Brag Tags

a fun and easy gift for an encouraging Valentine’s Day!

I was preparing to work in a kindergarten class not too long ago when I discovered a fabulous tool for positive reinforcement and encouragement! I was all set up and meandering around the room, waiting for the students to arrive. This moment is like the calm before the storm for educators. All is serene and peaceful and you think you can handle anything the day will bring. Then the bell rings and they descend upon you in a pile of puffy snowsuits and rosy cheeks, all demanding you help find their lost, frozen mitten that they just flung across the coat room two seconds previous. Nothing like thirty, five-year-olds to make you sleep real well at night! But I digress… back in the classroom, I noticed a large display of “brag tags” hanging from a bulletin board brightly displayed under the same name. They hung on small chains… one for each member of the class. Upon closer examination, I discovered each one contained a few tags for various accomplishments: “I can tie my shoes”, “I can print my name”, “I was a good listener”, etc.

What a brilliant idea, I thought! Such a creative teacher! Such incentive for positive behaviours, self learning and motivation! Upon further research, I discovered that it is not a new concept among teachers… there are a great many teacher/schooling sites that have all kinds of “brag tag” ideas and places to buy your own or edit and print. This teacher was not alone in her ideas! There is a whole classroom incentive entity out there about these fab tabs or spirit sticks (as they are sometimes called)! There was even one teacher who decided teachers themselves should have their own brag tags! A little tongue in cheek, I suppose, but fun! A human resource project for your next motivational meeting perhaps? ūüôā If you are an educator and have come looking for more brag tag ideas, please check out my Pinterest boards for lots of fabulous resources posted there!

Now… even though I work with children and have my own beloveds at home, I will be the first to admit I am not very encouraging. I try. I really do. But more often than not, my task oriented, in the box, do it this way brain takes over, and I am more apt to focus on what you should do instead of what you are doing great already!! It is so much easier to correct then to encourage, isn’t it? The Bible is full of verses about encouragement.¬† Jesus had a time and place for correction, no doubts about it, but usually, He teaches us to be gently encouraging — even in our corrections.

Our family brag tags!

Which brings me to my Valentine’s Day project. My kids are older now… far beyond their kindergarten years… but no matter what the age, we are are always in need of some encouragement, aren’t we?! So I made each of my family members some brag tags… even the hubby! I gave them 5 different ones each, and included some things I love about each of them. Things I want them to know that I have noticed they are doing, and doing wonderfully! Things they have accomplished or are working diligently on. Some of the tags were ready made ones in my gift wrapping collection. Others I punched or cut out and wrote on. Each were ringed on some old shower rings we had hanging around. Simple, but meaningful. I don’t expect them to wear them around their necks the way a five year old might. It’s a small token. But one I hope they treasure. I’m not a good encourager with my spoken word. I have a hard time saying those things I should. This is one way I can make my thoughts tangible to the people I love. Maybe you are not a good verbal encourager either… so, go ahead, steal my idea… I encourage you to ! Make your own “brag tags” for your crew… and let me know how they turn out!!

Create in Me a Clean Heart

So how goes your January? Still working on your New Year’s resolutions? I am. One of the goals that I am hoping to accomplish this year is to: Live More Simply. To use the “stuff” that I already have, and clear out the clutter. To try and eliminate what we cannot use, and to share our wealth with others. To prepare more and be less “pre-packaged”. To be more real and whole. And from the amount of videos, posts, plugs and pod casts on the topic, I’m guessing it is a goal that many of us have. Especially after the abundance of Christmas and the indulgences of the season past, there’s just something about that clean slate that brings a sense of peace and tranquility back into our lives… at least for me it does.

