Childhood memories

How many playground rhymes do you remember? Some of these popped into my brain this week. If I am ever in a nursing home wing for Alzheimer’s I hope these songs and rhymes help restore me to some form of sanity. (Here Bob might chuckle “Sanity is too much to hope for even today!” Ever the tease. He is oldest of five kids. I’ve learned how to give it back!)

My Dad worked for the N & W railroad. Mom wasn’t the only one who sang in the car! Daddy taught us this one.

I left my wife
Alone in the kitchen
With 28 children
And nothing but gingerbread left
Left, left, right, left

Oh it ain't gonna rain no more no more
Ain't gonna rain no more
How in the heck can I wash my neck
if it ain't gonna rain no more?

I woke up in the morning 
the bread was hard and stale
the coffee tasted like tobacco juice
from the US county jail, OH ( with gusto!)

So what poems or verses are in your memory bank?

A my name is Alice
and my husband's name is Al
we live in Alabama where we grow apples

How far in the alphabet did you get? Do you remember? Was this for jump rope or bouncing a ball against the wall and passing it under your knee when you hit the A words? Ah! memory lane can be fun sometimes.

Things Learned in Darkness

“Each part of each life is a lesson.” Some of us never realize this; however, some of us learn and cherish the lessons and move on.

To me “things learned in darkness” are unknown by most other people yet known to God. Others have no clue what you have endured or struggled with. Frankly, there are few on earth who would still love and accept you if they knew your struggles. Each of us is quick to judge others. God knows all about us. Palm 139:1-7 NIV says:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?

God knows. This is what omniscient means: “One having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding.” He also knows our struggles in the dark.

even the darkness is not dark to You;

    the night is as bright as the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139:12 NRSV

My struggles are often against things from the past. Sins done both by me and to me. Things said about me that were never corrected by the speaker. Things I have wrestled with God about. Things I have wrestled with against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of this present darkness and spiritual forces of evil. (Ephesians 6:12 NRSV) There are also struggles in the present. Keeping my tongue in check. Being kind when it is habitual to lash against others. Staying the course, choosing to walk in the Light of Christ even when chronic illness crushes me.

Each of us faces struggles on the earth with other earthlings and with those wicked forces of evil. With Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit we can overcome those forces. We must be willing to endure the warfare. We must be willing to put on our armor and go into the fight. If not, the battles can continue to wage in and about us all of our lives. The same old, same old, over and over and over again.

People see you on the outside. For the most part, they do not know what struggles you have faced in your soul and spirit. But the Father sees. He is willing to come alongside you with the Spirit and the Son for each skirmish.

When I taught a Bible study on the women’s unit at the Hamilton County Justice Center I wore a button telling the women I was “not as innocent as I looked.” And I am not as innocent as I look today. God, Who reads the heart, knows what each of us have endured, as well as what each of us has done. The Word says, But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NRSV

We are all broken. We each have need of the Holy Healer and Savior.

Lauren Daigle
You are not hidden
There's never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless
Though you have been broken
Your innocence stolen

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It's true, I will rescue you

There is no distance
That cannot be covered
Over and over
You're not defenseless
I'll be your shelter
I'll be your armor

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find you

One of My Poems

Eleven Fifty-three Post Meridiem © 1985 Molly Lin Dutina

Night time and the Unresolved
Come marching to my bedroom
Tramping through my head
Hurling accusations
Quoting words once said
Reason takes a low profile
While logic flees the scene
Where is the solution 
For circumstances now turned mean

Never, shoulds, and woulds
Paint dismal, hopeless scenes
Understanding vanishes
Deep each insult bleeds.

Forgiveness is the answer
That makes the war to cease.
Let it go.    Let go.    Release.
Present moment calls to me
Be NowHere in God's sweet peace

A song can be resung
The past can't be undone
But pouring in forgiveness
The fall-out is made numb

Come to here and now
Feast on today's plenty
In gratitude for all
Dare to now drink deeply 
From streams of joy and love 

We are granted 
Only to 
"Live our lives by moments"
Aren't we now

I doubt if there are many readers who have not had a similar experience. Perhaps before Lent ends this year you can walk through some of those situations asking Jesus to hold your hand and give you insight and understanding towards how to dismantle these painful memories. He is willing to walk with you. Are you willing to expose these unresolved situations to His light and power?

We are in “Holy Week,” the time we Christians focus upon what Jesus endured for our sake and the victory He gained for us. As Matilda Kipfer would ask you, “Did He die in vain? …” regarding your deliverance from the tormenter? Our best life is lived moment by moment in His resurrection power. Twelve steppers know this. Forgiveness. Letting go of wounds and hurts. Releasing those who are “living rent-free in your head.” This letting go idea was known long before the “Frozen” song was popular! That did not come along until much later. The idea has been around for eons.

