Spring Cleaning

My goodness! Where has the time gone? This week marks the end of March and the beginning of another spring season! We started a little spring clean-up in our yard this past weekend… and then, in true Canadian fashion, it snowed this morning! My poor little urban garden’s seedlings are feeling the pinch of the dip in temperature, too, as they sit on my windowsill. Still, Time has a way of ticking on, and spring weather will soon arrive. I’m looking forward to it. How about you, my friend? Do you do the traditional “spring clean”?

Do you participate in the big spring clean?

It’s what I’ve been musing about this week… spring cleaning. Not that it is a task I enjoy immensely, but I do love the result of a little elbow grease after a tired winter season. I need more time to really get in all the cracks and crevises of this ol’ house, but, well, every little bit counts, right? We’ve chatted about it before. I’ll leave some previous posts down below if you want to follow up. You can even check out the pictures from our decluttered furnace room… or the fish tank clean-up! Ever wondered where the idea of “spring cleaning” originated?

So, I did some digging. Turns out there are a few “thoughts” about where the idea of a spring clean up came from. In 19th century America, March was considered the best time to dust because the windows to the home could be opened without the fear of flying insects invading your space! The coal furnaces would have stopped running and all the soot leftover could be swept out and the house aired. Nowadays, I suppose, we could open the windows to let all the ammonia smells out from our chemical cleaners! (Anyone else love a good bleach?)

Some sources say the deep clean is associated with a new year. In Japan and Scotland, the “spring clean” is in December. Persian new year, “Nowruz”, is the first day of spring and involves a truly deep clean of the whole house. Many traditions evolved around Lent’s “purging” in time for Easter. This is also true of the Biblical Jewish tradition of house “cleansing” during the time of Passover and the remembrance of the Jewish exodus in haste from Egypt. Jews even clean out the pantry. I wonder if they get to eat all the snacks? I like that kind of clean up!

Whatever way you think about your physical clean-up, whether it be in preparation for a new year, or new season, or just an excuse to get all spick and span, it is important to remember that a clean “outside” cannot compare to a clean inside. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that a carefully cleaned outside that hides a heart of deceit and greed is futile (Matthew 23). And how grateful am I that God promises my sins to be completely cleansed? As clean as the new-fallen snow ! (Isaiah 1:18). Even if it is spring snow in the middle of our yard clean up!

So, if scrubbing the baseboards or dusting, or open window airing out is on your agenda this week, I hope it reminds you that your inside should be just as glowing! May your efforts be blessed!

Here are a few more muses about all things tidy!

Musing about Miniatures

What is it about tiny things that fascinate humans? As a good scientist, I am captivated by all the minuscule creatures that can live in a centimetre of earth or water. Bacteria, germs, viruses, even tiny creatures. The microscope appeared somewhere around 1600 and gave scientists a peek into a whole new world. I suppose some of us are not interested in all the creepy crawlies that live just beneath the surface… Still, one must confess that the microscopic world is a fascinating one. Or let’s think about a little bigger. Mini toys. Lego mini-figures are prized possessions; if you happen to have an Iron Man or Captain America from 2012, you might be in for a bank balance boost of up to $1900. Or what about Polly Pockets from the early 1990s? Weren’t they fun? A whole world in a little purse thing-ie! Mini toys have been around for decades. Dollhouses are one thing… but the world of miniature make-believe? Well, that’s a culture all its own. In total, there were an estimated 3.24 billion mini-gamers across the globe in 2021. These people create and “play” with their miniature toys in tournaments all over the world, sometimes for high stake monetary prizes!

Photo Credit: tabletopbellhop.com

Now, I don’t know too much about miniature gaming, but this past weekend we went to a new miniature display in our city, depicting various Canadian cities … all scaled down to one or two rooms. Mini parliament buildings, mini Tim Horton’s shops, mini-farms with mini chickens and horses, tiny gardens and even tiny moving bicycles! It was fascinating. Little mini subways with moving cars letting teenie tiny passengers off to their trains at the teenie tiny Union Station. It was a good few hours pointing and lolly gaggling at all the minute details. Just think about the details. Hours upon hours of planning and designing and cutting and crafting, 3D printing and painting. Teensy weensy yellow polka-dot bikinis on itty bitty sunbathers at the beaches. One must take a moment to marvel at the complexity of it all.

