Monday, June 9, 2014

What Birds Have To Do With Faith {and my favorite cupcakes}

It was JQ’s birthday-week. 

In our family, we like to celebrate life every day and birthdays for at least a week. 

We made a double batch of his favorite cupcakes and bought him bird food for my birdfeeders. 

Remember last week I told you I wish I had chickens?  Well we may not have poultry, but we do have feathered friends. Like the word is o-u-t and every bird around these parts is hanging around on our back porch, looking for a handout.

Goodness knows, that somehow they all survived without us, but now they are practically pecking on the door in the morning wondering when we will fill the feeders. Again.

Their entertainment level is pretty high in my book, so they have me mostly trained to keep the seeds coming.

The one feeder outside my office window is for the bigger birds. It wasn't my intention to segregate birds by size, but I accidentally bought 50 pound of the wrong feed on sale. 

Who does like our happy mistake, are the two cardinals. I call them 'Mr & the Mrs.' 

They live at the neighbors, but come to dine at our place. They are having to fight for every bite they get because the big, bossy, purplish-black birds have also found our little restaurant. 

So when I’m working in my office, if I hear sharp click sounds, I know its the cardinal couple. If I hear a higher pitched whistle and the cracking of sunflower seeds, I know the whole black bird clan has arrived. 

It’s become my part time job to shoo them away. 

You are probably on to me by now, sometimes I get sidetracked.

Like today. 

I went out to get the mail, even though I’m already over my quota of getting mail this week. I usually only go out once every week or so, but this week I've retrieved the mail four times. 

On the short walk to the mailbox, I see these huge bumble bees in the flowering bush that sits on our property line. Technically it is the neighbors bush, but mostly it’s on our side. Seeing that the bees were enjoying the flowers I went back into the house, to grab my camera. 

I love trying to take pictures of bees. (If you are my neighbor this would explain a lot… but certainly not everything.)

So I am straining to capture these crazy, Engineering wonders, when there is a downright ruckus. 

I realize it’s not often you get to use that word, and I am thrilled that it fits here. 

There was squawking and screeching and a rustle and just as I leaned out to see what was going on, this fellow just comes and lands in front of me. 

Right. In. Front. Of. Me. 

Eye level on the limb that had previously had a bee that I was trying to photograph. 

The little guy was looking right at me, and continues squawking his little bird head off.

There we were, beak to nose.

And for whatever reason he felt comfortable telling me his problems and I was so excited that all I could do is snap his picture. He continued his raspy cawing, acting as if he might be dying and I was like, “...hold on little fella… just one more picture from this angle...”

Perhaps he was telling me a thing or two for not letting his parents eat freely at the bird dish. All I know is that finally he gathered his little black feathers and took flight. That’s when I became concerned that he could die, at the way he was going about his flying, which was not really flying at all. He was more like a cartoonish, winged bomber with ruffled plumage.

He would surge, dip and crash, then shake his head and take off again.

He was trying to fly. 

Something deep inside this feathered friend, was a God-given desire to spread his wings, and soar. And in the short time I watched, this little winged-wonder went from a squawking failure to spreading his pretty pinions and mounting on air.  

I think that the Lord was giving me a lesson. 

A visual answer to something I've been talking to Him about.

There I was, going about my life, finding wonder in the everyday world around me and the answer comes and sits down right in front of my face and squawks.

There really isn't that much distance between crashing and ascending. Between failing and soaring. In fact the crashing, burning, failing, and falling short could all be part of the flying. 

Is that a word that speaks to anyone else?

Much of what I do in a day doesn't takes much faith. 

I play it pretty safe.

I like to eat what I recognize, go to my favorite places and hang with people that are easy to be around.

But faith, the kind that is rooted in Jesus, often requires me to step out into the unknown. Just a small step perhaps, but large enough that there is no real turning back and no being the same.


My faith often makes me look crazier than I already am, taking risks to fall and fail. Looking, sounding and maybe even being ridiculous.

But like this crazy little bird, God has placed something deep within, that desires to do more than just exist. And if I never try, how will I ever know if I could have?

You too? 

What kind of thing is God pressing on your heart that would require you to leave the comfort of what you know?

And before I was completely sidetracked with the bees and the bird, I was going to share a family favorite recipe. 

Jim’s cupcakes.

Original recipe was published in 'Chocolate Lovers IV' by Classic Pillsbury Cookbooks. 1985
I leave out the slivered almonds and add extra chips.

The first time I made these for Jim, we were only dating. 
It was his birthday and all I really knew about him,
was that he was handsome and liked chocolate. 
So I found this recipe and decided to try it. 
While doing that, my daughter came out of her room choking. 
No one seems to remember if it was a marble or a penny, 
since she did both at some point.
All my efforts to dislodge the item from her throat failed. 
So while the first batch of these cupcakes were baking, 
I had to call 911. 
Fortunately they came quickly and in seconds
they were successful in getting the foreign object out
and her breathing was restored. 
Thankfully we have all celebrated many birthdays
together now and often with these cupcakes.



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© Rhonda Quaney