Reviewing a Journal

Because of the arthritis in my hands I began to journal on my iPad a few years ago. I have kept the habit of a paper journal by printing out those ideas and pasting them in a spiral bound journal. This involves printing out ones I have not printed, arrange by date, cut and paste, etc. For several years, I have sadly dropped the habit of reviewing my journal. When we got ready to travel this month I decided to take the latest journal and review it. I will read through it. Praise God for how He sees me through situations. Mark poetry I likely did not organize in poetry binder, etc. with marker.

Mitchell Luo

Sometimes this yields themes for this blog. Most times it is just for my comfort and remembrance. We are told to rehearse the works of God and praise Him. But do we? I often fail at that task. I remember some highlights, but I drop the minutia that can change the course of my thoughts and arrange my victories in the daily battle against darkness.

Recently I was pondering that warfare. I am sometimes engaged in small struggles that remind me following Jesus is not “all unicorns and rainbows.” If you examine those times in your own life you will likely see that there are recurring patterns in the attacks. When I can recognize, and say ‘oh no, here comes THAT again’ I am better equipped to defeat it. Putting on my armor, praying, raising high the sword of the Spirit, taking every thought captive to Christ Jesus, doing my part not to surrender by means of apathy. If, however, I have not been paying attention I can get swept under a current of negativity and hopelessness before I realize what hit me.

Have you examined your life by a similar means? Some other method? Many recommend making a timeline of your life with God. Note the occurrences that have impacted you. Reflect on where your awareness of God was at each of those times.

Campfiregrace.com

Yes, look back at what has happened and how you went through each thing. We are not to be permanently looking back, but it is helpful to review our life and His participating Presence at each stage.

Journal before I get hold of it with photos and glue stick!

A Prayer to Thank God for His Sovereign Control

Father, we praise You for the delicate way You powerfully align our lives to Your creation. Thank You for the waters and mountains that remind us of You. Forgive us for overlooking Your presence in every aspect of our lives, and bless us to notice and give glory to You, for You are our healer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

(Meg Bucher) https://www.christianity.com/wiki/prayer/thank-you-prayers-to-give-thanks-to-god-and-the-lord-jesus-christ.html

Psalm 124 NIV
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 If the Lord had not been on our side—
    let Israel say—
2 if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
    when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
    the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
    would have swept us away.

6 Praise be to the Lord,
    who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
    from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
    and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

Find a way to review your life with God. No matter your age, no matter how many times you have done it, making a timeline with God is a great exercise.

Have You Read These?

{First photo from Unsplash, yoshua girl} Bob and I enjoy finding an author we like who has written an abundance of books. Then we try to work our way through the books in their order of publication. One such author is Louise Penny. The books are usually set in a small town named Three Pines. Inspector Gamache and his fellow Sûreté du Québec officers speak French Canadian phrases which Bob adores and I translate in my own way.

Louise Penny weaves wisdom through her writings. There are 17 books in this series so far. I came across this quote recently and had to share it.

He tried not to go to the worst possible conclusion. That they were down because everyone who might communicate was down.

No. He forced his mind away from that. Stick with the simple facts. He knew how catastrophic a rampant imagination, driven by fear, could be.

How The Light Gets In, Louise Penny

Fear occurs about 1,025 in the Bible and first appears in Genesis 3. Fear has been with us a very long time. Fear not or be not afraid appear many times (unlikely the 365 count is accurate according to most scholars).

Regardless, we are prone to fear, even Louis Penny knows, and we are told not to go there. Fear not, Be not afraid. It is something we have a choice about.

When did you recently force your mind away from the worst possible conclusion? Were you able to take those thoughts captive to Christ Jesus?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

This is a discipline that truly takes practice. We must learn not to let ‘awfulizing’ become the way we think. We must turn our thoughts and our ways to His thoughts and ways. You can likely tell by my catching and quoting this from a fictional novel that I have been at this practice for a while. No, I have not mastered it, but like my other spiritual disciplines it does help me grow closer to Jesus.

