Fish Care 101

We accomplished a big task this week… we cleaned the fish tank. Aquarium enthusiasts be warned, I have had fish for years and know that tanks need regular maintenance… but I am not the person to follow if you need good fish advice on how to clean an aquarium. But, let’s back up a bit shall we? We have a tall tank that sits in our living room — I’d say it’s about 35 gallons or so. We’ve had it for years and have done goldfish, tropical community fish and slightly more aggressive ones. My brother kept cichlids for years, but I am too “frugal” for that hobby favourite. Which brings me back to this week. A few years back we picked up some cheap show guppies — an easy-to-care-for community fish that is pretty enough to look at. Check out my facebook page if you wanna see the video of our fancy guppies! Fun fact about show guppies is that they are also live bearers (which means they breed well and have live babies). So, needless to say, our stock grew from 6 fish to about 80. Yes, 80. We also had some living duckweed and some other live aquatic plant in there… and an aggressive green algae that soon took over. ( I told you I wasn’t someone you should take advice from). Alas, here we are in the tail end of a global pandemic with nowhere else to go, so we decided to take the beast on!

You see, cleaning a green monster is no easy task when you still have about 80 fish… many of which are teeny tiny babies. You can’t just dump and pour. Fish tanks have delicate balances of good bacteria and things that fish need — not to mention our city water has a lot of bad chemicals that fish don’t need! And so we began the task of categorizing fish and separating them out to other balanced tanks. We even saved the littlest one which is about the size of “l” with eyeballs. We “traded in” quite a few to our local pet store (which was an ordeal in itself — self distancing with our bucket after sloshing the original container around in the car. Sorry about the seats, darling.) We knew we might lose a few to stress. Overall, though… a fairly successful fish move after their small tank “vacation” as the youngest referred to it as.

The tank itself wasn’t too hard to scrub out… and years of thrifting and pet ownership provided a nice selection of accessories to choose from, but we needed a new background. Did I mention I am “frugal”? Which means I wasn’t about to pay for a new fancy piece of glossy paper when I could print, laminate and creatively tape together my own… let’s just call it crafty, okay? So… after a week or so of scrubbing, fishing, waiting and bucket patrol… Volia! Happy fish and a clean tank!

The “After”

The week long task had me musing about fish, of course. And there are lots of examples of fish references in the Bible: the fishers of men miracle, Jonah and the giant fish, five loaves and two fish etc. Margaret Feinburg’s “Taste and See” book has some good thoughts on the “fishy” parts of scripture, so I encourage you to see my review about that here. However, my internet travels took me to another fish that I found interesting to read about: The Jesus Fish or ichthys. I’m sure you’ve seen it on jewellery, bookmarks or the back of someone’s bumper.

What I didn’t know was that the ancient Greek symbol was an acrostic of ΙΧΘΥΣ (ichthys), which translates into ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, [Our] Saviour’.

Iota (i) is the first letter of Iēsous (Ἰησοῦς), Greek for “Jesus”.

Chi (ch) is the first letter of Christos (Χριστός), Greek for “anointed” (of the Lord).

Theta (th) is the first letter of Theou (Θεοῦ), Greek for “God’s”, the genitive case of Θεóς, Theos, Greek for “God”.

Upsilon (y) is the first letter of (h)yios (Yἱός), Greek for “Son”.

Sigma (s) is the first letter of sōtēr (Σωτήρ), Greek for “Saviour”.

Pretty cool, eh?

Apparently the symbol was used by the early church as a “secret” symbol during the Roman persecution of early Christians. It helped to identify whether a stranger was a fellow follower or an enemy. As the story goes, the greeter would draw the first half of the fish, and a friend would complete the reciprocal line if they understood the initial drawer’s reference. If not, the stranger would just appear to be drawing arches in the sand. The symbol was also spotted on secret meeting places or worship gatherings. It made a comeback in the 1960’s as Christians began to use it as a “logo” for Christian merchandising. Do you have it somewhere?

I hope you liked that little tidbit of information on such a simple idea. In these strange times of identities and isolations, I’m reminded that I too, have conversations to start about my identity as a “fisher of men (and women)”. That I belong to a bigger world of people who follow Christ, and that by doing so I may be persecuted for my own beliefs. Like our aquarium, I can get overcrowded, choked out and clouded up without regular maintenance. And it can be a big job to clean it up and get our lives back to looking sparkling again.

So, next time you see an ichthys on the back of someone’s car, send me off an email to remind me to change my fish tank’s filters okay? Be blessed, my friends!

Re-Runs

Welcome back to another week in quarantine. I am afraid not much has been happening at home worth writing about — and sorry to say — I am feeling a little bit lack in the motivational bucket for blogging this week. Over the last two and a half years of mittonmusings.com, I’ve written just shy of 95 000 words. Not to mention the countless hours of research and tweaking to get just the right photos and just the right word. I’ve learned lots about technology, social media, hashtags and all the other stuff that goes along with “blogging”. But — a girl should get a holiday now and then, yes? So, let’s pretend it is summer holidays and all you get is re-runs.

Here are the links for some of my favourite posts — perhaps they will be “new” to you or inspire you differently this time around. Feel free to share them around, follow along or check out my socials for more… see ya’ll next week!

  1. Lost Socks… and How to Love Them
  2. How to be a Superhero
  3. Childhood Chocolate Chip Cookies
  4. They Say that an Elephant Never Forgets
  5. Emily
  6. Spiritual Awakenings at the Grand Canyon
  7. Why Disney is Better than the Bible
  8. Blogging from the Heart
  9. Rainbows
  10. Feelin’ all the Feels

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: