Sheltering Mercy

Short but sweet this week! I figured ya’ll are like me and up to your eyeballs in Easter Preparations, so another thought from me is just adding to your list… but I did want to share a little something that I have been dying to get my hands on since it arrived in my mailbox. Besides, it’s been a while since my last book review and I figured it was about time.

Let’s dive in. “Sheltering Mercy” by Ryan Whitaker Smith and Dan Wilt is described as “prayers inspired by the Psalms”… and it is exactly that! A little purse-sized hardcover containing a collection of poems or writings based on the first 75 Psalms. The writings are not exactly scripture, nor paraphrases, but, as the writers put it, “free-verse prayer renderings”. For me, they are perfect for quiet meditation, and I have been dying to do some journalling, artistic illustrations to go along with each collection! (If only there were more time in the day, right?). I think this little book would be perfect for that type of meditation as the paper is heavy and the margins spacious. There are a few black and white illustrations scattered through the book, but a splash of coloured pencils would be perfect!

If you’ve been reading mittonmusings for any length of time, you know that I have a love-hate relationship with David and the psalms, not to mention my own practical versus artsy personality. I’m just not sure where I fit in. This little collection hits home when I need to foster the creative side of my devotions. In case you didn’t pick it up, Ryan Whitaker Smith is the son of worship singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith. That collaboration is a lesson in itself for worship, reflection and artistry in the contemporary Christian world. Why wouldn’t these potential song lyrics be just right?

So, if you are itching for some traditional written prayer meditation for your Easter Season, or maybe you are looking to branch out with your artistic side, give “Sheltering Mercy” a gander. Published by Brazos Press and lovingly donated to mittonmusings by Nuts About Books, I’m looking forward to marking it all up over the holiday weekend!

Happy Easter, my beloveds, until next time!

Life is Messy

Oh, my friends! What a world we have come to live in! Not only have we only just begun to crawl out from under a global pandemic, our own country has faced huge discord among its people in recent weeks, resulting in freezing assets, misguided information, and rally cries for dissension. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Europe has gone to war. Power-hungry men are puffing up their chests in attempts to gain … something. And the innocent are suffering. I have no words. In fact, I skipped a week or two of posts because I am beginning to question it all. Do words have value anymore?

Is it worth my two cents if I choose not to post my personal views and take sides? Is it worth it to “remain neutral” and bring some light-hearted script to encourage when the world is in such darkness? Last week I received a new book on the Psalms (check out my Instagram reel here) and I am looking forward to doing some doodling as I delve into it. The Psalms were never my go-to book. I think King David was a bit bipolar. His words always seemed far too “up and down” for me. One minute praises — the next, deep laments and evil wishes to dash his enemies. Recently I heard this about the Psalms: that you don’t truly know the light until you’ve been in the dark places. I suspect that is a very true statement. And the Psalms hit it on the head.

A couple weeks ago was my eldest daughter’s birthday. Now, she will be the first to admit that her culinary skills are not top-notch. She has a few basic recipes under her belt and she is happy to repeat them week by week. However, she wanted to try a few new things for her birthday dinner. Fine. No problem, sweetie, I will help you shop for ingredients and make a few suggestions, but the work is yours. The food was great. Everything tasted wonderful. The problem with amateur chefs? My kitchen was a disaster! Every dish, every appliance, every spoon and platter was well used and left for dead on every counter space left available. Sigh. These are memories. We can clean up later.

Life, like cooking, is sometimes messy. Challenges abound. Sometimes we have to be under fire to grow, change and “glow”. Life is not meant to be perfect and predictable.

“Governments make plans, but the Lord checks them. He does not let people do everything that they want to do. The plans that the Lord makes will always happen. His ideas will always be with us.”

