Finding My Way #2

February 21st I posted about finding my way through Fibro with God’s help. Especially the leading of the hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” Before I went to the hospital for diagnosis I occasionally heard things such as, “When you go to the hospital …” What? Who said anything about the hospital? (Later I realized this was reassurance so I would not go into utter panic at the idea.) I also heard “You will know an answer to what is causing this before the chicory blooms.”

One of the delights of early summer are when the chicory blooms blue flowers and the Queen Anne’s Lace starts to put forth white flowers in contrast to the blue. They often grow together along the roadside.

Chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace and Red Clover

How like the Lord to comfort my heart with something that He knew I would recognize and delight in! He was true to His word and we did have a diagnosis before the full bloom of those flowers. The flowers were lovely. The understanding of what it meant to have fibro, not so much.

In Acts 10:34 and Romans 2:11 Peter and then Paul assure us that God is no respecter of persons. He shows no favoritism or special treatment. Since the Lord was able to lead me through that time of fear and not knowing what was happening, I am certain you can be lead by His Spirit also. Still your heart and mind. Try every day to listen for that still small voice of comfort and guidance. Whether you have a chronic illness or not, God wants to speak with you. He desires your attention and presence.

When unexpected things such as hospitalization come your way, try to remember you are never alone and God wants us to do as Mary Englebreit illustrated:

Polar Plunge?

Recently we visited Half Moon Bay, California. I could not believe it when I saw swimmers approaching the shore line.  There was a very cold water temperature (45 °F) at Half Moon Bay. Weather stated: “Despite the sunshine, even with a thick winter wetsuit, neoprene hood, gloves and boots it will be difficult to stay comfortable in the sea for long today.” Yet here they came, 3 men and 1 woman (she did wear a wetsuit.) They all wore swim caps as if in a heated pool. In Ohio we would have called this the polar plunge especially if they had gotten wet and then gotten out. They entered the water, swam beyond the tide line and turned right paralleling the shore. Most likely they were NOT comfortable at all!

Those who were fishing were over-dressed according to the swimmers!
Never found out if he caught anything. Yes, that is a winter coat unzipped.

So I enjoyed the Pacific and the sun for a while, sitting at a picnic table. If it had been any more windy I would have had to get more clothing out of the car. I also wondered if those swimmers were going to pull out at another place along the beach and have someone meet them with towels and a warm vehicle.

“Me and my shadow”

Though my photos did not come out, believe me, those 4 souls swam all the back from wherever they had headed off. Likely 20-30 minutes or more in that cold, cold water! Yow! I am NOT that hearty!

Bur Oak Acorn Cap #2 of 2

LESSONS FROM THE BUR OAK ACORN © 2002 Molly Lin Dutina

Do we find this so surprising, that Jesus would ask us to die to our familiar ways and become something new with His help and guidance? Wasn’t He asked to die on our behalf and take on a new life form by our heavenly Father? Constantly, the Father left the task before Jesus as a choice. Jesus chose to become the firstborn from the dead. (Colossians 1:18) He leads the way for us.

One little acorn speaking to me so loudly about “the site of your tent, the curtains of your habitation, stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.” This acorn calls to you also. Where are you holding back in your life? Who are you hiding your affection from? Those in your immediate family need and want to hear from you. Though you might never have been one to speak in the past, they need to know your heart. They are craving a word from you, an insight into your feelings, and how your actions relate to your emotions. They want to know you, beyond the superficial shell that you present. They are hungry to truly know and understand your deepest self. Those whom God has placed in your daily life are there for a purpose also. Examine the site of your tent. Is there a way you can stretch out the curtain and place of your habitation? (Isaiah 54:2)

Ask the Father for the courage to move forward. Pray He will show you how to lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. Joyce Meier says you are to “deposit yourself with God and let God use you to bless others.”

Isaiah 54 goes on in verses 4 and 5 to say: Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth He is called.

