What a Celebration!

The opening photo is from a Celtic cross in Ireland. Notice how the hand of God is holding up the cross. Nothing is beyond His notice. He loves our families more than we do!

We had our children with their spouses, grandchildren and one boyfriend over to celebrate Christmas. This was held the Sunday before Christmas due to other family conflicts. It was very difficult to not have our oldest Grandgirl here. She is 21 now and had to work. Still trying to get her attention for gifting and celebrating!

Plus macaroni and cheese, fresh salad, guacamole, hummus, Skyline dip, cheese tray, 4 kinds of bread or buns. We should have invited more people to come and not bring food!

As usual there was way too much food! Even with the boyfriend here to help eat! Oh well, he is a wrestler and always watching his weight. But what a delight! He could not do enough afterwards to help us put the house back together.

The gifts were thoughtful and generous. I am praying the Name of Jesus will be remembered by all the family as they absorb their gifts into the homes (or in the case of gift certificates for zip lining, into their future)!

Fleecy soft blanket, sweatshirt, special order ball cap, 2 Lego sets, 2 beeswax candles, Grogu ornament, beer mix, Jungle Jim’s gift card, Starbucks card, Yankee candles, special socks, knife block, Birkenstock’s, wallet, soccer/football team accessories, quarter holder for Aldi’s, handmade soup paddle from New Mexico, lovely porcelain china cookie/dessert tri-level rack, (the one that belonged to my mother broke when we moved and I packed it), Columbia over shirt, cash, Trades of Hope bracelet, LaRosa’s gift card and likely more.

This morning as I write this I am delighted with view out my window. The other day when in the front garden area I shook up the mealworm feeder. The dried worms sometimes get moist and stick together or freeze to the metal feeder. Today at one point I called Bob to see the 8 bluebirds on and around the feeder.

Here is what I captured when I finally got my camera.

Home Again

Like that Christmas tree image? By the time you read this we will be home for ten days! And more than likely have hit the ground running!

So where does that idiom come from?

The first is that it comes from troops in combat. They must start running as soon as they get off a plane, train, or other automobile, so that they don’t get shot. It is believed that in World War II, paratroopers were given this command as to what to do when they landed.

The second theory is that it comes from hobos and stowaways on a train. They must begin to run as soon as they jump from the train, so that they don’t get caught.

The third theory is that it comes from the Pony Express. This was an early way to deliver mail by horseback in America. The riders had to be fast so they would ride their horses quickly and “hit the ground running” when changing to a fresh horse in order to avoid delays.

However it started, the expression saw a surge in popularity in the 1970s and has seen widespread use ever since.


What have we been up to? Small group meeting, Church, helping a young bridal attendant to get her dress sewn just the way she wants it (no bra showing), wrapping gifts, get groceries after travel and before family gathering, Bob medical procedure, Bob doctor appointment, Bob second cataract surgery with complication to be addressed by a second surgeon (back to back docs), Bob follow-up with docs after eye surgeries, making those lists and checking them twice, laundry from traveling, wedding, plan that family celebration on December 18th (Oh! that is when this will post).

Whew! Not certain that travel in December is my first choice, but there you have it! We had tickets we had to use before December 31. Maybe next time we will go to New York for New Years and stay in our room instead of clamoring on Times Square!

Running like troops in combat? Well the enemy of our souls would like for no one to know about the birth of the Light of the world born in a manger, yet we declare that very Light is the Light of the world.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 ESV

Hobos and stowaways? Yes, not of the world but in it to give testimony to God.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 15:19 NIV

Hit the ground running like the Pony Express riders? Yes, but not before asking God for direction and guidance.

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.

This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 The Message

If you, too, have hit the ground running this season, remember to watch and pray as you go forward. God is always with you to lead, guide, comfort and provide! Obedience to Him is paramount if your efforts are to succeed.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

John 1:4, 9 NIV

Prepare Him Room Using Mark 7

Paul wrote many lists of sins, but here is one from Jesus.

And He said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things comes from within, and they defile a man.”

Mark 7:21-23 RSV

So what is coming out of us as we prepare for the Christmas celebration? Is our first response to honor the birth of Christ? The second coming of Christ? or the weight of expectations as we gather with family for another Christmas meal? Are we burdened by gift giving? Rampant greed? Unobtainable expectations of others? Ourselves? Coveting, envy, deceit, slander, pride, foolishness?

