Holy Saturday

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Col 2:13-15 NIV

Jesus did some nailing to the cross of His own! He took the list of everything we owe God, everything that stands against us and condemns us, He took it all and NAILED it to the Cross. He made a public spectacle, a laughing stock of the powers and authorities of darkness by His triumph over them on His cross.

Do you know this old song by Carmen? You might have to turn up the volume at first. Lyrics are below.

Here are the lyrics to The Champion:

In the vast expanse of a timeless place
Where silence ruled the outer space
Ominously, towering it stood
The symbol of a spirit war
Between the one name Lucifer
And the Morning Star, The ultimate of good

Enveloped by a trillion planets
Clean as lightning and hard as granite
A cosmic coliseum would host the end
Of the war between the lord of sin and death
And the Omnipotent Creator of man’s first breath
Who will decide who forever will be the Champion

The audience for the ‘Fight of the Ages’ was assembled and in place
The angels came in splendor from a star
The saints that had gone before were there: Jeremiah, Enoch, Job
They were singing the “Song of Zion” on David’s harp

The demons arrived, offensive and vile, cursing and blaspheming God
Followed by their ‘trophies’ dead and gone
Hitler, Napoleon, Pharaoh, Capone
Tormented and vexed and grieved
Waiting for their judgment From the Throne

Then a chill swept through the mammoth crowd and the demons squealed with glee
As a sordid, vulgar, repulsive essence was felt
Arrogantly prancing, hands held high, draped in a sparkling shroud
Trolled by demons, Satan ascended from Hell

Then Satan cringed, the sinners groaned!
The demons reeled in pain as a swell of power like silent thunder rolled
With a surge of light beyond intense, illuminating the universe
In resplendent glory appeared the Son of God

Then a Persona, yes, Extraordinaire appeared in center ring
God the Father will oversee the duel
Opening the Book of Life, each grandstand hushed in awe as
Majestically He said
“Now here’s the rules. He’ll be wounded for their transgressions
Bruised for iniquities”
When He said, “By His stripes they’re healed,” the devil shook!
He screamed, “Sickness is my specialty. I hate that healing junk!”
God said, “You shut your face, I wrote the book!”
Then the Father looked at His only Son and said
“You know the rules
Your blood will cleanse their sins and calm their fears.”
Then He pointed His finger at Satan and said
“And I know you know the rules
You’ve been twisting them to deceive My people for years.”
Satan screamed, “I’ll kill you Christ! You’ll never win this fight!”
The demons wheezed, “That’s right, there ain’t no way.”
Satan jeered, “You’re dead meat, Jesus, I’m gonna bust you UP tonight!”
Jesus said, “Go ahead, make my day!”
The bell rang, the crowd cheered, the fight was on
And the devil leaped in fury
With all his evil tricks he came undone
He threw his jabs of hate and lust
A stab of pride and envy but the hand that knew no sin blocked every one

Forty days and nights they fought, and Satan couldn’t touch Him
Now the final blow saved for the final round
Prophetically Christ’s hands came down
And Satan struck in vengeance!
The blow of death felled Jesus to the ground

The devils roared in victory!
The saints shocked and perplexed as wounds appeared upon His hands and feet
Then Satan kicked Him in His side, and blood and water flowed
And they waited for the 10 count of defeat

God the Father turned His head
His tears announcing Christ was dead!
The 10 count would proclaim the battle’s end
Then Satan trembled through his sweat in unexpected horror, yet…
As God started to count by saying
“…10…”
“Hey wait a minute, God…” “…9…” “Stop! You’re counting wrong…”
“…8…”
His eyes are moving…
“…7…”
His fingers are twitching…
“…6…”
“Where’s all this Light coming from?”
“…5…”
“He’s alive!”
“…4…”
“Oh – nooooo!”
“…3…”
“And yet,”
“…2…”
“Oh…Yessssss!
“…1…”
He has won!
He has won!
He’s alive forevermore!
He is risen, He is Lord
He has won!
He has won!
He’s alive forevermore
He is risen!
He is Lord!