Usually the greatest fear in becoming new is that people won’t like us. “People pleasing” quashes the move of God more often than the devil ever attempted. Here the Word assures us that if we will try, God will come alongside and help us to do what we could not do in our own strength. We “will NOT BE ASHAMED.” Powerful promise there; but first, we have to try.

Can we truly begin to comprehend the magnitude of “your Maker is your Husband?” That is an intimacy few of us reach in this lifetime, and here it is offered in the Old Testament. Now through the New Covenant we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to make this promise a reality. The hard little cap of humanity can hold back the power of God that rests within each true believer. We are allowed to resist the power of the Holy Spirit and refuse Almighty God.

When we choose to put aside the cap like the one on the Bur Acorn, our lives can feed the hungry multitudes. Remember acorns used to be valuable to people as a food source. The Internet yielded information on how to make them palatable today. “Native Americans made acorns much more palatable by first blanching the oak nuts (in boiling water) with wood ashes to remove a bitter taste associated with tannins.” The method involves boiling in water with ashes to leach away the tannins and make the nut meal sweeter.

You cannot receive what your Husband has for you as long as you are clutching your unfulfilled dreams in both hands. Take the ashes of your unfulfilled dreams and offer them to God. Open your hands to Him. As Christians, we also need to be cleansed with water. Water is mentioned 79 times in 70 verses in the New Testament. Jesus promised that He would give us living water.

Another set of instructions for the acorns says they need to be boiled or roasted or both to make them palatable. We are told in Scripture that we may have to go through fire. I have always thought that perhaps like Reynolds Wrap, we go through fire so that we are ‘oven tempered for flexible strength.’

The OLD box had the old logo!

Hebrews 12: 28-29 says “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire’”

To use acorns as food we are to “collect the acorns in the fall, when ripe. Remove shells and caps. The shells will come off easier if you first slit with a sharp knife.” OUCH! That sounds an awful lot like death of the seed.

Crucifixion. To offer myself according to Romans 12:1-2 I must conform to the Word of God. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will. It seems that nothing will do short of that sharp knife and taking off that shell.

So that Bur Acorn led me to ponder. And then to pray. To look up Scripture and pray some more. To begin to risk moving out of where I was comfortable and risk giving parts of my life to others. I have not been ashamed! I am getting to know my Maker a little better as my Husband. In addition, my husband concurs that this is a good thing!

The preparation directions continue saying that “after boiling you may toast the acorns in a 350 degree oven for another hour. They can then be eaten as they are or ground into a flour.” Some people seem to get a harder Christian walk than others do. Looking at the comparative value of acorns as nuts to be eaten or acorns as ground into flour, I can see momentarily the sense in that harder walk. Flour can be used for many more products than nuts can. Of course, the Father will produce breads, cakes, pies, gravy thickeners, coatings for all sorts of products, an endless variety of things with flour. Nuts though have a limited use. Be encouraged if your walk is one where the grinding into flour seems to be the norm. Your flour will go further to spread the kingdom than the acorn that never let its shell be opened. Your flour will go further than the roasted nut that was simply eaten as a snack food.

God knows the plans He has for you, as stated in Jeremiah 29:11-14a “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to You. You will seek me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD.”

Remember how I wrote in Part #1 ” The burr oak, so named because of its characteristic large seeds or acorns, was known as u’tahu can in the Native American tongue of the Lakota people, meaning acorn stem tree.” Now I am amused by my pronunciation of the American Indian name… u’tahu can…. perhaps it is something like “You Twah you can.”

He assured me “You saw you can do this. You saw it through months of prayer and preparation through the Scriptures. You saw it through the Holy Spirit opening your eyes to the Father’s desire. Open your heart in love to those around you. Move beyond the usual limited communications and surface talk.” Get really intimate with God and then with others. Let the nourishment that your life can be help others to grow into something terrific for the Kingdom. You saw you can through this simple illustration. Now will you? Next time you see an acorn, ponder how the cap is fitting that covers your acorn life and your rich innermost being.