As I said, there are lots of helpful hints out there on how to purge, clean and organize your life. I’ve been searching out many, and gathering helpful hints and tips as I go. Some work, and some don’t work for me. Have you seen the news about this new cult following of the “queen of clean”? After chatting about my goals for this year, someone mentioned to me that I should look up Marie Kondo and her so called konmari method of cleaning and organizing. For those of you who have not heard of this Japanese guru on zen methods for cleaning, her minimalist style encourages you to keep only the things that “spark joy” for you. Thank the rest of your stashes for their faithful years of service and say adios to the discard pile! Then learn to fold everything in some obscure space saving stand up rectangle thingie and be all neat and tidy going forward! Yeah! I’m in.

This past weekend, I enlisted the hubby to help clean up and purge the furnace room. We don’t have a proper garage at our house, so the furnace room is a big space that holds a lot of our storage-type stuff: decorations, tools, camping equipment, that kind of stuff. My workshop bins also get stored here. Now, I am pretty confident in my organization skills… it’s one of the things that gets my juices flowing, so I am all in for folding bits of tissue papers and saving tiny pieces of ribbons — just in case. But the goal is to live more simply not just more organized. So the entire contents of the left side of the room got emptied out into the hallway and family room. (The right side has tools and will take another whole day to move around). We pulled off the old shelving from the wall and considered our options. There are some exposed pipes and such, as well as the furnace and hot water heater in this room, so we wondered how best to conserve space. I wonder if the “konmari konverts” can fold Rubbermaid bins of Christmas lights to store vertically? I am pleased to say, that we decided not to spend more on new shelving, and use what we had and simply stack the bins. (Hurray for small accomplishments, right?)

The BEFORE

I sat with the youngest crew member and sorted through gift bags and spools of ribbon and tried to be purposeful in what bits I kept. We tossed the 3 air mattresses with holes in them, and I refused to keep storing the aquarium light fixtures that might work if we need them someday. We initiated a project that has been on my to-do list for 10 years. I struggled too. I have two bins left in my family room that I still “need to deal with”. One is the kids old soccer stuff. Cleats and shin pads that won’t fit anyone we know, but are too good to just toss. I need to post them up for sale. The other bin is…yes, I admit it… my craft supplies that have been in the bin forever… but I just might use some day! (I’m one of those girls who could pass on a new pair of shoes, but a brand new pack of colourful paper — oooh…yes please!) I could say that they bring me joy, but I’d be lying to myself. The joy comes when those items get used and turned into something beautiful.

The AFTER

As we dusted and mopped and started to put things back, I reflected a little on how our hearts are like our furnace room. We store so much in there! Useful things, things that truly bring us joy, things that we may only use for a season, but bring renewed happiness each time we bring them out. Then there are the other things. The things we hoard and hide and hope they work… eventually. Or the things we are not willing to give up. Like the box of baby clothes I simply closed the lid on and slid back into place. (Why am I keeping baby clothes?! My youngest is almost 11!) Perhaps you have some bits of ribbon and trinkets that you want to someday make into something beautiful… but haven’t made the time for just yet. So they get stored away in that little space left in the corner of your heart. I will be the first one to say: I hear ya, friend!!

So in this first month of this new year, I am praying the prayer of David in Psalm 51: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your Presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” I want my outward de-cluttering to be a reflection of my heart. I want to live simply and use what has been given to me to benefit others and not let those things be quickly tossed away because I have chosen to be careless with it. I am discovering it is a very, very slow process. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes thinking ahead and making conscious choices. It may be simpler… but it is certainly not easier.

So, I am asking you to join me for the next few weeks as I blog about some changes that we are trying here at the Mitton house… to live simply. Hopefully, it will create in us some “cleaner hearts” as well.

New Beginnings


“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. ” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJ 2000 Version)

Happy New Year!! I love a new beginning! That moment when you crack the spine of a brand new book, the joy and sweet smell of a newborn baby still all tiny and wrinkly, a brand new box of crayons — still pristine, with sharpened points ready for creating! There is just something about a clean slate that gives us hope. It is exactly what this verse is telling us… our past person is no longer… God has made us new and improved! Full of potential and hope!

