It’s been about six months since my mom’s terminal diagnosis, and her subsequent death in November. She’s in my thoughts daily, and mostly I think about her laughing, she loved to laugh. Here’s one of my favorite pictures of her being a goofball.

“Oh Traci, you kill me sometimes,” she would exclaim.
On Christmas morning, I received an extra special tribute to her – through a reminder that could only have come from the Lord.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13

Here’s the backstory.
Visiting a loved one who is on their deathbed is a lonely experience for all involved. After seeing mom upon my arrival in Ohio, I already felt the need for a breather. My escape place has always been into the great outdoors, so I headed out to my brother’s yard where the light mid-morning breeze and the sound of birds got me reminiscing. Birds have always helped to keep me company when I’ve felt lonely. At that moment I was at a lonely low point.

Woodpeckers hold a special place in my heart – the sound of one drumming has always been a companion for me. While I spoke with the Lord that morning, I asked to hear one. I asked every morning for almost two weeks but never got to hear the sound I longed for. It bummed me out, and even more so because I couldn’t remember the last time I had heard one, which was probably during one of my subsequent trips. I knew the Lord was listening and that He heard my request because many times, in the past, He has given me extra encouragement – in His small little ways that mean so much. But when He’s silent on something it scares me. I don’t want to cross the line of testing the Lord.

“Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy:
 “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.””

Matthew 4:7

In my loneliness, I just wanted that extra oomph of His presence.

“Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring
out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out
sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.”

Hebrews 13:15

It bothered me so much that it was on my mind on the plane ride home. But then that’s the last time I remember thinking about it… until Christmas morning.

Now to three months later.
The dogs and I were enjoying the gorgeous day, outside in the yard. My thoughts turned to mom – no Christmas phone call anymore. But I was praising God for the visit I had with her – especially her moments of clarity when she shared about her love for Jesus.
Then I suddenly halted because I thought I heard the drumming of a Woodpecker – at that exact moment.
“Are there Woodpeckers in Arizona,” I wondered. I didn’t know and hadn’t heard or seen one since living here, so I played it off to wishful thinking – plus, the dogs hadn’t reacted to any sound.
Until it happened again.

This time, all of us stopped in our tracks.
“No way!” I thought. “Did you guys hear that?”
Each dog was looking to the other side of the yard and up at one particular palm tree, just on the other side of our wall.
“Let’s go you guys. Let’s see.”
The bird was hidden at first, so we patiently waited. Then we heard him again, and he came into view.
“It’s really a Woodpecker,” I said in wonder.

Thankfully, I had my phone with me. It was eating the dates on the tree during drumming breaks.

“Thank You Lord!” I couldn’t help exclaiming.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”
Psalm 150:6

How many times does God say, “I will be with you?” ‘I Will Be with You’ in the Bible (
What does that mean to you? Does it give you hope and strengthen your faith? Does it give you assurance, comfort you, and give you companionship?

For Abraham and Sarah, knowing that God was with them kept their hope alive that God would fulfill His promises to them (Genesis 17).
Jacob built an altar to the Lord after his dream of a stairway to heaven (Gen. 28:10-22).
The Lord strengthened Joseph through all his ordeals (Gen. 37-50). Scripture tells us that “The Lord was with Joseph…” (Gen. 39:2) and that Joseph knew “God planned it for good…” (Gen. 50:20).
Moses and Israel sang a song of triumph to the Lord (Ex. 15:1-18), exalting Him as their “strength” and “song” (Ex. 15:2). His sister Miriam did the same (Ex. 15:20-21).

When John the Baptist’s faith was failing, Jesus sent word to strengthen him (Matthew 11:1-19).
Jesus prayed to strengthen the faith of Simon Peter (Luke 21:31-32).
The faith of many was increased when Jesus raised Lazarus from death (John 11:1-44).
Even Jesus needed strengthening at times (Matt. 14:23; Luke 22:39-51; Heb. 5:7).

God hears our prayers!

“And how bold and free we then become in his presence,
 freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening.
And if we’re confident that he’s listening,
we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.”

1 John 5:14-15