None of the lists of sin in the New Testament are told to us as the worst then the second worst, etc. We tend to assign those judgements, but they are all called sin. Sin is “falling short of the mark.”

As we once again prepare room for Christ I pray you will consider asking the Lord to help cleanse and purify your heart and mind. Let the Holy Spirit shine the Light within you and show the areas where you fall short. Then do what we are told in 1 John 1:9

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

1 John 1:9

Prepare Him Room – an article by Jon Bloom

Suddenly, we find ourselves standing where Luke had found us. There are the Christmas lists, the half-trimmed tree, the holiday movie paused, and pans in the sink. The familiar stress of the bustling and bursting schedule of Advent activities reawakens.

But seared in our minds is the pathetic picture of the holy, homeless mother and child. Bustling and bursting Bethlehem had no room for the advent of Jesus. And echoing in our ears are our own words, “Surely we can find some room somewhere!”

Can we?

The real Christmas was nothing like the Christmas we’ve come to know, with its traditions, memories, and legends. It was a desperate moment that occurred for a desperate reason.


Old Prayers for Each of Us

I recently bought another book of Puritan prayers from Christian Book Distributors entitled Piercing Heaven. The author says “That prayer is most likely to pierce heaven which first pierces one’s own heart.”

Every good prayer begins with some form of confession. This one is no exception.

It All Belongs to Jesus by Robert Hawker

Precious Jesus! I do remember my faults this day. So grant me from now on to live wholly to You, gracious Lord, to keep you always in view, walking with you, cleaving to you, hanging upon you, Help me always to remember you and your love more than anything else.

You, my dearest Redeemer! I pray for grace to set you always before me, to record in my heart your mercies, and to set you in my heart. To follow you wherever you go, and to watch the steps of Jesus. To pursue you in all your paths, at your table, at your ordinances, in your words, in your house of prayer, in your providence, in your promises.

Everywhere, and in all things where Jesus is, I pray that there may my soul be. Though I have no way to pay you back for this bounty, Lord, still in your grace may I follow you, to bless you, and to live out the truth that all I am and all I have is yours.

Grant me in this sweet sense to know you, precious Jesus, and to enjoy you in everything, for riches and honor come from you.

Yes, Lord, the work is yours, salvation is yours, glory is yours – everything is yours. All the remains for me is to be forever giving you the praise that is due your most holy name, content to be nothing – even less that nothing – that the power of Jesus may rest on me. Because when I am most weak in myself, than am I most strong in you, Lord, and in your power, amen.

I like the reminder that everything belongs to Jesus. It is so easy in this day to think there are things we obtained that belong to us, not to Him. “All I am and all I have is Yours.”

We have left the mostly clear skies of New Mexico and are firmly back home in the December gloom of Ohio. Though there is no mountain out my widow to remind me of God’s glory and majesty, there are reminders all about me of the same. The white eared squirrel just hopped across the yard. The moisture in the air seems chilly but has brought relief to my sinuses! Our small group met recently and we were re-united after a long session of being apart. Sadly, we will not meet again until next year, but prayerfully the bonds of unity will remain.

Yes, everything belongs to Jesus and He is in control. May I yield to His directions and follow closely in His paths. May you too, “be forever giving praise to His most holy Name, content to be nothing- even less than nothing – that the power of Jesus may rest on you. “ He is strong and is able to keep us in all of our ways.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, 25 to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.

Jude 24-25 RSV

There are so many passages in the New Testament that contain the phrase He is able – would make a neat study!

How to Please God

Amy Carmichael “Edges of His Ways” continues to inspire me. When I read this selection I learned that the passage in Proverbs speaks as to how we can cause God to delight in us.

My son, if your heart is wise, then My heart will be glad indeed; My inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.

Proverbs 23:15-16 RSV

The passage reminds me of when one of my children makes my heart swell with joy. Like the time Emily at 3 years old, smuggled Jesus into church on Christmas Eve. When I asked her what was in her hand she opened her palm and said, “I thought He ought to come.” To this day I marvel at the faith of that girl-child.

How can a person protect or keep their ways? Psalm 119 tells some ways.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!

