How Roots Grow

The photo at the top is the Juniper tree at Live Oak Park, Berkeley, California. That is the place where Bob and I said our marriage vows over 51 years ago.

My Robert waiting under the Juniper tree with our families for me to wed him. Episcopal priest behind him.

Decades went by. I gave my heart back to Christ in 1976. He gave his life to Christ not too long after that. We worked and worked on our marriage over the years. We have always said, “Divorce is not an option. Murder maybe, but not divorce!”

Fast forward from 1970 to December 2017. We both got the flu. Within 24 hours his became life threatening pneumonia with organ shut-down sepsis. Got him to an ER. He was placed on a ventilator and rushed to a different hospital. Within two days my cough began to break up and I was by his side.

The passage from Ephesians 3 helped me as I walk through the terror of possibly losing him forever.

In 2018 I wrote: “Part of my struggle was yielding to the facts and in stillness letting my wishes die, placing my hope in the plans of the Almighty. I could not see the outcome at all, but I trusted His goodness and His love for both myself and my family. I learned that crucified you must hold perfectly still. EPH 3:16 helped me to trust more. “I pray that, according to the riches of His glory, He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” I prayed for Bob and our children to be strengthened. I prayed for myself to be strengthened by His Spirit with power penetrating to my innermost being. Yes, crucified you must hold perfectly still. I was not “going” anywhere.”

Have my roots grown since then? I learned so much through that awful experience. Yes, my husband is alive and kicking now. His health has returned. We are going through the Covid crisis with everyone else in the world. We are perhaps more careful than other Americans, having almost lost him four years ago.

My roots? Well I am certainly aware that Bob and I will not last into eternity. Only my relationship with Christ will go that far. We do hope to see each other in the afterlife, but we both understand that relationships there are much different than here.

“Strengthened in your innermost being with power through His Spirit and that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith….” I would not want to lose my husband to Covid or in any other way, but I feel as if I would not be devastated as I might have been in 2018. Having lived through the almost-death and brutal recovery after his illness, I can honestly say that the Lord sustained us and taught us both many things about His love and power.

“Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, AS you are being rooted and grounded in love.” God’s love is beyond my words. He holds, sustains and directs me with His love. When I resist His leading, He disarms me with His love. He indwells me by with power by His Spirit and it is a process to be rooted and grounded in love. An ongoing to the day I die sort of process.

I love this video. It shows what I cannot see below the surface of the soil. It shows the growth in split screen above and below and then goes on to show the up-close root process. How are your roots growing?

Can you imagine yourself being rooted and grounded in love like this kidney bean? Like the Juniper tree in the photo above? Why not watch the video again and ask the Lord to strengthen you in your inner being with power through His Spirit. Ask Him to helped you be rooted and grounded in love. One person noted, “We need to ask for what we want.” Grow us Lord I pray, by Your Spirit and power, in Your time. Amen.

Happy New Year!

Today, Monday, January 3, is my first writing day of the year 2022. Things are strange here as far as nature and weather go. The forsythia down the street has started blooming. One of my roses sent up a new shoot. One friend has tulips trying to emerge. We had weather in the 60s. Then 50s. When I did the laundry I could not remember having worn so many short sleeve t-shirts during the month of December! We had a full 24 hours of constant rain. A figure 8 pond formed in the back yard between our house and Angela’s. Eventually most of it drained away. Then a cold front moved in. Overnight temps dropped into the 20s with a wind chill in the teens. The plants are likely thinking, “Weird, indeed!” We are forecast to have accumulating snow by Thursday of this week.

Did you indulge in making resolutions? Have you asked for your word from the Lord yet? Our Pastor referred to that practice in his sermon on Sunday! We have gone back to on-line church as the Omicron variant is running rampant through southwest Ohio as well as the rest of the world.

I am poised to return to online grocery shopping with store parking lot pick up. Here we go again! Another pastime taken away. However, I feel certain our health is worth the cost of relinquishing one or five or even umpteen pleasures.

When we were wondering in October or so what 2022 would hold none of us wanted to believe it would be another variant. Yet, here we are. I sense that underground stream of anxiety that was so prevalent in 2020 and 2021. The asking, “Will we be okay? Will the ones we love who are unvaccinated be okay?” And that is not even considering those impacted with other illnesses!

The Lord assures us,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27 ESV

He gives us His peace and tells us there is something we must do. LET NOT. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. We have a responsibility in that peace giving. Seems we can cancel out that mighty peace by indulging in troubling thoughts and fears. We can be our own peace keeping force!

