‘Musings’ Category Archives

22
May

Trust

by Birdie in Faith, Life, Musings, Raw

This is entirely raw and unedited. It’s my way of processing how I feel. I’m putting it here in the hopes that, if someone is feeling the way I am, they might find comfort in the fact that they aren’t alone.

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I’m staring down a twisting, gnarled path lined with dark shadows and brambles. With each step forward, the ground behind me crumbles away. There’s no turning back on this journey, no matter how much I wish I could go back to what I knew, what was concrete and made sense. What’s ahead is so incredibly daunting.

Sometimes I think that maybe I’ve lost the correct path and find myself stumbling along a not oft traveled deer path that winds around and around and doubles back on itself. And then I enter a deep, cool valley, and just as I come across the well-beaten path I am certain is the right one, I look ahead and up see that it disappears behind the crest of the peak before me, and the rest of the trail is beyond where I can’t see it.

What if it dead-ends? What if it crumbles away beneath my feet, leaving me with nowhere to go? What if I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere, which I’m certain I have, and this path leads to despair and suffering? I can’t see my destination, nor can I see the clear path I need to take to make it there.

I am frightened.

A little voice in the back of my mind whispers sweetly, “Trust.” But I’ve been trusting. All of those detours, those lonely, sleepless nights, I trusted. And where has it gotten me? To a ravine from which my ability to emerge and get back on track is uncertain; to a state of pervasive loneliness and jealousy and bitterness; to a depth of despair that I can’t even begin to communicate.

Trust has led me to uncertainty and to a point in my journey where I’m so exhausted from striving and searching and trusting and pleading and being quiet that I wonder if giving up, settling on a log on the side of the trail to live out my days, might be the better option.

Again, that little voice intones, “Trust.” I’m tired of trusting. I’m tired of blundering about my life as if blind. I’m tired of everyone moving on around me, of everyone making strides towards the purpose of their lives. I want that. I want to have at least a tiny little niggling inkling as to my purpose on this earth. Because surely it isn’t to simply wander, lost and alone, for the rest of my days.

I know He has plans to prosper me, but where are they? I feel like shouting to the heavens, “I am unhappy! I am not being prospered!” In fact, I often feel quite the opposite: like I’m a tiny, insignificant insect with an enormous magnifying glass focusing the trials of life squarely on my back.

“Trust,” the voice whispers. “Trust.” But I feel as if I’ve forgotten how. My feet are rooted to this spot, and my mind reels with the black void behind me and the towering unknown before me. My arms are like lead, weighing me down, and my heart feels heavy as a stone. I can’t go back, because there is nothing for me there. And yet, I can’t go forward, because there is a chance that there is nothing for me there, either.

The fear is paralyzing.

Trust.”

That single word echoes in my mind, and I struggle to lift my feet. Surely, whatever is before me will be better than the black, empty void behind.

Trust.”

My feet feel like boulders, and every slow, agonizing step I take shakes the ground and the trees around me. A bright red cardinal erupts from a nearby bush and soars high above the peak and out of sight.

Trust.”

My pace is slow, but at least I’m moving. Maybe I’m going in the wrong direction, and I still bear the weight of loneliness in the pit of my gut, but the little voice in the back of my mind has the right idea. Trust has gotten me this far, and though I can’t see the road ahead, I have always had places to put my feet and ways around obstacles.

“Trust.”

I’m working on that. After all, not all who wander are lost.

5
Apr

A Heart for Africa

by Birdie in Faith, Inspirations, Life, Musings

I just completed my application for Africa Inland Mission‘s TIMO program and mailed it out this afternoon. I’m incredibly excited. Over the last few weeks, I’ve done a lot of reading about the Sakalava people and the ministry that AIM is trying to build with them, and the more I read, the more my heart aches to go.

I feel as if I’ve been answering the same question to all of my friends over the last couple weeks. Everyone is so curious to know what brought on my desire to go to Africa, so I thought that here would be as good a place as any to share the answer.

I’m not really sure how it started, except that I had been comfortable and content with my job and my quiet life and my home church, and then suddenly I wasn’t anymore. I was restless and discontent and this little seed of something—I hesitate to call it wanderlust, because that makes it sound fleeting and fickle, but I can’t seem to find another word more fitting—took root in my heart.