Psalm 119:9-10 RSV

It is all of Him if we are made aware of His Presence and listen when He speaks, and so receive wisdom; but in His extraordinary love He speaks as if it were all our doing

Amy Carmichael “Edges of His Ways” December 5 “The Evens”

God lets things unfold as if our right doing is from our own strength. Yet, Amy and others teach us that He makes us aware of His Presence, He directs our paths, His grace and mercy carry us along our way.

If my heart is wise, if my lips speak what is right my Father will be pleased. This can make His heart glad and His inmost being rejoice. This is a good time and season to ask the Father “How could I most delight You today?” What gift can I present to You, Father of Lights?

I have been reading The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. In the section entitled Shared Prayers and Devotions there is a portion for each morning and evening over seven days. The prayers and devotions are a lovely weave of Scriptures, praise and requests to our Lord. This jumped out at me, “Let us not live uncertain of what we are, of where we are going. Bear witness with our spirit that we are thy children and enable each one to say, “I know my Redeemer.”

Wait in His Presence. Remember God really loves you. Trust His love and learn how to be devoted to Him.

Best News in A Long Time!!

Bob was bemoaning another pre-op physical. It will be too many days between his first cataract surgery and his second, more extensive cataract and eye surgery in December. So they require another physical. He went to the doc, got check up with nurse practitioner and blood work. (Will we ever see the actual doctor again?!?)

When the results came in he was thrilled, (me, too!). The kidney values were normal and the best he has ever had since his serious illness in 2018!! His kidneys are completely healed!

If you know someone who has ever experienced kidney failure in the midst of sepsis you realize how important this is. At first in 2018 when they put him on dialysis there was no indication how long he would need the multiple times a week treatment. Perhaps for the remainder of his life? Slowly his kidneys showed signs of beginning to function. Very slowly. Then gradually he was told he no longer needed dialysis. He was cautioned to be very careful with salt intake, certain medications, even over the counter ones, etc.

So he has been very conscientious since then. Now this good news! Best reason I have ever heard for repeated physical check ups!

All glory to “Jehovah Rapha”: the God Who Heals. I do not understand how He heals or why He sometimes chooses not to heal, but each time I see His healing touch I am moved to worship.

Jehovah-Rapha has the power to heal physically (2 Kings 5:10), emotionally (Psalm 34:18), mentally (Daniel 4:34), and spiritually (Psalm 103:2–3). Neither impurity of body nor impurity of soul can withstand the purifying, healing power of Jehovah-Rapha.


Advent Began November 27 This Year

Christianity.com offers these quotes:

“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“God of hope, I look to you with an open heart and yearning spirit. During this Advent season, I will keep alert and awake, listening for your word and keeping to your precepts. My hope is in you.” ~ Matthew Kelly


If you go to the website mentioned above you will read that this church season is a time to prepare our hearts for Christ but also a time to prepare our hearts for the RETURN of Christ. The author speaks of both looking back and looking forward, “balancing the two elements of remembrance and anticipation.”

I made the sketch below showing myself in the form of a manger. Each year at this time I return to my Advent poem from 1993. HERE AM I ©Molly Lin Dutina

Here am I, stuff of earth
But by the Spirit's power rebirth
has brought me receptivity.
Fill me with Yourself.
Molded by Your Holy Hand
I wait before You
Cupped and ready,
cleansed, atoned
eager for Your radiant touch
Virtue compelled to enfold Your own
the vessel of Your making.
Here am I, stuff of earth
yielded for Messiah's birth
be it unto me, O Lord,
as in Your word and will.
The Great I AM
dwells in my heart
there to impart the power
courage and propulsion for
His dream to be fulfilled.

My prayer for you is that this season you will wait for the Lord to fill you with His power, courage and propulsion that His dream will be fulfilled in your heart. We can gift ourselves to Jesus this year. Have at it!

May the words of Matthew Kelly keep your heart on track: “I will keep alert and awake, listening for Your word and keeping to Your precepts.” Amen!

His Power

Have you pondered the Power of our God?

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.

Psalm 68:19-20 NIV

Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the heavens. You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!

Psalm 68:34-35 NIV

All of that in four verses of one Psalm. Have you thanked Him for pouring out this power on your behalf? In your darkest hour do you know His light? He bears our burdens. He keeps us from dying in our heart, our innermost being. He gives power and strength to His people. When we feel most vulnerable and acutely know the very weakness of ourselves, He gives us power and strength. Who couldn’t use more strength?

