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.

Should we get a Puppy?

We have become a statistic. A Covid-19 statistic. No, there’s been no virus here, but we have entered a crazy stage along with almost half of the population right now. We are looking into getting a puppy. Apparently, everyone else is getting a “Covid canine” too! If you’ve been following mittonmusings for any amount of time you will have heard me mention our zoo before… creatures abound at our house and are a vital part of our lives. Although there has never been a dog. I love dogs and we have done our fair share of dog sitting — I just happen to be a cat person and know that dogs are a bigger commitment of time, work and money. And yet, here we are on the brink of dog ownership.

Now before you go all judgey on me and think we are just looking to fill the gap during the pandemic, don’t. I certainly do not wish people to get a dog and then abandon it in six months when the world goes back to normal and there is no longer “time”. Please don’t do this! We were thinking about it before we all went into lockdown — but since then, the search has been increasingly difficult! Obviously, we were not alone in our quest! The pandemic has forced people to clear their schedules and fuelled the fire for furry companionship: adoption inquires jumped 122% in the first month of lockdown (petfinder.com), fostering increased 500% (wow! 500%) as shelters began to shut down and people wanted to “do good” with the time on their hands (ASPCA). In Canada, humane societies saw a 30-70% increase in adoption and fostering applications, and registered breeders were very quickly sold out of puppies and added to waiting lists up to two years ahead! Kijiji has been flooded with “backyard breeders” asking astronomical prices for cross breeds and scams are abundant. People are looking for companionship.

All of this has had me thinking and comparing. We’ve been debating between a few “high energy/high maintenance” breeds and slower, more “family oriented” dogs. I have some definite “no’s” on my list… and some confusion about a few ads I’ve seen (what on earth is a doganoodle?!)… add an honest budget to the list and finding a pup has not been easy… much to the youngest’s dismay and discouragement. So many choices. So much diversity. So many pros and so many cons.

At first, I was going to compare these thoughts to the faith profiles of Mary and Martha in the gospel of Luke. Each of the sisters had unique priorities and personalities … a high working drive and a calmer, more relaxed approach to life. Jesus points out many valuable points in both approaches and reminds us that companionship is the goal. As I considered the sisters, I discovered that we can expand those thoughts to each of us and our churches at large. God’s kingdom, like the available dog breed list, is HUGE. Pedigree people are just as valuable as the street “mutt” in God’s eyes — He made us all and has placed us right where He wants us to be in order to do great things for Him. He wants us to be loving companions even (or especially) during a quarantine.

I was reminded of it during Sunday service today. We are to be kind, to hate sin, but to be radical in our love for others — especially during this “new normal” we are living in. Some of us are struggling to keep it together as fear and anxiety take over. Some of us are craving a good game of fetch and are dying to be social again. Some of us need a challenge to get up and out of the doghouse. Others need strict and constant training. We all need love. Now please don’t think that I am comparing humans to dogs. I’m simply using the analogy, that like dogs, we each have different needs and are uniquely gifted for specific purposes. It’s not our job to compare — we don’t have to pick people like we pick puppies. Our churches should encourage one another to serve and be served.

The Mary and Martha story reminds us to examine our priorities in addition to sharing our gifts. Our new puppy will be welcomed into our “zoo” and will change our routines for sure. It will be fun, but require effort. We are hoping it all will work out as a balanced leap of faith. I found a blog while researching for this little post with a great prayer that focuses on that balance. It makes me think that we are kind of like a new puppy in Jesus’ great big new house. I hope the author doesn’t mind that I am borrowing it:

Heavenly Father we open the doors of our heart to you.  We long to spend time sitting at your feet and learning all that you have to teach us.  We long to lay our heads on your lap and have you comfort us.  We long to know you as well as you know us.  We pray for wisdom in making our priorities in our day; we pray that you would guard us against the bossiness of our feelings and emotions that sometimes stand in our way.  Like Martha, we offer our hospitality, and like Mary, we choose to sit at your feet. Thanks to God who wrote our story and made it unique and beautiful.  Amen

