{ Visualize the Vacancy }

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Happy Resurrection Day 2018. It’s the day I celebrate the empty tomb, the victory over sin and death, and the promise of His return.

In the early dawn, the women walked over the dewy ground, carrying spices. Suddenly, they were surprised–perhaps frantic— by the sight of the empty tomb.  Two men in shining attire announced to them that Jesus had risen.

The men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” Luke 24: 5-8

The women ran to tell the disciples. Did all of Jesus’ words suddenly “connect” with his closest earthly friends?

No — the Bible says that “these words seemed to them an idle tale.” (Luke 24:11)

Both in public and in private, Jesus had revealed that He would die and rise again. It’s interesting that his friends didn’t immediately grasp the fulfilled prophecy.

As a Christian — a 21st century friend of Jesus– I need to stop pointing the finger at the disciples and examine what else Jesus has promised He would do.

What does He say to me? 

  • I am coming soon. (Revelation 22:12)
  • I will repay everyone for what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
  • Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:13)

May I, you, and all believers watch expectantlyand live accordingly.

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:12-13

“When the day of recompense comes, our only regret will be that we have done so little for Him – not that we have done too much.” –George Muller

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{ Ode to DNA }

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Rich in nucleotides and

beauteous in your twisting helix

Superior to a computer,

you can reproduce–

Ninja-like–

while holding micro-secrets

in your archways.

Recently unlocked

but still beyond total comprehension —

if only

Charles Darwin would have

postponed his book deadlines

until we discovered you.

 

I guess you can tell what we studied in history today.  We looked at the life of Charles Darwin. He was an incredible naturalist and a loving father and husband.  I think he was misguided in his assumptions, but he also didn’t have all the information we currently have. 

If he did, maybe he would have been a creationist.

 

Science is: observable, based on testable hypotheses; based on repeated observations that can be confirmed. It allows predictions to be made and tested.  Evolution is not science– according to our accepted definition of science. 

If you embrace evolution, I respectfully applaud you for your incredible faith.

This is my basis for faith:

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” — Hebrews 11:3

(c) Lisa M. Luciano

 

 

 

{ Exiles & Horatio Alger }

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Yesterday at church, I ventured back near the microwave to chat with the kitchen help. I don’t do that very often.  It contributes to inefficient snack preparation and worse — the lack of coffee.

But I wanted to see a little bit of sunshine, brought back from the Floridian exiles. They had returned, with sun-tipped hair, looking healthy – especially among all of us who stayed put.

  • Mr. K’s sermon taught about Ezra, Nehemiah, and the return of the exiled Jews from Babylon.
  • And the amazing Cyrus. Cyrus was named by name, and, according to the historian Josephus, “Lion’s Den Daniel” was the one who told him that Cyrus’s pre-written history was in God’s Word.
  • This pagan king was used by God as a “shepherd” and as a fulfillment of God’s word. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He will.” Proverbs 21:1
  • God — certainly a weaver of times and people and details.  And He still is.

Back at home, it seemed too chilly to take a walk, so I opted for a long nap and storytime with two little boys holding flashlights and blankets.

We just finished my favorite Lamplighter book Tom Gillies.…so we started Horatio Alger’s Brave and Bold on the Kindle.

It’s definitely not spring yet.

© Lisa M. Luciano

{ Today in School… }

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Every Monday or Tuesday, I view the WordPress word prompt and offer it up as an assignment to my little band of (homeschooled) students.

I know it sounds crazy, but most days, they really like this.

I’d like to think it’s because they love the writing process and the literary satisfaction of creative thoughts being visually voiced.

But, it’s probably just because I bribe them with the promise of skipping the usual boring workbook pages.

Either way, I guess it’s productive and beneficial for many reasons:

  • It’s good writing practice.
  • It’s good speaking practice.
  • It’s good practice being a gracious audience and
  • It doesn’t always come easy, but it’s good practice giving positive feedback to others.

One child sits in front of a computer, busily typing.  One child eeks out words sparsely, with a pained look on the face. Another is scrawling words with a pencil so fast, the work is barely legible.  Spelling doesn’t matter at this point — just write what you are thinking.

After about 20 minutes, we share our pieces.  And, I have to say…it’s incredible what they come up with.  Everyone has something unique to offer.

My standard response is: “That sounds like the start of a great story!  Next time we do a word prompt, why don’t you continue the story?”

But they never do.

Today’s word was “identical” and today’s excerpt is from 13-year-old Mo:

 Leopold Larry

So begins the adventures of Leopold Larry. Larry Hillenburger was born on Leopold street in southern New York City. He was an only child. And it was true that if he wanted to, he could take over the world with several clicks of several buttons. However, Larry did not carry out such a task due to his strong morals. Larry could only do such a thing due to several impressive computers. He had found a way to hack into all of the wireless nuclear defense & offense systems.

Now, enough of all the talk about Larry’s scheming. Larry, at the time our story takes place, is 14. He has just finished a grueling year of self-tutoring. The reason that it had been hard for him was because he was acting as both teacher and student. As the teacher, he had to deal with a stubborn and rebellious student, and as student, he had to adjust to the strict teacher, dull sessions and much else besides. Also Larry had no siblings; much less a twin, much less still, an identical one…

Photo credit: Angelina Litvin

{ Yesterday at Church…}

“Everyone from church is in Florida,” my children announced yesterday morning, as our slush-encrusted van dutifully hauled us to church.

 

 

 

There were several brave souls who apparently got left in Minnesota.

They were there, filling up rows and singing hymns with us.

The lively verse that begins: “I sing the mighty power of God, who filled the earth with food…” set my stomach growling, because it was also potluck Sunday, and Melanie’s aromatic chicken drummies were calling my name from the kitchen.

