Dear Ones,
 Hope that you have a peaceful day. There is more snow falling today and winter is really here. This morning I did food prep and made Al’s favorite cookies and soon going to my exercise class. Then Craft time and tonight is Bible study and maybe a walk inbetween on the trail. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  When Al and I travel we like to go to monasteries and to spend time in the quietness there. We have also done personal retreats in the past and taken time to enjoy silence with those who have left the noise of the world to draw closer to Christ. They have renounced possessions, relationships, and even themselves to be possessed by the Lord. We found no TV’s blaring or cell phones going off, but a holy atmosphere where Jesus is the focus and hearts are seeking to hear Him. 
  I read an article recently by Andrew Arndt about the desert fathers and mothers who left their comfortable confines to discover how to live for the love of God and neighbor, and to renounce those things that come against God’s kingdom. We have much to learn from their example. What is so evident first of all is the emphasis on a clean heart and to rid ourselves of everything that comes contrary to love for God and others. Love is God’s way and it takes shape in Christian community. Even those in the dessert lived under a common discipline with a superior and often met on Sundays for common worship. Abba Anthony the Great said, “Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ.” We may think we are so loving but avoid getting close to others, even in our churches. We can’t keep people at arm’s length if we are to be known and also to express His love to others. John says in I John 4:12, 16, “But if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us, for God is Love and whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
   Desert fathers also teach us that love must be willing to lose. They choose poverty which is voluntary and means letting go of all that we possess. I use to give gifts at Christmas to three nuns we knew at the monastery but I also realized they wouldn’t keep it to themselves that it would be shared and given to others. We must all let go of what we possess and give what we cannot keep to gain that which we cannot lose.”.
   Challenge for today: Express God’s love in a new way today.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy