Saturday, February 26, 2011

Eye on the Sparrow

I've never been a bird lover or a trendy decorator but over the last couple of years I've found myself sort of hopping on the "decorate with birds" bandwagon.  I didn't set out on a bird-theme mission but various feathered treasures started catching my eye on my hunts so I began picking them up and nesting them around my house.  I've tried to be careful not to overdo it with the birds because I believe themes need to be very subtle. I'd like to say I'm at my limit but we'll see what the 2011 yard sale season holds.

Here's a look at my bird collection. And I apologize for the low-grade pictures. I really need a new camera.

I found this print at a yard sale down by the Douglas Res on "Opening Day" Spring 2009 for $1.

On this table ($5 yardsale find) is a bird I actually picked up at Pier 1 with a gift certificate the fall of 2009, before the folks at Pier 1 went bird-crazy themselves. Behind the table are branches I took inside after a nature hunt with the girls this fall. I put them inside a Pier 1 vase that my mom picked up for me at the Salvation Army. On one branch hangs a bird ornament that was a gift from a dear friend I don't get to see much of these days and in another branch rests a real bird's nest I found on the ground (fake robin's eggs inside).

This planter came from the same yard sale as the print above, also for a buck or two. Sometimes it holds a green plant or flowers, but more often it does not!

The shelf the planter sits on came to be by accident. It was originally the edge of another small square tabletop (from same yardsale as table in previous picture) but after being left outside on a damp night the edge literally fell off. So I repurposed it as a shelf (with the help of my handy, dandy father-in-law) and I still use the table; I just face that side with the missing edge to the wall.

Random bird statue "Made in Mexico" found at a yard sale for dirt cheap. He's probably my least favorite bird treasure but I will hang onto him until something better takes his place.
I just love this little piece of framed bird art that I discovered at Burnat Mill Antiques. The birds are crafted out of real feathers. (It's not actually striped, that's just a reflection.)
Behind it hang both the key to my Lane hope chest (another yard sale find) and the skeleton key to our basement.
I found three of these tea-light candle holders at a yard sale for 25 cents a piece, each with slightly varied coloring. I was hesitant at first because they were a little too cute but the colors were perfect for our family room and 75 cents was worth a shot.
One of the others.

I must have found this book many years ago at a yard sale and completely forgot I had it. I rediscovered it tucked inside our built-ins around this past Thanksgiving when Darren did a major clean out of his book collection. It's now displayed out in the open on a bookshelf.
Some of the few bird-themed decor that I didn't purchase second hand were throw pillows and book ends I fell in love with from Etsy's Pillow Happy shop last year before Christmas. A new room and new couch justified new pillows. :)

Cardinal in winter branches from Pillow Happy - Etsy.
Bird and nest pillow bookends from Pillow Happy - Etsy. Books all from yardsales.
This past fall I was up at Mount Monadnock for a women's retreat and some friends and I spent our free afternoon investigating a few of the curiousity shops in downtown Jaffrey, NH. It was at Elaine's Antiques & Collectibles where I picked up this plate, along with a small collection of mis-matched individual butter dishes. (When my vision for those becomes a reality, I'll share it here.)
I'd like to hang this on a wall eventually but don't have the perfect spot prepared yet. For now it collects jewelry on top of my dresser.
At some point before Christmas this year, I had about 15 minutes to spare when I happened to be driving by Burnat Mill Antiques (BMA), one of my favorite places to go treasure hunting. So I ran in for a quick fix. At my favorite booth I came across a set of three antique bird prints by J.J. Audobon. I really liked them but wasn't sure; I needed time to think about them. And think about them I did - from that moment until after Christmas when I hurried back with a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket (thanks to my M-I-L)! Apparently they were meant to be mine. I only picked up two, still unsure about the third. They were $25 each, and for me, that's pricy!  These prints will eventually find their home after I finish painting and rearranging things in my entry/den and dining room:

Poor picture...lots of glare...will get a better shot when they are on a wall.
Well, about a week or two after scoring these prints, the latest Ballard Designs catalog arrives in the mail and as I'm thumbing through, what catches my eye? Reproduction bird prints similar to mine (though not by Audobon himself) for $130 EACH!!
Nozeman Bird Prints by Ballard Design $369 for set of 3, confirming my satisfaction with my $25 prints that I happen to like better anyways.
The only other feathered treasures I've bought recently were at the craft store. My evergreen wreath on the front door needed a little something to carry it over until its safe to break out the spring wreath. I simply placed some birds and nests into the wreath and they can be removed just as easily:
Extending the life of my Christmas wreath.
So I've had an eye for bird treasures lately but it's God who has his eye on the real birds and on me. Matthew 6:26 says "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?" He said it! I'm much more valuable to God than the birds, yet he provides for their physical needs. Much of this chapter talks about why we should not worry and are told not to worry. If God takes care of the birds and I'm more valuable to him then they are, then of course he'll meet my needs. I'm blessed to have experienced this truth in my life and I know Him personally as my faithful provider.

In 1905 a woman named Civilla D. Martin wrote the words to the song His Eye is on the Sparrow. I happen to like Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount's rendition of it (Sister Act II?). Listen while reading the lyrics here:

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Idols & His Image

Over the past few weeks I've started a few different blog entries but have gotten distracted by other priorities and left drafts in various stages of completion.  So here's to finishing a post I started a couple of weeks ago...

