Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

A few years ago (November 2014), I thought of a story of a little bird who couldn’t fly. It was sad, and it was short, because I didn’t know any ending for it, other than the continual sadness of this little flightless bird. And so I put it out of my mind.

Then, over two years later (this past February) as I was praying, the story came flooding back to me, and suddenly there was an ending. I’ve sat on this for two months and, well, I think it’s time to share it. Here goes.

The Little Bird

Once upon a time, in a beautiful green meadow, lined with trees and bathed in sunshine, lived a flock of sparrows.

Free of cares and full of purpose, they spent their days flittering, fluttering, swooping and soaring in the glittering morning sun. It seemed they lived only for the enjoyment of a kind young man who lived in a little cottage at the edge of the field. Day after day, year after year, the birds lived this charmed life.

Yet in the midst of these sweeping, soaring, swooping sparrows, there was one little bird different from all the rest.

Something had happened to her wings, you see. As a baby bird, they seemed normal enough, but when her turn came to fly, something was wrong. She could flutter enough to hop onto a low-lying twig, but try as she might, she could not fly.

Day after day, year after year, she watched as all the other little birds took wing.

I don’t know if birds can cry, but it seems a tiny little tear dripped down her beak when another bird flew for the first time. She wished with all her heart that she could be like them.

The other birds weren’t quick to understand. You see, none of the other birds of the meadow had ever had this problem before, and so she was lonely.

Some birds had a harder time learning than others. And some even complained about the strain that flying put on their wings. “Flying isn’t such a big deal,” they said. “You’re lucky you don’t fly!” And all this did was make her feel more and more sorrowful, seeing as the some birds didn’t understand the gift they held.

Still others saw what a gift it was to fly. They knew that this is why they had been created. And each time a new little sparrow took wing, these birds got together to celebrate the occasion. “Be happy for your friends who can fly!” They said to our little flightless bird. “Why are you sad that our Creator has given other birds such a gift?” This pained her little heart even more. You see, she wasn’t sad because they could fly. She rejoiced that they could fly. She was only sad that she could not. All she wanted was to be like all of them, flying and singing and exploring the distant meadows beyond the trees.

Our little bird grew confused. She asked the wise old bird, “Why would our Creator make me a bird, yet not allow me to fly?” The wise old bird didn’t have an answer, but told her to be patient and wait, for surely the All-Knowing One had his reasons.

Her sorrow continued to grow.

The little birdie was so sad as she watched all the other birds soar and swoop and flitter around in the glorious sunshine. She stopped wondering what she was for, or why she was made, as no answer seemed to be coming. Her little heart grew numb with pain.

One day, as he was watching the birds, the man in the cottage noticed our little sparrow sitting on his porch all alone. He saw her watching the others, unable to join them.

His heart was moved for that little bird, so lonely and forlorn, hanging it’s head and uttering hopeless little distress chirps. He wanted to help somehow, and so he approached, quietly.

When our little bird saw the man come out onto the porch, she tilted her head and gave him an inquisitive look. He didn’t seem threatening. And “Oh,” she thought, “what does it matter, since I cannot fly like the others, if I would cease to exist at all.”

The man bent down and held out his hand, “Come here little birdie.” Our sad little bird took two hops closer, looked at the hand for a few moments, and hopped into his palm. The man gently picked her up and looked at her intently. “What’s the matter little birdie? Why are you so sad?”

He had a closer look at her wings. It didn’t look like there was much he could do, yet he didn’t want to leave the little sparrow alone. So he took the bird into his home and made it a bed out of a shoe box and some cloth, and gave it some water and seeds. “Sleep well little bird. I’ll take care of you.”

The little bird gingerly ate a few seeds and drank a little water. The she peeped out a soft little chirp of thanks and fell asleep.

The next day the bird awoke to a stream of glittering sunshine and the sound of running water coming from the kitchen. The man was cheerful, humming to himself as he came over with new water. “Good morning little bird! Did you sleep well? It’s a lovely morning, did you see?”

The sunshine only reminded her of the heights she could not reach. She let out a weak little tweet. Oh he was a nice man, but what could he understand about being a bird who cannot fly?

Days passed, and after a week our little bird began to look more closely at the man who was caring for her. He was sweet and kind, and every morning, he loved to sing as he moved about the house. What he was singing she didn’t fully understand, but it sounded sweet, like a happy little love song. The little birdie loved this song so much. One morning, without realizing it, she was chirping along!

The man stopped for a moment, and with a twinkle in his eye, he looked at the bird, his little bird, and said, “Little birdie, what a sweet voice you have! Would you like to sing?”

