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.

Be Astonished

To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

During an evening walk with Lucky, when I was way beyond tired, delightfully astonished to find this praying mantis on a neighbor’s car.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 4-7 NIV

Present even your fatigue! Keep watching for those treasures in plain sight! Reminders of His care and the glory of His creation.

Praying Mantis outside office window at last home

Transitory Impermanence For All

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
  -  Robert Frost
Maple Trees Starting to change color | Maple trees just at t… | Flickr

Remember the first buds on the trees? I always think they predict the colors the leaves will take in autumn. Autumn is advancing here and the oak leaves out front are turning yellow then rapidly brown and falling to the ground. These deciduous trees should remind us of the impermanence of life. Things sprout, grow, endure, then change. Yet I am often surprised by the changes as if I were not 71 years old. I have seen this happen every single year I have been alive (except when I was in the California SF bay area for a year and a half. The seasons were strange. Daffodils blooming in January is just WRONG for a Midwestern woman.)

Why are we so surprised when we realize our very lives are impermanent? We expect childhood friendships to last forever. Rare occurrence in my experience. Our strength and flexibility wears down and sometimes even vanishes. Oh yes, they mean it when they say “Use it or lose it!”

We age. We change. Our opinions change. Nothing gold can stay. I have been saying they told us after 40 it was patch, patch, patch. I think after 70 we just start to crumble! Yet I am alive and intend to make the most of whatever time I have left.

Been working in that book Everyday is a Poem. This morning my life did not feel like a poem, but then I realized why not write it out? So I did. I surprised myself at what could be mined from a gray morning after a rough night. Will post that another day.

Nothing gold can stay. Rough nights may lead to gray mornings. Sun blasts them both away. These are things we are going THROUGH. We likely will not stay this way forever. If we do, God will give us grace and strength to endure.

Remember Ephesians 3:16-19?

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

NKJV

Praying that you, BEING ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE – that you may know the love of Christ. In season and out of season. With leaves or no leaves. Be rooted. Grasp hold of His love, the love that is reaching for you in the midst of this transitory life. His unchanging, everlasting love.

Grasp tightly with your roots!

Clay

She has a boyfriend. When he shows up at the volleyball games her smile is wider than the gymnasium. She doesn’t smile like that on other days.

Smitten. She is truly smitten. I pray he is kind to her. I think it helps that they attend different schools. She is three days older than he is. The families tease her about being a cougar. He is a junior. She is a senior.

He is a baseball player. She invited him to her homecoming dance with a baseball plate sign. He said yes.

Wait, wasn’t I just getting ready for homecoming? Oh. Now I am Grammy and this is my Grandgirl #2. Oh goodness. How the years have flown!

Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
    and parents are the pride of their children.

Proverbs 17:6 NIV

Kiss the Joy

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.”

William Blake

I likely had not read or heard this since high school. So true! And leads me to another bit of humor.

We have a niece who lives in England. She and her husband are expecting their first child in January. Since we are going to visit her mom in California next month, I needed to purchase some flannel and yarn for baby blankets. So I hit the sale at Joann’s fabrics.

A man entered the store after me. I overheard him ask an employee, “Where can I find the snaps?” Under my breath I laughed, “In Norwood!” You see, my mother’s maiden name was Snapp. Most of her family lived in the small town of Norwood, now completely surrounded by Cincinnati.

I was cracking myself up!

A few minutes later I came across him in the wrong isle. I told him my joke and he obviously knew where Norwood is. He cracked up, too. Then I showed him the correct isle.

“Kiss the joy as it flies, live in Eternity’s sunrise.” Wise man that Mr. Blake!

Physical therapy is a self-discipline that I am trying to rejoice over. Yes, I still have pain in my foot, but I am trying to walk more and stretch more in regular shoes. No easy feat after months in the boot. It reminds me of a prayer request I made to God many years ago. You are no doubt familiar with these retractable dog leashes? The owner starts on a walk and can push a button to let the dog run further and further ahead if desired. Pushing the button on the handle the leash begins to retract into the case.

When I first saw those I was , “Nope. Not for me.”

More my style, in fact, this is what Lucky uses. (Colored circles indicate colors to choose from)

My prayer became, “Lord, keep me on a short leash. I want to stay by Your side. Do not let me run too far ahead of You or lag behind. Please, keep me on a short leash.”