Useless thoughts spoil everything and much mischief begins there; we ought to reject them as soon as we have perceived their impertinence to the matter in hand and return to our worship of God.

Brother Lawrence

Yes, I am convicted again of my own sinfulness and weakness when it comes to being like Jesus. Father, help me by Your Holy Spirit to be strengthened in my inner being to know Your peace, to live as one who understands Christ dwells in my heart through faith. Keep me rooted and grounded in love. Amen.

Post Holiday Ho-hum Blahs?

After all the preparations, anticipation, gift planning, company, celebrations, gift exchanges, food over indulgences do you ever get the post holiday ho-hum blahs? We do not do much for New Years and I was recently tempted to go there and then I was snapped back into reality.

We who are well are so fortunate that we cannot dare to indulge that sort of corrupted emotion. Think with me for just a moment. There is one who was promised if she could get a liver transplant her suffering from the Whipple surgery would end and she would be fine. She had to be put in a coma awaiting the liver. The liver came. The surgery was done. She could not awake from the coma. For weeks they tried and waited. She was transferred to long term critical care unit. Something like $6,000.00 per month after the insurance gave out. Family thought she was awake. Slipped back into it. Awoke enough to talk with her family via videophone Thanksgiving Eve. Struggled to put words together. Was able to swallow applesauce and drink a bit when they covered her trach.Then began rejecting the transplant. Finally went back to ICU because so many body functions were out of whack. In contrast, I have not one worry in the world.

Once months and months ago when she managed to stand up.

Another neighbor friend began swelling right after Thanksgiving. Has never been seriously ill. She underwent many out patient tests in another state. Finally was admitted to hospital for MRIs, CTscans, blood work, x-rays, biopsies, you name it. The medical professionals are truly practicing on her. They cannot determine the cause of her illness which has evolved through many life threatening stages. She was released to her home in that other state for Christmas and to await the admission to a Mayo Clinic hospital. She was taken to ER on December 27 when her hands began to turn black, and stay black, and lose all feeling. At this writing still awaiting acceptance to Mayo. I am worried sick about her. Trusting God, trying to lift prayers, send her prayers and humor, but disturbed about what is happening to her.

This one over here was recently separated from her husband. This was the first Christmas after the separation. She and her children got through Christmas just okay. I try to stay in touch.

A neighbor saw her daughter and grandkids at start of Christmas vacation. The children spent the night. Next day daughter and granddaughter tested positive for Covid. Neighbor has to quarantine for 10 days. So no Christmas with her older parents and rest of the family.

We do not live in the Kentucky tornado zone. Or a refugee camp. We have shelter in a safe area, too much food, and are allowed to worship how ever we desire.

I was so convicted over that fleeting corrupted emotion that I just had to share. May you, too, examine your heart and recenter in gratitude.

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 NRSV

As you stand in line to return unwanted gifts, remember these folks in prayer please. Help that liver to be accepted and all other disease be driven out. Pray for the doctors at Mayo to find a definitive treatable diagnosis. May those suffering from broken relationships be healed and strengthened to pursue the Lord. Covid has ravaged many families with death, long term side effects, separations. Please Lord touch the suffering, heal the afflicted and all for your love’s sake.

Guideposts and Prayer

Guideposts offers many ways to get prayer including a Facebook page! One paper item they publish is called 60 Days of Prayer. I opened it randomly and came to such an important lessons as the holiday entertaining begins.

First they quoted the New International Bible.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42

And then this important message: “Give yourself the gift of letting go. Let go of the need to be perfect. Perfect gifts, perfect gatherings, planning the perfect day. When you focus on perfection you miss the most important part of the holiday. Instead, sit at Jesus’ feet and focus on Him.”

Now I know for some of you the letting go would not occur unless you broke your hand! Been there. Done that. And, as the saying goes, I have the t-shirt!!

Guideposts went on the make a prayer saying “I plan on keeping You the center of my celebration.”

That would be a tremendous way to celebrate Christmas, 2021, don’t you think?

Our Christmas dinner meal usually looks like sandwiches with deli items from the meat and cheese store. The kids are too excited to have a sit-down meal! My son makes mac and cheese as only a chef can. Daughter’s broccoli salad is delicious. Pickles, Skyline dip, salsa and chips, homemade cookies and United Dairy Farmers ice cream.

