The Day the Woods Came Alive

Last Wednesday, November 5th, a certain sentence from Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young planted itself in my heart.

“Put more energy into trusting Me and enjoying My Presence.”

What does that mean, Lord–enjoying Your Presence? Show me Your Presence. 

Later that morning, I headed into the woods behind our house to walk. Not sure what His Presence might look like, my senses were on high alert.

A few minutes later, I heard something rustling in the leaves. Too big and loud to be a squirrel.

Suddenly, a huge owl landed in this tree right in front of me.

I’d never seen a real owl before.

Neither of us moved.

He glared at me. A fearless, determined expression.

I thought about Alfred Hitchcock’s horror movie, The BirdsMy mind went wild!

Owls are predators. Did he view me as his prey? Could he carry me away?

(*photo credit Dave Wendelken, Flickr,The Great Horned Owl in Virginia) 

After a few seconds of us looking at each other, I discovered Mr. Owl wasn’t my enemy.

He seemed just as fascinated with me as I was with him.

He’s watching me–me!–with bright yellow eyes.

He’s gorgeous. 

And powerful.

Mystified by his splendor, my fear melted into awe.

I ran to get my camera, but when I returned, he’d flown away.

I’ll never forget his expression–those eyes–the way he studied me–a reminder of God’s Presence.

He is with us. Always. 

 For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” 2 Chronicles 16:9 NAS.

Another reminder of God’s Presence in the video below. I can’t watch it without dancing!

How is God reassuring you of His Presence?












  1. I so love the woods too! I say I am a hunter but in reality I am there to take in moments just like this. Thank you for sharing and I pray our gaze is always towards what God is showing us. Blessings!

  2. Me too, Tom. Sometimes I wonder where our friends go to “escape” who don’t live near the woods. 🙂

    Thanks for reading! I couldn’t believe the owl–wish I’d had my camera.

  3. Patricia Martin says:

    I think God reassures me of His presence by the love my family shows me!(; I know i can also find reassurance in the bible, too, and that is great.(): do you have a favorite place to walk, Julie? When my family lived at the beach we used to enjoy walking along the shore and watching the waves roll by.(: hope you are having a blessed week!

    • Patricia, sounds like you have an amazing family! Yes, yes, the Bible.

      Yes, my favorite place to walk is in the woods behind our house. We live a good ways from the road in a rural area. You can’t see our house from the trees.

      Oh, yes, the beach. That would be incredible. Imagine all the ways you could be reminded of His Presence there!

      Love and prayers–hope the GF eating is going well. And Happy Early Thanksgiving my friend.

  4. Melinda says:

    Great post, Julie. I love Jesus Calling as well and am constantly amazed at how He can speak to each one of us so directly though a book like that but I guess it depends on our circumstance as to how we interpret it also. I also love walks in the woods and always feel His presence there. I feel it also at the beach, how could you not when you see the majesty of the ocean but I also see Him in the mountains. A sunrise, a sunset, a child’s eyes, these are all things that only He could create. Hope you have a blessed day and week, Julie. Love your blog.

    • Melinda, there’s so much in Jesus Calling, isn’t there. I think I’m going to read it every day for the rest of my life. I have a feeling I’ll never outgrow it. 🙂

      Yes! The beach. We only see the beach once a year so it’s always amazing. Glad to know you love the woods too. Yes, yes, love all your reminders of His Presence. A child’s eyes–hadn’t thought of that but you’re absolutely right.

      Thank you so much for letting me know you’re reading. And that it means something to you. XOXO

  5. Anna Haney says:

    This is absolutely beautiful! Today it is gray, windy, and cold in east Tennessee—quite a change from yesterday’s warm sunshine that showcased the brilliant fall colors. This post reminded me that even when things are dreary, God’s presence can be seen. I just saw it before I read this as I took a student to Financial Aid. The wind was blowing leaves in a whirlwind. The geese were aligned as they swam in a row in their pond. And best of all, even though it’s not even Thanksgiving yet—-Christmas is coming.
    Thanks for this wonderful post.
    Love ya

    • Anna–YES!! This is what I’m talking about. The thing is—I have this pretty strong feeling? new understanding? that His Presence is always here, always with us–I just haven’t been searching for Him.

      I can just see the geese now. What a lovely description!

      Love you too.

  6. I love how Moses asked to see God’s glory! I just entered a photo contest with a photo of a vulture with ice on its wings in our front yard tree. The category was “frozen” … 🙂

    • Yes!!! I’d forgotten about that, Shelli–great point. Thank you!

      Would love to see your picture. Makes my heart soar just thinking about it!


  7. Kim says:

    I continually find God in nature. I walk or run almost daily and there is a nature trail along a creek in a nearby subdivision that I am drawn to. How often I have found life lessons in my surroundings sitting on my favorite rocky spot. Watching butterflies flitter, leaves float along, or a great blue heron swoop down nearby. I am always interested in seeing the changes in the sights and sounds with the water levels rise and falls.

    • Kim says:

      Btw – last Wed., Nov. 5 was my birthday. My husband took off work, we borrowed our priests truck and bike tow, and took a 29 mile ride on the Silver Comet Trail. It was beautiful and fun.

    • Kim, this is what I’m talking about. I commented above that seeing the owl makes me think God’s probably been here the whole time. I’ve just not always kept my eyes and my heart open.

      I can only imagine how much fun that must’ve been–you and your man biking along the Silver Comet Trail. WOWOWOWOWOWOWOOWWO! So thrilled for you, and happy birthday a few days late.

      Thanks for letting me know this owl post made sense. I was wondering if it would–I always do. :/

  8. Julie Gilleand says:

    Okay now Leaf Sister, you know I’m into this one, due to the woods and leaves in fall, right?! I once had an encounter with an owl unexpectedly too! So I could easily picture your experience! I was taking a walk one fall day a few years ago, not far from my home, on an old country road close to my grandma’s old house, which I went by while walking. But on this leaf-covered road, as I walked, I saw something move, out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see what it was. The hugest (is that a word?) bird I ever saw. It landed on a fallen log on the side of the road and stared at me, just like your owl did. I’d never seen a real one either and was stunned! At that point I didn’t even know they were predators. The size was what intimidated me. I also tried to get my phone out of my pocket to take a picture, but it flew away before I could. But what an awesome encounter!! “The Birds”! Oh yes, what a movie! You know me and old movies. I always liked this one, as creepy and daunting as it is. I find the presence of God in any part of his creation. Colorful fall leaves, the ocean, the mountains, Lake Michigan or even our very own St. Joe River. In the wind and rain, thunder and snow. Fog! And the stars!!! Sunsets and sunrises, and big orangey full moons. Thanks for reminding me of the day I met an owl. I had forgotten!

    Leafy Sister- Julie 

    • Leaf Sister. Can you imagine the fun we’d have walking through the woods together?!!!

      I can’t believe you saw an owl too. Blows. My. Mind.

      It’s the oddest sensation, isn’t it? Fear and fascination mixed. My owl was bigger than the pictured owl. From now on, my camera’s going with me.

      Yes, yes, big orangey full moons. They always make me tear up, like, Okay, Lord. Why do I ever doubt You?

      Thanks Leaf. Love you, my friend.

  9. The almighty and powerful Owl. They have huge eyes. That’s what always captivates me. They see everything, even at night. Just like God. He sees all, too, even at night, in the dark, when we think we are hiding. There are times when I don’t want God to see me. I have icky thoughts, or anger, or lack of gratitude. But like the wise old Owl, God knows me, He sees me, and here’s the best part: He loves me anyway.

    • B.J. yes! What beautiful points. Yes! God sees EVERYTHING. And we can’t hide from Him. And He knows us.

      Yes. Such deep thoughts. Nodding right now in agreement.

      Thank you.