I reached out to my friends and family that Saturday night when I realized my restlessness. I think my exact text to them was something along the lines of, “I am so restless and bored. I feel like I need adventure and change. I’m not content.” The overwhelming response was to pray. After blogging about my restlessness (Clearly, I find that writing things out helps me to process how I’m feeling and identify potential reasons for those feelings.) I prayed and asked God to reveal the reason for my restlessness.

The next morning, my church welcomed back one of our own from her two years with her TIMO team in Africa. And that tiny seed started to grow. After the service, I spoke with her briefly, and then went home and started to look into AIM and their mission. I sought council of sorts from my sister, who has known far longer than I have that she had a heart for missions, and we went for a long, meandering walk through the quiet of the prairie path near our house, and talked for hours about Africa and God’s urgings for us to step outside of our comfort zones and find experiences that we never could have dreamed about. And the longer we talked, the deeper that little seed’s roots delved into my heart. After more prayer and soul-searching, I felt that I could say with relative confidence that Africa was the reason for my discontent.

I spent several weeks on my application, allowing myself time to reflect and digest the possibilities of all the places I might end up, and as I looked through some of the TIMO teams that AIM is hoping to send out within the next year, I felt incredibly drawn to the ministry to the Sakalava people of Madagascar. Maybe I won’t end up there; maybe God has plans for me to end up working with another ministry. But all I know is that Africa has taken root in my heart, and when I consider that by this time next year I might be six months into a two-year stay with a host group, my soul feels so light.

I’m so excited to see where the Lord is leading me, and I sincerely hope that soon I will be posting here to tell all of you that Africa is there, clear as day, on the horizon a few months away.

10
Mar

On Restlessness

by Birdie in Faith, Life, Musings

Over the last two years, my life has been quiet, and I’ve been content. Working, spending time with my family, writing, reading, connecting with my church and making new, amazing friends… Very quiet. It was just what I needed, when I needed it. But I think that time is passing.

It’s come on suddenly, this feeling of restlessness. One day I am content in my life and my place, and the next, I can hardly bear to sit still and stay here. It’s as if all of a sudden, I have realized that I’m no longer content with my job and with the way my life feels like all I’m doing is treading water. Up until a few days ago, I was perfectly happy here.

I find myself longing for an adventure, for something unknown. I’ve never really been impulsive, but lately, all I seem to be able to do is daydream about driving until my car breaks down and seeing where I end up. I don’t know where this need, this nagging desire for action and adventure and newness came from, but I can feel it smoldering in the pit of my stomach.

I want to meet people, all sorts of people, and do things that I’ve never done before. I want to experience life for all it has to offer, see all the wonders of God’s amazing creation. I want to get my feet wet. I want… I want something more. I don’t know what I want specifically, but I want something more than this. I want to drive as far as I can in one direction, and then pick another and keep going.

God, You’ve given me this restlessness for a reason, and I’m desperate to know what that reason is. And I’m so excited to see where it leads me.

23
Oct

The Burning Bush

by Birdie in Faith, Life, Musings

God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

—Exodus 2:25-3:5

Today has been a full day. It started early this morning with Focal Point, the class my church holds for those who are looking to become official ministry partners, and from there I went to the service, and then to the ESL tutor training course Community Fellowship is hosting in conjunction with Wheaton Bible Church. I came home for a grand total for half an hour for dinner, and then I went back for the college group/young adult group worship.

The message tonight was a strong one, and one that I find extremely pertinent to life today. We read the Old Testament and see moments like God in the burning bush speaking to Moses, and we wonder why it doesn’t happen anymore, why it feels that God is so far from us when He is supposed to be so near.

Our teaching pastor, Mitchel, proposed the God does show himself, He does give us burning bushes every day, we just need to pay attention to them. We need to make the conscious decision to see them, and to turn towards them. That person that you met in passing in the bathroom, that coworker you lashed out at, the person that sat across from you in class… They can all be your burning bush. You need only pay attention to the Spirit’s stirrings.

