Technical Difficulties

Well my friends, this post is going to be late. Apologies to those who read early on Tuesdays, but it just is what it is. I wanna say that I had “technical difficulties” and there was trouble uploading or downloading or syncing or something. Truth is, I’m just lazy and never got around to posting until now. But for the sake of saving my blogging status, let’s just say that there were technical difficulties, okay?

It’s what I’ve been musing about a little this week. That weird and wonderful subject again: technology. It’s a topic I chat about now and then, not because I am a big fan, nor am I techno-savvy or in anyway an expert, but because I am just the opposite. Self taught and struggling through. Our world is so automated now. Especially in this 2020 pandemic: Zoom chats, iphone messages, and let’s just take a moment to ponder how many students are now being educated via a screen! Bless your hearts, educators who have stepped up and had to put yourself out there “online” for all to see. If you saw my “unboxing” in last week’s post, you’ll note that technology (especially videos) are really not my thing. Leave me a printed note and this girl’s a happy clam. But, I digress.

The Mitton crew had a moment last week where we did have some technical difficulties, however. Minor, for sure, but our computer “upgraded” and suddenly we were locked out of our usual password. After numerous tries (why do we always check? It’s like pressing the elevator button over and over — it doesn’t make it work faster but we are convinced it does) we finally ended up changing the password and moving on. I’m positive ya’ll have experienced this in one form or another. Or you need to access an account you rarely visit and have forgotten the password? Or they make you change it — oh, and not to one you have used in the past, oh no, it must be new, with 8 letters and a symbol, but not an uppercase letter, nor your mother’s maiden name but contain the number 3 and be linked to your first pet… you get the picture.

I know, I know, Computer systems are there to help. Just think of all the advances we have made since the internet! Efficiency is the goal. Fast speeds and 5G’s. And it’s not the computer program’s fault if something glitches, it’s the user’s error, right? I’m learning a new system at work, and am struggling to remember the “steps” to get to certain screens. I know the information I want is there and available — but how do I access it? You hear me, right? I’m not alone here, right? All these thoughts have been swimming in my head this week and I’ve been trying to make connections (literally!). Are computer systems like our spiritual walk? We serve a perfect God who has all sorts of information available to us if we only knew how to take the correct steps. We are fallible humans who fall one too many times into the category of “user error”. We get “locked out” of blessings and joys because we haven’t linked in recently to the program and God’s plan for us.

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Perhaps you’re debating the pros and cons of physical, real life connections versus “online”. Does God still work via the internet? I hope so, or this blog is not worth my time. Are you and your church leaders struggling to serve your communities “from a distance”? Should you open up the building or continue on YouTube? Are you a parent trying to plan for a safe return to school, but still being supportive of your teachers and your child’s friends? I want things to be different. I want things to be “real” and not the polished Instagram version of faith. I want to have truth and not algorithm based “likes”. Yet, maybe I am wrong. Maybe I’m limiting God too much. Surely He works above and beyond the confines of the internet. Of course the one who created the universe is not limited by digital glitches and binary systems. My faith is small. For Christ does not have “technical difficulties”. May you and I both be encouraged by that thought this week.

Sit. Stay. Obey.

Welcome back to another week of mittonmusings.com. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that we have been considering dog ownership (read about it here). And if you are new to our little blog, why not consider joining us each week for our muses? Hit the subscribe button! We’d love to see you each week! But back to our announcement: *Drumroll, please* I am happy to update you that we are now the proud owners of a very cute chocolate labrador named “Reese” (as in Reese’s peanut butter cups, chocolate lab… get it?). I know — we are crazy!! Do I really need this work? Maybe I do. He’s been most fun… and the hubby is happy that I am actually getting out and walking more. So, there’s that. The kids have been doing their part as well, so it’s been a great family experience so far. Except for the potty training thing.

Ah, Training. It’s a very important thing with dogs, and we have been trying very hard to do our best. We’ve raised four kids, but dog ownership is one of those things… you become one of “those people”. Walks. Socializing. To crate or not to crate? Separation anxiety. Stimulation.

our new puppy, “Reese”

I think I have watched more videos and Pinterest posts then when I did have my kids! Yet, it seems to be paying off… we are great at leash walking and have mastered “sit”. Accidents are still a thing, but that’s to be expected for one so young.

Consequently, “training” has been on my mind. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the Ten Commandments. Those iconic regulations foundational to not only Jewish traditions and Christianity, but to many of our modern day ethical rules! Not to mention a few very famous movies. The commandments are only mentioned in the Bible a few times, and not actually called “the 10 Commandments” but are fundamental to Christianity. They form the basis for our worship and our spiritual journeys. True, we don’t live under “the law” as New testament believers, but our history is shaped by these 10 laws the Lord provided early on for the Israelites and the early church. The Hebrew expression means “ten words” and the Greek translation is Decalogue. Literally audible words spoken by God, written down, and presented for all to see.

So why 10? Apparently the numbering is different in some traditions, perhaps marking that no one command is “greater” than the other. Are they outdated? Have they been adapted or manipulated for our own use? All questions worth thinking about. What I do know is that following a set of “rules” does not get us any closer to the saving grace of God, or assure us our salvation. We are fallible. Humans and our sin nature will not allow us to be absolutely obedient every. single. time.

