How to Stay Motivated (When you just want to eat chocolate covered almonds)

Okay, so here it is the middle of September, back to school has happened and the kick-offs are all around us.  Get involved! Join this! We need volunteers for this! We want to serve this year!  *Sigh*  I don’t know about you, but today I just wanna crawl back into a hole and eat my secret stash of chocolate covered almonds.  The whole bag.  By myself.  I’m supposed to start teaching Sunday School this week.  Our study group begins again.  We want to serve others and engage with family this year.  The kids will soon be starting lessons and clubs and the minivan will be put into overdrive as workshops start up again for me.  It’s usually a time when my organizational skills flourish and I get all excited for new beginnings… but I just ain’t feeling it.  Can I get an amen?  Anyone else struggling with feeling motivated?  Are you a leader and trying to recruit some volunteers but get the same five people for every ministry?  Or are you like me and feeling like the apostle Paul in Romans 7?  You want to do the things you know you should do, but you just don’t do them.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, as they say.

Okie dokie then.  Shall we muse together on how to start that spiritual flame under our unmotivated, ummm, slightly “fleshy” behinds and move forward?  Are you with me?  It will be no easy task, my friends… chocolate covered almonds have a big pull for me…

eatchocalmonds

Did you know that if you google motivation, there are almost    940 000 000 results?!  Obviously we are not alone here.  This is a big issue… and “how to stay awake” is in the top 5.  Maybe people are simply just tired.  Our flesh is weak.  Literally.  Highly motivated people quickly burn out if we don’t get proper rest.  Late nights and too many chocolate covered almonds don’t make for good servants.  We know this.  However, it’s a good place to start.  A strung out new mom who is caring for a colicky newborn might not be the best one to ask to head up the children’s ministry.  Just sayin’.  So our number 1 must be:  take care of the physical you.  Rest well.

My number 2 is:  pray about it.  Life is hard sometimes.  Only God knows our future and our past.  He has given you the gifts to move forward, and can heal the hurts from before.  Tell Him your frustrations.  Ask others to surround you with prayers as well.  If need be, seek Godly wisdom and prayers from professionals who might need to help in practical ways you cannot provide for yourself alone.  Those prayers may also be the catalyst in sending others your way!  Who knows, maybe someone is praying about how to serve you!  This intimacy with God often gives us clarity and focus.  Perhaps you will add some quiet meditation or praise and worship music to re-align your focus on “things above” versus the many distractions we have “here below.”  I often end up praying about what to blog about — because my thoughts are not always the ones that need to be said… and it often surprises me the direction that my muses take!

One of my biggest obstacles is being overwhelmed with the task at hand.  I look at the space around me and think, nope, too big, not worth the effort, where are my almonds?  Oh man, I struggle with this one.  I am task oriented, so if the task is too big, I can’t wrap my brain around it and quickly become unmotivated.  This is where I have to heed the words a very wise friend once told me… just do the next thing.  Say you want to live simply and clear the clutter.  Thinking about the whole house might be overwhelming.  Start with one drawer, or one closet, and then… do the next thing.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

planpurpose

That leads to the next big one… the plan. This is not new either, I am just reminding you (and me) that you have to plan for things to happen.  My husband and I often converse about this one… he hopes things will just fall into place, that his romantic gestures will sweep me off my feet and date night will spontaneously happen due to some great alignment of the universe.  But he knows that if he sets it up on the calendar, I am more likely to carve out that time with him to work on our relationship.  Some of us need this more than others.  Many volunteers quickly abandon their posts if there is no set plan.  Don’t forget that plans include your materials!  Some folks are overwhelmed with a disorganized, unkempt space.  Many are willing to cook at the pancake breakfast fundraiser… but if the kitchen is a disaster and there are no clean spatulas, it might be a no-go.

I Corinthians 15:58 reminds us that nothing we do is in vain.  The smallest efforts can lead to great things with God’s help.  However, I do think He wants us to set a distinct purpose behind our efforts.  Ever have your kids ask WHY?  Why do I have to go to school? Why do I have to clean my room?  Why do we have to go to church?  Why is the sky blue?  If we don’t know why we are doing something, then it often loses its lustre and we become frustrated with the effort it takes.  Or it is simply not needed.  Do you run a program just because there has always been one?  Is it necessary?  There is a story about a new housewife who always trimmed the ends off her roast before cooking it.  One day she asked her grandmother: why?  Was it some ancient technique for a fine Sunday dinner?  Her grandmother replied that it was the only way a large roast would fit in her small roasting pan.  Yup, sometimes it’s helpful to know the purpose behind the plan.

Occasionally, we get motivated by an event/learning experience.  If you are new to mittonmusings, you will quickly discover that I am always up for learning something new.  I am eager to draw information from others.  To glean insight from another perspective or someone else’s life experience.  I had the privilege of sitting under some very learned people this summer… and was able to fill my brain with a tonne of things to spark my musings.  Our little blips of time on this planet are not enough to cover all that is possible.  God’s great big world is full of opportunities!

Having said that, it is a good reminder to me (and you!) to never take anyone for granted.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help directly — but don’t leave them there all alone!  A servant who gives of their time should never be ignored.  Encourage those around you who have accomplished even the smallest task.  It is a big motivator in taking the next bite of the proverbial elephant. motivatehearts Our youngest son was often overwhelmed with anxieties when attempting new tasks.  We knew that slow (and often painfully time consuming!) encouragement to “just do the next thing” allowed him to overcome his fears and often flourish at the task at hand.   By learning things and being encouraged by others, we often strengthen our own efforts, and can focus in on the real purposes behind our motivations.

Above all, our motivation should continue to guide us forward towards Heaven.  Matthew 6 tells us that no matter what we do, no matter what the goal is, or what steps we take to get there, the motivation we have is always based on where our hearts are.  The treasures at the end of the journey will be reflections of where our hearts were at the beginning.  Want to motivate others?  Encourage their hearts.  Want to motivate yourself?  Spend some time letting God change you from within.  Oh… and a few chocolate covered almonds can’t hurt._Store up treasures in Heaven, for where your treasure is your heart will be also_

 

 

 

 

Back to School Blues

By the time this post comes out, many of you will have sent off your beloveds back to school.  Perhaps it is the first day of kindergarten for you.  Or perhaps you’ve moved them in to their first dorm room at college or university.  For many others of you, your kids are grown up and are sending off children of their own.  The first day of school, for me, evokes such happy memories… I loved (and still love!) school.  Shiny new shoes and backpacks, sharpened pencils all in a row… it’s a new beginning, a new chance to learn and grow and flourish.  I giggle as I think about this because my boys usually scuff up their new shoes a bit and grab whatever writing implement they see in the drawer for their first day.   No great anticipation there.  It’s nice to know that we are made so diversely, eh?

backtoschoolshoes

Photo by: Jiayan Chui

Okay… let’s pretend everyone is excited about learning and growing… and then go a little deeper.  For many of us, sending our kids off to school is a scary new chapter.  It means they have reached an age where independence is beginning… and their dependence on us, is diminishing.  When our first born was getting ready for school, we researched the options.  Should we use public education?  Private, montessori… homeschool?  Did you know there was even something called unschooling?   I have heard all the arguments against public education and the benefits of this or that.  Feel free to add your personal experiences to the comments… However, no matter what venue of education one chooses, there must always be a day when we must let them go.  For some it comes earlier than others.  But it always comes.

I am not sure why, but the story of the prodigal son has been popping up all over my journey this summer… I have heard it spoken on about seven times in various sermons and talks throughout the last few months.  Obviously God is asking me to look at it!  To be honest, it’s a mystery as to why this particular parable has been so popular, but I mention it because perhaps we are to look at it together.  To be linked coincidentally here on the internet through a story about letting our sons and daughters go.  Some of you I know personally.  Many of you are dear to my heart, and I know your children like my own.  Other readers are strangers to me.  Perhaps you have connected with mittonmusings for a completely different reason.  A fellow blogger looking for followers.  Yet, my hope and prayer is that God has connected you to this particular post because He wants you to learn, along with me, that it is okay to let those so near and dear to our hearts go on their own way.  I am sure that the father in the story of Luke 15 was a complete basket case on the day that his youngest set out for a foreign land with a stack of money in his back pocket.  I am sure his mother was even worse!  “Will he go to synagogue?”  “Will he drink too much and get caught up with the wrong crowd?” “Will he spend his money wisely and invest properly?” “Will he learn all the wrong philosophies and be exposed to false teachings?” “Will I have to pay half his student loans from our retirement fund?””Will he eat properly ?”  Yup, I am sure his Jewish bubbe had plenty to fear.