Many of you know that I like to dabble in crafting and have been a big scrapbooker for many years. My scrapping friends like to tease me, because after I finish a page (or layout, as the proper term is…) I tend to tidy up my space before I begin the next one… it’s kind of a funny quirk I have… perhaps it is because I am used to working in a small craft space and need to give myself some room. Maybe I just like to start fresh. To get the creative juices flowing again. To begin with a clean slate. The first day of school is like that for me too. New teachers, new grade, new school supplies. It’s a chance to start, again, with new possibilities for learning, new friendships to develop, new skills to learn and master. That new box of crayons!

And so, as we enter in to a new year, I am again reminded of all things “new”. I look back and reflect to a time when I was younger and tried to keep up with the newest trends and fashion. Truth be told, part of me still succumbs to that drive for perfection… but I have a new goal for 2019… to try and live simply. To let “stuff” go a little, to use less, to be less consumed by the pettiness of this world. Even that has become trendy though… and the new and improved lifestyles of the younger generation is one of minimalist living. We easily fall into the trap of judging others based on how they choose their lifestyles. It’s a complicated world, isn’t it?

When I was much younger, 2 Corinthians 5:17 was a verse that a very wise Sunday school teacher made us memorize. I was (and still am) terrible at memorizing, so I had to say it over and over again. The verse’s message is simple and yet so profound. We became completely new in Christ when we gave our lives to Him. That is the hope that we have for new beginnings. That is that fresh new baby in the manger smell (okay maybe not that smell…) It’s that blank slate that cleanses us of the past. It allows us the freedom to simply be a child again; to put away the old things that tend to crush our spirits, that make us heavy with the burdens of adulthood, that weigh us down.

Perhaps this last year has been a difficult one for you. Perhaps you have suffered loss and pain and heartache. Perhaps you simply want a clean slate with less “bad” and more “good”. That’s the thing about the new box of crayons… sometimes you gotta ruin that beautiful pristine point to get all the beautiful colours down on paper.

So… as we begin a new year of muses together, rejoice in the hope we have for that new beginning, the one that makes us new creations in Christ. The old has gone, the new has come… the clean slate is ready and you have a brand new box of crayons….happy colouring!!

Hosting a Fall Brunch

I love Chip and Joanna Gaines and all things Magnolia.¬† I wish my “fixer upper” house was as beautiful as theirs, but a little thing called my budget gets in the way far too often.¬† That, and hockey playing children.¬† Pooh.¬† But, a girl can dream, can’t she?!magnolia table's cookbook¬† Therefore, I was super excited when I found the Magnolia Table’s cookbook on sale!¬† I snapped it up and longingly poured through the pages.¬† Everything looked so yummy!¬† Down home, southern-Texas-hospitality yummy!¬† I needed an excuse to make some of these goodies!¬† Thus, the fall brunch was born!how to host brunch

I decided to have it on a Friday morning so that the kids were all occupied at school and since clean up day was Thursday, all would be neat and tidy for my guests!¬† I decided to go all out… handmade invitations, fancy china dishes, and little take home goodies.¬† If we were going southern hospitality in Canadian fall, by golly, we were gonna go big!¬† I got some tiny pumpkins and a matching orange Gerbera daisy.¬† This was my easy centerpiece with some strategically placed candles and fall leaves.¬† Easy and fall festive!¬† I wanted to make some cool gabled boxes as favours for my guests that I had seen on Pinterest, but I had to hand cut the template with my scissors — and they just weren’t turning out the way I wanted.¬† So, I scratched that idea, and went with these cute little boxes instead.¬† (see the tutorial here).¬† I decorated mine with some fall foliage and ribbon, filled them with either a teabag or a coffee pod, and we were good to go!¬† (As an aside, I am putting that gable box die cut on my Christmas list for the next time honey… hint hint…)fall brunch

