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!

2020 Vision

I have a friend who has a whole collection of those little drug store reader glasses. He needs them to read, but keeps leaving pairs behind when they were of no use to him. Then, he ends up purchasing a new pair because he can’t remember where the old pair are! I’m nearsighted, so wear my glasses to see distances and drive. I’ve hit that age, however, when I need to take off my glasses to read small print, or thread a needle. I’m afraid I might eventually have a collection of drug store readers of my own one day! The Mitton crew are prone to vision issues (apparently!) and 5 out of 6 of us have glasses.

Why do I mention our vision delinquencies? It’s what I’ve been musing about since “2020” is approaching soon… “2020”… of the Gregorian calendar, the 2020th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 20th year of the 3rd millennium, the 20th year of the 21st century, and the 1st year of the 2020s decade. Apparently, it will also be a leap year. All special, if you are into that kinda thing. Fireworks, champagne toasts and midnight kisses for you all! But when I hear 2020, I tend to think of vision. It’s actually “normal” vision according to the optometrists…not exactly “perfect”, but the most accurate when it comes to reading that little eye chart at the office.

Vision can mean more than just eyesight though. Think visions and dreams. Something you imagine. It could be literal or figurative. Vision as in great plans for the future. New Year resolutions? Goals? How interesting that it all comes together under this concept of what we call “vision”. A new year, a new decade even… and the internet will be all a buzz on the top 10’s of the past — with great predictions for the future. What will happen in this new year? How will our lives change? How will we change the lives of others?

Now, I am a big believer in goal setting. I’m not very good at always achieving the goals… but I love to have a plan. I love a good list and work best when checking off the steps. Unfortunately, life does not always work in perfect little check marked boxes. Our lives are influenced by others, by our circumstances, and all the tiny nuances that ebb and flow in our life journeys. Our visions are hampered by our own guilt, shame and sin. We do not have perfect vision. We cannot see, nor predict, what lies ahead. We are like my friend, and leave behind our readers when we don’t need them. Or maybe like me, who must purposefully put aside our glasses when we feel the need to focus on the tiny things in life, when we should be casting our eyes to a wider view of the world.

So, my dear reader, what will your vision be for this 2020 year? Will the Lord be your vision? Like the words of the ancient, Irish Hymn… “Be thou my Vision, oh Lord of my heart…” Will you seek His will and trust in His plans for your life? Will you be devoted to learning all you can to make Heaven’s joys your personal goals? Will you be seeking riches and empty praises of people, or will you dwell in the beauty of Heaven’s sun? Keeping your vision clear and unclouded by the world around us?

It won’t be as easy as reading all the letters on the eye chart. We will forget our specs and abandon them when we think we don’t need the help. We will take our eyes off the goals and focus on our own insecurities and narrow minded points of convergence. Some of us will grow weary of sight and need extra help. Perhaps bifocals, transitions or permanent laser surgery will be metaphors for our pruning and molding this next year. All necessary to improve our vision. But my wish for you in this new year, this new decade, this year with an extra day… is that you will be seeing 2020, and that whate’er befall… He will still be your vision, O Ruler of all…


Never heard of this ancient hymn mentioned above? Check out my facebook page… I’ll post the lyrics there! Like what you read? Join the adventure! I’d love to have you along as a subscriber and join me each week in 2020! (Click on the little follow button on the sidebar and enter your email address!)

“Weather” – Or Not

There is a tree that stands just outside our front lawn. It is completely devoid of growth right now and looks barren and forlorn. The leaves are all gone and it is preparing for winter. There have been ads on the radio to remind us that it is time to change into our snow tires. I bought a new winter jacket and snowpants for my daughter today. But I am still wearing sandals on my feet! Our eldest is on the opposite end of the earth right now getting ready for summer! (Wanna read more about my sandals or my son’s adventures? Check out those posts here and here!) Alas, we Canadians are no strangers to weird weather. All four seasons can happen within the same week — and we embrace it! We’ve turned our clocks back this weekend, and put away our gardens, but we hold out for the sunny days of fall and relish the drawbacks of climate change. If you live here, you understand.

photo: quickmeme.com

If you don’t live here and are burdened with tropical sunshine all year long… I’m feeling slightly sorry for you. You will never experience the joy of riding in your car with the butt (seat) warmers on and flip flops on your feet as you drive through the school pick up line. You will more than likely, never have to remind your kids to wear their “toque” and gloves in the morning, only to see them arrive home from school in their gym shorts and t-shirts. You will never have to scrape 6 inches of ice from your lock-frozened vehicle and sweat to death in a classroom whose school boiler is positioned just below their cloakroom. So sorry you have to have only pretty sundresses to wear on special occasions — that don’t have to match your parka. Poor you.

We Canadians are known for our weather. And for how much we talk about it. We love to start our conversations with weather. Be it great weather — or how miserable we are because of what is happening outside at any given moment. We changed our clocks for daylight savings recently … which gave us more excuses to blather on about how we need to adjust to “the time change” and the darkness that envelops us this time of year. Now don’t get me wrong… it’s a real thing… our beings are affected by weather. Which has me musing…

I wonder why we have weather. I wonder why we have seasons and fluxuations and weird temperature changes and storms and natural disasters. Technically, I know why. Without debating the theologies of pre-flood paradise theories, and how sin caused climate change and how environmental disasters are heating up the planet — work with me for a minute — and just take weather for it’s basics. Rain and the sun make the flowers grow. Snow blankets the land allowing for sabbath rest before energy is needed for new life. Winds cleanse the landscape and shape it. Wildlife flourishes in its own environmental element and adapts perfectly to its own space.

Kinda sounds like life, eh? I think God gave us weather as an example of how life ebbs and flows from day to day. We have seasons of growth, and we have seasons of sabbath winter rest. Storms blow in and ravish the land in order to shape and mold it for new growth. Temperatures rise in our lives and we are full of passion and fire. Other times we are cold and indifferent. Sometimes all four seasons seem to come to us in the same week.

It’s no wonder the disciples marveled at Jesus’ reaction to the weather in Mark 4. “Are you not afraid of this storm?” “Don’t you care if we drown?” We ask ourselves the same questions. “Don’t you see what is happening to us down here?” Ahhh… and then the kicker my friends: Jesus rebukes the wind, and calms the storm. Of course we talk about the weather so much! Our human minds are frail, weak and questioning. Our faith is small. We still haven’t learned to trust in the Master and His words. We don’t recognize that He is in control of the ebb and flow of life. Weather — or not.