If you want to drink deeply from the streams of joy and love you may with God’s help. It is best done without the burdens of the Unresolved hanging about your neck.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. 38 He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

John 7:37-39 RSV

Granted it would be difficult to illustrate or photograph you getting a drink from the river of Living Water flowing out of your own heart, but you can imagine the refreshment that this young man is gaining from this water. There are times when we thirst for God and this poem illustrates one way to let go of the warfare and enjoy the provision Christ has made for us.

Remember Rooted and Grounded in Love?

Reading the poetry of Mary Oliver I found this concise stunning description of those roots …

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

Of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seed

And the wanderings of water

Mary Oliver Fall Song from her American Primitive Collection
“Black subterranean castle” I just love that!

That is why she won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Makes me not want to post my stuff. But I know each of us has talents and must be willing to share those!

I was recently challenged by lines on a TV series of all things! “Newsflash! Life isn’t fair.” “Try to DO something about it.” “You can’t win the fight unless you get back in the ring.” “We are the change we have been waiting for.”

The next morning, looking to the Lord, I composed this:

Hollow © 2022 Molly Lin Dutina

Chronic illness and pain
    Is a lonely place
The hollow of a tree trunk
    Never saw the hollow before
Though I’ve looked at the tree for 9 or 10 months

He keeps me
    In the hollow of His hand
His palm
    Never alone - with me always

Each day may be a new struggle
    The reward is in the shelter
Let myself be sheltered
    Yield to being held

When I cry out “O Lord”
    Do I mean I can’t take it or
O Lord be with me in it?

Sheltered by the Almighty
     Nothing quite a secure as that
Stay. Yield. Rest.
Isaiah 49:16

Inspired by Visit to Teampall Bhreasain, County Galway, Ireland

©2011 Molly Lin Dutina

Through the window of the ages
Past the thick walls of time
Stands a symbol of death
Nay! Bright resurrection
Hope of all men

The rough stones placed
In geometrically sound patterns
Of worship, of honor, of praise
Roofless now 
that heaven may freely break through 
to us of long ages later
Arches , capstones, edges of time
Torn by the worship of long ago
Until our hearts are lifted up
To worship the same lovely truth

You came for us
You come to us still
To have us for Your own
Encircling with Spirit
Invading with Holy
Illumine our techno age
With truth of heaven
Power of Holy
Spirit of Life

Journal Led to a Poem

Practicing the discipline my pastor suggested, as I listed the five things I am grateful for one morning, suddenly all this came to me. Hope you enjoy it.

photo by r m dutina
#5.  Cloud and mist fabric drawn across the moon
all that light originated from the sun?
Gray then white then yellow, clot of black then blue
For my attention and entertainment? No, a lesson more true
"I desire truth in your inward parts
To reflect My glory you must be clean, steady, sure
Certain of My love for all
Wavering not from circumstances
Leaning into My light"
Clouds move off and I can barely look away
The brightness of Your Glory my delight
Clouds clear and brilliance increases
I watch as moon orbits incrementally behind the tree
I want to move the furniture
Lie here looking out the window
Yet even now the sun is rising and moon will seem to go
Scour my being Father that I might reflect
Your brilliant glory, certain and true.
"Beware lest feeding feral cats from pity
You actually nourish marauding coyotes
Dimming the beauty of your intention
Encouraging the destruction of your very soul"
You parted the veil from before my eyes
Help me to keep Your glory in my remembrance forever.
Sun rises higher
Brilliant white moon beckons 
Cream colored clouds move in thickly
My soul knows what it witnessed
Your power glows across the universe
Regardless of my momentary ability to see.
Enemies of my soul say, "Nothing to see here. Move along."
My heart ever held in Your nail scarred hand
I spend my life to declare Your glory.

I am always amazed when this stuff comes to me. Coyotes, like the prowling lion seeking whom he may devour? We have coyotes in this neighborhood. A pack prowls the street every morning just before dawn. Likely other times, too. I was giving Lucky her last outdoor stroll the other night and she noticed something at the end of the street. I could not see a thing. She would not take her eyes off the end of the street. She even growled which is atypical of her!

photo by r m dutina

You desire truth in the inward being;
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Psalm 51:6 NRSV

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith

1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV

Yes, Lord, I will have the courage to share. Bless the readers I pray.

