Week of October 11, 2021

Been praying about how to tell my story of journey in life with God. Also been praying for my friend Mindy, mother of 2, happily married. After the extensive Whipple procedure to remove benign massive tumor around her organs, a year later as a result of the surgery, she got the liver transplant she so badly needed and then things went downhill rapidly. At this point Mindy is in an unconscious state, perhaps locked-in syndrome. She cannot communicate. She did seem to respond once, but now her eyes simply “look vacant.” The hospital was going to move her to a critical care facility but she has a fever of 101. God knows the heart of this woman and her family. Please, Lord, have mercy upon her. One of her daughters attended her first Homecoming dance last weekend. Here she is with her Dad. Please pray for Mindy and her family.

When our daughter was in elementary school and our son a toddler I began a prison ministry with my friend, Linda. I had taught a few Bible Studies through Women’s Aglow Fellowship. Our chapter was looking for a way to reach the community of the lost. The county had built a new jail facility. I saw on the evening news that they were giving tours of the facility before the prisoners were moved from the old facility. So I showed up for the tour. They asked what I wanted to do. I said volunteer for Bible Study. Though I had no credentials, they issued me a Pastoral pass.

A few months later Linda and I began going into the women’s unit once a week for Bible Study. She was allowed to bring her guitar to lead a few praise and worship songs. I taught from notes I developed from my study times. We asked each woman to sign in with her name and prisoner number. With their prisoner number we were allowed to write them a note each week. Linda and I would pray and have communion together before we entered the jail. We usually prayed all the way to downtown, sometimes intensely sensing warfare against our efforts.

I found a metal pin on button that I began to wear every week. It said, “I am not as innocent as I look.” Linda melted hearts with her unconditional love and hugs. I opened my mouth to teach and wanted them to understand I was not a sinless suburban woman coming to be a do-gooder among them. Frankly, you have never taught Bible study until you have spoken in a cinder block room with metal furniture bolted to the floor and $10,000 Pyramid blasting over the TV. The guards who were favorable to our visits often turned the volume a little lower. Yes, I quickly learned to project my voice!

Linda and I prayed too after the study time. We split the list of names and prayed over each note, asking the Holy Spirit what we should pray and what Scripture to include in our note to mail. The women were deeply touched by our notes. Touched as only the Lord could touch. Linda and I were acutely aware that we were nothing special. He had to be working.

I used as much Scripture as I could while teaching. Often I used 1 John 1:9 NIV

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 NIV

Yes, I had learned many times over the value of this verse and the tremendous forgiveness and cleansing we are promised through it. I also understood Jeremiah 17:0

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 17:9 KJV

Often I cannot even see my sin or sinful attitudes. The Word and the Spirit are willing to show me if I will listen and remain open to instruction. The trouble is I often think I have it all together and ignore the first few warnings from the Lord. That’s about the time I tend to say, “Thanks, Lord! I can take it from here!” Next thing I am face down in the mud.

No, I am not going to list all of the sins I have committed over the last years. I write all this to encourage you to keep your hearts soft and your ears open.

If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.

1 John 1:10 NIV

What Happened to Telling My Story?

I have found that as I approach 71 years old it is not so easy just to report to you the facts of my life with God. I keep reading new things that influence how I say what I have to say. You see, it is not easy to relate an incident with the Holy. Words automatically diminish the experience.

I ordered one book from the Search Ohio library system. It is entitled “Writing in the Sand” by Thomas Moore. Subtitled: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels. I had previously read Moore’s Care of the Soul. Decided since we just purged SO MANY BOOKS when we moved, I should try to borrow this one to see if we need to own it. Now half way through this one, I think we probably will own it. Very meaty and will take me more than one reading to fully comprehend.

I was sent an email notice about a book called Letters from the Mountain written by Ben Palpant being sold by Rabbit Room. The description said, “In this memoir of the craft, Ben Palpant unpacks a lifetime of wisdom gained through the long, hard work of learning to write and to live well. Delivered as a series of letters from father to daughter, he patiently and gracefully paints a vision of what it means to enter into one’s creative work as an act of generative obedience – an act that blesses the writer, the work itself, and the world that receives it.”

