Zechariah

How’s it going with you? I bumped into my froggy friend this morning, chilling in the bird fountain.

He’s got to be the same guy, he seems to enjoy my company.

Just when I was beginning to feel comfortable poking along in the Minor Prophets, here comes the book of Zechariah.

It begins with anger, and angels, and then moves to horns and horses, and chariots, then adds lamp stands and flying scrolls. The number seven is also in play quite a lot, as in, how many eyes are in a stone.

I am out of my league, friends. I got nothing.

I’ve no doubt these weird visions given to Zechariah have the most amazing, profound connections to mind-blowing truths. I’ll choose to shelve them until I have more time, like when I’m spending eternity in Heaven. We will see more clearly then, so it’ll all be much easier to understand. For now, born into Adamic sin, my “fallen” brain is working at a fraction of its capacity. For now, I’ll go through the mental exercise of reading through the scriptures, and that is time not wasted.

I do have an AHA to share: This passage, from chapter 9 verse 9 got through even my thick head and caused me to smile:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you: He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I get it! Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, am I right? And furthermore, people were rejoicing and shouting on that first Palm Sunday.

There it is. How in the world does God do that? Oh, right, He is not of this world. There are so very many prophesies given before the birth of Christ ABOUT the Christ. My feeble brain only catches the extremely obvious ones. Who knew reading Zechariah could be so exciting?

And here it is: another border block for the Bible Sampler Quilt.

Circle of Life

Shelter in Place, Day 58. Another book of the Bible read, another border block pieced:

After reading through book after book of doom and gloom, the next book in my Bible read-through, Haggai, was a welcome relief. Just as all those previous prophets foretold, the kingdoms of Israel were indeed destroyed. And sure enough, a remnant of God’s chosen people have returned to live in Judah. Haggai’s message was to get busy rebuilding the temple so God’s presence could come home. I think he got pushback, and I can’t blame them. They’d been working so very hard, building new lives from scratch. To take the time and expense to build the temple was not high on their list of priorities. In a nutshell, Haggai’s reply was, “God’s will, done God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.” (This was a quote I heard many years ago, it’s a good one.)

In my previous post, I said that there was enough variety around my home to keep me from feeling like I’m trapped in a Groundhog’s Day movie. Some examples:

This guy was hanging out on my wall. He is huge, and those antennae are totally boss. He’s a silk moth of some variety. Now in the final stage of his life; he has emerged from his silken cocoon with no mouth parts. But he has no interest in food. It’s all about the pheremones, baby. Those antennae will help him find a mate so the next generation can be produced. Circle of life.

Every year, frogs lay eggs on in our pool when it sits dormant in cooler weather. Every Spring, we rescue those eggs and raise the cutest little polliwogs. Then we have these delightful visitors all year round.

Those crazy eyeballs swirl and move.
My husband didn’t mind this little guy hanging out in his sink

I’ll share my morning events:

My day begins with a cup of coffee, after which I go outside to garden for awhile. Today I started with picking fruit. I filled my hands with the first ripe blackberries of the season. I was delighted. Then I filled a bucket with nasturtium flowers for our lunchtime salad, and I’m going to attempt a pesto sauce as well. Delightful.

Then I moved to a shady spot, and began hacking away at and pulling out a giant plumosa plant that has taken over the fence line. I was delighted to see several noisy little finches flitting all around me while I worked. Then it dawned on me; they’re probably protecting their nests. So I backed off and moved to another section. Then I saw it. A weasel, so cute and playful, moving in and out of that plumosa. Then I realized it was after the nests. The finches were besides themselves. I was horrified. I picked up a few oranges from under a tree and threw them into the dense growth, but I doubt if it helped.

The circle of life can be such a bummer sometimes.

Same Old

I’ve finished reading Zephaniah, the next book of the Minor Prophets. And here’s another border block to go along with my Bible Sampler Quilt project.

I’ve heard this quarantine situation described as being in a Coronavirus version of the Groundhog’s Day movie. I don’t feel that way myself. I can fill my days with enough variety to keep things interesting. I could be the poster child for the introverted personality. But things are stacking up that are starting to wear on me.

Zephaniah shared the same old message as the seven previous books of the Minor Prophets, which is basically this: Because the children of Israel have strayed far from their faith, the punishing judgment from their righteous God is at hand. Zephaniah in particular uses the term “The Day of the Lord” a lot. As in, the day when the whole earth will be devoured by His burning anger. This after three solid chapters describing the doom and gloom in great detail. Yikes is right.

