I Feast So That

I feast upon Your word, chewing on Genesis, ingesting Psalms, pondering the Gospels, reflecting on the Epistles. I do this because I need Your light and guidance.

Before I know it, I am led into meditation. As Your Spirit leads my heart and mind, the food of Your word rises up in revelatory moments within me. You show me the path.

Your word is a lamp for my feet,

    a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105

When difficult situations arise, You give me Words for the weak and weary. You draw them from the memory bank we have built, You and I together as I feasted upon Your Word. Help me to lay up these lovely treasures in my heart and mind. I feast so that I have a Word to share in times of need.

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,

    to know the word that sustains the weary.

He wakens me morning by morning,

    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

Isaiah 50:4

If you have been fearful about sharing your faith or insights gained through your personal struggles, perhaps feeding upon the Word of God will help you know how and when to give a Word in the right season.

Apply your heart to instruction

    and your ears to words of knowledge.

Proverbs 23:12

The Lord of Hurt and Wounded Beings

The Slave’s Ear© Molly Lin Dutina 2020

 Oh Malchus,slave of the High Priest
 When your ear was cut off and began gushing blood
 Were you startled? In anguished pain?
 When the Lord Christ restored it
 Did you then refuse to go with those who
 Came to arrest Him?
 Did you ever believe He was the Christ?
 He healed you and what was your response?
  
 Jesus, besides being saddened that 
 The slave’s ear was cut off
 Did You heal him to keep
 Your disciple out of trouble
 Knowing that harming the slave of the High Priest
 Would bring that disciple harm?
 Or did You heal him on the principle
 That hurt and wounded things
 Are Your specialty?
 Did he believe when You restored him
  
 I want to know the end of that story
 Many times I have lashed out at others
 Not with sharpened sword but
 Words or actions as sharp as swords
 And You delivered me
 You made it right
 Offered healing to those I have hurt
 Keep me from myself 
 Help me to give You glory
 To my last day and dying breath
 I pray 

We can experience physical pain, emotional pain and mental pain. When the three arrive simultaneously our tipping point can occur.

When that happens it is time to withdraw from one thing or another to preserve our ability to cope.

Are you nearing the edge of your tolerance?

Can you see where and how to preserve your coping self? What might bring you solace and relief, what might raise your shield of defense? Lord, You are our shield and Mighty Deliverer. Lead and guide us in Your ways.

Two More Weeks!

Do you know the joke about the construction crew that kept saying “Two more weeks!” They warned us when we signed the contract that the house would be ready for us to move in by the end of April or early May – unless – one of those polar vortexes came through. Well guess what arrived several weeks ago? You got it. Our own delay due to greater than average snows and temperatures MUCH lower than average for our area.

I did not really believe it when they told us the end of April.

Image from a vacation sort of fits 2021 experience of home building in the winter of 2021.

Meanwhile the realtor came to discuss when to list and how much to ask for our current abode. A moving company came to discuss how much they would charge to pack and/or move us. They will even unpack us for another charge and do it rapidly! Having had much of our lives in boxes for several months that sounds appealing, but also exhausting.

So we try not to run out of ideas of things to do until the move is imminent. Bob is not fun when he is bored! Every time I mention starting a jigsaw puzzle he sort of cringes. Today the snow is melting rapidly. Blue skies, bird songs. Almost time to work in the yard (oh I should have typed mud).

In the Gap of a Stone Wall

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;  but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

-Luke 12:19-21 New Revised Standard Version.

When I was a child my mother collected Betty Crocker coupons points from flour and box mixes. When we had saved enough points we could order things from the Betty Crocker catalog. Researching this article I realized that is likely where she ordered my baby spoon from!

When I was a young teen we had a Home Economics class. The teacher told us to to choose an everyday flatware pattern based upon our preference of design and how easy it would be to keep the pattern clean. My mother let me use her coupons to order this spoon.

Yep! I still have it. The design is great to get frozen hard gelato out of the container! 🙂

When we were in Ireland we were fascinated by the multitude of stone walls. The land is so rocky that those smart people used the stones to build with. Walking in a village one day the roadway was lined with stone walls on either side. I noticed something shining out of the wall. I pulled on it and much to my surprise was the item below!

At first glance what does it remind you of? I could not have been more shocked!

Side by side you can see they are not identical, but I was shocked to see the similarities! Was someone walking to work eating and finished their food? Decided to store the fork for later? Then forgot where it was? I will never know, but it became one of my found souvenirs. The tines are a little bent but I treasure it. I do not value it over my Lord. Unless He fills me and guides me with His Holy Spirit I am as useless as a fork stuck in the gaps of a stone wall.

Endurance

You know, we thought the pandemic was hard. Trying to keep a positive mind and overall positive attitude. Then the unexpected snow accumulation came totaling 9 inches and then a day or so later another 3 inches. Unlike most snows over the years in Cincinnati, it has not all melted yet. Now we have a fresh 2 inches while we wait for the forecast 8-12 inches more this afternoon. The Pandemic is still here and variants are beginning to overtake the USA. People were celebrating Valentine’s Day in bars and restaurants as if nothing was going on. (We saw on TV.)

