Extra! Extra! Read all About it!

Welcome to the special weekend edition of mittonmusings!  My weekend has been super busy already!  In fact, I am plum tired out ! (or is it plumb?… fruit or copper fixtures…neither get tired…I am confused…hmmn…will have to muse about strange idioms one day…)  Nevertheless!  I just wanted to let you in on the reason why I have been working so hard.  I am super excited that our 30 Days of Blessings! challenge is completed and ready to launch on Monday, Oct. 15th!  That is only two days away!

I have been working on and praying about it for some time now and really want it to fly!  To launch and soar from the nest to heights unknown — like a baby bird discovering it’s wings for the first time…. okay, okay, you get the picture…  Lemme just ask you to pray that all the learning curves work out and that the daily emails get sent as planned!  If you will remember, the purpose of starting this blog was to learn technology.  This challenge is a continuation of that goal, but has blossomed into a true heart ministry for me.  I have been promoting it like crazy around Facebook, and hoping that lots of friends sign up.  We’ve teamed up with my local church and they are backing me up as we reach our community here at home.   And so, please take this as your personal invitation to join us as well!  I would so love for my blogging community of friends to join in the fun.  30 Days of Blessings!Coming Monday!

The challenge will be a daily prompt or thought to help us focus on a way to be blessed or to bless others.  I have already learned so much through the preparation, that I can’t wait to see what will happen when we launch!  A word of caution though… be prepared for some spiritual push back… Satan doesn’t want to see our fruit flourish!  I have already been feeling the doubts creep in.  I’ve been emotionally scattered and tired.  Yet, I know that our great big God is in control, and He is just waiting to use us to make a big impact in our communities.  Will you join us?  Will you stand with me and take up the challenge?  Follow our link below to sign up, and we will see you on Monday!   Happy weekend from the Mitton crew 🙂


30 Days of Blessings!

Epic Felting Fail

Life is back into full swing here, and the lazy days of summer are dwindling away.  Unfortunately for me, that means less time for leisurely activities like crafting.  Before all that disappears though, I wanted to share with you one of my big crafting tragedies.  My epic fail.  My fibre flop.  My defeated disaster.  Perhaps it will encourage you.  If not, well, I might just make it to a Pinterest fail compilation, for “I nailed it”  — not.FELTFAIL

If you are a Pinterest junkie like me, you will know how easily one can be swayed by the allure of beautiful craft pieces, created by highly skilled individuals displaying their wares.  Or perhaps Instagram is your game… and a perfectly plated dish is drool worthy for you.  Maybe you play it old school and appreciate a fine, handmade quilt tucked away in some quaint antique store; or a fashionista who spends hours finding that perfect accent for your well coordinated outfit.  We are such fickle creatures, aren’t we?  We love to create, and often spend our entire lifetimes perfecting our work.

Which brings me back to my fail.  I recently discovered the delicate art of dry felting.  It involves stabbing raw or “roving” wool with a fine needle until it becomes “felted” or matted together.  By layering colours and textures, detailed works of art can become so lifelike, it is difficult to tell what’s real and what’s not… and the pieces are so adorably cute! I first featured some felting artistry at mittonmusings here.  So, eager to try something new, I found a little felting kit at my local craft store and attempted a rather wonky llama.  He’s not bad, but he doesn’t quite stand.  His little legs are not very sturdy.  Okay for a beginner, I suppose.  More recently, I attempted a petite pig with inspiration from a felting book I was pleased to discover down in the States.  It did not go as well.FELTBOOK

The book’s directions had me lay out all the various parts, and following the preliminary instructions for a “dog body” shape, my cute little piglet should have come together beautifully.  My wool was a little too pink — more candy floss shade — but I was going to blend in some browns and whites to make him him look more realistic.  I could do this, right? Several hours later, after stabbing away at my little foam block and folding and fluffing wool… I had all my shapes ready.

Well… my cotton candied porker was not too well proportioned … and he ended up looking like a sausage shaped cat with lopsided legs.  I attempted to give him a whimsical expression… but my features were too thick and my cat-pig ended up all drag-queen-gone-bad.  Epic fail.  My beloveds tried to encourage me with kind words… but we all managed a laugh as Mr. Pig joined Wonky Llama in my misfit menagerie of sad looking felted friends.  I am afraid it is back to the drawing board for me.Shapes all laid out...things so far so good...

