Lean Hard into Him

Have you had days when the same old same old seems to crush your spirit? Or days when you want to declare “Some old “S***, different day!” Each of us gets caught in the seemingly mundane go-round that I would not call merry. How to get away from that?

One cry of my heart goes out in this song we learned years ago at the Vineyard. I pray it helps lift you, too.

The eternal God is your refuge,

    and underneath are the everlasting arms.

He will drive out your enemies before you,

    saying, ‘Destroy them!’

Deuteronomy 33:27

Weeks in My Soul

For weeks this melody and parts of the lyrics have been rolling about in my soul. I could not track ti down. Totally cluueless what the title was. I have many old hymns on Cd and in my soul and when they surface I cannot always find them, even in a computer search. Finally, I found this one! My hymnal notes Ephesians 1:12 “That we … might be for the praise of His glory.”

Praise the Savior Lyrics by Thomas Kelly
Praise the Savior, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have.

Jesus is the name that charms us;
He for conflict fits and arms us;
Nothing moves and nothing harms us
While we trust in Him.

Trust in Him, ye saints, forever;
He is faithful, changing never;
Neither force nor guile can sever
Those He loves from Him.

Keep us, Lord, oh, keep us cleaving
To Thyself and still believing,
Till the hour of our receiving
Promised joys with Thee.

Then we shall be where we would be,
Then we shall be what we should be;
Things that are not now, nor could be,
Soon shall be our own.

Gladly let us give Him all we are and have. Trust repeated. Nothing can separate or sever us from Him. Keep us cleaving: adhere, cling, stick fast. Then we shall be – Oh Lord, transform us into Your likeness.

Adhere, cling, stick fast, like a tendril adheres a vine firmly

Why is it important to track down these glimmers of song? Almost every time the Holy Spirit is leading me to me a truth I need. I do not know why it sometimes takes longer to find the song than at other times? When I do find the song it is with rejoicing and praise that my God is bigger than me and smarter than me and knows what I need when I need it – often before I know!

This week Bob has gone to the Convent in Glendale for time away. As he pulled out of the driveway this song rolled through me again. I decided to search for it one more time. And there it was!! This is also special time for me to draw closer to the Lord while Bob is gone. The routines are broken up and Lucky and I are on our own. I am praying I will not waste this time, but “gladly render to Him all I am and have.”

Yes! Let us live for the praise of His Glory, always.

Rest on Your Laurels

… means to be satisfied with one’s achievement, by implication enough so as not to expend further effort. Wikipedia: wise one of the earth says, “The term, dating from the mid-nineteenth century, alludes to the wreaths of laurel leaves use to crown the winner of athletic contests in ancient Greek and Roman times; the laurel today remains a symbol of victory.”

Still boasting about something God used you for?

Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth;  but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 NRSV

Some have made mission trips and saw the Lord move mightily and use them in significant ways. May all glory go to God. Some have never traveled far at all, yet the Lord often uses them frequently in the local store.

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NRSV

Matilda Kipfer said she was a simple woman, not wise. Being foolish by the standards of the world was fine by her because the Lord chose what is foolish to confound the wise.

Seems to me there was an image like this in my childhood Bible

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus (blessed be he forever!) knows that I do not lie.  In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me,  but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands. It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 11:30 – 2 Corinthians 12:1

Most humans do not want to be seen as weak. Yet Paul tells us how he was lowered in a basket to escape a king who wanted to seize Paul. The Bible says it is better to be weak and a fool than to follow after things of the world. Let God be seen as strong and mighty, even at your own expense.

Did God do something mighty through your service? If so, we must remember we were God’s tool just as Balaam’s donkey was God’s tool. Numbers 22 tells the story of how Balaam was known as a professional prophet who traveled about and cursed military enemies for money. He was a seer for hire. His only power was words to put curses on others. (Isn’t the Bible full of interesting characters?) His donkey saved his life three times when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord blocking the path with a drawn sword. How do we know this? The third time it happened as Balaam beat his donkey with anger and the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth to speak!

Numbers 22:21-35 Donkey saves Balaam’s Life

Being corrected and saved by a donkey has to bring humility I would think. In the end of the story God had victory over the evil troops. No curses were allowed.

So what now? Give thanks for the ways God has used you in the past. What have you done recently with God? Have you found where He is working and joined His project? Or are you still telling others what He did long ago and far away? Has your laurel wreath withered and become only an old story? Do you know Jesus and have you talked with Him today? What are your marching orders from Him? Are you walking in obedience to His orders?