The little birdie tweeted a little more.

He put out his hand, and the little birdie hopped onto his finger.

He said other words to her, but being a bird she couldn’t really understand all of them. She was simply delighted to receive his attention, and tweeted right along  everything he said, as happy birds often do.

As the days passed our little bird became more and more confident in her song and her surroundings. She tweeted and chirped and warbled and sang, all for happiness and love for the sweet and gentle man who first sang to her.

Every morning he would smile and say (or rather, sing) to the little bird, “Arise my beloved, my beautiful one. Let me hear you, for your voice is sweet.” And the little bird sang. For with such practice and patience, it truly was a beautiful song.

As time went by, our little sparrow came to see that even though she could not fly, she could sing, and perhaps it was for this that she was made. She was delighted to perch near the Man and be his little songbird, bringing her songs to him every morning.

And even though she could still see the other sparrows flying up above, she was no longer in sorrow, for she was soaring in her little heart. She had a new life, a new purpose. She had finally found the reason for which she was made: to sing for the One who rescued her from her sadness, and filled her heart with song.

Jesus my savior, I cannot fly, but I can sing, and you have chosen me to live close to you and bring you joy with my songs of love. If I had wings, perhaps I never would have learned how sweet this is, how you truly are close to the brokenhearted. You have rescued me from my sadness and given me a new life as your beloved. You are the song within my heart, and it is your own song of love that I return to you.  

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It’s 2017! And I only have 12 months left until…

It’s 2017! And I only have 12 months left until…

Hello, 2017! And Merry Christmas, Day 12.

I have so much to share with you all, but I need to get this out of the way first.

I’ve now entered the last year of my 20s.

Yikes!! I know that sounds so young to many of you, but I have a history of freaking out before important milestones:

  • I was terrified of 1st grade because I didn’t yet know how to read. There was nothing my parents could say to convince me that reading wasn’t a pre-requisite for beginning school.
  • I had a panic attack the night before I turned 25. My life was a quarter over and I thought I had nothing to show for it. Nevermind that I had already bought a house, traveled to Europe, and gotten engaged to the man of my dreams.

So, my New Year’s resolutions are also a bucket list of things to do before turning 30. Um I did not just type that number, did I? Ok, here goes:

Personal:

  1. Go to Fatima. (Portugal and Spain trip is happening!!)
  2. Learn image editing and graphic design skills.
  3. Finish the draft of my memoir.
  4. Stop being a perfectionist and just publish stuff.

Spiritual:

  1. Keep up First Friday and First Saturday devotions when possible and totes get to Confession at a minimum of once a month.
  2. Stop worrying about other people and be more confident in my own life.
  3. Forgive those who have hurt me in the past.

Bloggial:

  1. Write more mini-posts (150-200 words).
  2. Share YOUR stories (more on this to come!).
  3. Do more guest-blogging.

I have NO idea if I’ll actually be able to keep most of these. It’s more of a wish list, but I’m putting this here so you all can keep me accountable.

Now, enough about me.

What about you? Does anyone else have milestone freak-outs or major bucket lists for this year? What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Looking forward to a wonderful 2017 with all of you!

 

Finally a Writer!

Finally a Writer!

Have you ever taken a Myers-Briggs personality test? It’s amazing. Once you figure out your type, you can read so much about yourself. It’ll tell you what things you probably enjoy, what things you probably shy away from, and which careers you would enjoy the most. If you’ve never taken it, there’s a really great free one here.

I scored ENFP: Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. Bascially, it means that I have a bubbly personality and an interested in pretty much everything, and my creatively-inclined brain tends to jump all over the place, all the time. “Can’t I be an archaeologist and a religion teacher who owns her own pastry shop and writes music?” It’s no wonder that many ENFP’s are frequently miss-diagnosed with ADHD. Our brains never sit still- they’re always on overdrive. And we hate boring, repetitive, routine tasks- which is probably why my house is a mess.

Since graduating college (6 years ago), I’ve been trying to get into a position that uses my brain and my talents, and doesn’t involve a constant war against my mind’s passion for exploration. It’s been a difficult, lonely road, and I’ve often felt like there was nothing out there for me. Until now.

After years of soul-sucking secretarial work, I’m going to be a professional writer! I’ll be working in the city as a Marketing Content Specialist, collaborating with a team to create conversion-focused content to websites, blogs and emails. I’ll get to use my brain. I’ll get to be creative. I’ll get to write. And I’ll have a chance to be me again. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus. Amen.

And I start next week, which means I’m spending this week working on that adoption paperwork. Physical was had this morning. Fire inspection tomorrow. Is there a patron saint of adoptions? I’m going to need all the help I can get!

