While in Ireland

We spent our first night at Glendalough. At the bottom of this blog is a short film to introduce you to the area. After breakfast we went for a walk around the neighboring area. We saw these sheep in the graveyard.

Cracked me up, as if they were hiding and on a mission!
One strange sheering job!

When we returned to the inn one of the employees asked if we enjoyed our walk. I told her how amused I was by the sheep in the graveyard. She told the bartender, “Better call Mr. Mc Creary! His sheep got loose again!” Now where better to get a tasty treat than on the loose in early morning at the graveyard?

Cracked me up! Guess those sheep were sneaking around and on a mission – not to get caught! The Irish mark their sheep with paint, thus the pink and blue marks on the wool!

Some January Poetry

Winter © Molly Lin Dutina 23-1-8

Gloomy grays and browns
Grass looks winter burned
Clouds packed solid black
but wait!
The sycamores are all spangled
With seed balls moving in breeze
Winter in southwestern Ohio
I grasp at any sign of hope and 
Future joy in the next season.

Another ride on a winter afternoon brought this.

Gray Clouds Roof © Molly Lin Dutina 23-1- 18

Corn field stubble alternates
Ivory and beige, ivory and beige, in rows
As we speed past on highway
January wind rattles barn walls
Livestock not to be seen from my window
As gray clouds roof each farm

Can you imagine this? Would you be able to praise like this? We read in Daniel 3:16, 19 and on that the King wanted absolutely obedience to himself. “King Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics, their trousers, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire.” While in this furnace the men began to praise God, knowing that He was more powerful than the king ever thought about being. Here is a portion of their praise.

“Bless the Lord, all rain and dew;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
65 Bless the Lord, all you winds;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
66 Bless the Lord, fire and heat;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
67 Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
68 Bless the Lord, dews and falling snow;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
69 Bless the Lord, ice and cold;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
70 Bless the Lord, frosts and snows;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

Daniel 3:64-70 NRSV

They were eventually saved from the fire. This reading comes up often in the Daily Office and Canticles of from the Book of Common Prayer. There are times I wish my current church would use those to remind us of God’s power and glory! As you drive about this winter remember that all the seasons and elements are called to praise the Lord. We are, too!

Ears and Hearts

While traveling in New Mexico we bought a pottery piece at a craft show. It was wrapped in newspaper. When I unwrapped it to show our hosts, the Cookseys, I saw the editorial cartoon by Jeff Koterba. The paper was dated June 7, 2020, The Albuquerque Sunday Journal. I emailed Mr. Koterba asking if I could use his cartoon in this blog. The caption reads, “May we listen with our ears … and our hearts.” The drawing is wonderfully creative!

Jeff Koterba answered me a few days later. I asked if he would send me a copy of the cartoon as mine was all wrinkled from cushioning the pottery. He replied that these are the kinds of stories he loves! He would be glad to share the cartoon. (See above) He is a very talented artist.

I requested his memoir from the Cincinnati Public Library entitled “Inklings.” It was a transparent, at times amusing and sometimes painful read. Jeff grew up in an alcoholic household and he and his father both have Tourette’s syndrome. It took years for Jeff to even realize what the Tourette’s was. His biography reads:

Honored by the National Cartoonists Society, National Headliner Awards, and Great Plains Journalism. Awards, Jeffrey Koterba’s cartoons are syndicated to over 800 newspapers with Cagle Cartoons and have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. He currently draws with support on Patreon. 

His original drawings have flown aboard space shuttle Discovery. Back on earth, his work has been included in multiple exhibits in the U.S. and Europe, including alongside Picasso.

Entertainment Weekly called his memoir, Inklings: “…a powerful and moving portrait of an artist.”

A two-time TEDx speaker, he often gives talks on creativity, Tourette Syndrome, and current affairs.

Here he explains much of what it is like to live with Tourette’s.

This very talented man also writes songs, plays guitar and is lead singer for the band he formed called the Prairie Cats. So much talent! I am always amazed at the accomplishments of those who do not let physical obstacles get in their way.

May I apply my talents to the tasks the Lord gives me in spite of my upbringing in an alcoholic home, chronic pain disorder and the physical challenges that aging provides me with. Jeffrey Koterba is truly an inspiration to me!

Glad Mary Had a Larger Donkey

Glad Mary did not live in Ohio during her journey. Temperature this orning was -4 and wind chill of -33! None of the Gospels state that Mary rode a donkey on the way to Bethlehem.

We do know the journey was about 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We also know that most people tended to travel together in groups to provide more protection against robbers, bandits, and wild animals. We also know that Mary very shortly after they arrived which means she was heavily pregnant, and Jesus was full term. Every expecting parent knows the last two months of pregnancy are the hardest on women. Their backs ache, their joints hurt, as do their feet. Any task like rolling over in bed, putting on shoes, or walking can be tough to maneuver. Especially when you can’t even see your feet. It’s likely she didn’t walk the entire way. Aside from walking, other common modes of transportation would have included horses, camels, donkeys, or some sort of cart drawn by a horse. However, Joseph was not a rich man which means he did not have the means to purchase horses or camels. He likely had his own donkey or may have even borrowed a donkey for Mary to ride upon during the journey to Bethlehem.

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/did-mary-really-ride-on-a-donkey-into-bethlehem.html

As we sit in the comfort of our well heated homes, surrounded by gifts and foods, friends and relatives, I pray we remember it was not so for the mother of our Lord. Getting to Bethlehem would have been an arduous journey at that stage in her pregnancy. His birth occurred in the humblest of surroundings.

What have you prepared for Jesus? Does He have a place of prominence in your heart and home? Do you honor Him in your very life? Is there an altar of worship in you heart?

Seeing this humorous story, I was glad that Mary had a larger donkey than this to ride!

Home Again

Like that Christmas tree image? By the time you read this we will be home for ten days! And more than likely have hit the ground running!

So where does that idiom come from?

The first is that it comes from troops in combat. They must start running as soon as they get off a plane, train, or other automobile, so that they don’t get shot. It is believed that in World War II, paratroopers were given this command as to what to do when they landed.

The second theory is that it comes from hobos and stowaways on a train. They must begin to run as soon as they jump from the train, so that they don’t get caught.

The third theory is that it comes from the Pony Express. This was an early way to deliver mail by horseback in America. The riders had to be fast so they would ride their horses quickly and “hit the ground running” when changing to a fresh horse in order to avoid delays.

However it started, the expression saw a surge in popularity in the 1970s and has seen widespread use ever since.

https://writingexplained.org/idiom-dictionary/hit-ground-running-mean

What have we been up to? Small group meeting, Church, helping a young bridal attendant to get her dress sewn just the way she wants it (no bra showing), wrapping gifts, get groceries after travel and before family gathering, Bob medical procedure, Bob doctor appointment, Bob second cataract surgery with complication to be addressed by a second surgeon (back to back docs), Bob follow-up with docs after eye surgeries, making those lists and checking them twice, laundry from traveling, wedding, plan that family celebration on December 18th (Oh! that is when this will post).

Whew! Not certain that travel in December is my first choice, but there you have it! We had tickets we had to use before December 31. Maybe next time we will go to New York for New Years and stay in our room instead of clamoring on Times Square!

Running like troops in combat? Well the enemy of our souls would like for no one to know about the birth of the Light of the world born in a manger, yet we declare that very Light is the Light of the world.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 ESV

Hobos and stowaways? Yes, not of the world but in it to give testimony to God.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 15:19 NIV

Hit the ground running like the Pony Express riders? Yes, but not before asking God for direction and guidance.

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.

This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 The Message

If you, too, have hit the ground running this season, remember to watch and pray as you go forward. God is always with you to lead, guide, comfort and provide! Obedience to Him is paramount if your efforts are to succeed.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

John 1:4, 9 NIV

Telling the Destruction of Babylon

We visited Faith Church in Rio Rancho where Dan and Betty worship. Pastor Mike McDonald has been doing a series preaching on Jeremiah and this week was Chapters 50-51. “God’s judgement is a word to His people of future hope in their present hardship.”

