Wonder What Chronic Pain is Like?

Sometimes the pain of fibromyalgia is compared to having the flu. If you have had the foggy brain, aches and pains, etc. of flu you might know what fibro is like. First, you have to remember what all of that felt like. The thing with pain is we often forget what it felt like. Fibromyalgia does not let you forget. It rears its ugly head and exerts its dark power regularly – even daily.

There have been a few nights lately when I have gotten to sleep and then woke up about 15 minutes later. I think the waking is usually caused by physical discomfort. One night I finally got my tablet and made a few notes about it. This is not meant o draw pity or fear or aversion. Just the truth about what it is like at times to be me.

It is as if every place I have ever injured on my body has gained a voice of complaint, discomfort and unceasing pain. Trying to get to sleep is the hardest task. Right shoulder, right knee, right plantar fasciitis, turn over and left lower back has an acerbic diatribe to throw in. Spasm in thumb joint, afternoon fatigue, the list goes on to include headaches, jaw pain, stiffness trying to stand- stiffness that makes me realize I am no longer a young woman. Aging is advancing so rapidly that I am absolutely stunned, dumbfounded, flummoxed.

If those are temporarily quieted there is a painful lump on index finger second joint that has a voice like a high pitched child who has learned to scream. Heaven help me. And then I am reminded what Paul wrote in Romans.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:16-18

With streams of remembrance my mind goes to my youth. I have always been nineteen in my mind. That is no longer so. I do not mourn the changes though perhaps it might do me good. I am not nineteen. I am not ninety-one. I am simply Molly Lin, disciple of Christ Jesus, finding her way through aging.

The thought occurs that perhaps this is spiritual warfare. Lord Jesus, King of angel armies, show me how to push back this darkness. And if it is not warfare, then show me how to move into acceptance with grace and mercy towards myself.

Such a difficult task, but one I must take up or slip into weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth!

The sufferings – I share in mean I will also share in His glory. Theses sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed. Oh Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. If there be any wicked way in me, lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:24)

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

I have been reading the above book at the suggestion of the Rabbit Room. If you have not heard of the Rabbit Room here is a little introduction.

The Rabbit Room was conceived as an experiment
in creative community.

After author/singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson’s first visit to the Oxford home of C. S. Lewis, he returned to Nashville with a conviction that community nourishes good and lasting work. The Rabbit Room, the name of the back room of the pub where the Oxford Inklings (including Lewis, Tolkien, and Charles Williams) shared their stories, began as a simple blog of contributing authors, songwriters, artists, and pastors. Over the years, with the help of Andrew’s brother A. S. “Pete” Peterson, his manager Christie Bragg, a growing staff, and encouragement from the loyal Rabbit Room contributors and readers, the Rabbit Room has grown to include podcasts, a thriving music and book store, Rabbit Room Press, a yearly conference called Hutchmoot, regular events like the Local Show, and a physical home in a 150-year-old farmhouse called North Wind Manor.

The Rabbit Room (squarespace.com)

The site goes on to say the book is ‘not an ideal portrayal of the Christian community’, yet it is a rather accurate and compelling portrayal of human community. I admit since I began reading it I have trouble putting it down when I should be going to sleep! I checked it out in eBook format from my local library.

One quote I copied last night read:

“I was going along, not listening but just hearing, not looking but just seeing, not thinking anymore of where I was trying to go or even of how I was going to find something to eat, just setting one foot in front of the other.”

Jayber Crow

I have often written about the form of meditative prayer described above, meditative walking prayer. Just look. Don’t think. Just listen. Don’t interpret.

This morning I found myself delighted as I was yesterday during my prayer and reading time by the sliver of moon out the window next to my prayer chair. It caused me to write the verse below.

23-1-17©Molly Lin Dutina  
Glimmering sliver of moon 
Veil of clouds fold and part and undulate between us 
Wind moves them along to show your reflected light 
Then to cover you over completely 
Your glow is not always seen by me 
Yet you shine even when brightness of sun 
Obliterates your visage

As I type this I can almost hear my husband saying, “Move it along, Molly. What are you trying to say?” I asked the Lord what He would have me write about and post for today. And this is what came together. I want to show you that waiting and listening, watching and observing can lead to prayer and inspiration that you did not plan. This morning I also listened again to part of the John Eldredge One Minute Pause.