I hope you are not sitting on your laurels and letting the Kingdom work fall to others. “Let those who boast boast that they understand and know Me.” “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” The Lord wants it known that He acts with steadfast love, justice and righteousness on the earth. Have you shared that message? As we gain a deeper understanding of Him let’s spread that knowledge every place we go. Perhaps He will use us to His glory! Meanwhile, let your laurels bloom and move on.

Did He Die In Vain?

Is there an area of your life where there is warfare? Once you become aware of the warfare and oppression are you doing anything about it? Are you feeling hopeless or ineffective against the darkness?

For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have come to fullness of life in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12 and you were buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this He set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in Him.

Colossians 2:9-15

Looking at the passage above you can read some of the mighty things the Father has done for you through Jesus/in Him. God raised you with Him (Jesus) from the dead. He made you alive together with Him (Jesus). You have resurrection power within you. Have you used it? Have you asked the Father how to use it to alter your circumstances? Jesus died to give us the Holy Spirit. If we are not using the Spirit in our lives did Jesus die in vain?

Warfare and oppression can feel like a wet, cold, gray blanket thrown over your mind and soul. Father has given us power to throw that off. One image is to push it back, away from you. When I become aware of a situation like that in my life, (and I am not usually aware the first few times it happens), when I become aware of a pattern of discouragement or negative thinking I have to bring myself to my senses. Inner conversation usually goes something like: “Wait a minute. I have been here before and I don’t like it! In the Name of Jesus I push that away. Father You promised to make me a new creation. Help me form my thoughts around Your word. By Your Spirit instruct and guide me, I pray.”

If I am having difficulty I go get my Bible or look up one on my phone. I especially like the Bible Gateway app as they offer many translations easily.

If I face a situation where others are at unrest, I must be careful not to give them advice but just go to prayer. I do the same prayer pattern: “In the Name of Jesus and by His blood I order that (whatever I sense, I sometimes just say darkness) out of this room. Holy Spirit comfort and guide that one. I pray peace over their soul. I ask the Spirit to bring them thoughts of life. Shower them with Living Water, Father. Fill this place with Your holiness I pray.” Then I start praising God for His Presence, Life, and Love and Holiness. I sing praise songs in my soul. Reiki people would say to focus all your positive energy upon the person.

If you are starting to think I might be nuts, read this.

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Thus He has given us, through these things, His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:3-4

Everything we need for life and godliness. Everything we need for spiritual warfare. His very great and precious promises. Through them we become participants of the divine nature. We need this stuff if we are to succeed as Christians and maintain our disciplines. This is part of our work in the Kingdom. This is powerful, holy and a gift to us.

In keeping with music week LOL imagine my surprise a few years ago when I heard this for the first time!

As Jesus said, “Go and do likewise!”

2013 Flash of My Possible Future

From my Journal: 13-4-22 Woman at Porter’s Creek, Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Lady’s Slipper, Wild Orchid

On our hunt for Lady’s Slippers, I saw a woman at Porter’s Creek trail today with a walker that rolled and had a seat. At first sight, my thought was negative. Second thought was that her walk is HARDER than walking under my own pained power … but she was there to see the same sights as me.

Her progress was slow, but she was more cheerful than me when I stopped to speak with her. As we parted she asked the Lord’s blessing upon me. She posed the question, “Well, what else are we going to do?” We cope as best we can and go on with our lives.

Listen to me, O house of Jacob,

    all the remnant of the house of Israel,

who have been borne by me from your birth,

    carried from the womb;

even to your old age I am he,

    even when you turn gray I will carry you.

I have made, and I will bear;

    I will carry and will save.

Isaiah 46:3-4 NRSV

That was 2013. Today in 2022, I can still walk without a cane or walker, but the pain is stronger from the arthritis and fibromyalgia than previously. I am trying to move more. I do not stretch as much as I should. I have been given strong medication for when I have a flare and cannot bear it. I do not want that medication, but it is here if needed.

Praying I can be as cheerful today as she was as I get to walk the dog, see flower bulbs getting ready to bloom, wash windows! If living brings me a walker and limited mobility I want to be cheerful then, too!

So even to old age and gray hairs,

    O God, do not forsake me,

until I proclaim your might

    to all the generations to come.

Psalm 71:18 NRSV

Psalm 1

Like a tree planted by streams of water …..

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God. But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely. They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper.

Psalm 1:1-3 Living Bible

We recently got away for a few days. It was so refreshing just to get out of town and break up the daily routine. Whew! When we arrived at our room it was gloomy, early evening and beginning to rain. We did not notice much outside our windows except for a pond/lake. The next morning I could not wait to get outside when I saw this!

I had already been thinking for a few days about Psalm 1 and the tree planted by the streams of water. Been wondering how to write about that tree theme and there it was!

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,

    whose trust is the Lord.

They shall be like a tree planted by water,

    sending out its roots by the stream.

