Fresh. Then Refresh.

Whew! It’s been a week. We’ve spent the last six days up north, house sitting for friends who have an even greater zoo than we do: Chickens, bunnies, dogs and more! Plus my kids, and a restless husband who thinks holidays must include several walks and trail exploring, makes for a busy, but full week of adventures! Not to mention our new (currently untrained) puppy added exhaustion to the list. Chores were to be done and early morning walks were on the agenda. No wonder farmers are in such great shape! However, we also spent some time just chillaxin’ on the porch reflecting in the sunshine. It was a different kind of ‘vacation’ – and perhaps many of you have experienced similar days during this pandemic. A forced rest, even.

The youngest of the Mitton crew lapped it up. She’s a lot like her mama — animal lover with a keen sense of devotion, and less inhibition and worry than I do now that I am older (and know more than I should). She was definitely in her happy place! Baby bunny cuddles and dog belly rubs are this girl’s zone. One of her favourite things to do was check the nesting boxes for chicken eggs. Poor birds were disturbed several times a day, as she hoped to discover their treasures… it was a bonus if the egg was still warm! One day we discovered the perfect egg. I know, weird thought… but really. It was the perfect egg shape, with rounded edges and ever-so-slight point at the top. A beautiful tan colour, dappled in a smooth textured shell with a few darker specks to give it just the right amount of shade. If I were a painter, it would be a perfect still life subject, nestled against a lightly stained wood grained table… but perhaps that’s not your thing. Just work with me, okay?

The perfect egg… what a treasure!

Nonetheless, the discovery of “the perfect egg” had me thinking about God’s provision. His treasures, given to us in nature. Rich colours of flowers and sunsets, the smell of morning dew, the ruggedness of flint rock cliffs, the softness of my new puppy’s fur. As we devoured fresh eggs one morning this past week, we talked about whether “fresh eggs” were different tasting. My verdict is yes, most definitely. Fresh always seems better! If you google “fresh” the top ads are all about food. Next come “natural based” skin care products…. and then something in Fortnite? That seemed a little off topic, but whatever. Summertime is an explosion of freshness! My socials are filled with farmer’s market produce and your country lakefront cottage pics. It seems like holidays are the perfect time to renew and refresh.

If you look up the definition of “fresh” and it’s similar based “refresh”, you’ll discover a myriad of definitions: not stale, pure, new, or recently come into existence. Even bold and brassy, as in don’t get “fresh” with me, young man. Interesting, eh? I recently embarked on a 5 day study/devotional on Refreshing. A big part of that “refreshing” is rest. Our physical bodies need that rest to recoup, recover and refresh. Our spiritual souls need that renewal again, too. It’s exciting when a piece of scripture becomes “new” again, isn’t it? Like fresh oxygen breathed in, our souls need a good cleansing every now and then as well.

a quote from my new devotional study

I’ve missed some of that worship as we’ve been isolating. It’s hard to have deep conversations and rich discussion via a webcam. Radio praises aren’t the same as revival concerts where fellow believers are singing from the heart, and straight up to heaven! But God is still very much present, and very much behind the scenes, preparing our hearts for revival, renewal and refreshment. Perhaps many of you have been forced to “rest” right now. To reflect on what is important. Maybe others of you are looking to “refresh” and start anew. I think it is a God thing. This desire to reflect and gather perspective. To assess and refocus. Then you are able to appreciate small treasures, and reflect on the simple things that God gives us — like the perfect backyard chicken’s egg.

Road Trip!

We went on a long drive this weekend. Maybe we were not supposed to. Perhaps we should have stayed home. But we stayed safe — and realistically there is nothing else to do, am I right? Better than being exposed to viruses in the grocery store, right? So, we went. I had some goals and things to see along the way, so I planned the route the day before. Google mapped my meandering “scenic” journey through countryside and small towns. Not that anything was open. It was about the journey. What about you? Do you love a good road trip? With four kids plus the two of us, budget often dictates we drive instead of fly. We have done our fair share of road trips. Our kids have travelled via minivan from day one. They are good travellers and we have all survived. Technology helps… but planning is better. I remember travelling to Disney and creating “car kits” for the kids with games and snacks. Now they are older, so technology it is… unless you are picking up the oldest who has been slightly isolated and needs to share. Or the youngest who never gets enough one on one attention and will talk your ear off if given the correct topic.

The hubby and I used to talk a lot on road trips — how we would never do what so-and-so does with their kids, as our future children will be angels. (*cough* wheeze …choking on our own words). Or, what our perfect house would look like if we had money to burn. We don’t chat much now on car rides… unless it’s me telling him to slow down, or to get gas before it is too late. Or making that sucking-in-air noise as you brace the sides of the door handle as he changes lanes. Like your feeble human arm will protect you from that 18 wheel semi truck who happens to be too close. Come on, I know I am not the only one who does this, am I right? Aged nerves are not as steely as they used to be. Maturity has a way of doing that to you.

