Spiritual Awakenings at the Grand Canyon

This week has been frigid — I’m talking record breaking low temperatures and epic snowfalls that made even us, winter-hardened Canadians, quiver. Twitter was all a buzz with hashtags like #snowmageddon2019. It’s supposed to warm up again by the weekend, but the past week had me dreaming of warmer places, and so I thought I would muse a bit about our trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon from last year! The week deserves some desert reminiscing!

Looking for a spiritual revelation at the Grand Canyon?

We don’t travel much, so when we do, we drive, we trek, we search, and we plan to fit as much in as our meager budgets will allow! Our trip to the Grand Canyon was no exception. We booked tours and saw as many parts of the world wonder (and surrounding places) as we could. I stopped at the burrow ride to the bottom, though… those winding paths on the canyon edge was just a bit too narrow for my liking! Let alone on the back of a teetering donkey! Sedona was one of our favourite places. The Red Rocks and the views were spectacular!! You simply cannot describe the colours.

If you do any research on Sedona, or Arizona in general, you will inevitably discover that it is a hub for “spiritual awakenings”. There is just something about our spirits that are drawn to a timeless place, full of organic mixes of earth and nature, that provokes within us a yearning to find some deeper meaning to our lives — you can call it a spiritual awakening if you want, but — it’s totally a God thing. He put it deep within us when He breathed life into our souls. Many people search for great revelations. Enlightenment. We inherently know there is something bigger than us. Something more powerful than our frail existence. We often feel the need to be challenged, to be driven, to somehow be more Holy. That’s why so many religious pursuits are just that: pursuits. It’s nice to know that we are saved by a free gift of grace and not our own pursuits and merit. Nonetheless, our faith journeys should drive us towards sanctification. I wrote this in my journal on the plane ride to Vegas:

“… Will be super cool to see the Grand Canyon — I ‘m actually hoping to have a bit of spiritual journey there — to see God’s great handiwork and know that this Great Big God loves me — and cares about my parenting and my kids. To be able to trust Him whole-heartedly and see where He takes my dreams: WHAT ARE MY DREAMS?!

Maybe that will be the awakening. That’d be cool. To have a great revelation of some “dream” I should take on. Hmmmn… will have to see what that takes me to….”

March 2017

I’m sorry to report that there was no great revelation the day our eyes beheld the glory of the Cavern. There was no voice from Heaven, no burning bush experience, no tongues of fire. Not for lack of trying. Our tour guide made sure we didn’t peek as we drove along. We were expected to see the grandeur of the Grand Canyon in all it’s finest in one great unearthing. To have that awe inspiring first view. To be honest, it is just too huge to fathom. It almost seems fake. Our minds cannot grasp how wide and vast the expanse is. You can see for miles and miles. Perhaps that is the point. When you first lay eyes on the vastness of a cavern carved out of rock and behold the raging Colorado River from the upper rim… you cannot help but be reminded of how fragile we tiny humans are. How insignificant we are compared to our great big God who flung stars into space! Yet, He has us right where He wants us to be. He is in control — always. This, my friend, is the daily encouragement we need. Not always a grand spiritual awakening. Not always a full revelation of our dreams to pursue, not always visions, dreams or flashes of light. Sometimes it is a still, small whisper that simply says: keep going. I’ve got you right where you need to be today, and tomorrow will be just one more step on the journey. You’ve got this — because God’s got you.

You’ve got this — because God’s got you!

Homemade Apple Sauce

If you have been following along since we started the new year, you will know that I am trying to simplify and be a bit greener in 2019. (If you haven’t been following along? Why not?! Sign up for a weekly musing right in your inbox!! Share too!! ) Recently, I convinced the kids to help me make some homemade apple sauce. They love the packaged stuff — even the ones with hidden veggies! And although the little plastic cups are recyclable (or re-useable as paint pots, planters, etc. etc.) I wanted to see if the kids would enjoy the homemade stuff just as well as the pre-packaged, store bought apple sauce.