Are you ready to strip away the cap and expose and expand that life for the Lord to use? The old saying is still true, “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”

Bur Oak Acorn Cap #1 of 2

LESSONS FROM THE BUR OAK ACORN © 2002 Molly Lin Dutina

Often while I am walking prayerfully, my attention will be drawn to something around me. I will pick up the object and continue on my prayer walk. So it was during the mild February of 2002 while I was on retreat and came across a Bur Oak acorn. As I held it in my hand, continuing my walk and praying, I knew it would unfold its mysteries to me in the days or months to come. As I left the retreat grounds, I placed the acorn on the console of my car. For many months it rode right next to me with this scripture ringing out from it’s hard, pointy cover. Over several months I began to hear

“Enlarge the site of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.” ISA 54:2 NRSV

If you are not familiar with the Bur Oak (also at times spelled Burr oak) here is a short history taken from various Internet resources. The tree is tall, fairly slow growing, long-lived, and highly desirable for windbreaks, shelterbelts and ornamental use. It has an impressive crown with a massive trunk and stout branches. The bur oak adapts to various soils where other oaks fail. The tree is tolerant of urban conditions. The bur will bear acorns in about ten years. It has strong wood and is good for timber. The acorn itself is classified as a nut, because of its bony pericarp, and is actually the fruit of the oak tree. Particular to the genus Quercus, the stem broadens to the cupule or cap that holds the oak seed and fruit in place.

The burr oak, so named because of its characteristic large seeds or acorns, was known as u’tahu can in the Native American tongue of the Lakota people, meaning acorn stem tree. More than half of the one-inch acorn is enclosed in a fringed, spiny cupule. Native Americans used them as an important dietary item with great storage capability and mobility. Wildlife, including turkeys, blue jays, squirrels, and deer also utilize acorns as a food source that is rich in carbohydrates and fats. Today we like Bur Oaks for their adaptability to urban conditions. Indians and animals used them for food.

What did God want me to see? I see an acorn with an almost impenetrable cover. Hard and dried and in it’s own way thorny. After months of looking at this Bur acorn, I began to realize that this acorn could be me. I could have my fruit “nearly completely covered by a rough, frilled cap.” Though I may ripen “in early to mid-autumn” the fruit would be unpalatable and inaccessible unless I let others have access to the fruit God has given to me.

There are at least two ways we can view the acorn: as a nut/fruit to eat or as a seed to plant. Animals unwittingly spread the Bur oak trees by burying stashes of the nuts and then forgetting where they put them. These nut-seeds may germinate into new oak trees. Therefore, I have choices here! I can remain one tough acorn, almost completely covered with a hard facade, or I can risk opening and revealing what is within.

Paul made the same challenge to the Corinthians.

“We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return–I speak as to children–open wide your hearts also. ”

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 NRSV

Moreover, the Living Bible makes it a bit clearer:

“Oh, my dear Corinthian friends! I have told you all my feelings; I love you with all my heart. Any coldness still between us is not because of any lack of love on my part, but because your love is too small and does not reach out to me and draw me in. I am talking to you now as if you truly were my very own children. Open your hearts to us! Return our love!”

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 Living Bible

My choice to open or remain closed to my Christian brothers and sisters around me is always my choice: daily, weekly, monthly. The right choice was strongly recommended by our Lord in John 12. He is speaking here about a grain of wheat. An acorn, as the seed is not a far stretch. Thinking of the nut-seed as buried in the ground read John 12.

“I am telling you the truth: If one grain of wheat does not fall into the ground and die, it will always be just one grain of wheat, but if the grain dies, it will produce a large cluster.” And in Simple English “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. ”

John 12:24-25 NRSV

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

John 12:24 New King James

It seems, through comparison of these three translations, that if I am to open to those around me I must fall into the ground, die to being just a nut seed, and live to becoming a tree plant. Truly a transfiguration! I may choose to remain just an acorn – alone – yet still an acorn. Alternatively, I may choose to move on to the next phase of living that God had in mind when He blew life into my being. Falling into the ground and dying will mean willingly removing my outer impenetrable cover, stripping away my surface persona to become the best that is within me. Hard and dried and in its own way thorny, the familiarity of the husk has become almost more desirable than the risk of the unknown I will face as a growing plant.