Proclaim the news in every tongue
Through endless ages and beyond
Let it be voiced from mountains loud and strong
Captivity has been set free, salvation bought for you and me
‘Cause Satan is defeated
And Jesus is The Champion

Why is it Good Friday?

Jesus said in New Revised Standard version of John 15:12-15

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

NRSV John 16:7, 22 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

He went to the Cross for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which was to fulfill the promise of the Holy Spirit indwelling us. The same Spirit that inhabited Jesus.

Friday was brutal suffering. Unimaginable anguish. But He knew, Sunday was coming!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

Holy Week – What is A Christian To Do?

I have spent most of my life following Jesus. One of my greatest Christian teachers was Francis of Assisi. He chose to be stripped of possessions and riches and to follow Christ unhindered by things. For several years I was a Third Order Franciscan through the Episcopal church. Recently my friend, Bonnie, reminded me of a quote from Francis on his deathbed. He is purported to have said, “I have done what was mine to do. May Christ now teach you what you are to do.”

How might we go about doing that? The Book of Common Prayer Morning Prayer Rite 2 in the general thanksgiving says “…show forth Your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to Your service ….”

On Monday and Tuesdays when I do not “feel” like writing I am reminded that I give up myself to His service by writing this blog. It is mine to do. I pray what I write will encourage others to follow Jesus. I pray the things I tell about will inspire others to pull down strongholds and walk on with the Savior of our souls. I pray I might amuse others and help lift them from the doldrums of the daily grind. I struggle to put into words my relationship with a Holy God through the power of the Holy Spirit given as a result of the life, sacrifice, resurrection and then ascension of Jesus Christ.

So what is Christ asking you to do?

I have found over the years that if I feel stuck spiritually I need to go back to the last thing the Lord asked me to do, and be certain I did that.

Francis also said, “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

So there were things like: volunteer at the homeless shelter. Try to help organize the shelter donations. Set up the construction of a new donation out building. The Church carried that out.

Bonnie also quoted these steps:

  1. Do what is necessary.

2. Do what is possible.

3. Let God take care of impossible details and do as He leads.

Carry on!

But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

Hey, Mom?

The kids were sitting at the dining room table doing their homework. I was standing at the kitchen sink, doing dishes and singing aloud in my prayer language.

Suddenly Jeff asks, “Hey, Mom? Is that how you sing in cursive?” I answered, “Yes, I guess so!”

“So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.” 1 Corinthians 14:15 NIV

In some respects I did okay raising our children. In many respects, I failed raising our children for Paul goes on to write in 1 Corinthians 14:16-17

Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified. 1 Corinthians 14:16-17 NIV

I did not realize at the time that I should have prayed for and then sang out the interpretation. I was simply at the sink worshiping.

May the Lord lead and guide our now adult children to a deep fulfilling walk with Him. Perhaps by my examples I did expose them to helpful cues for their journey.

Trout Lily Extravaganza

First there was one or two plants, known by their leaves. Then seemingly overnight, KABOOM, the hill was covered. This being the last spring we live at this address I have been on the lookout for my favorite flowers. When I saw white flowers on the hill I got out my binoculars to define what I was seeing, spring beauty or trout lilies? Oh my! what a surprise.

The upright white flowers are hyacinths. The white flowers that seem to droop are trout lilies. It was amazing to be able to see them from the kitchen window. When we first looked at this property 15 years ago I was enchanted by the trout lilies. The thought of having them in my own backyard, naturally was delightful!

Wikipedia says Erythronium albidum, the white fawnlily or white trout lily, is a small herbaceous flowering plant in the lily family. It is native to eastern North America, from southern Quebec and southern Manitoba south to Georgia and Texas.

Recently the local newspaper sent a magazine insert. Love this quote from Algernon Charles Swinburne, “Blossom by blossom the spring begins.” Enjoy these photos! Look for the trout leaves and drooping flowers.

Grape hyacinth towards top center of photo.

They are named trout lily because their leaves look like the speckled skin on the back of a trout.

Oops, I see some honeysuckle vine in there (lower center of photo)! One of Bob’s pastimes has been to try to remove it from this hillside.

And last but not least, my favorite after a March shower. The droplets are on the back of the petals.

Our month of March is departing with more winds and some colder temps. Six weeks until we close on the house. Next year we will begin again with flower beds.