It shall not fear when heat comes,

    and its leaves shall stay green;

in the year of drought it is not anxious,

    and it does not cease to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 NRSV

The willow tree! Her lower branches almost touch the water.

There was a willow tree that grew on the edge of Kuhner’s field. I played there when I was growing up. Daffodils, a stream and a willow tree. Land snails that left me their discarded shells. I was close to heaven there. I used to play under the branches of the willow assuming that no one could see me. Hidden there in her long wavy arms my imagination was allowed to be still or run wild. The tree did not care which I chose.

Bob and I have been fascinated for decades how the tendrils and buds on the willow turn yellow before other things are giving a hint of spring to come. Now I am in room 303 and out our windows are 3 willow trees planted by this water.

From my journal: “Wood ducks and Canada geese vie for position on the water. Those ducks glide past as if propelled by some force other than themselves. Lord, help me relax and let You propel me today. Help me not to talk too much. Hush me from giving suggestions. Let me just look, watch, ask You for ways to follow You more closely. Increase my trust in You I pray.”

And yes, those trees sent out lots and lots of roots! Look at the opening photo (top of page). Not always easy to see the path of tree roots, but these are easily delineated in the strange winter grass that almost looks like moss.

We arrived in rain. Enjoyed a day of sun and our last morning there was SNOW! I did not venture out to get a shot of snow on the willow buds.

My photo above taken indoors and the chandelier light is reflected on the window (oops!). What a difference in weather!

You can see those willow tendrils in these photos. “Their leaves shall never wither. Never having fear or anxiety.” Yes, Lord! I want to be like these trees. Help me to trust You and drink daily from Your Living Water. Help me to delight in You and meditate on Your word day and night. Make me deeply rooted and grounded, established in Your love. (Ephesians 3:17)

You Lord are my hope and my salvation. Help me become a tree to Your glory, a living testament to Your power at work in 2022. Help me delight in doing everything You want me to do.

Omicron Wave and Return of Restrictions

Unavailable, even in store brand!

When there was a supply chain crisis and tube biscuits vanished from the store, (also known as Whop-whop biscuits from when we used to strike them on the Formica countertop to open),

Whop Whop Biscuits!

Ha! No worries! While visiting in Nashville, Nita taught me to use frozen Pillsbury biscuits. Yes, indeed, there they were! Pillsbury frozen biscuits 🙂 Never fear, comfort foods are near!

Many thanks, Nita!!

When Omicron variant was running rampant we returned to staying home more. It was difficult not to get down and blue and feel as if THIS WILL NEVER END!! So I decided to cook!

Baked brownies with dark chocolate frosting. I usually make them with walnuts in half the pan. Then when I frost them I put walnuts on half the frosting. Lately we have wanted them either all nuts ( like us) or all without nuts to share with neighbor.

Ribs in the magic pot! Jill Evans taught me how to do this. You cook the ribs in the Magic pot. I usually freeze half of them for another time. Then when ready to make dinner brush them with Bar-be-Que sauce and run them under the broiler until glazed. OH yum! Make a couple sides and you are living large!

One of our favorites is Slow cooked Oatmeal in the crock pot. Oatmeal is just good for us period. I make a batch and put it in the fridge. Scoop out some for breakfast, creamy and thick. I like mine with lots of milk and a bit of cinnamon sugar. Bob likes his with raisins added.

With pork tenderloin I can never go wrong. I sear it on the grill for extra flavor. Then rub in spices and bake.

I finally tried chicken breast in the magic pot from a frozen state. Several gals told em to try this. Yep! It worked and was SO moist.

Turkey wild rice soup made with broth we created from the bones at Thanksgiving is so yummy. Merged several recipes several years ago and this is one of Bob’s all time favorites. We think it tastes best after being refrigerated overnight before consuming. We freeze the excess and enjoy it several times. Put it with one of those frozen biscuits with brownie for dessert! Nope, we are not losing any weight here! But not ballooning with Covid pounds either.

WILD RICE & MUSHROOM TURKEY SOUP                4-6 servings

4 T. unsalted butter                             1 Large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped                         3 carrots chopped

4 oz. Mushrooms (or more!), sliced                     3 T. flour

5 cups turkey or chicken broth/stock  2-1/2 c. cooked wild rice

1 branch fresh thyme ½ t. dry             12 oz. cooked turkey, chopped

3 T. dry sherry  ½ c. non-fat sour cream       1 t. each salt & pepper

Melt butter over med-hi heat. Add onion, celery, carrot: cook & stir until softened 4-5 min. Add mushrooms and cook until they begin to give off some liquid, 2-3 min. Sprinkle flour over veges. Stir well and cook 1 min.