And then he asked us to close our eyes and think back over the last week and ask God if we missed the burning bushes he sent us. And there they were, clear as day, burning bright at the edges of my mind.

The coworker I snapped at out of a place of deep-seated jealousy and bitterness was there, convicting me of a dozen flaws, not the least of which are jealousy and bitterness themselves. The subsequent conviction to apologize despite my overwhelming reluctance was there, too, helping me to acknowledge that there are many things that I need to change. And the lightness of spirit I felt when I gave that genuine apology… What delicious fruit that was.

The woman I spoke to in passing in, of all places, the bathroom at church was there as well, preparing the way for the next burning bush to come, and pushing me to step outside my comfort zone and reach out to all of the people around me. They are all friendly and genuine, despite that niggling fear in the pit of my stomach that they will reject me or find me abrasive or boring or obnoxious. I just have to put myself out there.

And the wonderful woman who sat across from me today in my ESL tutoring class was there, a bright beacon reminding me that God is always faithful, and He does answer our prayers. He did hear my cries of loneliness, of listlessness, and of the incredible desire for friends, and today, He gave me an incredible blessing. She is very much like me, and I am so thankful to God for putting her in my path, and for making her one of my burning bushes this week.

What have your burning bushes been this week? Have you been watching and listening for them? They are there, believe me. You need only open your eyes and your hearts.

9
Jun

On Baking Bread, Part Two

by Birdie in Faith, Inspirations, Life, Musings

Read Part One

Yesterday I delved into what has been my idol for seven years, (food) and how God used my health in a profound way to give me a kick in the butt to be a better Christian and to free myself from the chains that food had so tightly wrapped around me. Today, I want to share a revelation that I had about God while baking bread.

I’m sure that sounds silly, that something as simple as baking bread can spark a revelation, but God has really opened my eyes lately to the way that everyday tasks can reflect His spirit and His desires for us as His children.

Baking gluten free is a whole different animal than baking with all-purpose wheat flour. There are many different ingredients that have to work together to do the same job as just that one flour. There are an abundance of GF flours and starches that, mixed in different ratios, produce different flavors, textures, and densities. When you’re just starting out, it takes a lot of extra thought. But as you become more familiar with the different components, it gets easier and it becomes second nature.

Therein lies lesson number two.

On Baking Gluten Free Bread and Finding God

Baking GF bread is a lot like being a Christian.

Okay, okay, that sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. I promise, I have a point, and it makes sense.

The Apron (or, Physical and Emotional Armor)

When we enter the kitchen with the intent of baking, we put on an apron. (Okay, I know, not everybody wears an apron, but you know what I’m getting at.) We use it to protect ourselves from splatters and the like, and personally, I don’t like to cook without one.

Likewise, as humans, we wake up in the morning and put on our armor to protect our delicate self-worth: clothes to hide our perceived imperfections, makeup to make us feel pretty, and a carefully constructed facade to keep everyone else from finding out that we aren’t perfect. We cannot leave the house unprotected, because we fear that we risk grave emotional injury.

As Christians, God is our armor. However, as an apron cannot hide a terrible cook, God does not hide our flaws. He uses them instead to help us make connections with others, and to glorify Him through reaching out to those who share our pain. He delights in our flaws and weaknesses, because they give us the freedom to seek Him and share our hearts with others. (For a better explanation of this, head on over to Rebecca Thornberry: Artist and read her blog entry, Hem and Haw. She makes more sense of this than I do. Go on. I’ll wait here. You can read the rest of this when you get back.)

The Dough (or, Our Skewed Self Perception)

Regular bread dough and GF dough look completely different. Regular bread dough has a silky texture that makes it easy to knead. Instead of having a strong structure, GF bread dough is more like a cake batter. It looks like this:

Pre-risen gf bread dough

Finished GF bread dough

If not for the sage advice of Shauna Ahern of Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, I would have added more GF flour to this dough in order to make it look more like wheat bread dough. The problem with that would be that it would have ruined the entire batch. This batch was perfect the way it was.

In the same way, we as humans try so hard to fit into the world, to look like everybody else, and to be just like those people we admire. But God, in His infinite patience, slowly pours into us until we can finally acknowledge that we are perfect as we are. He made us different for a reason. There is someone we must reach who we couldn’t reach if we were just like everybody else.

