The Circle Maker

Several years ago I read the above mentioned book. It opened my eyes to several things about myself. I grew up in an alcoholic family. They said before his death my dad was “a heavy drinker.” In AA that is called an alcoholic. He died when I was eleven so we will never know for certain. My mother, on the the other hand, was described to me as ‘a full-blown alcoholic before I was born.’

As a child I was oblivious to most of this though there are some memories of bad behavior due to alcohol. Mostly I remember being disappointed over and over and over again. I was raised with a heavy dose of criticism and inconsistent rules. My mother’s memory would waver different ways. Things she told me when drunk she often would not remember when sober, and vice versa.

“Yes, you may do so and so,” turned into “I never told you that! Where do you get these things?” It was no use trying to jog her memory. I usually did not even try.

Many, many years later, reading the quote below brought some insight and healing.

“Disappointment is like dream defibrillation. If we respond the right way, disappointment can actually restore our prayer rhythm and resurrect our dreams.”

Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

American Heritage Dictionary gives this definition: “A defibrillator delivers a controlled electric shock to restore lack of coordination of the contraction of muscle tissue of the large chambers of the heart.”

After living with so much misunderstanding. disappointment and confusion my heart did not have a steady beat to believe in myself or my own sanity. I left home often wondering if I was nuts or was it just ‘them’.

I had dreams of wanting to be a writer, wanting to serve God, entertained ideas of being a school teacher, getting married, having children, etc. I also left home KNOWING I did not want to raise kids like I was raised. I was determined to do things differently. When I met Robert Dutina we were literally in love at first sight. We were both tired of playing the dating game. Basically our theme was “This is who I am. If you like me, great. If not, no problem. Just move along.”

We were enamored within a few hours. He lived miles away so we only dated on weekends. I did not have a phone. We met in July, got engaged in August and married in September. What has held us together for 52 years? Love, honesty with ourselves and others and determination to do things differently than our parents did!

I do believe that the disappointments of my upbringing spurred me on to find other ways to live. My faith carried me through then and now. Batterson wrote that disappointment is like dream defibrillation. Yes, I so agree. The Lord helped me find my prayer rhythm and resurrected my dreams.

Even if God doesn’t answer the way you want, you still need to praise through. That is when it’s most difficult to praise God, but that is also when our praise is most pure and most pleasing to God.

Circle Maker

Prayer has the power to resurrect dead dreams and give them new life – eternal life. I continue to praise God even though my upbringing was chaotic. I continue to praise even when my children face difficulties. Even as Bob and I face aging challenges,we praise Him for the strength to make it through each day. We praise Him for insight and humor.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.

Psalm 150:6 NIV

Oh Boy!

now to catch up from being away and breaking the writing rhythm!

Okay – all the charges are entered and the checking account is balanced. Got groceries. Took dog to vet for kennel cough vaccine and as the tech called it Lucky’s “Mani – Pedi!” Oi! Saw my new internist and I really like him. We are going to change some meds and reduce some other ones, so please pray for me as my body adjusts!

The next couple days are booked for me. It will be fun, but on the run and no naps.

No, I have not downloaded or edited my vacation photos yet. But I might as well throw in a few, huh?

Rock face at street corner on the way to Ash Cave. I love the tree shadow lines on the rocks.

I have not gotten accomplished in selfie photos. Below I took one and when I looked at it I told Bob, “Now smile!” and took it again.

I will have to ask Ellie for lessons. She is a pro!!

We are not rigid about stopping on the way to any destination when we see something unusual we want to photograph. I saw this young sycamore tree. Bob on the other hand saw this tree growing inside a silo! He stopped and turned around for that shot. I do not have his picture yet.

Ye,s we drove as far around the silo as we could go to make certain it was actually IN the silo! Short of puling into the farmyard, yep, it was growing in there!

I am feeling guilty about not walking very far today! But Lucky still gets two walks today, so maybe I can make up for the lack of steps compared to hiking in a State Park. More Vegetables! More steps! Fewer sweets of any kind!! And Lean HARD upon my LORD.

Last but not least the stream that runs in along and through Old Man’s Cave.

LORD I praise You for times of refreshing.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.

Acts 3:19-20 NIV

A Little Getaway!

