Not Be Overwhelmed

I love the fact that someone finally wrote a song about one of my favorite Scripture verses! I needed to hear that recently when I reviewed my scatteredness and sought to recollect my various members around my roots in Christ.

And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.

Romans 8:11 NIV

Reviewing my activities on a recent Saturday morning I realized again why I needed to draw from that “Same Power.” That week I had interaction with someone who had possibly had a TIA and was having brain scans, one who was failing in his job, one had stitches in her back after a freak accident, one suffering from Parkinson’s disease, one recovering from surgery, one serving with many hats in the community and feeling the weight, one who had a bladder scoped (ouch), one having staffing troubles, one broke his finger, one worried about aging and drug injection to build bone density, one getting a divorce, one recovering from knee surgery, one struggling with mental illness, one worried about another person, seemingly crowds of folks in my purview with troubles after troubles!

How to stay compassionate, not burn out, and keep caring for each of them? Left to myself, I do not have that sort of strength within me to sort out where to serve and where to just pray. The Word of God assures me in Romans 8:8-9 NIV  “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.”

In my flesh, I would tend to worry and fret and try to find ways in my own strength to comfort, heal, encourage and come alongside all those folks. I have burned myself out more than once in my life trying to do just that. I hopefully have learned better now. Now I release each one to God as soon as I possibly can, giving the Holy Spirit free access to use me if He wishes in their comfort. Otherwise, I leave those persons at the altar of God and return myself to a position of listening for His voice., walking in the Spirit.

Ann Voskamp wrote, “There’s a lot of happiness in this world that depends on being brave enough to keep working when it’d be easier to quit. Nothing good gets started without getting to work – and nothing great gets finished without staying at the work. It’s not about growing tough enough to take what life throws at you; it’s about staying open enough to all of life to simply receive it.”

Yield a compassionate ear to those around you. Know when to release them to the Spirit of God. Then keep serving as you are shown how and where to serve.

While We are on The Topic of Music

Another new-to-me worship song I can’t stop singing is Hallelujah Here Below by Elevation Music.

We are an altar of broken stones
But You delight in the offering
You have the heavens to call Your home
But You abide in the song we sing

Ten thousand angels surround Your throne
To bring You praise that will never cease
But hallelujah from here below
Is still Your favourite melody We sing
We sing
Hallelujah And should the fire that once burned bright
Become an ember my eyes can’t see
I will remember Your sacrifice
I will abide in Your love for meOh, we sing
We sing
We sing
We sing
Hallelujah!Jesus Christ our King enthroned
All the praise is Yours forevermore
Hallelujah here below
All the praise is Yours… Oh, what a wonderful day to come
When every knee bows before Your name
But we will not wait until it does
For here and now shall Your Kingdom reign We sing
We sing
Hallelujah Oh! Oh, the broken people sing We sing
Let the Church sing
We sing

For Your glory we sing
Source: LyricFind

“Can Never Be Torn Away”

I bought the David Crowder CD called I Know A Ghost. When I get new music after listening for a few days one song in particular might jump out at me. I will find myself humming the tune, or a phrase of the lyric will be caught in my brain. Then I go find the CD and study the music to see why it is impacting me. Later, it will happen with a different song.

Recently this one got me. I am not attending a snake handling church nor do I ever want to, but evil is often personified as a snake. So crushing snakes is an expression about giving Christians authority over the authority of our enemy.

Lyrics by Crowder We’re not afraid
Terrors of night, arrows that fly by day
Ten thousand may fall but we
We will remain We’re not afraid
A promise of God can never be torn away
Walking on hands of angels, crushing snakes
Safe under the shadow of His wings
Our fortress and our strength
Our fortress We’re taking back our freedom
Our battle has been won
We have been liberated
Back from the dead we’ve come We’re taking back our freedom
Our battle has been won
We have been liberated
Back from the dead we’ve come We’re not afraid
A promise of God can never be torn away
Walking on hands of angels, crushing snakes
Safe under the shadow of His wings
Our fortress and our strength
Our fortress We’re taking back our freedom
Our battle has been won
We have been liberated
Back from the dead we’ve…

Hit the triangle below to play this great song! And declare it for yourself!!