The Rising and Baking (or, Spiritual Support and Trial by Fire)

Gluten is what binds baked goods together. It keeps them from being overly crumbly and falling apart. This is exactly why cornbread is so crumbly: corn meal does not usually contain gluten, and most recipes do not have a high enough wheat flour content to make it more like wheat bread.

Risen gf bread dough

GF bread dough after rising.

So, GF recipes need other binders, like xanthan gum, ground chia seeds, or flax meal, to give them a consistency reminiscent of “real” bread. They allow for that springy, high-rising structure so that people with celiac or gluten sensitivities can enjoy baked goods without ending up in pain or with permanent health problems. Without those binders, GF bread won’t bake right. It will end up dry and crumbly, and not like bread at all.

Like GF bread dough, we as humans can’t fully support ourselves. We might find something that seems to give us structure and support, but in the end, if we don’t have God, we fall flat. We don’t develop right in the fires of the trials in our lives. We try so hard to find that one thing that will bind us and hold us up, but we put forth all that effort looking in all the wrong places. All we have to do is look up.

The Finished Product (or, Where We Are Going and How We Get There)

Throughout the entire process of baking a loaf of GF bread, you have to gather up everything you ever learned about baking with gluten flours and throw it out the window. This is a whole other animal, and you have to take the time to learn the ins and outs of it without any preconceived ideas, or you’ll end up with a bunch of wasted ingredients and a failed loaf of what barely passes for bread. (Trust me. This is what happened the first time I tried to bake my own GF bread.)

Punched down gf bread dough

GF bread dough after being punched down.

Of all the steps in GF bread making, the only one that resembles its gluten counterpart is the finished product. All the others look so completely different that it’s hard to imagine it’ll all pull together and form something bread-like instead of something cake-like. Even seeing this whole thing through from beginning to end, it’s hard to imagine how it all turned out right.

GF bread dough ready to bake

GF bread dough ready to bake.

As it is with GF bread, so it is with our lives. No one, in the midst of trials and tribulations, can imagine how their life is going to end up right. When you look around yourself and all you see is chaos and ruin, it’s almost impossible to imagine that it’ll end up right at all. It’s entirely too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that maybe where you are isn’t where you’re supposed to be, and that the pain and suffering you’re feeling have no purpose but to break you down a little further.

Finished loaf of GF bread.

Finished loaf of GF bread.

But God knows just how you’re going to end up, and He can see the entire process from beginning to end. He knows how we’re going to get from a sloppy ruin to a beautiful, finished life. All we need is to go where He sends us and have faith that He will steer us right, and that he won’t leave us in the fire too long.

My bread turned out just right. I know that with God by my side, my life will turn out just right, too.

Sliced gf bread

Sliced GF bread.

Right now, it takes a lot of extra thought to trust Him to get me where I need to go, but every day that goes by, it gets a little easier. I’m looking forward to the day when it really does become second nature.

8
Jun

On Baking Bread, Part One

by Birdie in Faith, Life, Musings, The Past

This last year has been a year of illness for me. I had my barely functioning gallbladder out in late February after living with terrible pain every day starting in August, and I had hoped that would solve the intestinal upset and other odd aches and pains that plagued me, too. Now, three months later, the pain from that organ is gone, but the almost daily intestinal pain, mouth sores, muscle and joint aches, and other unmentionable issues didn’t go away.

So, a few weeks ago, in a desperate bid to feel healthy again after close to a year of feeling sick, I started paying close attention to what I ate and what seemed to trigger those responses in my body. The culprit? Bread. Or, well, gluten to be precise.

Gluten is in wheat, barley, and rye. Wheat is in the majority of packaged food items on the market. So, just about everything out there contains gluten. This makes it very, very difficult to cut it out of your diet, especially when your family loves bread and pasta and they make up the staples in most meals.

Also, I love bread. And I love eating. Having to cut out gluten has made it hard for me to eat almost all of the things I love.

And, therein lies lesson number one.