Nonetheless, we road tripped a little this weekend. The sun shone, the van was gassed up, and time was on our side. We plugged in our phone and punched in the first “stop”. Anyone remember those fold out maps (à la paper) with highlighted routes and sharpie x’s here and there? Doesn’t happen anymore, does it? Phone apps and google maps rule now. Which had me musing… oh, how we trust in that little piece of technology. We believe it will get us there. On more than one occasion, I have told myself just to trust the GPS… it knows. Truthfully, it usually does.

As we travelled along this time, we, again, trusted in our app and turned down a somewhat questionable sideroad. It was paved, but narrow, and a little too country for my liking… and not where I had planned. I asked the hubby, and he assured me that the maps were giving us “the fastest” way. There was very little signage on the this backroad… but it eventually came back out to a main street and we continued along without incident. This little blind side trip had me thinking again… How many times do we want clear and visible signs?

We often want clear signs! (photo credit: Ryan McGuire)

If you are anything like me, you want signs to point you in the right direction. Some concrete indication that yes, this is it. This is God’s plan. This is what I should be doing — or that big sign that says “TURN HERE” you are going the wrong way! The map has the big sharpie X plainly highlighted with all the stops. I looked up “signs” in my Bible app… and “signs and wonders” often accompanied each other in the listed verses. Seems like humanity has always been looking for “signs”. The big miracles. Clear indications of supernatural influences. Many of the early Jesus followers were seeking just these magic shows, however, and not really interested in Jesus himself or His teachings. Still others were unconvinced… hardened hearted Pharaoh mocked Moses’ “signs”. His own magicians could conjure up snakes and smoke just as impressively.

Perhaps as you’ve been home, contemplating life with the rest of us, you are looking for signs too… should you go back to the same job? When is it “safe” to go out? Who should make the decision to reopen businesses? And when? I’m with ya. I want life all mapped out, too. Yet, our online Sunday service this week reminded us that sometimes we need to reassess, and perhaps a pave a new path on our spiritual journey. God sometimes asks us to go where the road is not clearly marked. Where the road is narrow and a little too “country backroad” for our liking. And for a brief moment we are scared that it is not the way.

Still, Who is in your driver’s seat? Who controls the GPS and the steering wheel of your life? Do we give up full control and say, yup, Jesus, go ahead and take the wheel? I’m just along for the ride. It’s hard. It’s scary. It may even be a little dangerous. It’ll take some faith and a whole lotta trust. But — it may just be worth your drive. Happy road-tripping, my friend, happy road-tripping.

Saying Goodbye

This week we said goodbye to my eldest son. We put him on a flight that was heading halfway around the world, to embark on the journey of a lifetime. He’ll be gone for about 6 months — learning, and growing, and serving others. He’s gonna love it! The hubby and I have been debating “goodbyes” for the last three weeks. How are you supposed to feel about goodbyes? Sad? Excited? Anxious? Perhaps we feel all of those emotions. It’s not a debate whether you miss the person or not, it’s simply feeling. And everybody feels differently. We cannot impose our feelings on others. This is oh so evident with grief… and final goodbyes. Each of us handle it our own way — and you cannot rush the process. But that’s a bigger topic for another day.

We’ve been anticipating this trip for some time… and have made preparations: vaccines, paperwork, fundraising, packing, planning, researching, and waiting. You arrive early to the airport (way too early, says the hubby), and despite double checking and repacking, you pray they ignore the two extra pounds of luggage and put you through. Then you have a momentary breakdown (and shear panic) as you check the carefully labelled red folder of “important” documents and discover the passport is missing. Only to discover it is on said son’s person. But said son has disappeared for the last 20 minutes in some obscure airport bathroom…. and you silently curse…. and a whole new set of emotions well up.

And then, alas, the time comes for hugs, selfies, pats on the back, final warnings to be careful as you, yes, blink a few tears back, and watch as your beloved spreads his wings. We call all of that “goodbye”.

According to history, our English goodbye was derived from “Godbwye” a crazy, late 1500’s text-worthy spelling version of “God be with ye” — quite appropriate if I do say so. That is all we really want to say, isn’t it? I put you in God’s hands, and trust that He knows best. It’s really the sum of our mixed emotions. God be with you, until you return.

I’ve mused a little this week about how Jesus’ disciples must have felt when He said his goodbyes. Confusion must have been in their mix of emotions. Why was he leaving this way? How did Mary feel about her final goodbyes at the cross? Was Thomas the one wishing for the red folder of important documents? What about the reverse? What was going through the mind of the all-knowing Saviour as He said “goodbye” to His earthly life to return to His Heavenly father? I am sure He had some mixed emotions leaving His mission to a bunch of confused fishermen and bewildered women!

But — perhaps the “God be with you” phrase was truly coined then, at that moment in history. Perhaps Jesus simply did what He had to do, and then said His goodbyes, knowing that the rest of the future human race will simply have to learn to embark on their journeys with God “bye” our side.

Until next week: “Goodbye” my gentle readers…”God be with you”