{ Down into Up}

 

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Sitting at my desk at dawn /  putting Psalm 30 in my own words /  making it a personal prayer / talking to God this morning/

My Psalm 30

I will enthusiastically praise You, LORD;

You have drawn me and lifted me up.

You haven’t left me to the mercy of my enemy self, flesh, devil.

Instead, you healed me.

You rescued my soul.

You resurrected me.

Praise God, fellow saints: brothers and sisters!

Give thanks to our God!

God was angry for a time [because of my sin]

Now, His favor stays with me eternally.

Sadness…now joy!

 

You strengthened me with Your favor and grace.

When I do feel distant from You, I am discouraged.

But You always turn my DOWN into UP

You relieve my grieving and fear

You cover me with joy — I can’t take it off, and I don’t want to.

The joy is there so that I will sing your praise.

It’s inside, bubbling out and will not be suppressed!

 

O Lord, you are MY GOD.

I will give and keep giving thanks to You forever

and ever and ever and ever and ever…

I’m being honest with my thoughts, my prayers…it’s CANDOR!

[The Word of the Day]

 

Photo credit:Paul Gilmore

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{Extreme Sports & Me }

The children pooled funds to give my husband a birthday gift certificate.

They knew he would like an exciting adventure, and ziplining at the Kerfoot Canopy Tour is that kind of experience.

The course features 15 consecutive ziplines through beautiful wooded areas.

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Zipping down cables that are 175 feet high over treetops is something I would love to watch my husband accomplish.

  • I would sit with a cup of coffee on a cozy sofa as he popped in the DVD.
  • I would point and smile in amazed admiration.
  • I would applaud his agility and bravery.

I suggested that our oldest son might like to redeem the zipline certificate with him.  Or maybe one of our daughters? Then, I volunteered that we could all drive down together on Father’s Day and watch him conquer the zipline course.

I’m not sure what happened, but yesterday, I found myself strapped into ziplining gear, helmet on head.

The guides announced that we should all use the porta-potty, because it was the last bathroom stop for the next 2.5 hours.

No available restrooms may have been the scariest threat of the whole day.

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This is a shot of us wearing our zipline gear, minus the gloves.

Our guides drove the ATV up the bumpy hill.

“This IS scary.” I teased my husband as we slowed down, reaching GROUND SCHOOL.

Here we learned how to leave our Y-straps alone, attach our trolleys and brake with our gloved hands.

Technically, we were ready.

After completing our first set of ziplines, we tiptoed up a triple spiral staircase to the KONG zipline.  It is 900 feet long and the highest zipline in the course (175 feet above ground.)

One group member opted out and headed back.

I, too, was assaulted by typical zipline fears at this point.

At least I think these are typical…isn’t it normal to be thinking:

  • What if my trolley mechanism fails?
  • What if my harness breaks?
  • What if the cable snaps?
  • What if I fall and am speared by one of those picturesque pine trees?
  • What will my obituary say?

I placated those annoying fears…and none of that happened.

My husband seemed to have the time of his life — getting a little crazy with his no-handed cannonballs.

Me?  I followed the rules.

It was a memorable day with my fun-loving, thrill-welcoming husband.

(But I was glad to get back on the ground –where the bathrooms were.)

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Word of the Day: https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/placate/

 

 

 

 

{ Mod Podge & Me }

It’s a rainy, crafty day.

I’m striving to get the family excited about creating:

! ! ! AMAZING PROJECTS FOR THE COUNTY FAIR ! ! !

But nobody seems interested.

Have the children become jaded about our homespun annual entries?

What’s not to like about painted, woodburned, crayon-dripped, organic birdhouse gourds?

 

 

I hope they will catch my crafting enthusiasm.

Knuckle-deep in Mod Podge, I’m finishing a repurposed tin for a bride-to-be. She’s an English teacher, so it’s covered with love quotes from famous books.

I carved up her “save-the-date” card and her wedding invite and used them for the front and back of the tin:

 

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“Whatever our souls are made of….his and mine are the same.” ~ Wuthering Heights

 

 

Once finished, I will enclose a gift card.

Like a well-rounded country girl, the bride is registered at Menard’s.

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I’m also adding inventory to my Etsy shop ~ Wool Soup. Working with fuzzy wool and cozy cashmere is not appealing on a hot July day, but these months are the best time to get things done:

 

 

 

 

Crafting is only a small part of summer plans.

There are beaches to be flopped upon, gatherings to be enjoyed and mosquitoes to be fed.

What? The stores are displaying back-to-school supplies–already?  😦

This means certain friends will start talking enthusiastically about homeschool planning. Certain friends like to start school early. Certain friends laugh at my desire to milk the most out of summer.

