Reduce Reuse Refurbish and Repent

Don’t you love the way your computer seems to “know” what you’ve been researching? You search up one little thing and you are bombarded with ads for that thing for the next two weeks. Or you happen to “like” a video or post, and your inbox is over run with similar posts and opposing views from like people…even those folks you haven’t heard from in awhile. Isn’t technology wonderful? Algorythms and secret formulas that lock you in to keep you engaged… Hopefully, mittonmusings.com is on your radar and we get the repeat customers!

“Flip”

Blatant plugs aside, my feeds have been filled with “furniture flips” lately. Or thrift finds that people refurbish and renew. Then these folks go on to make a financially significant side hustle… making thousands of dollars in seemingly quick and easy revenue. I don’t know if “flipping” is as easy as they make it out to be on television … but there it is, tempting me to try. I love to thrift, but I don’t have that knack that some people seem to have. They easily see the beauty and potential in long forgotten objects. I want to, though. I love to see things made “anew”. Plus, I don’t like to see things simply tossed in the trash because they are no longer “fashionable”. Hence the hoard of craft supplies in my basement. I’ll use them someday. I will. And they will be beautiful….

I got thinking aobut that little prefix: “re”. Reuse, recycle, refurbish, renew… and repent. According to dictionary.com, that little prefix is defined as:

a prefix, occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition, or with the meaning “back” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or backward motion:regenerate; refurbish; retype; retrace; revert.

Which makes sense when we are talking about redo or refurbish. We can even “recycle” lots of things over and over again. But does “repent” have the same prefix? Maybe not. Still, for the sake of argument, let’s decide for the moment that it does. Or maybe it revolves around the second half of the definition and one must move back before moving forward. That sounds a lot like how I repent. Or maybe how we should repent. We do something we shouldn’t and for a second, we need to step back and take ownership. They say that we have to “name it and claim it” in order to change our behaviours for good. In order to move on with clean slates.

It’s like that piece of furniture or house we want to renovate. Sometimes you have to strip off the old paint and pull off the wallpaper to really get to what’s underneath. Only then can you start afresh and move forward. Do you see it? I used to have to remind my kids about this. “Saying Sorry” means very little unless you actually change your behaviour. True, sometimes the “saying sorry” is the first step in stripping off the old, but true change only occurs when you keep going forward.

Then there is the “again and again” factor. Ever fall into the trap of “here you go, God – I’m done with this or that”, but then we take it back again and recoil into our same worries, sins and destructive behaviours. It’s tough. I graciously acknowledge that this is the hardest part of our faith journeys. The one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, day to day journey that leads us heavenward. But….

But. The reason I love “flipping” videos so much is the before and after. The “new” from the old is sometimes so different, the transformation is breath taking. And so it is with us, my friends. As we become new creatures in Christ, the old is (sometimes slowly) stripped away, revealing the true beauty that we were designed and destined to become. Here’s to one more step forward… and a little “re” now and then.

RESCUED

Have you ever rescued something? A baby bird? A drowning person? A recyclable can from the trash? Seems like vastly different scenarios but I think a rescue is a rescue. Big or small, redemption is a worthy pursuit… even if it costs. I was musing about this as I was doing dishes the other day and looked at my little windowsill above the sink. On the ledge, in a tiny pot, is a rescued houseplant. I found it earlier this summer in a giant pot I am using outside for my tomatoes (which are not doing well this year and are also in need of rescuing). I recognized one tiny leaf as a houseplant — not a tomato shoot. It must have been abandoned as “all but lost”, buried in the dirt. Then, when the pot was hauled outside for tomato usage… well, I guess a little fresh air and sunshine revived it!

My little rescued houseplant in all its dirt and glory!

I plucked the little leaf and moved it back inside where it is flourishing once again! New leaves are unfurling and the little guy is quickly outgrowing its nursery. Rescued! Love it! I’m a big thrift-er and my basement is filled with projects that I want to “refinish” or “repurpose”. I’m always looking at Pinterest for new ideas. Currently the family is watching a variety of do-it-yourself shows and renovation programs — the kids are fed up with my dreams of renovating an old farmhouse or Victorian mansion one day. They laugh and point out the most rickety buildings on the street corners and say “Look! Mom would buy that house!” And I would.

Am I alone in this weird fascination with the old made new again? Obviously not if you look at HGTV’s play list. Is it a new millennial trend to reduce and reuse in this environmentally conscious generation, or have we just come full circle and are beginning to value what we have again? I don’t think they make stuff like they used to, but maybe Covid has convinced us that we don’t need to be the throw away society we once were. Perhaps now we think about what we truly need before we go running to the mall. Or buy local – even if it costs a little more because it’s handmade or made well. I’m still on this learning curve. So far, “rescued” is still my method of choice.