Water Prayer

[First photo by r m dutina]

While traveling in the Smoky Mountains one year I bought what could be a flower vase. It was pinched in the middle giving it two ‘spouts.’ The longer I looked at it and handled it the more it became a vessel for my prayers. We were always near the running water of the spring rivers be it the Little Pigeon or “one of the 2,100 miles of rushing mountain streams and rivers that flow through the park.” I would show you a photo, but when we downsized I let the vase/pitcher go. 😦 sigh

Here was part of my inspiration

And so my morning prayer gradually became

Jesus, I pour out this water
before the undivided Trinity:
Let my living be this day
an offering and thanksgiving.
This day caress me.
This day possess me.
Open my ears and eyes
to Your Love for us.

Try making a ceremony around your prayer time. I have taught that many ways. When you get a drink of water, say a prayer, turning your attention to the Holy One. Are you a coffee addict? Dedicate each sip to the Trinity. 

Keep a glass near the water faucet and try a water prayer of your own. Or use mine. 
The idea is to turn your heart and mind to Him who loves you best.

Our soul is like a stream of water, which gives strength, direction, and harmony to every other area of our life. When that stream is as it should be, we are constantly refreshed and exuberant in all we do, because our soul itself is then profusely rooted in the vastness of God and his kingdom, including nature; and all else within us is enlivened and directed by that stream. Therefore we are in harmony with God, reality, and the rest of human nature and nature at large.

Dallas Willard in Renovation of the Heart

Ben Palpant

Remember I told you that Zephaniah says “The Lord sings over you? Reading a poem by Ben Palpant I came across this stanza:

Sing to me, O my troubadour,
Let your songs echo
In the halls of my loneliness,
Even my shame,
So that I may sing back
and, perhaps, learn by heart.
Perhaps.

"Bright Fire" by Ben Palpant Sojourner Songs

I love his idea that he “may sing back and, perhaps, learn by heart.” I resisted piano lessons as a child because I could hear the music and play many melodies ‘by ear.’ And that is how I read this stanza of Palpant’s poem. I want to hear the songs of God and learn to play them by ear….

Help me sing those melodies back to You, my Lord. Help me sing those melodies to myself in times of struggle or discouragement. Remind me of Your holy music.

Best Laid Plans

Well the new computer said I had to restart to install updates. I hit the button and went off to eat breakfast. I really wanted an early start on writing Have had so many interrupted writing days lately. Wanted to get ahead for when we travel next month.

Came back after breakfast and still spinning though it said 100% complete. Started a load of wash. Still spinning. Updated paper journal. Still spinning. By now I was getting aggravated (one of my mom’s favorite words) . Over 45 minutes had passed.

Salvador Dali’s Melting CLock

At Bob’s suggestion asked online what the deal is. Seems Windows 11 is having massive trouble with these updates. Well that does not help me WRITE TODAY!! Turned off computer. When I turned it back on updates started all over. At the moment 63%. So here I am writing on the laptop. Perhaps this is planned practice for when we travel?

Then I thought of this quote and found it on https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/our-emotional-footprint/201602/man-plans-and-god-laughs

“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” is an old Yiddish adage meaning, “Man Plans, and God Laughs.” Despite our most careful planning, the Road of Life is unpredictable.

Saul Levine, M.D.

Things will have to be cleaned up on this post for certain! And then updates worked and I am back on the desktop. Yikes. I am not in charge of this blog. Each day I give it over to the Lord. I ask Him to bless the content and the readers, that is you!

We all get frustrated and irritable when things do not go our way. My goal is to shorten the time when this happens and get back to putting my attention upon Jesus as quickly as possible. As Thomas R. Kelly wrote,

Lapses and forgettings are so frequent. When you catch yourself again, lose no time in self-recriminations, but breath a silent prayer for forgiveness and begin again, just where you are.

The Light Within

Would you try that right now? Read the quote above and give yourself a moment to do it. Breath a silent prayer and begin again with Him who loves you best.

Offer this broken worship to Him and say: “This is what I am except Thou aid me.”

The Light Within

I usually pray, “Left to myself I will always mess it up.” Jesus said, “Of myself I can do nothing.” John 5:30a

Help me remember, Lord

As lawn guys go thundering past my window I pray you will keep me focused upon You, Lord God. Help me stay in Your Presence regardless of what the day brings or does not bring. I agree with Kelly, “we are owned men and women.” Have Your own way in and through me. Amen.

Praying for Florida

The opening image is “Hurricane Ian is seen in a satellite image at 9:10 a.m. ET on Sept. 26, 2022.”

The prayer requests here are collecting for Hurricane Ian and the Florida residents. As of today I am praying for people in Destin, Santa Rosa, Clearwater, Boca Grande, and Naples.

Since weather forecasters try to tell us what might happen, we all know they have no control over the actual weather. Please join me in prayer for those who may be hit by this storm.

Known and Unknown

I believe one reason we fear silence and stillness is we do not want to know ourselves and what God has to say about us. If we could only trust Him in a small way we would learn that He loves us more than we love ourselves. In fact, He treasures and adores us.

The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing

Zephaniah 3:17 NRSV
Stefan Kunze Upsplash

The writings of Oswald Chambers contained in the book noted below were excerpted from articles published by God’s Bible School in Cincinnati. The articles were taken from his classroom lectures and Bible studies and published in the school’s periodical God’s Revivalist.

What does the Bible mean when it says to be an example to the flock of God? You must be a walking example of what you believe, in every moment of your life, known and unknown. You must bear the scrutiny of God until you prove that you are indeed a specimen of what He can do. Then He will send you out to disciple all nations.

Oswald Chambers, September 18 selection from “Devotions for a Deeper Life”

Every moment known and unknown. Things done in secret. I do not think this refers just to shameful things. Our deepest wounds are often kept private. The healing the Lord may give from those wounds is also usually given in private. The deep formation of a disciple usually takes place in private.

But whenever you pray, enter into your inner room and shut your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:6 NIV

Your Father who sees in secret. He hears every whisper or shout of a prayer. Your Father knows you inside and out. He will not require that you share with others what He does in your secret place of prayer. There may however, come a time when you want to shout His work from the rooftops.

Matt Hanns Upsplash

Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured my attention writing in The Cost of Discipleship when he emphasized that we each walk alone with God.

Every man is called separately and must follow alone. 

Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, Discipleship and the Individual

Many of us admire other Christians but we know little or nothing about what it takes for them to be public Christians. We have no clue what happens between them and the Trinity in private. No idea the depth of their wounds or the strength of the healing times the Lord has sent to them. All most often occur in private.

You interact with your Father in a private place, even if you are kneeling in a sanctuary packed with other people. We can share our experiences with others but we are essentially alone with Christ in our walk. Yes, He encourages fellowship with those who are like minded, but in the final analysis we are each alone with Him. He reads our heart. He corrects our course. He convicts us when we go astray. He gives us His righteousness. He suffered and died for our salvation and for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despised the shame and sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NRSV)

Public, private, the deepest things occur in a private place with your Holy Trinity God.

Steffany Gretzinger in her song “Forever Amen” sums it up for me. “I was made to love You. Let me hear the sound of Your voice…”

I would strongly encourage you that when you hear the sound of His voice, go running to a quiet place. Listen up! For unlike human parents, the Father does not waste His breath. He speaks to us with power, love, meaning and transformative powers.

Two Days Until We Celebrate 52 Years!

We got engaged to be married August 10, 1970 and stayed up all night long talking about our families and our lives together. After hearing about the New York relatives with names like Evakovich and Stajcich, when I called home to say I was getting married my mother asked, “What is his name?” I replied “I can’t remember!” Mind you, Dutina is not exactly a common name, but imagine my mother’s face in Ohio when I called from California.

Someone placed a bet at the wedding that we would never last. We never had the courage to ask my mother-in-law who that was. Guess we might never find out now!

2022
2017 after being at the Canyon in 1971
2020 in Colorado as Paula’s guests
2021
1970 – With this ring, I thee wed.
1970 Don took our car so we took his back to our apartment.
1970 ready for the honeymoon so Ohio people would go back east

So we will go out for a fancy dinner and remind ourselves of all the joys we have shared over the years. I am still madly in love with this gorgeous man! He is a gift and a monstrous blessing to me. My life with him has been one grateful surprise after another grateful surprise. Oh Lord, You have made my life such a blessing through this holy matrimony.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Mark10:7-8 NIV
Carnations on top of cake, red, white and pink to represent each of us and the new creation of one flesh.

Things

Plop us down in one place for a year and suddenly we have things. Stacks of things. Lots of things. Things sitting out that could be put away. How do we accumulate all these things? How often do you pare down the things you have accumulated?

When we first moved into this house we rented a storage unit. We had things we were not certain we needed or should be rid of. Now it is mostly Christmas decorations, (I try to get rid of more every year). We are going to get rid of our storage unit and put our things in with someone else. Why pay for 2 when all the things fit in one unit!

However, that does not cover what is in the house. I have been slowly going through drawers and closets getting rid of things not used in the past year. We have been here for over a year so now is the time!

Are you overrun with things? I find things sometimes distract me from the Lord. The photos in my office remind me of Him and also of good times Bob and I have celebrated.

This lovely statue in Colorado is entitled “You might as well dance!”

And Arches National Park where I spotted the Trinity, or was it the Three Wise men in the shadows?

Regardless, the shadows remind me I am never alone

As I rearrange pots and pans and other things to better locations I am reminded to always fix my eyes upon Him. May you be blessed to do the same! More important than things is seeking His Kingdom.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 

Matthew 6:33

New and Old

Can almost go without orthotic boot except when walking long distances like at the Sisters of Charity convent from meeting room to cafeteria last weekend. Still doing my stretches and will likely need to do those the rest of my life. Long HOT summer in that boot, but at least I was able to get up and out with it!

Old computer would not run Windows 11 and all the other programs were going like molasses in winter. New computer set up has begun.

New computer, so much to wade through
Turn this security off
Install this other security
Connect to internet
Where is the chrome browser?
How will I ever get ready for writing
Sixteen hours from now
Download these files
Forget these, but I do not have patience 
to do that complicated technical stuff right now
Then suddenly security is installed.
Add this to taskbar.
Get this working
This will be weeks in the process
As I learn to look here
Forget there
Go over to this place
Learn something new every day?
This could be my brain bank building
For weeks on end!
Where are my music files?!?

intel CORE i7 Dell says there is blue some place on it, guess the dark ridged cover

Ha! Surprised myself being able to write this morning using this new computer and stuff.

Investment in writing, blogging and posting

I suppose without the technology most of you would not be able to read this unless I wrote it out on paper, had the photos developed, had access to your home address, put it in an envelope and sent it off with the proper postage. Yes, I am grateful for the means to be able to obtain the new computer, consult my son-in-law for the best model in my price range, etc. etc.

Most of all I am grateful to God for you, the readers, the gifting to put things in words, access to photos, etc. Learned at my retreat this weekend that I can find free photos at a site called Upsplash. I am looking forward to learning how to use that sight and not be using anyone’s photos without permission. SO here is the keyboard that brings you the blog words, but I use a desk top computer rather than a laptop most of the time.

Photo by Dell on Unsplash

Thank you, Lord, for making provision for this blog. Please bless the readers and the subscribers. May You be glorified in the work I do here. All glory be to You. Amen.