Gifts are likely to come from a wish list, but sometimes the family surprises us with an unexpected item. Mostly, we just like having them here. The plan for now is for our daughter’s family to come around 11 in the morning for gifts and quiche. Our son’s family to arrive around 4 for gifts and sandwiches. (The two do not meet as some are vaccinated and some are not.) All of this of course is dependent upon the Omicron variant.

Looking at Omicron, I am stunned back to the feelings of December, 2020. The Delta variant is still spreading. This new variant is more contagious and spreading faster around the globe than anything we have likely seen during our lifetime! The news doctors say if we are vaccinated and ‘boostered’ we are still likely to get it, but a much milder case than those who have not been vaccinated. They have not given their opinion regarding those with other conditions such as diabetes and COPD. The reports say “For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death — for yourselves, families, and the hospitals who may soon overwhelm,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said at a news briefing Friday, December 17th. “We need the American people to do their part.” Hospitals nationwide are now being overwhelmed. What does that say about those needing treatment for heart attacks, strokes, cancer. When all the beds go to Covid illnesses surgeries get cancelled. Other needs are neglected.

One friend has an adult unvaccinated son who caught the Delta variant. He isolated in his room for 7 days. His wife and 10 month old daughter got sick. He was finally admitted to the hospital because he was having such difficulty breathing. Was there for almost a week. Extremely ill, on oxygen, medications. He lost a tremendous amount of weight. Is now released but has absolutely no energy for even the simplest things. Another older friend and her husband caught Delta. She was in pain such as she has never known and exhausted for almost two weeks. Slept constantly. On the mend.

Oh Lord, have mercy. Give wisdom and conviction to those who are not vaccinated. Help each of us to keep our eyes upon You no matter what this illness does next. Be the center of our celebrations, no matter what tries to distract us. Amen.

Donkey Me

First there was page a day from Oswald Chambers. “How often I find it is the stubborn donkey in me rather than my intelligence that turns aside and sees the angel of the Lord (Numbers 22:23). Lord, increase my spiritual sensitiveness that I may detect your slightest goings and drawings.”

Then my computer scrolling through photos brings me this from our trip to Ireland. I see myself in those lovely eyes.

And I arrive again at the story I wrote about the donkey.

Donkey Trail © 90-6-25 Molly Lin Dutina 

While traveling on the road of God’s will I hit a dip in the road and got jostled off the path. The dip occurred where the Lord asked me to do something, but fearing His will I inwardly said, “No!” I locked my knees, dug in my heels and soon resembled a stubborn donkey that must be pushed, pulled and cajoled to be made to move. Blind to my disobedient nature and still pouting before the holy ways of the Lord I decided if He really loved me we could compromise on another way. I stepped onto the “Treadmill of Debate” a perpetual motion conveyor belt going nowhere but in circles. Fearful and resistant to God’s will I asked “Why?” and presented Him with all of the ‘What-ifs’ and ‘If-onlys.’ I formulated brilliant reasonings for resisting His ways, deluding myself and dropping further and further away from His Light.’

God was more kind to me than Balaam who beat his donkey. (Numbers 22:22-33) God used that same donkey to save Balaam’s life three times. He even made the donkey talk to Balaam! If God can use a donkey, I am no one special. 

Until I accepted His will, relinquished my ideas and gave all things over to Him I could not continue the adventure of serving God well. As usual, when I actually arrived at the point of resistance it turned out to be so unlike what I had imagined might occur, that later I wondered why I was so silly and donkey-like not to yield immediately in trust to Him.  My efforts to control led onto a futile treadmill going NO where. God’s mercy urges me to let Him direct my course and enjoy His fellowship in the Now Here.

Help me to trust You more Lord. I want to live present to You in the Here and now for in this experience alone is my salvation. As I begin to err, thank-you for taking me off the highway and into Your discipline. You truly are “able to keep me from falling and to present me without blemish before the Presence of Your glory with rejoicing!” (Jude 24)

There are many myths about the birth of Jesus. The internet is glad to tell you about all of them.

No one knows for certain if Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem. It is estimated that they traveled 80 miles. She was well along in her pregnancy. Imagine for one moment that she did ride a donkey. What if that donkey had dug in its heals and refused to go to Bethlehem? Are we more cooperative than a donkey or stubbornly insisting on our own way? How about attitudes towards how to celebrate Christmas, and where, and when, and with whom?

“Draw us God to Your side and show us how to help the world see Your gift of life through Jesus Christ. Soften our hearts to let You lead us in paths of righteousness. Amen.”

Killer Dog?

