After a good but somewhat discouraging week, I was feeling quite depleted Saturday. Anxiety was creeping up with its usual racket of “what if you misheard God about moving into this place” and “you only have today to get all this stuff done before heading back to the Bay for a week” and “wow, it’s been a whole week and a half and you’ve accomplished nothing.” But I knew none of those voices was Papa’s, so I chose to stop and soak a little. Spending time with Him always seems counterproductive when you have a lot to accomplish, but man, is He faithful!
I didn’t feel 100% better after spending some time, but I did gain a little clarity of thought. If I wanted to start producing art work, I needed to set my house up. In order to set my house up, I needed tables, desks, and shelves. In order to have those, I needed to build them or find them. To do that, I needed a hand sander and a power drill (I’ve been collecting scrap wood and pallets all week) or to find them. For that, I needed to hit the garage sale circuit. So, I whipped out craigslist, scoped out all the sales in Redding, made an elaborate map and plan of execution, counted my cash so I knew my limit, and hopped in the car.
And that’s when Papa stepped in.
On my list of items I was looking for, I had things I needed (like a power drill, hand sander, wood shop tables/benches – or materials to build them, bungee cords, etc), and things I wanted to keep an eye out for that I didn’t need but would love to have (like a sink for my back room so I can make it into a darkroom, anything else for my proposed dark room, old window screens to use as print drying racks like we did at PLNU, oil pan so I can change my own oil, a hose since I have to care for a lawn now, other cool power tools, etc). I input the first sale address in my GPS and started driving.
But then I remembered there had been a listing for a bunch of free stuff on lawn of a house not too far away – my initial thought was, “It’s been there since yesterday, probably junk that is already gone anyhow,” but I know better than to assume anything is junk without first checking for treasure with an artful eye. I rerouted last minute, and pulled up a few seconds later. At first, all I saw was a big pile of mess no one would want to dig through; I almost kept driving. But, something told me that all gold must be mined, and curiosity got the better of me. I parked.
Thanking God that I wore my thick-soled, closed-toe shoes, I walked onto the property. I was greeted by some very kind, but very flurried, people who said they’d been digging through this hoarder’s house for two weeks and only had til tomorrow to have it cleared out. One of the ladies had been the deceased’s daughter; I immediately felt terrible. They had no small task before them – imagine working two whole weeks in a disgusting home and still having 4 bedrooms of stuff to get through! They told me to take whatever I could find, ask about anything else, and take an ice water if I needed it. And so I set to digging.
First, I found what appeared to be four 8ft rough wood table tops. Further inspection revealed that they were ready-to-go wood shop tables! They had folding legs and tops made for my chop saw! AWESOME! I called my friend with a truck and settled in to wait for his arrival. As I did, the man randomly approached me and said, “Do you like birds?”
Do I like birds? HA! If he only knew (See the write-up on my senior show, “I’ll Fly Away”, HERE).
After I just about burst with excitement, he took me into the house into a room that made me actually appreciate the level of cat smell my house currently has and there, amongst about ten cages, were birds, everywhere. The woman had begun a collection before she fell ill and was moved to a facility, and these poor lil guys were left to a “caretaker” who obviously had failed. My eyes darted from cage to cage, praying that there’d be a small one, a finch or canary, or anything like a sparrow. My artwork centers heavily around sparrows, and now that I have the lighting studio, I’ve had dreams of photographing live sparrows/small birds in flight with full setup. I just thought I’d have to wait until I was all set up before throwing any pets into the mix. Long story.
In the back corner, there was a cage – in it, a small brown and white finch and a parakeet. They said I had to take both, though I had no interest at first – I just wanted the finch! However, when I looked closer, I saw that the poor parakeet’s beak had grown so long that it was puncturing his little neck! I knew I had to get him out of there, and my heart kicked into full “rescue” mode. Now, this was not the people cleaning’s fault – they didn’t know! The poor lil guys had just been neglected too long since their mom had gone away. I knew I couldn’t take on all the birds, so I had to leave 4 cockatiels behind so I could best care for the two that I had chosen.
In the end, I walked out of there (without spending a dime) with two new friends (who I’ve since named Sir Downton Finchley I and My Boy Bleu), a whole box of extra bird supplies for them, a power drill, a hand sander, 2 hoses, 2 wood shop benches, 7 hardwood slats perfect for building a bookshelf AND shelves in my wood shop, bungee cords (for future hauls in the ol’ Beetle), an oil pan a sink, 2 old screens, a jigsaw!, a Jumanji dvd, and a sense of purpose in helping to rehab these precious little ones. I’d asked Papa for help with this house and confirmation that He sent me here and that it was safe to nest and settle it into my heart as “home”, and He took care of everything and MORE.
All of this might sound dumb, or sound like I’m being cheesy or trite, but I’ve actually learned a lot already from this experience:
– We need to know our limits; they aren’t “bad” or “shameful”, they are good! If we try to help where we are not equipped just yet, we will end up not being any help at all. There is always someone or something else in line to step up and help if only we get out of the way. If I’d just brought all the birds home, I’d have been overwhelmed, overspent on food, and probably be in trouble with my landlord. But because I knew my limits, each cockatiel will now have a loving home and I’m able to really enjoy my new friends.
– God really does care for the sparrows and the birds; so much so, that He’d send a random stranger with just the right passions to where they were being held captive in neglect. I took what I could handle, and I think the owners took the rest to a pet store so they all will have safe, loving homes. If then, the verse says He loves us more, how much more would He do for us? He really does send random strangers to us in times of desperation – the strangers just have to be open and willing to go when the Spirit wants to detour their well-mapped out plans.
– God knows the desires of our hearts. He knew I needed things that I could not afford to buy right now, even at garage sales. I went home not only with what I needed to settle in, but also the extras I’d hoped for and even some that I dared not dream about just yet.
– He knows best for us, even when we don’t. I didn’t ever want a parakeet; I wanted “every day” birds to fit the scriptures I cling to so tightly. Upon looking closer at him, I realized he was my favorite color teal/green. Not only that, but he is brilliantly colored and looks like he was hand-painted with watercolors and acrylics. I looked at about 30 more parakeets at the pet store, and not ONE had my favorite color on them or were as beautiful as My Boy Bleu. Papa hand-painted him for me as a constant display of His intimate knowledge of my heart, likes, and desires.
– He also has a sense of humor. I named Sir Downton because I love the show and thought he needed a very regal name since he’s not all big and flashy like Bleu. Then I realized “down” is feathers, and I laughed. But then, the pet store told me he’s a SOCIETY Finch. HAHA! His name screams Downton Abbey society chap – touché, God.
– Spending time with Him is NEVER a waste. Because I sat with Him for just a little while, He structured it so that everything I needed and wanted was in one location – no need to spend my whole day going from sale to sale.
– We never know how and when He’s choosing to provide. Seek Him and His presence first, and He will take care of the rest (stuff) and the REST (rest/energy).
– There is ALWAYS treasure, never junk. It just takes the right person to come and call out the value.