  10. Winter is settling in. The snow is a mass of whirl and blowing and layering everything with a white coat that likely won’t leave for the next 6 months. And I am aching deep in my joints and muscles, ready for hibernation as the temperature plummet and the icy winds howl. And yet, a steady stream of “comfort,” has arrived through my door. An apple pie- still warm from the oven, and then my Auntie’s home baked brownies, and then a heated blanket. And how can I not feel God’s love coming to me in the comfort all of these people have brought to me? I’m seeing with new eyes, every day, that God is everywhere when we are open to seeing him. The owl is a beautiful reminder! Love that you will have that image with you! Thank you for sharing such insight~ much love to you!

    • Vicky, your words. Do you realize you string them together like pearls? Your apple pie blog so moved me. And the smallest acts of kindness are actually the biggest, aren’t they!

      New Eyes. Such rich understanding.

      You always, always point me to Him.

  11. Brenda Greene says:

    Awww…beautiful fall post, Julie Girl. We share a love of walking in the woods and being “surprised” by God’s Presence at any moment! Love it! (For a moment I was waiting for you to tell us an armadillo came shuffling out of those leaves! I’ve had that happen a time or two, ugly little creatures and blind as a bat! They’ll come to you and when they get too close, jump straight up! Comical once you get passed being afraid!)

    However, God’s Presence appeared quite differently for me just a few hours ago. I received a phone call from an older friend who lives up the road from us (in God’s beautiful woods also!). She lives alone and has no family close by. She was having classic heart attack symptoms. I jumped in my car and got to her and called 911 for an ambulance to meet us in our church’s yard, a half-mile away. While we sat and waited (30 minutes…first ambulance went to wrong church!), we prayed, repeated scriptures of encouragement (especially Psalm 23!), and listened to quite and peaceful Christian music. Even tho she was anxious and in pain, I watched her quietly calm down. Yep, God’s Presence was most evident.
    Blessed to experience that.

    Thanks again, Sweetie, for reminding us each week what an awesome and amazing God we serve! Hugs to you!

    • Brenda, even in just reading your words about sitting with your friend, I sense His calm Presence. Such a beautiful story.

      And you called me Sweetie. That blessed me, big time. Thank you. Sweetie. Isn’t that a beautiful word?!

      I’ve never been up close and personal with an armadillo. Not sure that I want to, but I guess there’s a some sort of spiritual Truth there somewhere. 🙂

      Thank you, my friend. You have the gift of encouragement!

  12. Don’t you just love it when God gives a message that He does love and care for us individually? What an awesome God we serve!

    And I love taking that verse in 2 Chronicles about God searching to and fro to strengthen those who love Him and comparing it to 1 Peter 5:8 of Satan searching for those he can devour. Why would anyone choose to be found by Satan rather than being found faithful by God?

    Thank you, Julie!

    • Yes, Yes, Vonda!

      It was such an individual love-gift from God to me, seeing Mr. Owl. So Much More Than I Expected!

      Built my faith, for sure.

      Love you much!

  13. marci says:

    I like all of Sarah Young’s books. Jesus Calling was the first I read. I was hooked! It’s a good one to re-read. Your mentions of it has drawn me back to it so I plan to read it again in 2015.

    How wonderful to have woods to walk in and see God’s creation. How much it looks like my daughter’s place. That makes me smile too.

    Melinda’s post is a reminder of how many different places we can be with God. Growing up in Tucson, mountains are special to me, and looking up at the stars when they looked close enough to touch. Seeing a Cardinal gives me a sense of His being near and that all will be well. And the way the sun beams rays through the clouds, and sunsets, Oh my!
    My husband loves the woods. Like Tom, he hunts, but mostly he spends quiet time there enjoying nature and watching the deer.

    My awesome thing this morning was on the radio after hearing about the weather we are getting, as it went to music, I had a wisp of a prayer, “Lord, will you give me a message in this song?”… the song began– ” Your love is lifting me higher, than I’ve ever been lifted before….”.. And that is so true! I thank God, at the truth in that. and in this month of Thankfulness, for all the ways he speaks to us and shows us He is near.
    Just had to share. Now for God to help me write and make it shorter- to not be as wordy.