The point I heard was that the love of God is something we are to experience more than explain. We are to experience the love of God though it is too great to understand fully. Experience that love.

Are you content to sit with God, love Jesus, use words to express your heart through the Holy Spirit and know that all of that pleases God? Will you use minutes of your life every day to listen for the voice of the Holy speaking to or about you? The Trinity is not interested in what we can do for the Kingdom as much as our relationship to the Trinity Community. Just as the veil of the temple was torn in two when Jesus was on the cross (Matthew 27:50-51), the Kingdom of Heaven has been opened to us by His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Remember when you had to interpret poetry in English class? Some of you hated that. There were times when I too just wanted to enjoy the poem. Below is my interpretation of what was moving in my soul this morning.

we reflect the light of Christ 
entering the Kingdom we shall see clearly,
until then with the veil of clouds we see dimly
the wind is a symbol of the Holy Spirit
I do not always see Christ at work
yet the Trinity is always moving in and through our lives.

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made us understand that it is the brightness of his glory that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4: 6 TLB

No there is nothing between us and God. However we do not “see” clearly yet. We do not always interpret correctly what we do see. By staying in community with the Trinity and having fellowship with believers we are more likely to experience the love of God. Experiential knowledge is something no one can take away from you.

New Year, New Word?

Wow! Another New Year. How long will it take you to remember it is ’23 now? Have you been thinking about resolutions? We usually form a New Year’s resolution from our flesh and our mind. Statistics show that more often than not the resolution is in the dust before February. So I challenge you to set not a resolution, but one word for the entire year. Have you ever prayed and tried to listen for what the Lord would have you focus upon for the coming year?

I have done this for several years and have found it inspiring, challenging and uplifting. Even when I fail to reach for the goal of the word, if I chose it from the Word of God, He helps me and sustains me in my efforts. I may fail one week and totally grasp it the next. The goal is to consistently reach for it.

So take a few minutes. Sit quietly asking the Holy Spirit what He would have you set as your word of the year. If you do not hear a particular word, keep trying, maybe even for several weeks. Pay attention to Scriptures that come your way. Do you perceive a theme?

I have been reading the book of Mark. In chapter 13 Jesus is speaking about the end of time as we know it. He says only the Father knows when that will occur.

 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Mark 13: 32-37 NIV

Even the poet Rumi wrote, “Stay awake. Don’t go back to bed.” Watch. Be alert. NASB says, “Be on the alert.” The Message, “Stay at your post. Keep watch.”

What is the Lord saying to you about 2023? Are you awake, alert, listening, watching? Or have you dozed off to sleep content to just be comfortable, like most Americans want to be? Comfort seems to be our biggest idol these days.

Maybe your word will make you uncomfortable. Perhaps moving out of your comfort zone will bring you new life! Try it for 2023.

Reviewing a Journal

Because of the arthritis in my hands I began to journal on my iPad a few years ago. I have kept the habit of a paper journal by printing out those ideas and pasting them in a spiral bound journal. This involves printing out ones I have not printed, arrange by date, cut and paste, etc. For several years, I have sadly dropped the habit of reviewing my journal. When we got ready to travel this month I decided to take the latest journal and review it. I will read through it. Praise God for how He sees me through situations. Mark poetry I likely did not organize in poetry binder, etc. with marker.

Mitchell Luo

Sometimes this yields themes for this blog. Most times it is just for my comfort and remembrance. We are told to rehearse the works of God and praise Him. But do we? I often fail at that task. I remember some highlights, but I drop the minutia that can change the course of my thoughts and arrange my victories in the daily battle against darkness.

