The Squirrel Pleading

Recently Bob tried to catch a photo of this squirrel in a portrait pose. He ran to capture the image and voila! {I do not know how to add that appropriate accent in Word Press 🙁 }

r m dutina squirrel portrait

And then I had a session with the pleading squirrel. The feeder is designed to foil the squirrel. It entertains us wonderfully. Too bad for the squirrel.

“I wonder who else can feed me today?”

Though the squirrel is not mentioned specifically in Scripture, Psalm 150:6 does say “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”

Revelation 5:13 NIV

Mr. Lake and Friends

Brandon Lake published/released a new CD called “Help!” in May of this year. The writers have nailed the hearts of so many Christians with these insightful lyrics. One song is written from God’s point of view instead of ours. The title is “Don’t You Give Up On Me.” With so many seeming to turn their backs on God this is a timely and true call to come back to the Shepherd of our souls. He loves us more than we love ourselves or each other.

The writers are Michael John Fatkin, Benjamin William Hastings, and Brandon Lake. Part of the lyrics read:

I see you child
Though you can't see me
And I know your thoughts
Before you even think
I heard every last prayer you prayed
Though I answered all the time
You just didn't hear my reply
And I know it's not easy, oh

Don't you give up on me
'Cause the darker the night gets
The brighter the light hits
Don't you give up on me
You ain't seen what I promised
Child we're just getting started
Oh There is so much more

That is just a portion of the lyrics. When I heard the song the first few times I thought he sang, “I heard every last prayer you prayed, Though I answered all the time, You just didn’t heed my reply.When I actually printed the lyrics I saw it was written “You just didn’t hear my reply.” Hearing and Heeding.

Just as we are called to trust and obey, we are also called to hear and to heed. What good is hearing His reply but not heeding it, not walking in step with His will and ways?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James 1:22-25 NIV

The line “I heard every last prayer you prayed” has a different emphasis from any other line in the song. Trust me, I have listened to this one repeatedly. The writing is genius. Even after I have listened I sometimes hear this one line echoing in my spirit, “I heard every last prayer you prayed.”

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Psalm 139: 1-6 NIV

Have you been tempted to turn your back on God and run with the ways of the world? Have you ever known a reliable source in the world that can say the following?

I'll be your way
Whеn there's no way out
And I'll be your strеngth
When your strength runs out
And if you walk into the fire
I'll be right there in the flames
I wouldn't have it any other way
'Cause loving you's easy, yeah

We are also reminded that God is not finished with us yet.

Open your heart, open your hands, open your eyelids
I've got more dreams, I've got more plans, I've got more blessing
Don't lose your hope, don't lose your faith, that's where your fight is
I've got more dreams, I've got more plans, I've got more blessings

Here is Brandon speaking about how they wrote this song over Zoom. If you wait there is a few seconds and the link will play the song.

Oops

Whether an afternoon rest or in bed for the night, I rest best if I read first. I often read books in bed on my iPad mini. Sometimes as I am falling asleep I will accidentally drop the iPad over the side of the bed. The thud rarely wakes me.

Last week I awoke one morning and retrieved from the floor a new paperback book I had been reading. I also saw the dark form of the iPad cover and reached down for it. I could not grasp it, so I reached further down and grasping again, pulled to get it out from under the edge of the bed, but it weighed more than usual. In a split second I realized it was wet on the edge.

Oops. That was not an iPad mini. That was the dog’s snout. Poor Lucky! What a way to be awakened at 6:45! As she scooted out from under the bed she looked at me with so many expressions. “What the heck?” “Are you certain you are awake, Molly?” “Really? Is that the thanks you give to your constant companion?”

I started laughing and have not stopped since. Every time I think of it I get the giggles. Such a good thing that she is a gentle dog! What has tickled your funny bone lately?

This beagle sheds like a maniac. I can brush her out in the yard and gather wads and wads of fur. I have noticed this especially around her hind quarters. I am considering having her shaved there. But then I knew a Sheltie who was shaved and never looked quite the same again. Guess I will just order a new brush and see if I can keep up better with the Hairball/Shed maniac. But she is so cute! Don’t you agree?

Learning Curve

Oh my goodness. I was brought up short by my ignorance during a visit with my oldest Grandgirl the other day.

