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The Gift of Hope from Backyard Ducks

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Erin Schreyer  |  Apr 18, 2016

Sometimes I can read news headlines or scan my social media feed and walk away with a sense of chaos and confusion. In what seems like countless ways, the world is in disarray. Out of order. Out of peace. Out of reality.

It can make my eyes pop, my stomach turn, my head ache and my heart hurt. It’s a scary, confusing world out there. I can find myself wondering , “where is the order, and how do I prevent my thoughts from spinning into a frenzy like a tornado?”

I’m grateful that this Spring, a momma Mallard duck who nested in our back yard (a big deal, since we live in the city) hatched twelve little ducklings who have brought our family hours of learning, entertainment and a deeper connection to God. It’s been an unexpected and incredible gift of joy and hope as we see His hand in it all.

We are all God’s creation.

We know that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. After He shed light over the darkness and nothingness, He made the sky, oceans, land, vegetation and all living creatures, and He gave them the ability to multiply. And it was good. (Paraphrasing from Genesis 1:1-31.)

We have watched this mother duck, who we have named Mallory, find our tiny backyard and pool, build a suitable and protective nest, lay and hatch twelve eggs and nurture her young chicks. It’s been well-ordered and divinely designed. Mallory’s instincts are incredible and given to her from The Creator. She knows exactly what to do and when. Even now, as it’s pouring rain, she stands with her wings surrounding her ducklings, protecting them from the elements. Their fuzzy down has not yet sprouted feathers with water-repellant oil to keep them warm and dry, so she provides the barrier for them. (She stands over her babies all night long too, playing the dual role of soldier on watch throughout the night’s darkness and a warm snuggly blanket that comforts and warms.)

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We are watching God’s plan unfold. We are seeing the process of His order. We are also being reminded of how He is always there for us too.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (Psalm 91:4)

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)

I am sweetly reminded that Malory relies only the instinct given to her. She doesn’t have the capability to think differently, push back, question God. She simply does what she knows to do; what God created her to do. And it works. Perfectly.

It makes me consider how much I try to exercise my own will, versus fully seeking and trusting God’s plan. Why, oh why, would I impose my own will on His perfect plan? Silly, me. He uniquely created and equipped each one of us for what He knew in advance would happen. He goes before us. He knows, and His plans for us are good. I need to lean into and trust Him and the path He’s set before me. I need to stop over-thinking and relying too heavily on myself. Dare I say that I need to bring it down to duck-level? When I see creation seamlessly unfolding, it gives me such a picture of hope for myself and for our world. God is still very much present among us, and He is faithful and loving.

He loves us more.

As we watch Mallory and her interactions with her babies, it all seems so miraculous. From her biological design suited for her lifestyle and environment, to her obvious ability to communicate with her babies; from her fierce desire to protect them, to her loving desire to teach them necessary skills; from her selfless pause to allow her babies to eat before she does, to her chicks’ habit of crawling all over each other to see who can get closest to momma, we’ve watched it all happen over the last several weeks.

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Although we didn’t see the exact moment the eggs hatched, we did get the privilege of seeing their little heads pop out of the nest, likely hours after their birth. We watched as twenty-four hours later, Mallory beckoned her chicks into the pool for their first swim. We’ve observed her alertness to sounds, as she listens for potential predators. We’ve giggled as she’s clearly more comfortable with my presence than with my husband’s. We’ve marveled as she demonstrated first and then pressed her beak into her chicks’ backs to teach them how to dive under water. We’ve had the blessing of watching all of this and more in great detail, right in our own backyard.

We see how it’s not even possible that this is all a just coincidence. It’s too well-ordered. Too purposeful. Too loving.

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It’s clear that God loves his creation. He loves these ducks. He loves us.

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? (Matthew 6:26)

Since the day these ducklings hatched, I’ve been thinking about this verse. I’m daily witnessing how much He loves them and how well He has taken care of them (including, perhaps, guiding Mallory to our yard, where she would clearly be well-loved and spoiled!) God didn’t miss a single detail in His love for them.

