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

Threes

Have you noticed things in your life that occur in certain numbers? I seem to have many 3’s.

My favorite Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Three Grandkids: Lizzie, Ellie and Rowan.

This is the third house we have owned and likely our last.

I have lived in California, Kentucky and Ohio.

Many more than three favorite flowers! If I had to choose only 3 they would be carnations (garden variety or commercial as long as they have that spicy fragrance), peach colored roses (again preferably with fragrance) and King Alfred daffodils, (only yellow large trumpets).

Loves of my life: Robert Milan, Emily Kathryn and Jeffrey Robert.

What is your recurring number?

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14

One Thing Missing

One thing remains missing. I owned a small yellow paper sign that said YIELD. This past decade it hung on my office closet wall. I saw it more often than you might think.

Since the move we have not been able to locate it. There is always the chance that I threw it out, but I find that highly unlikely.

Over the years I have tried to learn this concept in relation to my Lord. “Constant, yielded, joyful, peaceful obedience to the Almighty.”

"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" - 1990
"Mighty love overwhelming every fear
	If I yet yield
	Turn once again
	Open my hands
	Release it all to You.

By grand design and holy
You rearrange the pieces
Until components black emerge
Glistening silver, white, bejeweled
Beyond my hopes.

So here in wonder
Again I open my hands
That You may have Your perfect way
In this one yielded woman." -2011
"Refresh, renew, anoint, empower
immerse, drench, wash in Living Water
alive to God
yielded to Holy Spirit." - 2014
"The clay is very still,
not quaking with expectation, but yielded.
Not disappointed with clay life
just allowing the Potter to create
and re-create, shape, mold, spin" - 2012

So as I ponder where that little paper sign has been placed, it hit me (like a 2 x 4 in the head!) I am suddenly THINKING about YIELD more than usual. I even went on-line to try to replace that old one with a new one. I was dissatisfied because new ones are red and white whereas my old one was yellow and black.

Surprise, Molly Lin, there is a new yield that applies to your life now! A cardboard red and white sign would fit with international road signs.

YIELD in Irish Gaelic

Instead of merely thinking about YIELD it is time to yield to the days and times as they unfold. Yes, I commit Monday and Tuesday mornings to writing. Obviously, as noted yesterday, that does not always work out.

Waking the writing muse can be beyond my powers. One often just has to wait until the stirring comes. I can, however, determine to try to yield to my Lord as I am moved to love, be gentled by God’s love, stir to obedience in each hour, make notes (even inside black and white paper bags) and show up for life.

Perhaps the loss of that little paper sign has been more powerful than frustration and aggravation. It has renewed in me a sense of obedience, drawing me back to the most important thing, the one thing.

1978 Humor and Hymn

 The Lord answered her, `Martha, Martha, you are worrying. You are troubled about many things.

Only one thing is needed. What Mary has chosen is good. And it will not be taken away from her.’

Luke 10:41-42 Worldwide English

Be certain to choose well!

Stuck Stymied

I was pondering what to write for this weeks’ blog entries. I realized I was stuck. We went to a craft store in New Richmond called The Collective: Local Handcrafted Goods. I only purchased one small item. As we drove away I told Bob that seeing the creativity of all those artists (over 120 of them) I was stirred within me to capture my own creativity.

Then I remembered the “Just Look” observation from the morning. I grabbed the shopping bag from the store that was lined with white paper and began recording my “Just Look.”

21-9-20 One Leaf Falling ©Molly Lin Dutina
I saw a leaf fall
From high in the tree
It drifted down, down,
Down 85 feet
Reminding me soon
There will be millions of leaves on the ground
Wind and rain beating
Forcing them to the ground
Naked wood branches
Bearing testimony to
Endurance for decades

 

I was relieved and delighted to awaken that muse again. Then Monday morning came and writing time arrived. I typed up the poem from inside the paper bag. I hit a stone wall. Just nothing. no ideas to put on the computer screen. Nothing to share with you.

Except, as I stepped away from the computer and the day unfolded I realized I am just like that leaf in some ways. Yes, the seasons change and the difference in sunlight and water to the leaves make changes for the trees to drop them. We have moved. I have told people that for the most part we are unpacked.

Over this past weekend some things occurred that help me feel more settled. Bob got the bedroom TV hung on the wall, thus freeing up the surface of my bookcase for other items. He also hung my curio cabinets. I have a collection of miniature items from childhood into adulthood. I had not unpacked those as the cabinets need to be in place.

All Three
So many memories in one box!
And yes, there is room for a few more if they are tiny.

I had no idea how much I desired to see those items. There are still many drawers to be emptied and reorganization to take place after the move. With those tiny items up on the wall in cases I really do feel like I am home here. For me, those little things ‘bear testimony to endurance for decades.’

Who knew?

Emily Kathryn

Continuing my life with and without God, two weeks after my mother’s death and after 32 hours of labor, Emily Kathryn was born by emergency C-Section. They gave me total anesthesia. I could barely open my eyes to tell her hello.

In keeping with my confirmation in the Episcopal church, the older version of The Book of Common Prayer has a wonderful little service called the Thanksgiving of Women after Child-birth (commonly called the Churching of Women). That ‘commonly’ name seems beyond weird to me. Regardless, I wanted Bob to pray this with me after our first child was born.

The newer version of the Prayer Book calls this ‘A Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child.’ This version asks for the presentation of the child to ‘the Church to be welcomed by the congregation and to give thanks to Almighty God.” We were not attending church regularly so we prayed the service together in the hospital room.

