It is SO difficult to capture a photo of falling leaves! There is one upper left!

The drama of autumn has been happening very rapidly here. Just thought I’d share the changes.

Loved waking up to this flaming tree in the distance!

Same trees less than one week later!

This morning some leaves were falling one by one. Then a gust of wind took bunches at a time. The back hill is mostly naked tree trunks now. We can see more activity with the birds who remain. The grandeur of watching the seasons change that hill is one reason I delight in this house. Our lot is pie shaped and the back hill is just natural woods. It is as if we have a different backyard four times a year!


Sword and Shield

Ephesians 6 teaches us about the full armor of God to use for spiritual warfare. Paul wrote that we should not only dress in our armor, but “take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God and the shield of faith with which we can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”

This is not the sword of King Arthur. These weapons are “mighty for the pulling down of strongholds.” (1 Corinthians 10:4) There are several ways to memorize the verses about the armor. One is to recite them while doing something like exercises you must count. Another is to envision dressing yourself in them every morning. I like to put them on head to toe and then the hand pieces. Some teach the belt comes first.  I envision the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, and gird your loins in truth (as if putting on panty hose, you remember those, right?). Shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. Put on the robe of righteousness that Jesus bought for you. Take up the sword and shield and stand. And having done all, stand and pray!

Once we were in Smoky Mountain National Park driving the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail just outside of Gatlinburg. This is a spectacular drive that begins up in the mountains and follows Roaring Fork river. There are many parking areas to get out and explore spectacular views of rivers, rocks, tumbling water, old buildings, overall fun.

Imagine my surprise when we parked and stepped out in the parking lot to this rock: IMG_2333

After years of putting on the armor this is an image I will never forget. Truly a treasure in plain sight!


Quietness? Trust?

Isaiah 30:15a is what Baptists would call my “life verse.”

In returning and rest I am saved; in quietness and trust is my strength.

The remainder of the verse says “BUT YOU WOULD NOT.” Daily I am challenged to enter the morning this way or stick in the WOULD NOT arena.

For example, the dryer broke last night and there were two loads of wash waiting for it’s warm air to fluff them. I hung wet sheets on the basement lines and began to ponder with my husband what to do about the situation. We found no obvious cause for the failure to work.

Posted my situation on Facebook. One friend came up with a trustworthy repairman to call.

This morning I wondered how to proceed? I have a birthday lunch apppointment in another area of town at 11:30. Cancel? Proceed? Pray and get quiet. And here came the Isaiah verse. “In returning and rest I am saved; in quietness and trust is my strength.”

Inhale in returning and rest I am saved. Exhale in quietness and trust is my strength. Quiet my   mind. Quiet my heart. Listen and rest. Glancing out the window I saw a white cloud scudding across a brilliant blue sky. High winds in the forecast today and that cloud was bookin’ it. And then the cloud was gone.

poof… as if it had never been here. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” NIV Ps 19:1

Return to the quiet Molly Lin. Rest and trust that my life is in His care. Quietly push back the cares and concerns and stay present. Here. Now.

There is a quote attributed to both Winston Churchill and Mark Twain, so obviously, no one is certain who said it first! “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”


So took my shower and decided to adopt that wait and see attitude towards the day. Called repairman and left a message to please call me. Another friend offered to dry the soaking wet towels at her house. Set that up. Repairman called and could meet me late this afternoon after my luncheon appointment. Sweet! And there was still time left in the morning to write this.

The God of Creation has me and each situation I face. If only I will return to Him to rest in quietness and trust I will find salvation and strength to meet each situation.

god of the heavens


Hillsong United states it so very well for me. Enjoy!


Not Quite Plain Sight

… unless you travel out a ways by boat.

We went out on the Sanctuary Cruise in Moss Beach, California to whale watch.


The white plume to the right is a whale exhaling. The naturalist on board taught us to look for bird activity, with seals and stirred up water. Shortly the whales would appear. They stirred up food from the bottom and that attracted the birds and seals. These were humpbacked whales and not seal eaters.


This one shows the seals and other activity. Sadly the man taking photos next to me is blurring the left side. I am not accomplished enough to remove him from the photo and keep the left whale.


And the fun continued! The mist from the plume drifted our way. The captain asked how we liked liked whale breath! It was fishy and fun in a whale sighting kind of way!! My favorite is the one minute video I took, but I have to pay lots more for the blog if I post videos. The video went to my facebook account.


Our trip was worth every penny. We had such fun. I marveled the God did not HAVE to allow us to see theses fantastic creatures. And yet, He did! So with the flip of the tail I say good day!




Lillies With Magic Powers

There is a plant I have never grown, though many people in the area have them in their yards. This pink flower shows up with a cry of “Surprise!” After the foliage has died away. They have several names.


Surprise Lily, Magic Lily, Resurrection Lily and Naked Lady because the leaves die back before the flowers emerge. These flowers are part of the amaryllis family. I enjoy those flowers in January! Researching this I discovered resurrection lilies can be used as cut flowers! Oooh, I “may have to get me some of those!”

Smoky Mountains in Spring

We love to hunt wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains national park. One of the most elusive is the Lady’s Slipper. I will never tell you where we found these, as folks tend to want to steal them, hoping they will grow in their garden. Well, frankly, that is against the law and most likely they will never grow at your house as they need very specific conditions to grow and then to bloom.

