Made to Move Mountains

“God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Psalm 46 (NIV)

I just finished reading Made to Move Mountains by Kristen Welch. She quotes this Bible passage in her book, but in light of the recent events in our world, perspectives have changed everything. This was going to be a simple book review, recommending Welch’s book to you for your small group study — an inspiration to climb your own mountains and encourage one another to follow your dreams. However, the continuing Covid-19 crisis, long term care lockdowns, political turmoil and racial tensions in the US, have overwhelmed me to look at God’s word and the themes in this book with new eyes. Pride month will start today in my neighbourhood. School is closed for the year and I have no work. I feel like I am sitting at the base of my very own mountain.

“Made to Move Mountains” has been provided courtesy of Baker Books, NetGalley and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Welch begins by reminding us that there are two types of mountains we face: some are our dreams, goals, and personal challenges. These are the mountains we choose to climb. The other mountains are our disasters, crises and personal threats that we don’t choose ourselves, but are forced to climb nonetheless. We need Jesus for both. This book is great at balancing between both types of mountains and reminding us of the end goal — the summit. I love how she starts one of her chapters with this Chinese proverb:

“There are many paths up the mountain, but the view from the top is always the same.”

In other words, each time we climb a mountain… be it a forced climb, or one we are willing to take, we can rejoice in the final view. The paths to the top may be different each time, and each trail will shape the view and perspective of the top. However, we are changed by our accomplishments and driven forward by our joys along the path. This too, sometimes requires perspective. We all have taken a different journey and can add our thoughts to the road ahead because of our unique experiences. And no one should climb mountains alone. You prepare, you intentionally plan and gather equipment, and you often have a crew behind you or ahead of you cheering you on. My family recently watched Free Solo, National Geographic’s award winning documentary about Alex Honnold’s climb of mount El Capitan without a safety rope! It’s both gut wrenching and brilliant. And although he climbs alone and “unaided”, the film crew, his friends, and ultimately the viewing audience is drawn in to see Alex make it to the top — alive. Kristen Welch does much the same thing in her book by focusing our thoughts on our faith in Christ, our community, and our neighbours. Each of the chapters have a “mountain top moment” for personal reflection and/or a challenge. These would be a great start off point for small group discussion too.

Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

And so I muse this week, about passion, perspective and climbing mountains. I am prompted by Made to Move Mountains to question: Who is my neighbour and what am I doing to love them as Christ does? I mean to really love them with passion and action? Is my faith really deep enough to trust that God will move the mountains in front of me? Or that He will see me to the top? God made each one of us different. Different colours, different sizes, with different gifts and talents. Each of us are geared towards our own sense of justice and passion. Each of us have faced our own personal mountains and have been shaped by our own climbs. For Kristen Welch, it is The Mercy House and a child with a scary diagnosis. For protesters in the US, it is another senseless death of a black man. Perhaps mine is this little piece of the internet where I can share my thoughts. Or maybe it is being a part of raising the next generation to be more kind and considerate than I am. For beyond these mountains we move today, there will be more mountains. But God loves bad odds. And Psalm 46 reminds us that He is in charge. He is our ever-present help in trouble and has given us the power to move mountains! He will give us the faith to climb to the summit. This book has some great quotes scattered throughout it, so I’ll end with one Welch quotes from Solon on justice and simply let it speak for itself:

Celebrating Freedom

Happy Victoria day! Happy Belated Mother’s day! Happy Beginning of Summer! Happy who-knows-how-many day of Lockdown! I don’t know about you, but I am feeling the need to wish you a happy something. To celebrate. To move forward. To move on. Things are slowly, slowly starting to open up around us, but we are still being cautious, and many of our “normal” summer events have already been cancelled. Covid-19 and the pandemic of 2020 will cause us to question how we do things for sometime. Life will go on, but we need to be prepared for changes going forward. We usually spend this first long weekend of summer at our trailer, opening up, dusting off the winter, and looking forward to sunny days and slower times. Instead, we are still home. We’ve been doing slower days for three months already! Home — but still keeping ourselves busy. We are ahead of schedule this year with our little urban garden, and the youngest has been itching to get our seedlings in the ground. This weekend was spent in preparation!

We expanded our growing space this year by purchasing two raised beds… and 3 cubic yards of soil! (which is a whack load of dirt, lemme tell ya!) I guess if I can’t have the farm, we are going to bring it to me, by golly! Now, let me premise the rest of the story by saying we are not great at building projects. We have limited experience and even more limited tools. But where there is a will, there is a way, right? And, so, we spent the entire day building, levelling, shovelling and soon — planting! I thought, great — I will blog about the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5. Seemed like a gardening-type verse to focus on. Yet, as I read the passage over this week and meditated on it, the context, and what I might muse about, I was convicted by the following verse:

“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:26 (NIV)

So much of my isolation has been spent scrolling through news feeds, searching for ideas, plans, gathering information. This is not inherently wrong, of course, and it has become part of our lives — especially now, when everything has “moved online”. And so I muse: How much have I envied others as I scrolled? Have I become conceited in my own posts as I “brag” about what I am doing at home? I’ve found myself looking at the newscaster’s artwork on the walls as I listen to the news. I wonder about the kitchen gadgets and the furniture and lack of dirty dishes as I look up new recipes. I see the actors and actresses without their camera crews and wonder how they pull off their great looks without help. What about those Zoom Meetings? Perhaps you’ve been seeking out worship and devotions and watched churches who can put on heavenly displays. Or maybe you’ve been like me — totally jealous of the Instagram stories of vast acres in the hills, with perfect rows of green growth… and chickens.