Idols and Obsessions

Since about the middle of high school, when I really started to have serious issues with my depression and when I really started to pull away from God entirely, I started to eat. I no longer only ate when I was hungry or in need of energy, I ate all the time. I started to look at food like the panacea for all of my spiritual and emotional wounds. If I was stressed, I ate. If I was sad, I ate. If I was angry, I ate. If I was hurt or scared or lonely or overwhelmed or feeling directionless, I ate. And if I was happy, I ate, too.

When I left for college, that didn’t change. I had already made the damaging habits, and I was caught in a vicious cycle that I didn’t know how to break: happy, eat; depressed, eat; social events, eat; alone, eat. Eat, eat, eat. Even when I found my way back into the fold of the church and started to live out the faith I had always wanted, I ate. Food drove me. I thought about it all the time, and I was damaging myself as a result.

I gained a disgusting amount of weight. I hated the way I looked, and I was totally appalled at my inability to care enough to change. My life revolved around food.

It has taken a developing gluten sensitivity to realize that food has been my idol for seven years. Food has been the center of my life when only God is deserving of such a place. So, He gave me the choice to make room for Him.

I don’t look at this as punishment, not at all. God wants His children to be healthy and happy, and my love of food was destroying any and all chances I had of that. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I wanted to shower with my eyes closed. I wanted nothing to do with my body. And, my weight was extremely unhealthy.

I feel that God has broken the bonds that my food obsession had on me, and in doing so, He has put before me the opportunity to become healthy again, to eat better and to develop a much healthier relationship with my food. Food sustains my body, and it’s okay to take some small pleasure in it. But if food is the center of my universe, my spirit and my soul waste away. I need food to survive, but I need God at the center of my life to live.

In just the few short weeks since I cut gluten out of my diet, I feel healthier. I’m eating better, and I’m eating more fruits and vegetables and lean meats. I’ve been forced to cut 90% of the junk food out of my diet because it contains gluten, and so I have started to lose some of this extra weight. And finally, God is where he belongs: right smack-dab in the middle of my heart.

Read Part Two.

A quick aside: I want to be clear that I’m advocating a healthy relationship with food here, not getting rid of it entirely. I tried to make that clear, but I feel like I might need this aside just in case. I am also not advocating a gluten free diet as a way to lose weight. It is a serious undertaking, and while I know there are current fads that say that everyone should cut out gluten and that it’s a good way to lose weight, that isn’t what I’m saying here. I am gluten free because, in order to be healthy, I need to be. My weight loss only has anything to do with cutting out gluten because I can’t afford all of the GF junk foods they sell, and because it’s given me a new awareness of what is in the food I put in my body as well as a new awareness of how much I need to eat to be satisfied and not over full.

18
Apr

The North Bird

by Birdie in Life, Musings, The Past, Writing

North Bird

It’s a perfect day, the thick, ashen clouds rolling over one another, all eager to bring the rain we need so desperately. Overhead, the geese in graceful arcs turn a south-easterly course while one, alone, turns itself to the north, defying the norm. A small part of me doesn’t understand, but then the Emily Dickinson in me takes over and I can see no reason that the rest of the flock shouldn’t turn to follow the North Bird.

Now the birds and world fall away from me and I am trapped in a rather fitting metaphor where I am the North Bird and society my flock, seeking shelter from the winter while I seek change and the chaos of the cold grey envelope of December.

In a strange way I have found home within the strangest feeling, the accurate metaphor of the North Bird, and the abandonment of safety and surety for a more chaotic self-exile. Beneath the gray wool clouds, wrapped in a shawl of clammy September air, I come to this conclusion, and I am satisfied.

And then the rain comes. I allow it to bathe my face and watch as it cajoles the leaves of the old maple to dance.

Monday September 26, 2005

It has been a very long time since I wrote this, and I have no recollection of exactly what was going on in my life at that specific point in time. I was a junior in high school when I wrote this, fresh from an eventful summer during which I had purchased my horse, watched a barn go up in my back yard, spent weeks building a fence, and suffered a head injury that wiped away a good chunk of my short-term memory. (Maybe that’s why I have no idea what prompted this piece.) But when I found this little entry in an old journal this past week, I found it rather fitting.