My menu consisted of fresh fruits, yogurt, a coleslaw I made a few days before, bag o’kale salad,¬† a warmed up squash soup I had made earlier and frozen, and a few delightful recipes from the new cookbook:¬† a spinach and cheese quiche, roasted asparagus, baked brie and the star of the show: Joanna’s cinnamon squares!¬† A bunch of these were things my kids won’t eat, so I was happy to share… but the cinnamon squares were a hit with the whole household!¬† They are a labour of love… you have to let the dough rise and layer the filling by folding in layers of dough.¬† The book made it look easy and Ms. Gaines’ squares are beautifully symmetrical… mine were not quite as aesthetically pleasing… but did they ever taste yummy!¬† Coffee, juice and tea, and we were set for a delightful morning of meaningful conversation and fellowship!

I invited a variety of ladies… some neighbours, some from church, all of us at different stages of life, and we made introductions and chatted easily of education, our families, crafts, and how yummy the cinnamon squares were!¬† I hoped it was as delightful for my friends as it was for me!¬† I’m not always good at being social, (introvert that I am), so was stretched a bit to be the delightful hostess.¬† Yet, as I looked around the table, I was struck by how strong the women who gathered there were.¬† How each of them had significant influences on my life through their example, their mentor ship, their friendships, or a way they taught me personally through some action of theirs.¬† Unique ladies, and yet, here we were, gathered to enjoy a bond of good food and good conversation.¬† To celebrate nothing in particular, simply the joys of being invited to share at the table.friendship and coffee

Oh, my friends, it encouraged my heart to plan, and knead the dough, and bake, and tidy.¬† To laugh with friends and enjoy simple things like a warm cup of coffee.¬† We crave that time as moms, don’t we?¬† We were made for relationships.¬† Even introvert me.¬† Perhaps we have lost our old fashioned desire to connect the way women used to.¬† Before texts and meetings and running here and there.¬† Maybe the southern belles had it right.¬† Be a hostess.¬† Share a lemonade on the back porch.¬† Enjoy the company of a good friend.¬† Or get to know a new one.¬† And if ya’ll live way up in Canada, host a fall brunch with some warm soup and great cinnamon squares! It will make your heart glad.

 

How to Re-pot a Cactus (Without Getting Poked!)

Re-potting CactiGreetings!¬† It’s been a hectic week and I am just catching up on a few things (like laundry and housecleaning… what an exciting life I lead, eh?).¬† We are almost into our third week of our 30 Days of Blessings challenge and I am being so encouraged by how people are being blessed!¬† One of the challenges we recently enjoyed was to discover all about plants!¬† Now, I am no green thumb, but I do like plants.¬† It’s just crazy how diverse they are.¬† So many colours, shades and textures.¬† I garden a bit… but I’m really too lazy to tend the land a whole lot.¬† Houseplants are my jive.¬† I don’t have the space for a jungle, but we do have a few potted beauties hanging around.¬† The recent prompt encouraged me to buy two more little succulents… they are all the rage right now!¬† Seriously… How many Instagram pics have you seen with that tiny green thing on the perfectly clean office desk?¬† It’s so unreal, people.¬† Do computer desks look like that?¬† Not mine.¬† ¬†Although I must say, one of my new little guys looks like he needs some googly eyes and a sombrero… it’s so funny!

succulents are fun!

I have a few other succulents, too, which I love to share as they are so easy to propagate.¬† If you need some help with that, you can read about my simple teacher’s gifts here.¬† I once “adopted” an Aloe Vera plant that was huge when I got it.¬† I have shared that one so many times that I only have a few sprigs (apparently the correct term is “pups”) left.¬† I will have to leave it alone for awhile to grow back.¬† But, I digress, we are here to talk about my cacti!¬† I received two little cacti as a souvenir from Arizona.¬† The hubby brought them back from a trip he took several years ago.¬† Recently, they were beginning to look a little sad.¬† One was definitely leaning over (yes, I stuck an old knitting needle in the soil to prop it up!) The other was starting to spot a tad in the middle where it had touched the other one.¬† They had grown too big for the shallow dish they were in and needed to be re-potted for more space… only issue… they are very prickly!!