photo credit: silvertulipgifts (Etsy)

The Mitton crew has had a good weekend. Our garden beds turned out great, and we worked together as a family. We spent time outdoors and got a lot accomplished. I am proud and feel good about the things we did. We have reason to celebrate those things. Still, I am reminded to be humble and remember that God has blessed us with the means and the abilities. As He has blessed those I see online. I must remember not to listen to the voices that remind me of the doubts and insecurities I have. The ones that tell me what I have is “not good enough” . The envious thoughts of “if only…”

Oh my friends, I hope and pray that as I post each week and share my pictures and muses with you, that you understand that we are on the journey together. Our lives are far from perfect, and those on the screens are far from perfect too. We all need a Saviour and the fruit of the Spirit. It’s hard to balance dreams and reality, isn’t it? To curb our envy, and still pursue lofty goals. Galatians 5 reminds us that we were called to be free as we walk in the Spirit, and not be burdened by the desires of the flesh. It is my prayer for us on this long weekend. Here’s to celebrating that kind of freedom!

Road Trip!

We went on a long drive this weekend. Maybe we were not supposed to. Perhaps we should have stayed home. But we stayed safe — and realistically there is nothing else to do, am I right? Better than being exposed to viruses in the grocery store, right? So, we went. I had some goals and things to see along the way, so I planned the route the day before. Google mapped my meandering “scenic” journey through countryside and small towns. Not that anything was open. It was about the journey. What about you? Do you love a good road trip? With four kids plus the two of us, budget often dictates we drive instead of fly. We have done our fair share of road trips. Our kids have travelled via minivan from day one. They are good travellers and we have all survived. Technology helps… but planning is better. I remember travelling to Disney and creating “car kits” for the kids with games and snacks. Now they are older, so technology it is… unless you are picking up the oldest who has been slightly isolated and needs to share. Or the youngest who never gets enough one on one attention and will talk your ear off if given the correct topic.

The hubby and I used to talk a lot on road trips — how we would never do what so-and-so does with their kids, as our future children will be angels. (*cough* wheeze …choking on our own words). Or, what our perfect house would look like if we had money to burn. We don’t chat much now on car rides… unless it’s me telling him to slow down, or to get gas before it is too late. Or making that sucking-in-air noise as you brace the sides of the door handle as he changes lanes. Like your feeble human arm will protect you from that 18 wheel semi truck who happens to be too close. Come on, I know I am not the only one who does this, am I right? Aged nerves are not as steely as they used to be. Maturity has a way of doing that to you.

Nonetheless, we road tripped a little this weekend. The sun shone, the van was gassed up, and time was on our side. We plugged in our phone and punched in the first “stop”. Anyone remember those fold out maps (à la paper) with highlighted routes and sharpie x’s here and there? Doesn’t happen anymore, does it? Phone apps and google maps rule now. Which had me musing… oh, how we trust in that little piece of technology. We believe it will get us there. On more than one occasion, I have told myself just to trust the GPS… it knows. Truthfully, it usually does.

As we travelled along this time, we, again, trusted in our app and turned down a somewhat questionable sideroad. It was paved, but narrow, and a little too country for my liking… and not where I had planned. I asked the hubby, and he assured me that the maps were giving us “the fastest” way. There was very little signage on the this backroad… but it eventually came back out to a main street and we continued along without incident. This little blind side trip had me thinking again… How many times do we want clear and visible signs?

We often want clear signs! (photo credit: Ryan McGuire)

If you are anything like me, you want signs to point you in the right direction. Some concrete indication that yes, this is it. This is God’s plan. This is what I should be doing — or that big sign that says “TURN HERE” you are going the wrong way! The map has the big sharpie X plainly highlighted with all the stops. I looked up “signs” in my Bible app… and “signs and wonders” often accompanied each other in the listed verses. Seems like humanity has always been looking for “signs”. The big miracles. Clear indications of supernatural influences. Many of the early Jesus followers were seeking just these magic shows, however, and not really interested in Jesus himself or His teachings. Still others were unconvinced… hardened hearted Pharaoh mocked Moses’ “signs”. His own magicians could conjure up snakes and smoke just as impressively.

Perhaps as you’ve been home, contemplating life with the rest of us, you are looking for signs too… should you go back to the same job? When is it “safe” to go out? Who should make the decision to reopen businesses? And when? I’m with ya. I want life all mapped out, too. Yet, our online Sunday service this week reminded us that sometimes we need to reassess, and perhaps a pave a new path on our spiritual journey. God sometimes asks us to go where the road is not clearly marked. Where the road is narrow and a little too “country backroad” for our liking. And for a brief moment we are scared that it is not the way.

Still, Who is in your driver’s seat? Who controls the GPS and the steering wheel of your life? Do we give up full control and say, yup, Jesus, go ahead and take the wheel? I’m just along for the ride. It’s hard. It’s scary. It may even be a little dangerous. It’ll take some faith and a whole lotta trust. But — it may just be worth your drive. Happy road-tripping, my friend, happy road-tripping.