Psalms‬ ‭33:10-11‬ ‭(EEB)

It’s pretty clear — God doesn’t let people do everything they want. The governments — and the common people, make plans; plans they think are best, but only God has the last say. None of us have been through this life before. We cannot predict the outcome or guarantee that our methods for living will be the most ideal ones. We are like my daughter… following the recipe hoping we interpret the instructions well, and that our efforts will somehow resemble the glossy picture in the book. More often than not, we create a fairly good tasting, but messy delectable delight. This world is full of sin and it’s going to get messy. Life with God will require patience. But God is infinite and promises to bring good out of the mess. 

Photo Credit: Do it yourself from Scratch on WordPress

Perhaps you are like me, tired and at a loss for words about all the things that have been weighing on the world lately. Maybe it has lit a fire under you and your faith has been made stronger in the face of opposition. Maybe you are just trying to eat some good-tasting stuff and will deal with the clean-up later. Take heart to the assurance that “the plans that the Lord makes will always happen” and I don’t think He’s done with us just yet. Be blessed with the journey, friends.

A Simple Snowflake

In the heart of another Canadian winter, we trudge through the streets after another snow flurry on our way home after a day of work. My beloved is a good winter driver. I am not a good winter passenger. I white-knuckle it as we brake behind the slow-moving vehicle ahead of us (I am acutely aware of his brake lights seemingly minutes before my driver is and I cannot fathom why he has not braked yet). Our city is still digging out from a huge deluge of snow that was dropped on us a week or so ago. And we are about to add to the snowbanks yet again. We finally talk about something other than Covid. Consequently, my mind wanders to the great mystery of the simple snowflake. The topic of this week’s muse.

Snow is obviously made from snowflakes. Tiny ice crystals that fall from the sky… and pile up so high that we must move mountains in order to carry on with our daily tasks. I cannot even fathom the number of individual snowflakes that one snowbank contains, let alone a city full of snowbanks, or the country …or the world’s snow! Mindboggling. Most people are aware of the fact that snowflakes have distinct shapes. We’ve all seen them on our clothing or windshield. Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to see them under a microscope. Here’s a pretty one:

Photo via Caltech

Did you know this is also a snowflake?

They say that individual snowflakes can be classified into 80 some snow types? That is amazing! Our Creator is wonderful, isn’t He?! We simply can’t duplicate it. Here is a picture of artificial snow. Basically water droplets froze in the cool air and sprayed on the ski hills for our enjoyment… without the creativity:

You wanna hear another interesting tidbit of snowy inspiration? The ice crystals form when a water droplet freezes on a dust or pollen bit in the sky. Crystallization causes the ice to form into the symmetrical patterns we then classify based on those patterns. Each one is unique because of the twists and turns the dust particle makes on its way down from the atmosphere. Yup, we shovel dirt in the winter… it’s just covered in water. Oh, but how beautiful does that dawn of the new-fallen snow look from our windowsill? All white and pristine, before it gets tarnished by salt and grime and snow tires. The hubby made this remark as we turned the corner onto our street. Sure, I say, just happy to be home alive again from the treacherous trip. It’s beautiful… dirt and water piled high…

So, let’s make a little object lesson from our snow this week. In Psalm 51:7, David prays – “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Ever feel a little dirty on the inside? David could be our prime example of this object lesson. Yet, we are no less dirty. Our “specks of dust” twist and transform our ways and can pile up like the heaps of snow we shovel off the driveway. It has nowhere else to go. But, like that snowflake, God takes all that dirt… and covers it up to make something beautiful!

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18 Our pure and just God cannot be tarnished by our unholiness, but when covered through Jesus’ sacrifice we shall be as white as snow! Our dust has been covered and only the beauty remains. What a promise!

Oh, friends, these days of Covid and snow and winter and isolation have many of us tired and fed up. We are heavy-ladened with the burdens of just trudging through… literally! Alas, our hope is full and it covers the dirt completely! We need cleansing and some good old fashion scrubbing to revive us so that we will be as white as the snow. I’m looking forward to finding that little bit of magic in all this. The silver lining … or should I say the white lightning in the simplicity of some dirt and a water droplet.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash