{ Recipe for a Happy Birthday }

 

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Ingredients:

1- 5# bag of expectations

2 gallons water

1 cup possibilities

1 lb. gratefulness

1 cup sugar

3 1/2 cups whatever!

 

  1. In a large bucket, mix expectations with 2 gallons water.  Stir until dissolved.
  2. Dump this mixture outside. (Makes good compost.)
  3. Chop possibilities into bite-sized chunks and set aside.
  4. Using a blender, combine gratefulness with sugar and process until fine.
  5. With fingers or a pastry blender, chop whatever! into coarse crumbs.
  6. Layer the possibilities mixture alternately with the whatever!, sprinkling gratefulness / sugar mix liberally over each layer and on top.
  7. Let sit 30 minutes, allowing flavors to combine.
  8. Serve with coffee or tea.
  9. Enjoy immediately, because it will be gone by tomorrow.

 

 

(c) Lisa M. Luciano

Word Prompt:  harmony

 

 

Photo credit:Audrey Fretz

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{ Declaration of Phone Independence }

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to disconnect oneself from the despotism of a cell phone, it only makes sense that one should list reasons for the separation.

Prudence dictates that smartphones should not be thrown out for light or transient causes. We need to keep in touch, check our bank balances, and navigate via GPS.

But, there comes a point when a phone becomes ridiculously demanding or distracting. And, after repeated usurpations of time and attention, it is a person’s duty to throw off such tyranny.

To prove this, let these facts and resolutions be submitted to a candid world:

  1. My phone is not part of my body.  I do not have to take it everywhere I go.
  2. When someone raises a question, wonders why? or seeks a word definition, I do not have to immediately drop everything to ask Google.
  3. I can fall asleep and awaken without a phone to help me.
  4. My phone may whine for me to touch it and spend time with it, but it can wait for a scheduled appointment.
  5.  I won’t look away from loved ones’ eyes to sneak looks at a screen.
  6. To check the weather, I can look at the sky and smell the breeze.  I do not have to check an electronic display to see if it looks like rain.
  7.  I will not allow my phone to shackle my eyes to its surface.  When a human comes into the room, I will give the individual my focus and respect.
  8.  My phone should be unseen and unheard when I am in a group setting.
  9. I will not force others to look at my photos or favorite videos without their kind permission.  And if they agree, I will not overdo it.
  10. My phone is a tool.  I will not let it carve me into a distracted, addicted, unpersonable person.

 

© Lisa M. Luciano, with apologies to Thomas Jefferson, for borrowing parts of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12

 

{ A Do-er or a Cutter?}

Yesterday in church we learned about Josiah, who became king of Judah at age eight.

Who was King Josiah, what did he do, and why does it matter hundreds of years later?

Josiah had a notorious grandfather (Manasseh) – recorded as the most dastardly king of Judah. He had a son (Amon) that walked in his evil footsteps, leaving a poor spiritual heritage to his son, who was Josiah, the young king we are talking about here…

Josiah was eight years old when his father was assassinated.  Early in his young royal life, Josiah was curious about spiritual things. Although his homeland was black with evil, Josiah still began to seek God.

It might be better to say that God drew him.  God does that – and it’s often surprising.  Especially when conditions around us don’t look promising, and we don’t appear to be headed in a holy direction.

All this drawing and wooing and curious interest about God made Josiah’s heart fertile ground.  God was preparing his soft heart for an upsetting, earthshaking event that took place a few years later…

King Josiah told workers to clean out the temple. This was looking like a no-brainer job. Laborers were simply there to de-clutter, dust and organize. They were even told to keep track of their own hours. Things looked easy.

As trinkets were unearthed and dust flew, a scroll was discovered and brought to King Josiah.

This scroll was actually a treasured but forgotten book of the Law of God — given and practiced hundreds of years before.

Back when people followed God.

Back before people exchanged a loving God for a lie.

Reading the scroll aloud put a horrifying spotlight on Judah’s current state of affairs. God’s chosen people had been living in direct opposition to the words of this scroll-book. The nation was practicing child sacrifice and idol worship, even though generations before they had ousted people that were doing these same things.

When Josiah heard the words of the neglected book, he wept and tore his clothes.

Here they were, trying to tidy up the temple, making it sparkle and shine. But the temple – the spiritual heart of the nation– didn’t need dusting, it needed to be stripped down, disinfected, dismantled and rebuilt.

Josiah’s heart was overwhelmed and heavily grieved.

But Josiah wasn’t only stirred.  He was changed.

Josiah turned the nation of Judah around 180 degrees.

(This thorough process involved lots of idols being ground to powder and piles of burnt bones.)

A woman named Huldah gave a prophecy at this point:

Judah be destroyed because of its abominations.  It would be disciplined for the cries of its sacrificed children. But because of Josiah’s repentance and love for God’s discovered Word, Judah’s depressing end wouldn’t come during Josiah’s lifetime.

Lots of personal lessons here:

  1. We should expect to see God’s Word in God’s house.  It shouldn’t be hidden, neglected, unused or unpracticed.
  2. Maybe we feel safe, knowing we will avoid the coming judgment.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t warn others. I want to be faithful to share God’s Word within my sphere of influence.
  3. When I am confronted by God’s Word, do I change?  Or, do I continue puttering around, just dusting the externals?
  4. Josiah burned and destroyed the evidence and the promoters of idol worship in Judah.  This made it impossible for the people to return to the former way of life.  Have I made it easy or difficult to return to old, sinful ways? Burning bridges here can be a good thing…
  5. 300 years earlier, a prophet actually named Josiah by name, predicting that he would destroy idol worship in Judah. (I Kings 13:1-10) The Bible is bursting with fulfilled prophecies, confirming its truth.  
  6. After all that Josiah did to reform Judah, his son Jehoiakim went the opposite way. He heard God’s word, and what he didn’t like, he conveniently had cut out with a knife and burned. God has no grandchildren; our children need to surrender to God for themselves. 
  7.  Josiah’s life ended on a strange note.  He felt compelled to fight against Egypt, even though Pharaoh warned him that it really wasn’t his fight. Josiah did it anyway — he dressed up like a common person, was wounded and died.  It’s always good to be reminded that even if a person’s life is resplendent and glorious, he or she is still just a person who makes mistakes. 

    @scissors
    When I read God’s Word, am I a doer– or a cutter (do I effectively *cut out* the parts of the Bible that aren’t comfortable or pleasant?)

Word of the Day: Resplendent

Scripture references:

  • 2 Chronicles 34,35
  • Jeremiah 36
  • 2 Kings 22,23

 

{Editing Talk?}

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I’m learning to write succinct sentences.

It’s becoming easier to cut out extra words.

But there’s a problem with learning:

Suddenly you see problems that need to be fixed.

Example: When I read a book about listening, I start noticing people with good — or bad listening habits.

Because I’m currently focused on succinct writing, I’ve now been tempted to mentally edit wordy talkers.

Sometimes I wish I could edit/delete:

  • that energetically winding rabbit trail that goes nowhere before it reaches the
  • the elaborate sideline speech about a neighbor’s dental work before we revisit
  • the same phrase you just said a minute ago and the
  • day’s news told three times, three different ways

Maybe I just need to enhance my listening skills…but are you ever inclined to edit talk?

Photo: Pixabay

{ 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

{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