It’s not even apple season — but I bought a big bag of “naturally imperfect” fruit (ha! there’s a thought for ya!) and enlisted the youngest two to assist in the process. (I read somewhere that if you get them involved, then children are more likely to try whatever you are making… not so much in our house… but hey! Keep learning, right?)

We divided and conquered: one of the kids peeled the apples, one sliced, and I got to go behind and clean up all the messes! Very quickly we had a nice selection of apples to make our small batch of apple sauce with. Here is the recipe we used:

  • 8 or so medium sized apples (peeled, cored and cut into chunks)
  • about 1 cup of water (use more or less depending on how thick you like your applesauce
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

That’s it! I was tempted to throw in a carrot or two, but since the beloveds were helping me, I didn’t want to scare them off just yet! I have made applesauce in the crock pot as well, but I wanted it a little faster this time, so we boiled the above ingredients in a big pot until the apples were soft enough to blend up with the hand blender. Don’t forget to take the cinnamon sticks out! We didn’t add any sugar to our applesauce, as the cinnamon sticks and natural fruit sweetness make it just fine without added sugar! It smelled WONDERFUL!

I have saved a bunch of these little jars with lids, so once the applesauce was done, we filled up the jars and voila! Homemade apple snacks! The big test?! How did it compare? Well… it is yummy… but the crew decided it was best eaten warm and fresh. I have also discovered it tastes great with yogurt for breakfast! One downside to not having preservatives… our homemade applesauce must be kept in the fridge, so it is just not as convenient to grab and go as the pre-packaged, quick snacks we buy. It might taste better, and be better for us… so we will continue to use it often, but convenience may rule out the effort this time. At least it is not on my shopping list for this particular week!


It’s the way it goes sometimes, isn’t it?! We may know that homemade is better, but despite the benefits, we sometimes opt for the easier choice. I’m reminded of the rich man in Matthew 19. He wants to do right, follow Jesus and do good by following the commands, and yet, he struggles with giving up his wealth, his conveniences, his easy-go-lucky life full of riches. I’m discovering that the “simple” things I am choosing to pursue this year are not always the easier options. It takes time to make healthier meals and map out my shopping lists. It takes time to grow deeper in our relationships; it takes effort to study and plan and better ourselves. It is hard to say “no” to some things in order to prioritize others. I, like the rich man, have done many things well, but I struggle to let go of other things. So be encouraged, with me, that our faith journeys are just that: journeys. We follow a winding path and sometimes take a few steps back before moving forward again. The goal is to keep moving forward. Jesus goes on in the story of the rich man, to remind us that with God, all things are possible, and that our rewards will be waiting for us in Heaven one day, if we chose to follow Him. I bet He will even have homemade applesauce warmed up and ready to share!

5 Ways to Grow “Greener” Kids

Let me start this post by saying that I am, in no way, that fabulous enviro-mummy who feeds her beloveds only organic, wholesome foods packed in bio-hazard free, perfectly chilled lunch boxes. We put out a bag of garbage each week and don’t recycle perfectly. Sometimes we yell a little too much, and we are not always kind to one another. We are just average folks living in the suburbs trying to make a little difference in 2019. However, we are making an attempt to be a tad more environmentally conscious. My goal for this year is to live a little bit more simply, a little bit greener, a little bit more sustainable…. and I am dragging the family kicking and screaming along with me. So. Here you have it. 5 things we are trying to do as a family to go a bit more green:

#1: Pop Top Collecting

This one, I am proud to say, belongs to the youngest. She has initiated a small collection of pop tops (or soda can tabs for those of you who speak “American”) and hopes to recycle them with charitable organizations. These collections are used to raise funds for wheelchairs and other assistive devices. We only have a very small amount (we don’t drink a lot of canned pop) but I am happy that the crew is at least thinking about making changes!! The charities (March of Dimes, Ronald McDonald House and others) collect and send the aluminum tabs to be recycled. In exchange, they receive a small fee that is used to fund the new devices. It takes A LOT of tabs to make any significant change, so our little blip is only a start. 1267 pop tabs make one pound of aluminum… and the current price for a pound of aluminum? Sixty cents. Maybe we need to drink more pop.