What about you, my friend?  Ever attempt a “creation”?  Are you a fine artist? A crafter?  Are you a fabulous cook, or can you rebuild a car from scratch?  I would love to hear from you!

Alas, my fellow beginners… there is always a lesson in our trials!  Are you encouraged, as I am, that the Bible tells us God doesn’t make mistakes (unlike us!).  It says that God created…  and it was good.  I will say it again:  He doesn’t make mistakes.  No epic fails.  No beginner blunders.  Everything was perfect.  Just as He designed.  We recently visited the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio.  It was a helpful reminder in simply appreciating the vast diversity we have in this created world — from the tiniest creepy crawly to the towering dinosaur of yesteryear.  As a scientist, I can appreciate the subtle and profound differences in a world of creatures.  And I continue to be amazed as the various disciplines peel back the layers of this place that God called “good”.  Oh, my friends… We’ve barely scratched the surface!

But do you want to know what is even cooler than that?! He created us!  You and I were created in the image of the Almighty! He breathed life into dirt and “felted” us together — delicately weaving our personalities, our gifts, our talents, and our passions into something spectacular!  You have been perfectly crafted by the most talented artist of all!

So take heart.  If your llamas are a little wobbly, and your piggies are not quite pudgy… fear not.  Humans have to keep practicing.  God doesn’t.GODPRACTICE

 

 

 

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

Can you believe how fast the summer is flying by?!  It’s hard to fathom that it is already the last week of August!  Since we just returned from a little road trip to the USA, I thought I would share this late summer musing by blending a bit of American and Canadian content.

Since 1971, August 26th is celebrated in the United States as “Women’s Equality Day” — it commemorates the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the women’s right to vote.  I’ve taken it as an occasion to celebrate the ladies North of the Border as well.  (FYI, “International Women’s Day” is March 8th… perhaps we will celebrate then, too).  We walked along Rosa Parks Street on our recent trip to Cincinnati, and had a wonderful discussion with the kids about her role in Canadian history as well.  Racism. Women’s rights.  Environmental activism.  So many blog topics… so little time!  Let’s just look at one, shall we? Now, I’m not a big women’s libber… but have been musing about this topic since one of the books on my summer reading list was “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

handmaid

The book peaked my interest after seeing advertisements for the American Web TV’s series based on the novel.  I haven’t seen the television series (who’s first airing was in 2017) since my own imagination is probably less graphic than Hollywood’s visionaries… but it triggered my allure to the book, which I discovered was originally published in 1985.  It’s my first book by renowned Canadian author, Margaret Atwood.  The almost eighty-year-old famous Canadian is certainly well known to me, but I’ve never read her books until now!  I was not disappointed.  She is certainly a fine author, and definitely has a way with words.  I was immediately drawn in and devoured the book in less than a week.

The novel is written in the first person according to its main character, Offred.  It is her tale as a captive, fertile woman in the dystopian based realm of Gilead, which was once New England.  (She was captured trying to escape to Canada).  The “handmaids” are forcibly assigned to produce children for the ruling class known as “commanders”.  The handmaid name was borrowed from the biblical story of Rachel and Bilhah, from which Atwood quotes (Genesis 30).  It is not a tale for the faint of heart.  Atwood’s graphic (although brilliant) writing is what obviously sparked the movies and television series.  It is a twisted tale of power, steeped in the fundamentalist perversion of biblical old testament stories.  And so I muse… how many more women think of the Bible in this way?

From what I can gather, Atwood (a self confessed “strict agnostic”) does not see this particular book as a feminist work, but it nonetheless makes mention to the overall thought that women, as portrayed in (especially) the Old Testament Bible, are nothing more than vessels for bearing children.  I have often heard and seen many critiques of the Christian worldview, based on the fact that the Bible often makes references to this, and other “inferior” roles of women.  Does the God of the Bible condone such patriarchal views as Genesis 30? How do we explain the stories of Hosea or Sarah in a #metoo world?