She met her boyfriend on Snap Chat. And he is a looker! Lives about 27 miles away. They have a limit of seeing one another 4 times a week, at least before school began. With the price of gas I am not surprised on that limit.

She wanted to come over and bake a cookie recipe with me that she got from Tik Tok, I think. It has pretzels, chocolate chips and chopped caramels in it. She baked those with him, too. Told me she did not think they would be too hard for him. Oh my, dear. The male ego is fragile. Hope she did not say that to him!

She had to teach him how to crack an egg. She liked that fact. The cookies were delicious!

I am so out of touch! Yes, I suppose I must lean into this learning curve. Parts of me sarcastically say, “Really?” When we began an account on Facebook our children were upset as they saw it as their domain. Now they have moved along without us. The Grandgirls helped me load Snap Chat a few years ago. Without practice I have forgotten how to use it and the value of even having it on my devices. Not certain I even want TikTok. Here is more information in case you are interested.

“TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-second videos, on any topic.”

https://influencermarketinghub.com/what-is-tiktok/

I do not take many videos. If I mastered videography would I only want you to see it for 15 seconds?

And what about Snapchat?

Snapchat is an American multimedia instant messaging app and service developed by Snap Inc., originally Snapchat Inc. One of the principal features of Snapchat is that pictures and messages are usually only available for a short time before they become inaccessible to their recipients.

Wikipedia

Do I really need more apps and time destroyers? I’m thinking not, but perhaps I am just thinking old! One pastor called one of these apps a tool of the devil. I think that demon can find his way into anything, but not certain the entire platform is evil? More likely the techno-crazed modern brain is caught up in too much information bombarding daily. It is amazing how modern technology has made it possible for us to be connected to others if we want to be!

Not likely I will load and use either of those apps. Just thought you might want to know how out of touch this Grammy is! I do pray for the protection of my grandchildren and all those using these apps. Most of all, may they turn their eyes to the Lord God Almighty.

But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!

Psalm 141:8 ESV

How to Choose?

Do you remember the story in Samuel about the Lord choosing the next King for the nation?

So it happened, when they had come, he looked at Eliab [the eldest son] and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass before Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”

1 Samuel 16: 6-8 AMP

Jesse had eight sons in all. He presented the first seven to Samuel, but God told Samuel not any of them were to be king. Jesse guessed wrong. Samuel guessed wrong. Only the Lord God knew the one He had chosen. The one whose heart He had read and found to be the best for the position. Nope, not by appearance, height, handsomeness, physical stature. New Jewish Bible reads “Adonai looks at the heart.” Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition says “the Lord beholdeth the heart.”

A man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22)

Our God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. He alone can read hearts. How dare we presume to judge others without this sovereign ability?

When it comes to serious decision making I would hope you use something less like this childhood game and more like prayer. If we are uncertain what to choose it is usually much better to wait on the guidance of the Lord than to move out in our own strength, with our guess. Patience is difficult for most everyone, but it pays off when serving the Living God. Authorities believe that David waited about 15 years to rule as King over Israel. (https://www.biblestudy.org/question/why-did-king-david-wait-to-rule-israel.html)

As the Living God reads your heart He has plans for you. It might take months or years for those plans to become clear. We are told repeatedly to cling to Him by faith and with thanksgiving. He will use you. Remember since He could use Balaam’s donkey, (Numbers 22:21-29) He can surely use you in His kingdom work!

Rodeo Squirrel and Flying Tuxedo

We have red headed woodpeckers who visit our feeder almost daily. At our previous house we had Pileated woodpeckers, which resemble the Woody Woodpecker cartoon character. These guys are smaller and have a fully red head, sometimes described as a red hood. The black and white areas of their feathers are purely black or purely white, not speckled as so many woodpeckers are. I have taken to calling them Flying Tuxedos. I have tried repeatedly to capture their image on video, but to no avail. So I turned to the internet and found this one by Mike Blair.

Mike Blair has best flying video I could find!

I have also been amused lately by the young squirrels who have been coming around. They are certain they can outwit the sunflower seed feeder equipped with a spring that closes off the seed when their weight triggers it. They have not succeeded. Just like at the last house they are stymied and frustrated. They know from the seeds dropped on the ground below exactly what this feeder holds. But they cannot access it. They swing about on it and remind me of the Rodeo Wannabes who ride the fake bull in the bars.

