Rescuing a Parrot

Ernie white capped Pionus

If you have ever considered a parrot as a pet, let me tell you that rescuing a parrot is nothing like getting a dog from a shelter. As you know if you read this post, I didn’t really adopt Ernie; he adopted me. I have no knowledge about parrots – only little finches, which are a completely different pet. Finches live in the aviary and I provide food, water, clean papers, and a lot of watching. Parrots are interactive, needing to be talked to and petted and tended to almost like a perpetual toddler.

My parrot? Not so much. He’s afraid of everything, and it’s not simply fear. Everything new is a BIG SCARY MONSTER. Dreams of a chattering parrot that goes everywhere with me are out the window. Dreams of him coming out to greet me are out the window too. He prefers his cage. L

Last night I had a small glass in my hand, and it was very frightening. Yet he sees a coffee cup every day. I have to be careful, thoughtful, about everything I touch or move. For every step forward, there are at least 2 backward. Victories are never large, they are tiny. We’re learning to make a really big deal out of a tiny, seemingly insignificant step.

Not knowing what Ernie went through before makes it tough to be a good Parront [parrot parent]. He’s probably set in his ways in addition to having (I think) little interaction with his previous owner. His cage is near my desk, and if I glance over while he’s eating his breakfast, he stops eating and moves back to the top perch. Sigh.

I’ve purchased several books and videos on parrot training; they have titles like ‘teach your parrot to step up in 20 minutes.’ Ernie isn’t learning in 20 minutes, 20 hours, or 20 days.

 

The instructions all start with feeding your parrot treats. The training gurus all assume a parrot will automatically get a treat from your fingers. Not Ernie. I suspect he was taught to only eat from a bowl. At first Ernie didn’t seem to like anything – except Zupreem fruit blend, and ONLY the purple ones. He picks them out. He hates the all-natural pellets. I figure he’s probably been on an all-seed diet, so pellets are a step forward, let’s go one step at a time.

After two months of offering various foods, I have recently (finally!) found his favorite treats: almonds and cashews. Next is teaching him to take them from my hand. . He has bitten both me and Mickey trying to take an almond from us—nasty bites. I believe they were both accidents, his aim was off.  But today he took 3 in a row with no mishaps. Victory!

Now that he takes treats, he needs a solid “step up” which means step onto my hand. He did this occasionally at first, but seems to have forgotten it. Or he’s bluffing. Did I mention, I don’t speak parrot at all? I have trained dogs and horses, and can glance at them and tell you their energy level. Not so with a parrot. I can’t read him. Fortunately he threatens to bite a couple times before he actually does it—otherwise I’d be sporting a lot more scars. But I stress a lot: Am I treating him right? Does he need more, less, better interaction? Would somebody else do a better job? (I’m pretty sure the answer to the last one is yes).

So for the “step up” command, I read about this great tool. It’s a perch that you hold in your hand, a wooden T shape. It has a clear acrylic cover over the part you hold – so if the parrot tries to bite you, he hits the cover. Perfect, right?

No. It is a big, scary monster. It is so scary that I’ve laid it near his cage for a month, and he still can’t stand it. Last night I held it up to him and said “step up” and he ran to the bottom of the cage. I placed him on the perch and he flew down in a huff, going under the secretary to hide. Poor baby.

As I said, the small victories, tiny forward steps, are to be celebrated. One that we have managed to conquer is getting him out of his cage on a consistent basis. I tie his door open every morning and invite him out throughout the day. He is having none of it. OUT is a scary place.

But in the evening, when the sun sets and it’s finally cooling off outside, he seems to relax. Or maybe it’s me that relaxes. At that time of day, Ernie happily comes out. Well, with a bit of urging. He heads straight for my shoulder. You aren’t supposed to let unpredictable parrots ride on your shoulder but that is where Ernie feels safe. It’s where he’s been since that first day at the shelter. So up he runs, and I ask “wanna go outside?”

We go out and sit near the finch cage and watch the action. Ernie makes the most sound then –he’s silent 98% of the time—he squawks quietly to the finches, as they’re pretty quiet themselves. He occasionally chatters to me, and when he hears the baby finches in the nest he says “baby birds!” Last night, he got off my shoulder on his own and went to his play stand, located near the finch cage. He didn’t want to come back to me when I asked (Victory! Cheer!) So I left him there until nearly dark.

I don’t know where this story will go. It seems like everybody else’s parrot will eat from their plate, drink from their glass, scream to be let out in the mornings, and fly straight to them like a child running to meet a parent. Not so my smart, complicated Ernie. He is a project, a constant work in progress. I am learning not to compare my rescue friend with other people’s feathered ones. Like children, we take what we are dealt and learn to make the most of it. Every day you wake up and learn that lesson over again.

We will continue to celebrate the smallest step.  I respect that he is older. I respect his high fear level. I absolutely adore him. If three years from now we are still working on step-up, I will be a little sad but we’ll still be training.

I’m so glad he picked me.

 

Seeking God – How to Know God

Seeking God

“I want to change the way I relate to God; but I can’t.”

seeking god

 

This was part of a private message (Facebook) discussion. The person was asking questions about my Get Closer to God course. Unfortunately, there are way too many people who take this attitude.

I’m not griping because she didn’t make the purchase. In fact, I encouraged her not to. The thing is, I want people who buy it to (1) actually work through it – it’s set up in worksheet style, and (2) allow God to help them make a change. If those things are not going to take place, then there is no need to purchase the program.

And if the first words out of your mouth are “I can’t” then nothing will change.

Isn’t the definition of madness doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Why do we do that? We say we are seeking God, yet have not made one single change?

I’m no longer talking about the one Facebook fan, but about myself, and maybe even you, dear reader…

What change have I made to find God

seeking God
Sans Dieu Rien
  • Today
  • Yesterday
  • This month
  • This Year

Think about it………

Often the difference between a Christ-like person, a God seeker, and a person who struggles to implement positive changes in life is not the first one’s superior abilities or innate holiness, but the courage to step out and to take steady steps forward in prayer, Bible study, and by surrounding him/herself with Christian thinkers. Seeking God is a continuum.

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” Proverbs 19:2, ESV

One Step Closer is designed in a way that you will have to spend time on it, and therefore, time in front of the Lord. There was a reason it was created that way.

God wants you to spend time with Him. You already know that. People who want to change have to try things to see what works and what doesn’t. Seeking God requires action. Saying you want to change doesn’t work. You can say it until the cows come home. Actually making a change takes perseverance. It takes courage. And it takes… time. The course forces you to spend a little more time in front of God, listening to God…and as a result you’ll become closer.

I’m not going to go into my rant about ‘time’ and ‘busy;’ I’ll save that one. But there is a saying that goes “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” This is as true in strengthening your faith as in anything else. If you aren’t going to change the way… the time… the steps you take when you relate to God, your relationship will continue to be distant and formal. He didn’t move away, after all– you did.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8, ESV

Seek God Daily

Some people sit and wait for God to come to them in a shimmering epiphany. Others pursue Him as if they’re on fire, spending time in front of Him whether they “see” Him that day or not, constantly chasing after Him, stepping forward steadily.

It’s not a contest, but if it were, guess who’d win?

Maybe He even wants us to struggle, just a little, to get where He wants us to be: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,” 2 Peter 3:9, ESV

Since the only contestant is you, and the prize is a stronger, steadier relationship with the One who is Lord of All, why not change something today? See what happens. I challenge you.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17, ESV

Let me know how it works out. 😉

To purchase One Step Closer, Vol. 1 click here.

 

Shy Ernie–How One Bird Can Change an Entire Household

Shy Ernie – How One Bird Changed an Entire Household

or, How a Trip for Bird Seed Turned into a Parrot

I recently acquired a new parrot — he’s called a white-capped pionus. The author of Parrots for Dummies, Nikki Moustaki, has this to say about Pionus:

“The pionus isn’t the most popular parrot — it’s often outflashed, outcolored, outtalked, and outnumbered by many of the more commonly kept parrot species.”

I didn’t know anything (and I mean ANYTHING) about parrots. I have 6 finches which I bought myself for my birthday. They’re lovely and wonderful.

finches
The Finches in their new cage

One day I went to the local parrot rescue to see their price on finch food. I stepped into the back and was looking at a bright  blue Indian Ringneck (it’s a bird). I can’t explain what happened next.

Somehow Ernie, from behind me, got my attention. Now lest you think that was easy, there are at least 30 birds back there shrieking. If you have never heard parrots scream, go find some and listen; they’re ear-splitting! Among all that, quiet little Ernie spoke to me. I turned around. He sat there quivering, and looked at me sideways. Get me out of here.

I spoke to him a few minutes and left–but you know the rest. I kept going back, and being drawn to him. Everyone at the rescue said “He doesn’t like me!” yet when I picked him up, he went straight up to my shoulder and snuggled, giving a cackly little purr when I scratched his head. I filled out an application and ordered a cage.

parrot
Ernie, White Capped Pionus

My husband was, um. Less than ecstatic. I won’t even go into the ‘discussion’ we had. But I asked him just to go look. “Yeah, you can tell them to cancel the cage order,” he snorted.

Off we went.

But at the rescue, someone had let Ernie out of his cage. “He doesn’t like me!” both people present chorused. I picked him up and he snuggled up on my shoulder. My husband looked at them, at the parrot, back at me. “O-o-k-ay-y,” he said, getting the picture: Ernie had picked me.

parrot after bath
Ernie after a bath

We brought Ernie home. He is shy, afraid of everything. At 18, the only  owner he’d ever known went into a nursing home. He then went to the parrot rescue, and now a completely different household. Everything new is a monster, and his wings are clipped so to “escape” he flies to the floor where there really are monsters (two dogs and a cat).

He shakes and quakes. I’m simply letting him be, and twice a day giving him rides on my shoulder. We play piano (he sways, and occasionally quacks softly), watch tv, surf the Internet. I sing to him a lot. There was that one day when I took him out on the screened porch but he flew into the pool. I jumped in for a rescue; that will be our last time swimming!

Pionus aren’t the wonderful talkers some other parrots are. They have low, rumbly voices that only a mother can understand. He will occasionally say “Good morning, Ernie,” and once he said “NO NO NO.” One day I mumbled to myself, “oh, goodness,” and I can’t promise he said it, but the inflection and the right syllables were there. Mostly he is silent.

I’m learning everything I can as fast as I can about parrots. We’ve bought as many toys and equipment as any parents of a first newborn child. I’m cooking for him, which makes for conversations like this:

Me: Are you hungry?

Husband: Yes! And what you were cooking smelled wonderful, what is that?

Me: That’s for the birds. You can have a sandwich.
Ernie is exploring foods he apparently has never eaten. He likes it steamed or cooked; he likes orange food; he flings cauliflower.

I’m crazy about him. Totally, unequivocally nuts over this silent creature that I don’t understand.

Stay tuned.

 

Invitation to Study Scripture

An Invitation to Study Scripture

Hi there!

I feel like I haven’t talked with anyone here in a coon’s age. A lot has been happening…. anyway just this week my uncle Lloyd passed away rather unexpectedly, and at the exact same time I got a new parrot from the local rescue. Actually an old parrot. Actually a really old parrot.

Which meant there was no way to leave and fly up to the funeral.

Which my Aunt Betty said is fine because “the preacher is 82 and the funeral won’t last 30 minutes.”

Go ahead and laugh. I did.

So I stayed home and worked on a new idea for my readers. 🙂

I have decided to utilize the different Bible study methods to see if I can view Scripture in a new light. Some of those methods are:
Word Study
Book Background
Book Synthesis
Biographical
Topical

…. and there are more. I am going to use the Devotional Method for my first one. Here is a video outlining how you can join me for this adventure.
http://youtu.be/owlV9yDMDUk

If you’d like to join, please sign up by commenting below, commenting on Facebook, or sending me an email. Also, please share the link. Thanks!