I have to be honest with you.  I shed very few tears when my children went off to school.  I proudly packed their bags and handed over the reigns to their teachers.  Was it easy?  No.  Our youngest son screamed, bawled and ran off down the hallway for the first two months years of kindergarten.  Our eldest daughter struggled to complete her first year and find her niche at University (away from home).  The other two have had ups and downs with teachers and peers.  We’ve had to juggle family activities with four kids in four different schools.  We’ve had to balance tolerance and diversity with our faith based values. Prov22 We’ve also learned to love and share with others who don’t always see the world the way we do.   Anxieties, competitions, goals and mighty accomplishments have been a part of our school careers.   I have quickly learned (and have instilled in our beloveds!) that teachers are just people too.  They have good days and bad days like the rest of us.  So if you are just starting your school life… please, please, please… be involved.  Go to school council meetings, go to the interviews, get to know the staff and your kids friends.  Be the house that invites them home for lunches and after school snacks.  Claim the promise in Proverbs 22:6.  You have trained and prepared them for this… now let them go.

I guess I have to caveat the “let them go” statement… with the fact that although the father in the story granted his son’s wishes and let him go off to a foreign land, he certainly didn’t forget him!  He kept a watchful eye on the road for his journey back.  He was there to celebrate his return… and to love him despite his failures.  Back to school is a mixed bundle of emotions:  we are proud and excited, and worried and anxious.  The great wide world is full of the allure of the grandiose and the independence our children crave.  And wise parents must trust that the Almighty has a plan for their children.  He knows them so much better than even we do.  So, there will be no back to school blues at our house.  No tears or anxious peeking through the classroom windows.  There will only be new shoes, and packed lunches, and bank loans for student expenses.  And a mom and dad keeping watchful eyes on some kids who were trained to the best of our abilities to return home.  The rest… is up to God.Back to School

 

 

 

 

Childhood Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made cookies today.  My kids are thrilled.  There are no green flakes, no oatmeal, no flax or anything healthy.  My kids know them as the cookies grandma makes… but they have a much deeper beginning than grandma.  If you’ve come looking for the recipe, you have to scroll down to the end… if you want to hear the story behind them… welcome aboard!  These are my childhood chocolate chip cookies, made from friendship, and love, and from a time long ago when I was young, free and a whole lot skinnier.oil&perfume

I grew up spending my childhood summers in the Kawarthas (Ontario) with my best friend.  Her trailer was next to mine and we were inseparable.  Literally, they called us the Bobbsey Twins… we were together every waking moment… and some sleepovers too!  We swam in the pool, crafted, pretended the park tires were grand stallions to ride and tame, and braided each other’s hair.  We spent countless hours out on the lake in a crazy little rubber dingy that had a slight leak.  Oh, how we laughed when that thing got all squishy and started to deflate under our weight.  I have such fond memories of painting plaster butterflies with sparkly glitter paint and taking our quarter (plus two cents for tax) over to the little ice cream place for a bag full of penny candy.  Hot lips and black ball jawbreakers.

We’d bring the candy back and load it up with our blankets and sleeping bags and set out under the trees for hours and hours of Barbies.  (Okay… don’t judge, Barbies were the thing back then…).  I think I was the only one with a Ken doll … but she had all the dresses.  The Barbies were our dream lives… oh, the Christmas when I got the huge Barbie camper thing… all yellow and with those stick on headlights and such… dreams, I tell ya…. kids these days have no idea with their X-Boxes and Netflix…. blah!

The cookies belonged to my best friend’s mom.  Mrs. G always had containers full of these chocolate chip cookies.  Always.  They were dished out with glasses of milk in those colourful tupperware tumblers of the early eighties.  Sometimes after hot dog lunches, sometimes after hours of Barbies, sometimes after coming in from the lake when the dingy had totally deflated.  There was always a cookie.  Kinda like a true friend — and her kind mom.There was always a cookie.

Time carried on and we gave up Barbies for boys and long chats on the phone.  She taught me how to shave my legs.  She taught me to whistle with my fingers.  She stood by me at my wedding.  We drifted apart some as our lives got busier — but I can still trust her with all my secrets.  I still eat her moms cookies.  Only now they are passed on to my own kids from grandma who got the recipe from Mrs. G so long ago (of course, I begged her for it).  My mom can probably make them by heart, but I still pull out the well worn orange recipe card to make mine.

