What Do We See on Hawaii?

Hope is radical openness for surprise – for the unimaginable. If that is the attitude with which we look, listen, and open all our senses, we enter into a meaningful relationship with whatever Life offers us at a given moment.

Br. David Steindl-Rast

Oh my! We had no idea that most of the island has black lava, was populated upon black and brown lava. Guess we never really thought about it. There are wild goats populating that lava. They are feral and out of control. Scrub that reminded me a bit of the high desert in New Mexico?

We were in a bit of shock with the radical time change of 6+ hours. There are road signs about donkeys crossing, but we never saw any and began calling them ghost donkeys.

Well, I am home now. The laundry is mostly finished. The garden has gone wild with maple shoots. The ferns have escaped the garden bed. There are bills to be paid. Receipts to put away. Oh my goodness! The landscaping company that was supposed to take care of the lawns in this neighborhood quit and the grass has reseeded. Lucky does not quite know what to make of grass seeds hitting her in the face? The new company is here this morning and the machines are roaring.

Okay, I think maybe I have some other things that require my attention here before I try to focus and write this blog!

We saw bananas growing on the trees. Crops that we were grateful were labeled: limes, oranges, lemons, etc. Coffee trees and macadamia nut groves.

I will try in the days to come to write about all of these.

I am so grateful to God – Mahalo! (thank you) – we were kept safe from physical harm. I got a couple bug bites, but no big deal! We were smart enough to recognize our limitations. Mourned a bit that we did not have the strength and stamina to snorkel. Wished we had made the trip 10-15 years ago, but that was not to be. Kept our sunscreen on. Saw many folks with sunburn. They actually inspired me to be careful and not envious. Amazing how the dermatologist inspired me, too, by cutting that thing I could not discern off my arm last winter.

Our mighty God traveled with us, met us there, and kept us in all of our activities and decisions not to participate in some things. All praise to His mighty name for ever! Mahalo, Lord, mahalo!!

According to Travel and Leisure, the word mahalo is a Hawaiian word used in all parts of Hawaii by Hawaiians to mean thank you and express gratitude. This word is often used as a greeting to express esteem, praise or admiration, or as a compliment with sincerity in every day life. You might say mahalo in return for delicious food if the good food really stuck you.  The word mahalo is three syllables – mah-hah-loh . Mahalo nui loa means thank you very much.

The word mahalo is more than just a thank you in Hawaiian thinking, It is a divine blessing on a spiritual level with a deeper meaning. This is used in everyday life and also on special occasions like the birthday of an elder or for sacredness like prayers or single-word blessings. Use this word respectfully.


Prom and Other Happenings

Remember Brody the flour covered dog? He got a date to prom!

This is that very long legged hound, if you recall from previous post!

Here is Ellie in her gown

And with her proud parents!

I was hoping the poppies I bought would bloom before we departed. The first one was orange and I hooray-ed! The second one was yellow and I was delighted!

And yes, spring warmth has finally arrived complete with humidity and emerging ferns!

I bought one fern in 1985. We have shared so many ferns off of the original plant. I have given the root away to friends and now we have them growing nicely at this our third and likely final house!!

Suitcases are packed. Laundry is done. Ride to airport arranged. Cannot believe it is finally time to go! We deliver Lucky to Lizzie tomorrow. Our house sitters are all set up. Woo-Hoo! Happy 52+ wedding anniversary to us!!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
    His love endures forever.

Psalm 118:1 NIV

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.
His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1 NIV

And let His people say Amen! And let the Robert Dutina family say Amen! Let all God’s people say Amen!

When you read this we are packing to go to Maui tomorrow! I am stunned writing these details. 🙂


Wowsers! This year has flown past. We attended our Grandgirl’s last volleyball club tournament yesterday. Seems we just attend her first game in elementary school – or was that middle school? Well, no matter, she actually graduates in a few weeks! She will go on to play with University of Cincinnati Clermont campus volleyball team. First though is Senior prom and graduation!

I bought a pot of Asian lilies and planted them in the front garden. A sharp wind during a rainstorm one day broke off one stem of blooms. A bird had also perched in the tree above the lilies and decorated the blossoms with its waste. Yuck. Somehow in all the Scriptures about the lilies of the field and the flowers of the earth to my knowledge that event is never mentioned! Imagine.