#2: Useful Containers

This one is a new eco-friendly initiative for me, so I am hoping it will eventually make a little bit of difference. I have started to save some useful containers and cool recyclables to share with my local schools and summer camps. The internet is full of crazy things you can make and create with all kinds of recyclables like toilet paper roles, cans, containers and such. Our summer camp has been collecting these items for years, and so I thought if I could make it easy to separate, we could share the wealth with our schools and local daycares to illicit some greener and creative play! Our primary school is a platinum winner for it’s eco-school initiatives, so I am sure the teachers will use the donations wisely and creatively! And all the materials are free! What’s not to love?

#3: G.O.O.S Paper

Speaking of school, this idea was stolen from my work in grade one classes some years ago. I discovered something called G.O.O.S Paper… which originally I thought was goose, like the Canadian bird, but really means: Good On One Side. We use a tonne of paper at my house. We make notes, lists, homework help, blog ideas and just general crafting. We also get a lot of paper home… school notes, fliers, cards etc. Some time ago, we made these paper maché boxes that tuck themselves neatly in our living room space. One for paper that is still “good on one side”, and one for brand new paper. The new paper is only allowed in the printer for homework projects or important notes. The rest must be pulled from the G.O.O.S box!

#4: No more Juice Boxes for Lunch

None of my kids are super happy about this one… but I have stuck with it! You can read about this initiative in a previous post here. I was sad to discover how wasteful juice boxes were, and that they could not be recycled! Not to mention that maybe we should not be drinking all that juice! So, I have eliminated the juice box cases from my shopping list! It was an environmentally conscious choice that not only has it been lighter on my back, but it has helped a little on the budget too! All of us now have nice, re-usable water bottles. We still occasionally buy a few boxes when we travel — but they are not overflowing our garbage the way they used to!

#5: Hand me Downs

My kids have been used to this one since they were born. I very rarely need to buy new clothes for our kids. We have been blessed with friends and family (and a plethora of thrift shops!) that keep all four of my kids well dressed and looking fine! The crew sees very little value in designer name brands and are happy with comfortable clothes — even used ones. In fact, it is almost funny that my kids will continue to wear clothes even if they are riding up their too tall legs! When they were younger, they used to think the big garbage bags of donations were fabulous gifts and digging in to them was just like Christmas!!

It’s interesting, isn’t it, what priorities we share with our children? How about you? Any green tips to share? Any eco-friendly activities going on at your house? What other values are you trying to impart on the next generation? Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) our beloved babies are not born with a set of instructions. It is up to us to feed their fires, to enrich their creativity, to instill best practices in their minds and hearts. It’s also true when it comes to their thoughts about spirituality and the church. Yes, it is correct to say that each individual must chose his/her own actions, and we cannot “force” our beliefs on anyone. But you’d be surprised to note what influences you have on others… for better or for worse. As they get older, we have always tried to encourage our children to question and discover their faith for real. And we try to lead by example. We don’t schedule sports or lessons on Sundays on purpose. Those days are reserved for church. Yes, you are expected to join us each and every Sunday and participate in the service. Yes, that means getting up out of bed on a snowy Sunday morning. Like “greening” we sometimes have to drag them along, explaining that even a little bit counts.

Check out my other posts about the Green Debate!

No, we are not perfect. Our children are not perfect. But we strive to build a sense of community — both for our resources and for our church. To do our little part to help. It’s not easy. 1267 pop tops is a lot! It’s hard to wake up early to get to worship practice on a Sunday morning when all your friends are sleeping in. But if we each start with one bit, one church service, one share, one verse memorized, one kind word, one less plastic straw, I think our faith communities… and our pop top collections… will grow and be greener!