“But now thus says the Lord,

He who created you, O Jacob,

    He who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Isaiah 43:1 ESV

Isaiah’s words are a reminder to us that we, too, have been rescued and renewed. Christ paid a very significant price for us. And He is in the business of continuing to renew and remodel. Here at mittonmusings.com we chat a lot about being “on the journey”. Our redemption starts out a lot like my little plant… we seek fresh air and the “son”. Then, once He plucks us out of the old soil and gives us a new chance at life, we begin to unfurl, flourish and grow!

Does this mean we will be perfect? No. Does this mean we won’t have bumps and bruises along the way? No. Do we still need to be watered and tended carefully? Yes. Do we need to still seek the “son” and gain energy to prosper, grow and be used well? Yes. Often “renewed” or “rescued” items need a lot of care before they can reach their previous state of glory. I love those furniture “flips” where people take old pieces of furniture and deep clean the cushions or scrape off years of paint until the true, original beauty begins to show. Those old farmhouses need to be stripped down to the rafters before being built up again. And so it often is with us as well. Sometimes we need a period of deep cleaning — stripping away the old before anything new can shine. For people in the process, it is not pretty. Most of the time it is down right ugly. But that is the beauty of the restoration… and so much more in the hands of one who is passionate about the cause!

Photo by chrissie kremer on Unsplash

So, be encouraged friends! If you are in that time of renewal… be patient. The process takes time. If you are still seeking the fresh air, keep poking your little leaves out until you get plucked from the dirt! And if you have been rescued and renewed, be thankful and shine bright. Show off your flaws with courage and bravery as one redeemed. Rescued with passion and encouraged to grow and flourish on the other side!

Patience as a Virtue

We had a little lesson in patience this week. Okay, we’ve been having a big lesson in patience this whole year, haven’t we? I don’t know about you, but I think I am finally getting sick of this lockdown — even as an introvert. We’ve been waiting. We’ve been waiting for haircuts and restaurant meals and movie theatres. We’ve been waiting in grocery lineups and online check out queues for the free shipping days. We’ve been waiting to get back to family gatherings and celebrations and hugging. Yes, even me. I’ve been waiting, too.

We had a smaller lesson in patience this week — a simple one that no one really noticed except me. Which was the inspiration for this week’s muse. Let me explain. One of our favourite “snacks” is something called Butterscotch Confetti. It’s easy to make and yummy. I was going to post the recipe, but remembered I already did! So… check that out here. Anyway… the youngest decided to make up a batch of the decadent “squares” (Did you know that Canadians call them “squares” and American’s call them “bars”… total side note but I am just free writing… so, hey what the heck…go on a rabbit trail… Wonder what other countries call such desserts… oh, a muse for anther time….)

Where was I? Oh yeah. Butterscotch squares. So, when you make these things, you melt all kinds of yummy goodness in a pot and then you have to “wait until you can hold your hand on the bottom of the pot before adding your coloured marshmallows”. Herein lies the lesson in patience. Wait. It’s a delicate balance, because if you don’t wait, your marshmallows melt and you get a sticky mess… I’ve seen it done. But if you wait too long, then your other ingredients start to harden into the fudge-like dessert they are supposed to be… without your marshmallows. You get it. Now, I have a fairly high heat bearing feel, so I tend to be impatient and throw in the coloured package of squishes fairly early. So far they have not melted away yet, though. And so I marveled as the pot sat on the stove as my daughter “waited” for it to cool. I usually have something to fill in my time so never have I “waited” for this task to occur… at least not that I have noticed before. Hence, this week’s muse.

Patience. The old time phrase “patience is a virtue” was never actually quoted as such in the Bible. Patience is not a “virtue”. Or is it?

“Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace.” Prov. 15:18. “Love is patient. Love is kind” 1 Corinthians 4:13, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Rom 12:12. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph. 4:2. And that is only a sampling of the verses that talk about this all important fruit of the spirit. Obviously, patience is something we need to work on in our lives. Let’s be honest, though, it’s a difficult one. To the mom who has the two year old who wants to put on her own shoes when you are already late leaving for your appointment. To the parent who has the wayward teenager who must learn the hard way. To the senior who has to care for the body who doesn’t work the way it used to. Sometimes there is no answer and we just have to go through it. Then patience is not in the waiting …but in the day to day, one foot in front of the other kind of patience which is linked arm and arm with endurance.

Learning patience is not simply an emotional response to a trying situation, either. It involves your belief system, your physical ability to self control and self regulate as well as your thoughts about gratitude. Does your impatience lead to anger, or can you hold your breath, count to 10 and take control of the time? Are you grateful for where you are now or are you waiting for the next best thing…now. Do you dump those marshmallows too early?? It takes practice.

I discovered that the word “virtue” is used to describe a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good. In other words, it is a behavior that shows high moral standards: doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. Is patience worthy of “virtue” then? Perhaps. It certainly is a Biblical truth that should be practiced and “worked on”. Especially if you want perfectly decadent butterscotch confetti.