Difficulty of Physical Stillness

I began to wonder if my doctor had ever sat for 5-6 weeks with no weight bearing upon one of his feet? I found it to be difficult psychologically. Psalm 32:9 CSB is a description of me when I refused to trust God in the difficult moments. “Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle or else it will not come near you.”

The verse before that is a wonderful promise: “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.”

And God did when I calmed down, asked for help and let Him guide me.

Here is what we saw when the bandages were removed for the first time:

Tara Brach calls us to Surrendered Presence, Surrendering Presence. We waste so much time and energy trying to control everything. We are better off as far as energy stores if we can surrender and wait and see. One beaded bracelet I made pre-surgery reminds me that God is never perplexed. He is willing to be my strength. As I gladly boast in my weakness ( 2 COR 12:9-10) He is willing to be my strength and “react” upon me. (See journal entry http://stand-and-tip.com/2019/10/06/perfect-in-weakness/)

On October 31 I read a quote from Mark Nepo that says, “The things that frighten us just want to be held.” “Does that describe my fear of the pain out of control? Just something that wants to be held? Show me Lord, how to spread out the medication. When to stop. How to cope with the remainder of the healing pain.”

“I trust You, Jesus, to lead me through this. I do not want to be hooked on the painkiller. Please give me the courage to cope with this pain. Wisdom to know how to proceed.” And just like that, I was on Tylenol only.

November 2 I wrote in my journal that I needed to go back and read what I wrote about the turtle at the Nature Center ( https://treasures-in-plain-sight.org/2018/09/22/the-wise-turtle-and-bloom/). She taught me to hold on to wisdom, courage and the ability to keep looking up. “Most importantly, I realize she is looking up, as I am called to do, fixing my eyes upon things eternal. Letting go of obvious pain and aging issues I am able to relax on my favorite bench and simply soak in the pond activity: belching frogs, passing humans, bird song and noonday joy.” Yes, Lord, return me to that peace. Acceptance of things as they come. Wait and see attitude. NOT jumping to the furthest negative conclusion.”

I will likely never forget for long that I have a steel plate in my foot with 6 little screws. As of January 14 I am walking 5-8,000 steps per day. the doctor thought that was too much. Well, when I got inspired I just began moving. He says I am not totally healed yet. So, as you read this, please pray the bone will grow more thoroughly around that plate and screws.

Yield and Breathe and Listen

Other lessons learned while recovering from foot surgery: Determined to not be taking much pain medication, I broke the cardinal rule of recovery and took too little. Saturday, October 26 was a 7PM melt down. I felt as if my foot was swelling, then pushing against the padding and ace bandage and then the THROB began. It was the worst pain I had experienced thus far. Put myself to bed and loving husband brought me ice packs and iced water to sip. I listened to meditations, especially from “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Cabat-Zinn. Husband rubbed my back. I read until drowsy then slept, and tried to draw what I saw at the apex of pain. Of course, I did not capture it as I saw it at the time. We decided I likely took too little medication that day. Tried to stick to 6 hour schedule the next day. I am exhausted and wary of THAT much pain. Pain I could NOT ignore. I was able with the meditation recording to breathe into it, exhale it, but it was serious WORK. Yes, I have a plate in my toe.

Prior to surgery I tried to prepare myself psychologically for the long recovery sitting. I planned crochet projects, things to read, and recorded TV shows to entertain and distract me. I cooked foods we liked and froze them. Taking my iPhone to the basement I photographed every storage shelf in the pantry area and shelves in the freezer so that when people asked me where something was, I might be able to direct them to the correct area. Even the upstairs kitchen pantry was photographed. I planned clothing that was easy to get on over huge bandage and cast. What I did not realize was just how difficult it can be to sit idle for a long time after a fairly active life! My step count had dropped to around 3,000 steps per day prior to surgery due to pain in my foot. Taking that to near zero and letting go of all household responsibility was something I had not done in several years. I think that like childbirth, we tend to forget the miserable times in life, or at least, to gloss over them. Sitting still and staying cheerful for weeks on end is work! I sometimes found myself fantasizing about just getting up and walking.

October 28, 2 weeks after the surgery, I had a major emotional meltdown. I did not see it coming. I was exploring crochet patterns online for a small turtle to remind me like Aesop’s fable that “slow and steady wins the race.” Was having difficulty signing on to my favorite site.

Suddenly and rapidly the anxiety was upon me. The surgeon had wrapped my foot in thick layers of cotton batting, then gauze, then a bent splint to hold it in place and then ace bandages. It was quite a thick contraption. About 3:45 PM I had a terrible dry skin/hurt combination on my lower calf that undid me. I could not reach far enough inside the cotton-batting of the bandage to get cream on the spot. Even using a plastic knife handle and then a chopstick I could not reach it. And then I became desperate. {Now where were the ears to hear that admonition to trust in the Lord?}

Desperate for relief, frantic and wanting to throw off the bandage and walk away, I began to cry. I cried in fruitless frustration and helplessness, knowing I had to sit still for the bones to heal and anchor this metal plate and 6 screws to my toe.

I texted a dear, faithful friend for prayer. I called out to Bob to come help me.  I told Alexa to turn on meditation music. I sat and cried and tried to breathe as Bob got me a fresh ice pack to apply on the misery location on my calf. Focused on my breath. Over a period of time I took it all down a notch, and then another notch, and then another. Went back to find the correct online screen to sign in to Ravelry. Purchased the turtle pattern, printed it and relaxed even more. Eventually, I had to put ace bandages back on so I could roll to the bathroom. I was exhausted.

Psalm 37:5 (HCSB)  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV2011)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

What is the purpose of telling you these struggles? The journal entries above describe what I did outwardly. Inwardly, I fell into God’s arms. I yielded my heart to Him. He touched me in my weakness. If you have not traveled to that point of helplessness (or one like it) you likely have no idea what I am writing about. If you have been there, you might remember the sweet relief that comes from throwing yourself on the mercy of Christ. My feelings had escalated out of control. There was not much warning that I can recall now. When I hit the wall and realized only the touch of the Holy Spirit could return me to my right mind, I knew it was time to yield. If the ice had not relieved the dry skin/hurt, I had bandage scissors at the ready to open that one spot for some cream! I did not have to use them. The idea to have Bob find the scissors came to me only when I chose to breathe and be led through that valley. No one can make you decide in those frantic moments  to yield and breathe and listen. I believe we are each given the opportunity to choose in those types of situations. Repeated practice has helped me begin to choose Proverbs 3:6 more quickly. Other translations read “in all your ways ACKNOWLEDGE Him.”

Isaiah 55 still holds true in my life: Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV2011)  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Oh Lord, continue to lead and guide me, I pray.

Slow and steady, Molly Lin. Slow and steady progress towards healing.

Happy New Year!

I last posted in October 2019. Then I had scheduled foot surgery and fell off the grid. Had really hoped to blog during that time. Total anesthesia and recovery in this older body did not permit that. When I was finally allowed to walk the holidays were upon us and I got caught up in those preparations and learning how to walk with this repaired foot. I hope to resume writing with regularity and with gusto!

Recently I made a retreat at the Convent of the Transfiguration where I am an associate. I had missed making scheduled biannual silent retreats over the last two years because of travel, illness, etc. I saw a little opening in the January calendar and made a private silent retreat. During that time I prayed about whether to continue writing the blog. The answer seemed to be a resounding “Yes!”

Here is my journal synopsis from that time:

Father, I want to do the work You have given me to do. As deFoucauld wrote and prayed, I am placing ‘myself in Your hands without reserve in boundless confidence because You are MY FATHER.’

Robert Dutina captured my heart towards the Lord with this photo from Los Angeles, Ca.

“I will proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ.” I will with God’s help resume the blog writing to His glory, showing forth His power during my recovery from surgery, the lessons I learned in the weeks of waiting.

Monday October 14, 2019

Scheduled toe surgery went off without a hitch. Surgeon cleaned up arthritic joint, turned bone around, placed the plate, secured with screws, injected area with my own cells that were taken from my heel bone and spun down. Closed me up with stitches and layers of bandages.

There were a few surprises for the patient and her husband though! First, I was not allowed to use the knee roller until the nerve block in that leg had totally worn off. I was not strong enough to tolerate crutches, so Bob had to wait upon me with a wheelchair to the bathroom and any other place I wanted to relocate. It took several days for that nerve block to wear off. In the end, I was so grateful not to be feeling the first post-surgical pain and took much less pain medication than expected. It was however humbling to have to ask him for help moving about. Fibromyalgia and arthritis pain are mean. Using crutches every place would have been so difficult.

Before the surgery the admonition to trust God during this process was driven home several times and especially through Psalm 37 verses 3 and 5. So I made it my business to trust Him in these weeks of sitting. I had to be careful to not put weight on my foot lest the plate and six screws be moved out of place. The goal was to stay still so that bone could begin to grow around the plate to help anchor everything in place. (For a further discussion see

Psalm 37:3 (NRSV)  Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Psalm 37:5 (HCSB)  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act

Things I Experienced Recently

When we travel I usually see things I have never seen before. Sadly America has been franchised to where the little usual shops and restaurants have largely disappeared. There are still things that amuse me though.

At the airport we saw eleven Amazon Prime airplanes. Upon our return we saw a large fleet of Amazon vans parked in a storage area and one making a delivery in our neighborhood. Some folks say Amazon wants to take over the world. I suppose as part of that effort, they are taking over their delivery services, too.

Did you know that the Ace Hardware store in Hyannis, Massachusetts has clamming gear? Without checking, I would bet the Ace Hardware in Montgomery, Ohio does not carry clamming gear!

It is said the Mica schist on Mt Washington is over 100 million years  old. Maybe it should be called really old mountain instead?

We traveled in and out of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire all within about 2 hours. Granted we were along the borders of some of those states. Yes, the travel distances in the Eastern States are so much different than Ohio, Texas, California, etc.

Barley house Restaurant, Chicken pot pie, perfect supper for traveler!

Kencamagus and Pemigewasset, just two examples of spelling and language challenges in New Hampshire! Perhaps I am just much more familiar with Akron, Cuyahoga, Miami, Olentangy, Ohio and Wapakoneta. My bad.

When we drove through Colorado it was not unusual to hit an elevation of 11,000 feet. In New Hampshire they were quite proud of their Lake of the Clouds that is at an elevation of 5,050 feet. Turns out there are several places in the USA names Lake of the Clouds. As I have never been a true hiker, it is unlikely I will visit those lakes. I live at an elevation of about 705 feet.

Weird Thoughts Again

So we drove past a woman and man setting up their harvest decorations in front of their house. Now tell me if you think this is strange? Maybe it is just me, but the Wizard of Oz confirmed, for those of us brought up in the city, that a scarecrow is stuffed with straw. The craft stores for the past decade or so have sold ready made scarecrows stuffed with pretend straw, but they hope it will look like straw to you.

How weird is it that an item built from human looking clothing and filled with straw is then seated upon a bale of straw? Isn’t that like go to the morgue and get a bunch of organs, pile them up and then have your photo taken while sitting upon them? We are such a weird society.

I love candy, but halloween is just weird overall.

Once I was invited as a room mother to attend the halloween march in costume where the kids paraded through the elementary school. When I got there all the other room mothers were dressed as witches. I was dressed as the Holy Ghost, complete with a white sheet, white face, white keds and wooden cross around my neck. As we went room to room I invited the kids to touch the least scary ghost EVER and told them about my role in God’s plan. Needless to say, I was called the following week by the principal. I almost asked if she called the witches representing everything reprehensible to my faith. I was encouraged when we went in one room and the teacher had donated New Testaments to the kids. They were proudly displayed on their desks. Wonder if that is even allowed these 36 years later?

Travel Humor

When we travel I find things that amuse me. Here are a few from our recent trip to the Northeast.

There was a sign for “Maple Springs.” Gosh! I thought, they must not just tap sugar maple trees! They actually have a place where it comes out of the ground from a spring.

In Boston they do not have manhole covers, but “raised casting ahead.” I had to watch to see what it actually referred to. I guess in this day and age the sign at home would be reworded “Worker hole cover ahead.”

On Peter Pan bus line do they sing “I gotta crow” and serve peanut butter?

