Our Urban Garden

When I was in elementary school, we did those career quizzes that predicted what kind of employment path you might choose based on your interests and skills. My number one vocation, three times running, was “farmer”. It never happened. I am a city girl born and raised, although, I’ve had my fair share of farm experiences. Horseback riding, picking berries, we even brought home baby ducks for the weekend after we hatched them at school (my mom was not too pleased either as we didn’t tell her her bathtub was going to be occupied for three days with stinky, mess-making, fuzzy little creatures!) My grandpa was a great gardener too, and I loved following him around his garden. It was always laden with deep red geraniums in hanging pots, an abundance of peas and beans … and I always fell for his trick of tasting the sour grapes from the not- quite-ripe vines that overhung the trellis walkway.

This year, the youngest and I attempted our first “real” urban garden. We have done a few potted tomatoes in the past, but our soil is poor, and we have a lot of shade, so not too much grows in our neck of the woods. This year, since moving our carport, a plot of earth literally opened up for us. We planned early and picked seedlings to start (part of my going greener adventures). It has been fun to watch her get excited about watering and weeding! Sadly, Ontario has had a terrible spring this year… wet and cool for way too long… and then we skipped right into hot and humid summer, so I am pleased that anything grew in our little urban farm experiment! Today, we harvested a bumper crop of mixed lettuce! Complete with a beetle of unknown variety and several creepy, crawly earwigs! Success! Organically grown produce! In the city!

Part of the fun of success is letting my imagination get the better of me… I get carried away with thinking about the next project… beautifully tiered growing boxes of fine veggies, plots of land with free ranging chickens that get tucked into adorable coops at night. Corrals with milk producing goats shoving their annoying little kids back from climbing over the fences. Oh, I could learn how to make goat cheese! Or lavender scented goat milk soap in small, handmade batches!

But alas, my ever patient hubby reminds me to “be satisfied with what you have”. Delight in the joys of what you have — right now. See your current success as a blessing, and not always look for bigger or better. I’m trying. But I crave more. I fight this inner struggle of my dreaming heart — and my practical head. I know I would become overwhelmed with a bigger plot of weeds. I know escaping chickens would drive me crazy, and failed goat’s milk soap would frustrate me (even in tiny batches). But a girl can dream, right?

Am I alone in my struggle to do more? Not likely. Perhaps, this is why Jesus used so many examples of agriculture in His teachings. Sure, it is something the people would be familiar with, but it is also such a growing and changing creature in and of itself. Agriculture — urban or otherwise — requires good growing conditions, fine weather patterns, and a whole lotta hard work! The people of Jesus’ day understood that His parables about soil or mustard seeds are partially dependent on what they did and partially dependent on trusting God for the process.

We have read countless children’s books to our crew about how we can plant seeds and water and give good soil, but only God can grow the seed. Our little plot of land has reminded me of those simple truths. We pray for our family members to be healed, or go to church, or see our faith as something real. We send them books to read and online articles to ponder. We teach our kids Bible truths and send them to Christian summer camps. But only God can grow the seed.

We have one lonely carrot in our urban garden. One. Oh, we planted lots… but only the scraggly top of one, singleton carrot is showing. We have no idea if anything is growing beneath the surface. Perhaps the visiting bunny may finish it off completely before the harvest season. I want and wish it to be fat and plump and delightfully orange… but it may be only a tiny root come the day we finally dig it up. And I will again be reminded, that God is in control, and we need to be patient, and just keep trying again — next year.


Want to see a tour of our little urban garden? Check out our Instagram page @mittonmusingsblog or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Mittonmusings/

I Challenge You!

Finally had a little break from the busy work schedule of last week! I escaped North to visit the oldest beloved. It means I will have lots of work to do when I get back home, so it may not really be too much of a break, but for now, I am relishing the quiet. An introvert needs her time to recoup, you know!

Today, we worshiped at her church… a younger crowd of Jesus followers meeting together to praise the Lord with a little more flash and flourish than I am used to, but a great Bible based message was given, and I am thankful she has found a place where her faith can continue to grow away from home. The pastor’s sermons are relevant connections to the group living there, intended for their special circumstances and neighbourhood. It is different from ours at home… and that is okay. Which got me thinking about an activity I saw in a classroom about a month ago.

The teacher had a bulletin board displayed with challenges that the students made up for their peers to attempt. Simple things like “write a poem like me”, or “play the game I made for you to try” or “make up a cool emoji to use to describe your feelings”. My understanding is, that it was an exercise to create some student choice, as well as an activity that allowed the students to interact and learn from their peers. I thought it was quite a noble concept for public school — and got me thinking about the world as a whole.