By the time you read this we will have landed in Hawaii for our trip of a lifetime! Our one and only visit to the 50th State. We had planned to go in 2020 for our 50th wedding anniversary and our 50th state to visit. The pandemic cancelled that. At that time Hawaii said “You can come but you have to quarantine for 2 weeks.” We can barely afford ten days in Hawaii much less 24! So our trip is finally underway. Married 52 years now!

My mother always wanted to visit to see the flowers growing there, but she died having never been there. Her sister also lived there. I have two cousins living in Lihue, but we will not be able to see them. The commuter flight between islands is $115 per person. We plan to visit Hawaii and Maui. They live on Kauai.

I can barely believe we are actually going. I typed out our itinerary spelling (to us) bizarre names like Waikoloa, Akala, Holualoa, Punaluu. Realized I had misspelled Kilauea once I said it out loud! We are staying at Hapuna beach on Hawaii (not so bad) and Kaanapali on Maui. Monokalani and Kaihalulu are weird. It does not help that instead of trying to pronounce the names while we planned Bob just made up words with lots of vowels and syllables!!

So as long as we remember to get groceries on Maui at the airport city in Kahukui on Kaahumanu avenue, (oh my!) we ought to be fine?

Because every single thing is imported to Hawaii all the prices are high. We will likely return broke. Our daughter says to go ahead and spend!

Please pray for safe travels! Opening photo is by Michael Swiet.

Walking at CNC

Do you know what the opening photo is? Some even harvest these and sell them!

Bob and I love to hunt wildflowers. If you have ever searched for a particular shell at a beach you can relate. We search for Lady’s Slippers, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Larkspur, etc. We have only found Lady’s Slippers in the Smoky Mountains National Park, but the others we can find locally especially at Cincinnati Nature Center (CNC).

photo by Molly

This fellow was so lovely with the sun shining through it! Sadly the ground around it is covered with Lesser Celandine which has earned the status of invasive. The Nature Center is researching ways to eradicate it. If you look at the top edge of the log above you can see the moss blooming! Beyond those tiny filaments are daffodil leaves starting to grow blossoms for 2024.

Another Jack by Molly

One friend told us when they showed a Jack-in-the-Pulpit to a young person they had to explain what a pulpit was! A pulpit is traditionally where a preacher stands to deliver the sermon. The older pulpits sometimes had a cover over them like a roof, thus the flower resemblance. In case you are still unaware, below is a sampling of pulpits! Our church does not have a pulpit or even a lectern. The Pastor just sits on a stool and talks from there.

pulpit samples on line

When we hiked Whipple Sate Nature Preserve we saw Larkspur in many colors. We also saw them yesterday at Sycamore Park in Batavia.

We agreed that walking Sycamore was so much easier than Whipple! The dog loves the trail and was not allowed at Whipple. We like this park because it is level and even paved! We walked along the East Fork of the Little Miami river, too. The sound of the running water, spring song birds … just made me breathe deeply and thank the Lord for His blessings and refreshment!

The wild dogwoods through the other forest trees were a blessing at CNC!

Are you making time to slow down, listen to the natural world around you or nearby? Do you only lament your feeling of being dried up or make an effort to renew your connection with the Source of Life? I hope you will make an effort to do just that this week!

The Virginia Bluebells at Sycamore park were well past their prime. Bob bought me a Bluebell at the Nature Center plant sale. It looks pitiful in the back garden right now. Praying it will rebound and bless us next year with flowers! Just saw that something is eating holes in the leaves. Uh oh!

Take a walk this week and look for treasures in plain sight!

My dear man walking the trail at CNC

The opening photo was take of worm casings. Evidently very rich for your garden!

Hiking, Suffering and Wildflowers

Joy is the transformation of our suffering, not the escape of all we have to face.

Mark Nepo

This post has had difficult showing up. I changed the type of WordPress account and some things did not transfer so easily. So If you have read this already, forgive me! Or enjoy the flowers once more.

May Apple struggles with dead leaf

This quote and this May Apple spoke to me. I also saw a trillium struggling with a dead leaf. Will I embrace these images and know that my suffering too can be transformed? Will I grasp that I do not have to escape all I have to face?