I clicked purchase without any hesitation. A few days later as I walked the dog while retrieving the mail, the book arrived in our mail box. As soon as I unwrapped it in the street, I was reading it standing on the sidewalk waiting for Lucky to “do her business.” I was drawn like I have not been drawn by a book for a long time. First drawn by my longing to have a father’s advice on the writing life. Then stung by not having my Dad most of my life to guide and encourage me. Then grateful for the book as if the Lord was handing it to me. Joyful over the aspect of being touched and led. Now chewing on the bones and meat of this tome.

The quote his daughter chose in the forward by Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet, sum up my struggle.

“Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us to believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.”

Rainer Marie Rilke

Unsayable. Holy things are immediately diminished when we try to put words around them. Poignant becomes less than when I try to pin it down with words. Struggling with how to relate this to you, the reader, I was reminded that often the Lord has asked me just to be His lily leaf, stand and tip.

So my walk with God is just percolating with these refinements and struggles to express myself. Finally, I have decided to work my way through my journals (and there a TON of journals, maybe 30 or more) and poetry to try to relate my story with God to you. Mostly in chronological order, but am certain there will be times when I jump out of order and just tell the story.

He calls me to stand and tip. 

My prayer on October 1, 2021. Father, You led me to this. How do I express in the blog these unsayable things in my own life that have been steeped in Your Presence, soaked with Your love, dripping with Your power especially in my weakness? Help me find the words from my experiences and through the journals and poetry to encourage others, show the way to Your heart, reveal my soul, uncover my hidden-ness and show forth Your glory … Your Presence here and now. Only You can guide me in this. My methods have been faltering. I want to do Your work and Your call. Guide me, O Thou, great Jehovah.” It is almost too difficult to even write that prayer. I am not asking for help for my own glory, but so that You may be glorified and lifted up.

I will stand at my watchpost,
    and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
    and what he will answer concerning my complaint.
Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;
    make it plain on tablets,
    so that a runner may read it.
For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
    it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
    it will surely come, it will not delay.
Look at the proud!
    Their spirit is not right in them,
    but the righteous live by their faith
.

Habakkuk 2:1-4

Stand and Tip

Not certain the exact date I wrote this, but it was before 1990. The last two lines were added after the first writing at a time when I was trying too hard. God and I have a joke. I say, “Lord, I’m trying!” And He says, “Yes, dear, very trying.” Then I rest in His presence and try to allow Him to work in and through me.

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

Yield to His calling. He has your best in mind!

Oil Pumps

When we traveled to Mount Vernon, Ohio I was noticing again the contrast between Texas size and Ohio size oil operation sizes. I grew up being fascinated by the oil pumps throughout Pennsylvania and to a lesser extent Ohio.

I previously wrote https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/1706 discussing oil pumps from Odessa to Dallas. When we recently traveled through Ohio I was remembering the giant “grasshopper” pumps of Texas compared to Ohio.

Ohio pump taller than the corn
Ohio pump shorter than the trees
Ohio pump much shorter than the trees

Compared to Texas:

r m dutina – compare to power pole

And speaking of collection tanks?

Large Ohio congregation
Likely private Ohio tank

Then there was a rainy day in Texas.

r m dutina

So there were likely some errors in my reporting. Maybe the white tanks above were in an oil processing center? I was mostly trying to compare and contrast the size of operations.

In light of the recent oil spill in California, perhaps little pumps in Ohio and Pennsylvania are best?

Dogs and Bowling

So I had an errand in Northern Kentucky. I took a wrong turn and immediately realized I had taken the same wrong turn a few weeks earlier. Went to turn around at Lowe’s. Noticed a big banner sign that said “Bowling.” I did not catch the name of the alley, but it was there. Right next to it was a medical office that was called Bowling Chiropractic. Had me laughing! I could just hear, “Well, doc, I wrenched my back on the spare. Can you fix me up for the next frame?”

Once back in Ohio near home, I stopped at the grocery. Saw this sight and asked him if he was going to drive?

I looked to the left and started laughing at this sight.

Look closely! There are 2 in there.

A woman to my right started calling, “Wait! I have one too!”

Since they were all confined I thought it was a hilarious day at the grocery parking lot. When I finished my shopping they had all departed. I think we had a mix of boxers and maybe a pit bull.

Keep your eye out for simple, amusing treasures in plain sight!

Brinkhaven Adventures

When we traveled near Mt. Vernon, Ohio we went to see the covered “Bridge of Dreams” over the Mohican river and had to check out the village of Brinkhaven, also called Gann. This is located in Knox county, Ohio and has a population of about 125. The statistics look as if the high point was in 1910 with a population of 341. It is a tiny village of a few streets. It was like stepping back in time to a slower era. No stores or shops, no gas station, not even a cell tower to be found. I can’t remember if we had cell service there or not.

One little house looked really old, though tidy, clean and obviously had been updated over the years. A woman was cleaning up weeds, etc. We asked her how old the house was. She was uncertain, but she had found a postcard in the attic that her mother had sent to her grandfather dated something like 1910?

According to Knox County History Pages at https://www.knoxpages.com/history/the-flood-the-bodies-and-the-psychic-brinkhaven-1913/article_119c17ba-8e5a-11eb-9c39-631d8d6f22fd.html “In 1913 local weather watchers claimed that Brinkhaven saw over a foot of rainfall before the rainwater swelled the river out of its banks. The village has never entirely recovered from the flood, for Brinkhaven used to be almost double the size it is now. If you drive east on Ohio 62 past the town, the large grassy field between the highway and the village used to be an entire neighborhood.”

Just across Ohio 62 and up the hill is access to the Bridge of Dreams:

by r m dutina

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge_of_Dreams gives details about the conversion of the bridge from railroad use to multi purpose use. One grounds keeper told us that one of the stipulations for the funds that were raised along with the grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources included making this trail and bridge accessible to equestrians and the Amish in their horse drawn vehicles. They were doing the semi-annual horse apple removal when we visited. What a job!

Route 62 has heavy truck traffic and almost no shoulders. We were glad to learn this is a safer route for the Amish to take between East Street in Danville and the Holmes County line.

On our last day exploring the area we were surprised to see several law enforcement cars around the Brinkhaven turn off. Then a helicopter hovering over the area. The chopper circled back over us and then hovered along the fields as we traveled. All we could think was a criminal on the loose? Hiding in this barely populated area of Ohio? We never found out what was going on or if the officers caught the person. We moved along and minded our own business. Trust me, we were not going to give anyone a ride!

More Brinkhaven/Gann photos:

r m dutina “Had it been a shop?”
r m dutina
r m dutina
r m dutina
r m dutina “Stairs to nowhere”

Where I Left Off

So in retelling my faith story, I likely left out many things. From the Presbyterian church, to the Episcopalian church , to no church. Then after birth of first child, back to the Episcopalian church because I wanted someone to teach her about God. When she was a toddler I was too angry to be the one.

When our first child was born as she grew and changed I missed my mother more than ever. I was angry at God for having let her die so close to me giving birth. I learned a valuable lesson. God can handle our anger. He would rather I be angry at Him and scream and shout if I need to rather than to be lukewarm and complacent about the existence of our Eternal Father.

At the funeral I was 9 months pregnant and my sister was 3 months pregnant. Well meaning people say really stupid platitudes about these things such as, “I guess it was her time” “She’s in a better place” and on and on. They did not realize that all I heard through my teen years was how much my mother wanted a grandchild. Her first grandchild had been put up for adoption. My child was her next best hope. And then she was gone.

This anger over her loss smouldered for years in my soul. Then one day I found this verse.

For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live!”

Ezekiel 18:32

Yes, it was like having to process news for weeks and maybe months before it sank in. My mother most likely had a cerebral hemorrhage. She died in her sleep. We opted for no autopsy. Plain and simple, that is what we believe did it. She had suffered an episode, perhaps a mild stroke, a few weeks earlier. She had fallen in the bathroom and bruised her face on the side of the bathtub. At the time there were few things my sister communicated to me. That time she did call to say Mom was ashamed of the bruise and putting off her visit to me until it did not show.

At bedtime Mom was having what she thought were migraine symptoms. Took her Rx for that. She and Bob watched Johnny Carson while I went on to bed. I could hear that Carson had the music duo Seals and Croft.

Poignant

Realized the next day when she was deceased how poignant those lyrics are. No, I never passed that way again. I never had her with me during the rearing of my children. Once I stopped blaming God for her death I was able to grow in my fellowship with Him. I began teaching my child about God. I counted on the Sunday School teams to help reinforce those teachings, but I no longer put those lessons wholly upon them.

Yet, I knew the Lord did not take pleasure in the timing of her death whatever the reasons for it. I continue to seek Him and His Kingdom to this day.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Matthew 6:33

Autumn Joys

Walking at the Cincinnati Nature Center we happened upon these autumn crocuses. Every year I say I will plant some. The bulbs are hard to find and I forget to shop for them. At least they are perennial at the Nature Center! The orange and yellow leaves on the left of the photo reminded me starkly of the changes soon to occur.

Also known as Meadow Saffron

If I knew my spiders better I might be able to identify by the web. Looks as if the only thing this one caught was a leaf!

From what I have read Goldenrod does not cause allergies in contrast to Ragweed which does. Regardless, my sinuses were having a fit after walking the path along the field of goldenrod and many other plants in a “Progression Field.” Likely they were growing together and I just missed seeing the ragweed.

Goldenrod by r m dutina

The place was hopping with many school groups. We had fun seeing the kids face down on the ramps over the water while trying to capture creatures for study in their nets. I was a volunteer at the Nature Center for a while until allergies got the best of me. It was still fun to learn and volunteer for a spell.

r m dutina

“All the earth worships You and sings praises to You; they sing praises to Your name.”

Psalm 66:4

Keep your eyes open for Treasures in Plain Sight!

Sunflower Tales

When we traveled the Dakotas searching for Sunflowers we found them! Someone recently asked how much they charged us to go to the sunflower fields. We simply pulled off the beaten path onto farm roads and took photos. Evidently they raise the bulk of the sunflower seed used in America for bird feed.

In the United States, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota are the top producers of sunflower seeds.

“When the modern sunflower plant made its way back to North America it came to the United States by way of Canada, down through North Dakota and Minnesota. The central and western regions of North and South Dakota and the far western counties of Minnesota are still the biggest producers of sunflower seeds for the U.S..” says thepoolgardener.com/where-do-sunflower-seeds-come-from/

She stands all by herself, surrounded by hoards of relatives, yellow as far as the eye can see. The upper leaf over the edge of her petals reminds me of a bashful child.

Even the hill behind the treeline is yellow with sunflowers!

These are not the “Mammoth” variety grown for height. These are grown for seed production.

Guess this fellow did not get the memo about following the sun!

If you have questions about sunflower seed uses and production here is a great resource! https://www.sunflowernsa.com/all-about/faq/#32

Often the sunflower fields are also lined with beehive boxes. Can you say sunflower honey?

photo by r m dutina

My neighbor Carol planted a few in her yard. I delighted to see them on a walk since this is the first year we have not planted any since we began owning property!

Our sunflower seed feeder hanging just off the new deck has now attracted Cardinals, Titmice (seem bravest of all), Nuthatch, Sparrows, Junco, Chickadees, Carolina Wren, and likely others when I was not watching! So delighted to be allowed to feed them again without fear of disease. They amuse us greatly.

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:28-34

And one more bit of sunflower type humor that Bob found in the New Yorker magazine, covid pandemic humor:

Lizzie

First Grandgirl and one of the loves of my life! Born on our wedding anniversary no less! One old photo of the first week or so after she was born looks as if we stuck peas in your mouth – which we did not!

Out of focus, but priceless to me!

Best puddle jumper I knew. I taught her in one corner of the garden and then moved throughout the Ohio clay yard after a hard rain!

Once she used her doctor set to examine her sister thoroughly. I mean, what good is a doctor set if you can’t use it on a live, stationary patient?

photo by r m dutina

Trying to piece together this blog entry I am having to remember where these photos were in the old house and try to find them now. Yikes! what a challenge this is!

Grammy (me) reflected in door
photo by r m dutina I think
Sorting and playing with Lilac flowers one spring

Oh my dear, so many sweet memories!

High School Graduate.

High School graduation

Well, here she is last year on her first day of college!

And just this week she turned twenty. How did THAT happen?!?

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Celesta Ra, my String Bean.

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,

    and His righteousness to children’s children

Psalm 103:17