Back from the dead we’ve come. Walking on hands of angels. We’re not afraid. Amazing, powerful, true lyrics. Oh, how this man minsters to me! Praying you are blessed by this, also!

Cooking Creatively

Before the Super Bowl the stores were chock full of dips and treats. When I bought Bob some French Onion Dip I saw a container of Tzatziki Spinach Dip. Had never seen that one before! Tzatziki is a Greek yogurt sauce made with yogurt and cucumbers. I thought, “Why not try it? If I don’t like it I can use it in cooking.”

Was not as thick as I expected, certainly not as thick as French Onion dip! Just okay. So a few few days later I had some chicken to bake. Put that Tzatziki on it. Baked. Turned it and put some more on it. Baked. Added some just before I served it. Delicious! I love when I think outside the box and do not waste an ingredient!


Not in Ohio Anymore!

There are no thin ice signs in Cincinnati that I am aware of! All these sings boasted of Moose, but they never got the memo to show up for us to photograph!

My best friend in childhood, Dana!

Seemed like such tiny state boundaries after traveling west earlier in the year! We criss crossed state lines so often there were times we were not certain what state we were in!!

1798 to 1880 Eliza was a young child!

And then the humorous produce store I would have shopped at had I lived there!

Free range tomatoes, free range bees and cage free tomatoes! Sound tasty to me!

Celebrate Love with the Right Language

In 1992 Gary Chapman wrote a book entitled The Five Love Languages. The premise was to explain how people give and receive love. All these years later, it is still a great teaching tool for marriage enrichment.

The 5 love languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation.
  • Acts of Service.
  • Receiving Gifts.
  • Quality Time.
  • Physical Touch.

So do you know what your love language is? Do you know the love language of those who are most important to you?

Bing has hundreds of flow chart images that describe the 5 Love languages and list examples. You might want to check those out if you have no idea what I am writing about. It can make a big difference in your relationships to know what speaks love to your significant other! There are even free online quizzes you can take to determine your language.

I bought this t-shirt for Bob to convince others how much I approve of his husband skills! He doesn’t much like to wear it though. His husband skills are wonderful, t-shirt or not. We often spend quality time together, taking a long drive, viewing his 2019 photo project of one photo a day (and editing out the other unused 3,000 photos 🙂 )! There is nothing better than holding his hand and traveling together through life. September will make it a 50 year anniversary journey!

Our wedding cake from 1970

Hepzibah and Me

In high school or maybe even junior high we had to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables. I loved it! On our recent trip to the Northeastern States I realized we would be going very close to Salem, Massachusetts. And they have tours of the house the story is patterned on! I could care less about the witch trials, but mention the Seven Gables and I was hooked.

Before our travels, I re-read the book because so MANY years have passed since I first read it. (Love that we can borrow books in the Kindle format, often for free, from the library!) We planned our route to make a tour of the house in Salem on our way from Maine to New Hampshire.

Hawthorne based his book loosely upon his cousin’s house in Salem. Susanna Ingersoll inspired and often entertained Hawthorne at this home. It has been restored to its former glory and is now a museum. In the story Hepzibah was an unfortunate spinster whose eyesight was so poor that she had taken to squinting and that made her face even more unpleasant. The locals thought she was merely scowling at them all the time. She had fallen on hard times and was forced to open a small shop in the front of her house in order to provide food for herself and her brother.

This is a re-creation of what her shop might have looked like. She might have entered through this door. Robert Dutina’s photo of the shop is better, of course!