See the source image

Peter Pan

And they must kill lots of pigs though I saw not one pig farm up there. Everything is this ham and that ham. Chatham, Eastham, Hingham, Dedham, Waltham, Framingham and last but not least wearing pig skins at Wareham!

At home the engineers are installing “Roundabouts” to replace intersections. In New England they are called rotaries. Go figure.

I learned that “Plows use caution” means there is a bridge overpass coming up on the road.

How about this one? Took me a long time and Bob’s help to figure it out!

Refers to dump trucks in construction area. Who knew? Not me! Actually the sign we blew past on the freeway in Massachusetts only said “Body down” and had me totally stumped!

Keep being amused! Lightens life’s loads!

Smoky Mountain Trek

As Bob wrote in his travel journal regarding Days 27, 28, 29 and 30 (of our miles long adventure). “We left Nashville and headed towards Townsend where we had rented a small cabin in the woods – a final stop in a familiar and loved area.We had not been here in 3 years. The ride was easy and the start of the Appalachian Range was welcomed. Far different than the Rockies, but the lush forests and green valleys were delightful. The redbuds were beginning to bloom and the dogwoods were in full flower.”

Some ask us why we go back so often? For us, wildflower hunting is similar to seeking shells on an Atlantic Ocean beach. The trillium are fairly obvious. Southern Appalachian are very large. Wake Robin is similar to Sweet Betsy trillium to me. Yellow is know as Yellow Wake Robin! I just know it is erect and easy to see in a passing car! But the Jack in the Pulpit, not so much. I find myself as we hike looking for the leaves or the curve of the neck on the Jack. The violets in purple, white, lilac and yellow show themselves. The Dutchman’s Britches are not so obvious as they look like the Squirrel Corn. One has to look closely to see the ginger pots under the Ginger leaves. And the Little Brown Jugs must be discerned, too. Yellow Bellwort grows high on Rich Mountain Road. Spiderwort is the rock clinging one I believe.

Most elusive are the Lady’s Slipper. As I wrote earlier, we found pink that had not opened yet. One clump of lovely yellow were sweet. Sadly, people dig them up (stealing from the National Park) thinking they can take them home to grow the. These lovelies have very particular growing needs. So we tell almost NO ONE where we have seen them. A Ranger at Sugarlands Park Office told us that about 3 miles up Sugarland trail they burst out in abundance after the fires a few years ago. Sadly, that is too much hiking for me.

Fire pinks, crested dwarf iris, showy orchid, wild geranium, fringed phacelia, squaw root, and the list goes on! Such Fun.

Bob wrote about the Good Friday drive along Tremont Road following the Middle Prong of the Little River , “So much rain had fallen that it was more full and rapid than we had ever witnessed. It was violent, frenzied, untamed, wild, and raging. It reminded me of the Niagara rapids below the falls. Water careened along its banks and exploded over the rocks. Waterfalls disappeared except for the ones coming down the sides of the mountain that were barely contained. And it was LOUD! Everything in the area was a soft green and dripping. Giant Trillium sat and listened to Jack preach to them and the rocks above. It was glorious. Who said rainy days are not fun? And we only put 60 miles on the car.”

The next day was only 46 degrees but the rain had stopped so we were up for another hike. Bob’s journal continues “Easter Saturday – the day between the grief and the glory – we drove to Tremont and the Middle Prong Trail. We love this trail as it closely follows the Middle Prong of the river and builds to a crescendo with a cascading waterfall. The joy for me is walking a small path that leads to the crest of the falls. Water rushes towards it and explodes over the top of the boulders below.”

On Day 31 we drove home to Ohio. 7,000 miles, a month on the road sitting side by side in the Toyota Camry Hybrid. We were still friends and still smiling. I imagine you might be tired about reading reports of this adventure. We have not tired of telling it though. There are likely more details in my blog and his travel journal than we could recite to you today, in person, without notes!

Our next adventure was a seven day flight to and around New England to pick up some of the places we missed on a previous adventure there. It is nice to be approaching 49 years of marriage completed and still enjoy one another’s company. May all of your journeys be joyous!

Photo by Robert M Dutina