Bless This Mess

“Come here. You gotta see this,” my husband said Saturday morning. I turned on the coffee maker and followed him outside. “A bird’s built her nest in this wreath.”

I laughed. ” It’s not a real nest. Your mother made that wreath a few years ago.”

“There’s a real nest behind the fake one.”

Way down inside the dark hole, I spotted a pile of something fuzzy and gray. Feathers maybe? “Looks like baby birds might have been here. Hope they didn’t die.”

“Keep watching.”

“Ohhhhhh, you’re right! They’re opening their little mouths, waiting on their  mama to feed them!”

My husband carried on with his Saturday morning routine, but I couldn’t forget the two nests.

Real birds were living right behind a fake mama bird and her plastic eggs. 

So peculiar.

And spectacular.

Of course, I had a feeling there was a message here for me. 🙂

I touched  the  stiff mama bird.

Nothing was out of place in her perfect world. She even had matching, perfectly formed eggs. A spotless nest.

Years ago, I tried to be the perfect mom and raise perfect children. But living that way wasn’t really living at all.

Then I studied the other nest where real life was going on. Two baby birds chirped loudly. And there was probably poop in the nest.

Nevertheless, the birds were safely tucked inside a downy-soft home created with love.

And they were eagerly anticipating their mama returning.

Something dawned on me.

It’s better to be real,

To be someone who  listens and laughs,

Someone with faults who goofs up,

Than to be perfect, but cold and plastic. 

I left the baby birds so their mama would return to her wonderfully messy life. 

And I could return to mine. 

What do you think about the mama bird building her nest so close to the fake one?

Ever tried to be perfect? Exhausting, isnt it?!

I wrote more about breaking free from the trap of perfection here and here.


















  1. sandy coffey says:

    No one is perfect but just strive to be the best you can be everyday. Mistakes teach us to do better and we learn from them. Love the baby birds being sheltered behind something that looked perfect but wasn’t. What better way to protect her young this way by putting it behind something that looked so perfect but looking beyond was just an ordinary nest.

    • I know, Sandy–the image of those precious babies behind the facade of the other nest–just wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote about it!

      Thank you so much for commenting!

  2. Robin Steinweg says:

    Beautiful, Julie. A perfect mess!

  3. Oh Julie: It’s like you stepped into my world about 15-20 years ago. I’m so glad to be free from that world of trying to live up to the fake people that I aligned myself with. Those people whom I thought had it all together and really didn’t. Oh, it appeared to me that they did. Really, they just were like me. They wanted everyone to “think” they had it all together. Took me a while to figure it all out but when I did, oh was it freeing. Thank you for your insight. I look forward to it each week.

    • Felicia, I LOVE your thoughts about how we tried to align ourselves with “perfect” people. Beautiful!!!! And I guess, for me, the root of it–well, I know it was PRIDE. Not very pretty at all.

      Thank you so much for understanding. And admitting you’ve been there too.

  4. Oh yes, Julie! I have often tried in the past to be the perfect mom and it did not turn out well at all. It just caused me a lot of frustration and anger trying to live up to everyone else’s idea of what a mom or home should be and look like. I am so glad to be “just ordinary me” now and not trying to fit into someone else’s mold. I am so much more relaxed and happy. xxoo

    • Amen! Eileen!

      I’m just ordinary me too. What a relief! And what a trap to live the other way. No peace. Only striving!


  5. Ahhhhh…water for a thirsty soul this morning Julie…so good and so like God to allow such a lesson…how I love you for always having a listening heart xo

    • I love you, Robin.

      I’m waving to your sweet self as I’m looking at you opening your front door to your home (your heart)!

  6. Patricia Martin says:

    How wise of that mom bird to hide her nest behind the fake nest ! I bet she thought the fake nest would serve as a deterrent so no one (except certain people) would know. Beautiful wreath.(): My friend Shirley makes wreaths for charity functions all the time.(:
    Hope you are celebrating summer,
    Patricia xox

    • Thank you, Sweet Patricia! I always love knowing that my blogs touch your heart because….you’re a tad bit younger than I am. 🙂 🙂

      I can tell, Shirley is a mighty special lady.

  7. Brenda E. Greene says:

    Beautiful, just beautiful Julie Girl!