Hepzibah’s Shop by Robert M Dutina

Being a descendent of aristocracy, Hepzibah was ashamed of having to open the store. She also rented one gable of the house to Holgrave. The story has sorrow, possible murder, intrigue, the young charming country cousin Phoebe, revenge, the town gossips and all the other interesting characters that Hawthorne created. Ned Higgins, the boy who bought her supply of gingerbread cookies made me smile as I now make gingerbread every Christmas with my Grandgirls! When Nathaniel wrote this starting in 1850 he insisted it was entirely a work of fiction based on no particular house. They have done a great job of restoration though, igniting my imagination!

The outdoor gardens were planted like formal English gardens.

Gardens and gables
Refreshing morning dew

I found the adventure refreshing, even if it was likely a fantasy compared to what Hawthorne actually experienced.

Mount Washington

The conductor took our tickets

There is a neighborhood in Cincinnati called Mount Washington. For years I have seen a bumper sticker that says “I climbed Mt. Washington” and I would think, so what? Then we traveled to the Eastern United States. Bob wanted to go to the top of Mount Washington, New Hampshire noted as one of the windiest places on earth. So we planned our trip to include the Cog Railway there. 2019 had been a tremendously busy year, with the 7,000 mile road trip to the west, so we scaled this one down a bit! Mountain climbing on foot was not on the agenda.

We lined up to board what looked like a little train ride.
The inside o f the car was all lovely wood.

And shortly the climb began. AAA tourbook reports concise details saying, “The Railway opened in 1869 and bills itself as the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world. Coal-fired steam and biodiesel-powered trains take passengers on a scenic 3-hour trip top the top of Mount Washington – the highest peak in the Northeast.

“At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington, in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, is the Northeast’s highest peak. The weather at its summit rivals that of Antarctica; the average annual temperature is below freezing. Conditions can change in minutes from balmy to subfreezing.”

We had one of the loveliest weather days the train personnel could ever remember. The panoramas were breathtaking! Our engine was biodiesel driven. They only run the steam engine once daily.

As the train began to climb the slant of the vegetation showed the angle of ascent.

Yes, those trees were growing straight up!

Appalachian Trail cairns

I have never hiked the Appalachian Trail. In fact, I have not hiked much at all during my life. I was fascinated by the rock cairns marking the route of the trail. Just imagine for a moment hiking this during a 15 foot snow in winter. Or even the height of summer, one rock strewn field after another. How would you find your way and not lose the trail? Thus the cairns, also known as rock piles.

Yes, the chain you see was put there to hold the building in place!

Returning down the mountain we passed a train going up. No wind rain or weather change. Bob was a bit disappointed. We had bundled up for sunshine! It was a memorable ride and the cog railway was fun!

My husband took one photo (below) that reminded me of one of my childhood drawings of mountains. One woman in the crochet and quilting group wanted a copy of the photo for a quilting idea!

Photo by Robert Dutina

Grief and Mothers

See the lady in the white dress, white shoes and white gloves? That was my mom!

At my wedding in 1970 I never noticed until now that my mother wore white gloves to our wedding in Live Oak Park, Berkeley, California! As I came toward the groom, trust me when I say, at the time I never saw anyone but him.

My mother died five years later, in her sleep, at our apartment in Lexington, Kentucky. Her death was sudden and somewhat unexpected. Her blood pressure had been high and the doctor was having difficulty controlling it, but there was no indication that she would pass that particular weekend. Today is one day past her birthday.

Mildred Ann was a wonderful cook. When we realized how few of her recipes she had written down, I was furious. To this day I save recipes on my computer and print a card for each of my children (and sometimes for friends, too). Recently I made her chicken and dumplings. It took me several years to find a recipe that approximated hers. Finally found it in James Beard’s American Cookery Book which my sisters-in-law gave me when we were expecting our first child.

