Showing posts with label Birds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birds. Show all posts

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Celebrations of the Heart

Start living now. Stop saving the good china for that special occasion. Every day you are alive is a special occasion. Every minute, every breath, is a gift from God. ~Mary Manin Morrissey

The air was frigid, yet the ice hanging on the trees was beautiful – like a postcard. But the beauty seemed marred as quickly as heavy branches fell on the electric lines. After three days without electricity it was easy to be a bit of a grouch. Perhaps your water lines froze or the cold has kept you indoors. When will spring be here, you ask yourself? It’s time to plan a celebration – a celebration of the heart!
 Heart celebrations are shared celebrations. If you are a mother, they involve your children. If you are a young wife, the celebration can be shared with your husband. Heart celebrations my involve friends, neighbors or anyone you know who needs a burst of sunshine in the middle of winter's dreariness. They can be held in your home or transported to a friend's home, the fire department or the nursing care center.  How about you and your young children planning a heart celebration for an elderly neighbor? Or a mini celebration for the teenager who lives next door?

I know what you’re asking – What is a heart celebration? Actually, it is not an extremely contemporary idea. Heart celebrations were mentioned in Proverbs 15:15. “A cheerful heart fills the day with song.” or as I like to say, “A celebrated heart is filled with singing.”

We tend to give priority attention to celebrating big holidays. But there are reasons to celebrate every day – reasons that take such a little bit of planning and few ingredients or materials.

January: National Tea Month

Unroll a 12oz tube of biscuits and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Melt three tablespoons of butter. Dip the top of each biscuit in butter, then sugar. Press an indentation in the center of each biscuit and fill with peach jam. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Cut a crown for the little princess in your life. Give her some gems and glitter to decorate the crown.

National Soup Month

Fill mason jars with vegetable soup. Tie a bit of raffia around the lid and deliver a celebration to an elderly friend. I use beef roast for the base. How do you make your veggie soup?

Disney Clips
January 18: Winnie the Pooh Day

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered.

"Yes, Piglet?"

"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.” ~A.S. Milne 

This is a good day to let a friend know just how much they mean to you – that they can be sure of your love. A day to celebrate your friendship. Of course, any celebration of Pooh calls for honey. Mix up a batch of your favorite muffins. While they are baking, mix 2 tablespoons of honey with a softened stick of butter. Invite your neighbor over for a cuppa and a treat. Or deliver warm to your pastor’s family or your child’s teacher.

January 29: National Popcorn Day

Who doesn’t like popcorn? It’s a staple here for cozy nights at home.

Toss It Popcorn Snack 

Microwave popcorn bag
Pretzel sticks broken in two
Yogurt raisins
Salted pecans

Sugared Popcorn

My great-papa always had a white dishpan filled with sugared popcorn when we visited. You can find his recipe on Color Someone's World.

The two recipes above can be bagged and shared. Share with the greeters at Walmart, the clerk at the Dollar Store, the teller at the bank, the garbage man, or your husband's coworkers. Who else can you think of to share a bit of popcorn celebration?

Cheesy Popcorn

4 bags microwave popcorn popped
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Place popcorn in two 13-in. x 9-in. pans. Drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle onion salt over popcorn. Top with cheese. Bake at 300 degrees for 7 minutes. 

Feathered Friends Celebration

It’s also fun to give our feathered friends a celebration. Using a needle and thread, push popcorn on thread to form a garland. Decorate a tree outside – the birds will love it.

January 23: National Pie Day

You won’t find the Kuhn household celebrating National Squirrel Appreciation Day (21st). Not after we had to pay for new car wires they chewed. But National Pie Day? That’s one I’d like to celebrate. Here’s a super-easy, super-delicious recipe.

Put the ingredients except chips and pecans in a large bowl and stir until completely mixed. Stir in chips and pecans. Pour in a 9” pie crust. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 35-45 minutes.

If you want to plan celebrations for other National Days, check out Brownielocks. She even has a link to show you how to register your own National Day. Whatever National Day you choose to celebrate, let it fill your heart with singing. It’s catching – those around you will enjoy singing hearts, too.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Door Ajar

When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. ~Alexander Graham Bell

When my granddaughter, Sarah Morgan, visits, I know the bird cage door will be closed soon after her arrival.  I get such joy out of watching her.  She cannot walk through the kitchen without latching the door. To Morgan, it's a door, and it should be closed. I reopen it when she leaves, knowing the next visit she'll close it again. (Bird is ornamental...!)

During my mundane dusting project the other day, I caught myself smiling about that door, when the thought came to me: How many times do I shut a door God opens?  Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth tells them, "I hope to see you soon [but] a wide door for effective work has opened to me."

How many times does God open a door for me, yet I look longingly at another? A barn door -- really, Lord?  I like the one with the brass kick plate... This door is rather plain -- Can you open the one with the antique door knocker?  