We have spent the past few days at the Hocking Hills State Park Lodge in Ohio. What a nice break from our usual routines! Here are a few photos from our time away. First photo is taken from Ash Cave, an easy paved walk and such beauty!

Our favorite place, Ash Cave.
That evening we returned for better light upon the falls. The bright spot center of photo is the sun starting to go down.

We find we are no longer able to hike as we used to. This was a good trip to make adjustments with joy to our capabilities instead of mourning out losses. We were fortunate that the naturalist told us of two paved trails!

Strange root system!

You know how I have been studying roots and our roots in Christ. The tree above made me stop in my tracks! I walked almost all the way around it to be certain I was seeing the roots of only one tree, not some aberration created by a fallen plant at the base. I pray your roots may GO DEEP in Christ and not remain shallow and look as if they are reluctant to take the plunge into His love and power!

The glimmer looks like white lines on the rock, between two clumps of ferns hanging down. Just to the left of bare gray branch. It was a delight to see! This was a Conkles Hollow, another paved trail. At the end there were some challenging rocks. That made us turn back after many photos.

We love to search for wildflowers. We were too early for those to emerge. We saw many, many ferns and lots of delicious mosses in various greens.

The lodge was built during pandemic and only opened in 2022. It is just lovely! Evidently when the old “Day Lodge” burned down the state did a survey and folks replied they wanted an overnight lodge. We have had a good time. Nothing can quite compare to our favorite walks in the Smoky Mountains, but we are thinking we should explore Ohio more and find less daunting places to hike.

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

Psalm 24:1-2 KJV


A time in the church calendar, forty days before Easter, a time for self-examinations and drawing closer to the LORD Jesus Christ. Was reading a Lenten devotional from Rabbit Room. I was reminded of my sin. Our Pastor is preaching on the Ten Commandments. I was reminded of a different sin. This song is floating around in my brain and soul. Then last night I heard it played on Air 1. I thought I had only heard it on You Tube music by Brandon Lake.

The chorus is so appropriate for Lent and self-examination. “My sin was deep, Your grace was deeper, My shame was wide, Your arms were wider, My guilt was great, Your love was greater still. Based upon Ephesians 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 love, 18 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. Ephesians 3:14-19

Brandon Lake Greater Still.

You saw me at my lowest moment
You saw me at my very worst
When I expected disappointment
Love was all I heard

My sin was deep
Your grace was deeper
My shame was wide
Your arms were wider
My guilt was great
Your love was greater still

Verse 2
You ran to me when I was naked
You clothed me in your righteousness
You pulled me from the depths of darkness
Into your light again

How deep how wide
How far how high
The love of my savior, the love of Christ

Watchman Nee – Footholds #1

I am uncertain when I first read books by Watchman Nee, but he has had an impact upon my walk with Christ. This wise man from China has influenced many with his understanding of life with the Risen Lord. Here is a sight that tells more about his life and suffering for Christ.

In 2017 I copied this quote from Watchman Nee.

“Since we belong to God, Satan intends to frustrate, afflict or suppress us and allow us no foothold. This is his aim, although his aim may not be achieved because we may approach the throne of grace by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, asking for God’s protection and care.”

From Prayer That Resists Satan by Watchman Nee

That is a long to-do list for our enemy: frustrate, afflict, suppress and allow us NO foothold. Have you experienced these road blocks in your personal life? Whew! To not know frustration in this day and age might be a miracle in itself! Seriously though, would you reflect upon your life with Christ the past 12-14 months? Have you seen a pattern of any of those activities against you? Nee said it is the aim of the enemy to stop or slow your progress with the truth, but his aim may not be achieved because of the Blood of Jesus and God’s protection over us. Would you tailor your prayers to ask God for His protection and open your eyes to see His work in your midst?

The enemy of God wants no place for a foothold where the Gospel may influence life.

Are you making footholds for the Truth to grow?

Nevertheless, very few Christians consider the third aspect – that of Satan – in their prayer. The aim of a true prayer touches on not just personal gain (sometimes this aspect is not even thought of) but more importantly on the glory of God and the loss of the enemy. They do not reckon their own welfare to be of prime importance. They instead consider their prayer to be highly successful if it will cause Satan to lose and God to be glorified. What they look for in their prayer is the enemy’s loss. Their view is not restricted to their immediate environment but they take as their perspective God’s work and will in the whole world. Yet let me add that this is not to suggest that they only take into account the aspects of God and Satan and entirely forget the personal aspect of prayer. As a matter of fact, when God’s will is done and Satan suffers loss they will unquestionably be profited themselves. The spiritual progress of a saint can therefore be judged by the emphasis to be seen in his prayer.

