If the Shoe Fits

It’s only a week back to school and I’ve already heard “Where’s my other shoe?” twelve times already! Can I get an amen from any other moms out there?! Now let me explain: we have a very small entrance to our front door that spills out into our ‘open concept’ kitchen and living room. I do not have a mudroom. I do not have an enclosed porch. There is no room for shelving, no hooks or fancy baskets. I have a few shoe trays and a small closet that homes our collection of winter coats and boots, and a large amount of hockey paraphernalia. I have tried to organize and tidy our shoe collections… but we have six people in our family, and live in Canada, where all four seasons can accumulate into one week, so we have a giant pile of shoes at our front door. And it seems to be growing.

Believe it or not, they are not all my shoes, either! Despite being the prime aged woman, I do not have a large collection of shoes. I have worn the same plastic sandals since April. For every occasion. It’s the rest of my family that has created the pile! Elementary school requires two pairs of shoes per student: one for indoors and one for outside. Then there are flip flops and hand-me-downs, and dress shoes, and athletic shoes that are only for this or that sport, or running, or “the lucky pair” only for games or tournaments, or the ones that still fit but have a giant hole or broken shoe laces. Oh, and then the hubby has a casual dress pair and a fancy dress pair. Plus the hiking sandals, and the green stained ones for cutting the grass. Seriously, we have shoes for cutting the grass.

I also have teenaged sons. Yes. Those of you who have lived this stage know what I am talking about… the stink. The lingering odour of one-too-many-soccer-matches or the accidental slip in the creek that allowed some feisty bacteria to breed a large set of offspring. I could run a level 4 biohazard lab at the World Health Organization headquarters with the contents of those shoes. Those blessed runners rest outside for a day or so before they are allowed to find refuge in the pile.

And so I have been musing. One about how blessed we are for gracious people who share hand-me-downs. Two, about how fortunate we are to live where seasons change and how lucky we are to have multiple pairs of shoes and boots that accommodate the weather. Many suffer for basics, let alone for a set of shoes for “special occasions” (or cutting the grass). My mind has wandered through phrases like “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” or John the Baptist’s statement about being “unworthy to untie even the laces of Jesus’ sandals”. *Giggle* I even watched some Youtubers trying to recreate Cinderella’s glass slipper run down the stairs. (Technically glass shoes are very hard to run in!)

photo from Disney.fandom.com/wiki

I’ve concluded that shoes may give us a glimpse of our deeper selves. Our “journeys” so to speak. Biblical shoe references speak of ties that bind (pun intended) and of contracts. Athletes claim the shoe can make or break a performance, as do ballerinas who spend hours breaking in their slippers. Cinderella and glass slippers indeed. And you, my friend? Where have your shoes taken you? What journey have you walked through that has made you who you are? Who’s sandals are you not worthy to untie? Are you blessed to have a full closet? Does it inspire you to see others in a new light?

For these reasons, I will remind myself to rejoice as I tidy up the pile at my front door…or yet again…search for the lost shoe that has run off on it’s own under the couch just before we are off to school. And contemplate the day when the pile will be diminished and only my plastic sandals will sit at the door, and then, it will be tidy, but I will be sad.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

It has been a crazy few weeks! Busy spring schedules means my house is a mess, I’m tired, the laundry is backed up, and things are just a tad bit grumpy around here. So, there is really no time for casual reading, despite my comfy couch calling my name as the sunbeams warm the spot! But before the chaos hit, I had the chance to finish up a book entitled “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend” by Matthew Dicks. (FYI – Apparently the author goes by Matthew Green in Australia and the UK). I picked it up in one of the thrift shops we stopped at on our girl’s getaway a few weeks back. (You can read about those adventures, here).

The reviews label it as a “psychological novel”… and I am not quite sure what that means. But it’s good. It is also an auditory book, so if you prefer that, it might be a cool one to listen to on a car trip this summer? Personally, I loved it as a great read, and couldn’t put it down. It tells the story of Max, an elementary school-aged boy with some special needs, and his imaginary friend, Budo. Budo, although imaginary, and only seen and heard by Max, is quite “real” for an imaginary friend. (He has eyebrows!) He is also quite “old” for an imaginary friend (More than five years old — most imaginary friends get killed by kindergarten says Budo 🙂 ). He discovers, through twists and turns in the book, that the more he learns, the more he dislikes reality. Budo’s biggest reality? Imaginary friends do not last very long. And Budo has to make some tough decisions in order to help Max, which in turn, may bring about his own demise.

I’m not a “fluffy” book reader… I like some interesting (and slightly dark) twists in my novels — and this one had just enough to keep me up at night. It boasts of sacrifice and internal struggle and pushing forward. Budo has to face his fears. Ultimately, his friend, Max, does too. The author has made it quite creative, almost whimsical — there are some other meritorious imaginary friends described in the book, and a few teachers who tickled my funny bone, as well.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is not considered a “spiritual” book by any shape or form, but I couldn’t help but see the parallels it has to our own faith journeys. Faith being the operative word here. Have you ever felt like an imaginary friend? Heard and seen and understood by only a very select few? You struggle to “do the right thing” but it may mean sacrificing your friendships, or even your very own existence? Do you have to rely on the strength of others to get you through a challenging trial?