This year we celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, so Mom has been gone 45 years. And yes, there are times when I still miss her. I believe she would delight to know I am still trying to capture her essence in the kitchen. When I made the chicken and dumplings recently I did not use a deep enough pan when it came time for the dumplings. Oh my. I should have taken a photograph. They boiled over magnificently on the ceramic stovetop. I also forgot HOW MANY the recipe feeds. With just the two of us at home now, we had dumplings coming out of our ears. And no, we tried it, they are NOT very good warmed as leftovers! The first meal was tasty though. And I made it in memory of Mom, my best role model as a good cook.

Forced Hyacinths by

If your Mom is still around cherish her, even if you rarely get along. There are times after she passes when you will miss her terribly. For years I could barely go in the grocery stores that have floral departments. This time of year they sell forced bulbs to remind us of the hope of spring. As a child my mother once made me an Easter corsage with hyacinth blossoms. Shortly after she passed the fragrance of hyacinths would have me weeping in the grocery store. Now I grow them in the front garden and when they bloom in late spring I delight to bring them in the house.

Moms, memories, grief all roll up into delight, pain, and after they go a void that nothing but God can ever even attempt to fill. One meaning for El Shaddai is “many breasted One.” Yes, God can be both father and mother to each of us.

Lenten Light from You

My friend is the major contributor and editor of The Transfiguration Quarterly which comes from the Episcopalian Convent of the Transfiguration where I am an Associate. She is thinking about publishing the next issue reflecting upon Lent as an outward act and involving light.

Here is what I wrote for her.

Lent for the year 2020 starts on Wednesday, February 26th and ends on Thursday, April 9.  The practices of Lent do not end until sundown on Holy Saturday for all Christian denominations. Typically, a time of introspection with fasting, moderation, repentance, self-denial and self-discipline, what if this year, you changed it up?

In her book, My Daily Appointment with God Lucille Sollenberger notes “How interesting that God should give the world light as one of His first gifts!” The Gospel of John says, “Light shone in the darkness and the darkness could not put it out.” Isn’t it fascinating that we can create darkness by removing light; however, we cannot create light. We are made to reflect light. If there are dark corners where you live this Lent, you may be the one to brighten up those corners with the Light of Christ. What if, instead of withdrawing you asked the Lord to help you reflect His light into the world around you? Have you noticed that when you smile more, more people around you begin to smile? Your introspection at the end of the day could be self-examen to review when might you have done better by shining?

Usually we tend to hide our light under a bucket, perhaps fearful of the criticism from others. How about if we took the Light of Christ that shines in our heart and began to share that shining with those around us? It is easy to say we love those whom we barely know. Much more of a challenge to love those whom we live with and see every day. Perhaps instead of not doing some things this Lent, you could make a pact with God to try doing more kindnesses towards those you live in proximity with. Not only smile more, but be gracious even when you do not feel like it.

We are challenged in Romans 12:10b to outdo one another in showing honor. Forty days of practicing that could bring life changes! 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us that Jesus called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. That marvelous light is ours to live in, to reflect, to bring glory to Christ by showing it to others.

“For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”  2Corinthians 4:6-7

LED bulbs are the brightest source of artificial light known to man right now. The letters stand for Light Emitting Diode.  Well, granted, we do not emit light, we reflect light and the Light we reflect is the grandest known to man! An extraordinary power that belongs to God.

At Mary Fairchild wrote “The purpose of Lent is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ—his suffering and death, his sacrifice, his life, burial, and resurrection. During the six weeks of self-examination and reflection, Christians who observe Lent typically make a commitment to fast, or to give up something—a habit, such as smoking, watching TV, swearing, or a food or drink, such as sweets, chocolate, or coffee. Some Christians also take on a Lenten discipline, such as reading the Bible and spending more time in prayer to draw nearer to God. The goal of these spiritual disciplines is to strengthen the faith of the observer and develop a closer relationship with God.”

You may find the discipline of reflecting the Light of Christ far more difficult than fasting from chocolate. I am praying that this spiritual discipline of shining forth the Light of Christ may indeed “strengthen your faith” and help you “develop a closer relationship with God.”

A typical Episcopalian response is taken from the Baptismal vows: “I will with God’s help.”