    God Bless you, as you bless us,
    Marci’a in ARK

    • Marci, I’m so with you about the radio. I love it when we need a certain song/message from Him, and He provides.

      Yes! The clouds and the sunsets!!!

      My husband and son are hunters too. They ate deer meat one night this week. They. Not me.

      Cardinals. One of my daughters went through a tough time. The two of us would text each other, “Just saw a cardinal,” which meant, God’s still with us. 🙂

      No need to apologize for the length of your comment. He’s writing through you–loving through you.

      Thank you.

  14. Shelley Elaine says:

    Beautiful…I wish you had had your camera too! Our daughter lost her beloved dachshund 6 wks ago and since that terrible day she has started noticing hearts (in/on/around anything) as a reminder that God sees her heartache and cares. She is only 11, but the sheer number of hearts she keeps “coming across” astounds her and me too! His presence truly is EVERYWHERE…if only I could remember to look for Him more consistently. Thanks Julie!

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Shelley, isn’t that so precious. I’m sending her love from my heart right now–lifting her sweet self in prayer. And God sends her just what she needs.

      Thank you for sharing this. Oh, how it touched me. I’m sure it will touch others too.

      I’m so sorry about her dog. 🙁

      All my love.

  15. Hi Jules, I love hearing about your walks and how God reveals himself to you – same path, same God, but He surprises us with something extraordinary in the ordinary. He gave you a gift, just for you, that eye-to-eye contact with the owl. Just think, that owl may have been watching you walk by every day, but on that day, he decided to reveal himself. Like our God, He’s watching, He’s waiting, He knows where you are, and He wants you to know you are never alone. Awesome!,

    • Marilyn! I never thought about that! Because my husband and I hear the owl every morning while we’re sitting on the porch.

      And all these walks, and I’ve never seen him. Never in my life seen one.

      Major goose bumps. W.O.W.

      And he didn’t appear until I prayed. Whew. Whew. Life lesson for sure.

      Thank you!!!!!

  16. I love that song so much! Bethany and I sing it a LOT! 🙂 What a comfort in this crazy world that seems to spin out of my control- He is with us- ALWAYS- He is watching us- He is strong and able and willing to grace us with His presence! I LOVE those precious times when I become aware- He is with me! (hugs and blessings) Great post!

    • Cindy, I so wish I could met you and Bethany! I can’t look at your family pictures without smiling. Her faith–her Spirit–always points me to Our Father.

      So much love, and thanks for letting me know you read about my owl sighting!

      Seeing the owl was a huge miracle–just what I needed, but didn’t have the faith to ask for. 🙂

  17. Hiking in the mountains has always been a special place and time for me. I tell my Father everything that’s on my heart, He speaks to me, and sometimes…sometimes I listen. lol. How can I not? All creation shouts His presence to me. And when I’m not in that special place, he reassures me of His presence through those he sends to cross my path, wherever that may be. At times it’s for Him to speak through me to them, at others to listen as He speaks through them to me. Pretty cool.

    • The mountains are so special, Chuck. So glad we live near them. Yes! Creation “shouts”–great word–His Presence–if we’re listening.

      So true about sometimes it’s someone crosses our paths–sometimes it’s us crossing someone else’s and speaking just the right word.

      Thank you. Pretty cool is right!

  18. Beautiful, Julie! Owls are fascinating creatures. They’re as you described here, powerful, still and silent, but watchful. I love how you compared the bird’s attributes to God’s character. He is still and silent (I couldn’t imagine as composed and dignified as our God), but always on the look out and ever so powerful. He looks at us with fascination that in fact, He said He rejoices over us with singing. Us! Who are we to deserve such love and devotion? Amazing God!

  19. Thank you so much, Lux. Such beautiful thoughts. And so nice to meet you. Hope you come back!



  1. […] brought Jesus Calling to Vero Beach, too. Not because I’m afraid to […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.