From Edges of His Ways to Ukraine

From Him, who loves me now so well,
What power my soul shall sever?
Shall life, or death, or earth, or hell?
No; I am His forever.
~J. G. Small

This snippet of poetry was in The Edges of His Ways one day. Such a tidy reminder that we are His and nothing can stop that fact.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39 NLT

When I pray for the Ukrainian people on the run from Putin’s war I am reminded that the ones who trust in Christ have the right attitude. “Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” This is not something the world can comprehend, but God knows that ones who are His.

Please pray for the Ukrainian people. Pray for the end of the destruction and slaughter. Pray for peace.

Find the Focus

Have you ever been discombobulated? One guy on Christian radio asks if that means most of the time we are combobulated? Free Dictionary by Farlex says there is no such word. Well discombobulated means befuddled, flummoxed, confused. There are times I forget my most important thing, writing about my relationship with the Lord and how you can have a relationship with Him, too.

Find the Focus© 2014 Molly Lin Dutina

Cannot find the clipboard
poems in process of revising.
Cannot find the journal
life in process of being noted.
Where is my concordance
trying to find that verse
Never finished notes in my Bible
negligence has made this worse.

Too often cover important 
with mundane and lowly
Help me find the focus 
to tell forth the eternal and holy.

Fighting back the darkness
bearing forth the Light
partake in eternal struggle
get any pen, any paper
note on computer 

The Calling compels me 
to herald the glad tidings:
God wins.

The poem shows my remorse at losing track of trying to put my spiritual journey into words. At least ten years before I wrote the poem above, my cousin, Peggy, gave me this verse about writing.

The LORD answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it.

Habakkuk 2:2 CSB

Oh Lord, that I might always take up Your challenge about writing as purpose for my heart and soul. May You be blessed by my attempts and may I always be willing to listen to Your edits and changes. As Toby Mac wrote and sang, “Come and steal my show!”

Some of the best lyrics were not listed in the video. Are you willing to yield the things below to God?

My life
My plans
My heart, it’s all Yours, God
My dreams
My fears
My family, my career
Take it away

Ephesians and Brother Lawrence

Remember the study from the beginning of the year?

This image from the internet of roots and giant growth caught my attention and has me enthralled.

 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3: 14-21 NIV

You might remember I began the year with pondering the conversion of Brother Lawrence, how he saw a tree dead in winter and marveled that soon enough God would make it alive. That lead me on to Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 that we might be rooted and established in love.

Fresh new growth on a pine tree

How is that going for you? Are you becoming more aware of the love of Christ afforded to you? Made available to you, extended, given, supplied to you? Have you opened that gift and made it your own? Are you building upon that concept in your personal life?

Have your roots gone deep? Are you clinging to His truths?

Have you seen Him do immeasurably MORE than all you can ask or imagine according to His power at work within you? Have you looked back over the past 6 months and seen His hand at work, even when you were not aware of it?

Have you said thank-you to our Lord?

Paul was willing to kneel before the Father and ask that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner being. And that is what I pray for each of you reading this.

Father, please strengthen us with power through Your Spirit in our inner being. Paul also knew that “though our outer person is wasting away, our inner person is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 Strengthen and renew our inner being daily I pray.

I pray you will lean in to His arms and be made evermore like Him. Grow your roots strong and your trunk sturdy. Grasp an understanding of His love for you. Trust Him with all your heart.

Who Rules on The Plain of Self?

Have you ever taken your life back once you said God could be in charge? In 1981 I did just that. Here in 2022 I have no recall of what the circumstances were. I would love to say that was the one and only time I ever did that, and that would make me as the saying goes, “one big fat liar.”

The Plain of Self © June, 1981 Molly Lin Dutina	
I’m still fighting,
Prodding, kicking,
Scratch and claw.
Why do I fight so hard
And not just let go?

I’m still trying to control and direct.
(Where is the flow of the Spirit?)

Lord, Your patience awes me.
I confess my error of trying to exert my influence.

May I snuggle in Your arms again, please?
It’s cold out here on the Plain of Self.
drawing by Katherine Brown

I was delighted to see this come up when I was searching online for pictures to populate my writing. I own one of these prints! Your are His lamb too and He will hold you!

Jesus Calling for June 7 reads in part: “Who is in charge of your life? If it is you, then you have good reason to worry. But since I am in charge, worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive.” And then Sarah Young goes on to share the advice she heard from the Lord: “When you start to feel anxious about something, relinquish the situation to Me. Back off a bit, redirecting your focus to Me. I will either take care of the problem Myself or show you how to handle it. In this world you will have problems, but you need not lose sight of Me.”

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 NIV

So who is going to rule on your plain of self? Have you yielded your all to Jesus Christ?

Real or Fantasy?

“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

― Mark Twain

I love that quote. It reminds me of the vivid imagination I have that can turn to darkness in the blink of an eye if I am not vigilant to control it by the power of the Spirit. This report from the Huff Post (formerly The Huffington Post) upholds Twain’s wisdom.

“Five hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” Now there’s a study that proves it. This study looked into how many of our imagined calamities never materialize. In this study, subjects were asked to write down their worries over an extended period of time and then identify which of their imagined misfortunes did not actually happen. Lo and behold, it turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.”

Here is a short poem about the same topic.

Fears Lodge in Our Familiar Places ©2014 Molly Lin Dutina

The black mark on the tree 
is curved, and stark.
It cuts a gash through
solid wood of a twenty-two inch trunk.

Closer inspection reveals it is
but the shadow of a spindly
dead trunk made stark
by bright sun.

The fears we anticipate seem
larger than the reality of life.
How many really come to fruition?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27

Mustard Plants?

1970’s Sonoma Vineyard, r m dutina

Bob took this photo many years ago. Some of the debris in the sky is actually damage done to the slide by mold. We thought the yellow flowers were mustard. This was one of his mother’s favorite photos of his.

When we made our long cross country trip a couple years ago we saw similar plants in the fields.

See the yellow in the distance? Photo by Molly

When we asked a Texas farmer what those plants were, he looked at us with skepticism and answered, “Damned yellow cross pollinators.” Well, now we know for certain!

When we take drives these days and see yellow flowering wild plants, you guessed it, we call them “Damned yellow cross pollinators.”

Poetry Again

Stand and tip, uncertain if Molly took this one or Robert
Perhaps I Could Ask You Just to Stand and Tip? ©1990       Molly Lin Dutina 

Lily pads at the pond		
Grow on stalky stems
Leaves unfold an opened palm
Cupped at center point
Summer shower starts to drop
Mercurial glistening spheres
Gathering in the center spot
‘til bulbous weight smears silver drops
Into glistening globs
And tips the leaves so full
To pour their contents overboard
And rising from the spill
Stately shielded lily-hands
Begin the cycle once more

Keep my stem flexible, Lord
My hands open and cupped
Eager to receive Your all
Questioning not Your skill
Only trusting the power of Your love
To melt my rigid will

Drench me Lord 
In Your shower of love
Let me gather and drink my fill
Then spill over on those around
And rise to await Your will

Send water of Your Spirit
To tip me over, pour me out
Then wash over me once again
Fresh cleansing by Holy Words

Shine Your light through
This enshrouding mist
Color me with covenant this:
Abiding presence and constant love,
Indwelling grace that conquers sin
Transfigured rigid I
Yielded and bent
In Your service	
Spilling forth rivers of living water	
And giving rest to croaky voiced frogs	  
Who, when Spirit-kissed,
Become priests and kings	
Singing their praises to You.

Perhaps You ask me just to be Your lily leaf
Stand and tip

When I prayed this morning and asked what the Lord would have me share this week this poem came to mind. You might be surprised to know I had a little difficulty finding it as I have named it several times over the years since 1990! Bob and I have returned to the Nature Center several times to try to capture this photo again. I honestly do not remember if he took the photo above or if I did. It requires having lily leaves you can reach in full foliage, right after a rainfall with the water remaining on the leaves. Not an easy feat. 
Will you take the challenge of the leaves and poem? Are you willing to stand and be drenched? Then spill the goodness over to those around you? Would you have your rigid I yielded and bent to the Lord's will? Are you willing to serve croaky voiced frogs? 

I write to you as the Lord's lily leaf. I will gather the dew of heaven, stand and tip for your refreshment. May you be blessed this week!
r m dutina

Powerful Oldie, Still Pertinent Today!

Amy Grant recorded this song years ago. It was written by Bannister E. Brown. The contrast Bannister draws between the old creation and the new creation is worth thinking about and is mentioned many times in Paul’s New Testament writings. Are you making decisions to walk in the New? Jesus made a way as the “second Adam” for us to choose this new way of living.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 

Galatians 5:16-17 NIV
The You Tube link is below.
Old Man’s Rubble Lyrics
Are you living in an old man’s rubble
Are you listening to the father of lies?

Are you walking with unnecessary burdens
Are you trying to take them upon yourself?
If you are, then you’re living in bondage
And you know that’s bad for your spiritual health

And are you trying to live by your emotions
Are you putting your faith in what you feel and see?
Then you’re living just to satisfy your passions
And you better be careful ’cause you’re being deceived

CHORUS: Are you living in an old man’s rubble
Are you listening to the father of lies?
If you are then you’re headed for trouble;
If you listen too long you’ll eventually die

Are you puzzled by the way that you’re behaving
Do you wonder why you do the things you do?
And are you troubled by your lack of resistance
Do you feel that something’s got a hold on you?

Well deep within you, there’s a spiritual balance;
There’s a voice of the darkness and a voice of the light
And just by listening, you have made a decision
’cause the voice you hear is gonna win the fight


If you’re living as a new creation
If you’re listening to the father of light
Then you’re living in a mighty fortress
And you’re gonna be clothed in power and might

But are you living in an old man’s rubble
Are you listening to the father of lies?
If you are then you’re headed for trouble;
If you listen too long you’ll eventually die

If you’re living as a new creation
If you’re listening to the father of light
Then you’re living in a mighty fortress
And you’re gonna be clothed in power and might

But are you living in an old man’s rubble
Are you listening to the father of lies?
If you are then you’re headed for trouble;
If you listen too long you’ll eventually die

But if you’re living as a new creation
If you’re listening to the father of light
Then you’re living in a mighty fortress
And you’re gonna be clothed in power and might

Our choice. Daily. Even hourly.

Your Choice, rubble or obey the Father of Lights!

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

James 1:17 NIV

Remember This Song?

John Denver, may he rest in peace, wrote “Anne’s Song” with part of the lyrics being:

“You fill up my senses like a night in a forest,
like the mountains in springtime,
like a walk in the rain, like a storm in the desert,
like a sleepy blue ocean.
You fill up my senses, come fill me again.”

I often think of this as a love song between myself and the Trinity. Bob and I took a walk on a paved trail above Harsha Lake at Eastfork Park last week. It was such a delight to my soul. Brought refreshment on the deepest level. When we first arrive at the parking lot Lucky cries and whines in excitement. Bob teases her to be a good dog while we walk and she remains in the car. She would likely tear up the car and try to break a window if we ever left her behind!

Besides being a bright sunny day with flawless blue skies, the first thing we heard after we crossed the bridge was a Bob White!! As a child I would lie in bed on spring and summer mornings and hear this distinctive bird calling. As the website reports, “Bobwhite fell by a devastating three-quarters in the 20 years between 1984 and 2004, a dismal crash that illustrates the trouble quail are in.” AND “Bobwhite quail are just one of many sub-species of quail but the only one native to Ohio. The call of a bobwhite quail, just two notes in length, sounds just like the word “bobwhite.” Though we never laid eyes on it, the song was unmistakable! I could have stood there for hours!

Also heard the Wood thrush, though we never saw it. I heard thrush all the time at our last home. Charming, bell-like song.

Wild geraniums were in bloom as was a white violet and white clover.

The Honeysuckle fragrance was strong and enticing. The dog roses were competing in the most fragrant category.

A bullfrog burped in the pond through the weeds. Do you get the idea of “God fills up my senses”?

Red-winged was putting its entire being into his song.