    Reminded me of an exchange with our firstborn (who “favors” you in SO many ways…even down to trying to be perfect in the imperfect world we live in) this morning. I had stayed overnight while she worked 7p to 7a in the ER and her hubby and firstborn headed to New Mexico for it’s Boy Scout Wilderness camp; she came in complaining about her youngest not learning to accomplish something yet. It was easy to remind her that she’s in the middle of “raising her” it’s not a job competed yet. The humbleness of being this age and passing the love along…which you do so eloquently each and every Wednesday Sweet Julie. Thank you! Stay cool…it’s hot out there!

    • Thank you, my friend. I have a feeling your firstborn and I could become great friends! Yep….we do have a lot in common.

      The other day my husband and I were porch partying and I said, “You know, children just learn to do things like get potty trained and stop using a pacifier and a bottle on their own. I pushed Jamie (firstborn) so hard with things that would’ve happened naturally.”


  8. I was just writing about being a hover mom when I took a break to read your post.. I used to expect perfection from myself; I still do at times. It is affecting my son. I nit pic at him. My own family has brought this to my attention. May I nourish my son in a real nest of love and allow him to make mistakes. I don’t want to be fake. I don’t want my son to feel like he has to be fake either. Thank you for sharing this precious story.

    • Oh, Cherrilynn, what a beautiful response.

      And you know, we all come to Truth when we’re ready. It took me SO many years to understand this much and I’m still learning.

      Love, Love, Love your honest and thanks for stopping by. Will check out your post!


  9. marci says:

    What a neat story, and lesson. Animals do have a way about them, and a keen way of knowing what is best for their young. That must have seemed like the perfect hide away for her babies.
    Behind the fake, … is the real thing, hidden deep inside.
    Going through times when we put our best ‘face’ on. My daugher’s friend shared how when she was young, her parents would impress on them to ‘Put on their Sunday Face” . Real is much better.
    I am still learning that. Daily! It sure is a lot easier on us. For sometime, each time my daughter would come, I would get frazzled trying to get everything perfect before she got here- (impossible!). I finally realized, it was better to be real. Besides, the funny part is– she already knows I am not Martha Steward! after all, didn’t she grow up with me? I find life is much more enjoyable once I gave up trying to get things perfect.
    It is nice that the mama bird chose a place to raise her young where you could enjoy peeking in.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. It was a nice little spirit lifter for me today.

    God Bless!

    • Love your thoughts, Marci’a…I keep whispering to myself, “Put on your Sunday face”


      I grew up that way too. Such a powerful sentence.

      Thank you for being so real and such an encourager–to me and so many!

  10. Cathy Mayfield says:

    God gifted birds with lessons to teach us, wings of wisdom…wow, great title for several things I’m writing! 🙂 🙂 So maybe I’ll hang onto those thoughts to share another way, another time.

    What I truly wanted to share happened at a point in my life when I thought I had it all together. Between homeschooling and raising our daughters, I also taught storyhour at the library, ran a Daisy Girl Scout troop, held a writers club in my home, fed and watered the dog and cat (and husband!), and kept house as well as my time would allow. With the girls thriving in their school and spiritual lives, I enjoyed every minute I had with them…and I spent them ALL with them. When not held in our home, they helped or participated in these activities.

    One day, while looking for pictures in a magazine for a craft project, I came across a quiz. It would measure the depth of how much our children felt our love and attention. Figuring this would open my husband’s eyes to how much he was missing by going fishing so often or playing computer games till 2 a.m., I tore out the page and called the girls. I asked the questions and they wrote their answers, 1-10, 10 being the highest. “How much time do you feel your dad spends with you?” “How much more important than his job does your dad think you are?” “His after-work activities?” And so on.

    Then, knowing their totals would be low, I collected their papers, and proceeded to ask the same questions again, with “mom” inserted instead of “dad.” After collecting those, too, I smugly sat and tallied the totals. Imagine my shock at the number for my husband being double what mine was! I didn’t understand; they were far more important to me than ANYTHING! How could this be so?

