Why is There a Dead Bird on the Air Hockey Table?

Dear Lindsey,

I got off to a start this morning. My oldest drove himself to school. The next three kids and I loaded into the car before Chris was even downstairs for breakfast. Off to the appointments we headed when I got a text from Chris that changed my day:

“Why is there a dead bird on the air hockey table?”photo_2

Stopped at a red light, I read the text aloud to the kids in the car, sure that my backseat held the culprits.

“[silence]”

Suddenly, the 13-yr-old in the front seat was stifling giggles that refused their restraint and started sneaking through his pursed lips in bursts.

Shocked, and trying to be strict, I subdued the humor of the text – but my own choked laughter (holding up my cup to hide my smile) led to the coffee-down-the-wrong-pipe-choke, so I prayed the light would stay red for a while as I tried to get oxygen.

That’s when the back seat spoke with remorse:

“We felt bad it died yesterday in the back yard, and we were going to bury it…”

“…But the dog was going to eat it…”

“… we couldn’t find the shovel…”

“…then Nate asked if I would throw football…”

“…and I didn’t want to have a funeral without people…”

“…and then we left for evening church in a hurry…”

At eight and ten-years-old, their voices are undistinguishable, so I couldn’t tell which Dead Birdone was talking when (and I was seriously just trying to breathe again), but I got the gist of their story. I only wish that Chris had not been the first to find the carcass: a messy house drives him crazy! Although I can’t think of too many people that are happy when they find a dead bird on the air hockey table.

Irresponsible!

They are not getting this “pick up after yourself” thing that I have been teaching since before they were born!

Oh my…I cannot put into words to even speak to these two right now. They know what they did was wrong!

That’s when my thoughts of frustration were interrupted by a protective (or perspective) mechanism:

  • Thank You, God, that we found the dead bird on the air hockey table today, and not next week when guests are here.
  • Thank You, God, that my kids have good hearts that had compassion for Your creation. (I am glad they were not ruined by my roadkilling a few years ago.)
  • Thank You for a 13-yr-old who was mature enough to see it wasn’t a life-threatening, eternal consequences moment (but that he stifled his laughter until the lesson was taught).
  • Thank You that they put the thing in the bug cage, so at least if it had bugs on it, they were contained in the cage…and I hope that means they didn’t actually touch the dead bird.
  • Thank You for creating the birds that we could fall in love with, even when we don’t know them.
  • Thank You that I didn’t choke to death. (And thank You that the choking reminded me to say thank You that I don’t have a brain tumor…as it always reminds me now.)
  • Thank You that my children will never bring a dead bird in the house again. (I believe.)
  • Thank You that I have children.
  • Thank You for the dead bird on the air hockey table that reminded me of so much for which I can be thankful.

I think it’s ironic… I was trying not to get too bent out of shape, so I made a list in my mind of what to be thankful for (my normal redirection mechanism), and I ended up being thankful for the exact thing I was trying to reframe: the dead bird on the air hockey table.

When Bad Things Happen

I think the point here is that this mechanism is applicable to bigger issues than dead birds on the air hockey table. When I go through bad times (This began during my years of massive headaches while I had young toddlers!), I have a protective mechanism of listing things (at least three each time!) for which I am thankful. It is ironic to me the number of times when I am listing thankfulness to distract me from a problem – and give me perspective – that the list goes all the way back to thanking God for the exact problem with which I started: the dead bird on the air hockey table.

I suppose one of these days, I will be able to skip the “Why?…” part and get to the “Thank You, God for even this,” faster.

A friend, Jane Zempel, spoke at my church recently about “contentment.” She told a story of figuring out what one thing is so bad in life that you would want God to change. What one thing would you get rid of? If you were granted only one thing about yourself you could change, what would it be?

“Now thank God for that one thing,” she said.  “It’s amazing how when I did this, I had to force the words ‘thank You,’ but once they were said, enough times, I realized I could believe it.”

She went on to say that when we believe that God is sovereign over all, we can say thank You for even the things we don’t want, because we recognize God has a plan in even them.

When her son came home from school in tears (again) at age twelve, being teased as a “retard” for having Down Syndrome, she taught him this lesson of saying, “thank You,” even for Down Syndrome, because God had a purpose in his life. She saw that purpose thirty years later when her son told a doctor what a “blessing” Down Syndrome was to him…and it changed the doctor!

When things are rough….

When we can’t change it all…

or when we can’t change even one thing…

Let us give thanks.

Make the list now. To what do we owe God “Thank You”?

What if you woke up today with only the things for which you said thank You yesterday?” – Peter Bonner

I am thankful for you!

In love,

Terri Brady

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1Thes 5:18

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  1Tim 6:6

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Phil 1:3

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21 thoughts on “Why is There a Dead Bird on the Air Hockey Table?

  1. Okay, so I hope you’re starting book two, cause this blog definitely needs to go in one;)) It’s amazing how God works! These past few days I have been especially moved by The Lord to give Thanks; in the good and especially the bad! In this, I believe He receives no greater praise and glory. This too is what ushers in the peace that passes understanding. What an awesome story and confirmation! You’re friends’ son’s story brings inspiration and hope. Thank you for sharing and I’m thankful for you Terri:)

  2. Thank you, for reminding us to say Thanks for all things (even when they are messy and we don’t necessarily want them). Love your posts!

  3. The one thing I would change if I could has strengthened my relationship with Christ, allowed me to be a stay at home mom for EVER, to be in enough financial difficulty to find the Life Business, which has brought so much great information into my life, including this blog and your book, I can truly say I am thankful for CML ( a chronic kind of leukemia).

  4. I love this post! I would like to share it during our Thanksgiving dinner conversation so that when we push ourselves away from the table, we can then embrace the one thing we dreaded to face and truly be thankful. May you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  5. Terri,
    Your desire to be thankful, even for the things for which you least want to be thankful, reminds me so much of your last post!
    In “The Hiding Place,” Corrie Ten Boom related how in Auschwitz, her sister Betsie insisted they had to give thanks in all things, even for the lice. Corrie resisted for giving thanks for them. It was only after she began to reluctantly give thanks for the bugs that she found out it was those lice which kept the Nazis out of their room, allowing them to hold Bible studies with their fellow prisoners in peace.
    Also, Chris’ text about the bird reminds me of something. I have noticed parents have an incredible talents (and habits!) for putting together extraordinary combinations of items in sentences (most often phrased as questions) one would never consider combining, when inquiring about the normal (or abnormal) activities of their busy households. For Chris, it was a dead bird on the air hockey table. A few months ago, it was me, and our son’s iPhone in a baggie of rice on the breakfast bar (he accidentally swam with it).

  6. Terri, I’m so thankful for you! The ripple effect of your courage, humility & perseverance to become a woman of excellence has forever changed my life. Because of your influence, either directly or indirectly through my mentors, I am living more intentionally as a disciple of Christ, wife, mother & friend. Thank you for leading!

  7. Terri! What a gift this post is to me! Thank you! 🙂 I have had such a foul attitude lately in regards to motherhood! Knowing this is a sin, I shared with Curtis tonight that I need to keep a blessings journal for each one of our children to help me reframe and focus on the blessings I know they all are! However, I LOVE your idea of in the moment mentally reframing and finding 3 blessings! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I think I will start now as I lay here with my fun and feisty daughter lying across my chest because sleep for her has been a challenge the past few days….well, since birth! 🙂

  8. Thank you, for the simple reminder that when things are hard and not going the way I think they should be, God has plans and a lesson for me to learn. I needed the reminder that I should say Thank you to Him instead of crying it’s not fair!

    • Yes, Leah, I think I have spent too much time with those “It’s not fair!” words myself. Here’s to using that time for thanks-giving instead!
      God bless,
      Terri

  9. That is awesome! So……. what happened to the bird? Perhaps a little exotic dish for Thanksgiving? I know that’s gross… I’m a guy, what do you expect. Love the article Terri.

    • Oh my, Matt!
      I hadn’t thought of that, but some were putting that on the caption contest on my Facebook photo of the text. LOL!
      Have a blessed Thanksgiving,
      Terri

  10. Once again, you nailed it! Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless you and your beautiful family! I am thankful for you and your wit and wisdom!

  11. Dear Terri,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I have been working at being more thankful, but this gives me a whole new perspective!
    I feel blessed and thankful for all the new perspective in my life since becoming part of this wonderful Life Leadership community! Thank you for all the teaching you do through your stories!

  12. Pingback: Leadership lessons from LIFE | Why is There a Dead Bird on the Air Hockey Table?

  13. Thanks for this Terri, what a great post for me to read on Thanksgiving morning. I know I have found this to be true in my life over and over again. I find gratitude can be a bridge from feeling bad (stress, anxiety, overwhelmed, hopeless, despair, anger, apathy, hurt, disappointment, etc) to feeling good again (hope, peace of mind, love, etc). Gratitude is a powerful antidote to unhappiness. Thanks so much for sharing these profound insights with such simple day-to-day events – great job!

  14. Wonderful and uplifting post, Terri. I just have one question though: Did you ever text Chris back to tell him why the bird was on the table? I’m trying to picture what a response to that would even look like. 🙂 Thank you for the story and sharing your wonderful thought process and response to it! God Bless

    • Haha! I actually did not text Chris back. I felt it was worthy of a call (and I was driving anyway). I explained the “story” I was told by the backseat and told him thanks for writing a blog for me. LOL!
      Thanks for reading,
      Terri

  15. Thanks for this article, Terri. It’s a great reminder about responding well, even in trying circumstances. Being thankful is something I need to get better at doing!

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