Christians in the News and on the Web

In the News Tanya Logan
Christians are making headlines! On Thursdays I will bring you news, books, and articles that I find thought provoking. Please share what you think of this new addition.
(Oh. This is Wednesday. This week I’m ahead.)
  In The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated , author James Emery White questions why so many Americans are ‘allergic’ to organized religion. White points out that the un-affiliated person is the fastest-growing religious group, according to ARIS, American Religious Identification Survey. The “nones” nearly doubled from 1990 till 2008. The author then attempts to explain what every Jesus follower must do in response to the state of our culture. Here is a link to the book, and here is a link to a fascinating interview with the author.Congress, along with various Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox leaders have released a statement supporting Christians in the Middle East. Called, “the pledge of solidarity and call to action” it asks Americans to pray for learn about and encourage the federal government to help these forgotten people. Christians overseas are often beheaded, executed, kidnapped, and their buildings have been destroyed, with seemingly little or no response from the United States. Read more here.Last, Thomas Kidd asked the question: should Christians date online?
As I told Kidd in my comment on his column,[Tweet ” using a “Christian” dating site doesn’t guarantee that Christians are using it, or that it is being run with your set of standards/morals.”]  using a “Christian” dating site doesn’t guarantee that Christians are using it, or that it is being run with your set of standards/morals.We can’t make assumptions when we venture into the online world. I’ll write more on this topic at another time.

Bible Study – End of Week 5

End of week 5
Bible study plan: Come Back to Jesus — and Don’t Bring your Blackberry
I know that by now we should be nearing the end of week 6, but those whom I spoke with have said they are on week 5. So today’s lesson is going to be on pages 65-78. In the video, we will go over 1 Peter 1 so you might want to have your Bible ready.

James 1: 12 says, “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” It is a good reminder because, as we begin to worship God better, we often experience Satan kicking back at us. Please try to see this for what it is, and don’t let him win!

Remember that:
• True holiness is, both internal and external.
• There needs to be a continuum between who we say we are and how we act.
• We are chosen, just as Jesus is chosen, so…
• We must walk in holiness.

On day 3, we touched again on drifting-this time since we have actively removed a false god. People who have done this can easily begin to drift because of the emotions involved. Remember that the Lord said, “they are my people.” You are his. He is always there for you.

Because of this, he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5). Trust him into your deepest, darkest secrets. Trust your entire self to his care. He will always bring you to victory.

If you haven’t read day 5 of the Bible study, please read it now and answer the questions.

Lord, I thank you so much for those who have joined me here for this study. We have removed false gods, Lord, and we know that you will lovingly continue to show us where our mistakes are and lead us on the right path. Thank you for your care. Thank you for your patience with us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
[book:Come Back to Jesus-And Don’t Bring Your Blackberry|17293992]

Bible Study – End of Week 3

Did you pray for 5 days for someone? Do they help? In other words, I’m wondering if they are still drifting or if you can see some positive motion. Sometimes positive only means that we had a chance to plant a small seed, or perhaps water one that someone else had already set in motion. We don’t always get to see the fruit of our labor.

By now you should have read chapter 3, and you have identified something you are going to give up. This is the hardest week in the entire study. You read some of the things in the book that I myself have given up. The one and keeps coming back for me. All has to do with the computer: spending too much time checking e-mails, too much time on Facebook, and too much time writing in general!

I tend to feel like I didn’t write (because I was busy on Facebook, of course) so I go back to the computer in the evening. Last night I was on it until about 11:15. This has at least 2 negative effects:

  • it keeps me from spending any cuddle time with my husband
  • it leaves me feeling very tired the next day, and like skipping the morning writing-which is the most productive time for me.

I’m just giving you this as an example, I know it’s a small one, but perhaps it will help you in determining what and why your false god is a bad thing.

Please read:

Romans 12:1-2

2 Corinthians 3:18

Jesus did not run around from place to place – remember in Matthew when the disciples tried to rush him past the children and he refused to be hurried? He was not performance based.

We need to learn to serve the Lord without distraction. Satan will try to prevent this by redirecting our focus.

So I’m dying to know-what are you giving up this week? Have you decided?

*We’re Reading Come Back to Jesus–and Don’t Bring your Blackberry

**To print any post, click its title, then click the printer in the upper left-hand corner.

5 Ways to Humble Yourself Now

 

Humility (NOUN) The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10

Recently I was writing a piece on humility, and immediately the Lord went to work on me. You need to practice it yourself.

Ugh.