Lucky, our rescue beagle, came to us not knowing how to play with toys. The only way I could get her to take an interest was to affix a treat to the toy. So Olaf has elastic on him to affix a treat, as does the storybook Pokey Puppy, yellow puppy from Tractor Supply, etc.

You may have read how she decided to blind the squirrel in one eye? For details see https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/7042

2020 on the mantle. No mantle at new house!

When we placed the Peanuts characters under the tree this year, she eventually decided that Charlie Brown belonged to her. It took her several days to chew up his collar. We never found the yellow pieces, and I for one did not want to examine her poop. When the stuffing started to fly we removed it from her.

Next was Snoopy. Yep she put a huge hole in his throat. Now the question is do we mount those famous heads on the wall to portray Lucky’s conquests as a hunter? For now they rest in the office closet until I can decide to either pitch them out or mount them. Hmm, would have to put them high enough on the wall that she cannot tear them down!

Wonder what she is wishing for at Christmas? Her other toys so far have not a tear, not a chew. All my daughter’s dogs destroy their toys. Maybe Lucky is related now?

Pies Past and Present

Once I made the ugliest pie ever.

My mother would have been ashamed to serve it. Trust me, every bite was eaten!

This year I was making pumpkin pies and some of the filling slopped out of the Kitchen Aid mixer onto the floor. I called Lucky and she was right there to clean it up for me! I would think with all the Kitchen Aid expertise they could have designed something better regarding bowl escapes!

I am certain these too will be eaten up in no time flat!

After Turkey day, being a good Type 2 Diabetic, I will make myself some pumpkin filling with no crust, about 2/3 Splenda and 1/3 sugar. Yum.

Giving thanks for our canned pumpkin. My friend Marsha says the canned pumpkin in Nepal is green and coarse. Yuck.

How to Top the Tree?

Decision made! Honoring our Lord and Savior, King and Brother this year.

Newest ornament, wooden spool with angels on it from Kathy. Oldest ornament, blue egg carton bell, painted by Bob in kindergarten.

For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 NIV

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Revelation 17:4

Advent word of the week is Hope. Here is a book idea from Intervarsity Press for your kiddos who like or collect poetry!

The “O” in Hope a new book

By Luci Shaw,
Illustrated by Ned Bustard

What do an orangutan, an ostrich, an orange, and the ocean all have in common?
They all begin with the letter O!
But other words also have an O―words like mouth or moon or wow,
and even the word hope.

“Combining a joyful poem from the much-celebrated poet Luci Shaw with playful cut-paper art created by Ned Bustard, The O in Hope helps us experience the goodness of God’s gifts of hope and love.

“This delightful book can be enjoyed by children and the adults who read with them. Also included is a note from the author to encourage further conversation about the content.

“Discover IVP Kids and share with children the things that matter to God!”

The “O” in Hope by Lucy Shaw

Hope has this lovely vowel at its throat.
Think how we cry “Oh!” as the sun’s circle
clears the ridge above us on the hill.
O is the shape of a mouth singing, and of
a cherry as it lends its sweetness
to the tongue. “Oh!” say the open eyes at
unexpected beauty and then, “Wow!”
O is endless as a wedding ring, a round
pool, the shape of a drop’s widening on
the water’s surface. O is the center of love,
and O was in the invention of the wheel.
It multiplies in the zoo, doubles in a door
that opens, grows in the heart of a green wood,
in the moon, and in the endless looping
circuit of the planets. Mood carries it,
and books and holy fools, cotton, a useful tool
and knitting wool. I love the doubled O
in good and cosmos, and how O revolves,
solves, is in itself complete, unbroken,
a circle enclosing us, holding us all together,
every thing both in center and circumference
zeroing in on the Omega that finds
its ultimate center in the name of God.

My prayer is that you honor the Omega in all your 2021 celebrations!

In Remembrance of My Mother-in-law

Betty was the mother to five children. She taught them this poem. When I read it from a book of poetry to our children, my husband remembered it from his childhood. With Thanksgiving upon us and table manners on display I thought you might enjoy it.

I believe the version in our children’s book of poetry read as follows:

The Goops they lick their fingers, and the Goops they lick their knives; they spill their broth on the tablecloth; Oh, they lead disgusting lives. The Goops they talk while eating, and loud and fast they chew. So that is why I am glad that I am not a Goop. Are you?

Gelett Burgess

It is said you must read this with dramatic voice and emotional emphasis. Will you be reading this at your table? I think table manners are a lost art. Perhaps it involves too much corrective guilt?