One Word

Happy New Year! Welcome back! Thanks for being patient with my little break and can we say: Thank the Lord 2020 is over! It’s a new year and new beginnings. I know 2020 was trying for many of you … and the pollutants of Covid-19 and the great pandemic are still oozing into the beginnings of 2021. I know we are not out of the woods yet, but I am hoping things will be “recuperating” and heading in the right direction in the next few months. Perhaps you’ve been out of work, or juggling work at home with school online, and you’ve been social distanced from the ones you love. This Holiday Season was different for so many, and yet positivity rained in with family bonds, Zoom socials and making a difference in the best way we knew how. Blessings on all of you who tried and survived! And hugs for those who struggled and still survived!

Life has a way of inching along in spite of our best efforts… pandemic or not. And that’s just where I’m feeling it this week… my house is a disaster, it’s been crazy busy at work, and the blog has been put on the back burner once again. I had big plans to organize content and research topics, and make your reading experience enlightening and thought-provoking — yet here I am again just thinking about stuff. Where does the time go?? So, here’s to still catching up…

In my thoughts this week: resolutions. Why not, it’s a New Year, right? Yet, in my “aimless” scrolling during what “chill time” I did manage, the great internet had me pondering posts of a new idea for me… all under the #OneWord. Several very smart people in my small circle of influence have embraced the idea of a “theme word” for the year if you will, a focus, rather than a resolution. Digging a little deeper, I discovered I’m behind in the game; the one word for a year idea has been around for awhile. There are several websites, blogs and pins dedicated to helping one focus on your “word for the year” (Check out this “quiz” on DaySpring.com or #OneWord365 for inspiration). I’m in for the ride. I might not be all life coach, journal gung ho…but One big word for the year sounds like it is worth a try.

I suppose the idea is to help you narrow down your aspirations. To carry a simple phrase, rather than specific goals. This way, your “theme” can carry over to various aspects of your life: health, spiritual, your work world, or your home world. So, how does one pick a word? They tell me to pray, asking God to focus my thoughts on what He wants me to accomplish. They suggest list a few words, then refine and refocus. Reflecting on the year that has past and what God’s leading you towards in the future, what is He saying? It’s tough to listen, though. I find that when I am awakened in the middle of the night, it’s God’s way of getting my attention, so that’s usually when we “chat” (I’m a pretty sound sleeper, so if I am up, there must be a reason, right? Like Samuel and Eli, my response is “Okay, I’m awake, God… what’s up?”). Once all that “musing” is done, commit to the “Word”… use it as a monthly, weekly, daily focus and see where it leads you!

Alright-y then… are you dying to know what my #OneWord is? My introvert self is cringing at being vulnerable with ya’ll… which explains the word and all its connotations. Will you hold me accountable? Will you remind me to Trust in the Almighty when I fail my word? Will you encourage me through your comments and posts when I write about my adventures with said word this year? Okay then: my word for 2021 is to be:

BRAVE


I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments… do you have a word for 2021? Have I inspired you to think of one? Share with me! And join me at mittonmusings.com each week as I “muse” about something new, and share in the adventure!

Another Advent

There’s not much been going on over here this week… we are all waiting for Covid-19 to be over and life to get back to some semblance of “normal”. And yet, all this waiting reminded me of advent and the whole idea of anticipation. So, this week you get a throwback to post published a while ago on Advent and the idea of waiting. Enjoy.

image by Kelly Sikkema (unsplash)

I hate waiting.  I hate waiting in line, I hate waiting for my food to be cooked, I hate waiting for the kids to get out of school.  I just don’t like sitting around with nothing to do when something else should be happening.  I bring books or snacks or my phone or a crochet project on long car rides because my hands need to be doing something (or else I crash into a nap… which is a whole other story).

So, when I discovered that the real meaning of Advent was anticipatory waiting… I wasn’t too keen.  I don’t think many of us are good at waiting.  Have you noticed that radio stations are playing Christmas music already?!  The stores have been in Christmas mode since the day after Halloween!  The marketers out there certainly don’t like waiting!  They want us to be spending our dough faster and faster these days… no waiting!  Order now!  Direct ship!  Buy online!  Available 24 hours, seven days a week!  

Let’s step back for a minute. In case you are not familiar with the term “advent”… it is a traditional practice of the Christian church to anticipate the coming of Christ at Christmas, and then, in turn, His final return to earth.  Similar to the practice of Lent before Easter, it gives us a chance to slow down, to think and ponder, and to hope for the future.  It’s something I have to work on… this waiting.

My first exposure to advent was those cardboard chocolate calendars.

My first exposure to advent was those cardboard chocolate calendars.  The ones with the little doors you would open every day from December first until the 25th.  Back then, I didn’t understand what it meant… I simply enjoyed the treats everyday!  Later, we began to celebrate the four Sundays of advent at our church.  It was then, that I understood the symbolism, the tradition, and the true meaning of the practice.   It is something I have come to cherish as an adult.  It’s a discipline that that reminds me to slow down, to appreciate my family, to encourage my church family, and to rejoice in the season — and not to be so caught up in the rush of the “stuff”.  It forces me to focus each week on learning to wait.  To anticipate.  To revel in the beauty of hope.