So, off I went to do even more research on the practice of being humble. Here are some ways to humble yourself right now. I hope they are helpful.

Meditate on the greatness of God. When we truly submit to the One Who Is All That Is Holy, we realize that everything about us is from him and we have no control over anything in this world.

Be gracious. Ephesians 4:29 says, ” Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Is what you say building others up, or do you spend a lot of time in putdowns and gossip? Make a decision to only say things that will build others up.

Serve. Whenever you serve anyone in any way, you are building up the kingdom of God. Try to find someone every day that you can serve. This could be anything from bringing a cup of coffee to providing money to someone in need. You might find a senior who needs a ride someplace. Better yet, find a way to serve in secret, and never let anyone know!

Submit to all authority. This is difficult in today’s world, because we believe strongly in individualism. But we have many authorities in our lives – our pastor, teachers, and superiors on the job.

 Create a lowly place. Remember when Jesus said that if you go to your friend’ s table, you should sit in the lowest place of importance? Often, what we strive for is recognition when we need to strive for is honoring others. Look for the lowly place, and go there.

Pride comes to us naturally, and yet your mother probably always told you that pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). It is only by living as a conduit for God’s service that we become humble. Commit yourself today

For further reading: 1 Peter 3:8 – 17, James 4.

**My links today are in the NIV. To change versions, when you get to the link look at the drop-down box on the right that says NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Click there, and scroll to any version you choose.

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What is Holiness?

A group I participate in is slowly working our way through an inductive study of Romans; we’re in chapter one. Recently we came to these verses:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23, NIV)

Images. We should never allow them, the pastor said. If we allow them, we are allowing the spirits behind them.

I don’t think they always have to be connected with a spirit, someone else said. Sometimes they’re just for decoration.

This led to a lot of talk and not much of a resolution, so I want to delve in more deeply.

Let’s say I have a small Buddha in my garden “just for decoration.” You come to visit me because you want to talk about Christianity, and while you’re there you see my garden with the Buddha. What will that say to you about my Christian walk?

Won’t it make you wonder?

Wouldn’t it make you say “If it’s okay with her, it’s okay with me”?

We are called to walk in holiness.

And then….what if you begin to study the ‘religion’ behind the statue? And then….what if you become a Buddhist? Now my statue has become the vehicle that led you to Buddhism. Now my unholy walk has caused you, my fellow Christian, to stumble.

Now is it still okay?

There’s a word for avoiding statues and idol-symbols. It’s aniconism.

Christians have only a very early history of that. In Moses’ time, for example, having a statue of a bird would have represented paganism. Nowadays, the bird has no specific religious reference (that I know of). Would I have a bird statue? Yes. I actually have a squirrel and a dog statue.

I stayed at a retreat center once that had an African mask glued to the front of my lamp shade. Now, I could –and did—put small statues away, and plaques with unchristian sayings. But you can’t fit a lampshade into a drawer. I prayed about it and tried to leave it alone, but finally at bedtime I twisted the shade so the little mask could look out the window, away from me.

Paranoid? No. but, in my mind, no need to invite anything unholy into my spiritual retreat.

If we start becoming paranoid about pagan practices, then we cut out many of the various customs we consider our own, customs like celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25 and giving flowers at funerals. I don’t think paranoia is the answer. I think that customs we’ve already had in place for years are acceptable.

So the question becomes a matter of where to draw the line. After much deliberation and searching, I will give you my 2 cents’ worth.

Here’s the thing. We are called to walk in holiness. Holiness means avoiding even the appearance of evil. Holiness means emulating Jesus. Most of all, holiness means being “set apart.” It is in being set apart that we are able to fulfill our specific task assigned by our Maker.

God expects nothing less than our best; inferior gifts are not acceptable (Malachi 1:13-14). We are told to purify ourselves out of reverence to God.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.     (2 Corinthians 7:1)

To be holy, we must spend time in the scriptures learning what holiness is. As we learn, we will grow toward a better example of a holy human. For me at this time, holiness means I won’t have a Buddha, I won’t put cutesy sayings on my Facebook wall that contain double entendres, profanity, or references to ‘other’ false gods. I will stand apart as I was created to do.

What does holiness mean to you?