• JUST THE BEGINNING

    JUST THE BEGINNING
    By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

     We never really know what Christ has planned for us;
    He’s full of sovereign surprise and incomprehensible, unpredictable grace.
    He works in contrast and to the contrary;
    He works in spite of and out of the ordinary,
    all the time.
    ----
    When we think we have it most together,
    perhaps we have it least together,
    and not a lot happens.
    When we think we have it least together,
    perhaps we have it most together,
    and so very much happens.
    Because it’s God in us and really not about us at all.
    The whole thing is a marvelous mystery;
    This uncontrollable,
    uncontainable,
    unstoppable God.
    Maybe when we get to the end of ourselves,
    we begin to discover the beginning of God.
    And the end is just the beginning …
    and a beautiful mystery unfolds.
    -------

  • SEA OF GRACE

    SEA OF GRACE
    By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

     At the end of all regrets is a sea of grace ready to swallow us up with a hope we cannot understand.
    God’s mysterious ways …
    submerging us simultaneously in truth and grace.
    Soaking,
    saturating,
    securing,
    sealing the soul with the supernatural.
    We are not made new through our own efforts …
    but through empty souls extended.
    This is the place we receive.
    This Sea of Grace ...
    ------

  • COLORED BEAUTIFUL

    COLORED BEAUTIFUL
    By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

    Until suffering, celebration, and identification are woven into the fabric of our relationships, we understand very little about "true" relationship.
    Until we dispose ourselves to the unearthing of our own uncomfortable realities, we are figments of our own imagination and nothing more.
    We are empty.
    We are pretentious.
    We are proud.
    We are self-righteous.
    We are gloaters and promoters of ourselves.
    We have ourselves at stake, ourselves to exalt, ourselves to preserve.
    We are larvae, self-contained in a cocoon of lifeless color, safely protected and going nowhere.
    Religious shells of self-confining matter composed of narrow and strict defining.
    Colorless.
    -------
    Hmmm ...
    But throw caution to the wind and launch out on the wing of flaw, foible, and failure and see if the old confines of the cocoon and the netted sheath surrounding wasn't all the while confining.
    Rejoice in the removal of every imprisonment which binds you and every movement undertaken which assigns you to flight.
    You were made with wings ...
    try them out and make use of them.
    Rejoice in the colors surrounding you.
    Fly about and ...
    begin noticing.
    Begin loving.
    Begin healing.
    Begin living.
    Christ rejoices in the life of His liberated ones.
    He smiles and laughs with pleasure and perfect delight at the spontaneous eruption of color taking wing and flight all around Him.
    Where wing takes flight ...
    there a story sheds light on the beautiful and blessed Gospel.
    The wondrous breathtaking color of redemption.
    Live out its colors.
    Spread your wings ...
    in colored beautiful.
    -------

  • CHIQUITAS

    CHIQUITAS
    By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

    Yesterday was "Happy Banana's Day".
    At least that's what I called it, and how I greeted the folks that came for the extra unexpected "banana" supplies provided those who ventured out to the Nordstrom-Johnson Building at the Sioux Falls Fairgrounds.
    One lovely gal, in particular, caught my attention.
    She wore a beautifully unique name (one I'd never heard), as different as my own, impossible for a "word person" like myself to not be captivated by.
    Her name rhymed with Chiquita ... and since Chiquita banana boxes decorated the building it was impossible for me to translate this a mere coincidence.
    God has His way in "words" with me and this was a very precious happening.
    But I'm "betting on bananas", that God is going to intersect me with "this" particular woman again in a mighty, mysterious, and meaningful way, and in-between now and then I am to earnestly pray for my beautiful new "banana" friend.
    One thing I know;
    when I see her, I'll remember her by name,
     and this may turn to be a very meaningful and significant act.
    We just never know ... but God does.
    -------
    Impacting encounters with "strangers" are only one banana and individual away.
    We simply need to pay attention,
    be on alert,
    and participate in loving others spontaneously, creatively, and openly.
    It's a beautiful way to live and love the Lord.
    For today's "Chiquitas,"
    and places God leads us ...
     we give Him thanks.
    ------
    "And the King shall answer and say unto them, 'Verily I say unto you, In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
    Matthew 25:40