This is the first time in any of my sporadic journal entries that I make a comparison between myself and a bird, but it’s far from the last. Perhaps this was the first moment that I acknowledged that, despite not knowing where the next few years would take me, I had a strong feeling that I would have a hard time staying in any one place for long. Perhaps the moment I wrote this was the very moment that I understood that I was instinctively seeking something that society couldn’t give me, something that I had to find on my own in the coldest, loneliest, and most desolate times of my life.

Six years later, I’m still not entirely sure what it is that I’m seeking. Maybe it’s a career that will give my life meaning; maybe it’s a husband and a family; maybe it’s that one defining moment that will make everything worthwhile and finally allow me to make my mark on the world. All I know is that, as of this moment, maybe I’ve brushed up against it once or twice in my wandering, but I haven’t quite found it. Maybe I’ve wandered close to it and then away again, but all the while, deep down, I know I’ll never stop seeking it until I have, without a doubt, found it.

For now, I’m content to seek and follow my heart and God’s gentle urgings wherever they take me. It unnerves me, being somewhat of a control freak, to have no idea where I’m heading or what I’ll find there, but I know that no matter what it is, it will be worth all the effort it’s going to take to get there.

I’m still that North Bird, wheeling away from the flock and forging my own future. Suburban Bird is clearly a part of that future, though what role it will play is yet to be seen. I’m glad to have all of you along for the journey, and I hope that you’ll share your own adventures as we go along.

Keep on flying, friends, and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re going the wrong way.

15
Apr

A Golden Thread

by Birdie in Art Therapy, Inspirations, Life, Musings

I am, by nature, a bit of a perfectionist with my art and my writing. Over the last few years, this has slowly begun to spill over into my working life. No matter what job I’m doing, I strive to do it perfectly and efficiently, and it bothers me to no end if I fall short of that goal. This, of course, means a lot of frustration with myself when I make mistakes or find myself diverted from a task by someone or something. This also means that I’ve settled into a sort of comfort zone, work-wise, where I aim low and try to find contentment in a job that I know I can do well. I’ve stopped challenging myself.

In recent months, I’ve realized that I can no longer afford to stay someplace just because I’m comfortable. I love my job, and I believe that I do it well, but it’s a job that I’ve been doing in one place or another for eight years. There’s no challenge for me there, now that I’ve mastered all but one of our departments, and have begun to master that last one. I enjoy interacting with customers and having a chance to brighten their day, but I’m starting to feel that gnawing need in the pit of my stomach for a challenge.

Another personality quirk (flaw?) that I’ve started to see in myself is a need to know where I’m going. Even if it’s only for the next month, I have to know where I’m heading. I’m not so good at plotting out the long-term because plans have a way of changing and evolving, (and I’m not fooling myself by discounting how much of that changing and evolving is God’s nudging me in the right direction) but it scares me, not knowing what my destination is for the near future.

It is because of this that job searching outside of retail is so terrifying to me. It brings up so much uncertainty, about myself and about where I’m going, that no amount of discussion and self-placation can completely dispel. At this point in time, I haven’t the slightest clue where I’ll be in a month, let alone next week. I may still be right where I am now, or I may be starting a new job, or I may be doing any number of things. All I know is that I’m stepping out of my comfort zone in a way I never have before, and I’m not sure yet if I like it or not.

In all of this, I’ve really been relating to the song Golden Thread by Joy Williams. Not only is it a gorgeous, catchy song, but it describes, almost exactly, how I feel right now. My life feels like it’s out of my control, and all I want is to feel a little bit of peace about it. So, after a particularly long day at work, I came home and settled down at the coffee table, pulled out my art journal, (which I haven’t touched in years) and just let it all out. Despite my need to know where things are supposed to end up, I refused to let myself plan how things were going to turn out this time.

At first I grabbed my scissors and started cutting, as you can tell by the sheet of lyrics that are the foundation for this piece. And then I started thinking about everything I was trying to process and release, and I realized that the scissors were just one more way I strove for perfection, and so I abandoned them.

It’s far from perfect. It has its fair share of flaws. The page curls. The golden string I used stuck to my fingers when I was placing it down on the page and thus protested against the perfect, gentle curve I intended.

