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.

Seasons of Change

Perhaps there isn’t enough snow on the ground to be discussing changes in season. Perhaps I’ve jumped the gun in talking about something that hasn’t yet happened. Especially since the weather was so warm today. Still, for some reason, this is what’s been on my mind. And I’d like to think that what I share here is beyond me and serves its purpose on a bigger scale, so I am going with it. Perhaps it’s a mood swing and I’m just self-talking at this point… dragging you all down with me. Maybe it’s the surroundings. The walls are closing in. There is a tree just outside my front window that is totally void of leaves already. A blank canvas preparing for a dark winter. Last week we chatted about the harvest and the busyness of that time… and the joys that went along with reaping. And then comes winter. In Canada, we are blessed (or cursed?) to enjoy four, very distinct seasons. We understand (and are often teased about) our endless winters. Still, how can one appreciate the warmth of summer if you haven’t felt the bitter cold of winter?

Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

I’m sure many of you have heard of this thing called SAD that people often suffer from during the onslaught of winter. SAD or “Seasonal Affective Disorder” causes about 14% of the general population to feel slightly depressed, isolated, fatigued during a seasonal change. The symptoms can be more serious, but most of us feel those “winter blues” when we are tucked up inside. I suspect with COVID the feelings of isolation and fatigue have been compounded in recent months. I’ve felt it too. Sadness (and I’m talking about the emotion here) is a God-given feeling. We don’t want to think of it that way — I mean, why would God want us to feel sad? And yet, Jesus himself wept for others, felt lonely and discouraged. It’s like experiencing the summer without the winter again. We must go through the seasons of life to truly appreciate “the other side”. Do you agree with me, here? Or maybe it’s just me and the mood I’ve been in this weekend. Maybe ya’ll are experiencing a joyous season right now and you are regretting diving into this post. Sorry if I’ve brought you down.

Are you ready to face it? Photo by kristen leigh on Unsplash

Okay, maybe I’m not sorry for leading you down this lonely path. The Bible talks a lot about seasons. Metaphors for not only in sharing the gospel but for spiritual growth. I’m sure many of you will quote Ecclesiastes back to me at this juncture in our discussion… for there is a “time for everything” and a “time for every season under the sun”. And you would be right. You know I love a good learning curve in this journey of life… and I truly think God gives us one every now and then to keep us moving forward. Growth only happens when seasons change. The “dead” of winter is the waiting period where everything slows down before the big growth spurt of spring. That tree outside my window seems bleak right now, but it’s working on the energy it will need to burst forth with blossoms come April. I’ve been around the moon enough to know this. You have to.

I heard a quote that made me think a bit. I don’t know who said it, but it’s pretty deep:

“Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He’s trying to change your heart.”

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Part of me doesn’t like it. I’m stubborn and don’t want to have my heart changed. I don’t like to think about what could be. Unless it’s good for me. Or easy for me. But. Seasons change. Winter will soon be here and there is not much I can do about it but drag out the heavy boots and coats and embrace the wind. Face the ice and snow head-on and dream of warmer days to come. Will you join me and strap on the winter tires as we trek down the road together? Until next week, my friends!

Bringing in the Sheaves

Sheesh! Can you believe we are already in November?! The time is flying by and winter will soon be upon us! I was thinking a bit about this as I was looking around at fall decorations door to door. The harvest season is all but completed and people have hay bales stashed on the front steps. They also have these little bundles of dried grasses bunched together. We have one as part of our fall decorations at church. Do you know what they are called? It’s called a “sheaf”… the plural of which is “sheaves”. Does that word sound familiar? In case it doesn’t, “Bringing in the Sheaves” is an ancient hymn penned by an American named Knowles Shaw, who was inspired by Psalm 126:6.

“Bringing in the Sheaves”

Many will recognize it from “Little House on the Prarie” … the little chapel congregation always seemed to be singing it whenever the Ingalls family attended church. Interestingly enough, it was also featured in the horror film “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” and the 1966 version of “Batman”! Talk about the gospel in strange places! Here are the lyrics:

“Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,

Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain:Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,

Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;

By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. (Refrain)

Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,

Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;

When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves. (Refrain)”

Knowles Shaw, 1874

Obviously the old fashioned hymn makes references to the farming harvest. But how powerful of an example is this to the Bible’s idea of sowing the good news? It’s hard work to labour and toil (ask any farmer!) but the fruits of your labours are certainly worthy of rejoicing! Such is also true of the follower of Christ who shares His love. The servant attitude and sometimes tedious faith journey is hard work! Sharing your faith is not easy — especially in the world we live in today! Yet, the joys of “bringing in your harvest” is certainly cause for rejoicing, not only in the heart of the new believer, but also in your own!

So, before the snow dusts the world in white, remember those bundles of straw we put out on the porch steps… and what they represent, then smile as you “bring in your sheaves”.