How are you decorating this year?

Last year I bought these items and Bob laughed. Since we are having no one visit for Christmas this is the only tree I am putting up! If the infection rate continues to skyrocket we will simply be dropping off gifts at doors!

And yep, I added tiny battery operated lights, too!

Do you see Santa there? Kneeling right there at the manger? He knows who is most powerful and sees us at all times.

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV2011)  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Luke 2:10-12 (NIV2011)  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Now for the rest of the Beagle story!

When the teapot whistled and I went to pour the water over the tea I dropped my lap blanket. Lucky decided mine was a really nice blanket.

I brought hers into the office! As I put my blanket back in my chair I was murmuring “Mine! Mine!”

She is content to use hers. Yes, there are times when she seems to fill the role of the Princess.

Recently I placed her pillow against the arm of the sofa instead of horizontally on the sofa.

She tried to make the best of the arrangement. Just could not quite get comfortable. She has yet to figure out how to rearrange pillows!

She looks to me as if she is saying, “Why, oh why did they do this?”

Poor puppy dog! Viagen Pets cites 10 reasons why folks love dogs: loyalty, friendship, therapy, health, unconditional love, protection, selflessness, exercise, forgiveness, and happiness. Bob says all she ever wants is FOOD. I prefer to understand her differently!

I hope there was a beagle at the manger in Bethlehem!

Cluttered

Yes, I know this is a cluttered photo. I snapped it to share with my daughter. This is my “Christmas Cactus” true name Zygocactus. Mine usually blooms sometime during the winter. This being the year of Covid and doom and gloom, death all around, mine decided to bloom on November 13 and bore mostly DOUBLE blossoms and buds! Yes, I was amazed, surprised and thankful. By November 13 most of my garden flowers are long past blooming. I did have an occasional carnation and snapdragon, but no more bouquets like April-September!

That corner of our office is no longer cluttered. We have been going through the house like the Tasmanian devil cartoon character!

Ruthlessly throwing things out like notes from retreats I have taught in the past. The four drawer filing cabinet is down to one. I just need inspiration to finish that one! I looked at one thing in the office and realized I had not even touched it in a year. Away it went.

The basement is unrecognizable. We have pared down, given away and trashed many items. This is one of my husband’s dreams some true. He knows I call him “Mr. Tidy.” I am not nearly as tidy as him. So Mr. Tidy is enjoying this process. Now he is amazed, surprised and thankful. I am getting into it. Covid staying at home has done this weird thing to me!!

Know anyone who wants some vintage crochet patterns? Yikes.

How it comes together

When I sit down to write on this blog a number of things occur after I pray over the computer and the room. At times, I decide to share old poetry and musings. Other times the focus is photos from things I have noticed on my walks with Lucky the dog or drives with Bob the husband. As you likely know my faith plays a huge role in my writing. One thing I have not done very much is to thank you, the readers.

Today is another gloomy December day in Ohio and I have gotten chilled enough times this season to remember that when I sit to write I better have that blanket for my legs! Today I am even brewing a cup of hot tea. Choice this morning is Darjeeling leaves from Churchill’s teas in downtown Cincinnati. Yum.

If you were not reading and letting me know your comments and the ones you like I would not have much motivation to continue posting. I would still be a writer, just not likely to post. So thank you for commenting and hitting the Like Star.

As I have said before, often the Holy Spirit haunts me with a melody or chorus from a hymn nor song. Here was the one early this morning. It prompted me to think of you and begin a new gratitude list right there and then. You, the readers are on that list!

My Hilarious Husband

So in 2013 we were driving in the wilderness of Idaho and I was telling my husband about the Capacitar technique for reducing stress called “tapping”. [Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT; tapping acupressure points)]

My friend, Mrs. Hughes, taught me this.  I began tapping to demonstrate. Meanwhile, he was distracted by the GPS and drifted over the center line. When he noticed the center line he said, “Tap faster! Tap faster!”

Capacitar ends this exercise with reciting three times “In spite of the fact that I have this problem, I’m okay and I accept myself!”

Meanwhile I am reciting, “In spite of the fact that I have this problem (named Bob) I’m okay and I accept myself!

In spite of the fact that I have this problem (named Bob) I’m okay and I accept myself!”

Then we passed Hughes Road!

What a hoot! I wanted to call Mrs. Hughes from Idaho, but I could not stop laughing! And besides, there was no signal! Priceless 🙂

I have NO idea why this video is stuck on this unflattering image. It is worth listening to though!

At The Sea

Oh that would be great, to be at the sea! My friend, Dan, recently posted that seeing a plane fly overhead made him sad. This pandemic is getting to those of us who are trying to stay well by staying close to home.

Pondering better days, I found this poem from 1997. I was absolutely and totally exhausted after our daughter’s wedding. She was our first child and this was our first family wedding. Bob promised to take me to the beach and here is the result of my time on the beach with my Lord. I hope it helps transport you to a place of no pandemic!

 
 At the Sea © 1997 Molly Lin Dutina 

 Distant silver horizon
 Birthed by Your Light
 Breaks through leaden skies
 Enlightens slate-colored seas
 Calls me to You
 Closer to You
 Given over to You
 Nothing withheld.
  
 And I yield to You
 To lie in Your arms
 Imbibing Holy Breath
 Entire being  - renewed.
  
 Your sparkling glow
 Moves rapidly across the expanse of water
 To here and now
 You surround me
             Uphold me
 Indwell me
 Live through me.
  
 How could I ever hesitate
 Preferring dim to illumined?
 You enlighten me
 Flaws, shortcomings,
 Weaknesses, strengths and all.
             Fact: You love me.
                         Fact: You desire me
 You declare I am Yours.
  