A Few Ways to Cope with Chronic Illness

Remember my brainstorm of things I might share with my friend? Here are a few more.

Have you ever deliberately turned to face the Lord? Once on retreat I determined to hold His hand and stay with Him. It was my practice for a few hours and changed me forever. We are invited by His Spirit to do these things every day.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Isaiah 41:13 NIV

Turn to face the Lord. Determine to stay with Him. Hold His hand.

Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, photo by r m dutina

Do you remember recently when I quoted Rick Hansen, PhD, from his book “Just One Thing”? The post is here

One of his ways of bringing us back to the present moment is in Chapter 42, page 173. “Notice You’re All Right Right Now.” My summary along with other methods I have learned follows. Look at this present moment. Notice you have been breathing through all these health changes. Breathe now. Intentionally. Breathe again, here in this moment. Keep breathing. Are you still there, present in this moment? If you drifted away come back. Kindly be right here, now. This is a practice that can increase your capacity for mindfulness. There have been many, many studies that prove the health benefits of learning mindfulness.

I wrote a poem once about my experience when I was diagnosed with chronic illness. The refrain is, “Pray that I don’t panic. Pray I can be still. Pray that I can find God in the midst of being ill.” It is extremely difficult to focus on ANYTHING when we do not feel good. Mindfulness practice can help us. Brother Lawrence taught we are to speak to God all day long about everything. That is easier to accomplish if you are not panicked, distracted, racing about with catastrophizing, etc. (“Catastrophizing is a cognitive distortion that prompts people to jump to the worst possible conclusion, usually with very limited information or objective reason to despair.”)

In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankl wrote,”Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Frankl suffered with many others in a Nazi prison camp. The man knows suffering. We get to choose our attitudes towards what is going on with our health, or any other situation.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

I cannot change the multiple diagnoses of chronic health conditions that I have. I can however determine to challenge myself to find ways to cope and reasons to live on, preferably with joy and gladness.

Speaking of Things Rooted

No idea what I was going to write, so here is a re-post of Dan’s take on tree humor based on this poem.

Joyce Kilmer - 1886-1918

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

I cannot stop laughing about that one!! see Dan Cooksey’s blog at Another Monday

WORDSWORTH Stumped me for a bit

I was hearing parts of this poem and it took me a while to get hold of it. FINALLY rediscovered it and want to share it with you. Wordsworth referred to newborn children, but I think he was short-sighted. I think we are all capable at any age of trailing clouds of glory, especially as we determine to spend more time with the Lord.

You may read the entire poem at

One portion reads:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
                      Hath had elsewhere its setting,
                         And cometh from afar:
                      Not in entire forgetfulness,
                      And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
                      From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

How can we capture what Wordsworth says we lost as we aged?

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed

2 Corinthians 4:5-9 NIV

God made His light shine in our hearts giving us the light of the Knowledge of His glory displayed in the face of Christ. We have this treasure of light in jars of clay. And the cracks in our clay pots is how the light gets out. We shine as Moses shined from being on the mountain if we spend time in God’s presence.

Trailing clouds of glory do we come, from God who is our home. In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:29). He is our resting place (Psalm 62:5). He is our source of life. He is the light of life (John 1:4), the bread of life(John 6:48), the living water (John 4:13-14). The source of our being. He is always to have the glory of this light.

What is your plan for spending more time with God? You might be amazed if you take out 30 minutes of TV and spend it seeking Him. List some gratitudes daily. I mean every single day. Pour your heart out by journaling. If your hands hurt as mine often do, then type. If even that is too hard, open a word document and dictate your heart. The programs for dictation have improved greatly and you will not need to do very much correction when you are finished speaking.

My point is “Just do it.” Make a step to advance your own spiritual growth. Others need to see the clouds of glory that you are aware of. In order to have the courage to share, you need to put them in words at some point. Those almost ‘unsayable experiences’ that are yours need to be shared with others for their encouragement and edification.

Let God form your jar of clay in such a way that God’s all surpassing power flows forth from you to others. He will meet you in the process and you will not be disappointed.

Not Yet an Ice Pack

Though we are not in the deep throes of winter here, the stream of consciousness brought this poem to the foreground. May it spark something good in you today!

Disconsolate Leaves © 2014 Molly Lin Dutina

A few disconsolate leaves
blow and tumble over the ice pack
soon to be trammeled to muck
by rainstorm later today

Rest me now, I pray.
Take me to the center-down silence of surrender
Pour Your living water over my soul
Prepare me for resurrection life
today and always

Surrender and rest 
have to do with moments,
like leaves blown across ice pack
yielding to the wind and rain