Luke 12: 27 NIV Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Covid-19 Vaccine TOGETHER

I am so thankful for each of the scientists who worked on producing the vaccines. Bob and I have both had 2 doses of the Pfizer brand. After the second dose we both had a couple days of feeling just crummy. Had already planned to lay low and let our bodies adjust. We are much better now.

I must admit, I have been cringing the past few months with all the ads on TV about the vaccine and showing those needles filled and up close, in arms, too.

When I was three or four I played jump rope with my sister and her friends. They were trying to get me to do double dutch.

I fell. I broke my leg. I rode in the backseat of the car many miles to the hospital. I was put in traction for 6 weeks. (Think 1954.) My father was in the same hospital with one of his many heart attacks. In 1954 there was not much they could do about heart disease. At one point they rolled our beds into the same room so I could see him. When I came home from Good Samaritan Hospital I was in love with the Sisters of Charity who took such good care of me. I am certain I learned the Presence of Jesus while there. I remember them holding my hand when the doctor was ready to cast my leg. The wraps were hot and I was so afraid.

Once home I was also terrified of white coats and needles. I was so fearful my parents could not tell me about any doctor appointment the night before because I would get very worked up. I worked for years to overcome all of that trauma. And I succeeded.

As to those ads showing the injection and those needles. I was more than unsettled knowing I would get that twice. I did okay. The first nurse to administer it did not do well. The second nurse was great.

We are still washing our hands. Avoiding crowds. Wearing our masks. Keeping our distance. But there is a sense of coming freedom!

We still need to keep well so we can get moved and unpacked! Bob says this virus will likely become like the flu. We will eventually get annual injections. We are both in high risk categories, but so grateful for the vaccine developers, nurses who administer the injection and the other people who actually get the injection to help keep it from spreading and killing people.

TOGETHER, yes, we are in this together and we can get through this TOGETHER. I praise God giving the scientific community the wisdom and methodology to develop these vaccines. I rejoice that He is able to keep us. I cannot answer the questions about those who died, and those who grieve their passing. I have been holding my breath afraid that Bob or I might die before we get this house built. So far, it looks as if we are moving there together.

Regardless, I will continue to praise my Lord and my God. He is “worthy to receive glory and honor and power for You created all things and by Your will they were created.” Revelation 4:11 NIV

This song keeps following me and I decided it fits right here. All along there was another in the fire. And He remains with us.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

–Daniel 3:16-18, 25

Ellie

Seven years ago Ellie was ill one day when her parents both had to go into work. My daughter asked if she could some sleep on our sofa. We said certainly. She inspired this prayer poem.

Watching Ellie Sleep© 2014 Molly Lin Dutina

As I sit here watching you sleep, 
my heart melts 
you are so sick 
not even wanting anything to drink
so ill you cannot stay awake

Eyelids that dark shade
that declares you are unwell
your lovely long eyelashes 
are enchanting
just like your mother’s were

I just want to make you well
though I know I cannot 
you sleep on
under your olive-green throw
and I pray over you
 
That Christ will heal you,
that there be no long lasting effects 
of whatever ails you.
Rest, my dear Ellie, 
and be made whole.

House Progress

Whirlwind here in Ohio!
Plumber was followed by furnace installation was followed by electrician. Inspection upon inspection (fine by us!!). Below is a photo update.

My kitchen window. Oops! It is set so that my eye hits the middle of the frame.

Oh well, I will adjust. Look just above the middle of the frame. The infamous hammock! It is on a rope in the neighbor’s yard that the wind wrapped around the tree.

Looking from the front foyer into the great room. Sliding glass door goes in the large opening on left of back wall. Window to the right will be over the sink. Dining room is in front of slider. Kitchen/dining room measure 23′ x 14′.

Great room measures 17′ x 16′. So hard to tell dimensions with studs showing!

Puddle on floor is from before they got roof on.

So the puddle is approximate placement of refrigerator. Left of that will be cabinet, stove, cabinet then pantry in the corner. Wall where the boxes are is wall where TV and photos will go. See the rolls of green insulation? Door to the right of those is laundry room. Use your imagination for the next one, too! Behind kitchen wall is master bedroom. Doorway is left of the insulation. About now you are saying, “Yeah! right!”