Also, has anyone else here been through a lengthy career search, or took the long way to finding their heart’s desire? I’d love to hear your stories.

Starting a Prayer Journal

Starting a Prayer Journal

I love my diary. Always have, always will. In fact, I have diaries documenting my life from middle school onward. Some parts are fun to go back and read. Others, not so much. Still, it is fascinating for me to see how much I have grown and changed throughout my small 20-something years of life. Things that worried Miss 15-year-old Connie Ann seem ridiculous to me now. Other times, I marvel at what could only have been the Holy Spirit working in my life.

I record all kinds of things in my diary- things people said, places I visited, achievements, etc., but the most fascinating part for me to read now is the development of my relationship with God. There were times in my life where I was on fire with love for him, and other times when I was not. Things happened. Hard things. Looking back, I can see how God used them for his purpose.

My diaries have been great for tracking my faith journey, but now I think it is time for something more. Something deeper. Something more focused.

Something for recording my spiritual travels.
For recording my spiritual travels

I’ve decided to start a prayer journal. I want to keep track of my relationship with God, and where he takes me, and where we’re going, so that someday I can look back and see all the places we have been together.

Some prayer journals list things prayed for, and the way they were answered. Some prayer journals list things to be grateful for each day. Mine may include these things, but really I’m most interested in paying attention to the way God speaks in this life. I hope this exercise helps me to see these things.

Has anyone here kept a prayer journal of some sort? Did you find it helpful? Was it difficult to keep up with? Any thoughts, tips, and suggestions are welcome!

Connie Ann’s blog is getting a new name!

Connie Ann’s blog is getting a new name!

Dear Readers,

Connie Ann’s blog finally has a name!

Tales from the Valley was inspired by my current journey through the depths of infertility, but it represents my life journey from the beginning. “For though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me.” -Psalm 23.

What originally began as a personal blog to highlight some of my writing has now turned into so much more. I’ve known for some time now that the next step was to give this site a proper name of its own.

One of my goals in 2015 is to give this blog a makeover. I’ll be playing with the backgrounds and layouts for a while until I’m happy with it, so please be patient with me during the process.

Thank you for your support! You all mean so much to me.

Love,

Connie Ann

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’?

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’?

Today, my weekly email to my coworkers wasn’t a sonnet. We’ve moved up a few centuries. Check it out.

 

 

 

Subject: Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’?

 

Everyone,

 

If you think you’re so Dangerous, that you’re such a Smooth Criminal, I want you to know The Way You Make Me Feel.

 

That’s right. I want you to take a look at the Man In The Mirror.

 

Are you someone who doesn’t label your food, even though it’s as easy as ABC? Is living on the wild side such a Thriller?

 

I want you to know that You Are Not Alone.

 

Before you throw up your hands and Beat It, I’d like you to stop a minute. Together, we can Heal The World.

 

Label your food. Write you name on it. Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.

 

And if you get a chance, take a look up into a Corner of the Sky and wish a Happy Birthday to the King of Pop.

 

 

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

 

Connie

 

Things I Do At Work, Ep. 1: Shakespeare Tribute

Things I Do At Work, Ep. 1: Shakespeare Tribute

Every Friday, I have to clean out the refrigerators. Not too glamorous, right? I’m supposed to warn everyone before hand with an email. Again, boring, right?

In comes Pollyanna. Friday emails have actually become my favorite part of my job, because I get to WRITE. Instead of sending a quick, “I’m cleaning the fridge, write your name on anything you want to keep,” I’ve been getting creative. Here’s the latest installment of this series:

Friday Email 8/15/2014

Subject: “The Raven Himself Is Hoarse” or “Men in skirts: Part 1.”

This day in 1057, after being warned by witches and having endured the harsh monologues of his wife (who had an odd relationship with ravens), MacBeth was killed by Malcolm, and Malcolm became the new King of Scotland. Of course, MacBeth should have seen it coming- he had killed Malcolm’s dad, King Duncan, because his bird-obsessed wife told him to.

 

Centuries later in 1603, when King James VII of Scotland became King James I of England after the death of Queen Elizabeth, William Shakespeare honored him by writing the great Scottish play, Macbeth.

 

Shhhhh don’t say the name!

 

Of course, Willie Shakes changed it up a bit so James’s ancestors would seem a bit nobler, and their enemies a bit more grotesque (Nothing new with the Mainstream Media. But since #17thcenturyTwitter made use of actual birds, it wasn’t very user-friendly. It tended to poop out, a lot).

