Christmas Holy

By the time you read this we will have had our celebrations with all our family members. A Christmas like no other, for certain! So how will we spend our Christmas Day? I hope we pray and rejoice and make an extra effort to draw near to the One born to bring us to His home for eternity.

We are building a house soon. They will not break ground on it until February. That has not stopped us from packing, and throwing things out, giving things away, paring down in a grand way. We watched my in-laws wait until they were quite aged to down size. It was hard on every person involved. When we got married 50 years ago we promised each other that we would do life differently than our parents. (Maybe everyone declares that?) So here is another example of us doing things differently.

So we are not 75 yet (i.e., not eligible for the Covid vaccine in the next wave of injections) but no sense in waiting until we are in our late 80’s or 90’s to decide to take on this task. I am comforted to know that when the Lord Jesus calls me home, there will be nothing to pack. I will leave behind the things of this earth and move towards His beckoning Voice. He will have my treasures there with Him.

We figure this new house will be our last home unless we need a nursing home at the end. Then our ‘graduation’ will bring us to “mansions in glory” a place prepared for us.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.  And you know the way to the place where I am going.”

John 14:1-4 NRSV

As you open your Christmas gift treasures, we celebrate the fact that this earth is not our home. We are going to a place “where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:20-21 NLT2

February 18, 1992

 Moonlight   © 1992 Molly Lin Dutina 
      
 The blue/black velvet sky is 
 punctuated by brilliant stars.
 Their brightness is not diminished
 by the astonishing shine of the moon.
 Even the shopping center lights
 cannot detract from moon glow.
 Everything casts a shadow 
 as the moon shines on and on.
  
 On the horizon broiling veil of clouds
 emit a surprising flash of lightning
 and still the moon is not lessened.
 Alarming lightning, for this is just February
 and still the moon shines on and on.
  
 Periodically last year's leaves
 rustle in the breeze
 as the clouds gain height and breadth.
 The moon highlights them with glory
 and the cloud bank draws nearer.
 Suddenly we moderns understand our
 forefathers' fear of moon madness.
 The edge of the boiling tempest
 is clearly in view and brilliant
 as the moon shines on and on.
  
 One great flash tries to conquer moonlight
 then lightning queerly halts.
 Cotton balls at night
 of height clearly cumulonimbus,
 who has heard of such midnight madness?
 Star punctuations gleaming and fading
 but the moon shines on and on.
  
 Clad in pajamas
 wrapped in a blanket
 male adult earthling
 dances all barefoot 
 as God of the Universe
 chooses to delight him
 with night show of glory
 this midwinter evening.
 Ecstasy of the ages
 holds man's rapt attention.
 As boy-child emerges
 delight and wonder blossom. 

 One gray fellow, loose from the pack
 tries a solo conquer of Night Sun grandeur,
 but moonbeams silently pierce him.
 The roiling storm thins to an edge.
 Mankind's light is muffled and trapped
 as sky fills with gossamer 
 almost fog-like pink shroud.
 Gallant moon shines on.
  
 Edge of the blanket 
 snuggles over star lights
 sleepy light-years away.
 Chill of storm wind
 pushes me to find my comforter
 as toes and fingers, tips of ears
 remind me this is winter still.
 I stand determined
 watching clouds come marching
 pantomime in the heavens
 for the watchful to review.
  
 Without a sound 
 bright moon vanishes
 but as clouds keep advancing
 moonbeams break through the darkness
 far beyond the horizon
 encircling even storm dark
 in light beyond my view.
  
 As I stumble in dazed awe
 and wonder with amazement
 at God's joyous light show
 the storm says "I triumph"
 but my better self knows
 as I go inside my domicile,
 even now, moon glows on and on.  
taken by r m dutina

Been Traveling!

For our 50th anniversary my sister gave us the gift of staying at her ranch in Colorado! We have had a wonderful trip and travel home Tuesday, Sept. 22. Oh that is today!!

For those of us from the east, that TN reminds us of Tennessee!

You will hear much more in the weeks to come, once we get home, open the mail, get the groceries in and begin writing! So if you don’t see a post for a while now you know the reason why!!

We were able to stay with our best friends, Betty and Dan, a few days before and after the Notch. They also went with us for a few days. Our daughter’s family went, too. Our son was unable to go as the young kids were starting school and it was deemed best not to take them out of class for a full week.

Our actual anniversary is not for four more days, but we have been celebrating with great joy!