And how much more valuable are we to Him? How much more does He love us?

So much more. SO MUCH MORE!

He made us in His image. He gave us emotions and free will. He gave us the choice to love Him in return, and He sent His only Son to die for us, so we could be with him forever into Eternity.

He loves us on an immensely larger scare. No, an immeasurably larger scale. It has NO END. Can you even grasp that?! I can’t hardly! But it’s true. I need to let that sink in. I need to leave myself downtime more regularly to receive that love more often, more consistently. Do you, too?

Together is better.

In the weeks that the ducklings have been with us, one thing has remained noticeably consistent. They stick together. I’ve never seen one wander off alone, nor has there ever been a stray few. Nobody is going rogue. They’re always grouped in no less than five, and they have ALWAYS kept close to Mallory, within her sight.

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Together, they are warmer, more comforted, safer from predators, secure and happier. They rely on each other, depend on each other, learn from each other.

Isn’t the same true for us?

God designed us for community and fellowship. I’ve heard it said that isolation is the devil’s playground. Only bad things happen there. (Not referring to an introvert’s respite, but an extended isolation that distorts our vision and clarity.)

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

These little fuzzy chicks remind me to gather with others; to be close and authentically share life. We can encourage and spur each other on. We can learn from and sharpen each other.

When one weeps, we can weep with them. When one laughs, we can join the chorus. When one falls, we can pick them up. I’ve been on both sides of these statements, haven’t you?

Very simply, together makes life better. It’s how God made us – his ducks and his people.

I wonder who could use your encouragement right now? Give it some thought, and don’t “duck” the opportunity to love someone well.  You’ll get as much from it as they do; maybe even more. That’s the beauty of together.

It’s pretty awesome how God shows up nature, isn’t it? I’m confident He uses it to reveal Himself and to make His ways known. What a treat to be able to see it in these ducks. What a gift. What hope He has given me (and hopefully you too) through them.

What did this post stir in you? “Waddle” you do about it?

About Erin Schreyer

I’m passionate about positive life change, impacting others, and Jesus Christ, who makes all things possible. Professionally, I’m a coach, speaker, and writer. Personally, I’m a wife, mom, friend, loud laugher, and lover of tennis, hiking, cupcakes, a good book, and a great glass of red wine.  »  Learn More

What People Are Saying

Makes me wonder how the mama duck picks the spot for their nest…this mama duck was a good picker! You have been a blessing to each other!

I’m sure safety and the ability to be a bit hidden come into play, but I’ve wondered this very thing as well. I’m so grateful our yard was chosen. It’s been really beautiful watching it all unfold.

Great article Erin! It’s amazing what God teaches us through his creation.

In the Genesis creation story the phrase “each according to its kind” (referring to the various things God created) doesn’t just represent a laundry list of all the different things that were created, but it has an expanded meaning that each thing was purposefully designed and created to function exactly as it does in its own unique way. We are one of kind!

Thanks for this great reminder on a Monday morning.

My best,

Randy

Thanks for your comment, Randy! Isn’t it amazing the great care and love our Creator had for each one of us??!! It just blows my mind, and I’m so grateful to see it in action in my own yard. Really appreciate you taking the time to read, comment and further encourage!

They are so cute!!

They are! I’m loving my time with them before they launch!

Erin!! I stumbled over to your corner from the FB Flourish group. What a lovely corner this is indeed. I am heading to the Smokie Mountains (right this moment) with my family in tote. Your writing of God’s creation and order are just so timely. What a real treat this was. I think I might mosey around here a bit and be spurred on. Blessings to you!

Love,
Tricia

Tricia, welcome to this space!! I’m so glad you found it, and in thrilled to have you here. I really appreciate your comments and do hope you’re spurred on. You just did that for me, and I’m so grateful you’re there for Em!! I’m dying to get my feet onto your farmland. What a slice of heaven it’s going to be!!!

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