I read and heard a few quotes in the last 36 hours that are helping me a bit.

“The days you keep your gratitude higher than your expectations are fine, fine days.”

Ray Wylie Hubbard on Austin City Limits

“You’ve got to remember: you must have a forward-thinking, positive outlook at all times.”

Eastbound from Flagstaff by Annette Valentine

Those are easier written than lived! Gratitude that we have snow but also an “electric broom”, snow shovel and blower. Gratitude that the snow plow came down our street plowing and salting the surface twice so far today. Gratitude that the dog does not need to be walked MORE.

Forward thinking, positive outlook. That is difficult when all construction on the new house has totally stopped due to weather. Maybe they can begin again next week if the thaw forecast for next weekend actually occurs! We positively have not put this home on the market yet. If we change our minds it will be the most clean this building has been since we moved in, I think! Forward thinking? Well, Bob continues to want to arrange the furniture in the new building though we do not have a move-in date for certain yet. Someone is to come this week and give us an estimate on packing and moving. The realtor is to come also and give us advice about showing the property. I do wonder if either of those appointments will be kept though!

I won’t even elaborate on the futility of trying to get a Covid-19 injection appointment. Our names are on a list with the Board of Health. Hopefully they will call sometime soon?

The neighbor who helped clean part of our driveway loved the chocolate frosted walnut brownies I shared. Wonder if I should make more of those or the chocolate layer cake they loved once? I am certain when the wave of snow today arrives he will help once more.

How does your gratitude fare in the balance with your expectations? Is your forward thinking suffering with the weather and pandemic or are you staying mostly positive at all times? As we struggle on to be our best selves, may the Lord give us wisdom and strength for the journey!

A wise warrior is better than a strong one,
and a man of knowledge than one of strength;
 for you should wage war with sound guidance—
victory comes with many counselors.”

Proverbs 24:5-6

Daily Devotional

I have had this devotional for a long time. I trade out the devotionals I read. Recently this selection really spoke to me. I am learning more about trusting God and fretting less. Joy & Strength – Selections by Mary Wilder Tileston, Copyright 1901  January 25

Charles Gore: “We are conscious of our own weakness and of the strength of evil; but not of the third force, stronger than either ourselves or the power of evil, which is at our disposal if we will draw upon it. What is needed is a deliberate and wholehearted realization that we are in Christ, and Christ is in us by His Spirit; an unconditional surrender of faith to Him; a practice, which grows more natural by exercise, of remembering and deliberately drawing by faith upon His strength in the moments of temptation and not merely upon our own resources. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I will do thus and thus.” So we too may form, like St. Paul, the habit of victory.”

In practicing mindfulness I have also learned again there is great power in just pausing, especially when I feel overwhelmed, by anything. The Pause that not only refreshes but can invigorate and inspire me.

Stopping to breathe and re-collect myself.

Unconditional surrender of faith.

STOP, even if only for a moment, walking from one room through the doorway of another room – pause.

DELIBERATELY drawing by faith upon His strength.

Here is a portion of what Paul said the Lord told him recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

In Acts 10:34 Paul declared that God is no respecter of persons. He does not play favorites. From those verses we can imply that God’s grace is sufficient for each of us.

Prayer?

Well, truly not prayer for a burglar’s success from this movie of 1964! In 1991 I attended at retreat at the Convent of the Transfiguration. What follows is my journal entry.

 
Sister Margaret taught, “There aren’t any conditions of prayer. There are some things we can do to become more receptive to God. We can wait and desire God in hopeful expectation.” She taught about God’s Presence as a jewel, prayer as a treasured jewel.
 Then we had a time of meditation and prayer – meditative prayer. Winfield Blevins says, “In personal prayer we speak to God, but in meditative prayer we allow God to speak to us through His word and His Spirit.” {I would add that God speaks to us, too, through images we can relate to.}
 So during that retreat of November 1991 I envisioned and wrote: 
 “I see the treasure, as jewels in a case, the multi-faceted beauty of God’s love and wisdom.
 As in Topkapi, the lid is lifted 
 and I enter the treasures of His Glory 
 as a frog enters a pond.
 I go to what others believe is the bottom 
 and as I still my soul, 
 the treasure box opens 
 and I drop 
 as a stone 
 through the beauteous treasure of His wisdom and glory, 
 into the depth of His love.
 I may stop for a while
 but it is as if I am merely perched 
 on a ledge 
 for I have yet to comprehend 
 the depth or length or height 
 of His love. 
 I wait on that ledge,
 rooted and grounded in love 
 absorbing massive quantities of nourishment 
 silently.”
   

I rejoice over Your promise like one who finds vast treasure.

Psalm 119:162 HCSB

-you are being rooted and grounded in love.  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17b-19 NRSV

Almost thirty years have gone past since I wrote that. I have learned so much about my God and prayer, yet I still have so very much to learn!

“The sword used by Roman soldiers was a short sword known as a gladius; and in the hands of a skilled man, it was a fearsome weapon. In fact, it became known as the sword that conquered the world. It was sharpened on both sides, making it lethal against an unarmored foe. The point was also sharpened, enabling it to pierce armor.

