Seasons of Change

Perhaps there isn’t enough snow on the ground to be discussing changes in season. Perhaps I’ve jumped the gun in talking about something that hasn’t yet happened. Especially since the weather was so warm today. Still, for some reason, this is what’s been on my mind. And I’d like to think that what I share here is beyond me and serves its purpose on a bigger scale, so I am going with it. Perhaps it’s a mood swing and I’m just self-talking at this point… dragging you all down with me. Maybe it’s the surroundings. The walls are closing in. There is a tree just outside my front window that is totally void of leaves already. A blank canvas preparing for a dark winter. Last week we chatted about the harvest and the busyness of that time… and the joys that went along with reaping. And then comes winter. In Canada, we are blessed (or cursed?) to enjoy four, very distinct seasons. We understand (and are often teased about) our endless winters. Still, how can one appreciate the warmth of summer if you haven’t felt the bitter cold of winter?

Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

I’m sure many of you have heard of this thing called SAD that people often suffer from during the onslaught of winter. SAD or “Seasonal Affective Disorder” causes about 14% of the general population to feel slightly depressed, isolated, fatigued during a seasonal change. The symptoms can be more serious, but most of us feel those “winter blues” when we are tucked up inside. I suspect with COVID the feelings of isolation and fatigue have been compounded in recent months. I’ve felt it too. Sadness (and I’m talking about the emotion here) is a God-given feeling. We don’t want to think of it that way — I mean, why would God want us to feel sad? And yet, Jesus himself wept for others, felt lonely and discouraged. It’s like experiencing the summer without the winter again. We must go through the seasons of life to truly appreciate “the other side”. Do you agree with me, here? Or maybe it’s just me and the mood I’ve been in this weekend. Maybe ya’ll are experiencing a joyous season right now and you are regretting diving into this post. Sorry if I’ve brought you down.

Are you ready to face it? Photo by kristen leigh on Unsplash

Okay, maybe I’m not sorry for leading you down this lonely path. The Bible talks a lot about seasons. Metaphors for not only in sharing the gospel but for spiritual growth. I’m sure many of you will quote Ecclesiastes back to me at this juncture in our discussion… for there is a “time for everything” and a “time for every season under the sun”. And you would be right. You know I love a good learning curve in this journey of life… and I truly think God gives us one every now and then to keep us moving forward. Growth only happens when seasons change. The “dead” of winter is the waiting period where everything slows down before the big growth spurt of spring. That tree outside my window seems bleak right now, but it’s working on the energy it will need to burst forth with blossoms come April. I’ve been around the moon enough to know this. You have to.

I heard a quote that made me think a bit. I don’t know who said it, but it’s pretty deep:

“Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He’s trying to change your heart.”

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Part of me doesn’t like it. I’m stubborn and don’t want to have my heart changed. I don’t like to think about what could be. Unless it’s good for me. Or easy for me. But. Seasons change. Winter will soon be here and there is not much I can do about it but drag out the heavy boots and coats and embrace the wind. Face the ice and snow head-on and dream of warmer days to come. Will you join me and strap on the winter tires as we trek down the road together? Until next week, my friends!

Faith Journey

Do you have a favourite car? I’m not a big car buff, so as long as the vehicle gets me from A to B safely, I’m happy. The eldest and I were chatting about cars recently — she wants a mini cooper. She has yet to get her driver’s license, and is nervous about driving, so thinks a cooper will be “safe” and easy to maneuver. The youngest wants a big truck for the same reasons. So many vehicles out there on the roads. So many choices for travelling. So many arguments and thoughts about what brand, what qualifications, what this, what that. Fuel mileage. Safety features. Electric?

Photo via the Car Connection

Remember the good old days where you shoved all your kids in the back of a big ol’ wood paneled station wagon and went “road tripping”? Seat belts? Not a thing. Car seats, ha! (Not that I am condoning such reckless behaviour…buckle up, people!) Yet, you understand, right? The ultimate road trip was fun. It was exciting to see who would barf first, or get all the alphabet letters in license plate guessing games. And trips back then were screen free! How did we ever survive?? How did our parents survive? And who was in charge of the map? A paper map… that had to be folded back together….

If you’ve followed along at mittonmusings.com for any length of time, you’ve certainly noticed our references to our “faith journeys” or our “spiritual journeys”. Maybe you are wondering what exactly that means. It’s what I’ve been thinking about recently as well. And there is no simple answer. Let’s start with the word “journey”. The simplest definition is this:

“an act of traveling from one place to another” or

“a long and often difficult process of personal change and development”

Oxford online dictionary

Those two statements may not be as simple as they appear. Journeys involve ups and downs and backwards and forwards. Not to mention pit stops along the way. “Faith” adds a deeper and even more complex thought to the definition. Faith in what? Faith in whom? Then we can chat about how does that faith affect the life choices you make on the journey? Spirituality can mean something quite different. I believe humans are intensely spiritual beings. We’ve been designed that way. Consequently, our world is relatively open to “spiritual” things these days. It’s when we draw lines and point fingers that things get complicated. No one wants to be intolerant. And I’m not talking about “church” or “religious beliefs”. Although they certainly play a role in the journey.

