Pam Lewis loves teaching individuals how to create something. Lewis is a member of the Collegedale, Tenn., Community Church, and teaches woodworking at a retirement home, Garden Plaza at Greenbriar Cove in Ooltewah, Tenn. Due to COVID-19 she is now home.
In an effort to comfort others, first from COVID-19, and now from the Easter Sunday tornadoes, Lewis makes small birds she calls comfort birds from wood, and gives them to people for free.
“This helps me feel like I am helping in some small part,” said Lewis. That day she said she was going to take a comfort bird to someone from Murray County, Georgia, who was in the hospital. This person lost her mom, dad, and brother from the recent tornadoes, and her husband was in ICU.
Along with each handmade bird, Lewis inserts a promise card with Matthew 6:26, which reads, “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?”
“Comfort birds fit right in the palm of your hand,” says Lewis. She makes the birds from a wide variety of trees, and on the tail of each bird she includes the chronological number for that bird (she has made 228); she also includes her name and the name of the tree that the bird was created from. She thinks it is amazing she can do this because she doesn’t think she has the skills, giving God all the credit.
“God showed me the idea five years ago,” said Lewis, who feels blown away by God’s timing. She now has the bird making process down pat, creating each bird in one hour to one hour and 45 minutes, depending on the hard or soft nature of the wood. To create the birds she uses a bandsaw, cutting out a square bird. Then she uses a one-inch belt sander and a cylinder sander to create the fine shape, and, to finish off the bird, a lot of hand-sanding that she finds to be a great stress relief. “I can use this to bless others — hopefully to bring glory to God, that He is still with us,” she added.
Her son, Nathan Lewis, says that the comfort birds mean a lot to people, and he finds it remarkable. He helps supply wood to his mom, and he shared a few stories of those she helps. He said a hospice nurse had her roof collapse after her patient was evacuated during the tornado. Unfortunately, the patient died a few hours later. Lewis will make three birds for their family.
Nathan said that a cedar tree was planted in the 1960s by some great-grandparents; the tree had been in multiple family photos as the family met under the tree for many gatherings, even a wedding. On Sunday, April 12, 2020, the tree fell during the tornadoes and the family was devastated. Lewis will make six birds for this family.
Another tree, an oak tree that had been on this family’s property for decades, also fell on Sunday. The dad is heartbroken because it was his favorite tree. Lewis will make a bird for the father. These are just a few examples of comfort birds created by Lewis to help families.
Woodworking for Lewis started back in high school. She enjoyed a variety of crafts, and after she got married and had children, she would make them wooden toys and puzzles. For the past eight years, she has been teaching 80- to 90-year-olds woodworking.
Lewis said, “This has been what the Lord knew that I needed.”
Georgia-Cumberland | June 2020