Promises and a Meaty Quote

From Streams in the Desert

“Beloved, God’s promises can never fail to be accomplished, and those who patiently wait can never be disappointed, for believing faith leads to realization. Abraham’s life condemns a spirit of hastiness, admonishes those who complain, commends those who are patient, and encourages quiet submission to God’s will and way.” – Unknown

Is that a meaty quote, or what? “His promises can never fail to be accomplished.” He is not a man that He should lie. He is faithful and powerful to do what He wills. Numbers 23:19

“Those who patiently wait can never be disappointed.” But wait! I have often been disappointed! Does that mean I am doing something wrong? Well, in my experience, most often my disappointments with God are because I have not waited long enough to see the fulfillment or I misunderstood the will or word of God.

“For believing faith leads to realization.” Do you have things in your life that you have had believing faith towards and then eventually you saw it come to pass? Do you, like David, review those things with joy and thanksgiving to inform your brain when your faith is weak? Speaking with a friend recently we stated that we see fruit from our faith walk most often in the rear view mirror or over our shoulder after the fact. Perhaps you have never listed the times that your faith has lead to realization? Maybe now is the time to review your walk and be reminded of the times this has occurred in your life?

“Abraham’s life condemns a spirit of hastiness, admonishes those who complain, commends those who are patient, and encourages quiet submission to God’s will and way.”

Hebrews 8:11 reads: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
He went, EVEN THOUGH he did not know where he was going. Do we have the same sort of quiet obedience? Dallas Willard taught that hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. The author of the quote above calls it a spirit of hastiness and says that Abraham condemns it. No hastiness, no complaining, be patient and quiet.

I have tried to keep myself in line with the remembrance that God calls me to Quiet, Gentle, Yielded, Peaceful Obedience to the Almighty. Holy Spirit help my life to be true to this call.

But wait! There’s more!!

Recently in the milkweed garden I witnessed something I had never seen! Here are several very short video clips! Usually the monarch caterpillars are chomping away at the leaves, reducing them to mere veins. This caterpillar and then another (which is featured later in the blog), ate their way through the top of the plant. I assume they began from wherever their particular egg hatched. I suppose when all the upper leaves are gone, this is the fastest way down the plant to fresh greenery!

Then a bit later I checked on it’s progress.

Yep! Bent that leaf right down! How do they know those things?

A different one found the fastest way down was to climb! But he seemed to be seeking shade rather than food. Resting at the end.

Tap here to see video https://youtu.be/KQxi_OIEf9Q

So here is chewer #2. Watch for the little caterpillar on underside of lower leaf! You may have to scroll down to see all of it!

So I guess the message from nature is if you have a weighty problem, chew through it?!?

Do Not Presume

I attend a weekly prayer meeting on behalf of our church leaders. Those of us in the group take turns writing the outline and presenting it for the group to pray. Here is one of my recent outlines.

“But oh! GOD is in His holy temple! Quiet everyone – a holy silence. Listen!”

Habakkuk 2:20 MSG

Most of us are familiar with the traditional translation that read “The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.” The message expresses that differently. This passage is from the Old Testament. In the finished work of Jesus we learn that we are the temple of God and He inhabits us through His Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16)

During this pandemic it has often been difficult to remember to pray. Covid quarantine seems to have numbed my brain. Paul understood not knowing how to pray. He wrote

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT2)

When I ponder “What is the place of my deepest need?” I so often turn to the Holy Spirit to illuminate that place for me.

There is a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, Communion Rite 1, that has always blessed me. A portion of it reads:

“We do not presume to come to this Your Table, O merciful
Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in Your manifold
and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather       
up the crumbs under Your Table. But You are the same Lord
whose property is always to have mercy. …..”

In lifting our prayer requests for the church leadership I reminded the group that we do not presume to come to this Your table trusting in our own righteousness. We do not presume to know how to pray for You to touch the deepest place of need in others, even in those closest to us, even for ourselves. We are not God. You are on the throne. You are seated among us.

Use us as You see fit in the call to stand and pray. And having done all, help us to stand.

 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:13 NIV

 In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Ephesians 6:18 MSG

Lord, help us silence our thunderous thoughts regarding what others need. Help us to stop pouring words upon words and thoughts upon thoughts and listen for Your voice regarding the needs of the church and even our own deepest needs.

I challenged the group to copy out their portion of the list of names and carry it them for one week. Lift those situations to the Throne Room. Simply place them in the Lord’s presence and ask Him to speak wisdom and peace, guidance and compassion to each one. Then as the Holy Spirit guides, pray specific things.

Perhaps this might help your prayer life, too?