Straight from a Surprised Heart
By Lisa Elliott

Specifically, Straight from a Prayerfully Surprised Heart

I was sitting in my son’s Kindergarten circle listening to all the children sharing stories and special items of interest during their “show-and-tell” time. One little girl captivated my attention as she shared about her Oriole finding.

Oriole? We had several bird feeders set up in our backyard. We’d attracted Cardinals and Chickadees, Mourning Doves, Sparrows and Gold Finches. But I had yet to see an Oriole—ever!

Likely catching all the students off guard I asked, “How do you attract the Orioles?” She answered matter-of-factly, “With oranges. We cut an orange in half and then we set it out in our yard.”

It had been a very long, blue winter. And I just needed a bit of added colour; thinking that a brilliant orange Oriole might do the trick. So, you can bet the first thing I did when I got home was go on what turned out to be an unsuccessful orange search. However, I did find a grapefruit. It was citrus, after all. I promptly cut it in half and set it outside. Then over the next few days I watched and waited. Nothing. Okay, so the grapefruit wasn’t the Orioles’ first preference. I’d pick up some oranges next time I went grocery shopping.

The next day as I sat staring into our backyard, I whispered a little prayer, “Lord, it’s a small, insignificant thing to ask. But, my heart would be so encouraged if you would send an Oriole my way. Amen.”

That afternoon as I sat reading my Bible in the chair positioned next to the window in our Family Room something in my peripheral vision caught my attention. I turned my head toward the window and right there perched on the most narrow part of the window ledge, no more than two feet from my face, was the most beautiful, black and brilliant orange bird I’d ever seen. It was an Oriole!

My heart swelled with joy and tears filled my eyes as he just sat there looking at me. Then tilted his head as if to say, “Well, here I am!” allowing me a moment to take in this blessed sight, and then he flew away. It wasn’t until I’d had opportunity to absorb this unexpected visit from Heaven that it occurred to me he hadn’t even partaken in the citrus treat I’d set out for him. That’s when there was not a doubt in my mind that God had sent Him on the wings of my childlike prayer.

Moments like these throughout my life have proven to me that I have a God who loves me intimately and cares for the most privately expressed and miniscule longings of my heart. And who doesn’t need that kind of love and finely tuned attention at a time in history like what we’re facing?

So, just the other day, several years since the divine encounter I described above, I decided it was a good time to cut an orange in half and set it out on the ledge of my backyard deck, strategically outside the place where I spend time in God’s Word. And you’ll never guess who appeared!

In these days of self-isolation where we’re all sheltering in place, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, anxious, discouraged and down. I wonder if you’re longing for a little sign from Heaven to lift your spirits and encourage your heart. Let Him surprise you with joy as He flies in out of the blue to pay you a visit.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)

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After this blog was posted, Lisa Elliott was interviewed on CHVN 95.1 FM radio in Winnipeg, MB. She discussed finding hope during self-isolation, and you can listen to the conversation, here.

About this Contributor:

Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at:

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