“Usually around 20 to 30 inches long, the gladius was not the medieval-style long sword usually associated with the armor of God.

“This Roman sword was light (around 2 pounds), short and designed to be wielded easily with one hand while the other hand grasped the shield. Its size meant it could be drawn in close quarters, and its sharpened edges made it a threat to any enemy who got too close.” -from lifehopeandtruth.com

Perhaps that vision of the dagger in Topkapi was not too far off! I saw the movie and twenty-seven years later one scene came in my meditative prayer time. I have never forgotten that experience. Now almost thirty years later I am typing this for you. And we marvel at the eternity of God!

Molly the Jumping Bean

When you were a kid did your parents let you order the Sea Monkeys advertised in almost every comic book of that era? Not mine. I might have had an ant farm once, unless that was my children? Can’t rightly remember. I did however have jumping beans. No idea where I got them, but they did jump. The ones that did not jump the kids in the neighborhood called duds. Now when I look up jumping beans on the internet they seem rather nasty and are not beans at all! Wikipedia, the know-it-all of earth, says Mexican Jumping beans are seed pods inhabited by the larva of a small moth. (Had she known, that would have made my mom say a resounding, “No!”)

Here is an entertaining two minute twenty-two second video coupling a Rube Goldberg set-up with time lapse photography and basic bean information.

This morning I woke up with agitation. I told Bob that packing and moving was a nice distraction from the pandemic, but now what? I was agitated and bored with all of this isolation and waiting to see who gets ill next. (My daughter has Covid for the second time and her entire family is infected.) The recent horror of politics is over for a few years, now what?

I had difficulty concentrating during my morning prayer time. I told the Lord “I am tired of doing this.” Almost immediately I realized this IS my life right now. So I need to make the most of this freezing rain, isolation, between was and is to be – this present moment is when my life is. Here. Now.

I have been using a new-to-me app called Calm. They provide meditations, music, ten minutes of relaxation (new daily) and BEDTIME STORIES. The stories are great and I rarely hear the end of a story! Recently I copied this quote from Calm: “The beginning is always this present moment.”

When I first read that I had to tell myself to soak that in. Live that out. The beginning is always this present moment. Quiet that jumping bean-like behavior. Be still in the shade of God’s Glory. Rest. “Oh Molly, be still. Rest, absorb, receive.”

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1 NIV

In a little while I began writing this blog again. Thank you to all of you who follow these ramblings! I am always amazed when Word Press shows me how many folks are following and where they are all over the world. I realize I am not the only one bored with the whole Pandemic and isolation situation. Praying perhaps what I write helps you to smile and occasionally to calm down.

The beginning is always this present moment.

Author unknown

January 1991

It must have been a warm day when I ventured into the Cincinnati Nature Center in January of 1991. I noticed these things at the Avey’s Run stream.

“The creek has cut a new route. The deep, dark, quiet pool has changed. With the force of last year’s rain the bank gave way and several trees lie intertwined in the water that was a pool. The force of the water has moved debris into a tidy four foot pile. The stream has carried sand and stone, changing the creek’s prior route into a narrow, almost dry channel. The water gurgles in joy over a few fallen branches as the flow takes a new direction.

“River of life flow forth in me. Gurgle in joy, splash with abundant life as I flow on in God’s river of love towards the next challenge.

“A green rock says, “Pick me up.” Green – color of life and that more abundantly!”

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. “

John 10:10 NRSV

Organizing

While paring down I have also been organizing words I have saved over the years. I found a card to “Dear Mom” that I thought my son had made for me. Surprise! I had made it for my mother, likely 1958 or so. Besides my personal words, I have once again come across my collection of quotes and retreat notes that have had meaning to me. I am thinking they might touch your heart and soul, too? So periodically, I will post these for your perusal. So many of these are quotes whose author I do not have a name for – in which case I will note that fact.

In the book God Calling on May 13 it reads “What joy follows self-conquest! You cannot conquer and control others … but through God’s power you can conquer yourself.” One class I took emphasized that through obedience, at the end of the day you feel noble. Obedience to God builds self-esteem.

As the adult child of an alcoholic, after studying codependency I learned this stark lesson: We have no control over others. Children of alcoholics believe events are their fault. “If only I am good enough this will not happen.” If my grades are good enough, if I am quiet enough, and on and on with every faulty thinking pattern you can imagine. It is a hard thing for those of us who grew up this way to realize we had nothing to do with the situation. And it is also a hard belief system to UN-learn. It can lead to entrenched codependency that transfers to every person around, not just the parent where the behavior was learned.

Francis of Assisi referred to his body (i.e., himself) as brother ass. He was always trying to train that animal. He is quoted as saying, “Above all the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ gives to His friends is that of CONQUERING oneself and willingly enduring suffering, insults, humiliations and hardship for the love of Christ.”

In the Revised Standard version of 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul wrote that he pummeled his body and subdued it.

Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:27 (HCSB)

Thoughts, words, habits, deeds – all of me needs discipline and I can only hope to train myself through the help of the Holy Spirit. I am the only person I can hope to control, and only with God’s help.

Come, Holy Spirit. Have Your way in and through me. Amen.