We took a walk at Eastfork state park. Then within a day or two we walked Whipple Nature Preserve. We had been there 2 years ago, during the pandemic. Wow! We were in older bodies now. Because of partial muscle tear in my right shoulder I could only use my walking stick with my left hand/arm. The hike was more difficult than we remembered, but when we got to the Betony Poppies it was well worth it!

Betony Poppies (yellow) and Large-Flowered Trillium (white)

The poppies covered many places on the hillside. At one point my phone got too hot next to my hiking body. This Brigadoon-like photo resulted.

Yes, it was a magical place!

How many other hillsides are covered with flowers and wonders that we never see? We are blessed to find these. I bask in their beauty. I had been feeling drained and empty. This helped fill my well again!

We saw “Nodding Trillium” which another hiker told us is supposed to bloom white. Yet here, it is blooming red!

Yes, the bloom is under the leaf! photo by r m dutina

Back to the quote above, we both were aching by the time we returned to the car. We promised we would skip one half of the trail next time… walk the branch to the left at the fork and then come back that way after we see flowers.

And oh, there were flowers! The trout lily had already bloomed. They have a special place in our hearts as at our last house they absolutely covered the hillside. The other flowers made up for missing the trout lilies! Violets in yellow, white, confederate, and purple wood violets or blue if you prefer!

photo by r m dutina
squaw root by r m dutina

As said on TV, “But wait! There’s more!!”

Shooting stars and squirrel corn!

I cannot seem to find just one name for this trillium. I have always called it Wake-Robin but online seems to call it ToadShade.

Photo by r m dutina

I left some flower photos out. We were drenched in beauty by the time we hiked back to the car. The reason I wanted to return to this hike was the Virginia Bluebells. One hiker told us they were about finished. I had almost given up hope of reaching them and Poof! There they were!

photo by r m dutina. Good thing he captured this. I was so delighted to see them, but also so tired that I never took a picture!

I am writing this on Tuesday after the Sunday hike. Yep, I am still sore and aching. Will I do it again next year? I will, with God’s help!!

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

Psalm 24:1 KJV
photo by r m dutina

It seems as if this tree next to where we parked is saying,”Good job, guys! High five!”

Driven to Distraction

Many things occur in our neighborhood that are accompanied with sounds and noise. When I am writing the blog (preferable on Monday and Tuesday mornings) I pray, play music and try to tune out all the distractions. Today was no different.

Except, there was this clunk. Then later another clunk. Then two clunks in a row. The sounds were not rhythmic like a worker. Finally, I could not take it and had to go try to find the source of the distracting disturbance. What was causing this commotion?

I went outside. Okay the Royce fertilizer guy was down the street, but not making the noise I kept hearing. Nothing to the left of our house. Nothing else to the right.

I went out back. No workers there that I could detect. The trees have filled out so it is a bit harder to see the other houses. I went into the master bathroom. When I came back to the kitchen there was the sound. A Robin at the sliding glass door!

Earlier we had seen robins on the deck which is unusual. They seemed huge and likely were just puffed against the wind and chill. April 24 and 33 degrees! Go figure! One in particular seemed to be liking the rungs under the black metal porch side table. I noticed piles of gooey waste from that bird. Rinsed them off with glasses of water.

Now Lucky wanted in on the act. I told her to chase the birds off. Instead she decided to roll her ear in the most recent pile of waste. I moved the sliding screen door. I moved the lace curtain thinking perhaps she was seeing a “rival” in the door – her reflection. I put plastic planters upside down in front of the door and brought the water hose over the railing. Back to writing.

Thump. Thump. Really? I went to the door declaring, “I need cat!” and called “Here kitty, kitty.” No response though there had been an orange tabby in the yard recently.

I moved the sliding screen over the door where I thought the bird was knocking. This time I left the dog out on the deck. Of all the places in this wooded area, why our deck? Oh well. Those birds should go next door. That neighbor has a sliding glass door, too. She has a deck and no pets!

Do you know the center verse of the Bible? (These are facts that Christians like to collect.) I think the center verse is no accident as it has kept me from many troubles.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to put confidence in man.

