A Kiss

What makes our fifty-second Christmas season together special? The love keeps growing between us. This morning after sharing our usual morning banter, as I was leaving Bob’s sitting room this melody rang through my soul. It only took a little research to identify it. The solo was done by Louis Armstrong. Below is some history on Louis, in case you are unfamiliar with him. Then follows a short history of the song.

Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971) nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an inventive trumpet and cornet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance. With his instantly-recognizable gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer, demonstrating great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also skilled at scat singing (vocalizing using sounds and syllables instead of actual lyrics).
Renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice almost as much as for his trumpet-playing, Armstrong’s influence extends well beyond jazz music, and by the end of his career in the 1960s, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general.

From Wikipedia: “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” is a song composed by Bert Kalmar, Harry Rubyand Oscar Hammerstein II. In 1935, Kalmar and Ruby wrote a song called “Moonlight on the Meadow” for the Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera (1935) but the song was not used. Hammerstein later adapted the lyrics to be “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” and it was recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1951.

Grab your favorite sweetie, play that song and take a spin around the room! Long-time relationships take work, but the investment is so worth it!

58 Seconds

If you were raised in the church you likely will remember this hymn. Just entertain 58 seconds of the hymn. This was rolling through my spirit as I asked the Lord what to write about this week!

What stopped me was “With heart and hands and voices.” Do we? Thank Him with heart and hands and voices?

Bob just told me there was something on Facebook about show you went to church without saying you went to church. He said my sisters answer was “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.”

Thanks with our heart, our hands, our voices. We have been visiting various local protestant churches to find a new church home. Each has their own weaknesses and strengths. The one this week has tremendous outreach throughout our area and the world. They do not have a regular communion celebration. The opportunity to receive prayer for needs was not obvious at all in the service. Not even encouragement to write down a prayer request for others to pray over. The music was ear splitting to the point some removed their hearing aides until that part was over. We did hear more about Jesus than we have at other times there. It is often said, “If I find the perfect church, and I walk into it, it will not longer be the perfect church.”

One friend told me she walked into a church recently and immediately felt as if she was HOME. I had that experience the first several times I went to the Convent of the Transfiguration in Glendale, Ohio. The sisters there and the various retreats over the many years I have been an Associate have taught me so much about God and deepened my walk with Him.

The church is not a building or a box of hymnals or a ten piece praise band or an ear splitting sound system. The church is the Body of Christ. We do tend to gather in buildings and reach out to the community through projects locally and abroad. Hopefully we also partake of communion in remembrance of all Jesus did for us and pray for one another.

I suppose my church home is my neighborhood, with my online friends through this blog, with Christians near and far whom I have loved and lived with through various ups and downs of life, both theirs and mine. The idea of one group of people being my church has been blown to bits by the pandemic.

 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; 7and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts.

Haggai 2:6-7 NRSV

The smallest churches as well as the large churches are having difficulty regaining their footing after the pandemic. People began to watch church online. Some stopped thinking about church altogether. Where do you stand in all of this?

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Hebrews 12:25-29

I think the verse in Hebrews (quoted from Haggai 2:6) refers not only to heavenly things, but earthly things, too. What cannot be shaken? The Kingdom of God, His indwelling Holy Spirit, the power of the Risen Christ.

Hearts and hands and voices, all given over to Christ for His use every hour of every day. Thank You Father for Your tremendous provisions for Your people in every age and every season. Keep us close enough to hear Your heartbeat, I pray.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given, the Son and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven, the One Eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore; For thus is was, is now, And shall be evermore. Amen.

Now Thank we All Our God Verse 3

Stillness

I was humming this song one day and could not remember the words. This song has nothing to do with the Biblical Christmas story, but a great sentiment. I am usually trying to live Isaiah 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.” We are called again and again to be still in His presence. So prone to run ahead and not wait for instructions from on high.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;

Psalm 37:7a

So in this busy season, hear this Austrian lullaby and Christmas carol from 1865 and try to rest in the peace that only the Prince of Peace can give.

I often have difficulty getting to a place of stillness. Maybe listen to the song more than once? Though it takes practice, coming to a still point is SO VERY WORTH IT!

Church Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, November 7 we were invited to attend the 25th celebration of the Milford Vineyard church. We were glad to do that and looking forward to seeing old acquaintances. The church had moved to a newer location since we attended there.

There were many familiar faces and a few names I could not remember to go with those faces. Ugh. Perhaps the best was a greeting as I first walked in the door!

The conversation went like this. “Oh hello! I was just thinking about you this morning. I am so glad to see you. Look! She was my FIRST prayer partner!!” Jay H. was in joyous fine form and I was delighted to see him, too.

Once upon a time at Milford Vineyard I was in charge of scheduling the prayer teams for after service prayer and for prophetic communion. We had teams of two available after every service for intercession. Prophetic communion was a time when those teams would come together to pray over people. Some would come with specific requests but most were just seeking what the Lord would say to them. We did not believe we had a fast track to God, just were willing to listen and have the courage to speak into the lives of those who came forward. We tried to separate anything we knew about the person and just listened for what the Lord wanted to say. We always cautioned people to go to the Lord themselves with the things we said and seek His face and His voice. None of us were infallible. He is the best source for healing and guidance.

A friend told me she had a funny memory of me. Once when the pastor was going off on another of his endless rabbit trails I spoke up and said, “Come on! Finish up! We have other important things to do like communion and prayer.” She was impressed that I said it and thought it needed to be said.

Another woman pulled me aside at the end of the service. I did not recognize her with her mask on. When I asked her to pull it down for a moment I faintly recognized her. She wanted me to know she had recognized me and always remembers me as a strong prayer warrior. I thought, “Hmm, after all these years!”

I guess I made a stronger impact than I knew. After the service, one man said his daughter still has the baby blanket I made her. Once she even drew her bunny wrapped in the blanket. He wanted to show me the drawing but had difficulty finding it on his phone. I gave him my email and told him he could send it when he found it. I would delight to see it!

It was a good reunion. It was wonderful to worship in the Vineyard tradition. I miss that sort of worship where I can enter into His presence and find mercy, grace and rest. We sang the following song, Another one of my favorites!

Sweetly Broken Jeremy Riddle

Power in Listening

When I first gave my life back to Christ one of the first songs to capture me was based on Isaiah 55.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,

    come to the waters;

and you who have no money,

    come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

    without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,

    and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,

    and you will delight in the richest of fare.

Give ear and come to me;

    listen, that you may live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,

    my faithful love promised to David.

Isaiah 55: 1-3

As we read and grow in our spiritual life it is amazing how you can read a familiar Scripture and have a new insight that never seemed to occur to you before! I was reading Ben Palpant’s book Letters from the Mountain and I was struck by his observation on verses 2 and 3.

I have studied meditation. I have practiced it for many years. With all my interest in listening for the voice of the Lord why did I not remember the admonitions in Isaiah 55? “Listen, listen to Me. Give ear and come to Me, LISTEN.”

I was hit like the Memorex man!

“Listen carefully. Hear and your soul shall live. Incline your ear to me and come.”

Father, open my ears that I may better hear You. Help me be sensitive to Your still, small voice. Speak but the word and my soul shall be saved.

Have you quieted your inner chatter to listen lately? Well worth the effort. I know it takes practice to turn down that inner chatter, but it is possible to do it. Only with practice have I made progress on that. Even then, there are times the chatter is loud and disturbing. Don’t give up. Read the word. Sit with the reading. Wait on the Lord.

October 18th

Day that I love! Because the man I love was born this day!!

And one of his favorite characters ….

The Book of Common Prayer offers this and I agree for my husband.

“O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, I pray, on your servant Robert as he begins another year. Grant that he may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen his trust in your goodness all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Yes, Lord. Thank you for the gift of Bob!

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

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!

Celebrating US!

We met in July. Got engaged in August. Married in September. And yes, we are STILL married 51 years later. Sunday was the day.

And we love to tell people we are still working on our relationship! This was our first song.

Perhaps some of the middle years, but even today I need to dance with him on this one!

And this perhaps our latest. Bob picked this one out!

Yes, there have been years of joy and years of struggle. Times of forgiveness and mending. Words fail me after 51 years of experiences. Robert Dutina is truly the love of my life!

Did I tell you this marks 51 years of marriage completed?!?!?!

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.