From Prayer That Resists Satan by Watchman Nee

Not too many of us reveal the heart of our prayers to others. In fact, it is difficult to get most Christians to pray aloud in a Christian group! But God knows our hearts and He knows our prayers. Maybe you can pray for footholds for the Gospel to be created wherever your feet walk. Then walk as if you intend to offer those footholds to the Lord for His use.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Mark 16:15 NIV

And Saint Francis added, “Use words if necessary.”


I know one woman who is extremely negative. I know three others who are so positive I wonder what would happen if I had them all together at once? We might wet our pants laughing and cutting up!

All that reminded me of an excerpt from Streams in The Desert, compiled by Mrs. Chas. Cowman, 1949.

February 9 “He answered her not a word.” MT 15:23 “He will be silent in His love.” ZEPH 3:17

It may be a child of God is reading these words who has had some great crushing sorrow, some bitter disappointment, some heart-breaking blow from a totally unexpected quarter. You are longing for your Master’s voice bidding you “Be of good cheer,” but only silence and a sense of mystery and misery meet you – “He answered her not a word.”

God’s tender heart must often ache listening to all the sad, complaining cries which arise from our weak, impatient hearts, because we do not see that for our own sakes He answers not at all or otherwise than seems best to our tear-blinded, short-sighted eyes.

The silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His speech and may be a sign, not of His disapproval, but of His approval and of a deep purpose of blessing for you.

“Why art thou cast down, O…soul?” Thou shalt yet praise Him, yes, even for His silence. Listen to an old and beautiful story of how one Christian dreamed that she saw three others at prayer. As they knelt the Master drew near to them.

As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace, with smiles full of radiant love and spoke to her in accents of purest, sweetest music.

Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed head, and gave her one look of loving approval.

The third woman He passed almost abruptly without stopping for a word or glance. The woman in her dream said to herself, “How greatly He must love the first one, to the second He gave His approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love He gave the first; and the third must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all and not even a passing look.

“I wonder what she has done, and why He made so much difference between them?” As she tried to account for the action of her Lord, He Himself stood by her and said, “O woman! how wrongly hast thou interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of my tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall.

“The second has stronger faith and deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people do.

“The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and her I am training by quick and drastic processes for the highest and holiest service.

“She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel; because she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.

“I am silent in My love because I love beyond the power of words to express, or of human hearts to understand, and also for your sakes that you may learn to love and trust Me in Spirit-taught, spontaneous response to My love, without the spur of anything outward to call it forth.”

He “will do marvels” if you will learn the mystery of His silence, and praise Him, for every time He withdraws His gifts that you may better know and love the Giver.

Selected from Streams in the Desert

Cooking with Senior Citizens

Suddenly I was so cold I wanted to climb inside the coffee mug, not just hold it in my hands! Such is my life. Then a few minutes later I am wanting iced coffee and peeling off layers of sweater or sweatshirt. Bob says my thermostat is broken.

Years ago I bought us an electric yogurt maker. It is a great money saver when milk goes on sale. It is a small electric device. First you must scald and process the milk. I use 2% or even 1% milk. Placing 4 cups of milk in a glass measure I cook it in microwave for 9 minutes. That scalds the milk. Then pour into plastic container from yogurt maker. Chill in an ice bath for about 11 minutes until it cools to 110 degrees. Add 1 cup plain yogurt. Plug in maker. Add yogurt container. Cook 8-10 hours. Let cool. Strain if we want it more like Greek yogurt. Add berries, sweetener, etc. Enjoy!

I made some recently. After Bob had a serving and we strained it more I decided to make another batch as I still had extra milk from a sale. Went though the process and placed it in the cooker. We went to run errands for a few hours. I came home and the appliance was cold. Well, Dodo me, I never plugged it in!

Since his eye surgeries at times Bob can’t see lines on the liquid measure. Eventually he figures out what dollar store spectacles to wear so he can see the lines. He is anxious to get his refraction done so he can get new glasses. Maybe things will be easier in the kitchen then!