Recently I was pondering that warfare. I am sometimes engaged in small struggles that remind me following Jesus is not “all unicorns and rainbows.” If you examine those times in your own life you will likely see that there are recurring patterns in the attacks. When I can recognize, and say ‘oh no, here comes THAT again’ I am better equipped to defeat it. Putting on my armor, praying, raising high the sword of the Spirit, taking every thought captive to Christ Jesus, doing my part not to surrender by means of apathy. If, however, I have not been paying attention I can get swept under a current of negativity and hopelessness before I realize what hit me.

Have you examined your life by a similar means? Some other method? Many recommend making a timeline of your life with God. Note the occurrences that have impacted you. Reflect on where your awareness of God was at each of those times.

Campfiregrace.com

Yes, look back at what has happened and how you went through each thing. We are not to be permanently looking back, but it is helpful to review our life and His participating Presence at each stage.

Journal before I get hold of it with photos and glue stick!

A Prayer to Thank God for His Sovereign Control

Father, we praise You for the delicate way You powerfully align our lives to Your creation. Thank You for the waters and mountains that remind us of You. Forgive us for overlooking Your presence in every aspect of our lives, and bless us to notice and give glory to You, for You are our healer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

(Meg Bucher) https://www.christianity.com/wiki/prayer/thank-you-prayers-to-give-thanks-to-god-and-the-lord-jesus-christ.html

Psalm 124 NIV
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 If the Lord had not been on our side—
    let Israel say—
2 if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
    when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
    the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
    would have swept us away.

6 Praise be to the Lord,
    who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
    from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
    and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

Find a way to review your life with God. No matter your age, no matter how many times you have done it, making a timeline with God is a great exercise.

Gray Morning After a Rough Night 

22-9-13 Reactive to Booster #3©Molly Lin Dutina
 
Booster #3 delivered with dull needle
Went to PT without boot
Worked until my leg
Felt like jelly
Foot throbbed all night
Headache, chest pain, 
Jaws and shoulders Booster broadcasters
Extra muscle relaxer and Calm app
“Gently back to sleep”
Several times
Booster #3 rocked
My fragile boat
Night of winds and waves
Up by 6:10 AM
Without rejoicing

Others report no big deal
in contrast I am
Close to shipwreck
My heart is sad that this body is so reactive, 
sensitive to Covid boosters.
Thankful I have not gotten ill but 
wishing I had one of those constitutions 
that was not triggered by pain 
after immunization injection. 
Is there an injection for endurance and muscle strength?
Can I get a booster for well-being? Guess not.

But why stop writing there? Resignation is to be to God, not bowing to negative circumstances. 
In Acts 16:25-26 Paul and Silas praised God in prison. Won’t you raise a tune, Molly Lin?

Total Surrender © 2018 Molly Lin Dutina
Total surrender brings total power
Spirit of God in me,
Totally yielded to You every hour,
Until Your will I see.
Death to my passions and every desire,
Living wholly for Thee,
Have Your own way,
Spirit of God, 
Totally flow through me.

No time for wishing things were other than they are. 
Fix your eyes upon Him.
 Understand this temptation to self-pity is sin.
 Jesus the author and finisher of my faith
 is ABLE to keep me from sin, 
self-pity over ailments and frailties. 
Be chastened, corrected, purified,
refined and strengthened. 
Here is my well-being booster! 
This is your only body on earth – your temple for His dwelling.
I surrender to You, Holy Trinity. 
The yapping dogs out there remind me – LISTEN for His voice.
 Do not go with the clamoring crowd. 
Wait. Listen. Accept the present moment.
This is my life this hour. 
Rejoice in God and be made glad. 

“For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.” PS 92:4 NKJV

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  Hebrews 12: 1a-7

I pray this helps those of you who are looking for that booster for well-being. May the Lord Jesus Christ bring you to a place where you too can be “chastened, corrected, purified, refined and strengthened.”

Sunday!

I did not get this post written on my usual writing day. And next week looks even worse as far as quietening time for writing. But seize the day! Here I am for the Sunday posting and when I opened my computer Bing told me we are at “Halfway Day.” Frankly, I never remember hearing about this day in my entire 71 years!