According to the U.S.D.A. Forest service “In order to survive and reproduce, pink lady’s slipper interacts with a fungus in the soil from the Rhizoctonia genus. Generally, orchid seeds do not have food supplies inside them like most other kinds of seeds. Pink lady’s slipper seeds require threads of the fungus to break open the seed and attach them to it. The fungus will pass on food and nutrients to the pink lady’s slipper seed. When the lady’s slipper plant is older and producing most of its own nutrients, the fungus will extract nutrients from the orchid roots. This mutually beneficial relationship between the orchid and the fungus is known as “symbiosis” and is typical of almost all orchid species.

“Pink lady’s slipper takes many years to go from seed to mature plants.  Seed-bearing harvest of wild lady’s slipper root is not considered sustainable. Pink lady’s slippers can live to be twenty years old or more.”

So we go to the Smoky’s to relax.


And we hunt for these.

And even the ones that are wilting bless our hearts!

Then back to the river for more refreshment.

And maybe one more surprise !


The Wise Turtle and Bloom

Turtle and Bloom © 09-07-21 Molly Lin Dutina

I came upon a turtle at the pond today. I missed her completely the first time I walked past. She was totally camouflaged by duck weed. The lily leaves were withering and the ones left standing placed shadows around her similar to the shape of her shell.


I took one photo and drew closer to the water’s edge for another, hoping she would not slip into the water and vanish completely from my sight.
I posed no threat as she remained in her position on the log. I began to realize that she must be a very old turtle by her size.

As I changed my position along the shore, I could see her more clearly. I began to notice the lily leaves, first as obstacles to my photographic efforts, and then as tattered, themselves old from a hot summer of sun and storms and wind. I was reminded of the poem I wrote at the Nature Center 19 years ago about the lily pads, (for the complete poem see the Stand and Tip blog) and the subsequent admonition from the Lord to me, “Perhaps I could ask you just to be a lily leaf. Fill up with mercurial spheres and overflow. Stand and tip. Ponder this My lily shield.” Here I am at the same location these many years later, seeking solace and direction at my current age in my current state.

The next photo attempt brought the lovely lily bloom into my photographic range. I had seen a dropped petal in the weeds along the shore line. It was fresh and somewhat velvety as I placed it between folds of paper in my journal.


When I tried to frame the next photo the blossom made for good composition. Tired leaves, old turtle, flower blooming, though fading. Suddenly I was looking at a mini portrait of my life in the very frog pond that inspired me so many years ago. I have been wrestling with the topic of aging and the pain and distress that seem to be increasing in my body as I age.

2 COR 4: 16-18 came to mind: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

I had recently mentioned to Bob that I do not like to grow white roses as the petals begin to darken with the slightest bruising. Here I see a creamy lily flower bearing the beating of sun, wind, and storms yet barely showing the effects in her waxy petals. The aging turtle remained on the log, still enjoying her sunbathing, unperturbed by one woman on the shore taking digital photos. The lily leaves tattered, yet most still erect on their flexible stalks, able to gather a summer shower and tip when the pad is full.
At first glance my negative mind set cries, “Just look at her! Surrounded by decay and destruction! Duckweed hanging on her lovely shell. Leaves decaying and spoiled all around her! All alone on that log!” Then as I ponder I see her wisdom caused her to cover her shell with duckweed to blend in, her courage in taking a sunbath even if the other turtles choose not to, and regardless of her surroundings she is looking up, even now, the changes in my attitude begin. Wisdom, courage, and keep looking up! Yes, as one author said, “I need me some of that!”

turtlelcloseup5by7Upon closer inspection I am able to see the lovely colors in her neck, the awesome nails and webbing in her feet. The coloring continues around the under-edge of her shell into her legs. Most importantly, I realize she is looking up, as I am called to do, fixing my eyes upon things eternal. Letting go of the obvious pain and aging issues I am able to relax on my favorite bench and simply soak in the pond activity: belching frogs, passing humans, bird song and noonday joy.

Eeyore! In the Black Hills

Did you know that Custer State Park has donkeys who run wild? They are fairly tame though. Bob had great fun watching me balance and walk across an extra wide cattle guard that was similar to this photo so I could get a closer look at them and some photos.


Now mind you, the guard I crossed was crowded with people and cars all flocking to see the donkeys. But it was this color with very wide spaces between the bars.

It was worth the crossing though! The “Burros” (which is Spanish for donkey) are undomesticated. They were released into the park after the original herd that took visitors to the top of Black Elk Peak had their job discontinued. So the donkeys there today are descendants of the working donkeys.

They are also called Beggar Donkeys as they have learned to beg from the tourists. And the tourists have spoiled them rotten with vegetables and apples.

They were tame and soft. Some larger than others. I especially liked the one with the black stripe!975f5930-c938-4ac0-bec6-d93fada9a69d.jpeg
So as Eeyore might say, “Guess I’ve seen everything now! Donkeys being fed by tourists and begging rather than foraging the prairie of delicious grass! Oh well. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe, I will get some free food if I find some tourists. We’ll see.”

Oh Give Me A Home

where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play!

How about traffic stopped by a heard of bison? Think Custer State Park, South Dakota.


Do not ever remember seeing bison calves before this! Well worth the wait in traffic!


The herd came down a hill and crossed into the meadow. We were uncertain if the traffic was stopped because of gawkers or the herd. In a while two men in pickup trucks arrived with warning lights flashing on top. Turns out they were “herders” there to move the herd along. They encouraged them to cross the road again. And eventually the traffic began to move again.