 Like sudden deep piles of shells
 Buried, unseen yesterday
 Revealed today by the powerful tide
 Your Kingdom unfolds before me and
 Yes, Lord, I yield
             Knowing You go with me
 And will arrive ahead of me
 You have my life in Your nail-scarred hands.
  
 Abiding under Your wing
 Your Light fills the throne room
 And I must close my eyes
 To bear Your brightness
 O, All-Powerful Lord,
 I refuse to doubt Your methods
 Your holy mercy endures
             As You bathe me 
 In Your everlasting Love.
  
 Come my King
 O Light Eternal
 Bring forth the treasure
 You have hidden within me
             As I embrace Your will
 Illumine me.
   

photo by r m dutina

Second week of Advent

October of 1993 I wrote the sentiment below as my earnest Advent Prayer. It still holds true now in December of 2020.

  
 
 
Self as Manger © Molly Lin Dutina 

 Here am I, stuff of earth
 But by the Spirit's power rebirth
 has brought me receptivity.
 Fill me with Yourself.
  
 Molded by Your Holy Hand
 I wait before You
 Cupped and ready,
 cleansed, atoned
 eager for Your radiant touch
 Virtue compelled to enfold Your own
 the vessel of Your making.
  
 Here am I, stuff of earth
 yielded for Messiah's birth
 be it unto me, O Lord,
 as in Your word and will.
  
 The Great I AM
 dwells in my heart
 there to impart the power
 courage and propulsion
 His dream to be fulfilled. 

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Luke 1:38a NRSV

The Sacrifice of Praise

Have you heard this term from Scripture?

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

Hebrew 13:15 NIV

In 1996 I wrote a poem about this and then revised it in 2014. I share it with you below.

 Crying in Front of the Dryer ©1996, 2014   Molly Lin Dutina  

 Praise! oh we do it most eagerly when things are going our  way
 Praise! oh we lavish it on those who have earned our approval
 Praise! when we get our own way, in line with our own will
 and then there are times of sacrifice.
 The Old Testament speaks often of sacrifices,
 burnt offerings, grain offerings, 
 sin, peace and trespass offerings. 
 Believers were told to offer those willingly.
  
 The sacrifice acceptable in God’s sight is
 the broken spirit and broken, contrite heart.*
 The Holy One says He dwells 
 with those who are contrite 
 and humble in spirit.
  
 Today there was a sacrifice of praise
 offered in front of my clothes dryer
 with a willing heart, broken and contrite,
 choosing to praise God
 although things were not going my way 
 or in line with my own will
 praise Him I did, tears running down my face
 and dripping off my jaw.
  
 For the first time in my life 
 understanding of the sacrifice of praise
 dropped the eighteen inches from my brain
 to my heart and into my soul.
  
 In myriad circumstances and happenstance
 there is rarely a day we receive 
 exactly what we desire.
 Every day we are told to sacrifice praise,
 give thanks, speak forth the wonders 
 of His love and mercy.
  
 Or we might simply choose 
 to clog our dryer 
 with the accumulated lint 
 of discontent, blame, disappointment.
  
  
  
 *PS 51:17  

February 18, 1992

 Moonlight   © 1992 Molly Lin Dutina 
      
 The blue/black velvet sky is 
 punctuated by brilliant stars.
 Their brightness is not diminished
 by the astonishing shine of the moon.
 Even the shopping center lights
 cannot detract from moon glow.
 Everything casts a shadow 
 as the moon shines on and on.
  
 On the horizon broiling veil of clouds
 emit a surprising flash of lightning
 and still the moon is not lessened.
 Alarming lightning, for this is just February
 and still the moon shines on and on.
  
 Periodically last year's leaves
 rustle in the breeze
 as the clouds gain height and breadth.
 The moon highlights them with glory
 and the cloud bank draws nearer.
 Suddenly we moderns understand our
 forefathers' fear of moon madness.
 The edge of the boiling tempest
 is clearly in view and brilliant
 as the moon shines on and on.
  
 One great flash tries to conquer moonlight
 then lightning queerly halts.
 Cotton balls at night
 of height clearly cumulonimbus,
 who has heard of such midnight madness?
 Star punctuations gleaming and fading
 but the moon shines on and on.
  
 Clad in pajamas
 wrapped in a blanket
 male adult earthling
 dances all barefoot 
 as God of the Universe
 chooses to delight him
 with night show of glory
 this midwinter evening.
 Ecstasy of the ages
 holds man's rapt attention.
 As boy-child emerges
 delight and wonder blossom. 

 One gray fellow, loose from the pack
 tries a solo conquer of Night Sun grandeur,
 but moonbeams silently pierce him.
 The roiling storm thins to an edge.
 Mankind's light is muffled and trapped
 as sky fills with gossamer 
 almost fog-like pink shroud.
 Gallant moon shines on.
  
 Edge of the blanket 
 snuggles over star lights
 sleepy light-years away.
 Chill of storm wind
 pushes me to find my comforter
 as toes and fingers, tips of ears
 remind me this is winter still.
 I stand determined
 watching clouds come marching
 pantomime in the heavens
 for the watchful to review.
  
 Without a sound 
 bright moon vanishes
 but as clouds keep advancing
 moonbeams break through the darkness
 far beyond the horizon
 encircling even storm dark
 in light beyond my view.
  
 As I stumble in dazed awe
 and wonder with amazement
 at God's joyous light show
 the storm says "I triumph"
 but my better self knows
 as I go inside my domicile,
 even now, moon glows on and on.  
taken by r m dutina