Add stock, rice and thyme. Cover and heat to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer until veges tender – 15 min.

Add sherry and turkey, cook 1 min. Remove from heat, add sour cream, salt & pepper.

Recipe created 11-05  Updated  2-22

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Reading Guideposts

While away by myself I began reading my back copies of Guideposts. I subscribe because that little magazine almost ALWAYS moves me in some way. Then I get busy and miss an edition, throw it in a drawer for later. Something happens and I do not read the next one. Eventually, feeling guilty, I do not renew my subscription. So here I was during February, 2022 in a motel room reading the August/September 2021 edition.

The cover story was written by Harry Connick, Jr. about himself. Wow! He found his world turned upside down like all of us did when the pandemic began. He began to get in touch with his faith. His dad “took charge” of his faith when Harry was a child. His mom was born Jewish and did not have a problem with dad taking Harry to church. Then, like many of us, he lost track of his faith in the shuffle of life.

While staying home during the first year of the pandemic he searched his heart concerning his faith and made music – as in wrote, performed and sang very part- in his home studio – until he had created a new album entitled Alone with My Faith. I was able to hear it on You Tube and it is wonderful.

Harry did some arrangements of old time hymns like The Old Rugged Cross as well as writing some original songs such as Thank You for Waiting for Me and All These Miracles. I was amazed to learn he knew so many instruments including the tuba. Guess if you create New Orleans style music you need that tuba! I told Bob I was certain he had added some harmonies by other people when the quarantines were lifted. Reading the article again I read that he did ALL the vocals. You will be amazed by his talent if you listen to God and My Gospel. Sure sounds like a group of folks! Bob was startled by some of the familiar hymns set in a new arrangement!!

Just imagine this 54 year old, worth $45 million is willing to share his renewed faith with the world!

Even if you are not a Harry Connick, Jr fan but love the Lord, I encourage you to check out this music for yourself. The album and one of the songs are entitled Alone with My Faith. His daughter helped design the cover made from the broken down useless piano he is standing on.

I keep returning to “Thank You for Waiting for Me” as the refrain reminds me of walking in the ways of Brother Lawrence. “If I’m listening, really listening, I’ll hear. If I’m looking, really looking, I’ll see. If I’m praying, really praying, I will try to understand..”

Are you listening, really listening? Are you looking, really looking? Are you praying, really praying? I hope so! Blessings abound if we only will begin!

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

Yeah. No.

Is it yes or no? Pet peeve here. What is it with people who nod their head no while they speak yes. Just as bad to nod head yes while speaking no. Am I to believe the words or the body language? And when some say, ”Yeah. No.” I want to holler “WHICH ONE IS IT?!?!”

Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ Anything more comes from the evil one.

Berman Study Bible Matthew 5:37

Granted, I understand this passage is about swearing, but can we also apply it to our everyday communication, please? The following is a quite clear communication.

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Hillel the Elder, first-century Jewish Scholar

Often those of us who are unhappy with life wind up asking “Why me?” Hillel would like to speak with those folks!

Watching The Chosen TV series one night the question popped into my consciousness. And then I pondered, “Why the crippled? Why the prostitute? Why the lepers? Why the sinners?” Before they met Jesus I think most of them realized they were not going to get what they wanted from life.

I am a more than a little tarnished by age. I have had a pretty wonderful life. The chronic pain plagues me more now than in the early years after diagnosis. So yes, at times I wonder “Why me?“

Without the chronic pain I would not have had so many avenues opened for me to share my faith. And then I remember that without these troubles I could never have related to all those I have prayed for who suffer.

If my Aunt Mary had not had Alzheimer’s disease I would never have related to these who care for people with that dreadful illness. If my parents had not died young, suffice it to say I would not have known how to relate to so many grieving people who have crossed my path.

There would have been no path to lead that Fibromyalgia support group. There would have been no opportunity to share my faith in the midst of suffering through this blog.

Have you ever been greeted by a 6 year old boy who is eager to see you? He greets you joyously by running to you, grabbing your legs, almost knocking you down. Are you eager to greet God that way?

That child does not sulk and wonder why you did not give him what he wanted for his birthday last year. He is just glad to see you.

Can you begin to approach the Lord in the same way? Michael W. Smith and his wife Debbie wrote these lyrics in 1982 based on Psalm 145:3. Use them as your theme for a few days and see if your heart is not lighter!

Great is the Lord
He is holy and just
By His power we trust
In His love
Great is the Lord
He is faithful and true
By His mercy He proves
He is love

Great is the Lord
And worthy of glory
Great is the Lord
And worthy of praise
Great is the Lord
Now lift up your voice
Now lift up your voice
Great is the Lord
Great is the Lord

Run towards the Father!