Recently, I discovered our youngest had copied out a verse on the chalk board hanging on her wall. It struck me how we have been developing her faith by our family choices, our encouragement, and our example. In turn, she is beginning to live out her own faith in Christ. And we see it reflected in the doodles and drawings on her chalk board. What a scary privilege we have as parents!

Oh friends, after busy spring weeks like these past few, my faith is weak. I want to achieve big things, but I struggle with simply keeping things at the same, comfortable and re-assuring spot. I don’t want to step out of my comfort zone, into the “real” world and face challenges that might be too hard for me. Sometimes I am barely keeping a float where I am right now! Can I get an Amen? Anyone out there feel the same?

Perhaps, Budo, Max’s imaginary friend, could take notes along with me, from 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT), where we learn that there is someone very real we can count on to strengthen us in our spiritual journeys. Someone who can truly help us step out in faith.  “Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. “ So be it.

How to Network (Even if it Scares You!)

One thing I have discovered since starting mittonmusings, is that blogging is really all about connections and networking. And I am painfully bad at it! As a self proclaimed wallflower and hopeless introvert, actually talking to people is brutally tough! I smile and nod politely, in great hopes that you might talk to me initially… but heaven forbid I make the first move! Very few of “my people” would even know that I blog… except for random posts on social media.

So, I scanned a few resources to see what the experts say about networking. Why do we put ourselves out there, out of our comfort zones, to connect and make ourselves known? Sometimes it is to improve our positions… perhaps a new job or a better rank within a current job. Our eldest has just started to tackle this daunting task… and we are trying to encourage her that employers don’t come knocking at your door — you must go to them and prove that you are worthy of their hiring. Yes, I agree, it is not easy!

Other times it is to make connections. If you have a passion for art or music, you tend to gravitate towards like-minded people who share your passion. Perhaps, it is to learn more about something you are interested in. The hubby and I attended “Seedy Sunday” at Evergreen Brickworks this past weekend… the intent was to learn more about gardening (another adventure I am hoping to tackle this spring), but I ended up chatting with a fibre artist about alpaca wool. Should I mention that the hubby wandered off and got coffee at this point? But put him in a room with small talkers who love world events… and it’s me who searches out the family cat.

I’m learning. I joined two online blogging groups — and have made some connections. I have had to be vulnerable and ask for help when needed… and, by golly, it works sometimes! Part of the reasoning for this post was to convince myself that I should attend a real, live, blogging networking event. It will be good to go — but I am petrified. It’s one thing to post on Instagram — it’s another to actually be there in the flesh and tell people what you blog about. Especially, in my case.

#Jesusbloggers, or people who have faith based blogs, have created a very narrow niche for themselves. It’s controversial. It’s limiting. Many businesses and affiliates don’t want you mentioning the whole God thing. No one wants you to guest post about “religion” — stick to just the craft or product, okay? (which — actually — I am cool about — just not something I choose to do here). I’ve also found it frustrating that many faith based bloggers are a little too flowery for me. All southern belle, hugs and kumbaya. Others have a significant story to tell — a miraculous event, or traumatic experience that illustrates their faith so beautifully. People read those stories.

I’m just a regular ol’ mom who happens to love Jesus. I started the blog to learn some technology, and it has blossomed into a unique way to share my faith. Networking, like sharing the gospel, is simply telling your story. My faith happens to be a part of my story… and so I am learning to tell a story that is so much bigger than my own. It’s God’s.

The experts say there are some key tips to follow when you network:

Smile. Okay. I can do that. I am putting on my southern belle smile. Here’s your ice cold lemonade. Come sit on the porch awhile, whilst I tell ya’ll about what I been musing about lately….

Prepare. I promise to continue to post weekly. I’m committed to sharing how my faith and my everyday life continue to coincide. I’m far from perfect, and I don’t have all the answers, but if you follow along on this adventure, I will seek to shed some light on this dark world as I give you glimpses of how God continues to work in our lives… perhaps not in big , miraculous events… but in the everyday. I hope to have another online course fully prepared for launch this summer!

Challenge yourself. Alright. I am boldly going to put myself out there… I will attend the live network (and pray hard I find another Jesusblogger hidden among the wallflowers!). I’m going to follow up on some leads for guest posts and re-connect with a few others. I continue to learn more about the technical side of this blogging thing…look for my upgrades!

So, my friends, here’s where you can help! If you have just joined me, and liked this post… would you consider following along in the adventure? Click here and you’ll get a weekly email. Already a follower? Want to share a post? Click on the title of your favourite post on the blog page… that gives you the “link”…then you can copy and paste the link to an email, your favourite social media account, or your own blog! Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of being the next internet sensation, but I have learned that “clicks”, “followers”, “shares” and “forwarding” is the way that the internet says your story is worth sharing. I’m hoping mine is.

Haha!! We, my new friend, have just networked!