For A Safe Delivery

O gracious God, we give You humble and hearty thanks that You have preserved through the pain and anxiety of childbirth Your servant Molly Lin, who desires now to offer You her praises and thanksgivings. Grant, most merciful Father, that by Your help she may live faithfully according to Your will in this life, and finally partake of everlasting glory in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer
Emily Kathryn Photo by r mdutina

Yes, the Father certainly had my attention. Within a few months we moved back to the Cincinnati area. I continued to grieve. Bob was working second shift at Clermont Mercy hospital. We would work all day on our house and then he would go to work. I was not coping terribly well.

One night while grieving I told God, “You promised that You would comfort those who mourn. Where is my comfort?”

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

I clearly heard Him tell me, “You have tried life your way. Are you are willing to try it My way? “

I called my Episcopal priest the next morning. He did not quite know what to do with me. He called Mary Dirkse and she came to visit. A wonderful pseudo-mother/daughter relationship was born. She listened to my heart. She shared her faith with me. She took me to Women’s Aglow meetings where I eventually received my prayer language again. She took me to Bible Study at Linda Werner’s house.

Mary and I compared the attitudes and tantrums of my two year old with her teenagers. When I became pregnant with our son she coaxed me to eat during the morning sickness. Cooked me hot hard-boiled eggs and served them on buttered toast. Sat with me while I slowly ate. She helped me pray for the courage to get up on the delivery table and be awake for my second C-Section. Though she lives in Washington State now and I remain in Ohio, we are friends to this day.

Yes, I was comforted. I was comforted in ways I could not imagine. When my mother died she was a full-blown alcoholic. Years later I read “Co-Dependent No More.” I bought my sister a copy saying, ‘They lived in our house. They got in our heads. They wrote it all down.’ I had no idea that millions of other families had experienced what we did growing up.

Likely MORE than 4 million sold by now!

I eventually attended Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings. I did writing workshop workbooks to learn more about alcoholism. I prayed it would end in mom’s generation. It did not end in her generation, but I learned so much about how to go on with my life and serve the Lord in the midst of that upbringing.

Emily brought us great joy and delight. She still does to this day. Jeff’s birth was so different than hers. We rejoiced over his good health and home coming.

The Kids photo by r m dutina

By then we were established in the Methodist church. Bob had not liked the Episcopal service with the up and the down, the flipping back and forth in the Book of Common Prayer. So we agreed to worship at the Methodist church.

Getting My Full Attention

After one year of marriage and living in California we moved back to the Cincinnati area. Bob had decided not to pursue Medical School, but to go for a degree in Medical Technology. At that time you needed 4 years of college, 1 year of training and then licensing before you could do in-house hospital work. The University of Cincinnati took all of their Med Tech students from their college enrollment. He searched further afield and found a Med Tech school in Lexington Kentucky.

When we were wed Bob made me promise we would not have kids until we were married 5 years. I reluctantly agreed. I have always loved babies. For the first 5 years it seemed that all I saw were pregnant ladies and newborn babies. Finally in Lexington we ‘got pregnant.’

On my due date my mother insisted on visiting us in Lexington. I told her the obstetrician was certain nothing would happen on that date, but she was determined. She came with a Styrofoam cooler of food. She wanted to go shopping. I could barely fit my belly behind her steering wheel to drive.

That night she died in her sleep. (Cerebral hemorrhage ran in her family.) Sadly, I found her the next morning. Bob checked for a pulse and we knew she was gone. It was quite shocking.

Shortly after Bob determined that indeed Mom was dead, I heard her voice repeating, “God works in mysterious ways.” She often said this. I believe she took the saying from a hymn by William Cowper written about 1774 and carried in most Protestant hymnals.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Within an hour of finding my mother dead I told Bob that in some ways it was such a relief. She had been determined to buy a playpen. She said when we came to visit in Cincinnati she would keep the baby and we could go out. I knew I could never let that happen and was going to find a way to tell her so that very weekend. My mother had some sort of personality disorder thing. It was not just the alcoholism. She would be fine, go in the bathroom and when she emerged have this distinct other personality. She was not in the bathroom long enough to get drunk. I would never have felt safe leaving my infant with her.

So, I never had to tell her something that I feared might kill her. I did have to raise my children without their Grandmother around.

The Lord has indeed led and guide me through my years. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Here is a contemporary version of the hymn with a few added lines.

No Photos

The Amish prefer not to be photographed so we never take a photo face-on. One of our best images, not recorded because it occurred too fast, is as follows.

We came over a rise and there were on the side of the road were 5 or 6 little Amish boys in black pants, a few with hats, bowl-cut hair and shirts. They were carrying lunch pails and obviously had just left school. They were fooling around just like all boys seem to do. Laughing and poking one another.

It would have made a WONDERFUL photo. Hopefully some artist some place can drawn or paint it.

Found a photo on line. Our boys were having more fun! I did not notice if they all had their shoes on!

I think we are fascinated by these folks who choose to love God and live a ‘simple’ life. Our modern conveniences often seem more simple than their lifestyle. I am likely wrong though.

I recently read a series of fiction books by Terri Blackstock called the Restoration or Light Series: Last Light, Night Light, Dawn’s Light and True Light. In the story mankind worldwide is stripped of electricity and all the things that implies; no running water, computer, cellphones, TV, video games, landlines etc.. She explores the darkness and kindness of the human heart during the struggles to survive. Finally people did things like dig a well, plow up their sod and landscaping to grow gardens, reach out to help those in the inner city. Actually, it sounded kind of Amish to me. Yes, the people in the story lost weight and worked hard. Perhaps we might be healthier too if we did more of that sort of work?

So the next time a First World problem bothers me like the washer not working right, I intend to remember that washing the clothes by hand and hanging them on a line is hard work. First though, I have to get the HOA to let me!

God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 46:1-3 NIV

 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 NIV