I tore some of the edges of the letters. I tore too much of the tissue paper away in places. Sometimes, I used too much Mod Podge, and it left gloopy bits on the page.

But you know what? I love it. I love every accidental tear, every gloop and glop, every imperfection. I love that I approached this with only the vague image of a golden thread in my mind, and yet, the result was even more beautiful to me than anything I could have meticulously planned.

So, tomorrow I’ll soldier on in my search for a new job, and every time I start to stress about the unknown road that lays ahead of me, out of sight behind some bend or the crest of some hill, I’ll flip open my art journal and use this little bit of improvisation to remind myself that sometimes it’s best to have no idea where the road ends.

After all, what’s life without a little bit of adventure? I think it’s high time for my adventure to begin.

Update: A friend of mine sent me this quote after reading this post, and I found it pertinent and had to share: “Nothing in our past lives is wasted. Nothing that once made us feel happy and fulfilled is ever lost. There’s a golden thread that runs through each of our lives. We just need to rediscover this thread before the joy of living completely unravels” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

28
Mar

New Beginnings

by Birdie in Life, Musings, The Past

I’ve been writing, seriously and diligently, since I was ten. Unless I was out wandering the forest preserve on a make-believe horse, climbing to the very top branches of our little stand of pines, or building teepees out of old branches in the bushes, you would never find me without paper and pencil. And even those times, when I was out letting my imagination run wild, I never really stopped writing. I was composing poetry in my head, or making up songs, or laying out a scene of prose all around me. Sometimes I was the heroine, and sometimes I was the damsel in distress, but there was always a story in my head, and even if I never wrote it down, I still enjoyed telling it to myself.

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I knew that writing was just something that I loved and had to do. I may not remember the day or the month any more, but I know that it was winter, and we had just had a big snow. I had composed a tiny snippet of a story in my head on the way to my childhood best friend’s house and I wrote it in my weekly journal at school. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Johnson, was so impressed with it that she asked my permission to read it to the entire class, and asked me to write more for the next week. And every week, when I included a new snippet of writing or a new poem with my journal, she refrained from editing the spelling or grammar or punctuation and wrote only encouraging words.

In those next few months, she nurtured my writing and helped me to stretch out of my comfort zone. She introduced me to a new way of thinking, and helped me to settle into my niche and into a part of me that would become a thread of sanity and stability in my life when things would occasionally come crashing down about my ears.

Over the years, school, work, and life have all gotten in the way of my writing. I drift away and back again as the seasons turn, and each time I return to it, it’s like a homecoming. It’s like settling into a favorite comfortable armchair in a sunny nook with a dear friend. And always, I wonder why I drifted away in the first place.

So, here I am, sending these words out into the ether in hopes that, in some small way here at Suburban Bird, I can spread the joy that writing and so many other creative activities bring to me. Maybe I won’t get to be a Mrs. Johnson to somebody, but even if I try and fail, at least I’ll have left some small, positive mark on the world.

Welcome to Suburban Bird. I hope you’ll stay a while.

27
Mar

Welcome

by Birdie in Life, Musings

Okay, so maybe this is a little morbid, but today when I was driving, my brain went into overdrive and I started wondering. If I got into a serious car accident, who would care? Who would worry about me, who would send me flowers, and who would wait by the phone to hear that I was well enough to accept visitors? Who would be genuinely worried and who would just be keeping up appearances? My family would do all of those things genuinely, of course, as would my small circle of close friends and possibly some of my coworkers. But everyone else I know?

This wasn’t just all a random thought process. A very dear coworker of mine had a stroke a couple of nights ago, out of the blue. Immediately, there was a phone tree of sorts in place to get up to date information out to everyone at our store who so adore this woman. (Thank God she’s doing okay now.) But would that happen for me?

And, I hate to even think about it, if I died, what mark would I have left on the world? Not much of one at all, I think.

So, it seems rather fitting that I officially begin this creative endeavor and adventure on this day of my birth. Today, this suburban bird is going to spread her wings and touch the world with joy through any creative means she can.

After all, the world could always use a little more color.