Sammy saw it first. (Sammy is seven and still pays close attention to life’s wonders.) He showed it to me, so I saw it next. We looked at it outside of our window for a long time.

And the chickens? The chickens never saw it at all.

It was a hawk, perched high on a dead branch, eyes intent on the chicken coop.

Now we are modern backyard chicken keepers, totally into free ranging. We know happy chickens are free chickens, scratching for bugs, dust bathing in the sun, and pecking through the grass, and we treat our chickens accordingly. In fact, think it is possible we have the happiest chickens in Tallahassee…

…which might explain why those feathery girls were in that coop that day, crowded together up against the door. They were dreaming about bugs and dust and grass and the good life. In short, they wanted out, and we weren’t opening their door. They pecked and pwocked and gave us dirty chicken looks.

But they never saw the hawk.

Keeping chickens temporarily cooped up while a hawk perches high and stares at them isn’t dumb or mean. It’s just good chicken tending.

While I snapped pictures of the whole scene and texted them to my husband, I thought about that hawk and those chickens, about our children and the boundaries we give them, about how much we love to see them happy and free, about how sometimes we spot some proverbial hawks and have to enforce some temporary boundaries, about how whether or not the children understand, protecting them from things that will damage their little souls isn’t dumb or mean; it’s just good parenting.

Then I got to thinking about how sometimes God’s grace is like that.

I see the daily kind of grace pretty easily when I get what I want and know I don’t deserve it. I miss it pretty easily when I don’t get what I want and think I do deserve it. When the relationship isn’t restored, when the job isn’t offered, when the test isn’t passed, when the diagnosis isn’t good… basically when life restricts me beyond what I can control, I far too quickly wonder where grace has gone.

I see the daily kind of grace pretty easily when I get what I want and know I don’t deserve it. I miss it pretty easily when I don’t get what I want and think I do deserve it.

But my chickens and my children… they are reminding me about the other kind of grace – the grace that comes when God sees the hawks and I don’t. They are reminding me that restrictions beyond my control are always within His, and this too is grace.

Sammy and I sat together the other day and watched a hawk while it watched our chickens, and today a happy flock of hens who never saw it waiting there foraged for bugs in our yard, alive and free.