We did not want those black cabinets. We chose sort of a cherry finish instead, “Fairfield Nutmeg.” To the right of the black cabinet is our countertop sample. Carpet sample will be in bedrooms and office. Tile will be flooring in bathrooms and laundry floor. Above the tile is sample of the resilient flooring that will be from front door, throughout great room, dining room and kitchen. I think it goes down the hall to laundry and master bedroom, too.

Not the layout of our kitchen, but a sample of Fairfield Nutmeg cabinets.

Maybe we will get that lovely tile work done after we move in?

So we are still finding things to pack, even though we have hired movers to pack as well as move us. Lots of imagination for now. Oh we also have a garage door now! Front door is simply plastic sheet at this point.

Today Bob spoke with the people who lay the sod and install the plants. We want to choose our own plants and shrubs. She is sending a form online where we can define our flower bed, etc. As of now we are uncertain if the sod will be down before we move in. Would be really nice to have that for Lucky! They come and do many new houses at once, so we will wait and see! Then we are responsible to keep the sod watered regularly until it takes root.

The builder keeps surprising us with updates. Seems like at this point the closing will be May 5? Bring me a sugar-free Margarita! Naw, just give me the keys 🙂 The only thing that would hold that up is if we have many days of rainfall. If that happens then the “mud” on the drywall can’t dry thoroughly for the sanding and painting, etc.

Exciting none the less!

Eleanor Grace

My middle Grandgirl is a darling girl. As a very young child she was a handful, at times VERY difficult to cope with. (Would love to post her young pouting photo here, but the older ones are packed away.) As she grew older she has become more and more pleasant and extremely kind.

I have always wanted to pass along my faith to my grandchildren. Difficult to know how to impart that without disrupting family dynamics. St Francis said, “Preach always. Use words if necessary.” Nicole C. Mullen was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She published this song in 2000. She speaks truth about God’s children. Hebrews 1:14 says “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”

I often sang this as a prayer for my children and grandchildren to know God. One person said they would each learn by watching how Bob and I live our lives. Before middle school each Grandchild knew we loved Jesus and live for Him.

The oldest Grandgirl, Lizzie, blessed me when she went to Christian Camp in 1994 when she was in Middle School and got baptized. Her Mom invited Bob and I show up at the pool for the event! I was so tickled.

At Christmas this year our second Grandgirl, who has never liked jewelry, was wearing two necklaces. I knew she and her Mom had bought one together a few months earlier. The necklaces were inside her sweater. I asked her if it was the necklace that she and her Mom both wear. She said yes, and showed me the other one she was wearing. It was a tasteful gold cross. I was stunned. When I found my words I invited her to come into the living room with me alone. Through our masks I asked her about her cross necklace.

She said, “Mommy bought it for me.” I asked if that was a piece of fashion jewelry or if it meant more to her than that. Put on the spot, she stammered, “Well, you know, Jesus.” I refrained from jumping up and down! I told her I was so glad she believes in Him. I asked her if she would like me to get her a Bible and underline my favorite verses. She said yes, her eyes twinkling.

Many years ago I got frustrated with the concordance in the back of my Bible. I decided to make my own concordance, gathering up all the verses with special meaning to me. That is my major remaining project before we move. Marking two New Testaments for the Grandgirls to have as their own with my favorite verses highlighted.

They have their own angels assigned to them now. I am beyond delighted. It was a Christmas surprise I continue to rejoice over!

Spring Peepers

Bird song is not the most amazing sound, though now, March 18 they begin before dawn. Spring peepers also delight me with their evening songs. Psudacris crucifer. Not surprising the educators dropped the CROSS on the back of this tiny frog and now simply refer to it as an X.

Hearing a spring peeper is rather easy. Seeing one is a different challenge altogether! Once Bryan brought me one cupped in his hands. This video helps my imagination.

I just love it! Makes me laugh and know regardless of the ground hog nonsense and the thermometer, spring IS coming.

Keep your ears and eyes open!

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

“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

–Revelation 5:13

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”

–Psalm 19:1