It’s a bit like the Groundhog’s Day I referenced: reading book after book of the same depressing message of angry destruction, at the same time that the media fills the airwaves with doom and gloom. And I have to agree that the world as we knew it has turned topsy turvy with no end in sight.

I googled the name “Zephaniah” out of curiosity. That’s not a name that’s making the top ten on the baby boy list. I learned that it means “Yahweh hides”. What a coincidence. We are all currently hiding from each other. We hide behind our doors, behind flimsy cloth face masks in pursuit of protection. Even that groundhog hid from his own shadow. And this is the thing that’s wearing on me: the steady drip of fear.

But then God does it again, He shows His gospel hope. Right at the end of the book, Zephaniah reports that God will leave a remnant; a humble and lowly people who will take refuge in the name of the Lord. Their restoration will be such that they shout for joy in triumph, rejoicing exultantly with all their hearts.

I’ll take my cue from these words. Take note: God means business. He’s not messing around regarding life and death. Proverbs reminds me that it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. You surely don’t want to be on God’s bad side. But being born into sin; we’re all on His bad side.

He has a remedy. Like Moses, God allows me to tuck into the cleft of the rock so that I am safe from His awesome and terrible power. The rock is His Son. Hidden in Christ is where I receive refuge, as well as all the protection and provision I need.

So we can do this. We can get through the day after day doom and gloom. God’s got it covered.

“Staying Safe”

I’m still here, staying home, still sheltering in place, still sewing face masks, and finishing border blocks for the Bible Sampler Quilt project.

“Stay safe out there everybody”. I’ve heard this phrase a lot lately. Newscasters end their reports this way, friends add this to parting farewells. I suppose it’s meant to be a positive tag line, so I feel like a chump here when I ask, “How in the world am I supposed to “Stay safe”? We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. I live in earthquake country, and as if killer bees aren’t scary enough, the Murder Hornets have just arrived on my continent. And who are we kidding? We could die in our sleep tonight.” Life isn’t safe.

This well-meant phrase reminds me of another, equally well-meant: “Sending positive thoughts your way”. Yes, I’m glad you’re thinking of me during my difficulty, which brings comfort. But if I’m in great need, I’d want to be tapped into a greater power than a thought. Again, I feel like a bit of a chump when I ask, is this the best we can do?

I’ve finished reading the next book of the Bible, Habakkuk. This well-known phrase popped from the print in chapter 2, verse 4: “The just will live by faith”. I know it’s repeated in other places in the Bible, and I’ll be reading it again in the New Testament. But you heard it here first, folks.

Who exactly are the “just”? And how will they live “by faith”? This familiar phrase can seem vague, and can easily be misunderstood.

I learned in junior high confirmation class that “justified” means “just as if I’d” never sinned. So . . . the “just” are perfect, sinless people?

That’s impossible.

Exactly. The “just” are regular, sinful people. The only difference is, they put their faith in Jesus Christ. And faith comes by believing. They believe in the knowledge that Jesus Christ took it all, the sins of humanity, upon Himself to the cross and died with them. It was my sin, and yours, that put Him there. When He rose again, He overcame sin, death, and the power of the devil. When we give up any pretense regarding our ability to control our own safety, and put our faith in Him, we are born again; cleansed by the sacrificial blood He shed for us. Therefore it is “just as if we’d” never sinned. So you see how the only way “the just” can possibly live at all is “by faith”.

So we can do better than saying “Stay safe” to each other. We can share the faith we live by: The good news of the gospel. It won’t guarantee safety from COVID19, even better, it provides the ultimate safety: Being hidden in Christ, under the shadow of His wings. For eternity.

So, instead of saying “Stay safe”, I would take a cue from the early Christian church. Talk about living in dangerous times. While they were washing their hands without indoor plumbing, and trying to avoid diseases without modern medicine, they were being hunted down and brutally killed by the Romans. Yet they were known by how they loved one another and how they lived in faithful joy.

Those first Christians would probably chuckle and give an eye roll if they were told to “Stay safe out there”. They knew better. They would greet each other with a kiss and say “Christ’s peace”. Farewells would include the word “Maranatha”, Lord come soon.

May the peace of the Lord reign in your hearts and minds.