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How kind of my friend Theresa to take the time to stop rolling her Walmart cart, snap this photo, and send it to me.

I love homeschooling.

But I must wait for my Muse*.

She may come in early August.

She may arrive at midnight on September 6th.

(I never know.)

But I don’t think she will come until I’ve finished several Altoid tins and a few more pairs of mittens.

 

 

 

 

© Lisa M. Luciano

*not the goddess thing; just a personified force of creative inspiration. 

Word Prompt of the Day: https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/07/21/striving/

{Practicing Affirmation}

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“Sam’s book is a healing balm for cranks, misfits and malcontents who are so full of self they scarcely see, let alone celebrate, the simple beauties of imperfect virtue in others.  Or to say it differently: I need this book.” 

— John Piper, from the Forward to the book Practicing Affirmation.

I just finished reading Practicing Affirmation by author / pastor Sam Crabtree.  My borrowed library copy is almost due and going back into circulation, but I plan to exchange it for my own purchased copy.

I want to remember this book.  More importantly, I want to practice what I learned.  Here are some thoughts that grabbed me:

—Think about how often we correct / complain / criticize. This causes “drag” on a relationship, especially because corrections / complaints and criticisms tend to outweigh affirmations.

“It takes many affirmations to overcome the impact of a criticism, because criticisms are heavier and sting more.”

–Affirming others acts like a key, with the potential to unlock relationships.

“Many people are puzzled as to why their relationships seem stuck and uncooperative, yet they are not putting the key in the ignition. It’s not too late to use the key.”

–Affirmations should be consistent in a relationship.

–Affirmations should be God-centered. Focus on character, not outward appearance. Look for God’s character seen in people of all beliefs and backgrounds. Commend sincerely without flattery.

“In doing so, we’re pointing to something very valuable, and we’re saying, “I see it in you!  I value it… and the God who is the source of it!”

–When we are affirmed, it makes us happy. But the affirmation giver gains a                         mysterious joy as well.

–Affirmations are for everyone and everywhere. Use them in the workplace.  At home.  Use them in a “stuck” relationship.  Give them to your children.  Give them to your spouse.  Give them undeserved…and give generously.

–One of my favorite parts of the book was chapter 9, where it listed 100 Affirmation Ideas for Those who Feel Stuck.

“When our mouths are empty of praise for others, it is probably because our hearts are full of love for self.” – John Piper

Photo credit: Alejandro Alvarez

Word of the Day Challenge: https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/potential/

{ Betsy & Laura}

When I tiptoe into

Betsy’s Deep Valley home

Or Laura Ingalls’ dugout

There’s magic

And melancholy.

 

Long-Ago and Right-Now

Mix inside my heart

like oil and water

 

I seek

proof,

connection,

and solace

 

These treasures are surprises,

As miraculous

as discovering

artifacts in Betsy’s cellar

or a forgotten

slate pencil lodged

Within the banks of Plum Creek.

 

I grasp ghosts

Snugly trapped in time —

Forever bound in

Favorite books

 

I see Betsy and Laura —

They are as close as the Big Hill

And the ripples of Plum Creek —

But as far away as the moon.

 

 

 

© Lisa M. Luciano

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Today we visited the childhood home of Maud Hart Lovelace, who wrote the Betsy-Tacy book series.  Mankato Minnesota — July 2018

Inspired by the Betsy-Tacy tour and because I also felt this when visiting Walnut Grove years ago (even though I was dressed in calico and a sunbonnet.)

Does anyone else feel a bit of magic and melancholy when visiting the historic place of a favorite person? Comments welcome 🙂

Word Prompt of the Day:  SOLACE

 

 

 

 

{ Jabez — Resurrected. }

samuel-martins-631378-unsplashAn obscure Bible character, Jabez doesn’t live in the historical spotlight — like Moses, David, or Paul. Jabez is featured in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.  We don’t know much about him, except that:

  • His mother bore him in pain
  • He was more honorable than his brothers
  • He prayed to the God of Israel
  • God answered his prayer

In 2000, The Prayer of Jabez became a bestselling book.

After months of reading the book, seeing the book everywhere, hearing references made to the book, listening to radio programs about the book, and finally seeing the book on thrift store shelves, I was done thinking about Jabez for a while.

But last Sunday’s sermon centered around Jabez and his prayer.  So, maybe it’s time for me to think about Jabez again and look more closely at his sincere conversation with God.

Jabez probably prayed many prayers, but one of these prayers is written out in 1 Chronicles for us to ponder.  Like other seemingly unimportant details found in scripture, God included the prayer in His inspired Word for a reason…and it’s worth examining.

The prayer is pretty short and simple, easily fitting into a 280-character-limit Twitter tweet.

Jabez says to the God of Israel:

Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.’ 