Psalm 118:8. Another version reads “than to put confidence in mortals.” Take refuge in the LORD. Not the ones about you who you can see and hear, but who will die. The Almighty LORD, King over angel armies, He is to be our refuge.

The photo above was from online. It reminds me! We are going to make the trip of a lifetime (at least for us). When our 50th wedding anniversary rolled around we had planned to go to visit our 50th state. That was when the pandemic hit. Hawaii basically said, “You can come here, but you must quarantine for 2 weeks before you travel about.” My response was I can barely afford 2 weeks in Hawaii, much less a month!” So we put off our trip. Bob was really liking the idea of our 50th state and our 50th anniversary 😦

So this year we will celebrate our 53rd wedding anniversary and visit our 50th state! We have consulted our Hawaii experts the Cookseys. We have met several times with a travel agent. Bob is trying to overcome his discomfort about being on an island (or two) totally surrounded by water. We want to see the flowers, helicopter over the volcanoes, see rainbows, enjoy the tropics, birds, jungle plants, etc. Bob plans to eat lots of seafood. I think pineapple sounds delicious. I am even thinking about taking a vacation from writing the blog. Yikes, (Can she do that?)

We have a dog sitter. A house sitter. And by the time we return we might actually be broke! Our daughter says to go ahead and spend. We just might on this trip!

My Younger Friend

I just love that I have gotten to know a much younger neighbor who is also a Christian. We share quite a few things from encouragement for our journey to recipes. Last summer we shared leadership during a summer Bible study group. Kassie brings a much younger version of faith into my life. Her videos have skateboards and jeans with split knees! The song in her post called Fear Not is one that I had to put on replay about 17 times. Such comfort to our souls.

She is a school teacher and is enthusiastic with her students. I have yet to visit her classroom, though I want to very much. She also writes a blog and has given me permission to re-post her writing from the week after Easter. Enjoy!

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In the Stillness

In the Stillness

Take a Rest

When I got home from work today and finally sat down to eat dinner, I knew I was down for the count for the rest of the night. I was thinking darn…I really wanted to get _________ done and I really needed to _____________. Then I thought to myself, why?? I am tired! All I want to do is rest, and that is okay!

This verse immediately came to my mind. It’s been bringing me a lot of peace lately, reminding me to not only rest, but to rest with God and to bring Him my burdens and worries. The song below has the scripture in it and is a reminder I need often.

When my troubles are a little too heavy
Who I can turn to, to share the weight?
When my mind is cluttered and cloudy
Who can I turn to, to clear the way?
Who can I turn to, I turn to You

You said Your yoke is easy
You said Your burden’s light
So I’ll let You
Lead me
For all my life

Some days are long, some work is tough
Whatever I lack You make it up
Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light
You gave me life, You give me love
Whenever I’m dry You fill my cup
Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light

I feel a little lighter just listening to that! I love the line…I will let go and follow empty handed! That’s what rest helps us to do. To remember that even if we take a break, things won’t fall apart…and even if they do, we can pick up the pieces tomorrow 🙂

So I took to google images to find a quote on rest and calling it quits for the day…I found this one that I liked…

Then I found this one that was a little too relatable!! Same quote, whole different kind of mood! Haha

I just wanted to quickly write this for anyone else who like me, needs to hear that it is not only okay, but it is necessary to rest!

The song below has been my absolute favorite for the last week. It is so beautiful and it is Scripture!

Isaiah 41:10 KJV “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

We fear not because God is with us. We can rest because we have God. He strengthens us and helps us…He alone holds us up and rest is an act of surrender!

Enjoy your rest…I’m off to rest too ❤

The Work of God

This book is a collection of psalms and prayers with the subtitle ‘A Benedictine Prayer Book.’ I have owned it for a while now, but just recently began using it again. If you need a reading discipline you can cover Proverbs in one month with a chapter a day. You can cover the Psalms in a month with about 5 chapters a day. I broke Psalm 119 into smaller daily sections as it is so very long by itself! Below is my Psalms chart should you want an idea of how I do it.

DayPSALMSPsalm 119DayPSALMSPsalm 119

After covering the Psalms for a couple years I moved on to other devotions. So coming upon “The Work of God is rather like a refresher course in the Psalms . While reading one section with Psalm 115 and Psalm 116 I thought I would like to blog about it.

Compiled by the Revered Thomas McKenzie, Obl.S.B.

Psalm 115 begins with “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your Name give glory; because of your love and because of your faithfulness.” Then it goes on later to command Israel and the House of Aaron and “You who fear the Lord to trust in the Lord; he is their help and their shield.” I was taught that when something is written repeatedly in Scripture we are to pay attention to the repetition! Trust in the Lord, He is our help and our shield.

Don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get. When I am feeling weak and needing strength to get through each day I need to trust the Lord and know He is my help. He is my shield.

Why in 2023 would we need a shield? Most often we think of a shield in terms of warfare and combat. Do you realize we are at war every day because we trust and rely on the Living Lord? The enemy of our souls does everything in His power to undermine our trust in God. He began in the garden of Eden by having Eve and Adam question what God said to them. He continues to this day to bombard us with doubts, fears, unrest about God our Father. Yes, we undoubtedly need a shield about us. You, LORD, are my shield.

The next verses declare:

The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us;
He will bless the house of Israel;
He will bless the house of Aaron.
13 He will bless those who fear the Lord,
The small together with the great.

Psalm 115: 12-13 NASB

The final verse in this Psalm says “But we will bless the Lord, from this time forth for evermore. Hallelujah!

Poetry and Pain

In church one morning I was drawn to the cry of a baby some place in the congregation. I did not get upset or distressed by it. I seem to be naturally drawn to all babies everywhere. This baby spoke to my soul. Here is the verse that followed that hearing.

Tiny Baby in the Background© 2014 Molly Lin Dutina

Tiny baby in the background
crying, crying
and I am drawn to her
as the tiny baby inside me
cries write it, write it

Struggling under the fog of constant pain
drugs, drugs, 
distraction to nth degree
rock that baby and hold her
comfort her, rock her

Unconditional love and kindness
will prove again the victor
as, given time,
the words will come
Be at peace

I am not usually drugged in order to cope with the chronic pain. Obviously I was that day in 2014.

Aunt Ra

Bob’s Aunts lived in New York City. The last time I saw Aunt Ra alive she was in the hospital suffering from cancer. I wrote this as we were leaving New York to return home to Cincinnati.

Profound Sense © 2000 Molly Lin Dutina

How can I leave you here in your suffering?
Who will escort you when employees
are careless about their duties and
don’t even want to be at work today?
Will someone wrap you in tenderness
when the struggle seems overwhelming?
Can an advocate arise in the
technical discussion of your treatment
with you too weak to speak
transported in agony
beyond concern for choices
all effort towards enduring
present life demands?

As I hold your hand and
smooth your temple in the
radiology holding area
I am reminded that as I
comfort you, I comfort Jesus.
Your gaunt features remind me of
the asceticism of St. Francis.
One niece says you resemble
a female Buddhist monk.

As I turn from you
not wanting to burden you
with my weeping
I marvel at the ability
I am given to walk.
Sobs consume me because
I cannot help you more.
How can I get in a car
put hundreds of miles between us
and be unaffected by your struggle?
I cannot.
So I am reduced to a 
profound sense of helplessness.

Others’ eyes avert from my
weeping countenance.
I cannot stop the tears
and I do not try.
The ingratitude of those not helpless
assaults my brain and senses.
“Christ above you, Christ within you,
Christ beneath you.
Christ on your right, Christ on your left
Christ in every eye that sees you
Christ in every voice that speaks to you.”

I marvel
even as I weep
that I can peel and eat
an orange
blow my nose
drink a Coke
think of you
-all virtually unaided-
except for the life force
that keeps me from
disease, suffering, death.
I use every tissue in my possession.
I mop my face with napkins.
Swollen eyes, red, bulbous nose
so what?

In the hospital corridors they stare.
The brisk breeze at the bus stop
startles me – I am alive.
On the bus they wonder
why I cry and sniff
St. Patrick’s Hymn rolls through my soul
“Christ with you, Christ before you,
Christ behind you.
I arise today through a mighty strength
The invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the Threeness
Through confession of the oneness
Towards the Creator.”
And I commend you into those
Holy Hands and keeping.

Be certain to listen to at least the second minute of the music!