And then the Word says:

He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including the people of his inheritance—the Lord Almighty is his name.

Jeremiah 51:19 NIV

The Maker of all things. The Lord Almighty is his name. Our portion.

Our strength, our reward. Father You bless us even when we are not aware of Your blessing. Help us to bring attention to You and Your holy power in all that we do.

He is our portion We are exceedingly blessed. Look to Him at all times.

Beauty in a Glaze

Take a look at this from the craft show!

https://temperedearthfarms.com/products

The city of Corrales, New Mexico had their 34th annual juried craft show on Saturday morning at the historic Old San Ysidro church which has been decommissioned. Dan and Bob dropped Betty and me off to browse the show and shop while they went to get coffee and chat together.

There was handmade jewelry, hand painted silk shawls, paintings, ceramics, porcelain dishes, amazing photographs, gourd art, icons, jams, notecards, wood work, creations made with old sewing machine parts, fold art quilted hangings, metal outdoor sculptures and more.It was amazing.

I found this tumbler made by Jenn Noel. I hemmed and hawed. I wanted the smaller design, but the only one on display had hand pinched places. I talked myself out of the tumbler. We left the show.

And then I thought about the glaze all evening. And I could not forget it. I searched for her work on line. And drooled again over that amazing “sunset” glaze.

To indulge me, Bob said we could return to the craft show after church the next day and see if the item I liked was still available. It certainly was! I walked up to Jenn, the artist, and told her I thought about her work all night and especially that glaze. The piece I admired was still there!! Sold! Next challenge is to get it home in one piece!If you are still Christmas shopping, the good news is Jenn has free shipping for the few weeks left building up to Christmas. Click on https://temperedearthfarms.com/collections/all/handmade-pottery?sort_by=manual

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 1:11 ESV

Here is comic Family Circus humor for the season.

Dirt in Treetops?

I was driving and listening to NPR when I heard this episode of Radio Lab. I hope you enjoy the wonders of their discoveries as a much as I did.

Really? There is dirt in the canopy? The canopy even sends out roots for more trees up in the air?

Here is a quote from the transcript:

ANNIE: Her job up there was to take samples of the moss that was growing on these branches.

NALINI NADKARNI: I had to cut off chunks of it.

ANNIE: So using some clippers, she begins to cut down into that moss on the branch she’s sitting on.

NALINI NADKARNI: And as I peeled back those mats of mosses …

ANNIE: Beneath, instead of just bare branch …

NALINI NADKARNI: I saw that there was all this soil up there.

ANNIE: This branch has a foot of soil piled up on it.

ROBERT: Oh wow!

ANNIE: Soil that had built up over many, many years of mosses and leaves dying and decomposing right there on the branch.

What? I was intrigued. Temperate forest in Olympic rainforest in western Washington state. 100 feet up – a 10 story building! Copepods in the top of Redwoods. Amazing discoveries. And we, the little humans, think we know it all! NOT!!

The wonders our God of Creation made for us to discover. New things after new things we never even imagined.

Cloudy day in Corrales, New Mexico

I am seated in New Mexico looking at the peaks of Sandia Mountain. Visible valleys where water has run down the mountains side. A few places where snow has began to accumulate. Trees that look like dark green fuzz from here, trees that likely are much taller than I am. What wonders reside there? Discoveries the scientists and explorers have not yet made. How many eons have people gazed upon this mountain? Yet, the God of Wonders is NEVER surprised by what we find!!

Same mountain, different day!

Go outside. Take a walk around. Dig into the moss, or rocks, or dirt. See what wonders God has created for you to discover. Treasures in plain sight or on a treetop.

Saturday

Saturday used to bring up thoughts of cartoons, unlimited: Tom & Jerry, Roadrunner, Bugs and the gang. Then it brought up my children watching those shows and me having time to myself. And now? Well, this close to Christmas it usually means too many activities to be done in too little time!