  • STEVE AND INDIANA

    STEVE AND INDIANA
    By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

    The Bishop Dudley House is a non-profit ministry located off North Indiana Avenue in downtown Sioux Falls. It provides shelter to the homeless and, not surprisingly, is filled to overflowing during these frigid cold weeks.
    Yesterday was yet another cold day.
    The temperature was -4 but it felt like -20.
    We ambled out into the raw winds in a "ready-warm" vehicle and made our way to the far end of town to take care of business.
    I had barely just commented on the Bishop Dudley House, which we were nearing, when I saw a fragment of the brightest blue from the corner of my eye highlighting the head of a man who was in the act of taking a fall on the pavement.
    "We need to circle the block and check on him," I told Scot.
    -------
    We circled the block and there, crumpled up somewhere near Indiana Avenue, lay a disheveled man in the cold. He was huddled in a fetal position and barely moving.
    I was told to stay put while my husband went out to survey the need and the scene.
    A signature of the homeless, Steve was wearing a bright blue cap, a faded gray half-zipped up coat, and no gloves. A canvass bag composed of, what I supposed was his life holdings was strapped tightly over his chest.
    Scot bent down, helped the straggling, struggling "Steve" sit up, and then finally together, and arm in arm they came to a shaky stand and worked on getting their warbly bearings.
    Entirely disoriented, he looked like a man experiencing a half-crazed nightmare,
     barely cognizant of his surroundings,
    arms flailing and reaching toward an invisible fear,
    language garbled and gurgling without any sense,
    eyes staring vacantly at Scot, who had descended like an angel from the heavens to his rescue.
    ------
    Scot and Steve made quite a pair as they ambled disjointedly together toward the Bishop Dudley House, which we guessed his destination, not a long distance away.
    I jumped into the driver's seat, drove the short distance to its front doors, and was met by a policeman who had been called by a concerned driver alerting him to a man lying near Indiana Avenue.
    "Hey there Steve," the policeman volunteered as he quickly jumped out of his vehicle and headed toward the familiar man, "What are we doing out again? Let's get you out of the cold and into a warm building."
    Scot's arm was replaced with the familiar policeman's arm and Steve was safely ushered into the warmth and refuge of the Bishop Dudley House.
    -------
    And all night long I thought about Steve.
    I thought about his bright blue cap and his drunken fall.
    I thought about the way we circled back and the way we stopped to help a man we didn't know at all.
    I thought about bare hands in the snow,
    a lonely, unknown man curled up on the road,
      lying lifeless in the frigid cold.
    I thought about the crossing of "Steve and Indiana,"
    and I cried.
    ------
    And I wondered ...
    How many times has Jesus lifted "me" from a sin stagger and stupor like Steve's?
    How many times has Jesus helped "me" to my feet while I've been totally sin incapacitated? How many times has Jesus whispered in my ear,
    "Hey there, what are we doing out here again? Let's get you out of the cold and into a warm place again."
    How many times has Jesus put his arms around me and guided me home? How many times has He lovingly returned me to the Father when I was all alone?
    And I cry.
    I've been a recipient of such great love ...
     so undeserved.
    ------
     I care about the "Steve's" and the broken souls;
     they matter more and more to me.
    I want my life to be defined by my identification "with" them and not my distance "from" them.
    I want to cross the chasm of cold humanity and step into a life of loving identity with the "stranger" beside me:
    arm and arm,
     and soul to soul,
    and heading home.
    Past Indiana Avenue,
    a little bit North,
    to the warmth of Home.
    ------