Hearing about Jonah put me and my stomach back on track.

  • There are several historical accounts of people having been swallowed by sea creatures – and surviving.
  • The culture Jonah ran from (Ninevah & the ancient Assyrians) happened to worship a merman-like fish god. That’s ironic.
  • I marveled at Jonah’s selfishness – not going, not doing what God clearly asked. If God clearly tells you something, you should do it, right? God’s words to me are in His book. Do I listen?

And Jonah’s pity-party at the end of the book. The account of Jonah is so…me.

Other highlights:

  • The potluck was grand. I avoided its desserts, but made up for that later at home.
  • I had meaningful conversations with a few friends, learning something new about two of them.
  • Free day-old bread on the back table is a happy thing.
  • Vivian brought us our weekly 4 dozen blushed brown farm eggs.
  • Simon’s family brought a new outdoor game that will go viral — at least at church graduation open houses.

Looking back, it was a pretty good day to not be in Florida.

© Lisa M. Luciano

Photo credits:

{ Parliamentary, Purposeful & Paid }

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U.S. Major Henry Martyn Roberts graduated near the top of his West Point class. He became an engineer and eventually a brigadier general.

Ironically, it was a difficult leadership experience that contributed to his most famous achievement.

He was chosen to preside over a church meeting, but it didn’t go well. This prompted Henry to write a “how to” book for leading an assembly.

Originally published in 1876, Roberts Rules of Order has become the standard manual for governing a wide range of gatherings in an orderly way.

Speaking of order, God’s created world also follows a predictable plan. From the tiniest cell to the orbits of the planets, the universe obeys His fixed and orderly rules.

Besides science and nature, there is an order to the spiritual things in life. If someone is seeking a rule book for how to get to heaven, God has written it. It says that heaven isn’t attained haphazardly, earned by a nebulous list of good deeds and the absence of bad ones. Soul salvation happens when God enables a spiritually dead person to respond to the gospel message. The person accepts by faith Christ’s payment for sin and becomes saved. (Romans 10:9,10)

Thankfully, this orderly and amazing message is within our grasp.  It is given in God’s manual for living – His holy, timeless and effective Word.

 “Let all things be done decently and in order.”—I Cor.14:40 

“Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of liberty.”–Henry Martyn Robert

Photo credit: M. Ali

{ Wonder }

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Wonder is a unique book and movie.

I first read the book a few years ago in audiobook form.  Hearing the book made a big impact and I highly recommend the audio.

I saw the film recently in the local (cheap) theater with my children. Here are the reasons why I liked both the book (written by R.J. Palacio) and the movie version of Wonder:

  • The writing of the book was prompted by a true-life encounter by the author.
  • In both book and movie, we get to peer into the inner thoughts and feelings of the main characters.
  • The story of Wonder displays how ugly it is to be unkind.
  • There are sequels to the first book that go delve into the supporting characters. I especially liked The Julian Chapter, the book written from the bully’s point-of-view.
  • The movie stayed true to the book.
  • The acting in the movie was excellent.  Owen Wilson played Auggie’s dad perfectly and Julia Roberts’ mom vibe was spot on.
  • The movie (and the book) didn’t force you to cry.  It just told you a story….and the tears flowed naturally.

 

“You can’t blend in, when you were born to stand out.” –R.J. Palacio

 

{ Late-Night Lullabye }

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Our nocturnal friend was out again last night, waking me up at 2:21 a.m. with its haunting croon. Normal birds chirp all day long and I hardly notice the background noise.

But that owl. Its uncompromising dirge cannot be ignored.

“Owls are wise. They are careful and patient. Wisdom precludes boldness. That is why owls make poor heroes.” –Patrick Rothfuss

 

There are around 200 different owl species.
A group of owls is called a parliament.
Owls can turn their heads as much as 270 degrees.

Photo credit:Philip Brown

{ The Potter’s Print }

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“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter:

we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

When potters create, they often sign their work. The identifying mark could be a studio imprint in the clay, or it could display the potter’s name. Ancient pieces of pottery occasionally bear preserved fingerprints as well. These prints show how many people worked on the pots, and who crafted which parts.

God, as the Master Potter, has signed His work. He has created people with the mark of His own image. “…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:27. 

Here is the good news: although sin has defaced God’s creation, He can renew His image in us through salvation: “…and [we] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.” –Colossians 3:10

When we grasp this fact — that we are all made in the image of God — it will change the way we look at ourselves. It will change the way we look at humanity, all bearing God’s image.

We worship an endlessly creative God

whose thumbprints are reflected everywhere we look.”

–Luci Shaw

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(c) Lisa M. Luciano

Photo credit: Krys Alex

{ What If ? }

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8,9

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A baby boy was born into a loving family we know.  His first year was a roller coaster ride of surgeries and hospital stays. When he arrived home, each family member played a role in his everyday routine – and they served with joy.

This special~needs baby, with his explosive smile and simple cheerfulness drove any selfishness out of the home. What felt at first like an overwhelming challenge…had now become a blessing.

When unexpected circumstances surprise us, we often cringe and fuss. But what if we saw circumstances, events, and people – as God sees them?

  • What if the weakness of one child brings strength to the entire family?
  • What if, in serving an elderly parent, we have a taste of serving Jesus?
  • What if the most fragile members of the body of Christ show us God’s power?

We often see our loved ones, our neighbors, and other church members through our own limited eyes, and with our own sin-tainted, limited frame of reference. 

The way God works is far above our own plans.  His ways are higher.  His eyesight is better. 

“God sees hearts as we see faces.” –George Herbert

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. — 1 Samuel 16:7 

~~~

Photo by: https://unsplash.com/@marcojodoin