FAITHFUL LIVING: Look for God's refreshing presence everywhere

It was a winter day much like the ones we have experienced this week. Only this time the rain had changed to snow, turning the landscape of Alexandria, Va., — our temporary home back in 1993 — into a winter wonderland.

A winter storm warning, continuously running along the bottom of our television screen, cautioned against extended travel. Schools were closing and my husband called to say he was making his way onto the Metro train earlier than usual. He thought he would beat the Washington, D.C., working crowd home.

With a break in the snowfall I hurried over to the local grocery store. Because I was accompanied by my young children — two of whom were not yet in school and filled that day with the “I wants” — I resembled a contestant who loads her cart with as many items as possible in the couple minutes she is allotted to shop with no stops.

Leaving both girls with the cart just outside the front door (because carts were not allowed in the parking areas) and following assurances from the grandfather-like cart handler that he would guard the kids with his life, I hurried across the snowy parking lot to buckle my wiggly son into his car seat.

At that moment the sun broke through the dark clouds and as I pulled the car up to the grocery loading zone in front of the store, I was met with a curious sight. Something in the sky had been spotted and the girls were pointing and exclaiming. Hurried shoppers stopped, strained for a look, and joined in the excitement.

“It’s an eagle!” I could hear Katie shout with a voice that has always been much larger than she is.

“It’s a bald eagle,” older sister Megan corrected with some annoyance. “Don’t you remember that Daddy always says birds have first and last names?”

The first time my family and I saw a bald eagle we were in Oak Harbor, heading west toward the old downtown area. I thought we would drive right over the curb. We had just moved to Whidbey Island and were making a video to send to family. I love the commentary: “Here we are driving through the older part of town. Over there is … holy smokes! Look at that bald eagle. It’s flying right down the street!”

The eagles are returning to the area, but you must set your gaze upward to see them. The immature birds (younger than age 4) will not have developed that beautiful white headdress, so it makes the spotting a bit more challenging. But look toward the top of the trees. Frequently the beautiful white head of a mature bird will stand out dramatically against the green. If you are really observant you may spot two birds sitting close to each other. The female will be noticeably larger (to cover her eggs) and the smaller eagle will be the male. It is during this time of year that birds frequently pair and choose a nest site.

Every time I see a majestic bald eagle soar overhead the powerful and poetic words of the prophet Isaiah sound in my ears and nourish my soul:

The Lord is the everlasting God,

The creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

And his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary,

And increases the power to the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,

And young men stumble and fall,

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

They will run and not grow weary,

They will walk and not be faint.

-- Isaiah 40:28-31

The strength and power came alive for me this week as I watched a mature bald eagle feed on a carcass. We had seen him soaring over our home and wondered if he was eyeing our chickens. He found, instead, a dead beaver my wildlife biologist husband had left out on the lawn for a day. Spotting a week-long meal with no hunting required, the eagle returned —d ay after day for a week — to feast on the meat. Being able to closely observe her intimidating wing span, dramatically white head, and creamy yellow beak have added energy to the draining week I have experienced.

Once again God has sensed my need for a part of Him to stand out and speak to me. This week it came in the form of a powerful bird. “I will renew your strength. With me you will soar on wings like eagles. You will walk and not be faint.”

Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and former editor of Christian books. Write to her at

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