(And God granted him what he requested.) 

Since there is a 93-page book written about this simple prayer, I won’t try to dissect it myself. I just want to randomly, digitally scribble down some thoughts that come to mind when I think about the real person that prayed this prayer, and what I can learn from the whole thing.  (Without peeking at the book.)

  1. Jabez’s name means “pain, or born through pain.”  His prayer states “….bless me that I may not cause pain.” I love that he accepts his birth, his circumstances, the part of life that he cannot change.  But, he prays to go beyond his lot in life.  And God can do that. He did it for Jabez. He can do it for me.  I need to ask God for it.
  2. Jabez prayed like a child would ask a parent:   “Give me!  I need!  I want! And I want a lot!  I want more!” But he asks with good motives: so God’s hand would be with him.  That means Jabez wants God around — to watch over him, bless him, lead him. He wants to please God, follow God and have God smile at what he does.  He is willing to be obedient and live in fellowship with God.
  3. Jabez trusted God to keep him from evil (or harm.)

There’s more to learn about Jabez and his prayer — I might have to pick up that book again, after all.

But for now, the obscure, honorable, praying Jabez of 3,000 + years ago has prompted me to write my own prayer.

So, here is the unfamous, non-bestselling, yet sincere Prayer of Lisa:

God, would you please help me overcome my natural, inborn weaknesses?  My sin…my flesh…my selfishness?  I need You to help me walk by Your Spirit — I can’t do it by myself!. I need so much more of You and so much less of me — every day. Make me to see Your workings in my life. Yank me (gently, please?) out of my comfort zone, where I tend to hang out. But always remind me You are there, and give me courage to go beyond the borders of what I think I can do.  There’s nothing too hard for You to accomplish — even through imperfect me. Keep me from veering off into evil —deviating from Your Path. May I never cause pain to Your Holy Name.  Amen.

Word prompt: deviate

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/deviate/

Photo Credit:
Samuel Martins

{ Family 4th of July }

We braved a stormy 4th of July forecast and were rewarded.  God gave us a beautiful day and even the mosquitoes were respectfully absent until dusk.

Our ambitious and hospitable friends host an annual Independence Day picnic, which includes:

1. The Dessert Contest.  Three of my girls entered desserts, including a patriotic pie and decorated s’mores brownies. And, these cute little eagles were made by my oldest daughter.

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Using melted white chocolate chips as the “glue”, these coconut-covered marshmallows are sitting on an Oreo platform. Thanks, Pinterest.

 

 

 

2. The Family Games: 3-legged races, gunny-sack races, balloon toss, family relay and tug-o-war.

My husband emcees the games. This is not a bad thing. His game-coordinator-job gets me out of the couples’ 3-legged race.

So my sister-in-law Susie and I competed together in the balloon toss….and won it!

It was only a balloon toss.  But, since I seldom win these little contests, it stood out as a landmark victory.

We are pictured below with our giddy smiles, cradling our winning pink balloon.

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3. The Husband & Wife Blindfolded Pudding Race.  My husband and I did not win this. But we are still speaking to each other, so I consider it a success.

4. The Dunk Tank. This was a new addition to the annual picnic. The dunk tank was a fundraiser, brilliantly dreamed up by my husband.  He coerced shamed coaxed several victims into being dunked to raise money for moms in crisis situations.

The dunkees actually seemed to enjoy their starring roles, but my husband was not among them. Someone had to hold the money jar.

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That’s the man I love.

The day also included patriotic hymn-singing, special music, a potluck (that’s when we get to eat all those scrumptious desserts) and fireworks!

Our father’s God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!

Last verse of our country’s national hymn, My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.

Find out more about the  FIRST YEAR OF LIFE project….

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Fireworks photo credit:

Stephanie McCabe

{ Evanescent }

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Word Prompt of the Day: Evanescent
 “Soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing”

Things that are Evanescent in Life at Large:

  • Time
  • Trends
  • Styles
  • What’s in the news

Things in My Life that are Evanescent: 

  • My eyesight, teeth, hearing…(okay, my whole aging body)
  • Memories of unimportant things (and some important things, too)
  • Youth & Beauty (if I had any to begin with)
  • Loved ones
  • Home routine with my little ones (because they are growing up)

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Things in a Christian Life that are Evanescent: 

  • Seeing the incomplete picture of life (I Corinthians 13:10)
  • Dragging around a sinner’s body (Romans 8:21)
  • Trials & suffering (Revelation 21:4)
  • Life on earth (Isaiah 65:17)
  • Death (Isaiah 25:8)

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© Lisa M. Luciano 

Photo credits:

Fireworks: Ben o’bro

Wooden Body: Kira auf der Heide

Heaven:贝莉儿 NG