How are you filling your Saturday? We are actually taking the day off. We had 2 airline tickets we needed to use before December 31 so months ago we booked a flight to go see Betty & Dan, our dear friends in Albuquerque. This past week Bob began questioning if this was a good idea with so MANY holiday things to get checked off the list. He also wants to get as many items accomplished as possible before his eye surgery December 15!

Sometimes during Advent we make a one day retreat at the Convent of the Transfiguration. Well this year we will visit the Cookseys. It is often like attending a retreat just being with them! All four of us love the Lord dearly and share our faith walk details when we are together.

We are looking forward to seeing the luminaries which Ohio sort of dabbles in.

The tradition of Christmas luminaries has a long and varied history as part of religious tradition. Luminarias (Spanish for “small bonfires”) were first recorded in the 16th century, when Spanish people lit bonfires along the roads to guide people to Midnight Mass on the final night of Las Posadas. This was done to reenact the story of Mary and Joseph’s quest for lodging in Bethlehem. This tradition was brought to the Santa Fe Trail in the early 19th century, when settlers lit their entrance-ways with beautiful Chinese paper lanterns. This tradition was introduced to Mexican Indians by Spanish missionaries, who lit paper lanterns for nine consecutive nights beginning December 16th. It was representational of lighting the way for Christ’s birth and illumination of the spirit.

https://www.lumabase.com/blog/2020/09/history-of-luminarias/

And even more information about Las Posadas from https://www.culturalworld.org/what-is-las-posadas.htm

Las Posadas is a traditional Mexican festival which takes place from 16 December to 24 December. It commemorates the search for shelter by Mary and Joseph with a series of parties around the neighborhood. In some parts of Mexico, it is a major holiday, with the whole community taking part. Mexican immigrants in other parts of the world may also celebrate Las Posadas, if the immigrant community is large enough, and participation isn’t restricted to Mexicans; other people in the community are certainly welcome to participate.

In Spanish, Las Posadas means “The Inns,” and during this festival, people form a procession which symbolically visits homes asking for shelter. People in the procession dress up, sing songs, and sometimes bring a burro or donkey along to represent the donkey which brought Mary into Jerusalem. One home in particular is designated as the “inn” each night, and when the procession reaches that home, the hosts welcome them in for a Posadas party which includes music, dancing, food, and prayer.

Not certain we will actually be in a procession or seeking shelter, but remembering the Lord’s first coming and His subsequent return will be a blessing to share with Betty and Dan.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

1 John 1:5 NIV

Do You Know Brugmansia?

Don’t you want to know it now?

This one had me gasping in wonder as we went in and out of the courtyard leading to our Air B & B unit. Sadly, it will not grow in our area. The Spruce says the following about Brugmansia:

“The show-stopping hanging trumpet-shaped flowers of Brugmansia make this plant a delight for any garden. Grown either as a woody shrub or small tree, angel’s trumpet is a tropical plant native to South America, like the triostar stromanthe.

“There are seven species of Brugmansia, among them B. arborea, B. suaveolens, B. sanguine (red angel’s trumpet), and those have been hybridized to develop robust cultivars like “Grand Mariner’ and ‘Inca Sun.’ Although it is considered a showpiece in Northern Hemisphere gardens, it is an invasive plant in Australia, New Zealand, Central America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands.

“Brugmansia is best planted in mid-spring when outdoor temperatures no longer drop below 50 degrees at night. The plant will grow quickly, often between 24 to 36 inches a year. All parts of the angel’s trumpet plant are toxic to humans, dogs, and cats.

https://www.thespruce.com/angels-trumpet-brugmansia-spp-3269243

Well the Air B & B had a dog and multiple cats. They must have known not to bother the dropped leaves or dead flowers. The squirrel did not seem to mind the toxicity of it either.

See the squirrel walking among the branches on the lookout for Bob? (upper center of photo)

And here he comes!

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

Genesis 1:11-13 NIV