I pray you are doing your spiritual and physical disciplines. I hope you can rejoice in staying at the Master’s side on a short leash. I find I stay out of trouble that way!

While We Blithely Ride our Bikes

Have you noticed? Have you seen? Are your eyes open to things around you?

It has generally been in the high 70s to 80s here lately. More rain than we desire, but we have no control over that! I realized as Bob M. rode past my window as I write this blog that many of us are like children choosing to ignore the changing seasons until they are actually upon us. Then we resist jackets, coats, hats, gloves, but delight in car seat warmers. (I just want to know when are all cars going to have car seat coolers?)

Gloomy Ohio Morning Bob M.
Earth Declaring ©Molly Lin Dutina 22-9-3
Found a red maple leaf on deck
Driving I saw a falling leaf
Around the block two more leaves fell
Neighbor’s backyard
Looked as if someone smashed
Orange pumpkins
O. Leaves on ground
Earth is declaring
Unfolding of new season

While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease

Genesis 8:22 AMP

Late Summer Joy

It seems I have waited all spring and summer for the Jewelweed. I knew it bloomed but I had not noted when the flowers arrived last year. So fitting that the Latin name is Impatiens capensis, wrote impatient Molly Lin. Until we moved to Platform Street we had never had this lovely plant growing on our property.

Turns out this year the flowers were showing in late August. We had a flowerbed cultivated across the back of our yard. It was my sincere hope that the Jewelweed would not be erased by that plan. The good news is the Jewelweed stretches across our yard and the yards on either side of our property. It is said the name Jewelweed was given because it appears to sparkle when wet.

When I was a child l learned to recognize the tiny cornucopia-shaped flowers so I could find the seed pods when they formed. The magical pods, that when ripe, would explode at my touch and create tight coils from the edge of the pod that looked like ribbon curls at Christmas. Then I learned this was the ingenious way the plant spread its seeds.

Internet photo shows some seeds in burst pods

Rather like Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree,” the Jewelweed gifts me as I watch the hummingbirds and butterflies seek out each blossom for nectar. On the edge of my seat watching sparkling jewels when leaves are wet, cornucopia flowers, feeding station for hummers and butterflies, exploding seed pods, the plant that keeps on giving. I do not contract poison ivy, but have been told if you are exposed to it you should crush Jewelweed leaves and rub on the exposed area. It will diminish or eliminate the rash.

Jewelweed Trembles© Molly Lin Dutina 22-9-5

Jewelweed trembles
Just one stalk at a time
Not breeze
Hummingbird making
Morning patrols

Preparing supper 
I glance out kitchen window
Trembling Jewelweed
Nourishing hummers and butterflies
While I fix vittles
for dog and people

So learn to see this plant. If you get to walk in a park you might come across it. It also grows in ditches and likes wet places. Watch for those treasures in plain sight!!

Internet photo

Duckweed Thrives in Ohio

Are you old enough to remember “Sunday Drives?” Recently while we were driving around part of Eastfork Lake we went to one of our favorite little places where a road crosses a pond. With this orthotic boot still slowing me down, Bob has been very kind to try to find ways to entertain me. Going for a “Creamy Whip” ice cream and a drive is one of our amusements.

We hiked a trial here last autumn and delighted in the colors of the falling leaves. We also drove there last winter when things were frozen and cold. This day was totally different. Here is a summary from Aquaplant about Duckweed.

Where Does it Grow?

Duckweeds tend to grow in dense colonies in quiet water, undisturbed by wave action. Often more than one species of duckweed will be associated together in these colonies.

Is it Invasive?

Although Duckweed is native, it can be aggressive invaders of ponds and are often found mixed in with mosquito fern or watermeal. If colonies cover the surface of the water, then oxygen depletion and fish kills can occur. These plants should be controlled before they cover the entire surface of the pond.

Pros and Cons of Common Duckweed

Many kinds of ducks consume duckweed and often transport it to other bodies of water. Duckweed colonies provide habitats for micro invertebrates, but if duckweed completely covers the surface of a pond for an extended period of time, it will cause oxygen depletion. These colonies will also eliminate submerged plants by blocking sunlight penetration.