So, what’s the point? Well, I suppose, like my new puppy, rules are there to help keep the peace. To make life easier and remind us of what we should be doing, about how to love our neighbours, and as a way to love God with all our heart and soul. My puppy is eager to please our commands and motivated by our praise and affection (and the odd yummy treat!) Does he get it right all the time? Obviously, not. But obeying is a sign of love and worship, and so we try and strive for sanctification. The commandments were given to help us in that task.

I read that when teaching your pup basic skills, you should also practice “proofing” those skills. Learning to “sit” in a quiet house is one thing. Practicing that skill on a busy intersection with cars, squirrels and flashing lights is another. Sound like us? It’s easy to say “honour your father and mother” or “keep the sabbath holy” — but when emotions run high or life gets in the way, the “proof” is in the pudding, isn’t it? Which is why we need to practice, be familiar, study, try, and try again. Hebrews 12 reminds us to strive for holiness. We learn through discipline and perseverance. We are strengthened in our understanding by facing tough stuff and coming out the other end standing on our foundations.

Alas, the journey (and the adventure!) continues, my friends. I wish you blessings as you strive to move forward towards Heavenly rewards. Until next week! Hmmmn… I wonder what the Bible has to say about puppy potty training…

Road Trip!

We went on a long drive this weekend. Maybe we were not supposed to. Perhaps we should have stayed home. But we stayed safe — and realistically there is nothing else to do, am I right? Better than being exposed to viruses in the grocery store, right? So, we went. I had some goals and things to see along the way, so I planned the route the day before. Google mapped my meandering “scenic” journey through countryside and small towns. Not that anything was open. It was about the journey. What about you? Do you love a good road trip? With four kids plus the two of us, budget often dictates we drive instead of fly. We have done our fair share of road trips. Our kids have travelled via minivan from day one. They are good travellers and we have all survived. Technology helps… but planning is better. I remember travelling to Disney and creating “car kits” for the kids with games and snacks. Now they are older, so technology it is… unless you are picking up the oldest who has been slightly isolated and needs to share. Or the youngest who never gets enough one on one attention and will talk your ear off if given the correct topic.

The hubby and I used to talk a lot on road trips — how we would never do what so-and-so does with their kids, as our future children will be angels. (*cough* wheeze …choking on our own words). Or, what our perfect house would look like if we had money to burn. We don’t chat much now on car rides… unless it’s me telling him to slow down, or to get gas before it is too late. Or making that sucking-in-air noise as you brace the sides of the door handle as he changes lanes. Like your feeble human arm will protect you from that 18 wheel semi truck who happens to be too close. Come on, I know I am not the only one who does this, am I right? Aged nerves are not as steely as they used to be. Maturity has a way of doing that to you.

Nonetheless, we road tripped a little this weekend. The sun shone, the van was gassed up, and time was on our side. We plugged in our phone and punched in the first “stop”. Anyone remember those fold out maps (à la paper) with highlighted routes and sharpie x’s here and there? Doesn’t happen anymore, does it? Phone apps and google maps rule now. Which had me musing… oh, how we trust in that little piece of technology. We believe it will get us there. On more than one occasion, I have told myself just to trust the GPS… it knows. Truthfully, it usually does.

As we travelled along this time, we, again, trusted in our app and turned down a somewhat questionable sideroad. It was paved, but narrow, and a little too country for my liking… and not where I had planned. I asked the hubby, and he assured me that the maps were giving us “the fastest” way. There was very little signage on the this backroad… but it eventually came back out to a main street and we continued along without incident. This little blind side trip had me thinking again… How many times do we want clear and visible signs?

We often want clear signs! (photo credit: Ryan McGuire)

If you are anything like me, you want signs to point you in the right direction. Some concrete indication that yes, this is it. This is God’s plan. This is what I should be doing — or that big sign that says “TURN HERE” you are going the wrong way! The map has the big sharpie X plainly highlighted with all the stops. I looked up “signs” in my Bible app… and “signs and wonders” often accompanied each other in the listed verses. Seems like humanity has always been looking for “signs”. The big miracles. Clear indications of supernatural influences. Many of the early Jesus followers were seeking just these magic shows, however, and not really interested in Jesus himself or His teachings. Still others were unconvinced… hardened hearted Pharaoh mocked Moses’ “signs”. His own magicians could conjure up snakes and smoke just as impressively.

Perhaps as you’ve been home, contemplating life with the rest of us, you are looking for signs too… should you go back to the same job? When is it “safe” to go out? Who should make the decision to reopen businesses? And when? I’m with ya. I want life all mapped out, too. Yet, our online Sunday service this week reminded us that sometimes we need to reassess, and perhaps a pave a new path on our spiritual journey. God sometimes asks us to go where the road is not clearly marked. Where the road is narrow and a little too “country backroad” for our liking. And for a brief moment we are scared that it is not the way.

Still, Who is in your driver’s seat? Who controls the GPS and the steering wheel of your life? Do we give up full control and say, yup, Jesus, go ahead and take the wheel? I’m just along for the ride. It’s hard. It’s scary. It may even be a little dangerous. It’ll take some faith and a whole lotta trust. But — it may just be worth your drive. Happy road-tripping, my friend, happy road-tripping.