Bob mastered his Mom’s Blonde Brownies recipe. Then he improved the recipe by adding sea salt caramel morsels. They are a delicious hit. Everyone who tastes them loves them. And now the store quit selling the morsels? So did the other two stores! WHAT?! We bought some plain Kraft caramel pieces about the size of morsels.We will let you know how they turn out.

Notice the price of eggs lately? Unless you never go to the grocery or cook, you likely have noticed. A year or two ago I learned how to make hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot pressure cooker. I asked Bob if he would want to learn how to do eggs in the Instant Pot. He agreed that would be good. I did not supervise him closely as I was cooking something else. I just sort of told him the steps. They eggs did not seem to cook long enough. We tried it again. I wondered if I need a new Instant Pot? Finally we took them out. I cracked one it was barely soft boiled. As we dismantled the Instant Pot I realized he had left one stainless pan inside the cooker pan and then put in the water and egg holder. I had done that once before, too. The eggs do not cook correctly with that arrangement. The water and the egg holder have to go in the stainless pot provided with the cooker. We managed to eat up those under-cooked eggs with frying or more cooking period. Frustrating with the price of eggs! I determined to buy him more eggs ( they are his favorite food). The prices are high right now, but egg merchants assure us the price will come down soon. His next batch was flawless!

We both insist on laughing together when these things occur. We are likely to make more mistakes not fewer as we age. At least for now we make it fun!

Even to your old age I am he,
    even when you turn grey I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
    I will carry and will save.

Isaiah 46:4 RSV

One Saturday Afternoon, Two Trees

January 28 was a sunny lovely day. Bob asked where I wanted to go for a drive. I told him back to the park where we had seen a redwood tree. We were just in California in October and I was rather stunned that this gorgeous tree we saw in a Hamilton County Park was called a redwood. So we headed off for Withrow Nature Preserve, one of the great parks of Hamilton County.

Now all the foliage was gone. Just a few spangles that resemble seed.

Reminded me of millet we used to hang in the parakeet’s cage!

The tree itself was just as grand as my first sight of it!

We had fun trying photos at various angles. Finally, we were so focused that a young park ranger decided to stop and talk with us about why we were so interested in this tree. We were amused chatting with him.

Do you remember my many references to Ephesians 3?

that He would give you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being firmly rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19 LSB

Look at the base of this tremendous tree. Can you imagine YOU being firmly rooted and grounded in love just as this tree is rooted and grounded in soil?

Hold firm to Christ our Lord! May your roots go deep into His love!

That very same day we continued our drive and wound up at a street along the Ohio River called Steamboat Drive. Over a potholed road you get to an Ohio River overlook. Here is one view from there.

As we walked further to the right I could see a tree on the edge of the precarious drop to the river bank. Could not quite catch it in the photo, but I could see where the soil had eroded from the roots in one area and there was daylight coming through.

NOT you. Not firmly and deeply rooted, not secure in the love of Christ!

So choose today how you will grow your roots. I printed out the Ephesians passage and put it on bathroom counter. Then I got it wet and ink ran. So I printed it again and put it in a plastic recipe card cover. Do whatever it takes for you to get your head around the Ephesians passage and get your heart active in doing what Paul said to do.

The opening photo for this blog was the last photo at Withrow Nature Preserve. I think the spangle of clouds was for your benefit! It is a wonderful image of God’s Love for us!!

Humor of London Broil

When we visited California recently my sister-in-law had her husband grilling London Broil. It was quite tasty. We do not buy lots of beef, in fact hardly any. At the grocery I saw London Broil in the mark down bin so I bought it thinking, “Okay, I can learn to make this.” Looking online one woman said hers was really tough. A writer from Bon Appetit gave advice how to prepare this beef so it would not be tough.

He wrote: “Try this: Rub steak with the cut side of a halved garlic clove and liberally season both sides of your London broil with salt and pepper. Let it sit at room temperature on a rack set inside a rimmed baking tray for at least one hour. The salt will dissolve and will be absorbed into the meat. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat (or heat a grill pan over medium-high). Grill the first side for four minutes, then rotate 45° from its original spot on the grill (but don’t turn it over) in order to get the crosshatch grill marks. Continue to grill for another three to four minutes, then flip and repeat the process, until it’s charred and medium-rare. An instant-read thermometer should register 125°F when it’s ready—about 10 to 12 minutes total. Let it rest about 10 minutes before cutting, and serve it with a pat of butter (I’d say herb-lemon zest compound butter if you’re feeling adventurous).”

The instructions lay on the counter for a week. Finally, Bob asked me if I was going to make this and did I need help? I said sure let’s make it and I might be able to prepare it on my own. That afternoon we got busy on projects in our shared office. When I realized it was time to prepare dinner I had not let the meat sit for the hour! Figured I could still get it done if we loosened up what time we ate dinner. It was cold outside and a little rainy. Bob pulled the grill on the deck around. I said to put it so it was facing the sliding glass door.

He fed and walked the dog while I prepped the meat, set the table, warmed potatoes, made salad, etc. Having never done this before and not wanting to create steak too tough to eat I was following directions meticulously. I went outside to open the valve on the gas tank for the grill. It was cold out there, but the grill was having trouble getting to even 150 degrees. I asked Bob to check it. My thinking was it may be out of fuel? Sure enough, it was. By then it was dark, and cold and I said let me just cook this in the broiler. Not unheard of online, but disappointing after looking forward to the grill in January!

So I fired the broiler on low and proceeded to time the cooking. What a joke. Here I was planning this special meal and wound up cooking it in the kitchen! “The best laid plans ….” It was not seared with grill marks as nicely as if we had cooked it on the grill. Bob said it was delightful. For my taste, it was underdone but the microwave helped a bit with that.

There were two pieces of meat in the package. I froze one of them. Bob replaced the gas tank on the grill a few days later. Some sunny day when craving beef, we will try the recipe again.

Who’s Really in Charge Here?

Every Wednesday at noon in the state of Ohio sirens are tested by the Emergency Alert System and National Weather Service.

On radio devices and television the following message is usually broadcast, “This is a test, this is only a test for the next 60 seconds…”

Recently while shopping I heard a child in some other lane having a meltdown. Sounded like the child needed a nap! It is so hard not to be embarrassed when a child loses control and blasts the surrounding area with its discontent.

Then I remembered that when my children were very young and had a meltdown I would often recite to myself or to my husband, “This is a test. This is only a test. For the next 60 seconds WE’LL SEE WHO IS REALLY IN CHARGE HERE.”

In other words, would we cave to the meltdown or do what was needed in that moment. Care for our family’s needs or react to societal pressure to hush that child at any cost. Oh the troubles of parenting.

And now, there are no more children in our home. There are times though when my wailing over ‘things as they are’ rather than how I WANT them to be must be quieted before the LORD. I am trying to become aware of my discontent and realize it is an affront to my faith in God’s goodness. He is my Shepherd and is able to keep me regardless of the circumstances. I can create much misery and suffering in my life by wishing for things to be other than they are.

In Resilient by John Eldredge he insists we must “Keep our head.” On Page 34 he points out the following

“Let your fears, anxieties, anger or rage alert you that you’ve been taken hostage; stop and get your bearings.”


We could add brooding and other moodiness, too, as things that can take us hostage. In other words, to keep you head focus upon Jesus and the Word of God. Is this fear, etc. you are experiencing from God or the enemy of our souls? From self or the Father?

For the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NRSV

Are you willing to use the weapons you have been given? Will you fix your eyes upon Jesus in such a way as to glorify His name regardless of how you feel about any given situation? We are given warning and instruction in Isaiah.

Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice;
    you complacent daughters, listen to my speech.

Isaiah 32:9

Am I at ease? Complacent? Stuck in my feelings about things as they are? And if we are willing to listen to the voice of the LORD there is a promise at the end of the passage.

The effect of righteousness will be peace,
    and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever.

Isaiah 32:17

Who couldn’t use more peace, quietness and trust? All of this is a discipline, an awareness of my thinking. It requires a determination not to just let my mind run wild with “if onlys” and other such nonsense. Things are as they are and my job is to obey Hebrews 12.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Hebrews 12:1-4 NRSV

Am I willing? Take this old girl-woman and help her to submit to God’s highest and best for her? Yes I am, with God’s help!