Birdhouse of Prayers

January 3, 2013 | My Jottings

We had a nice Christmas — did you? Was yours quiet and spacious? Or crowded and noisy? Did you have some good food? Or did you make some toast and eat a bag of M&Ms? Did you receive a gift or two, or did you abstain from all of that?

Our Christmas was blessed — anytime all my family members are under one roof is a blessing to me. Add to that zero arguments, no hurt feelings, no slammed doors and no burned meat, and that makes it extra special, I think. Not that many of my Christmases have been characterized by the above scenarios, but I’ve had a sad one or two in my lifetime. And I know that Christmas isn’t always the happiest time for many people.

On Christmas Eve everyone brought something to share for our dinner. Carolyn made the most mouth-watering Beef Burgundy, with tender chunks of sirloin, carrots and mushrooms in a rich dark sauce. I made my cheesy Stuffed Baked Potatoes (recipe and photos here), Sharon made Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts that were moanworthy, there was torn (not sliced) French bread to sop up the meat juices, and Sharon also brought a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pie that was so rich and delicious we almost couldn’t stand it.

We also sang some carols, and I mostly cried during that time, because “long lay the world, in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt its worth” and other lyrics like that always do me in. In a good way. There’s a song I always ask Jeremy and Carolyn to sing because I haven’t memorized it yet, and it’s Psalm 84 set to a Celtic-like melody that touches something so deep in my soul I almost can’t sit up straight when I hear it.

This year my dear friend Diane came all the way from Lompoc, California to spend Christmas with us. She and her guy Davey stayed with us for a few days, and since she and I have been friends for about 37 years, our time together was a treasure to me. She gave me an amazing heirloom gift that I will share about later in another post.

Here’s a gift I received from four of my grandchildren, and if you click on the photos to enlarge them, you’ll see it’s called the Birdhouse of Prayers. How appropriate is that?

The kids painted it, and several little slips of paper sit on the porch, for me to write down my prayers and put them in the birdhouse, letting go of whatever might be worrying me and leaving it with the Lord. I penned my first heartfelt plea yesterday, folded it solemnly and neatly, and placed it inside.

Seven year-old Vivienne painted the cardinals on the roof of the Birdhouse of Prayers.

This thoughtful gift will sit on a shelf in our bedroom, near our chairs where we sit in the mornings and read and pray together. I hope to use it until the day I die. ๐Ÿ™‚

Did you give or receive a meaningful gift at Christmastime?


  1. Kay in Cornwall says:

    What a lovely, original, thoughtful and very useful present for my right honourable friend. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think the best presents are those made with love. A newish friend knitted me a pretty, lacy, silver & teal scarf for Christmas – I was thrilled to bits. Amongst other things, Alan gave me a cute polar bear toy because I’d been saying how I’d had one as a child but it finally disintegrated in the washing machine when I was about twenty. I was delighted that he remembered this tale and he found a dear little bear which I have named Spot (black spot on forehead – bear, not Alan).

  2. Just Julie says:

    Thank you so much, Kay. How thoughtful of your new friend, and of your old husband. Ha! I hope that one gave Alan a chuckle. xxoo to you both….

  3. Jodi says:

    Julie what a thoughtful and precious gift!! Your grandchildren are pretty amazing. I am blessed to read about your Christmas celebration, and thankful for the godly example you set in letting your heart prepare Him room…

  4. Just Julie says:

    All you have to do to get on my BFF list is say my grandchildren are amazing, Jodi! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for your comment here, and for your friendship. I owe you an email…coming soon. God bless you and yours! xxoo

  5. Mariel says:

    Julie, your grandchildren are so insightful! What a wonderful gift. Putting your needs and desires in writing would certainly make it more wonderful to see the Lord’s grace and mercy when they are answered! A great idea for all of us!

  6. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Mariel! I thought so too. And you’re right – there is something about writing down my prayers and going back to see what God has answered, that makes it absolutely wonderful. Sometimes I forget that He did something I prayed for, and feel bad that I didn’t acknowledge that! God bless your weekend, Mariel… xxoo

  7. Ember says:

    I love the birdhouse of prayers!
    The great gift for me this Christmas was that (like last year) we didn’t give any presents. I have always worried so much about presents – anxious in case I had bought something that made the recipient feel not understood, or less valued than other recipients of gifts from me; and suffocated by the ingress of yet more Stuff – oh, the gift of peace in allowing it to stop!
    I have nothing at all against gift-giving, it’s just not for me xxx

  8. Just Julie says:

    If the rest of my family would vote for no gift giving at Christmas, I would be the first to jump on board, Ember! That sounds like a more peaceful holiday to me. God bless your weekend…. xxoo

  9. Carey says:

    Julie, what a lovely and truly thoughtful gift from your grandkids! I’m sure that it will sit in a place of honor in your home for years and years.

    David and I finally did what we’ve been “threatening” to do for years…we did no Christmas shopping at all! Actually, our church was involved with The Advent Conspiracy which challenged the congregation (about 50 of us) to “restore the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption.” So instead of buying presents, we gave our Christmas money away to TRS (The Raining Season) so that two orphans could be taken off of the streets and find a home in The Covering – an orphan-care facility in Sierra Leone.

    And the wonderful “gifts” that we received in return…a Christmas with no debt and no stress – just lots of memories of board games played, meals shared with lots of noise & laughter, movies watched while all snuggled together on the couches and waking up on Christmas morn only to find a new pair of cozy Smartwool socks & a yummy chocolate bar in our Xmas stockings! I didn’t even know that such peace was still obtainable and am so thankful for it!

  10. Just Julie says:

    Carey, what you have described would be my dream Christmas. How absolutely wonderful for you all. I’m afraid with little ones I would be Mrs. Scrooge for proposing such a thing. Something to think and pray about though. Thank you for telling us about this — I know Ember would like this, and wonder what others think? ๐Ÿ™‚ xxoo

  11. Tauni says:

    We (mostly me as my adoring husband LOVES gifts ~ the giving of and receiving as well) too have been struggling with the whole gift giving aspect of Christmas (this speaks to why my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving). As with you, we have little ones to consider and they would miss it I know. However, the bigger ones (the little ones’ parents) always have expectations too. This year I did venture into a compromise of sorts. Every year our church provides “Give” cards for purchase. The cards, in three denominations, are purchased and given to recipients and the recipient goes online and chooses the charity to which they want the funds to go. There are five or so different charities ranging in education to homelessness to the persecuted church and a couple of others. This way the recipient may choose from their heart. We have a budget for each of our kids’ and grandkids’ gifts and this year part of that budget went to some Give cards. I got $10 ones for each grandchild so they (hopefully) will realize that Christmas is not about them getting gifts, but more about giving. It also gives them the opportunity to search their heart for what they want different in the world and make a choice to do something about it. I even got one for Emma (1.5 yrs old). It is definitely a tradition I will continue for years to come. My husband & I usually will do something or purchase something for the both of us to enjoy. I don’t want anymore “stuff” and all our kids know the best gift for me is photos.

    I LOVE the Birdhouse of Prayers! Such a beautiful version of the Give it to God box! Especially with your beloved Cardinal to remind you of God’s provision. Love you my friend . . .

  12. Just Julie says:

    Another fantastic suggestion, Tauni. If I could combine Carey’s Christmas with your Give cards? Lovely! You’re starting something really important with your grandbabies too. Thank you for commenting here, Tauni. Love and miss you….xxoo

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.