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The Struggle for Home

From the beginning, she seemed inordinately calm. On the first day of building, I sat in a deck chair no more than eight feet from the converging spot of umbrella ribs where she was weaving the crib.

Once, from the fence that divides our place from Bill’s, she stared at me as I angled my long lens her way. Later, as I sat inside the study before the glass door, she edged her way over, as it seemed she had selected a long green strand of deck carpet to line the nest. Forcefully, she pulled, but the thread was still attached, and after a bit, she gave up. As I watched this maneuver, there was only a glass door between us.

Over the last few days as I saw her labor, I have considered how similar–yet how strikingly different–is the building of a human home and that of a robin. Common to both is that of immense struggle.

On the first day of building, I saw that Stellar Jays had partially destroyed her early construction, and so I told the grandkids if they saw molesting birds approaching the nest, they could open the slider and yell at the intruders. I waved fiercely at several myself. I watched as Mama Robin fought off both jays and other robins, and as she worked through the day–twig by twig–twisting a nest for the soft blue eggs that instinctively she knew were nearly ready.

When I address groups of women on certain subjects, I frequently state a disclaimer. For when I issue a godly challenge or describe a superior way or point to an elevated highway of holiness, without the disclaimer statement, I am a hypocrite. For I have never attained true and enduring godliness. I’ve yet, without misstep, to traverse the elevated glimmering highway of holiness. I still flounder. I persist in my own struggle.

On the days when I write a piece in which I glowingly describe my home and my family, I think often of you who read here, who sight from around the world, and who exist in a myriad of conditions. I consider thoughtfully those who may be discouraged by such reports.

For, you say, “Why can’t I have a home like that?”

“Where is such joy for me?”

“Why can’t I even have a baby–much less grandbabies? Why, God?”

“Why is my husband a drunk, or a drug addict or won’t even hold a job?”

“Why do I have no energy? Why did the cancer return?”

“How is it I live in a tiny urban apartment with rare glimpse of sky and grass?”

“What is the cause of my lack of peace?”

“How is it that I don’t understand ‘tent revivals,’ and grandfathers who tell to babes the ancient stories of the patriarchs? How is it I have no hope?”

“Why are my children backslidden? What does ‘backslid’ mean, anyhow?”

It’s a struggle to build a home.

It’s been a struggle for Jerry and me, no doubt in much the same way that it has been for you. Oh, the particular situation and details will vary greatly, but–to a person–we all have struggled. In our home Jerry and I have had to regroup and correct our course. We’ve failed and we’ve been careless. We’ve made mistakes and misjudgments. We’ve been hurt and we’ve hurt others. We’ve wept and groaned through long nights. Everyone does that. Everyone struggles.

It’s not easy to build a home.

I’m blessed with a positive nature, and I’ve chosen to look on the bright side of things. I choose to be happy…I just like it better. I prefer upbeat feelings to dark ones of gloom and discouragement. Generally I talk in a positive way. Not to say I will ignore challenges in our world, nor fail to point to inequities and silliness, nor be reticent about suggesting that we endeavor to solve problems that affect us.

Example: I could have written about Grandkids Week and honestly included the following:

** There is biscuit dough all over the kitchen floor.

** “How many times do I have to tell you to keep that baby away from the hearth?” (Pappy said in his lovely growling voice.)

** The button project ended with the floor littered with buttons, the table covered in same manner, and not a kid in sight.

** Red and black checkers were scattered so widely that I fear we may never locate them all.

** One of the bear slippers is missing–can’t be found anywhere.

** “Granny, I want some hot chocolate.”

“Well you’re not having it right now,” the granny replied as she was just finishing dishes from the meal from which said grandchild had just arisen.

** Ella Claire slept poorly the first night. She had a cough and she probably missed her mother.

** When the grandchildren were finished with morning chores, it was sometimes hard to tell a “made” bed from an “unmade” one.

** Someone didn’t take their clean, folded clothes from the dryer to their suitcase.

** Some of the pieces of a 1000 piece puzzle became mingled with pieces from another puzzle, and some of the pieces will probably never again see the light of day.

…and on…

So you see, we’re all pretty much the same. We all struggle with similar and yet dissimilar challenges, and with problems that may not be easily solved..

I’m quick to say that many of our struggles are much more hurtful than are dirty kitchen floors and smeared high chairs. It is within the home and among family members where the deepest, darkest wounds and misunderstandings slash and fester and throb. I understand. It has happened to me, and such struggle is the deepest disappointment of my life.

But I choose joy…and have decided on happiness.

Late yesterday afternoon, I noticed Mama Robin was no longer visiting her nest. This morning, I observed a quiet deck, with no activity among the umbrella standards…and I was sad. Perhaps the mother had abandoned her home. Maybe there are been too many disappointments, too much frustration, too many interruptions. Perhaps it was just too much of a struggle…too much of a struggle to build a home.