But ah, the Great Blue Herons always capture my heart. In the distance one was wading along the shore of the lake. If it turned sideways it would seem to vanish. Then another one in flight came right in front of us. Neither of us were able to get our cameras out fast enough!

The video below was made in the Philippines. Honestly, it is so difficult to get a good video, in focus of these giant birds in flight, I just had to share this one. They remind me of a prehistoric being! Maybe related to the Pterodactyl? Steve Vantreese of The Paducah Sun writes:

“He is more pterodactyl than tweety bird, a killing machine to all manner of smaller beings that will fit in that bayonet of a beak.

“The great blue heron is our top shelf predatory wading bird hereabouts. The long-legged thing is the largest North American heron — not a crane — and well adapted to habitats all over our continent.

“Our great blue is a relative whopper, weighing as much as a goose but more elongated. This heron is up to about 4.5 feet long, and that is about the height at which it stands on those lanky bird legs. When it flies, it spreads those wings an impressive 6 feet or more.”

As we turned towards the return walk up the path the burbling stream reminded me of my constant access to living water.

The sun was getting hotter but a cool breeze accompanied us.

Lucky was going nuts with her beagle nose to the ground. All the scents of other dogs who were walked here, but more so the wildlife that traverse this path when humans are not around!

I saw one milkweed shoot along the trail and instantly missed our milkweed garden at the other house. Perhaps we can grow some here if the new backyard garden ever gets put in?

Never once heard the Bobwhite on our return walk. My senses drenched, we returned home with one exhausted dog. Not that the walk was too long for her, I think she wears out her brain sniffing!

Not treasures in plain sight, but perhaps treasures in our ears and eyes!?!

Book Quotes and My Recent Prayers

There have been times the last few weeks when I was uncertain that I could take a deep breath. Wounding words have been flung at me with no explanation of their origin, seemingly no possibility of reconciliation that makes any healthy sense. Only texting offered. Most of us know you cannot resolve conflict with texting alone. I am always amazed at how the Lord can reach me even when I seem to be in a dark and dismal place. Recently (and often) He does it through the books I read.

Jodi Picoult wrote Wish You Were Here. This new novel is about life during the Covid pandemic, dreams and adventure, along with the horror of being a doctor treating Covid in NYC. In it she spoke of how land iguanas adapted to sea life. “Their lungs got bigger so they could take deeper breaths and sink deeper.”

Lord God, expand my lungs and help me to go deeper in prayer and center down silence, that peaceful place where You speak to my soul. I cannot change or fix the troubling situation, but I can draw nearer to You for comfort and wisdom and direction.

Again, Jodi wrote, “You can’t move forward without losing something.”

Perhaps lose the fantasy about what I wanted, the person I thought was under my roof? Get clear about the reality of who that person was and has become?

Letting go, letting go, letting go, like leaves that fall all around me in autumn. Nothing I can accomplish by clinging. Just let go and be at peace.

Each previous wounding episode I would say, “Take another step back, back away. Nothing more I can do here.” And so perhaps the time has come to truly step away and turn loose of all hopes, dreams, plans in relation to this person? In case you are wondering, Bob and I are just fine, thank you very much!

Shores of Living Water© 2018 Molly Lin Dutina

At the shores of Living Water
Hear crickets there
Flow of Living Water invites me deeper,
Center in pure love
You died to give me radiant love
Your Spirit pulls me from the rubble of death
With Your power You breathe life into me
Help me live to You
Invade me at a greater depth
Use me as Your singing bowl
Your love and power going forth
Like sound waves in every direction
Bring the world into vibrating harmony

You said all weary and
Heavy burdened should come to You
Here we are
Please rest us in Your Presence

Breathing in You
Breathing out me
Your oxygen of Life
My troubles unpacked
Burdens taken from my arms
Cares cast and put down

Embers of my faith
Blown upon
A light in the darkness
And darkness cannot put it out

Your call 
eclipses physical pain, even emotional pain
Straightens my spine
In service to You
Anointing by eternal power
Holiness of God in broken vessel
Yet renewed day by day
As Living Water
I yield to Your flow
The “i” seeks lowest ground
You in ascendancy.