Let’s break it down a little more. A road trip begins and ends. There is a point A and a point B. How you get to point B from point A is up to you…. you can take the scenic route up the mountain and through the valleys, or straight across the highway. But the journey always starts with choices. Who or what will be the master of the journey? Who will be in the driver’s seat? Who will you trust to get you to your final destination and where will that be? The crew here at mittonmusings, hopes that driver will be the Christ of the living Bible. It’s who we’ve chosen to be in the driver’s seat of our spiritual journeys that will one day unite us with Him in Heaven. He’s our point A and Heaven is our point B. The Bible is our map and we are making stops along the way to share the experience with you! Are you ready to start the journey? Share with us! Follow along as we chat each week about our journey. And maybe a little bit about our favourite cars!

First Fruits vs. Leftovers

I wanted this post to be about first fruits. I wanted it to tell you how I have practiced setting aside time in this new year to make God and my spiritual journey a priority. I wanted to brag about how I resolved to pray and study and claim God’s promises. I wanted to tell you all about what methods I had for keeping on track and share with you all the muses and insights I’ve had since the beginning of January. However, I must admit, that the more I thought about it, the more this post is going to be about Leftovers.

My apologies from the get go if you were looking for inspiration. I was hoping to give it to you — I really was! But if your house is anything like mine, you will understand, because we have been living on leftovers for the last few weeks. I have not done a proper grocery shop for eons! It was only yesterday that our refrigerator was once again filled with “fresh” bounty. The kids have survived on scrounging whatever they could find. I have lived on cheese and crackers and fancy red pepper jelly — hosting my own wine and cheese parties (minus the wine) at every lunch. Only I was the solitary guest to the festivities because I happen to like goat cheese and my family does not. The eldest Mitton went back to University to get balanced meals again. At least her Starbucks has fruit smoothies. So much for home cooking. I did discover turkey soup can be repurposed at least 3 different ways. Yup, leftovers it is.

I giggle when I get coffee at church now. Inevitably someone has brought in that leftover tin of cookies to share because they are trying to clear out the goodies in their own homes. Youth group prizes become repurposed chocolates because, well, kids and teens will eat anything sweet. My backyard squirrels are gonna love our old (and now slightly stale) gingerbread house. We are sometimes a little too blessed aren’t we? We celebrated the holidays with Joy and abandon and are now trying to clear out. We attempt to share and not be wasteful. We recycle and repurpose and be good stewards of the wealth. But it’s still leftovers.

Image by Mark Gilder from Pixabay

So, as much as I would like this post to be about first fruits, it’s really about my own leftovers. Because no matter what your understanding of Biblical first fruit disciplines are, I’m admitting to you that I’m not good at it. I encourage you to do your own study on “first fruits”. (You can see my link at the beginning of this post for ideas). There are many scholars out there who can lead you towards various thoughts about what the principle means, but as far as I understand it, the “first fruit” means setting aside the “firsts” for God. Proverbs 3 is a rich passage that not only talks about setting aside the first agricultural fruits as a sacrifice, but also about binding wisdom and knowledge on your body as a reminder to trust in the Lord first — and not on our own understanding of things.

We’d like it to be Christmas all the time. Where joy overflows and abundance of blessings is the norm. But all too often, our lives become filled with the leftovers. God’s work gets put on the back burner because we get too caught up with the mounds of blessings in our own fridges. We recycle the turkey and share the leftover cookies at church. When was the last time you sacrificed your paycheque before your bills got paid? Trusting, in faith, that the Lord will provide as you submit to Him? When was the last time you gave up your only vacation day so that someone else got a break? Do you fit in your prayer list and bible study time before your date night? We all make room for leftovers. We all know it is good to share and not waste. Better to give some offering than none at all, right?

The passage says “…Honour the Lord with your first fruits…and do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight…” Not the third helping of charity, not the plastic container stuck at the back of the fridge that only gets pulled out when it gets slightly stale. He wants our knowledge to be fresh and our sweetest produce to be shared. We give, but we don’t give “the first”. I put in my time but I don’t always make it my top priority. I guess it’s time to clean out my fridge. I’ll see you next week, my friend, hopefully with a fresher start!