From: https://lauriehampton.com/2018/11/18/three-lessons-learned-from-the-mary-and-martha-battle/

Celebrating during Covid-19

Welcome to another week of mittonmusings. Things are finally starting to open back up again and life is returning to our “new normal”. That seems like a strange notion to return to, but most of us have never been through a worldwide pandemic, and so we go with whatever the powers that be tell us. Which includes this whole idea of social distancing and isolating ourselves from others — especially the “vulnerable” ones in our society. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for safety and am a big believer in following the rules, but I couldn’t help but wonder this week: What will all this isolation do to our sense of celebration?

The middle kid celebrated his birthday this week. We’ve already celebrated two other birthdays in lockdown, and, of course, Father’s Day was this past Sunday. We were supposed to have a graduation, too, at the end of the month. Many of our normal celebratory gatherings and rituals have been cancelled. And yet, I have seen so many creative ways to mark special occasions in spite of lockdown. So, what does one do to mark a memorable day? Why do we do it that way or this way? Does it reflect the people celebrating or is it to mark the celebration itself? It’s interesting to ponder — especially as an introvert. I’m not much for celebrating, and we have a family debate each time a special date rolls around. Please feel free to comment on your thoughts to help the case one way or another. But as for me, I think about things. The reasons we do things — why and how, and then why “that how”? I get it. Humans were created to be social. We need each other and were created for interaction. One look at how Covid-19 has panned out and we see it. Just watch the news for awhile and we will see that we are geared to fight and protest and share joys and sorrows and injustice. Even if it is over zoom or from the balcony ledge. Forget the news… any kindergarten class will show you those things, too.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

According to Seline Shenoy (The Dream Catcher/ Happiness Project) there are five benefits to celebrating:

  • 1.Cultivating a sense of community: One of the most opportune times to bond with our families and friends is during special occasions.
  • 2. Instilling a sense of meaning and significance to our lives:  Participating in the customary rites (cutting cakes and drinking champagne) instills a sense of reverence and appreciation for the gift of life and connects us to a more omnipotent force.
  • 3. We will create lasting fond memories: The human mind tends to recall memories that carry a high emotional charge to them. When we commemorate a special occasion, we are essentially placing a mental bookmark on an experience, thereby making it easier to remember it in the future.
  • 4. It adds fun and excitement to our lives: Celebrations can be incredibly fun and provides us with the perfect opportunity to engage in the joys of life such dance, song, food, play and laughter. 
  • 5. We take our place in the circle of life: When we commemorate special occasions, we are essentially connecting with our humanity and the commonality that we share with all those who have been long gone before us. We tap into the timelessness of the human spirit when we take the time to pay respect to the important rites of passages that were celebrated by our ancestors in the yester years.

I don’t know if I agree with all of the five reasons, but I suspect sociologists and psychologists have been studying the whole idea for longer than I have, so who’s to argue? Besides, I love a good piece of cake. And my scrapbooks are filled with memories shared, so it must mean something. I think God just wired us that way, so that’s life.

I couldn’t help but find our past week of celebrations a little strange though, considering the times we were in: masked family, no hugging, keeping our distances … can you celebrate without the physical connection? Obviously, you can. We’ve participated in a virtual wedding and drive by birthdays this year. We “celebrated” — but it was strange. Did we miss out on some sort of secret? Or is it simply strange because it wasn’t the way we are used to doing things?

Sigh. I guess this muse has truly been that — a muse. I don’t have any answers this week. No insights or revelations. I’m simply pondering. Would you consider sharing your thoughts in the comments or on my socials this week? I’m curious what you might be thinking. How do you choose to celebrate? Why? Did God instill it in us? How has history played a roll? Or culture, tradition or socio-economic status? And what will it look like going forward from here?!