Fresh. Then Refresh.

Whew! It’s been a week. We’ve spent the last six days up north, house sitting for friends who have an even greater zoo than we do: Chickens, bunnies, dogs and more! Plus my kids, and a restless husband who thinks holidays must include several walks and trail exploring, makes for a busy, but full week of adventures! Not to mention our new (currently untrained) puppy added exhaustion to the list. Chores were to be done and early morning walks were on the agenda. No wonder farmers are in such great shape! However, we also spent some time just chillaxin’ on the porch reflecting in the sunshine. It was a different kind of ‘vacation’ – and perhaps many of you have experienced similar days during this pandemic. A forced rest, even.

The youngest of the Mitton crew lapped it up. She’s a lot like her mama — animal lover with a keen sense of devotion, and less inhibition and worry than I do now that I am older (and know more than I should). She was definitely in her happy place! Baby bunny cuddles and dog belly rubs are this girl’s zone. One of her favourite things to do was check the nesting boxes for chicken eggs. Poor birds were disturbed several times a day, as she hoped to discover their treasures… it was a bonus if the egg was still warm! One day we discovered the perfect egg. I know, weird thought… but really. It was the perfect egg shape, with rounded edges and ever-so-slight point at the top. A beautiful tan colour, dappled in a smooth textured shell with a few darker specks to give it just the right amount of shade. If I were a painter, it would be a perfect still life subject, nestled against a lightly stained wood grained table… but perhaps that’s not your thing. Just work with me, okay?

The perfect egg… what a treasure!

Nonetheless, the discovery of “the perfect egg” had me thinking about God’s provision. His treasures, given to us in nature. Rich colours of flowers and sunsets, the smell of morning dew, the ruggedness of flint rock cliffs, the softness of my new puppy’s fur. As we devoured fresh eggs one morning this past week, we talked about whether “fresh eggs” were different tasting. My verdict is yes, most definitely. Fresh always seems better! If you google “fresh” the top ads are all about food. Next come “natural based” skin care products…. and then something in Fortnite? That seemed a little off topic, but whatever. Summertime is an explosion of freshness! My socials are filled with farmer’s market produce and your country lakefront cottage pics. It seems like holidays are the perfect time to renew and refresh.

If you look up the definition of “fresh” and it’s similar based “refresh”, you’ll discover a myriad of definitions: not stale, pure, new, or recently come into existence. Even bold and brassy, as in don’t get “fresh” with me, young man. Interesting, eh? I recently embarked on a 5 day study/devotional on Refreshing. A big part of that “refreshing” is rest. Our physical bodies need that rest to recoup, recover and refresh. Our spiritual souls need that renewal again, too. It’s exciting when a piece of scripture becomes “new” again, isn’t it? Like fresh oxygen breathed in, our souls need a good cleansing every now and then as well.

a quote from my new devotional study

I’ve missed some of that worship as we’ve been isolating. It’s hard to have deep conversations and rich discussion via a webcam. Radio praises aren’t the same as revival concerts where fellow believers are singing from the heart, and straight up to heaven! But God is still very much present, and very much behind the scenes, preparing our hearts for revival, renewal and refreshment. Perhaps many of you have been forced to “rest” right now. To reflect on what is important. Maybe others of you are looking to “refresh” and start anew. I think it is a God thing. This desire to reflect and gather perspective. To assess and refocus. Then you are able to appreciate small treasures, and reflect on the simple things that God gives us — like the perfect backyard chicken’s egg.

A Restful Moment

Ever Feel Like You are on the Perpetual Hamster Wheel_Have you ever felt like you were on a perpetual hamster wheel?  Spinning ’round and ’round and never really getting anywhere?  Busy, but not much is getting accomplished.  That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing these last couple of weeks.  It’s a busy time of year at work and I have been up at the crack of dawn, travelling around, saving the world (a class at a time) through the wonders of hands-on science.   When I get home later, the dishes and laundry have piled up, and even though I try and get the house back in some semblance of order, it’s not really “clean” and all I really want to do is nap.  The kids are heading into exams, year end projects and track finals.  The oldest is already off preparing colour coded lists and organizing for her summer job.  My beloved has been holding down the fort and filling in by playing “domestic goddess” after work.  He is such a great help — tidying and getting the kids where they need to be.  I guess I will keep him. 🙂  We are all looking forward to the end of June and the beginning of summer holidays.

As a couple, we thought we might have gotten a little break last weekend when the two of us attended the AGC National Conference in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  He was going for work and I got to go as a delegate this year … which really means an excuse to follow him.  He has attended such conferences numerous times, so for my hubby, the extrovert he is, this weekend was connecting again with people he knows and shares memories with.  For the wallflower, introverted me, it was more smiling and nodding and 3 days of making small talk with people I don’t really know over scheduled, albeit wonderfully catered, coffee breaks. abide The days were full of business meetings, numbers and a lot of reports.  Now don’t get me wrong,  I have a weakness for meetings.  I actually like taking notes and hearing stories and love to see lists and goal setting trends and charts.  It’s the people I need to learn to love.  A few of the conference attendees (hubby included) found it difficult to sit for 8 hours straight and look at statistics.  Their answer to day long meetings?  Spend your free time climbing up and down seven flights of stairs and trekking through the Niagara escarpment along the raging Niagara river to take in the view.  Sorry… there are only so many wonders of the world you can see until it all just begins to look like moss covered rocks.

ApplewoodWhat I did enjoy was one quiet moment of reflection on the porch of our quaint little Bed & Breakfast in the beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake area not far from the conference.  A quiet retreat nestled in surrounding shade gardens complete with bird feeders and…. free range chickens!  (Did I mention I want chickens? You can read about my zoo here.) The inn is even within walking distance to a couple wineries — so we indulged in the luxury of a glass one night after a full day of meetings.  Applewood Hollow might be a bit on the higher end of the scale for an average conference attendee, but work was paying,  so we booked our two night stay complete with breakfasts in the little breakfast nook just outside our room.  Jane, our host,  makes a “to die for” rhubarb crisp and she swears her chickens make the freshest egg/asparagus quiche.  (It was yummy!)  The guest rooms are private and down the hall from the main house,  which is kind of nice for a small B&B. The bedrooms are in the loft overlooking the gardens.   Tastefully decorated and clean, the guest house is a very nice stay.  It would be a charming venue for an artist/writer/speaker looking to get away and work, or even a romantic anniversary getaway.  I recommend it.  One morning, I took advantage of the views, visited the chickens, snapped some photos, and watched a beautiful, big blue jay eat his breakfast at the feeder.  My heart was calmed and peace once again ensued as the hamster wheel slowed for that one brief moment.QuietMoment

Everybody has those times when they are busy.  Bogged down by all the “duties” of life and pie charts.  Even Jesus.  He travelled across the country attending “conferences” on hill tops… and thousands gathered to take in His words or experience His miraculous deeds.  He, too, got away from the people once and awhile and reflected on His purposes and re-focused.  I wonder if He liked asparagus quiche?  He tells us to refresh and renew, to reconnect with God, to find rest when we are weary (Matt. 11).  It is so good for our souls.

Are you feeling weary, my friend?  Drained by your to-do list and on the never ending treadmill of “catching up?”  Take heart.  Then take a break.  Breathe in the fresh air of reconnecting with God and the beauty of His nature.  If you get a chance, go visit Jane and her chickens at Applewood Hollow in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Say hello to my blue jay friend for me — and try the rhubarb crisp!