True rodeo rider and pretend rodeo rider

Here is a photo of a defeated squirrel

r m dutina

Keep your eyes open for treasures in plain sight and what they might remind you of!

Themes Fold In Upon One Another

Have you ever had a recipe that said to fold in ingredients? Here is a bowl before ingredients are folded in.

The week of August 8 our church leadership was hit with another wave of Covid. Many of those afflicted have already had Covid, yet they are ill again. One of the women in our small group in her 80’s has Covid. There is another in her 80s in our group, 2 of us in our 70s and on down the age numbers. Our host decided it was best to cancel our biweekly group. So we will have no meetings for the month of August. (Another meeting was canceled due to attendance number too low.)

Then I wondered if we should meet for the Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 discussion. So far 2 out of 4 have said yes. Phillip Keller wrote

He leads his flock gently, but persistently, up the paths that wind through the dark valleys. It should be noticed that the verse states “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” Somehow, in a serene quiet way I am assured all will turn out well for my best because He is with me in the valley and things are under His control.

pages 100, 102 A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Reminded again a contemporary saying, “The best way out is usually THROUGH.”

That brought me back to the challenge by John Eldredge in Resilient. One question he poses on Page 8 is

If another pandemic were to sweep across the globe next week, some brand-new deadly threat, and we found ourselves back to quarantines, living under the vague threat of suffering and death, in a state of constant uncertainty about the future, with no clear view of the finish line – how would your heart respond to that?

Eldredge – Resilient

When it comes to our household the threat isn’t exactly vague. Pneumonia is also circulating around here. You might remember in 2018 my husband contracted influenza with pneumonia and was hospitalized in ICU with a ventilator, septic shock, organ failure, etc. The medical community was not certain he would survive that first week. Today we have been double vaccinated and double boosted against Covid in this household. Still do not want to tackle Covid and pneumonia at this address.

So I found myself wondering “Have I gained the resilience to go through this round?” Oh yeah, I never finished the book! The skills in each chapter have been strengthening. Now throw in the fact that I have been in pain with this plantar fasciitis since mid-June and in this orthotic boot since end of June. Now Doc is prescribing 3-5 sessions of PT to see if there is improvement. If not, then steroid injection. If no relief then surgery. I wanted to run from his office screaming NO SURGERY! But then again, I cannot run right now. Molly, can you be resilient through this too?

On page 125 Eldredge wrote:

The survivor understands that their present situation is something that they are moving through, passing through. They are enduring with resilience, which is why Jesus encourages endurance. This is not my lasting reality; this is simply my present reality. We are tapping into the help of God and the strength that prevails simply to see us through these times.

-John Eldredge

He goes on to say “This frame of mind changes everything,” Yes, John, it surely does. I have had foot pain and been clumping around in this boot for so long that I forgot this is just something I am going through. It just seems as if it will go on forever.

How to get my stability back? Joy & Strength reading for 8/15 quoted Joshua 1:7 “Be thou strong, and very courageous.” Yes, Lord help me with that, too. Strong and very courageous. She quoted Frederik Temple as saying

God does not require from you to be sinless when you come before Him, but He does require you to be unceasing in your perseverance. He does not require that you shall never have fallen; but He does require unwearied efforts. He does not require you to win, but He does require you to fight.

Frederick Temple

To change my frame of mind to going through this, with Jesus, enduring with resilience because Christ Jesus the King strengthens me. I fight back the darkness of discouragement and press on towards the light and the upward call of Christ Jesus. The themes from those three sources touched the struggle within me and folded in together to help change my attitude and determination to fight back the darkness and strain towards His light and upward call.

FOLDED IN UPON ONE ANOTHER

Are you ready to tackle your current personal challenge with these quotes? Do you know in the depths of your being that your Good Shepherd goes with you through this and every challenge? Are you persevering in ways that are strong and courageous? I challenge you to take these quotes and principles of the Kingdom and apply them to your personal challenge. He IS with you and for you. Trust Him to se you through this.

Have You Seen This One?

In our Psalm 23 study group one gal suggested we watch this documentary. It is fantastic. Besides the opening scenes are shot in St. Andrews, Scotland where Bob went to school for a year!! Please make time to watch it. An interesting challenge to genuine Christianity and the priests and religious who serve the sheep. The documentary has humor, beauty, wisdom and far reaching thoughts for each of us.

