Fresh. Then Refresh.

Whew! It’s been a week. We’ve spent the last six days up north, house sitting for friends who have an even greater zoo than we do: Chickens, bunnies, dogs and more! Plus my kids, and a restless husband who thinks holidays must include several walks and trail exploring, makes for a busy, but full week of adventures! Not to mention our new (currently untrained) puppy added exhaustion to the list. Chores were to be done and early morning walks were on the agenda. No wonder farmers are in such great shape! However, we also spent some time just chillaxin’ on the porch reflecting in the sunshine. It was a different kind of ‘vacation’ – and perhaps many of you have experienced similar days during this pandemic. A forced rest, even.

The youngest of the Mitton crew lapped it up. She’s a lot like her mama — animal lover with a keen sense of devotion, and less inhibition and worry than I do now that I am older (and know more than I should). She was definitely in her happy place! Baby bunny cuddles and dog belly rubs are this girl’s zone. One of her favourite things to do was check the nesting boxes for chicken eggs. Poor birds were disturbed several times a day, as she hoped to discover their treasures… it was a bonus if the egg was still warm! One day we discovered the perfect egg. I know, weird thought… but really. It was the perfect egg shape, with rounded edges and ever-so-slight point at the top. A beautiful tan colour, dappled in a smooth textured shell with a few darker specks to give it just the right amount of shade. If I were a painter, it would be a perfect still life subject, nestled against a lightly stained wood grained table… but perhaps that’s not your thing. Just work with me, okay?

The perfect egg… what a treasure!

Nonetheless, the discovery of “the perfect egg” had me thinking about God’s provision. His treasures, given to us in nature. Rich colours of flowers and sunsets, the smell of morning dew, the ruggedness of flint rock cliffs, the softness of my new puppy’s fur. As we devoured fresh eggs one morning this past week, we talked about whether “fresh eggs” were different tasting. My verdict is yes, most definitely. Fresh always seems better! If you google “fresh” the top ads are all about food. Next come “natural based” skin care products…. and then something in Fortnite? That seemed a little off topic, but whatever. Summertime is an explosion of freshness! My socials are filled with farmer’s market produce and your country lakefront cottage pics. It seems like holidays are the perfect time to renew and refresh.

If you look up the definition of “fresh” and it’s similar based “refresh”, you’ll discover a myriad of definitions: not stale, pure, new, or recently come into existence. Even bold and brassy, as in don’t get “fresh” with me, young man. Interesting, eh? I recently embarked on a 5 day study/devotional on Refreshing. A big part of that “refreshing” is rest. Our physical bodies need that rest to recoup, recover and refresh. Our spiritual souls need that renewal again, too. It’s exciting when a piece of scripture becomes “new” again, isn’t it? Like fresh oxygen breathed in, our souls need a good cleansing every now and then as well.

a quote from my new devotional study

I’ve missed some of that worship as we’ve been isolating. It’s hard to have deep conversations and rich discussion via a webcam. Radio praises aren’t the same as revival concerts where fellow believers are singing from the heart, and straight up to heaven! But God is still very much present, and very much behind the scenes, preparing our hearts for revival, renewal and refreshment. Perhaps many of you have been forced to “rest” right now. To reflect on what is important. Maybe others of you are looking to “refresh” and start anew. I think it is a God thing. This desire to reflect and gather perspective. To assess and refocus. Then you are able to appreciate small treasures, and reflect on the simple things that God gives us — like the perfect backyard chicken’s egg.

Sit. Stay. Obey.

Welcome back to another week of If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that we have been considering dog ownership (read about it here). And if you are new to our little blog, why not consider joining us each week for our muses? Hit the subscribe button! We’d love to see you each week! But back to our announcement: *Drumroll, please* I am happy to update you that we are now the proud owners of a very cute chocolate labrador named “Reese” (as in Reese’s peanut butter cups, chocolate lab… get it?). I know — we are crazy!! Do I really need this work? Maybe I do. He’s been most fun… and the hubby is happy that I am actually getting out and walking more. So, there’s that. The kids have been doing their part as well, so it’s been a great family experience so far. Except for the potty training thing.

Ah, Training. It’s a very important thing with dogs, and we have been trying very hard to do our best. We’ve raised four kids, but dog ownership is one of those things… you become one of “those people”. Walks. Socializing. To crate or not to crate? Separation anxiety. Stimulation.

our new puppy, “Reese”

I think I have watched more videos and Pinterest posts then when I did have my kids! Yet, it seems to be paying off… we are great at leash walking and have mastered “sit”. Accidents are still a thing, but that’s to be expected for one so young.

Consequently, “training” has been on my mind. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the Ten Commandments. Those iconic regulations foundational to not only Jewish traditions and Christianity, but to many of our modern day ethical rules! Not to mention a few very famous movies. The commandments are only mentioned in the Bible a few times, and not actually called “the 10 Commandments” but are fundamental to Christianity. They form the basis for our worship and our spiritual journeys. True, we don’t live under “the law” as New testament believers, but our history is shaped by these 10 laws the Lord provided early on for the Israelites and the early church. The Hebrew expression means “ten words” and the Greek translation is Decalogue. Literally audible words spoken by God, written down, and presented for all to see.

So why 10? Apparently the numbering is different in some traditions, perhaps marking that no one command is “greater” than the other. Are they outdated? Have they been adapted or manipulated for our own use? All questions worth thinking about. What I do know is that following a set of “rules” does not get us any closer to the saving grace of God, or assure us our salvation. We are fallible. Humans and our sin nature will not allow us to be absolutely obedient every. single. time.