This summer, I had the privilege of sitting under the words of Dr. Marion Taylor, the graduate director for University of Toronto’s Wycliffe college.  This tiny little lady, who got her PhD from Yale, came out on stage in this frocked and flowered dress, and yet spoke with such authority on women, that many of us sat in awe.  Her resounding message stuck with me:  does the righteous and sympathetic way we read the Bible reflect our understanding of how non-believers read the same stories?  Do we see Hosea as an intimate metaphor of Christ and the church, or as an abused wife who is told to love again after abuse?  Do we recognize the poetic language of Esther or Ruth in an ancient world or do we make current cultural flashpoint references in a confused society?

How do you read

As a scientist, wife, and mother of both sons and daughters, and as a believer … I am a complex mix in this world of feminist views.  I am compelled to see the old testament stories with a sympathetic view, and yet not compromise my beliefs that God has created a uniqueness in me, as an intelligent, gifted and competent woman.  I strive to raise my girls (and my boys) to be strong and capable.  I also choose to submit to my husband as the biblical authority in our home as a compatible wife.  Human beings are not perfect.  The old testament stories are prime examples of this.  Once we start to abuse Christ’s ultimate authority, and pervert His plan, it is no wonder we see the characters in the Bible as abused and enslaved.

And so, I must remember to see my bible studies not only as love stories to me, as woman, wife and mother, but to share them with others.  Others who may not yet understand their full identity in Christ as one who is honoured, loved and respected as one made in the image of God.

 

 

 

A Little Taste of Heaven

Recently, we took advantage of the fact that I was participating in a Summit that had me staying in the heart of downtown Toronto, to visit a unique treasure known as Kensington Market.  (By the way, the Summit gave me a tonne of great blog material — so I enjoyed it thoroughly!).  I have vague memories of visiting Kensington Market as a child in grade school.  The purpose of the school trip was to engage in “the cultural diversity of the city and participate in the richness of its culture”… or something like that.  As students, we were only allowed to buy something if we had not had it before.  I remember picking out a rich banana square from some Asian bakery (I always remember food details).  I could probably find a tonne of them now, not far from my own neighbourhood… but back then it was something different.  The class soon discovered a shop that had fresh sugar cane… and half of us came back sucking sweet juices out of the green, fibrous sticks.  It probably wasn’t that fresh after all, but we thought it was great and some old Jamaican guy made a profit that day!  We all pretended to be from the Islands and swayed along to Bob Marley songs as the school bus bumped along on the ride home.  I suppose the teachers accomplished their wishes.kensingtonwelcome

Our more recent “adult” trip (although we dragged along the younger two to …umm… engage in the cultural diversity of the city and participate in its richness of culture… ) was a unique clash of feasts for the senses.   We weren’t exactly sure where the market begins and ends, as it is spread over several blocks of residential and main streets tucked into allies and in between old homes and meeting houses.  We started along Spadina Avenue and its discount stores filled with cheap t-shirts and Canadian souvenirs.  I abandoned my family for a short moment as I ducked into a small art supply store to look around.

I am not much of an artist, but I love these little art supply shoppes, piled high with coloured pastels, a variety of brushes and canvases in various sizes.  It’s a little collection of whims, a peculiar example of diversity.  Such an eclectic mix of colours and textures, yet all designed for the creation of something beautiful.  Not to mention it just looks cool.  After finding my crew again… who had lost track of me… we headed along a side street.  A large, white truck was unloading cardboard boxes of ripe mangoes and the smell of the tropics hit us.  “Now,” says the hubby… “Now,  we have come to the right place.”  The marketplace store was filled with baskets of exotic fruits and veggies with their cardboard price signs scrawled in magic marker.  The hubby shares with the kids that this is the way he remembers shopping overseas.  He used to run as a kid to buy a glass-bottled Coca Cola — cool and icy.   We turn the corner again and weave our way through the crowds, taking in the sights — shoppes of authentic Mexican delights and street fairs,  an Indian spice shoppe with teas and incense.  We passed the middle eastern restaurant recommended to me at the Summit.  Organic whole food places have popped up everywhere… all those young, hippy, artsy types going green… secretly I am jealous and gaggle at the waste free containers of pantry staples.  A tiny bunch of champagne grapes would cost you $14 if you wanted such a luxury.diversity

