Celebrating Freedom

Happy Victoria day! Happy Belated Mother’s day! Happy Beginning of Summer! Happy who-knows-how-many day of Lockdown! I don’t know about you, but I am feeling the need to wish you a happy something. To celebrate. To move forward. To move on. Things are slowly, slowly starting to open up around us, but we are still being cautious, and many of our “normal” summer events have already been cancelled. Covid-19 and the pandemic of 2020 will cause us to question how we do things for sometime. Life will go on, but we need to be prepared for changes going forward. We usually spend this first long weekend of summer at our trailer, opening up, dusting off the winter, and looking forward to sunny days and slower times. Instead, we are still home. We’ve been doing slower days for three months already! Home — but still keeping ourselves busy. We are ahead of schedule this year with our little urban garden, and the youngest has been itching to get our seedlings in the ground. This weekend was spent in preparation!

We expanded our growing space this year by purchasing two raised beds… and 3 cubic yards of soil! (which is a whack load of dirt, lemme tell ya!) I guess if I can’t have the farm, we are going to bring it to me, by golly! Now, let me premise the rest of the story by saying we are not great at building projects. We have limited experience and even more limited tools. But where there is a will, there is a way, right? And, so, we spent the entire day building, levelling, shovelling and soon — planting! I thought, great — I will blog about the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5. Seemed like a gardening-type verse to focus on. Yet, as I read the passage over this week and meditated on it, the context, and what I might muse about, I was convicted by the following verse:

“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:26 (NIV)

So much of my isolation has been spent scrolling through news feeds, searching for ideas, plans, gathering information. This is not inherently wrong, of course, and it has become part of our lives — especially now, when everything has “moved online”. And so I muse: How much have I envied others as I scrolled? Have I become conceited in my own posts as I “brag” about what I am doing at home? I’ve found myself looking at the newscaster’s artwork on the walls as I listen to the news. I wonder about the kitchen gadgets and the furniture and lack of dirty dishes as I look up new recipes. I see the actors and actresses without their camera crews and wonder how they pull off their great looks without help. What about those Zoom Meetings? Perhaps you’ve been seeking out worship and devotions and watched churches who can put on heavenly displays. Or maybe you’ve been like me — totally jealous of the Instagram stories of vast acres in the hills, with perfect rows of green growth… and chickens.

photo credit: silvertulipgifts (Etsy)

The Mitton crew has had a good weekend. Our garden beds turned out great, and we worked together as a family. We spent time outdoors and got a lot accomplished. I am proud and feel good about the things we did. We have reason to celebrate those things. Still, I am reminded to be humble and remember that God has blessed us with the means and the abilities. As He has blessed those I see online. I must remember not to listen to the voices that remind me of the doubts and insecurities I have. The ones that tell me what I have is “not good enough” . The envious thoughts of “if only…”

Oh my friends, I hope and pray that as I post each week and share my pictures and muses with you, that you understand that we are on the journey together. Our lives are far from perfect, and those on the screens are far from perfect too. We all need a Saviour and the fruit of the Spirit. It’s hard to balance dreams and reality, isn’t it? To curb our envy, and still pursue lofty goals. Galatians 5 reminds us that we were called to be free as we walk in the Spirit, and not be burdened by the desires of the flesh. It is my prayer for us on this long weekend. Here’s to celebrating that kind of freedom!

A Bouquet of Flowers

Well. Here it is. First day of back-to-school week, which means summer is officially over. If you’ve been following along through my summer posts, you know it has been an interesting summer… full of ups and downs and failed plans. So, I am marking today with a big bouquet of flowers. A celebration of sorts, a chance to move forward in the adventure, and see where this next “new year” goes.

Our little urban garden is starting to yield its last of the produce, but we are still waiting for the sunflowers to bloom. They are strong, and very tall… but have not presented their happy, seed-filled faces yet! Did we plant too late? Did we forget something? I’m not sure. Perhaps they are just late bloomers, and we will simply have to wait and be patient. We also planted nasturtiums, an edible plant that I was hoping to pretty up salads with… but they didn’t grow at all! What did grow was a huge goldenrod bush… basically a wildflower… better known as a weed. It flourished mightily. Although, I hear you can make a really nice goldenrod tea… when life gives you lemons and all that… At least the bees enjoyed it.

photo by kilarov-zaneit via Unsplash

I was never a big flower fan when I was younger. Of course, I loved a bouquet of roses as much as any romantic teen, but gardens should be practical and contain something “useful” like vegetables. But I have grown and matured and have come to appreciate flowers. The simple diversity of blooms and variety of colour, alone, makes them worthy of pondering. As I read more on gardens and foraging, the medicinal use of things like echinacea, camomile, and lavender, have peaked my interest in the practical characteristics of the “pretty” plants. So, forgive me if you are a flower fiend, and have tended the perfect English rose garden for years. I am still learning.

As a scientist, I’m aware that flowers also have quite a deep history. I’ve already alluded to the medicinal uses of flowering buds. Still, have you heard of this thing called the Fibonacci sequence ? Flowers have such. Repeating patterns in perfectly mathematical sequences that bear the mark of a unique and complex Creator. Cool. And let’s not forget the simple fact that flowers are the lifeblood of the plant… seeds and fruit that perpetuate the next generation! Not just pretty faces, indeed.

And so, on this first day, of this new fall year, be encouraged by a “simple” flower. Pick a bouquet for yourself or someone else and share the love. Tag me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! I’d love to see how you are choosing to bloom today!

How to Re-pot a Cactus (Without Getting Poked!)

Re-potting CactiGreetings!  It’s been a hectic week and I am just catching up on a few things (like laundry and housecleaning… what an exciting life I lead, eh?).  We are almost into our third week of our 30 Days of Blessings challenge and I am being so encouraged by how people are being blessed!  One of the challenges we recently enjoyed was to discover all about plants!  Now, I am no green thumb, but I do like plants.  It’s just crazy how diverse they are.  So many colours, shades and textures.  I garden a bit… but I’m really too lazy to tend the land a whole lot.  Houseplants are my jive.  I don’t have the space for a jungle, but we do have a few potted beauties hanging around.  The recent prompt encouraged me to buy two more little succulents… they are all the rage right now!  Seriously… How many Instagram pics have you seen with that tiny green thing on the perfectly clean office desk?  It’s so unreal, people.  Do computer desks look like that?  Not mine.   Although I must say, one of my new little guys looks like he needs some googly eyes and a sombrero… it’s so funny!

succulents are fun!

I have a few other succulents, too, which I love to share as they are so easy to propagate.  If you need some help with that, you can read about my simple teacher’s gifts here.  I once “adopted” an Aloe Vera plant that was huge when I got it.  I have shared that one so many times that I only have a few sprigs (apparently the correct term is “pups”) left.  I will have to leave it alone for awhile to grow back.  But, I digress, we are here to talk about my cacti!  I received two little cacti as a souvenir from Arizona.  The hubby brought them back from a trip he took several years ago.  Recently, they were beginning to look a little sad.  One was definitely leaning over (yes, I stuck an old knitting needle in the soil to prop it up!) The other was starting to spot a tad in the middle where it had touched the other one.  They had grown too big for the shallow dish they were in and needed to be re-potted for more space… only issue… they are very prickly!!

I had tried once before to re-pot my cactus using tongs to prop it up and some gloves… but the spines went through the gloves!  Someone told me a towel would work… but the spines stuck in the towel.  And so… YouTube became my friend once again.  A lovely expert from California (all things cacti there!) re-potted a huge, tall, spiky beast using bunched up newspaper… and voila!  It worked!   I carefully dug around the bottom with a fork and used my oven mitts and some crunched up newspapers to lift the cactus out.  It’s pot partner immediately flopped over in shear depression at the thought of being left alone forever — but was soon rescued as well, and placed back with it’s beloved in a new home.  Unfortunately, because I had procrastinated moving them so long, the roots had grown slightly sideways, so the plants are still slightly leaning and currently propped up again.  I am hoping with more room to grow, they will grow fat and healthy!  Newspaper hugs did the trick!newspaperhugs

What about you, my friend?  Ever get stuck in a pot too small for your liking, but too afraid of getting poked to move on?  Ever feel like you are being prompted for something bigger, somewhere you can bloom and flourish,  but doubts and fears keep you leaning over because you’ve procrastinated too long?  Or are you afraid to get poked by people who want to see you fail?  The Bible tells us to “Be Strong!  Be fearless!  Don’t be afraid and don’t be scared by your enemies, because the Lord your God is the one who marches with you.  He won’t let you down and He won’t abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 (CEBA))  How encouraging!  I know, I know, you are right — easier said than done.  So how do we turn the hard parts to our advantage?  Take the example of our plants.  Even though the spines are added protection for the plant, cacti use their spikes to retain water as well — a necessary resource in the desert (because they lack leaves).  Our struggles often produce defensive spikes that keep our predators at bay.  We must learn that even though times are tough, our defenses can become our greatest assets.  They help us survive in the desert of life.

Sometimes, we forget.  We get stabbed with the consequences when we are not protected.  I got a jab by one tiny spine through my oven mitt as I propped up my leaning cactus without the added protection of the newspapers.  I tried to do it on my own.  When our Godly defenses are down, we sometimes react without being properly guarded.  And it hurts… let me tell ya!  So use your newspaper to wrap one another in love.  Hug a cactus with all the encouragement and grace you can find!  Cushion them with space and then gently lift them forward.  Only then can you begin to see them flourish and bloom in their new space!  bloom & flourish