We worry about what people will think if our work is judged lowly. Or, we'd rather work behind the scenes where no one can see and judge.  We'd rather speak to the big crowds instead of spending our days offering grace one on one. We'd rather decorate than clean, write  than conduct a Bible Study, produce award-worthy roses instead of visiting the elderly to share a bouquet of fresh flowers, shop instead of sheltering, buy food instead of teaching others to can/freeze their garden's bountiful harvest.

Many years ago my husband, RB, sang in an oratorio guild.  A wife of another choral member asked me if I sang.  When I told her I didn't, she said, "I don't either.  When people ask me that I just tell them, No, but I can scrub a mean kitchen floor."  

Maybe God has some kitchen floors waiting on the other side of His  open door. Paul said God opened a door of effective work. As we choose the door of obedience, God places within our hands the tools we need.

Dishcloths of love
     Dustpans of joy
          Pens of encouragement
               Candles of light
                     Songbooks of blessing
                          Roses of beauty
                               Fabrics of peace 
                                    Textbooks of knowledge
                                         Diapers of cheerfulness
                                               Canning jars of opportunity

As we do our effective work, we find our cupped hands full.  Hands that offer grace one by one.  Don't forget -- God's greatest work is done through our obedience, through the acceptance of what we are called to, and through the offering of doing all to the glory of God. 

* * * * *

Suggested Reading

I Stand at the Door and Knock by Corrie ten Boom

Linked to 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Color Your Day

The Master Potter picks up the brush and adds color as beautiful as the rainbow - color soft as a rising sun.  ~Carl Richardson

Today was a rare Saturday for me.  RB was off in one direction to play for a funeral.  Emily was off in the other to attend an eight-hour training session for her Haiti trip.  The house was quiet--too quiet for a Saturday. To make my day go faster I decided I needed to add some spring splashes of color around our home--after all, the first day of Spring is only a month away.

So I puttered and played with birds and candles, pastel lights and speckled eggs, bunnies and chicks.  It was such a fun day, and our home is smiling tulips and pastel M & Ms.  Yellows, coral and tangerine catch your eye.  It's hard to feel alone when enjoying color splashes.

I enjoyed the colors poured over my home, and in the enjoyment I  realized that not only was my physical home needing the color, my soul was hungry for some color, too.   It was in the stillness of my day that a little bit of spring came to my soul.

Splashes of forsythia yellow:  Joy!  Clap your hands, all peoples.  Shout to God with loud songs of Joy (Psalm 47:1).

Accented with coral tulips: Grace!  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of His trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

Enhanced with spring green grass: Peace!  Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace (Romans 8:6).

I'm thankful for the color God used to brighten my soul.  I wasn't in the beautiful church RB was today, with the sun shining through the stained glass windows. I was just in this house we call home.  It isn't always in the formal worship I find God.  I can find Him in the middle of my ordinary day.  A day when I am busy splashing color.  When I step back and smile at my flower arrangement I see it -- God's hand, splashing color on my soul.

Linked to:
Spiritual Sundays
Encourage One Another
Hearts for Home
Teach Me Tuesdays

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Singing from the Sheltering Tree

Good cheer is something more than faith in the future, it is gratitude for the past and joy in the present. ~unknown

I love cardinals.  The brilliant red flash we see as the male flies from bird feeder to tree.  Yes, hands down, it is the male cardinal that is beautiful but wait, the female is pretty amazing, too. Yes, female cardinals dress up in dull olive or brown colors, even the red on their wings is subdued.  But, unlike most northern songbirds, this female sings!

"Cheer, Cheer, Cheer" is one of the song patterns this girl Cardinal sings. Don't you think that's one of the best songs to sing -- one of cheer?  God's Word encourages us to "Be of good cheer."

As I listened to Emily sing praise songs while preparing for her classes this morning my heart was cheered. It made me think about how important music is in the life of a family.

In my childhood memories I hear "Jesus, Lover of my Soul" sung by my pastor and his wife.  I hear my sister's voice singing "Where He leads Me I Will Follow."  I hear 17-year-old RB playing "Stepping in the Light" on the organ (both hands and both feet). I hear the choir RB led and the quartet he sang with.  All through my life, music has been with me.  I hear the Sankeys sing "We'll Be There" for Sarah's dedication and their children sing "Oh Rejoice in the Lord" for her funeral.

I see our friend and pastor singing with RB and his sister, Marsha, around the bed as my mother-in-law entered Heaven. There's 9-year-old Melanie singing for Emily's dedication and at eighteen singing, "It's a Love Letter From Me to You," to Shawn -- the song Janene wrote just for them.  Emily singing for school competitions, and with RB and Melanie down through the years.  My grandchildren singing at seems like every special memory I have is crowned with music.