Repeatedly I come back to

 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Romans 8:11 NRSV

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you. I have found that the power that raised Jesus goes dormant when I choose to live by my flesh, pushing the Spirit of Christ aside in preference to my will and my ways. My thinking becomes corrupted with thoughts such as, “Why shouldn’t I be thanked?” or “What am I, chopped okra?”

The only way I know to begin again starts with seeing my sin and confessing it to my Lord.

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 RSV

I cannot cleanse myself. I can recognize and confess though. Just as an addict cannot stop using until they want to, until they are ready, I cannot even see my sin until I am miserable and recognize how far removed I am from walking in righteousness with my Lord.

He daily bears our burdens and provides us an escape from death. He gives us life and strength and power. He indwells us with the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. He knows we have the ability to shut off that power source by stubbornly returning to our ways of flesh. When the ‘Hound of Heaven’ shows us we are way off, He can also disarm us with His love and lead us to repentance.

I fled Him down the nights and down the days
I fled Him down the arches of the years
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
I hid from him . . .

The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson

We serve an amazing God who never leaves us or forsakes us. Even when we are stinky brats, He stays close by. Come to Him, all who are weary and heavy laden. He will give you rest and life and love unmerited.

The Father will not make us obey. He waits for us to turn to Him and ask forgiveness. We give access to Him by confessing our shortcomings. We then turn towards Him and walk away from the sin habits. I would love to say we never return there. Sadly we are like dogs in Proverbs 26:11:

As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.

Lord, help us to follow You with joyful, peaceful, constant, yielded obedience. Thank you for pardoning us when we step off Your path and choose our own way. Please continue to lead us always in Your paths of righteousness. We will be ever so careful to give You the glory. Amen.

Gift from My Friend, Dan

In the summer of 2021 my friend Dan sent me the book The Valley of Vision A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett. I do not read it daily, but I was prompted to open it last week. Here is where I read:

Grace Active
Lord Jesus, Great High Priest,
Thou hast opened a new and living way
by which a fallen creature can approach thee with acceptance.
Help me to contemplate
the dignity of thy Person,
the perfectness of thy sacrifice,
the effectiveness of thy intercession.
O what blessedness accompanies devotion,
when under all the trials that weary me, 
eh cares that corrode me,
the fears that disturb me,
the infirmities that oppress me,
I can come to thee in my need
and feel peace beyond understanding!
The grace that restores is necessary to  preserve,
lead, guard, supply, help me.

And here thy saints encourage my hope;
they were once poor and are now rich,
bound and are now free,
tried and now are victorious.

Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess,
but bit more than is found in thee,
the divine Treasury in whom all fullness dwells.
To thee I repair for grace upon grace
until every void made by sin be replenished
and I am filled with all thy fullness.
May my desires be enlarged and my hopes emboldened,
that I may honour thee by my entire dependency
and the greatness of my expectation.
Do thou be with me, and prepare me for all
the smiles of prosperity, the frowns of adversity,
the losses of substance, the death of friends,
the days of darkness, the changes of life,
and the last great change of all.
May I find thy grace sufficient
for all my needs.

Certainly said it all for me!

Sun Poetry

We have had so much sun lately since the weather has been ruled by these mostly drought conditions. I made a note to myself to “finish the sun blog.” Now I wonder what that meant!

Late October ©Molly Lin Dutina 22-10-29 
This morning the sun graces remaining leaves 
Barren trees now have a glow on their trunk
Knowing there are gloomy days ahead 
I want to store up this sunshine in my heart 
Perhaps like manna, that is not possible? 

The gardeners think they have repaired 
Water pooling in our yard 
Unless the drought breaks 
We will not know 
If drainage is corrected

And earlier than that on October 13, 2022 I wrote ….

Grandeur of Sun ©Molly Lin Dutina 22-10-13 

The black cloud perfect backdrop
As sun clears the trees in east
Lighting up treetop to west
Blazing red, swirling gold
Under layer of green
A momentary glimpse of autumn
Grandeur rarely seen 
Marvel of God’s handiwork
How was that even possible
That I looked up
Just then to see it?
Camera could not catch it properly
Totally gone now
Just gray rainy day
Orang-ish maple
No big deal
A few chirping birds
Patter of drops on fallen leaves
Applause of the crowd fading
“Camera could not catch it properly” see blaze of gold above the roof