I had tried once before to re-pot my cactus using tongs to prop it up and some gloves… but the spines went through the gloves!¬† Someone told me a towel would work… but the spines stuck in the towel.¬† And so… YouTube became my friend once again.¬† A lovely expert from California (all things cacti there!) re-potted a huge, tall, spiky beast using bunched up newspaper… and voila!¬† It worked!¬† ¬†I carefully dug around the bottom with a fork and used my oven mitts and some crunched up newspapers to lift the cactus out.¬† It’s pot partner immediately flopped over in shear depression at the thought of being left alone forever — but was soon rescued as well, and placed back with it’s beloved in a new home.¬† Unfortunately, because I had procrastinated moving them so long, the roots had grown slightly sideways, so the plants are still slightly leaning and currently propped up again.¬† I am hoping with more room to grow, they will grow fat and healthy!¬† Newspaper hugs did the trick!newspaperhugs

What about you, my friend?¬† Ever get stuck in a pot too small for your liking, but too afraid of getting poked to move on?¬† Ever feel like you are being prompted for something bigger, somewhere you can bloom and flourish,¬† but doubts and fears keep you leaning over because you’ve procrastinated too long?¬† Or are you afraid to get poked by people who want to see you fail?¬† The Bible tells us to “Be Strong!¬† Be fearless!¬† Don’t be afraid and don’t be scared by your enemies, because the Lord your God is the one who marches with you.¬† He won’t let you down and He won’t abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 (CEBA))¬† How encouraging!¬† I know, I know, you are right — easier said than done.¬† So how do we turn the hard parts to our advantage?¬† Take the example of our plants.¬† Even though the spines are added protection for the plant, cacti use their spikes to retain water as well — a necessary resource in the desert (because they lack leaves).¬† Our struggles often produce defensive spikes that keep our predators at bay.¬† We must learn that even though times are tough, our defenses can become our greatest assets.¬† They help us survive in the desert of life.

Sometimes, we forget.¬† We get stabbed with the consequences when we are not protected.¬† I got a jab by one tiny spine through my oven mitt as I propped up my leaning cactus without the added protection of the newspapers.¬† I tried to do it on my own.¬† When our Godly defenses are down, we sometimes react without being properly guarded.¬† And it hurts… let me tell ya!¬† So use your newspaper to wrap one another in love.¬† Hug a cactus with all the encouragement and grace you can find!¬† Cushion them with space and then gently lift them forward.¬† Only then can you begin to see them flourish and bloom in their new space!¬†¬†bloom & flourish

Epic Felting Fail

Life is back into full swing here, and the lazy days of summer are dwindling away.¬† Unfortunately for me, that means less time for leisurely activities like crafting.¬† Before all that disappears though, I wanted to share with you one of my big crafting tragedies.¬† My epic fail.¬† My fibre flop.¬† My defeated disaster.¬† Perhaps it will encourage you.¬† If not, well, I might just make it to a Pinterest fail compilation, for “I nailed it”¬† — not.FELTFAIL

If you are a Pinterest junkie like me, you will know how easily one can be swayed by the allure of beautiful craft pieces, created by highly skilled individuals displaying their wares.¬† Or perhaps Instagram is your game… and a perfectly plated dish is drool worthy for you.¬† Maybe you play it old school and appreciate a fine, handmade quilt tucked away in some quaint antique store; or a fashionista who spends hours finding that perfect accent for your well coordinated outfit.¬† We are such fickle creatures, aren’t we?¬† We love to create, and often spend our entire lifetimes perfecting our work.

