Spic and Span are sandhill cranes living on the golf course behind our home. Until they showed up, I'd never even seen a sandhill crane...not that I knew of, anyway. Now they are a part of my every day.

A few months ago, my husband, a great watcher and lover of wildlife, called to me from the kitchen of our home. "Come quick," he said.

I was in my home office and left the work I was way behind on; any excuse not to stay on task being sufficient. When I got to the kitchen, however, my husband was nowhere to be found. A quick peek out the window and I soon found him. There he stood with two large birds before him, a loaf of bread that had been growing stale in our pantry dangling from his hand.

I slipped out the back door and onto the patio as quietly as I could. The birds were a bit startled, my husband warned me with a "shush," then dipped his hand into the bag, brought out a piece of bread, and offered it to the larger of the two birds. He took it gingerly and without hesitation.

Now, all these weeks later, we have named the birds, "Spic" and "Span." They arrive several times a day for breakfast, lunch, dinner and sometimes a snack. We know they're here because they "gobble" as they approach. We call out, "Spic and Span are here!" and then head for the supply of bread we now set aside for them.

Spic, forever the good husband, always leads the way.

Some Facts About Sandhill Cranes

You'll never see Spic without Span. That's because sandhill cranes mate for life. If either of them ever approaches the back door of our home alone, we'll know the other has gone off to the great golf course in the sky.

Recently, when Hurricane Charley devastated Central Florida and my husband and I were hunkered down in one of our bedroom closets, I found myself worried about Spic and Span. Would they survive the winds and rain? Would they get picked up by the gusts, only to land at some other back yard in another state? But, the next morning they came running up right on schedule, not a feather out of place. Sandhill cranes are resilient.

When sandhill cranes mate, it's quite the show. They dance, they bow, they spread their wings and "call out."

Sandhill cranes care for their young together.

Because "young" sandhill cranes are unable to fly, the parents stay earthbound until their children are ready to "spread their wings." I suppose it's the least they can do...after all, the baby birds never asked to be born....

What I Learned From Spic and Span

The percentage of Christian couples whose names fill divorce court papers and petitions are nearly at the same rate as those who do not claim the faith. Unlike the sandhill crane, they mate only for "a season." When the storm clouds blow into their union, as Hurricane Charley blew into Central and Southwest Florida, they lose their resolve to stay together; to weather the storm. The sandhill crane remains with its mate because -- as far as it knows -- it has no other choice.

How strong would our marriages be if we looked at them thusly? No matter what...we stay together!

Love is so precious! It's a gift from God...one that must be nurtured...and one that, when we marry, should carry with it the beauty of "mating!" Our love for each other should resemble a "dance" and a "bowing to each other." This will strengthen our relationship and honor what God has set aside for husband and wife.

When our love results in bringing children into the world, it is now time for "mommy" and "daddy" to work together toward the raising of their "offspring." God's Word often speaks of bringing our children up...but it doesn't speak of it as being one parent's job over the other's. Parenting takes two. Sure, there are a lot of single parents out there and their children have become respectable adults. But, I've never met a single parent who didn't tell me they would have loved a little "help from time to time." The good news is, for those who trust the Lord, there is always "another" to help shoulder the responsibility.

The Final Lesson

My daughter, Jessica, and I are wrapping up our new manuscript, a book titled, "What Your Kids Won't Tell You." This book, which will release next year, focused on the media and it's influence on youth culture. As we've done our research and chatted with young people across the country, I've been astonished to discover how many children -- even from Christian homes -- who feel as though they are raising themselves in the wasteland. Parents off doing their own thing, so to speak. As one young lady said to me, "Parents work countless hours rather than being home with their kids. And they say it's because they want to be able to make more money...buy more stuff for us. Well, guess what? We don't want more stuff. We won't remember the things you buy us past next month. But we will remember the time you spent with us."

Make Me Like The Sandhill Crane, Lord!

I find myself praying to become more like Spic and Span...to become more resilient in my walk with the Lord and in my relationships, especially in my marriage. I pray to be all that I should be to my husband in the privacy of our relationship and that our love will honor God. I pray that, even though our children are all grown, when we are called to parent them (as we will always be...) that we will think likeminded. I pray for our children who are now parents themselves -- that the raising of their children, our grandchildren, will be paramount in importance to them. That, as the Father did for His children, when He sent His Son to earth to die for our sins; they, too, will put the needs of the little ones above themselves.

So, you see, sandhill cranes have taught me an awful lot about love. And, in the end, about God!


Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson's work includes Intimate Moments with God and Intimate Encounters with God (Cook). She is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and Shadow of Light. (Barbour Fiction) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at  http://evamarieeverson.com/.