My hunting season slows way down during the cold months. While I anxiously await for that first Yard Sale sign to pop up in the spring, I do make a few winter treks through indoor hunting grounds to satisfy my itch. I have claimed a few treasures this winter that I'm anxious to share but not before one more long and picture-less but important "caveat" post.

I already admitted in my previous post that I really like things. Cheap and interesting diamonds in the rough. I know that I can't take them with me into eternity (he who dies with the most toys still dies). I know that they can't provide me with any true joy or peace. I always tell my kids "People Are More Important Than Things" and that's a motto I truly believe and live by. However, finding things and decorating with them does invoke some sort of passion and happiness inside of me. I often question this and wonder -  Is this wrong? Am I materialistic?  I've even second guessed whether I should have started a blog with the intention of focusing (in part) on things. I really don't care so much about the finer things in life. I am content to live simply, but I am still drawn to things and I wonder what God thinks about this.

Over the past couple of weeks God, in his perfect timing, has led me to various places in the Bible that have reminded me of some truths related to these passions of mine - things and decorating. Here are the verses I've read, thought about and prayed about, how I've worked through my questions, and the conclusions I've come to.

My ongoing study of Isaiah has covered the topic of idols quite a few times already. In the historical context, idols were false gods that people crafted out of precious metals and wood. People would blatantly worship, pray to or even sacrafice to these "gods". In Isaiah 2:7-8, the prophet Isaiah speaks regarding the Israelites, "Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures...Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made." While the thought of worshiping or sacraficing to a statue of metal or wood sounds absolutely rediculous to me, I was presented with some convicting questions in my study materials.

What preocupations of the Israelites also consume my mind and energy? Hmmm....I do become preoccupied by things that people have made and the work of people's hands (including mine) in displaying/arranging them BUT I would not say my thoughts and time are consumed by these questioned desires. Consume is a strong word but I'll admit to being preoccupied.

What other idols do people in our culture worship (evidenced by the fact that their thoughts, emotions and time are consumed by them)? Work, status, success/accomplishments, power, entertainment, children, fashion, art, houses, cars, competition, sports, significant others/relationships, alcohol, partying, attention, social media... OK, so I guess a few of the items in this list, along with my desire to hunt for and display physical treasures, do collectively consume much of my thoughts, emotions and time.

Other truths I've gleamed from God's Word about idols:
Psalm 115:4-7 and Psalm 135:15-18--Idols have no mouth to talk, no eyes to see, no ears to hear.
Jeremiah 10:8 - 16--Idols are worthless, senseless, foolish, fraud, objects of mockery, can not create but are created, will perish and will shame their crafters.
Habakkuk 2:18 - 19--Idols have no value, teach lies, cannot be trusted in, cannot give guidance, and are not alive.

How is God different from these idols, especially in relation to people? In Isaiah 40:18 I read,"To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?" In verses 25, God again asks, "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" My answer - No one and nothing can compare to God. Unlike all the aforementioned examples of idols, He is the creator of all things. He made us and the materials we use to create. God talks to us, sees us, hears us. He is the Wonderful Counselor, full of wisdom and understanding. He is real, true, and alive. God saves. He is eternal, everlasting. He can be trusted and has proven to explain the past and know the future. He gives us strength, power, help and hope. No idol can ever be or do these things.

I can honestly say I am at a point where I think my priorities are straight. I know and have experienced these things about God to be true. I don't seek to find these qualities in other places. These truths about God usually consume my thoughts and time more than things, though I will always be tempted by idols. Another verse to hold me accountable is Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

So on top of my passion for things, I've also been questioning my interest in designing, creating, and decorating. Again, God recently landed me at the beginning of the Bible when the Trinity (God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) were at work in the creation of the world, Genesis 1:26 says, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness..." and verse 27 says "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female..." and finally in verse 31, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." So I know that God designed, created and decorated the whole earth. After doing this, he looked at what he had done and acknowledged how good and beautiful it was. Being God, he had every right to take pride in what he had made because it glorified him.

I am made in his likeness. Like God, I have these same desires to design, create and decorate. Like God, I also experience that feeling of pride in my work and consider what I've done to be good and beautiful. But here I go back to my first post. Humility. There's the tempation to take too much pride in what I do. Isaiah tied it back in for me: "...everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made" (Isaiah 43:7). God made me for his glory. I need to acknowledge my creator for any of my gifts and talents. How can I design, create and decorate to his glory?? Still pondering that.

What I have concluded is this: Admiring things and hunting for physical treasures is not wrong unless these things become idols, consuming my thoughts and time. Hunting for and sharing spiritual treasures must be where my heart is (and God knows my heart). My designer-creator-decorator God created me in his image and he deserves all credit and glory for the gifts and talents he's given me to use.

My intention in starting this blog is to be transparent. I've shared some of my passions and desires and some of my tempations and struggles. If, by following my blog or observing my life, you witness idolatry or pride, I invite you to speak the truth in love and call me out on it. If anyone does want to keep me accountable, I ask that you do so in private please. While humilty is my goal, humiliation is not! :)
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