  • THE PIZZA PARTY

    THE PIZZA PARTY

    By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

    Delightful neighbors down the block invited us to a pizza party in their home this past week.
    The rules of engagement were delicious:
    Every couple (x4) was given an official "pizza station" where a great ball of prepared dough sat waiting to be kneaded on a stone.
    This portion of the pizza making was absolutely memorable and entertaining.
    Evidently, it appeared that my pizza dough skills were in short supply, for "Maynard" was called in with subtlety to aid us, and immediatly set himself to working beside my amused husband.
    I stood back, a cheerful surveyor of great pizza works, and employed my mouth with grapefruit sized mushrooms and tomatoes, while giving a Julia Child's animated pizza dough report on Scot and Maynard's fine "doughmanship."
    Maynard wore the look of a bemused teacher whose work is to be instructive and educational, while rewarding unusual enthusiasm.
    We liked one another at once and wore complimentary roles in the kitchen.
    With the dough looking sensational, I rolled up a healthy "dough" curb all the way around the pizza dough to make room for the waiting ingredients.
    Gosh, for an impressive layout and buffet line conceived by our extraordinary cooking hostess:
    Tomatoes, avocados, olives, peppers, minced garlic, onions, mushrooms, cheeses (x 5), spices, meats (pepperonis, sausage, hamburger,) and every little conceivable pizza topping laid out freshly and decoratively before us.
    I piled my half of the pizza dough high and deep with toppings in approximately one minute until it almost reached the ceiling.
     It looked amazing ... to me.
    Maynard looked unsure if he should continue his assistance or stand back and let it happen. With one moment of my back turned, he did "what he could" with the mound I'd conceived, and wiped his oil covered hands off. I noted the twinkle in his eye and we laughed.
    Scot's side of the pizza looked nice.
    --------
    Then we learned ... that the pizza had to be transferred to a wooded pizza spool before it went into the oven.
    What in the world, in the name of pizza?!!!
    I told myself this had to be an err of judgment on the hostess's part, but I'm not sure, since culinary skills are not my strong point and they clearly are hers.
    Toni is absolutely amazing!
    In any event, Scot and Maynard had to transfer my "great works" to the wooden spool.
    Oh my ... is all I'll say.
    --------
    I was starving and could hardly wait for our great works to be delved into.
    Twenty-five minutes later the table was laden with pizza and drinks of every kind and we each dove into a "slice" of each other's workmanship.
    Not surprisingly, mine was the undeniably, "messiest" best and Maynard nodded his approval.
    We all enjoyed a wonderfully, delicious, one-of-a-kind evening and I'm quite certain we'll be doing it again with some "one on ones" in-between.
    Mmmm ...
    ------
    The neighborhood pizza party turned out a concoction of personalities as wondrously different as the pizzas themselves, and my new neighbors are my new friends turned delightful.
     To pizza parties, dough-boys, and new discoveries,
    I give God thanks and make a toast:
    Cheers to love,
    Here's to love ...
     between neighbors.
    -----

  • WHAT BEGINS WITH AN ITCH?

    *February's devotional study has started.
    Consider getting on board ... and enjoy a one-time preview.
    ------
    WHAT BEGINS WITH AN ITCH?
    By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

    What begins with an itch,
     and makes a man twitch?
    Hmmm ...
    The word "favor" continues to define itself in unsavory and "unfavorable" ways.
    It makes us scratch and get itchy the longer we consider pulling it over our heads and actually "wearing" it.
    "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."
    Genesis 6:8
    On these ten words we see the loving favor of God honing in on one righteous man named Noah. On him and his seed will be imparted an official "Covenantal" address and its attending blessing after Adam:
    "But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee."
    Geneses 6:18
    ------
    Sounds wonderful!
    Who doesn't want the wondrous and favorable effects of the "Covenant" attending him?
    Hmmm ...
    Let's look at three "itchy" components shouldering Noah's favored frame:
    1) Noah wasn't asked to build the ark on the shores of the Mediterranean. With no water in sight, he was told to begin the sizeable construction of a boat that would herald the preservation of his entire household and a portion of the creation. He would build it on dry land and dry sand. He would build it because he heard "a voice" that nobody else heard.
    Whether Noah's family helped him or only "got on board" in the end, we don't know and we aren't told. We simply know that "favor" on Noah began with the labor of a magnificent unheard of task.
    *Favor implies labor.
    ------
    2) Noah's ark would be completed in approximately 100 years.
    The labor factor now ushers in a magnificent "time" factor to the "favor" factor.
    Favor is growing more itchy by the moment.
    Noah wasn't told how long the task would take to build the ark.
    And we have to wonder ...
    Couldn't God have just constructed a floatable, furnished device to bring his chosen man and his family to dry land? Couldn't God have displayed His favor by creating something a little more manageable and doable? A little less "laughable" and a little less "mock-worthy"?
    Couldn't the God who created the rainbow create a colorfully constructed boat to "wow" the watching audience and encourage more to get in?
    Evidently God didn't think so.
    *Favor implies endurance and holding fast to God over a sustained period of time, which is probably a greater feat than the task itself.
    ------
    3) Separation between Noah and his family, and the rest of humanity would become a permanent reality forged of catastrophic loss and world-wide change. The world would never again be the same and neither the family that survived it.
    Crisis and conflicts experienced on the ark over a sustained period of time, figured to be a year (the actual exit,) would have been extraordinary. These are real life people, after all, living out a real life saga and enduring a real life story that no man has ever experienced before.
    *Favor never exists without some form of conflict or separation.
    -------
    The favor of God is a wondrous, glorious thing, and attends to His presence, His promises, and His sure and steady provision in our lives.
    But we must be very careful that we don't misguidedly confuse lack of comfort, crisis, and certain conflict with a "lack of favor".
    This is simply not so.
    The loving favor of God, in every case of man, involves an investment and "release of self" in order to enjoy lasting and eternal favor "with" God.
    Consider any and every Bible character favored by God and see if this is not so.
    This is our task this month of February.
    What begins with an itch and makes a man twitch?
    Maybe favor? 
    Hmmm ...
    -------
    *Grab some anti-itch and study Hebrews 11.