“It’s Halfway Day, the midpoint of the year. We’ve lived through 182 days of 2022, and today is the first of 182 days left—we’re halfway there. It’s up to us whether we see this as a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty day… But the past is gone, so we’re all for making the most of the remainder of the year.”

Saith Bing

That certainly rang a bell though! Let’s make the most of the remainder of this year! Last week in our group study I mentioned that Psalm 118 is the center book of the Bible, (someone taught me that years ago), and verse 8 in the center verse of the Bible.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord

    than to trust in humans.

Psalm 118:8 NIV

Now I think that is certainly true!

Pondering what to write I remembered a praise song based on 1 Thessalonians. It does not seem to be on You Tube, but the words are easy to read, something else to accomplish EVERMORE!

Rejoice evermore.

Pray without ceasing.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 KJV

So how would you finish this blog? What could you write? Here are some of my thoughts.

Getting along with a family member much better. My closest neighbor/friend has finally gotten home from Florida. Our entire home is finally painted inside. Tiles in bathroom are repaired and cleaned. Josh did our windows! Cliff built some window sills. Holy Spirit is present with us always. The Word is powerful and has never lost its power. We got 3 turkeys thawed, baked, cut up and stored, (not to mention shared and eaten). Awful heat and humidity broke long enough for some outdoor chores to get done. Now it is back. Free online photos to enhance my writing. I have never learned to cook for two – and that benefits others. I love to read and books are abundant! I am grateful for upcoming Doctor appointment as plantar plantar fasciitis is not healing much on its own with boot though I rest, stretch, soak, ice, etc. I pray without ceasing for Cathy and Kathy and Kathy. Others are often in my prayers including Kassie, Sue, Pamela, and Ginny. I give thanks for Jeff, Melissa, Natalie, Juanita, Angie, Bob, Terri, Jessie and Lee. Emily, Dave, Liz and Ellie are delights. Almost every single plant I brought from our old house survived in new flowerbeds. Ferns are flourishing. We really like our new church home. Our marriage continues to flourish though we are aging and slowing down. It is nice to walk Lucky without coat, hat, gloves and scarf. Though a sun hat, ice pack and a bandana are helpful!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 NRSV

“A living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” He desires your sacrifice.This is seen as your spiritual worship! “BE TRANSFORMED” by the renewing of your mind. Gain the discernment towards what is the will of God. What is good and acceptable and perfect.

Oh there are so many things we CAN do to please God. No time to focus on the “Thou shall nots” if we are doing the things God desires.

Rejoice

Evermore.

And if you find typos here, yep, Molly wrote it!

Observations, Prayer, and Quote

22-6-18
Humidity has broken
Bringing a day of breezy tossing leaves
Sun plus wind makes spangled shadows
Favorite weather of summer
Not too hot, warm air flow refreshes
Oh Lord, You gift me with today

22-6-20 Amy Carmichael nails it again: “Often, when we are most in earnest to pray, we are tormented by wandering thoughts and distractions of all sorts. I have been reading some old books lately and find that exactly the same thing distressed others. “The noise of a fly,” as one says, is enough to distract him. Do not fuss, do not worry, do not spend time wondering why that thought came just then or that other interruption was allowed (for that is playing into the enemy’s hands); but as soon as you are conscious that you have been drawn away, peacefully come back again. “ “Return unto thy rest, O my soul.”. Ps 116:7

Doe moves silently through the yard. Suddenly fawn is behind her. And then more suddenly an even smaller fawn. She leads them into the shrubbery and overgrowth. I am saddened by their departure. Then they are back in the yard. As if she teaching them the safe places and paths she takes. Larger fawn looks over the ditch in front of me as it considers entering my yard. There is no sound to my ears, but she must have called them as they hurry after her. Oh Lord, I want to be that receptive to Your call.

Best I could do in a heartbeat, through the screen, with iPad camera! Fawn is between the tall grasses, between trees (middle and left) in front of shrub like growth.
Walking our favorite road above the lake 
Bob white
Wood thrush
Wild geraniums
White violet 
White clover
Pink clover
Honeysuckle
Dog roses
Bullfrog song
Red wing
Herons 1 wading
            1 in flight before us
Burbling stream
Cool breeze
Sunshine
1 milkweed shoot
The reasons I love this walk!

The heavens declare the glory of God:
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth their speech;
Night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
No sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
Their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.
Like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
And makes its circuit to the other;
Nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Psalm 19:1-6 NIV

Not my Will, But Yours Be Done

The Daughters grave stone makes me remember that His will is supreme. This song blesses me.

David Crowder nailed it on this one and having Mandissa sing with him drives it home. Part of the lyrics are below.

So let it rain, let it pour
Lord, I need You more and more (I need You more)
Let it rain, rain down on me (Rain on me)

Every day, whatever You want
Not my will but Yours, Lord (Not my will)
Let it rain, rain down on me
(He brought the sunshine, He brings the rain)

So let it rain if You want
You are God and I am not
Let it rain, rain down on me
(Oh, let it rain)

Every day whatever You want
Not my will but Yours, Lord
(Not my will but Yours)

Let it rain, rain down on me
(He's working on me)
Let it rain, rain down on me
(I know my God is working on me)
Let it rain, rain down on me

These lyrics, when from the heart will undoubtedly require change in each of us. If we are to become like Christ Jesus, we must let go of our ways and adopt His.

being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6 NIV

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.

Philippians 2:13 NIV

Ephesians and Brother Lawrence

Remember the study from the beginning of the year?

This image from the internet of roots and giant growth caught my attention and has me enthralled.

 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3: 14-21 NIV

You might remember I began the year with pondering the conversion of Brother Lawrence, how he saw a tree dead in winter and marveled that soon enough God would make it alive. That lead me on to Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 that we might be rooted and established in love.

Fresh new growth on a pine tree

How is that going for you? Are you becoming more aware of the love of Christ afforded to you? Made available to you, extended, given, supplied to you? Have you opened that gift and made it your own? Are you building upon that concept in your personal life?

Have your roots gone deep? Are you clinging to His truths?

Have you seen Him do immeasurably MORE than all you can ask or imagine according to His power at work within you? Have you looked back over the past 6 months and seen His hand at work, even when you were not aware of it?

Have you said thank-you to our Lord?

Paul was willing to kneel before the Father and ask that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen us with power through His Spirit in our inner being. And that is what I pray for each of you reading this.

Father, please strengthen us with power through Your Spirit in our inner being. Paul also knew that “though our outer person is wasting away, our inner person is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 Strengthen and renew our inner being daily I pray.

I pray you will lean in to His arms and be made evermore like Him. Grow your roots strong and your trunk sturdy. Grasp an understanding of His love for you. Trust Him with all your heart.

Who Rules on The Plain of Self?

Have you ever taken your life back once you said God could be in charge? In 1981 I did just that. Here in 2022 I have no recall of what the circumstances were. I would love to say that was the one and only time I ever did that, and that would make me as the saying goes, “one big fat liar.”

The Plain of Self © June, 1981 Molly Lin Dutina	
I’m still fighting,
Prodding, kicking,
Scratch and claw.
Why do I fight so hard
And not just let go?

I’m still trying to control and direct.
(Where is the flow of the Spirit?)

Lord, Your patience awes me.
I confess my error of trying to exert my influence.

May I snuggle in Your arms again, please?
It’s cold out here on the Plain of Self.
drawing by Katherine Brown

I was delighted to see this come up when I was searching online for pictures to populate my writing. I own one of these prints! Your are His lamb too and He will hold you!

Jesus Calling for June 7 reads in part: “Who is in charge of your life? If it is you, then you have good reason to worry. But since I am in charge, worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive.” And then Sarah Young goes on to share the advice she heard from the Lord: “When you start to feel anxious about something, relinquish the situation to Me. Back off a bit, redirecting your focus to Me. I will either take care of the problem Myself or show you how to handle it. In this world you will have problems, but you need not lose sight of Me.”

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 NIV

So who is going to rule on your plain of self? Have you yielded your all to Jesus Christ?