Aquaplant.tamu.edu/plant-identification/alphabetical-index/duckweed/common-duckweed/

In the height of summer this is what the pond looked like! Kermit would be totally camouflaged!

In the background are ducks on the log like turtles sunbathing. Plant blooming in the foreground is a common Mallow. Not photo-shopped! Just Grinch green pond.
Reeds in the distance on the right

Here is part of the trail we took last October. Lucky was thrilled with new things to smell and mark. Our friend Pat from Columbus calls it “pee-mail!”

Notice who is walking the board walk! Some loose boards made us leery of it.

And this will be the scene here very soon!

Autumn is a many colored thing!

Here is the same place in winter

Yes, this is the same place in January! photo by r m dutina

We both found this so funny, decided to share it with you. Look in the center of Bob’s photo for skid marks where a duck tried to land.

photo by r m dutina

So I guess we had better be grateful for the greenness and the heat! Before we know it there will be falling leaves, ice storms and who knows what! Be on the lookout for treasures in plain sight!

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together.

Psalm 34: 1-3 NRSV

Under the Deck

The dog took an interest in whatever was under the deck this spring. First time she went exploring in the mud I had to get a bucket of water to soak the mud out of her toes and nails. The second time she did the belly crawl underneath and into the mud and came out with her nails packed (and I mean packed) with mud, her entire white belly brown with it, legs, you name it, I had an absolute fit. I bathed her in cold hose water and I did not even care if she got chilled. Besides it was warm enough out side in my demented mind.

Bob agreed that, yes, she was making a terrible mess. He bought new boards that match the Trek deck and attached them to two sides of the deck that she can reach from her lead. That ended the exploring and mud bathing.

Then she took an interest in watching the far left corner of the deck. Staring for hours at either the yard or woods. She often lies down and puts her head between the bars to keep watch. We never have determined what she is looking for, but she is determined there is something out there to see. Has she seen the Doe with her twin Fawns out there, silent in the woods? The doe often leaves the fawns in the shrubbery while she goes to eat at the buffet one neighbor puts out for her. She is so silent I could easily miss her visits if I did not see her movement. Or has Lucky seen something come out from under the deck? Maybe something like this!

Notice the nice job Bob did blocking Lucky! Also, notice the Palm Rock on the windowsill 🙂
I think this was mama bunny before she delivered her kittens!

We are frequently convinced that Lucky is smarter than we are. She hears thunder and lightning before we do. She knows the movements of the animal world beyond our comprehension. Sometimes that is maddening, like when she is underfoot and fearful of an approaching storm while we are getting dinner ready. Or last night when she refused to urinate during her last walk of the evening because she sensed something we did not. Was there a coyote nearby? Will never know.

From the size of the rabbits who frequent the neighbors lots and now ours, these are no “Little Rabbit Foo-foos .” I do not think Lucky would kill a rabbit, but we are not planning on turning her loose to find out!

My Poetry

I have published a bit of my poetry on this blog. Recently I finally ordered a new-to-me book that I have wanted for a couple years. It is titled Every day is a Poem, by Jacqueline Suskin. If I want to be a good poet I need to practice and work on that skill. This book is already helping me take that discipline seriously.

On one of our recent vacations to North Carolina the shelling where we were staying was lousy because they were dredging to fill in the shoreline only a mile or so from our Air B & B. My eyes are always peeled for not only shells, but stones and other things that draw my attention and speak to me. I found a lovely yellow rock with I think a bit of quartz in it. The rock went nto my hand, then eventually as hands got busy, into my pocket. Then into my suitcase. Now in my bedroom windowsill. (I just love that Bob paid to have a few windowsills built and installed for me!)

Here she is on the kitchen counter in the brightest light.!

Palm Rock © Molly Lin Dutina 22-8-23

Palm rock
Yellow power
Absorbs light
Cannot pass it on though
Too dense
But glows

Flat side rests upon
Curled fingers or windowsill nicely
Curved side delights my palm
Absorbs my heat

Where have you been for eons?
What forces formed you?

You absorb
Calm, smooth me out
Thank you for
Coming home in my pocket

Resting on the sill
You gather the light
And glow
Reminding me to look
Observe
Note 
Write

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:37-40 NIV

Praise Him and rejoice that He gives us the Word of God, stones and shells, countless ways to praise the God of heaven and earth.