From the Bookshelf

Do you remember back in high school when you dreamed about being someone else? That movie star with a perfect smile and all the right proportions? Or you flipped through teen magazines and wanted hair like that, or lip gloss that shined just like that? Fine, maybe I am dating myself reminiscing about Seventeen Magazine, but I think every girl dreams of “fixing” a flaw they see in themselves. I am happy to report that I have grown out of those superficial desires and have gradually learned to love myself… just the way I am. Am I perfect? Far from it. Am I still learning and growing and moving forward in the journey for joy? You betcha. Which brings me to this week’s muse: A couple of words on two books I’ve recently finished up.

The first is “The Powerful Purpose of Introverts” by Holley Gerth, (in)Courage member, best selling author and fellow introvert. When I first got my hands on this one, I was secretly excited, hoping that Gerth would impart great wisdom on how to upgrade my A game in a world of crazy extroverts (I’m married to one, too, so that throws a glitch in the system). The book does do this, to some extent, but is a much broader look at the idea of what an introvert is and how to function well as one.

Very similar to other personality type studies, Holley looks at brain function, responses to stimuli and coping mechanisms. Anecdotal stories are punctuated throughout the book, helping illustrate the power behind “introvert-ism”. Designed as a small group study (there are chapter questions at the back for discussion), I’m thinking this would be perfect for a young mom’s club. The author gently encourages (as all good introverts do- insert wink here- ) that no matter where you think you are, God’s plans and purposes for you are always perfect, and that all of us, introvert or extrovert, have roles to play in His plan!

I was thankful for some of the reminders Gerth highlights as “needs” for my half of the population: things like dedicated quiet (strategic solitude), special connections and silent empathy. These are strengths that we hold dear. The strengths that help us live out our purpose in God’s plan! Even if you write a weekly blog about your seemingly boring life and dream of going viral someday.

Which brings us around to the second book: “Joyful Surrender: 7 Disciplines for the Believer’s Life” by Elizabeth Elliot. This pillar of the faith (she died in 2015) is known for a variety of writing, but most notably by her husband’s story. Jim Elliot was one of the five young missionaries who were savagely killed while trying to establish communication with the Auca Indians of Ecuador. She tells his story (and consequently her own) in her book “Through the Gates of Splendor”. She is one of those people you want to be like — Brave and able to trust fully in God’s plan, even in the midst of unspeakable grief.

Our church’s ladies group just completed this book as our winter study. Our crazy Zoom discussions were sparked by topics such as the discipline of the Body, of the Mind, our feelings and how we spend our time. We found Elliot to be a no-nonsense kind of woman who tells it like it is, and lays out her discussions of discipline with all the confidence of a well seasoned Christian. We appreciated her biblical insights and wisdom, obviously gained through her own daily walk with Jesus, and years of service. Interestingly, her choice of title (“joyful surrender”) is indication that even seasoned missionaries have to choose joy in the journey sometimes! Yes, grace is sufficient, but practical faith takes some work! I think I can speak for the rest of my “spiritual sisters” in saying that Elliot’s book was challenging and insightful.

So, there you have it, my friends, a couple of new books for you to sink your teeth into during lockdown. They won’t be like Seventeen magazine … but they just might encourage you to take a second glance at your own self… and go beyond lip-gloss and banana hair clips, and take a good, introspective look at who God made you to be… and how He made you to fit just perfectly for His plan for your future!

Walking on Eggshells

If you’ve been a follower of for any length of time, you’ll know that I would love to have a set of backyard chickens. Crazy, I know. Living in the city doesn’t allow me the luxury of the coop, but my Instagram feeds follow a variety of homesteaders who have hens, so I live vicariously through them. Recently, they have all been posting great pictures of eggs…stylish rainbow shades nestled in cardboard cartons and vintage bowls or balanced on thick wooden farm tables. It’s the middle of January and their hens are still pumping out breakfast blessings in all kinds of shapes and colours (Yes, different hen varieties produce different coloured eggshells…another reason to want a flock…humbug to store bought, plain old white eggs…but I digress). So, eggs.

rainbow shells! (from Easter egger chickens)

One must admit that eggs are a pretty cool part of God’s creation… the shell of a chicken egg contains more than 17 000 tiny pores that allow air and moisture to travel in and out of the workings of the inner egg. The shell is made up of almost entirely calcium carbonate, with two thin membranes underneath that contract and cool when laid, making the egg fairly solid and bacteria and dust resistant… and yet we think of eggs as entirely fragile. (reference: Apparently the colour of a hen’s ears will determine egg colour… and has something to do with developmental proteins…. wait… chicken ears??? Okay, let’s just stop there.

So, eggs. More specifically, eggshells. While scrolling feeds and enjoying posts of coloured eggs, my mind began to wander to Easter and eggs and those fabulous carved eggs and the Ukrainian burnt (Pysanka) eggs… all so pretty! I read an article about the famous Faberge eggs bejeweled and bedazzled for Russian royalty in the mid 1800’s. Designed as miniature works of art, most contained a “surprise” inside — a tiny picture or little automation. Ancient “kinder-surprises” minus the chocolate! Artisans often marvel at the perfect shape of an egg… and consequently it’s been used as a base for all kinds of art.

(photo via CNN) Faberge “peacock” egg

Notwithstanding all the facts we’ve discussed above, we must all agree in one simple fact about eggs: they are fragile. Even hardboiled eggshells can easily be pealed and crushed. I am sure there are many an artist who were heartbroken when eggshells snap at the slightest over pressing of their tools. Perhaps this is why they choose this delicate medium…the fragility adds to the beauty.

And so, my friends, it is with us. Our fragility makes us beautiful. Oh, we think we are strong. Bold and courageous, we harden our hearts and press on through life thinking we can do it our own way. Perhaps we even flaunt our rainbow colours and stand out against the whitewash of the crowd. We are like the Faberge eggs: bedazzled works of art on the outside, but contain small surprises on the inside. Surprises that catch us off guard when a crisis comes: surprises like guilt, fear, and doubt. Our inner insecurities leak out when we are cut deep…like the yolk that oozes from a soft boiled egg. We are weak, fragile and easily broken.

Yet, it is in our brokenness that we learn to trust in the One who makes us strong again. Some of you may remember that I’ve chosen a word for the year: BRAVE. (Read about it here) Part of the growth I want to develop in myself this year through “brave” is described in 2 Corinthians 4. As a follower of Christ, I have a great treasure to share, but I am a weak vessel, a jar of clay, a fragile egg, if you will. I easily succumb to fear, doubt, shyness and insecurity. Especially when it comes to sharing God’s “good news”. The Bible reminds me that it is not me who does the work…but me in Christ who becomes the Brave one.

Sometimes that strengthening needs to be through brokenness. We need to be softened, molded and corrected. Sometimes we may just need to be bold and take chances. Circumstances can make us brave… through Him. Are you still walking on eggshells? Or are you ready to be brave with me? Until we meet again, friends!


So, I’m just going to jump right in and start: I’ve been musing about “preparation” recently. Physical preparation for things, mental preparation and yes, even spiritual preparation. There’s been a lot of talk about it during the pandemic: preparing for the “next wave”, vaccine distribution and simply being prepared for lockdowns, curfews and staying at home. Could we have been “better prepared”? What does that look like?

To help clarify, I looked up the definition (via Google):


  • the action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration.
  • something done to get ready for an event or undertaking (plural noun: preparations)
  • a substance that is specially made up and usually sold, especially a medicine or food.

Basically, it’s getting ready. Of course, all of us do this is some way, shape or form. We dress and wash and go off to work. We prepare meals and write speeches and plan events. There are varying degrees to this “getting ready”, and some of us are better at it than others. In fact, some of us are borderline OCD in our colour coded, labelled and listed worlds of organization… all in the name of being “prepared”. It gives us a sense of control. We are “ready” for the beginning of an event and have ticked all the boxes in order to be in that state.

Others are a little more lacking in this realm of the cohesive flow chart. Some seek the adventure of the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants way of taking on tasks: wing it and see what happens. They make little consideration for the future and tend to like it that way. In the Mitton house, we have both highly dramatic prepare-ers and those who are highly prepared for the drama of the unknown. Me? I’m somewhere in the middle… I like the control, but some days I lack the effort needed to even think about preparing for the next event. Especially as I get older. Maybe there is less of a future to think about as you age. Perhaps different stages of life require different obligations. Young moms need to be a little more prepared than those of us who have young adults who should know how to take care of themselves by now (Notice I said “should” — ahem).

Crockpots, meal prep and personal hygiene aside, I’ve also been broadening my thoughts to something known as “preparation day”. The gospels refer to this day as the day before the Sabbath… a day to do all the work necessary to truly rest on Shabbat (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31). Those who follow the Church of the Latter Day Saints have adopted this ancient Jewish practice as well, apparently, and prepare the day before their Sabbath. The danger of such practices, however, is when one doesn’t follow through. What happens if you don’t prepare? Are you shunned? Do you judge and become legalistic? I love the idea of setting aside a day for rest and reflection. And I love the idea of doing all the prep work ahead of time in order to be given that luxury of a full day of quiet. But is that what it is all about? Is it okay to “work” on a church day? What does “work” mean? Is one person’s work another person’s pleasure? What if God wired you as a “do-er” and that fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants creature who just doesn’t prepare? Does it make you less spiritual?

I am old enough to remember when stores were closed on Sundays and church happened morning, noon, and night. There were big Sunday dinners (I’m sure those moms worked hard!) and guests to serve. Were the good old days better? Or do the conveniences of modern day allow us to serve our fellow humans better now? At the beginning of lockdown, people marveled at the gift of time… we baked bread, we tidied and organized and spent quality time. Did it make us more spiritual? More worshipful or connected? I’m not so sure. When we are forced into spiritual reflection we do it, but I’m not sure it’s a sustainable method for growth. On the other hand, maybe it’s a good discipline to set aside a day of preparation in order to celebrate a day of rest.

I guess the jury is still out on this one. I’ll still be thinking about it. I was thinking about it when I pulled out the crockpot this morning in preparation for tonight’s dinner. Ten bonus points for me, right?!

Blessings, friends!