We Are Family

Welcome back to another week of my brain spewing out random thoughts and sharing tidbits of my (otherwise) boring life. This month was a big one for my little crew… we’ve been celebrating a few momentous birthdays recently, and my parents just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary! Which is no light task, lemme tell you! Their actual anniversary was earlier this month, but this past weekend was the grand celebration! Of course, post-Covid, we were trying to be sensitive to the fact it was a rather large gathering of people, in an indoor space, and many were of the senior persuasion. All red flags. Still, we figured such a milestone must be celebrated… so we went ahead… and ordered two (yes two) large slab cakes.

It was a wonderful party. Many people made appearances, including some old friends and distant relatives who travelled in. It was certainly nice to make connections again. Some were masked, others were not… but it didn’t seem to matter. What seemed to matter, was legacy, longevity and well, a recognition of what a true milestone fifty years of marriage really is! Which, of course, had me musing!

What kinds of legacies do we leave those around us? What do our accomplishments tell people about what is important in our lives? Do our children see strong family values presented? Do friends and family gather because they love us or simply out of duty or guilt for how it may look to others? How much cake do you really need anyway?

God loves families. He certainly knows we are not perfect. Yet, He designed us to be part of family units from the get-go. He created man and woman… and then children and siblings and mothers-in-law. He allowed Jesus to come to earth, born of a woman, into a family to grow, to be nurtured, to be taught and to be part of a bigger group of connected people. I would like to think that His little band of disciples became like “family” too. Bound together by a common bond. We talk about “church families”, “small groups” and “brothers and sisters in Christ”. We were created to have relationships with one another. To mentor the younger ones, to pass on wisdom and encouragement. I have learned so many things from others.

Saturday, at the party, we laughed about who looks like who and who has so-and-so’s personality. Have you ever been to a family reunion where you just “can tell” that cousins are cousins? I wonder if Jesus looked a little like His brothers? Did He have His mother’s eyes? He certainly had His Father’s will in mind. And it’s true what they say… you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. It picks you. And you are stuck with it.

God doesn’t make mistakes, though. He knew who belongs where and why. Don’t get me wrong, relationships are hard. And a close relationship is even harder. There is some vulnerability we must face when we are with the family. Perhaps you were taught, like Timothy, by a faith-filled grandmother. Perhaps you have been shunned by your family because of your faith, and your church has become your new family in Christ. The Bible has lots of examples about the good -and the bad- of relationships via relatives. I’m not going to list them, but it might make for an interesting study one day!

No matter where you feel you stand among those who share some part of your DNA, remember this: God placed you there for a purpose. You have something to learn from these people. It may be blatantly evident, or it may take time to discover. Hug them a little closer. Share cake with them. Share some of our cake with them… We have lots leftover!

Sheltering Mercy

Short but sweet this week! I figured ya’ll are like me and up to your eyeballs in Easter Preparations, so another thought from me is just adding to your list… but I did want to share a little something that I have been dying to get my hands on since it arrived in my mailbox. Besides, it’s been a while since my last book review and I figured it was about time.

Let’s dive in. “Sheltering Mercy” by Ryan Whitaker Smith and Dan Wilt is described as “prayers inspired by the Psalms”… and it is exactly that! A little purse-sized hardcover containing a collection of poems or writings based on the first 75 Psalms. The writings are not exactly scripture, nor paraphrases, but, as the writers put it, “free-verse prayer renderings”. For me, they are perfect for quiet meditation, and I have been dying to do some journalling, artistic illustrations to go along with each collection! (If only there were more time in the day, right?). I think this little book would be perfect for that type of meditation as the paper is heavy and the margins spacious. There are a few black and white illustrations scattered through the book, but a splash of coloured pencils would be perfect!

If you’ve been reading mittonmusings for any length of time, you know that I have a love-hate relationship with David and the psalms, not to mention my own practical versus artsy personality. I’m just not sure where I fit in. This little collection hits home when I need to foster the creative side of my devotions. In case you didn’t pick it up, Ryan Whitaker Smith is the son of worship singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith. That collaboration is a lesson in itself for worship, reflection and artistry in the contemporary Christian world. Why wouldn’t these potential song lyrics be just right?

So, if you are itching for some traditional written prayer meditation for your Easter Season, or maybe you are looking to branch out with your artistic side, give “Sheltering Mercy” a gander. Published by Brazos Press and lovingly donated to mittonmusings by Nuts About Books, I’m looking forward to marking it all up over the holiday weekend!

Happy Easter, my beloveds, until next time!

Spring Cleaning

My goodness! Where has the time gone? This week marks the end of March and the beginning of another spring season! We started a little spring clean-up in our yard this past weekend… and then, in true Canadian fashion, it snowed this morning! My poor little urban garden’s seedlings are feeling the pinch of the dip in temperature, too, as they sit on my windowsill. Still, Time has a way of ticking on, and spring weather will soon arrive. I’m looking forward to it. How about you, my friend? Do you do the traditional “spring clean”?

Do you participate in the big spring clean?

It’s what I’ve been musing about this week… spring cleaning. Not that it is a task I enjoy immensely, but I do love the result of a little elbow grease after a tired winter season. I need more time to really get in all the cracks and crevises of this ol’ house, but, well, every little bit counts, right? We’ve chatted about it before. I’ll leave some previous posts down below if you want to follow up. You can even check out the pictures from our decluttered furnace room… or the fish tank clean-up! Ever wondered where the idea of “spring cleaning” originated?

So, I did some digging. Turns out there are a few “thoughts” about where the idea of a spring clean up came from. In 19th century America, March was considered the best time to dust because the windows to the home could be opened without the fear of flying insects invading your space! The coal furnaces would have stopped running and all the soot leftover could be swept out and the house aired. Nowadays, I suppose, we could open the windows to let all the ammonia smells out from our chemical cleaners! (Anyone else love a good bleach?)

Some sources say the deep clean is associated with a new year. In Japan and Scotland, the “spring clean” is in December. Persian new year, “Nowruz”, is the first day of spring and involves a truly deep clean of the whole house. Many traditions evolved around Lent’s “purging” in time for Easter. This is also true of the Biblical Jewish tradition of house “cleansing” during the time of Passover and the remembrance of the Jewish exodus in haste from Egypt. Jews even clean out the pantry. I wonder if they get to eat all the snacks? I like that kind of clean up!

Whatever way you think about your physical clean-up, whether it be in preparation for a new year, or new season, or just an excuse to get all spick and span, it is important to remember that a clean “outside” cannot compare to a clean inside. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that a carefully cleaned outside that hides a heart of deceit and greed is futile (Matthew 23). And how grateful am I that God promises my sins to be completely cleansed? As clean as the new-fallen snow ! (Isaiah 1:18). Even if it is spring snow in the middle of our yard clean up!

So, if scrubbing the baseboards or dusting, or open window airing out is on your agenda this week, I hope it reminds you that your inside should be just as glowing! May your efforts be blessed!

Here are a few more muses about all things tidy!