I sneaked into a little organic print shop stocked with natural products and handmade cards.  Just for a minute.  The kids crossed over the street to a little park and splash pad to play a bit… because they know how mom easily gets distracted in craft shops and her minute takes forr-everrrr… (insert eye rolling from children and spouse here).  When I did join them, it was hot and my feet were beginning to swell up… so I rinsed them off in the splash pad and watched some cute little girl dash in and out among the random squirts and fountains… she was laughing so innocently and gleefully that it made me smile.

We wandered back and stopped for official Italian gelato… two flavours allowed, but the kids picked the familiar.  Hmmn.  Need to expand their thinking and get them out of their comfort zones more, methinks.  I took a few snapshots of the street art and allowed my senses to take in all the colours again.  I’m not a downtown girl, but every now and then ya gotta see some graffiti.Gelato

After my little getaway downtown I couldn’t help but think that I had a little glimpse of heaven in those few days.  Not only had I sat at the feet of some very learned men and women and gleaned insights on so many topics, but I worshiped with others with different styles and backgrounds unlike my own.  Then we took in the sights, sounds and smells of people who were craving cultural comforts of their native homes.  Others were clinging to social beliefs and political freedoms… organic, pesticide-free foods or animal rights.  Searching people who were clinging to their ideas of “goodness” in a fallen world. Even the artists were trying to express things through the colours splashed on walls and concrete planters.

Our heavenly Father has created us with such diversity… each with our own unique talents and gifts.  Even my own four, who have been raised in the same house with the same set of genes, are so different from one another.  It’s kinda like that art supply shop… our world is stacked to the ceiling with textures, colours and blank canvases that God has given us, and it is up to us to use them well.  To create something beautiful.  To display our wares and share our wealth with others.  The bible tells us (Matthew 25 and 1 Corinthians 12) that the Spirit gives us gifts and talents of all kinds and we are to use them “…for the common good…”  You can take that a variety of ways, I suppose, but I have to think that if it says we should use our gifts, then, by golly, we should use them! Please share your thoughts and talents with others… and never stop learning from those around you!artsupplies

I get kind of excited when I think about Heaven… not only to see Jesus face to face, but to walk down the streets of gold and chat with people from all over the world… to hear their stories of how they met Jesus, and what their traditions were.  To taste the food in Heaven (oh… can you imagine what gelato… or chocolate… will taste like in Heaven?!) And no one is going to argue which way is the right way… because we are all there already… face to face with our Saviour and fully aware of all that He has given us.  The rich diversity of colours and textures and shapes… simply for our pleasure.  Forever.  Hmmmn… as the old hymn says “what a day of rejoicing that will be…”

 

 


Have you been super excited to share in this adventure with me as we “muse” each week?!  We are so close to 100 followers!  How exciting!  Would you consider sharing with a few friends and ask them to join us?  I’ve got some fun changes coming and need as many friends to be a part of it as possible!  Thanks much!

 

The Green Debate

The green debateThere has been a tonne of articles showing up on my social media feeds about the environment lately.  Have you seen this thing about banning plastic straws?  Many environmentalists are looking to curb the use of plastics, with particular focus on the energy consuming, and very damaging, tiny plastic straw.  The topic was supposedly listed for discussion among the G7 leaders this spring.   Vancouver is set to ban all plastic straws, containers and foam cups by June of 2019 — the first Canadian city to do so.  Apparently, even the Queen has “gone green” and banned plastic straws and bottles on all royal estates.   It’s a hot topic and got me a thinkin’… what is our responsibility to the environment?

Now let me state for the record… I really try and do my part for the earth.  I am forever turning out lights in my house… which gets me critiqued all the time for “living in darkness”.  I recycle often and buy used.  I turn off the tap when I brush my teeth.  I tried banning juice boxes in school lunches after a debate broke out at a school council meeting over — you guessed it — non-recyclable plastic straws.  It didn’t go over so well… my kids instantly rebelled at the lovely reusable drinking containers I purchased and demanded the return of the convenient juice box.  It’s just simpler when you have a large family to go with what is easiest.  I see these adorable Instagram posts of zero waste, environmentally friendly products and wonder… do these people have children?!  Do these people have millions of dollars?!  It’s a huge crisis in my brain when I go to the store and have the option of buying two products… one “green” and one … well… cheap.  I am sorry to say… I opt for cheap.  Sustainability.  Is it really cost effective? Why is it cheaper for me to feed my family of six at McDonalds than to buy organically grown, local vegetables?! Something is wrong.

Perhaps it is moving in the right direction, however… McDonald’s has apparently began looking at the straw thing.  With good reason.  Americans use over 500 million plastic straws per day!! Most of those are used for less than 20 minutes and end up floating around in the ocean.  These and other plastics take forever to degrade… which means that 90% of our marine animals have consumed plastics in their lifetimes… simply mistaking it for food.  This doesn’t include the other environmental hazards like entanglement, toxic leakage and who knows what else.  So far though… I still get a straw when I order my lemonade.  What do I do, then?  I have seen arguments on both sides.  I read a good one about how a complete banning of straws would impact the special needs world significantly.  Many people need the convenience of a plastic straw because of medical or mobility issues, and the alternatives are not suitable.  Hmmmn.  The debate digs deeper…

So let’s take it even further… when is the last time you heard a sermon on caring for the environment in your local church?  Oh. Oh.  We debate sex, drugs, rock and roll — we even dabble in politics and the love of money — but not much gets said about banning straws in church.  Should we be concerned about the environment?In fact, social science studies show that the far right christian worldview is much less concerned with the environment than the general public.  Either because we want to stay away from “tree hugging new age philosophies” that worship all nature as “god”, or because we simply think that this world is all going to be gone anyway when Christ comes back so why worry about it?  And so I muse… WHY?

Is there a need for Jesus followers to be concerned about the environment?  Should we be going green?  Or is it not something we need to be concerned about?  I did a quick google search… and was quite surprised to see very little information about the green debate, the environment and christianity.  A few articles about those radicals, a few scientific studies about how we don’t care… but very few about sermons or discussions on the topic.  One that I did find was a transcript of a podcast by Chip Ingram of livingontheedge.org.  He has a two part series on this very subject.  I encourage you to check it out!  Since I am not an expert, I was pleased to find that the Bible does indeed have lots to say about the environment, and how we should care for it!  It really is a spiritual discipline that we should be considering more.  God created this earth.  He gave it to us to take care of.  Yes, we have “dominion” over it and we were called to “subdue” it… but Ingram does a good job of explaining what that means… it’s not simply to rule and overtake… but a delicate balance of working within the confines of what God has set in motion for our Earth.  We are to preserve the beauty and the natural cycle of the land… without worshipping it.  Did the Israelites know about organic soils and nitrogen replenishing?  No… but God instructed them to let the land rest.  God gives us so many rich resources… and the means to preserve them… if only we would consider it.  I encourage you to dig a little deeper with me, and truly discover what God does say about this issue.  It’s an interesting muse.  Perhaps there will have to be a “Part 2” to this post as I continue to learn…

Until then, I will still be turning out the lights in my house.  I will try and lug-a-mug to church for the coffee fellowship.  I am going to try and explore a bit more about how to be “greener” (and continue to be jealous of those instagram posts).  Will I convince my kids to not use juice boxes?  Time will tell.  Maybe Kermit the Frog had it right:  It isn’t easy being green.not easy being green

 

Have you enjoyed the muses?  Have thoughts or comments on this one?  I’d love to hear from you!  Please join us for this learning adventure… new changes are coming soon and I would love for you to be a part of them!  Click on the follow button on the side bar!

 

 

 

Uniquely Canadian

#canadaHappy Birthday, Canada!  (For those of you reading in various other parts of the world… Canada turned 151 on July 1st!)  At the Mitton household,  Canada Day usually represents the beginning of our summer holidays and sun, sand and fun!  There is usually a sea of red and white and everyone seems to be relatively happy.  Personally, if I was 151, I’d be worrying about wrinkles and how blotchy my skin looked decked out in red and white… but I’m not Canada, so I guess it’s okay.  I’ve been to quite a few parts of this wonderful nation and I am happy to report, she looks pretty good for her grand ol’ age!  We should be proud.  This week I was reflecting a little bit about the end of school and moving on, and how Canada is portrayed within the schools I visit.  When I was in elementary school,  we learned to memorize all the provinces with this funny little song… it was so cheesy and the video isn’t much better… but it is still the only way I can name them all.  Great.  Now the diddy is stuck in my head and my kids are going to tease me about it.  And my lack of geography skills.  I am positive they sing much better songs at the library now… Let’s hope so!  Besides, they added more territories to the list, which I am sure is part of the curriculum in 2018.  Do they still have to colour maps in school?  It was the only thing about geography that I really liked.  Ahhh…. Canada!#geography

I’m going to date myself even more, and tell you that we used to say that Canada is a “mosaic” and not a “melting pot” of people.  This means that we are not simply assimilated into one, but a complex blend of many.  A wonderful tapestry of unique threads woven together to create a single, big, beautiful picture.  The wonderful thing about it is that so many cultures are represented here, so many futures shaped from generations of traditions brought over from other places, a unique mix of old, new and slightly murky mixes of both.  We are certainly not perfect… and leaving all politics aside, there is no way that I can claim we haven’t had our fair share of ups and downs in the last 151 years; but we have much to be grateful for.  Picture HeavenI am blessed that I can learn from my neighbour, to sample rich and diverse foods, and to hear the melodious sounds of many voices — each in their own languages.  To continue to learn and be educated.  We are not judged by the clothes we wear, or the music we listen to, or the person we voted for.  We are the true North, strong and free.

Won’t heaven be a bit like that?  Can you imagine the sounds of thousands of generations praising God with one voice, and yet each one definitive and distinctly heard by our Lord?  Each person a representation of a unique life, molded and shaped by the Master.  Every soul carrying the memories of tears… both in joy and sorrow.  (okay… I know… no sorrow in Heaven… but you know what I mean! 🙂 ) I love that!  I love how God created us uniquely different!  We share differently, we love differently, we fight differently, we learn differently!  It should be a reminder to us, though… that we cannot share our faith with others in exactly the same way.  We are all on journeys.  What makes perfect sense to one, may not have any significance to others.   Yet, Christ is perfectly the same.  Unwavered by the push and pulls of a fallen world.  Paul reminds us of this in Philippians 3: that our goal is not to be perfect (humanly speaking) but to follow the One who is!  My friends, are you not encouraged by this?!  He takes our mosaic — our shattered pieces of “us”  —  and makes one big, beautiful picture to present before our Maker in Heaven.  AMAZING!

autumn autumn colours autumn leaves background

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So… as you are putting away all the red and white decorations and fretting over all the BBQ goodies you ate this long weekend… be reminded that one day we get to celebrate again as perfect 151 year-olds!  Our goal is not here on this land… but Heaven.  Until then… here are some “uniquely Canadian” things just for fun:

  • Crispy Crunch chocolate bars
  • Tim Hortons  (not only a hockey legend… but the best coffee ever… double double… also a phrase unique to us only!)
  • Canadians built the first UFO landing pad in St. Paul, Alberta (1967) (hehe…St. Paul… get it?…eyes always on the heavens…)
  • 15 500 out of the world’s 25 000 Polar Bears live in Canada
  • we say “pencil crayons” not “coloured pencils” (and spell coloured with a “u” — oh geography map students!!)
  • it’s pronounced “zed” not “zee” and “pop” not “soda”

And why not some Canadian inventions to round us out:  the electron microscope (yeah science!), basketball, hockey, IMAX, insulin, the wonderbra (good thing…), heart pacemakers (also great!), and the blackberry phone (oh, I miss mine… but we are not perfect, right?)  Happy Birthday, Canada.2

 

P.S. Exciting news coming soon!!  Wanna make sure you don’t miss out?!  Click the follow button on the side bar to get email updates!!