But a couple of hours ago, I saw that she was back. I smiled.

By Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 84 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She was married to Jerry for 63 years, and grieves yet at his death in August of 2019. They have 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)

14 replies on “The Struggle for Home”

I love reading about this! I don’t see nests, but lots and lots of babies as soon as they can fly over to my place with mama. Spring is the best season!
Wonderful words about leadership. One can become quite disillusioned thinking that “saints of God” never deal with house dust 🙂


Hi Sister Buxton,

I’m not exactly sure when the babies will hatch, but my guess is sometime next week. Today as Paul and I were looking out the window, we saw what we think is the daddy dove come by to give mama dove a break. I have read that is a common practice. I hope to post again when I see the little ones arrive.

The robins lay one egg a day–from 2 to 4 total–and do not continuously set until they are all laid. Our’s is gone most of the day, but she comes in around noon–I guess to lay her daily egg. This is the 3rd such day. Hatching comes 11-14 days after she begins setting.

We’re leaving Cresline on Friday, so we won’t see the babies. I’m sorry about that.

I’m wanting to look into the nest so badly, I may get a mirror today and see if there are eggs in the nest. 🙂


You are so wise, thanks for a wonderful reminder.

I believe that happiness is a choice made in our minds. If we decide to be happy, and behave as if we’re happy, the emotion of happiness will eventually follow.

SO glad to see you survived Grandkids Week! Can’t wait to see you again.


And you, my dear, are sweet–not to mention smart, wise, caring and inspirational.


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Sis. Buxton, this was beautifully written. Please keep us posted on the progress of your mother Robin. Sometimes the Jays steal the eggs. They do here. But they also have their little ones. I was sitting on our porch the other day watching a drama play out in the front yard of the home across the street. A little bird (Jay) must have fell out of a nest (great oak and magnolia trees all around us). A cat caught it and played and played with it. Then 2 Jays started bombarding it. They dived and dived on that poor cat (who was only doing what nature taught her). The cat finally ran and hid but the jays would not be satisfied. They kept at the cat for some time. Then they called and called for the baby bird but to no avail. So many things in nature can teach lessons to we humans. I’m sure you could write a whole story on those jays and the cat. I love to read your blog. I love to watch nature, I love the birds and the squirrels (we have many) and I sure do love your grandkids because of them are mine also. If we were back in California I would probably be a pest to Shawna and Jennifer. They are all so precious and all so different.
Keep the Robin story coming, as well as any other stories. Love you…………

Good morning, Esther.

We have two kinds of jays around here–the Stellar about which I have written, and which are numerous, and the less seen scrub jay. The scrubs are friendlier and will actually eat from one’s hand.

Love you back.


I really enjoyed this post, Sister Buxton. I think sometimes it’s easy for people to look at folks like you or other people in the ministry and think that we don’t have struggles or are some great tower of strength. We’re all human, so we all will have struggles and failures. I do try and be positive too and look on the bright side of things, for it certainly does make life more enjoyable. I’m so glad your robin came back! I am enjoying our mourning dove nest and looking forward to young ‘uns being born soon.

You’re right, Carol, about the perception people often have of “leaders.” They’re sometimes viewed as the beautiful jet-setters who flutter around in the presence of God from morning to evening. But when one looks carefully, the warts and wrinkles are distinct. 🙂

Do you know when your doves are scheduled to hatch?


This is a beautiful piece, Shirley. I thank God that I, too, am “I’m blessed with a positive nature.” Some people aren’t, and life isn’t easy for them. I am so glad I choose happiness. And that you do, too.

Thank you, Helen. As you, I know people whose situation is no worse than the average person’s–actually better than many–yet who are of a negative bent and who are routinely unhappy.

But I know others who have less than most, and who have suffered intensely, but who are happy and content.


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That was beautiful written by an obviously beautiful hearted woman! I love your blog. You have a wonderful way of expressing your thoughts. I love you even though I have never met you!!

Thank you, Katrina. Hope one day we get the chance to meet in person.


Thank you for this beautiful and encouraging observation.

With our five grandchildren ranging from six weeks to 4 1/2 years old, I understand the need to focus on the fun.

I enjoyed reading each session of Grandkids Week.

Several years ago, I attended one of your classes at the women’s conference in San Bernardino. Your wise advice prepared me for this season of life.

Thank you!

Thank you for being here and for the compliments.

Aren’t grandkids the greatest? I love mine so much and I’m so blessed to have young ones and older ones. Joel Buxton, one of my oldest grandchildren, now has three sons of his own, and is a pastor here in California. Sometimes I can’t believe it, but I have 12 grandchildren and 8 great-grands.

If I ever get brave enough, guess Jerry and I will host a Great-Grandkids Week. (Watch for an explosive, sputtering…and a resounding NO when he reads this!)


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