Here’s what I have learned about the traditional advent symbolism:  it begins with an evergreen wreath… the symbol of a circle of eternity.  Our Christ is timeless.  He’s been around much longer than the babe in the manger.  Surrounding the wreath are four candles and one central candle.  Each candle is lit on the four Sundays of Advent, and culminate with the lighting of the white, central candle, which is lit on Christmas eve.  This central candle is sometimes referred to as the Christ candle… and represents His purity and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.  

The first candle is purple.  It represents “hope” and the prophecies that Isaiah spoke about when He described the coming of our special Christmas baby.  The second purple candle represents love, and is sometimes referred to as the Bethlehem candle or the manger candle.  So much love happened in that lowly stable…. I imagine my own beloveds and how the whole world fell away the moment they were born and I saw them for the first time face to face.   Can you imagine Mary’s first glance at her special baby?  Yup, love for sure.  The next candle is pink… and represents joy.   It is the shepherd’s candle.  It embodies the joy and celebration the shepherds must have felt when they were given the good news that a Saviour had been born!  The last candle is also purple and reminds us to be peaceful.   This “angel” candle points us to worship, to reflection, and to remember that the season is not about gifts under a tree, but the ultimate gift given to us.  The One the angels were made for… simply to worship for eternity.  

So… as you prepare for your Christmas season, and you rush out here and there, be reminded of the advent tradition of waiting.  Take time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas… Christ’s coming.  Anticipate through hope, love, joy and peace, and the pure and holy sacrifice that Christ paid for you.  May you be blessed, my beloveds, as we journey towards the holidays together.   Take time to rejoice in waiting.  Oh… it shall be no easy task!  Especially if there are Christmas cookies in the oven! But we can practice it together, shall we?

Want to learn more about Advent?  Check out my Pinterest Boards for more ideas on DIY calendars, symbols, studies and more!

Christmas Oranges

It was almost 25 years ago that my hubby and I sat in a little hotel restaurant in Morocco debating the pros and cons of the Quebec referendum with the waiter in our limited French. We had finished the most delightful meal infused with the fragrances of Moroccan spices as “dessert” was brought to our table. No, not cake or pie, not even date pudding, which I could have expected in Northern Africa, but about four large orange slices sprinkled with cinnamon. Unusual choice, I thought, but yummy nonetheless. As we spent the next few days swimming in the ocean (to which the locals mocked… it was winter in February after all!) I did notice the beach fronts were lined with cartons of clementines and citrus… an “in season” fruit for this part of the world.

Photo Credit: The Grit and Polish Blog

I’ve been thinking about oranges lately… not because I need the vitamin C, nor because I particularly like the flavour of oranges, but because I have been sucked in to the Pinterest and Instagram displays of the DIY/low waste/oh-so-country-pretty garlands of dried citrus and evergreen that seem to be popping up on my feeds these days. I wanna try them, but haven’t yet gathered enough energy for the hours of slicing, oven drying and bead stringing needed… not to mention I think I need more oranges. And some foraging in the woods for greenery. And time away from the kids, or maybe they would help, or maybe glue sticks are needed, or… hmmn. Maybe I won’t be trying it. The dog will probably eat them anyway. But I like them. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

So, I did a little digging about the significance of citrus at Christmastime. Here’s some of the things I found ( via https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/why-we-should-bring-back-tradition-christmas-orange-180971101/). Way back in the 19th century the idea of placing an orange in the bottom of your Christmas stocking may have been an ode to theĀ legendĀ of the three balls (or bags or bars or coins) of gold that the Bishop of Myra, the real Saint Nicholas, gave to three poor maidens to use as dowries. Apparently they were saved from impoverishment and a life of misery by the gifting of 3 round bags of gold … later replaced by golden fruit. At the time, oranges were considered an exotic luxury — but not quite equal to gold, I suppose.

As the Victorian era came along and Christmas traditions moved forward, marketing began to take over and oranges became the hot ticket item, especially when the great depression hit and citrus once again became the “expensive” treat. Nowadays, I just grab one out of the fridge to shove in the bottom of my kid’s stockings, and they know where they came from. But maybe that dowry thing has merit… I have two daughters…

“etrog” fruits for Sukkot

It fascinates me that we give “meaning” to everyday objects. Winter solstice celebrations involve fruit. The Jewish fall celebrations of Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, requires an unblemished “etrog” fruit, and Hindus cherish “Buddha’s hand” a long citrus fruit with finger-like tendrils. Plus, of course, the dear old pear tree in which the partridge sits. But pears are not citrus, are they? Oh, nevermind then.

I suppose those everyday objects are a tangible way for us to connect. By giving them meaning and significance, it helps us to acknowledge God’s creativity in the world around us. For example, He displays His majesty in the sunset. And just think of how many flavours we have: sweet, spicey, rich and bitter. Oh, can you imagine what food will be like in Heaven?! No wonder we often celebrate and remember special occasions with feasts! This year, our gatherings may be a little different. Perhaps great aunt Mary may not come to dinner with her famous sweet potato side with toasted marshmallows, and maybe there will be no cookie exchanges or pie socials. Yet, I am still expecting an orange in the bottom of my stocking… and I will be glad for it, as it will remind me: I am blessed.