I offer them to you, my new friends, sharing a different adventure in a different time.  I hope they make you think of your special friends, and make you smile at the joys God gives us through memories.

childhoodcookies

My Childhood Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup shortening (I told you they are not “healthy”)         2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar — packed    (sugar… a kid’s dream…)

1/2 cup white sugar (yup, MORE)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt (I eliminate this because I am not supposed to have it — but grandma doesn’t)

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups all purpose flour (but you can use any kind; use whole wheat if you must)

2 cups chocolate chips (don’t even measure… just dump)

Okay… now I am supposed to tell you how to make them… except my card is so worn I can barely read the instructions!  So.  I am sure you can find more detailed instructions on some foodie blog… but if you are up for the adventure and are willing to enjoy the experience (trust me baking is not that hard!) Here goes:  Heat up your oven to about 350-375 degrees fahrenheit.  Cream the shortening and sugars, add the rest of the dry stuff (except the chocolate chips!) and mix.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  At this point we end up eating some of the dough (yes… raw eggs and all!  I, so far, have survived all my childhood) and licking the spoons and beaters.  We also test a few of the chocolate chips.  If you are not using a non-stick surface, you should spray the cookie sheet with non-stick spray.  They spread a bit so give them some space.  If you want them to look “pretty” you can spoon and then roll the dough.  We just scoop and dump.  I can’t really tell you how much the batch makes, because it depends on how much dough you sample, and how big you spoon them!  It should give you a couple dozen.  I am sure Mrs. G made double or triple batches for all us teenagers.

Bake them about 8-10 minutes and let them sit for a bit, either on a cooling rack or alone (If they survive the wait… broken ones get eaten right away at my house).  Enjoy with a glass of milk.  And a best friend. 🙂


For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face.  Peace be with you.  Your friends here send you their greetings.  Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there.

3 John 1:14 (New Living Translation)

 

 

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!

It’s the Little Things

Little thingsThe Mitton crew has just returned home from a lovely vacation in our summer dwelling.  It truly was lovely.  Except, that about two days in, I got sunburnt.  It was my own fault, really, I did not re-apply the sunblock and could feel the crispy-ness attacking my legs… but was simply too lazy to head back in to shore from the rubber dingy I was lounging in.  Consequence received, I spent the next few days slightly pinked and diligently re-applying the “after sun” aloe vera gel and searching for home remedies for sunburn.  Then the youngest got a sliver in her foot after dancing around barefoot on the dock.  Why is a sliver always the biggest disaster to a small child?  Breathe.  Dig out the blessed thing, slap a Band-Aide there, and move on.  Sheesh.  I soon discovered that it’s the little things in life that make up your days.  Much to the delight of that same little girl, we also fed pistachios to a cheeky little black squirrel who was just brave enough to come near.  We watched the sun go down over the lake and marvelled at the orange and pink glows that silhouetted the trees beyond us.  We giggled under the covers as we read our book late into the night.  None of these things were super adventurous.  We didn’t save the world or climb a mountain.  There were no great heros.  None of these things were utter disasters, either.  There were no trips to the hospital or bank loans needed.  And yet, as I seek to be more grateful, I am again reminded that often it’s the little things that matter.  You can consider this post my gratitude journal of sorts.  A documentation of things that simply remind me of why I should be happy.Little things3

As time goes on and my hair gets a few more streaks of grey in it, I can’t help but stop and remember the days when the kids were babes and we rejoiced at their first steps, and encouraged them as they splashed and played in the sand at the beach.  The greatest joys were when the sandcastle moat collapsed and you had to quickly breach the leaks before the whole kingdom was washed away in the floods.  Slivers were a big deal then too.  But so was jumping off the dock, and pushing the limits was getting just a bit closer to putting their whole face under the water!  Now they strut about with their friends like proud peacocks, hoping mom and dad don’t totally embarrass them by acknowledging their presence.  Oh — the horror — you have parents!

I am delighted to see you grow and come into your own as you begin to lead.  To begin to take more chances and go off on your own.  To not only put your face underwater, but jump wholeheartedly forward… willing to sink or swim. I remember hearing a preacher say once that when you are a new mom, you should be thankful for every Cheerio you pick up off the floor — revel in the moment that you are in right now.  Little ThingsTo be honest, if you are that new mom… you have no desire to be thankful for those blasted bits of cereal… I know, I been there, sister…  but now that some time has passed, I can tell you…yup…it’s true… you are thankful for the Cheerios.  Psychology tells us that there are benefits to gratitude, to counting our blessings and to recognizing that seeking joy makes us healthier.  (Just so you know: it’s not psychology… it’s a God thing…)

Our lives are so full of little things.  The everyday blessings and hurts of this journey we call life.  The slivers and the sunsets.  I am trying to enjoy the learning process — are you?  Are you taking time to revel in the moment that you are in right now?  To not complain about your aches and pains, your lack of wifi, your bank balance or what the weather is doing?  It’s hard.  I get it.  I have those days too… when I am tired and sad and everything seems to go kaput.  But we are here for a only a brief moment, a mere blip in the eternity of time.  So pull out that splinter, slap a Band-Aide on there, eat the Cheerio off the floor, and go jump in the lake!Little things2

 

Would you like to muse along with me ?  I’m trying to reach my goal of 100 followers before I launch some exciting changes here on mittonmusings.com.  Wanna be a part of the adventure?! Share and follow along! I’d be grateful 😉 We’re almost there….

 

 

 

The Green Debate

The green debateThere has been a tonne of articles showing up on my social media feeds about the environment lately.  Have you seen this thing about banning plastic straws?  Many environmentalists are looking to curb the use of plastics, with particular focus on the energy consuming, and very damaging, tiny plastic straw.  The topic was supposedly listed for discussion among the G7 leaders this spring.   Vancouver is set to ban all plastic straws, containers and foam cups by June of 2019 — the first Canadian city to do so.  Apparently, even the Queen has “gone green” and banned plastic straws and bottles on all royal estates.   It’s a hot topic and got me a thinkin’… what is our responsibility to the environment?

Now let me state for the record… I really try and do my part for the earth.  I am forever turning out lights in my house… which gets me critiqued all the time for “living in darkness”.  I recycle often and buy used.  I turn off the tap when I brush my teeth.  I tried banning juice boxes in school lunches after a debate broke out at a school council meeting over — you guessed it — non-recyclable plastic straws.  It didn’t go over so well… my kids instantly rebelled at the lovely reusable drinking containers I purchased and demanded the return of the convenient juice box.  It’s just simpler when you have a large family to go with what is easiest.  I see these adorable Instagram posts of zero waste, environmentally friendly products and wonder… do these people have children?!  Do these people have millions of dollars?!  It’s a huge crisis in my brain when I go to the store and have the option of buying two products… one “green” and one … well… cheap.  I am sorry to say… I opt for cheap.  Sustainability.  Is it really cost effective? Why is it cheaper for me to feed my family of six at McDonalds than to buy organically grown, local vegetables?! Something is wrong.

Perhaps it is moving in the right direction, however… McDonald’s has apparently began looking at the straw thing.  With good reason.  Americans use over 500 million plastic straws per day!! Most of those are used for less than 20 minutes and end up floating around in the ocean.  These and other plastics take forever to degrade… which means that 90% of our marine animals have consumed plastics in their lifetimes… simply mistaking it for food.  This doesn’t include the other environmental hazards like entanglement, toxic leakage and who knows what else.  So far though… I still get a straw when I order my lemonade.  What do I do, then?  I have seen arguments on both sides.  I read a good one about how a complete banning of straws would impact the special needs world significantly.  Many people need the convenience of a plastic straw because of medical or mobility issues, and the alternatives are not suitable.  Hmmmn.  The debate digs deeper…

So let’s take it even further… when is the last time you heard a sermon on caring for the environment in your local church?  Oh. Oh.  We debate sex, drugs, rock and roll — we even dabble in politics and the love of money — but not much gets said about banning straws in church.  Should we be concerned about the environment?In fact, social science studies show that the far right christian worldview is much less concerned with the environment than the general public.  Either because we want to stay away from “tree hugging new age philosophies” that worship all nature as “god”, or because we simply think that this world is all going to be gone anyway when Christ comes back so why worry about it?  And so I muse… WHY?