Image from Little Canada

Then, as we ponder the fine details, we become aware of how those little things can become a part of something so much larger. Each tiny thing becomes a part of the bigger picture. And so it is with us, my friends. Our tiny existence here on Earth becomes part of a bigger plan in God’s miniature village. How we interact with others, how our “casual meetings” sow the seeds of His love for all mankind. How many times does the Bible refer to “little things” making a big impact? The widow’s mite in the offering plate (Mark 12) or the power of the tongue, one of our tiniest body parts (James 3)? Or how about it only takes a spark to ignite a whole forest fire (also James 3)?

Yes, my friends, no matter how tiny and insignificant you may feel on any given day, be assured that you are no small potatoes to God’s bigger plan. You have been created in all your finite detail, for a specific job. You are part of the display to be pointed at and discovered hidden away, but adding to the landscape. You may think you are small, but you are mighty! Now go out and live like it!

My Favourite Mug

Anyone who knows me, or even if you’ve been following along in the blog for some time, will recognize that one of the ways I love to “chill” is with a good cuppa something. Usually a cup of something warm and soothing. Coffee starts my day and often placates it at the end. There’s nothing like a cup of hot chocolate after tobogganing. Now many of you will immediately say that tea calms your heart – and I would never disagree, although tea isn’t my first go-to (although I am learning to love good matcha…) Sit for a moment and just imagine it.

Now, continue to muse along with me about the vessel which holds your beverage. Do you have a favourite mug? Or a precious teacup that was given to you by your grandma or treasured friend? Or do you have a wacky character on your coffee mug that makes you smile after a grumpy day? We have a plethora of mugs in our cupboard. My late mother-in-law had a favourite one that “was not too big”, and I can’t bear to part with it. I like the ceramic ones that look like handmade pottery. They perfectly fit a large pod from my Keurig machine with just a dash of cream. The hubby likes a good-sized mug that could fit a small serving of breakfast cereal. I have a collection of beautiful teacups and have a soft spot for a good breakfast brunch — all fancy-like. Take a moment to think about what are the first ones out of the cupboards and into the dishwasher?

Realistically, cups, mugs and even glasses are pretty ordinary, everyday objects. We can use disposable ones and simply throw them away after a single use (although I don’t like to think that way…bring your reusables, people!) Still, where would we be without them? The great kings and queens had bejewelled goblets. The Vikings sloshed great steins in jovial celebration (usually after pillaging some poor village), and you and I continue to use a humble mug every morning. Because no matter the material or design, the cup has a purpose. It holds the liquid in. If it doesn’t fit the purpose, it overflows. Tiny teacups can only serve tiny portions. The Vikings wanted extra froth. I want a full coffee pod.

And so it is with us, my friends. How often have you thought of yourself as too ordinary or insignificant for a bigger purpose? Take a look at the variety of cups we have.  Some are beautiful yet fragile; some are sturdy yet plain; some are great for on the go yet not made to last forever. We are a lot like cups.  We come in a variety of sizes and designs.  We all have both our talents and our weaknesses.  We were not created to all be exactly the same. Still, all of us have a purpose. Let’s let our teacups remind us that we must continually be filled and poured out by God’s goodness and Holy spirit in order to be completely useful.

I know of two significant people in my life who can take a whole day to drink a morning coffee. It sits there, going cold, only to be found again about five o’clock after a full day of busyness. Or maybe your mugs get left sitting on the shelf, collecting dust in the curio cabinet. Or filled with candy or nuts and bolts or paperclips. Does anyone have those stained rings at the bottom of their cups? Are your mugs due for a good deep clean?

As Christians, we can find ourselves in some of these same places.  We may be filled to the brim and used to pour out the goodness of God.  Or we may be just sitting, looking good, but collecting dust.  We may have been filled, but then forgot about what God said about His plan. We’ve left that stagnant ring hanging around and we cling to the past. We are in need of a good cleaning.  Perhaps our lives may be so full of “other things,” that we can’t be filled with what’s best.

For a cup to be used, it must first be emptied, washed and then ready to be filled with the life-giving substance it was designed to hold. A cup can do nothing by itself, and neither can we. We need to be filled… often daily or hourly! Like our dishwashers – it’s a constant cycle of fill, empty, wash and fill again!

So tomorrow, or tonite, or as you sit and read this post, think about your favourite mug, and let it be a simple reminder to you that although ordinary, you, too, are special and purposeful in God’s big picture!

Check out my Pinterest boards for a cute teacup story that would go great at a tea party or a gift of a new favourite mug! Or check out the mittonmusings board for more posts about coffee and tea!