Which brings me back to my fail.¬† I recently discovered the delicate art of dry felting.¬† It involves stabbing raw or “roving” wool with a fine needle until it becomes “felted” or matted together.¬† By layering colours and textures, detailed works of art can become so lifelike, it is difficult to tell what’s real and what’s not… and the pieces are so adorably cute! I first featured some felting artistry at mittonmusings¬†here.¬† So, eager to try something new, I found a little felting kit at my local craft store and attempted a rather wonky llama.¬† He’s not bad, but he doesn’t quite stand.¬† His little legs are not very sturdy.¬† Okay for a beginner, I suppose.¬† More recently, I attempted a petite pig with inspiration from a felting book I was pleased to discover down in the States.¬† It did not go as well.FELTBOOK

The book’s directions had me lay out all the various parts, and following the preliminary instructions for a “dog body” shape, my cute little piglet should have come together beautifully.¬† My wool was a little too pink — more candy floss shade — but I was going to blend in some browns and whites to make him him look more realistic.¬† I could do this, right? Several hours later, after stabbing away at my little foam block and folding and fluffing wool… I had all my shapes ready.

Well… my cotton candied porker was not too well proportioned … and he ended up looking like a sausage shaped cat with lopsided legs.¬† I attempted to give him a whimsical expression… but my features were too thick and my cat-pig ended up all drag-queen-gone-bad.¬† Epic fail.¬† My beloveds tried to encourage me with kind words… but we all managed a laugh as Mr. Pig joined Wonky Llama in my misfit menagerie of sad looking felted friends.¬† I am afraid it is back to the drawing board for me.Shapes all laid out...things so far so good...

What about you, my friend?¬† Ever attempt a “creation”?¬† Are you a fine artist? A crafter?¬† Are you a fabulous cook, or can you rebuild a car from scratch?¬† I would love to hear from you!

Alas, my fellow beginners… there is always a lesson in our trials!¬† Are you encouraged, as I am, that the Bible tells us God doesn’t make mistakes (unlike us!).¬† It says that God created…¬† and it was good.¬† I will say it again:¬† He doesn’t make mistakes.¬† No epic fails.¬† No beginner blunders.¬† Everything was perfect.¬† Just as He designed.¬† We recently visited the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio.¬† It was a helpful reminder in simply appreciating the vast diversity we have in this created world — from the tiniest creepy crawly to the towering dinosaur of yesteryear.¬† As a scientist, I can appreciate the subtle and profound differences in a world of creatures.¬† And I continue to be amazed as the various disciplines peel back the layers of this place that God called “good”.¬† Oh, my friends… We’ve barely scratched the surface!

But do you want to know what is even cooler than that?! He created us!¬† You and I were created in the image of the Almighty! He breathed life into dirt and “felted” us together — delicately weaving our personalities, our gifts, our talents, and our passions into something spectacular!¬† You have been perfectly crafted by the most talented artist of all!

So take heart.¬† If your llamas are a little wobbly, and your piggies are not quite pudgy… fear not.¬† Humans have to keep practicing.¬† God doesn’t.GODPRACTICE

 

 

 

 

Strawberries!

It’s berry season!¬† Despite it’s overgrown spread and lack of attention, our backyard raspberry bush is yielding some bumper crop this year.¬† We have also been loving the organic blueberries that come via our local farmers markets in summer.¬† We even tried some haskap berries via our basket of deliveries (Which I discovered aren’t really berries… but are still yummy!).¬† Hands down, though, our family is big on the fat, juicy delights of strawberries!¬† The youngest Mitton can down a bucketful in 10 seconds flat!¬† I love mine with cream or in a smoothie with some banana.¬† Mmmmnnn… nothing says summer in Canada more than berries!

A few weeks back, we went on our traditional “pick your own” strawberry expedition with grandma. We’ve been doing it for years.¬† In fact, I can’t ever remember not having a freezer full of strawberries — which is actually ironic because my mother, bless her heart… does not like strawberries.¬†strawberry picking We used to laugh as kids when mom would replace one frozen bucket with another one she had just picked, even though last year’s produce didn’t get eaten.¬† You see… it’s tradition.¬† Please… bear with me as I break out in song with Tevye in my rendition of the Fiddler on the Roof’s¬†opening song…dai, dai, dai… okay, enough of that.¬† Back to strawberries.