Music doesn't just bring cheer; it comforts, rejoices and brings us ever closer to the God who created the  stars -- the same stars that sang together (Job 38:7).  It is rising crescendo blended together with clanging cymbals and the soulful crooning of a saxophone. It's the formal oratorio, sung in Latin, and the exuberance of tiny voices singing "Jesus Loves Me."

It's the lullaby sung by Mary to the Christ Child and the coronation of "O Worship the King." It's John Newton's "Amazing Grace" and Laura Story's "The Blessing."  This cheer is a choir accompanied by an orchestra and the A Capella Sunday morning worship voices lifted in praise to God.

It's God-given, this music we are speaking of.  Oh, the allegro, cadence, falsetto -- they are man-made words, but music is anything but man-made. It's God breathed. It's angels singing to announce Christ's birth and our voices joining in musical praise when Christ comes the second time.

So the next time you see a flash of red sitting on your bird feeder or the "cheer, cheer, cheer" of the Lady Cardinal calling to her mate, spread a little cheer.  It's as simple as singing praises to God.  Not only will God find joy in the praise, but those who live with you will be blessed, too.

* * * * *

Winter blahs settle in January.  Gifting shut-ins and young mothers with a cheer project is a perfect way to shelter. Writing the teacher resource materials for Sociology doesn't leave much time for crafting.  However, I did find a few projects for you to use in spreading cheer. We often think of cardinals as a Christmas, but with a few tweaks the projects can become winter gifts.

Think cupcake:  Packaging by Lisa Storm

Children will love this treat-filled log.  Trade the sparrow for a cardinal.

Linked to 

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Lost Song

If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.   ~Chinese Proverb

Have you ever thought you lost your song? Sometimes the demands and yes, frustrations, of life just make us weary. The song that usually sings in our soul, reminding us of God's presence, sounds off key and sometimes fades away.

We don't always know the root cause of our depression (not to be confused with clinical depression):

1. Social (broken friendship, betrayed confidence)
2. Emotional (death of someone close)
3. Physical (coping with pain)
4. Material (financial setback)
5. Spiritual (perceived lack of spiritual growth)

When I find depression clouding my heart many times I can retrace my thoughts and find the trigger.  Other times the "why" seems reticent -- there doesn't seem to be a "reason."

On a Wing and a Prayer
Beautiful book for sheltering

There are times when discouragement clouds a day, and other occasions when depression presses down so hard it affects serveral days and you feel there must surely be a D etched on your forehead.  I have found in these times to just wait -- to ride out the storm. Sometimes waiting involves being alone, shutting out the world and recharging.  Other times we need to be proactive -- shelter someone, buy a bouquet of flowers, listen to music or read an encouraging blog. 

Most of all, offer the cause of your depression to God, read His word and focus on God's promises. Leave your heart open, keep your hope fresh, and the music will return. 

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee --
How great thou art!
How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee --
How great thou art!
How great thou art!

Paul knew discouragement and, in spite of those times, talked about his God, who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and the sinking, comforted and encouraged and refreshed and cheered us.

Keep the cage of your heart open.  Keep the bough fresh.  Your song will return. Sunshine as bright as a gold finch's golden coat will glow, drawing others to the source of your song.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sheltering with Hope

When the world says, "Give up," hope whispers, "Try it one more time.

Emily Dickenson wrote, Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. As soon as I read that quote I knew I needed it for a dear friend. At the time I gave her the tiny brass bird, she had already faced Leukemia four times. Today she is in the hospital for treatments for the sixth time. Linda is a strong, amazing woman. She told me her bird sits on her hearth reminding her to hope.

So many people have offered hope to me throughout the years. Roger, who lost a 7-year-old son in a drowning accident, came to Sarah's funeral and told us, "You will never get over Sarah's death, but you can get through it." Hope offered is a blessing bestowed.

When the doctor told my daddy he was 95% sure he had a rare type of kidney cancer, I couldn't imagine life without him. Bonnie offered to teach my Children's Church for six weeks. She offered this report: "I told the kids we needed to pray that your daddy--not that he would feel better, but that he would be healed because you still need your daddy." It was hope offered through the prayers of little ones.

Hope in the midst of death, hope in the midst of life. Hope puts a warm hand on a bruised heart. Hope sustains. The best gift we can offer is the hope in God. Lamentations 3:21-22 says it best: "I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of our Lord never ends."

My mother and I have found many birds for gifting with this quote. 

Some additional ideas that cost a bit more:

Make bird cookies using one of these cookie cutters. Put them in a little basket nest, tie a ribbon around it, and attach the quote as a tag.

For a bird watcher: bird seed, a bird house, bird identification book or calendar.

For the decorator: bird cage, bird eggs

For the book lover: One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie or Deeper Than Tears (Thomas Nelson)

For the creative: Bird Stickers, Nest or Stamp

That should be enough to spark your own ideas. I'd be happy to hear about them!

Lord save us all from... a hope tree that has lost the faculty of
putting out blossoms. ~Mark Twain