I love when the monk says, “I am a sinner. But not only that, I am a beloved sinner.” Rich wisdom in this short documentary. Imagine if we each were to slow down enough to really get to know our fellow sheep? Do you know the people in your small group beyond superficial greetings?

I challenge you for the next month to slow down to God’s speed and discover what He has for you there!

Fed Up With Waiting on God?

A friend sent me this link recently.

I pray for Brandon Lake often. He is such an anointed servant of God. His message is always pure and based on God’s Word. He needs our prayers. We have seen other talented servants like him snatched from life before their time. So please pray for Brandon and his family that the Lord will protect them from every work of the enemy.

You can see the girls got some of his curls!!

He encourages us to wait for the Lord, especially in hard times. Are you willing to do that? Watch that video again and pay special attention to the lyrics. Who are we to say that God is done?

I see you child
Though you can't see me
And I know your thoughts
Before you even think
I heard every last prayer you prayed
Though I answered all the time
You just didn't hear my reply
And I know it's not easy, oh

Don't you give up on me
Don't you give up on me
'Cause the darker the night gets
The brighter the light hits
Don't you give up on me
Don't you give up on me
You ain't seen what I promised
Child, we're just getting started

I'll be your way
When there's no way out
And I'll be your strength
When your strength runs out
And if you walk into the fire
I'll be right there in the flames
I wouldn't have it any other way
'Cause loving you is easy, yeah

Open your heart
Open your hands
Open your eyelids
I've got more dreams
I've got more plans
I've got more blessings

Don't lose your hope
Don't lose your faith
That's where your fight is
I got more dreams
I got more plans
I got more blessings

Don't you give up on me
Don't you give up on me
When the night's at its darkest
That's when the light hits the hardest
Don't you give up on me
Don't you give up on me
'Cause you ain't seen what I promised
Child, we're just getting started

Open your heart
Open your hands
Open your eyelids
I got more dreams
I got more plans
I got more blessings

Eye of God

Did you ever go to camp and make a “God’s Eye”? I did not but my kids did, even in public school art class.

Here is an elaborate example from on-line:

This one is from our paper money.

This website explains it https://www.hobbyistgeek.com/what-is-the-eye-called-on-the-dollar-bill-explained/

The Eye of Providence. The all-seeing eye of God. It’s a symbol that has been used by many religions and cultures over the years.

But what does it mean?

There are many theories about what the eye on the dollar bill means, but no one knows for sure.

What we do know is that the Eye of Providence has been used as a symbol by many different religions and cultures over the years.

It is a reminder that God is always watching us. And that’s probably why it was chosen as the symbol for the US dollar bill.

hobbyistgeek.com

I learned a prayer from the author Macrina Weiderkehr many years ago. It is pasted in the front of my most frequently used Bible. It reads:

All-Seeing One,
above me, around me, within me.
Be my seeing as I read these sacred words.
Look down upon me
Look out from within me
Look all around me
See through my eyes
Hear through my ears
Feel through my heart
Touch me where I need to be touched;
    and when my heart is touched
    give me the grace
    to lay down this Holy Book
    and ask significant questions:
Why has my heart been touched?
How am I to be changed through this touch?
All-Seeing One,
I need to change
I need to look a little more like You
May these sacred words change and
transform me.
Then I can meet You Face to Face
     without dying
     because I've finally died enough
To die is to be healed
     a little more each death
     until that final death
     when I'll be healed forever.
It will be a healing that will last.
Your words are healing
     although they bring about my death.
O Eye of God, look not away.

Father I pray this prayer will be true of my life. Help me keep yielding to Your touch. Show me how to ‘meet You face to face without dying.’ I need to change.

In A Tree Full of Angels Macrina wrote saying “There is a quote from Benedictine Abbot Marmion that has become a guide for me as I spend time in Divine Reading each day. He says,”

Read under the eye of God until your heart is touched, then give yourself up to love.

Don Marmion, Union with God, trans. Mother Mary St. Thomas, (St. Louis: B Herder, 1949)

Read asking the Lord to help you see and understand the words of His text. then stop when your heart is touched. Stop and give yourself up to His love. Stop and let Him instruct you further on the matter. This is yielding. God is watching me with His all-seeing eye. And I am grateful.