Now that I am a mature homemaker, devoted wife and mother, I have taken on the task of processing my own strawberries.¬† Let me tell you… this is no easy task!¬† This year we picked about 7 litres… enough for three batches of jam, two giant servings for eating and about 2 cups to put in the freezer for later (the tradition continues — except we eat ours).¬† The whole process is a very full day’s work.¬† This year the picking was hot and humid.¬† We went to the farm early and had our baskets filled in about an hour or so.¬† Then the real processing begins… washing and stemming the juicy morsels as the red, staining juice drips down my arms and everything turns slightly pink.¬† I pop a couple super cute berries into my mouth to compensate for the mess.¬† Then the waiting begins.¬† I make “no cook” freezer jam (just follow the packet of your favourite brand) which means adding sugar, stirring, waiting, stirring, timing, waiting, stirring and finally pouring.¬† Making three batches at a time is… well, time consuming.¬† One year, I didn’t get the timing quite right and I ended up with strawberry syrup instead of jam.¬† Which is just as yummy on ice cream as jam, so no worries.¬† After all the chopping, stirring, waiting and drippy messes… the pretty red jars head off to the freezer to be pulled out again in December for decorating and gift giving.¬† I think all the work is so worth it… and I hope our friends and family do to when they receive their jar come Christmastime!

All in all, the effort and toil brings joy and pleasure to others.¬† I suppose this is why such things become traditions.¬† My mom fills her freezer because it reminds her of her own mother.¬† My kids visit the farm because it’s an activity they love to do with grandma.¬† Our friends are beginning to expect a jar of strawberry jam at Christmastime.¬† Perhaps your church has a strawberry social in the summer with loads of strawberry shortcake topped with fluffy whip cream.¬† ¬†I have to agree with Tevye … traditions keep our balance.¬† It allows us to have some sort of constant expectation.¬† Often, it’s an enjoyable one that we look forward to… like strawberry freezer jam.¬† Perhaps the hard work involved makes it even more special.¬† And the beginnings of traditions… often unknown or lost through the years.¬† Which begs the question… is a traditional way the only way?

jamI ask because traditions can also be taken for granted… we do something a certain way because we have always done it that way.¬† Is it wrong?¬† Not necessarily.¬† God’s word is full of examples of traditional laws … many of which we still follow today.¬† They are given to us by God and therefore I deem them worthy of consideration and practice in my faith walk.¬† Many a saint has grown spiritually from using disciplines and routine.¬† The caution must come when tradition overtakes our desires to grow with God vs. religious tradition.¬† It’s about relationship not ritual.¬† I am not one for change.¬† Really.¬† I like things when they stay the same… even when it comes to church.¬† There is something to be said for tradition.¬† It keeps us balanced.¬† But I have learned that time does not wait for anyone.¬† The ebb and flow of society forces us to move along and find new balances.¬† Like Tevye, traditions will be challenged.¬† We must learn and be constantly examining why we believe the things we do… is it biblical or simply a tradition?¬† In thirty years will it be the same?¬† Should it be?¬† Does it need to be?¬† This being said, God doesn’t change.¬† He is our constant — kinda like the pectin in my strawberry jam.¬† He’s the gel that should be the catalyst in our mix.¬† As long as we add the right amount of sweetness, and allow for some time, a little chopping and stirring brings things back to a perfect consistency.¬† A flawless gift we can give to our friends and family.

Will you examine your practices and traditions along with me?¬† Do you simply do them the way you do for the sake of tradition?¬† Is it good?¬† Or do you have to examine your reasoning deeper?¬† Are you just replacing another freezer burnt bucket of thoughts for the same ones?¬† Becoming more Christlike is a journey, and we have to twist and turn and be pruned and challenged… only then will we produce the sweetest fruit worthy of passing on to others.¬† It’s work, but it’s worth it.

Worth the Work!