pizza of any variety seems to be a big hit — even when they won’t eat anything else. Just buy the ‘walk in special’ on your way to church! We have been enjoying family pizza making nights using my sourdough starter. If you wanna try it, check out this post.
  • Butterscotch Confetti! This one goes under a whole host of names… but it is an old go-to for me from my Company’s Coming cookbook. It’s one of our neighbour’s favourites, and so I make these squares as an afterschool snack for when they all hang out at our place playing endless hours of Risk or Monopoly. It’s also a quick, but decadent, one to take to a ladies group gathering. Try this link for the recipe.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies! This is a personal favourite, and if you read the post here, you will see why. It just stirs up all the goodness of tradition, childhood memories, and all things lovely. Bake a bunch to give as gifts, make some to share, bake ’em with the grandkids!

Have a favourite potluck or shareable dish?! Share in the comments! But above all else, remember that the purpose of the gathering is to celebrate each other… the food is just a bonus!