Is there a need for Jesus followers to be concerned about the environment?  Should we be going green?  Or is it not something we need to be concerned about?  I did a quick google search… and was quite surprised to see very little information about the green debate, the environment and christianity.  A few articles about those radicals, a few scientific studies about how we don’t care… but very few about sermons or discussions on the topic.  One that I did find was a transcript of a podcast by Chip Ingram of livingontheedge.org.  He has a two part series on this very subject.  I encourage you to check it out!  Since I am not an expert, I was pleased to find that the Bible does indeed have lots to say about the environment, and how we should care for it!  It really is a spiritual discipline that we should be considering more.  God created this earth.  He gave it to us to take care of.  Yes, we have “dominion” over it and we were called to “subdue” it… but Ingram does a good job of explaining what that means… it’s not simply to rule and overtake… but a delicate balance of working within the confines of what God has set in motion for our Earth.  We are to preserve the beauty and the natural cycle of the land… without worshipping it.  Did the Israelites know about organic soils and nitrogen replenishing?  No… but God instructed them to let the land rest.  God gives us so many rich resources… and the means to preserve them… if only we would consider it.  I encourage you to dig a little deeper with me, and truly discover what God does say about this issue.  It’s an interesting muse.  Perhaps there will have to be a “Part 2” to this post as I continue to learn…

Until then, I will still be turning out the lights in my house.  I will try and lug-a-mug to church for the coffee fellowship.  I am going to try and explore a bit more about how to be “greener” (and continue to be jealous of those instagram posts).  Will I convince my kids to not use juice boxes?  Time will tell.  Maybe Kermit the Frog had it right:  It isn’t easy being green.not easy being green

 

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DIY Teacher’s Gifts: A Lesson in Gratitude

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Okay, confession time.  I am not good at being grateful.  Oh,  I have manners and know when to say please and thank you and I’m sorry (I’m Canadian afterall!) but I am not so good at being full of gratitude.  Recently, I was having a discussion with some friends about this topic of gratitude and it triggered a thought… are my children truly thankful for all they have?  Am I truly thankful for all I have?!  I live in a wonderful country where I am free to post my feelings and thoughts on a blog such as this.  I have food on the table, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head.  We have two cars and a place we can enjoy in the summer.  Our family is truly blessed.  In fact, I think we have way too much!  I have to start sorting and sharing as soon as the hamster wheel slows down.  Gratitude is tricky.  Are words enough?  Do we need to repay the kindness of a gift with another, reciprocal gift?  How do we be good examples to our children and show kindness and exude gratitude without being caught in the cycle of looking like we want something in return?  I don’t have the answer to this one.  Leave me a comment if you have some insight!

What I do know, is that we gotta start somewhere!  So, I decided that after my friendly discussion and sudden enlightenment about my lack of proper parenting, I knew that I had to tackle some thank you gifts!  The end of the school year is a great time to make some gratitude filled, easy to make, teacher thank you gifts!  These ones were pretty frugal too… an added bonus!  #gratitudeWe started out with some simple, dollar-store clay pots and leftover plastic buckets from spring planting… and then decorated away with paints and stickers and ribbons — stuff I had hanging around from other projects.  The paint didn’t stick to the green plastic, so we used some fun stickers and ABC’s for those.  The youngest and I had a nice bonding time doing some crafting… and it was a great opportunity for me to encourage her.  She didn’t think her bee looked quite right… so we added whimsical googly eyes … with such a cute result!

Next, we spooned in some dirt and simply added cuttings from some of my overgrown house plants!  This not only served our purpose, but gave us another opportunity to discuss sharing and being thankful for what we already have!  Succulents are perfect for this, as you don’t need much preparation ahead of time… simply snip and stick in some soil… this kalanchoe we had was spreading and already had tiny root shoots… so was easy to transplant.  We also separated some herbs and a lovely purple shamrock plant.  In the end, we had six quick and easy (and almost free!) gifts… enough for three elementary teachers and a few great sunday school helpers!  Some hand made cards topped off the lesson in gratitude (hand written by the kids, of course!) and volila!

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Teachers are very special people… and I am forever telling our four beloveds that teachers play a huge part in their lives!  Trust me… it is really hard to impart information to a large group of young people from diverse backgrounds who often don’t want to be sitting in that desk in front of you.  Especially when they come with a set of parents watching your every move.  Be kind to teachers.  They are human too.  They need some love and thanks after a full year in the classroom!

I’m not sure that my gratitude level has jumped too many degrees up the scale from this project… but at least it gave me a chance to chat a bit with the youngest two — and share some love around.  Perhaps it’s a start.  Perhaps it will “grow” on us as we practice more…. Sorry… couldn’t resist… some teacher taught me about puns once… aren’t you grateful? 🙂

 

P.S.  Once you have said “thank you” to your beloved teachers and said good-bye for another school year… keep following mittonmusings.com!  Click the follow button on the side bar … I have some exciting changes coming this summer!  You won’t want to miss it!!