Maranatha.

Buds of May

The gardens are bursting wherever I look. Pardon my photography, I’m too lazy to wipe down or trim up the scene before shooting. And this is supposed to be funny, mimicking the beautiful photos of quilts thrown over fence posts in tranquil settings to show a finish. Well, here’s another block finished for the Bible Sampler quilt any ways. I’ve finished reading the book of Nahum. Like the book of Jonah, it also warns Nineveh of future judgement and destruction. But unlike Jonah, the Ninevites don’t respond with repentance this time. They had “progressed” since those days of Jonah. Their city was an imposing fortress, and their people were known for their cruel strength. But all progress doesn’t move forward. Their hubris pushed the Creator, the God who saves, out of the picture. There’s a lot of talk about lions, and lion dens. This threw me at first, but then I remembered what I saw in the British Museum last Fall. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/galleries/assyria-lion-hunts

Fascinating. Who hunts lions? Hubris. Was this analogy to lions in Nahum’s prophecy a taunt? It was certainly ironic. Nineveh, mighty Nineveh would fall to the Babylonians, never to rise again.

My OMG for the month of May:

https://www.elmstreetquilts.com/2020/05/one-monthly-goal-may-link-up.html

The next UFO I’ve chosen to finish is to get this top loaded on the quilting frame and quilted.

I may be displaying some hubris here myself. I’m spending lots of time outside in this gorgeous May weather, and not a lot of time in the sewing room. There’s lots of necessary gardening chores going on, and I’ve challenged myself to take a long walk or bike ride every day in May. But I felt like a bit of a cheater when I chose small, achievable UFOs in months past. It feels great to have those done, but this OMG is supposed to be a challenge. So I’m really going to challenge myself in May. What do I have to lose?

April, Come She Will

Remember that Simon and Garfunkel song?

Tomorrow will end the month of April. And what a month it was. It revealed many truths about society, about our own social circles, about ourselves. It had its downsides and its upsides.

One of the best upsides for me was what happened because of the face mask frenzy. Overnight, my sewing skills, tools, and stash grew in worth in the eyes of others. My family gravitated to my sewing room to help with production. I helped others sew. I got to troubleshoot some old sewing machines for others who were dusting them off and getting busy. I now view FaceTime as my friend.

Even with all of the mask making, I finished my UFO challenge for the month.

https://www.elmstreetquilts.com/2020/04/one-monthly-goal-april-finish-link-up.html

Bonnie Hunter’s Celtic Solstice

I really enjoyed finishing this up. I love to handstitch binding. I loathe pulling in threads. There were a lot of them too, because I had used a weak multicolored thread to quilt this, and I didn’t want to change it out just because it kept breaking. But I plugged along, slowly pulling in threads, evening after evening after evening. It helped that I was relaxing with my husband and watching Masterpiece Theater.

I also finished the book of Micah. And there it was again, another obvious reference to the future arrival of Jesus Christ, Savior of the World. It was tucked right in the middle of this Old Testament prophetic book warning Jerusalem to prepare for punishment and doom.

Micah 5:2 – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

In a nutshell, he’s letting Israel and Samaria know that they are headed to destruction. Even so, there will be a remnant that will be preserved, and will return to Zion. Written in the 700’s B.C., we can agree that these words have all been fulfilled in real life.

Finally, one more finish to share, another border block for the Bible Sampler Quilt.

Fish Story

I’ve finished reading the book of Jonah. We all know how it goes. What impressed me was that God turned His wrath away and forgave the Ninevites. True this: No matter how evil or cruel, not one repentant heart is beyond the reach of God’s grace and mercy. And there was forgiveness for disobedient Jonah, too, even as he sulked under the tree after the turn of events didn’t go his way.

The Ninevites worshipped a god by the name of Dagan. Now get this, Dagan was a creature, part man and part fish. Fish! How about that. How curious that God caused Jonah to be swallowed by a fish before bringing His message to the fish-worshippers. Some might call this fortuitous, but I’ve got to hand it to God, that was one clever move. I’ve heard that one reason the people might’ve listened to Jonah was because his skin might’ve been bleached white from three day’s worth of soaking in digestive belly-of-the-whale juices. I would add that being a great fish survivor would have definitely boosted Jonah’s street cred.

Another book of the Bible, and another border block done for the Bible Sampler quilt project.