The Gardener calls me on. (JN 15:1) ..to be continued …

Dropped Gowns

Dropped Gowns © Molly Lin Dutina 18-11-2

Photos by Robert M Dutina
As of the latest rain and wind
The trees have dropped their gowns
Of red and brown and gold
The change of seasons is profound
Skies of gray
Grass carpeted with fallen leaves
Air refreshed by northern breeze
Summer’s hold has been broken
Cooler temperatures
encroach upon the power bill
to maintain comfort in houses

DSCN6948

Change me too, with this new season
Help me transfigure into the plan You
Have held all along
Not jumping to negative conclusions
Adapting with wait and see attitudes
Praise more
Know myself as
a wanted cherished child

Now sixty-eight years and a few days older
Yet Your child always

DSCN6946

Smooth Stones

100_4278

When we traveled to Idaho a few years ago, we walked over a short suspended bridge. We could look down right, to this river bottom, and see lovely smooth stones. These were most likely shaped and smoothed by the tumbling action of the stream.

This experience reminded me of  Scriptures and a praise chorus.

Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. ISA 51:1 HCSB

Originally stones were quarried with mallets, axes, hammers, chisels and any other kind of tool that would break the stone loose. In this day and age of power tools there are diamond burrs, laser cutters and jet torches. The quarried stones will need to be shaped and smoothed or carved by hand or smaller machinery later.  Stones like the ones in this river are the ones I am usually drawn towards. Sometime to slip in my pocket as a stone to remind me to yield to God.

We were taken from the same stone quarry as Abraham and all the way through the New Testament people of John the Baptist, the Apostles, and the believers who have followed Christ because of the New Testament writers’ words and the power of the Holy Spirit. We, too, need to be shaped into rocks that will honor the Lord. We are called  Living Stones.

As you come to him, the Living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1Peter 2:4-5

“We have everything that we need to be a disciple of His. We just have to be willing to be faithful and diligent to do our part in the cutting and shaping process. Then we will fit exactly where the master craftsman intended us to fit and be that living stone that He intended for us to be.”  http://acts242study.com/look-to-the-rock-from-which-you-were-cut/

Some writers agree that water can shape rock through persistence over a long period of time. I believe that the River of Living Water is not controlled by time. As we yield to the work of the Holy Spirit and the River of Living water, cooperating with the Risen Christ, I believe He can shape and mold us into vessels of honor for His use in whatever time He chooses.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  John 7:38 NIV

Have you asked the Lord to smooth your rough edges for Him to use you as a smooth stone? Are willing to become living stones for His use? I often sing to the Lord:
“Rub me smooth, rub me smooth,
By Your living water rub me smooth.
I am a sharp stone quarried from the earth,
by Your Living Water rub me smooth.”

In Revelation 22:1-2a John shows us a vision of the New Jerusalem: the NIV reads,”Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. “

That is one river I cannot wait to visit.

Butterfly Living

The Krohn Conservatory had a yarn bomb display at the butterfly show this year! With my love for crochet and butterflies I had to begin this post with both.

IMG_1397The photo below shows so many stages of butterfly metamorphosis. The caterpillar hanging in the “J” shape is about to spin the chrysalis. The empty shell behind the caterpillar has already had a butterfly hatch out. The blackish chrysalis is about to open. The green chrysalis-es always amaze me with the gold dots! Really, Gold? I do not recall seeing that in any other part of nature. The hanging butterfly has just hatched and is still pumping up it’s wings. IMG_2346

Then Bob got to hold one on his finger!IMG_2340

He took her to a begonia to rest.IMG_2338IMG_2337

And here she is in all her glory before she took flight!

IMG_2334

Butterfly Living © 1982 Molly Lin Dutina
Butterfly living
Now that’s for me!
Glory bound and
Incredibly free.
Made to be
A joy to Thee.
Strengthen me for
The wings of liberty.