So, what’s the point? Well, I suppose, like my new puppy, rules are there to help keep the peace. To make life easier and remind us of what we should be doing, about how to love our neighbours, and as a way to love God with all our heart and soul. My puppy is eager to please our commands and motivated by our praise and affection (and the odd yummy treat!) Does he get it right all the time? Obviously, not. But obeying is a sign of love and worship, and so we try and strive for sanctification. The commandments were given to help us in that task.

I read that when teaching your pup basic skills, you should also practice “proofing” those skills. Learning to “sit” in a quiet house is one thing. Practicing that skill on a busy intersection with cars, squirrels and flashing lights is another. Sound like us? It’s easy to say “honour your father and mother” or “keep the sabbath holy” — but when emotions run high or life gets in the way, the “proof” is in the pudding, isn’t it? Which is why we need to practice, be familiar, study, try, and try again. Hebrews 12 reminds us to strive for holiness. We learn through discipline and perseverance. We are strengthened in our understanding by facing tough stuff and coming out the other end standing on our foundations.

Alas, the journey (and the adventure!) continues, my friends. I wish you blessings as you strive to move forward towards Heavenly rewards. Until next week! Hmmmn… I wonder what the Bible has to say about puppy potty training…

Should we get a Puppy?

We have become a statistic. A Covid-19 statistic. No, there’s been no virus here, but we have entered a crazy stage along with almost half of the population right now. We are looking into getting a puppy. Apparently, everyone else is getting a “Covid canine” too! If you’ve been following mittonmusings for any amount of time you will have heard me mention our zoo before… creatures abound at our house and are a vital part of our lives. Although there has never been a dog. I love dogs and we have done our fair share of dog sitting — I just happen to be a cat person and know that dogs are a bigger commitment of time, work and money. And yet, here we are on the brink of dog ownership.

Now before you go all judgey on me and think we are just looking to fill the gap during the pandemic, don’t. I certainly do not wish people to get a dog and then abandon it in six months when the world goes back to normal and there is no longer “time”. Please don’t do this! We were thinking about it before we all went into lockdown — but since then, the search has been increasingly difficult! Obviously, we were not alone in our quest! The pandemic has forced people to clear their schedules and fuelled the fire for furry companionship: adoption inquires jumped 122% in the first month of lockdown (, fostering increased 500% (wow! 500%) as shelters began to shut down and people wanted to “do good” with the time on their hands (ASPCA). In Canada, humane societies saw a 30-70% increase in adoption and fostering applications, and registered breeders were very quickly sold out of puppies and added to waiting lists up to two years ahead! Kijiji has been flooded with “backyard breeders” asking astronomical prices for cross breeds and scams are abundant. People are looking for companionship.

All of this has had me thinking and comparing. We’ve been debating between a few “high energy/high maintenance” breeds and slower, more “family oriented” dogs. I have some definite “no’s” on my list… and some confusion about a few ads I’ve seen (what on earth is a doganoodle?!)… add an honest budget to the list and finding a pup has not been easy… much to the youngest’s dismay and discouragement. So many choices. So much diversity. So many pros and so many cons.

At first, I was going to compare these thoughts to the faith profiles of Mary and Martha in the gospel of Luke. Each of the sisters had unique priorities and personalities … a high working drive and a calmer, more relaxed approach to life. Jesus points out many valuable points in both approaches and reminds us that companionship is the goal. As I considered the sisters, I discovered that we can expand those thoughts to each of us and our churches at large. God’s kingdom, like the available dog breed list, is HUGE. Pedigree people are just as valuable as the street “mutt” in God’s eyes — He made us all and has placed us right where He wants us to be in order to do great things for Him. He wants us to be loving companions even (or especially) during a quarantine.

I was reminded of it during Sunday service today. We are to be kind, to hate sin, but to be radical in our love for others — especially during this “new normal” we are living in. Some of us are struggling to keep it together as fear and anxiety take over. Some of us are craving a good game of fetch and are dying to be social again. Some of us need a challenge to get up and out of the doghouse. Others need strict and constant training. We all need love. Now please don’t think that I am comparing humans to dogs. I’m simply using the analogy, that like dogs, we each have different needs and are uniquely gifted for specific purposes. It’s not our job to compare — we don’t have to pick people like we pick puppies. Our churches should encourage one another to serve and be served.

The Mary and Martha story reminds us to examine our priorities in addition to sharing our gifts. Our new puppy will be welcomed into our “zoo” and will change our routines for sure. It will be fun, but require effort. We are hoping it all will work out as a balanced leap of faith. I found a blog while researching for this little post with a great prayer that focuses on that balance. It makes me think that we are kind of like a new puppy in Jesus’ great big new house. I hope the author doesn’t mind that I am borrowing it:

Heavenly Father we open the doors of our heart to you.  We long to spend time sitting at your feet and learning all that you have to teach us.  We long to lay our heads on your lap and have you comfort us.  We long to know you as well as you know us.  We pray for wisdom in making our priorities in our day; we pray that you would guard us against the bossiness of our feelings and emotions that sometimes stand in our way.  Like Martha, we offer our hospitality, and like Mary, we choose to sit at your feet. Thanks to God who wrote our story and made it unique and beautiful.  Amen