    Although we talked, I never got a satisfactory answer to that question. It sure knocked the wind out of my sails, to borrow a cliché. I never really came to terms with it, had to finally try to forget it. Today, I know I did everything I could to be there for them, to teach them, to have fun with them, to lead them to Jesus – the absolute Only One to whom they would always be more important than anything. And that’s worth a 10!

    • WOW, Cathy! I was living this with you as I read–can’t believe the scores!!

      Maybe it has something to do with Daddy/Daughter relationships?? Not sure.

      Wings of Wisdom. I love it!! Yes, definitely a winning title!!!


  11. I can relate so much to having the gift of a nest and a mama and papa mourning dove residing in my tree! The mom and dad took turns- one goes off in search of food, while the other stays with the egg and then the baby once it’s hatched. Through each downpour of rain, the sweltering heat some days, the ghastly winds blowing the branches to the ground- the birds never left. I never saw them trading places. They never uttered a peep, unless one of the pair was on the rooftop. Then one morning, they were gone. I’ve watched and watched for their return, but the mourning coos from the rooftops have stopped.

    I recently discovered they actually used one of my dried hydrangea blooms- a pretty, parched flower, as the “cushion” of their nest. We’ve left it alone. We read that they mate for life and often return to the same nests. Maybe one day they’ll return? I loved the parallels to my life!

    I loved reading yours, as well!

    • Vicky, sounds like you and I are on the same wavelength.

      Oh, those precious doves. And to think the miracle of their love could’ve gone unnoticed!!

      Hydrangeas. Is there a more beautiful flower?! Perfect word choice–cushion.

      All my love~

  12. These are lovely, Julie. Both the photos and the message. It’s better to be real. Always.

  13. Brenda Osborne says:

    Thank you Julie for this beautiful post and photo of the nest of REAL baby birds !
    I tried to make all things perfect several years ago when my children were young. It is an exhausting JOB ! It really is a JOB! Life is not perfect and we cannot make it perfect. Do what you can to love your children and show them how special they are and let them know it is ok to make mistakes and messes!
    Being real makes life easier !

    • Brenda, the thing is, we don’t even realize we’re doing it at the time, do we?

      We think we’re doing a good thing. And it takes so–many–years– to learn to chill out and let life unfold naturally.

      Love you, my friend. Hope I get to see you soon–some way some how. 🙂

  14. I kind of see this as you….the “real” mama and her babies behind the fake one we sometimes present to the world. Our real worlds have poop and chirping and “real life” going on. And we love it that way…that’s who we are. Not perfect, not cold and plastic, but real, with ups and downs and fears and feelings and good times and times to cry and be sad. Not perfect by any means. Just real. ; o )

    • Hey B.J., good thoughts. Thank you. It took me a few years for me to become like the real mama in the back nest. Sorta like I had to grow feathers like The Velveteen Rabbit had to become real and grow real skin.

      Hugging you from here….always!

  15. Julie Gilleand says:

    Well, Leafy Julie, I’m still thinking on this one, because for some reason things about nests keep coming up around me! First there is a bird’s nest I think in the eavestrough outside my bedroom window. I hear a lot of commotion going on in and around it! Then your blog about the fake nest and real nest. Today, I read a devotional about parents having to learn to let go as their children go off to college or to their own lives and the writer compared it to a mama bird’s having to let go of her babies as one by one they each leave their nest. So I’m thinking there is a message in all of this for me but I am still trying to piece it together! I have some ideas swirling around and will let you know when it all comes together, but for now, just wanted to let you know your blog this week is one of those pieces God is surely speaking to me through 🙂

    God bless!

    Other Leafy Julie 🙂

    • Leafy, what an intriguing response! And I can’t wait to find out how everything lines up in your heart! Or, should I say, Your Nest!

      Other Julie


  16. Patricia Martin says:

    P. S. could you please pray that God sends me someone great like Rick?
    P. S. S. Maddy is well and going in for another appointment.((:

    • I’m praying, Patricia! For these two prayer requests!!!! Make a list of everything you want in a husband. Put the list somewhere special. Pray. Wait. Don’t settle for less. Hope. Believe. Trust.

      Let me know about Maddy’s appt!


  17. Aw, Julie. So sweet. I got tickled when you thought your husband was meaning the fake bird nest. I bet he got tickled, too. xoxo

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