What wakes you up in the morning? Perhaps it's an alarm clock or your smart phone; the family pet or hungry children; or maybe even a neighbor asking to borrow half a dozen eggs for an omelette which you won't get a bite of!

At our house, we don't need anything electronic or human to arouse us from sleep. We are blessed, and I use that word loosely, with a plethora of natural, God-made wake-up devices. These include magpies, a squawky bird with a mean disposition, squirrels that enjoy feuding over acorns, robins perched on rooftops looking for mates, and for us the most outlandish of all, a pair of Mallard ducks!

We all know that on a farm or rural property, roosters are famous for their sunrise cock-a-doodle-doo wake up call. But here in our suburban neighborhood, our peaceful slumber occasionally ends at dawn by incessant quacking. Imagine my surprise when I groggily peer out the bedroom window and see Mrs. Duck on my fence, her anger over some sort of waterfowl issue abundantly clear! I glance left and observe her mate; a green headed male hunkered in the grass by our bird feeder, nonchalantly waiting for the verbal tirade to cease.

Being forced to rise early initially caused me to feel angry, but then I noticed blue sky, white puffy clouds and other songbirds in the nearby trees. As my temperament softened, it was then I stopped to thank God for a new day, for the blessings of salvation through Jesus, a cozy bed to sleep in and all the good things I've been blessed with; and yes that includes backyard ducks at 5 am!

Our lives are busy and filled with demands, worry and often outright fear. I find that sometimes it's easier to start my day with grumbling to God over un-answered prayers for what I don't have, rather than praising Him with gratitude and thanksgiving for what I do have.

So the next time you wake up prematurely by some unexpected means, think of these words from Psalm 5:3: "In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly." (NIV)

Starting your day with gratefulness to God sets your brain in the right direction and aims your focus to where it should be, squarely on Jesus. It's a morning habit I certainly need to work on, and one I'd encourage us all to strive for.

Let the quacking begin!

Paul Smyth