Friday, September 11, 2009

Birds of a Feather

I really like birds. Not in the crazy bird watching lady kind of way, although I'd be fine with that. Our back yard is like a bird sanctuary. There's a few old trees around the house full of ivy and kudzu, a perfect place for birds. I just enjoy starting the day with the windows up listening to them go crazy. Sometimes, I even make up my own lyrics and chants to go along with their tunes. Yes, I do that.

Here's their favorite tree, there's no telling how many birds live in HERE!

Another favorite spot, we usually find 2 or 3 nests in here.

These are from one morning in the backyard when a Robin let me work a little photo shoot...

This is a nest in the corner of our screen porch (currently without screen). This little nest has been used at least 5 or 6 times in the last couple of years. We even get to see the flying practices! Papa bird perches on a branch next to the porch keeping an eye out for danger, while Mama bird chirps in encouragement while the little ones take the plunge!
You can see how well crafted this has become.

It's not just the real thing I enjoy though. I often find myself drawn to bird art. I really like old vintage sketches as well as some fun folk interpretations. I thought I'd share a few examples below:

Patterned Birds

Vintage Bird Collage

Embroidered Bird

I love this! All of her work is so intriguing to me.
Camilla Engman

How amazing is this chandelier! This one is too expensive, but I think it would be so much fun to create your own.
Bird Chandelier

And last but not least, the most perfect mobile! I can't find the link for where I originally saw this, but I pretty much have the pattern for those cute little fabric birds and plan on making one to one day go in our nursery :)

So what's with the bird on the brain you ask? It all started with a Chinese Proverb I stumbled upon. Well actually it started with a conversation that Steven and I frequently have to re-visit.

I am a constant flowing river of emotions. I don't think Steven ever ceases to be amazed at my ability to flow from happy, sad, excited, anxious, peaceful, content, restless, ill to joyful and then back again. And that's all in one day :) But see, I think it's perfectly beautiful and natural to allow yourself to feel and experience and acknowledge everything that flows through you. Be it the Vally or the Mountain top.

Steven however, is a constant, sturdy, optimistic, ROCK. He believes you choose your emotion and control everything with your attitude. Which I agree with to some extent. But to him if you just don't acknowledge it, then it doesn't exist.

The conflict comes when Steven views my emotional current as something that needs to be fixed and will change with time. (sorry, no chance) And then I get my feelings hurt because I often interpret his rockness as not caring enough to be willing to just feel something. Truth is, sometimes when I'm having a melancholy day, I don't want to just "change my attitude" I want to have a melancholy day! And I feel like part of being intimate with someone is when you can strip all protective walls and just feel what you feel. Which maybe that doesn't make sense! Why do we maintain our "keep it together" attitude for the rest of world and then the people we love get the good, BAD, and the UGLY?? Anyways...

So we usually remember the whole Mars and Venus thing, kiss and make-up, and move on.

All that in reference to the Chinese Proverb about birds that I found. Connection, you ask? It's sort of a promise I made to myself, I compromise of sorts.

“You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent their making a nest in your hair”

I am a creature of emotion and most days I enjoy all that it entails. But I do promise that the moments and days when the less desirable emotions "pass over head" I will do my best to keep them moving along quickly to make room for my favorite ones: joy, peace, contentment, and love.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A book for the heart...

So last week I went and had lunch at a little sandwich shop downtown where I could eat outside. I had just finished the book I had been reading and so I brought along a book my brother gave me for my birthday called The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning. I had picked it up several times to start reading but for some reason I kept deciding on something else. Well it was time to dive in. Before chapter 1 there was a section called "A Word Before." As I'm reading this short 2 page introduction, it was as if all of Broad Street disappeared and I was completely alone sitting at my little cafe table with tears streaming down my face, all while smiling! The Lord will find away to speak however He can and He spoke.

Below are the words that I had been needing to hear:

The Ragamuffin Gospel was written with a specific reading audience in mind.
This book in not for the super spiritual.
It is not for muscular Christians who have made John Wayne, and not Jesus, their hero.
It is not for academics who would imprison Jesus in the ivory tower of exegesis.
It is not for noisy, feel-good folks who manipulate Christianity into a naked appeal to emotion.
It is not for hooded mystics who want magic in their religion.
It is not for Alleluia Christians who live only on the mountaintop and have never visited the valley of desolation.
It is not for the fearless and tearless.
It is not for red-hot zealots who boast with the rich young ruler of the Gospels, "All these commandments I have kept from my youth."
It is not for the complacent who hoist over their shoulders a tote bag of honors, diplomas, and good works, actually believing they have it made.
It is not for legalists who would rather surrender control of their souls to rules than run the risk of living in union with Jesus.
If anyone is still reading along, The Ragamuffin Gospel was written for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.
It is for the sorely burdened who are still shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other.
It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don't have it all together and are too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.
It is for inconsistent, unsteady disciples whose cheese is falling off their cracker.
It is for poor, weak, sinful men and women with hereditary faults and limited talents.
It is for earthen vessels who shuffle along on feet of clay.
It is for the bent and the bruised who feel that their lives are a grave disappointment to God.
It is for smart people who know they are stupid and honest disciples who admit they are scalawags.
The Ragamuffin Gospel is a book I wrote for myself and anyone who has grown weary and discouraged along the Way.
~Brennan Mannin

I haven't finished the book yet, and I'm sure I will be posting more as I do. But I was so encouraged by just the opening that I wanted to go ahead and share.