I have many friends who have chosen to home school their children. Others who choose to send their children to private or religion based schools. When our eldest was born, we explored various options as well — even considering Montessori learning. As parents, we want the best education possible for our kids. We also want our values and culture to be relevant and present in the lives of our beloveds as well. For many of us, this includes our faith. Especially at a stage where their development is so poignant to their future lives. Let’s face it – whatever we have exposure to when we are young, we tend to use as part of our future lives also.

But let’s get back to trying to condense my muse into something more concrete. I guess what I am trying to say, is that no matter what our background, no matter what our culture, no matter where we grew up, or what kind of life we have led, we come to the cross on the same level. Yet — we need to learn from — and be challenged by — our fellow humans. Our peers. Different cultures. Different methods of learning. Different methods of worship. To use our five senses in worship, thus allowing our faith to grow in whole body, soul, mind and spirit. Fellow students of Biblical learning, challenging one another in love, to go beyond what we know, to sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron. It’s a Biblical concept that instructs us to learn from each other, to meet together to fellowship, to share ideas and grow in our relationships. It’s part of who God made us to be. The Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’s day knew the law — but Jesus was always challenging them to live out what they learned… with grace and love.

I will be the first to admit that this is not easy for me. I am quick to be negative. I am quick to criticize this or that as not a “proper” method of worship. I, too, have my own biases and preferences. Therefore, I too, must do my research and discover if something is simply tradition, or is it a biblical practice? Can I learn from my peers and be challenged to try something different? Do I choose to hide from the “grey areas” of the faith world and not engage in discussions about difficult topics? Can I learn from someone else’s background? Or worse, will it strengthen my children’s faith by allowing them to be exposed to hard questions? To be confronted by their friends? Or do I hide and protect them from it all? It’s not an easy answer. Are you up for the challenge? I’d love to hear from you! In what ways have you been called to give an answer by others? Has it been easy or hard? Share in the comments!

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

It has been a crazy few weeks! Busy spring schedules means my house is a mess, I’m tired, the laundry is backed up, and things are just a tad bit grumpy around here. So, there is really no time for casual reading, despite my comfy couch calling my name as the sunbeams warm the spot! But before the chaos hit, I had the chance to finish up a book entitled “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend” by Matthew Dicks. (FYI – Apparently the author goes by Matthew Green in Australia and the UK). I picked it up in one of the thrift shops we stopped at on our girl’s getaway a few weeks back. (You can read about those adventures, here).

The reviews label it as a “psychological novel”… and I am not quite sure what that means. But it’s good. It is also an auditory book, so if you prefer that, it might be a cool one to listen to on a car trip this summer? Personally, I loved it as a great read, and couldn’t put it down. It tells the story of Max, an elementary school-aged boy with some special needs, and his imaginary friend, Budo. Budo, although imaginary, and only seen and heard by Max, is quite “real” for an imaginary friend. (He has eyebrows!) He is also quite “old” for an imaginary friend (More than five years old — most imaginary friends get killed by kindergarten says Budo 🙂 ). He discovers, through twists and turns in the book, that the more he learns, the more he dislikes reality. Budo’s biggest reality? Imaginary friends do not last very long. And Budo has to make some tough decisions in order to help Max, which in turn, may bring about his own demise.

I’m not a “fluffy” book reader… I like some interesting (and slightly dark) twists in my novels — and this one had just enough to keep me up at night. It boasts of sacrifice and internal struggle and pushing forward. Budo has to face his fears. Ultimately, his friend, Max, does too. The author has made it quite creative, almost whimsical — there are some other meritorious imaginary friends described in the book, and a few teachers who tickled my funny bone, as well.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is not considered a “spiritual” book by any shape or form, but I couldn’t help but see the parallels it has to our own faith journeys. Faith being the operative word here. Have you ever felt like an imaginary friend? Heard and seen and understood by only a very select few? You struggle to “do the right thing” but it may mean sacrificing your friendships, or even your very own existence? Do you have to rely on the strength of others to get you through a challenging trial?

Recently, I discovered our youngest had copied out a verse on the chalk board hanging on her wall. It struck me how we have been developing her faith by our family choices, our encouragement, and our example. In turn, she is beginning to live out her own faith in Christ. And we see it reflected in the doodles and drawings on her chalk board. What a scary privilege we have as parents!

Oh friends, after busy spring weeks like these past few, my faith is weak. I want to achieve big things, but I struggle with simply keeping things at the same, comfortable and re-assuring spot. I don’t want to step out of my comfort zone, into the “real” world and face challenges that might be too hard for me. Sometimes I am barely keeping a float where I am right now! Can I get an Amen? Anyone out there feel the same?

Perhaps, Budo, Max’s imaginary friend, could take notes along with me, from 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT), where we learn that there is someone very real we can count on to strengthen us in our spiritual journeys. Someone who can truly help us step out in faith.  “Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. “ So be it.