  • AN ABLE HAND

    AN ABLE HAND
    By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

    My heart is led by an able hand,
    How it works with me,
    I don’t understand.
    I don’t claim to know
    How the sea divides;
    But it does for me,
    And my God provides.

    Surely I will hope in unfailing love,
    For I do perceive from His hand above;
    That He knows my way,
    And appoints the sea;
    And it will divide,
    For He’s promised me.

    So I rest my hope in His able hand,
    For it leadeth me to a promised land,
    I don’t claim to know,
    How the sea divides;
    But it will for me …
    For my God provides.
    ------
    “Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known.”
    Psalm 77:19

  • LOVE OPENLY

    LOVE OPENLY
    By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

    Nina wears the composite of a hard life on her face;
    lines are forged heavily into her Native American skin, a long-time smoker's mouth displays stained teeth and creases of "draw and release" are etched notably into her aged and wine-colored lips.
    Nina's attraction to me is so openly apparent that my husband assumes we're on familiar terms and have met before.
    We haven't.
    Our entire "sit down experience" is attended with extended kindnesses, complimentary words, and more than dutiful expressions.
    This is not a one time, but an "all-the-time," thing with me, dear reader.
    Ask my husband who declares me to be a "yes" face in a sea of "no" faces forever and continually. Ask my husband how often I'm singled out with favor by clerks, waitresses, passer-by's, and complete strangers for no apparent reason.
    I'm appreciative of this curious reality attending and have learned it to be the "draw of God," a special gift tied to sacred responsibilities and overflowing with possibilities.
    And I finally see them.
    -------
    Today, I'll be making contact with Nina, who joyfully recorded her name and number on a soiled napkin at my request upon our departure.
    The invitation will be simple, genuine, and short:
    "Come to my house, Nina, for a visit and we'll share coffee together."
    -------
    The occasions I once deemed as "leave behind" pleasantries, I now view as "go before" possibilities.

     My life has changed as a result.
    I'm not looking to ply my new friend with neatly packaged conversion tips or salvation quips.
    I'm looking to love and I'm going to lean in to listen ...
    and God will take it from there.
    Whether Nina accepts my invitation or not I find myself one individual closer to experiencing the love, grace, and mercy of my God.
    Of Him I can't say enough or do enough.
    It's such a beautiful simple thing to openly love, to invite the stranger in and know more of Him.
    ------
    Pay attention to the little things that attend you, that lead people to you, and then respond in a concrete, tangible manner to who God's placed before you.
    Utilize your opportunities and see the possibilities being presented.
    Love openly ... 
  • SAVANAH'S MILE

    SAVANAH'S MILE
    By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

    Pock marks and pitted scars mar a once beautifully defined face.
    Lip sores pave an entrance into a mouth composed of absent and rotting teeth.
    Wounds, infections, and lesions outfit the body and leave a disfiguring trail.
    Deposits of meth and its lifelong residue etch themselves deeply into the flesh like a firebrand.
    Savanah cries out through her addiction ...
    her need for connection,
    "Will somebody love me?"
    Savanah won't smile,
    until you've walked a mile,
     in her shoes.
    Who's your Savanah?
    ------
    Until addiction "wears the name" of a loved one or is understood privately in some unpleasant way, we remain absent in broken lives.
    We create, designate, and develop "leprous" colonies to clean up the "mess" of addiction and unlovely lives, and think of church as the pinnacle invitation and demonstrative act of true and tidy love.
    And it all sucks, stinks, and reeks of inhumanness.
    It speaks to a lack of compassion and a loveless form of religion.
    It speaks to a lethargy and lostness of "our" own souls and not "theirs."
    ------
    We canvass poor neighborhoods and poverty stricken people without ever inviting them into our own homes and our own lives.
    We wash our hands carefully and make sure we're germ free ... and we call it good.
     And individuals starved for "daring" love and risk enter and exit our lives before we've even learned their names.
    Is this really authentic, pure love?
    -------
    Make the bleeding stop.
     Become an active participant and not another spectator in loving the wounded, broken, defiled, afflicted, and addicted.
    Pray for the names of real individuals to sensitize you to the realities that exist all around you in human form, and then apply concrete, tangible, practical forms of love.
    "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 
    Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily, and thine righteousness shall go forth before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward. Then shalt thou call and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry and He shalt say, 'Here I am.' 
    If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity. And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday. And the Lord shall guide thee continually and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."
    Isaiah 58:6-11
    Get involved ...
    -----
     *February's study begins today and I hope you'll join me.
    It's goal is to provoke thought, inspire desire, and encourage growth.
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