 

 

In honor of the great Elizabethan Playwright, Master of the Stage, we have a Sonnet to place before thee, in hopes thou doth not protest our use of Iambic Pentameter.

 

Sonnet 155:

As now we reach the setting of the sun
And leave the day and all its woes behind,
Before the clock doth chime the week be done,
Methinks there must be rules to thee remind.
Although we have enjoyed a brave repast
Of lunches fraught with chips and salads brave,
The unclaimed feast must now be onward cast
To meet the somber silence of the grave.
Yet hark, forsooth, a better way I see
To save it from a fate so rightly crude:
Perhaps a name, a date upon it be
The way to halt the slaying of the food.
Instead of ruing, casting me the blame,
Methinks thou shouldst just give thy food a name.

 

#HappyFriday #HastagImDone

Deep Into the Stars

Deep Into the Stars

From the time I was a little girl, my dad would take me outside at night to teach me the constellations and show me the moon and planets through his telescope. I would have so much fun out there looking into the sky that I wouldn’t go inside until Mom called out and said it was time to go to bed—for the 3rd time.

James gave me this gorgeous telescope for Christmas. (In case you’re new to this blog, James is the best husband in the history of the universe, and spends all of his time making my dreams come true.) Star watching happens to be a passion we share, which makes it all the more exciting.

Observatory

I have everything I’ve ever wanted. Right here in the home that I share with the man of my dreams, I have my books, my telescope, my piano, my KitchenAid mixer, my National Geographic subscription, my photos from trips overseas… really, I could go on. The little Connie Ann looking at the stars with her daddy would be absolutely THRILLED to know how her life turned out.

That little girl would have some questions, though—she’s a smarty pants, after all. She would ask why I didn’t become an archaeologist, or a singer, or a scientist. She wouldn’t mind at all if I told her that I’m a writer. In fact, she would be pretty excited about that too. She would want me to write books, though. She loved books. She still does.

Maybe I should invite that little girl to come visit, and listen to her talk about all the things she wants to do when she grows up. Maybe she knows what I should be doing now.

I’m sure I’ll see her soon, the next time I go out to look up at the stars.

Dealing with Life’s Cravings

Dealing with Life’s Cravings

I remember my mother telling me when I was little that you had to love yourself first before you could love anyone else. After reading some beautiful posts by writer Sage Cohen, I started thinking about this again. Loving yourself. It goes hand in hand with knowing yourself, doesn’t it?

Sometimes I forget who I am. I forget that I learn quickly and hate it when people talk loudly in the morning. I forget that I forget to go to bed. I forget that I love reading about history and looking at art. Sometimes, when I’ve been insanely stressed for weeks at a time, it’s because I have forgotten to remember what I like.

In yesterday’s meeting with my health coach, we were talking about cravings. Sometimes, when you’re craving food, it’s a manifestation of craving for one of life’s primary foods: a stimulating job, a fulfilling relationship, a balanced spiritual and physical exercise habit. I know that for me, as I sit here dreaming of carbs at my office in the auto body shop, there are several things lacking. For one, like many under-30’s today, I have yet to find a satisfying job. More importantly, I am still in a transition period where I’m waiting to create a new home.

I’m so excited to be getting married and starting a home with James. I want a place that’s safe, a place I can fill with my books and my singing, a place where I can write. I know myself enough to know I need a home. Maybe once I finally have a sweet, loving place to live, I’ll be able to grow in other ways, too.

Wedding Website Adventures

We finally picked a date! June 1, 2013. I can’t really even describe what a relief that is, and how happy it makes me. Next step, wedding website.

Actually, we already have one. I made something about 7 months ago when we first got engaged using WeddingChannel.com. To be honest, none of the pre-fab backgrounds and formats were really working for me. It’s a great and easy tool, especially if you have zero experience blogging or website building, but I just wasn’t happy with the appearance. None of the options were really us.

Finally, it dawned on me to make my own site using WordPress. Why did it take me 7 months to figure that one out? The great thing about putting your wedding website on WordPress is that you have way more control over the formatting, the background, and the title. Also, we can keep it going long after the big day as a blog about our life.

Recent Web Development Activities

Going along with all that, this week I’ve been crazy into site building. Right now I’m still working on a site for my mom’s painting, www.ConniesArtGallery.com. I know I need to learn a lot more about upgrading appearances, but I’m getting somewhere. I’d like to have a job writing web content soon, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the technical aspects of web development. I worked for a year in SEO, so I know a little, but I need to learn more. So that’s what I’ll be doing this week during my down-time. Does anyone know of any free online tutorials that are especially helpful?