{ Elegant Schmelegant }

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Elegant shmelegant

I’m making your dinner

It’s not something fancy

Not a blue-ribbon winner

But it’s healthy

And filling

And uses the stuff

That’s been loitering idly

In the fridge long enough.

(c) Lisa M. Luciano

2 minute poem

Word prompt: ELEGANT 

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{ Golden Birthday }

On my golden birthday, I wore a blue gingham dress and a bobbed haircut.

The doorbell rang.

Molly, Monica, and the two neighborhood Leslies arrived at my tenth birthday party.

Penny Brownell came too.  I think my mom invited her because everyone else in the neighborhood was coming. Penny talked loud and called her dad “George.”  She was new in the neighborhood and she was popular.  And, she was one of those girls who “took your friends away.”

(Little girls are often threatened by other little girls who “take their friends away” by being cuter, funnier or having better toys.)

My mom hooked up a modest, homemade piñata to the small maple tree in the backyard for later.

I sat on the red velvet-covered piano bench to open my presents.  Inside, I felt shy and self-conscious and I still don’t like opening gifts while a group is watching.

I don’t remember what anyone gave me, except Penny Brownell. She gave me an exquisitely tiny paint set.  The tubed acrylic paints and smooth brushes were housed in a petite plastic case that snapped shut.

Penny told me, “I gave you paints because that’s what you always give everyone for their birthdays.”

I was still thinking about her comment as we all piled into the van. I heard my mom say something like, “We’re going to a chocolate factory,” which sounded exciting.

We were really heading out to see the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

 

2willy wonka

The film was good, but a vague feeling of disappointment followed me back home where the piñata was waiting, along with Mom’s creative rainbow Willy Wonka cake and the paint set.

I blew out ten candles and ate rainbow cake with my guests.

We gallivanted out to the back yard, where a smiling Penny Brownell hit the piñata so hard it cried candy all over the limp August grass.

Word Prompt:  cake

https://swimmersweek.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/cake/#comments

http://gratefulsinglemoms.com/2018/06/04/gallivant/

{ TUI: Traveling Under the Influence }

After finishing a year teaching English in a Hong Kong refugee camp, Colleen and I decided to explore Thailand for a week. We were only acquaintances, having both worked for Refugee Relief but never teaching at the same camp.

Colleen and I flew as couriers, one per day, into Thailand.

I left first, with a mysterious sealed envelope.  I handed it to my contact at the airport and stayed one night in Bangkok at the Alliance Mission Guest House.

Colleen arrived on day two, and then we stayed in a seedy motel room, where it was too hot to sleep.

As we traveled north, in search of remote, tourist-free Thailand, we ate delicious Pad Thai noodles for $1 a bowl and sipped coconut juice.

Thinking of the bold adventure ahead made me slightly giddy.

Visiting a fresh, foreign corner of the world can be an intoxicating sensory experience.  It’s dizzying to absorb the new sights: alien looped letters on stop signs, golden-robed monks, whole dead chickens hanging in windows, and curious details tucked into corners of strange streets.
You sniff unfamiliar food, garbage and spices and hear exotic musical chatter swirling around you, causing an overwhelming sensory overload.
It’s extreme sporting in comfortable shoes, it’s base jumping with your senses.
In Thailand, I got tipsy with travel.

I was under the influence when we boarded the train to Chiang Mai – the only foreigners in a sea of dark heads and somber faces.

With an inner thrill, I threw discretion out the window, telling Colleen we should sing hymns aloud in the train.  I did this obnoxiously as she sung half-heartedly.

We reached Chiang Rai. Our hotel was a quaint straw hut that provided beds with mosquito netting for $3 / night. We rented bicycles, visited temple sites, and waved at rural workers in the fields.

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A young man drove up on a motorcycle and wanted to take us for a ride.  We had no money.

“It’s okay.  I take you.”

Colleen said no, she didn’t think we should.

“C’mon, let’s go,” I slurred, getting on the back of the bike.

She looked appropriately doubtful as she climbed on behind me.

We rode through the town and out into the countryside.

Rice fields, emerald terraced hills, and scattered huts flew past our eyes.

Diesel fragrance filled the wet, green air.

Our guide stopped at a hut and an old man with watery eyes tottered out, holding a strange pipe.

They spoke. We drove on, passing more green fields and a few more huts.

Suddenly a sense of danger washed over me and I was instantly sober.

Reality was this:

  • We are out here in the middle of nowhere on a bike with a stranger.
  • No one knows where we are.

I began to pray hard.

Our guide stopped at a house-on-stilts and introduced us to friendly family.

I felt nauseous and anxious to get home.

More green fields and a string of huts blurred by and finally we arrived back safely.

I think Colleen was irritated with me until we left the country– and I don’t blame her.

I had completely lost my inhibitions, swaying around Thailand with half a brain – until danger woke me up.

© Lisa M. Luciano 2018

(I’m reading a book by Anne LaMott, titled Bird by Bird.  After reading the first chapter, I felt encouraged to mine my own brain to find stuff to write about.  For better or worse, this story was taken from my catalog of life memories. )

Photo Credit:Bala Karthikeya Pavan Guda

Word Prompt: Catalog

{ Seasonal Me }

After a sun-robbed

Bone-bitten

Blanket-wrapped

Winter —

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I’m always ready for an Early Spring.

groundhog day

I’m an April snow-be-gone

Window-hoisting

Clutter-banishing gal

But wait – did someone say “Garage Sale?”

Drinking vernal sun

Through white Nordic skin

I’m an impatient trail-trekker

Lake-walker

Eager for

Jean-jacketed

Picnics-at-parks.

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I’m a teacher-on-summer-recess

Swimming-lesson-spectator-mom

An eye-on-the-sky weather-watching

Clothesline-addicted

August-birthday-babe.

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School? Already?

Pondering plans

While I’m apple-picking

Pickle-packing

Toes-in-dirt

Garden-gathering until

First frosty flakes.

Goodnight, garden.

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I’m a dark morning errand runner

Defying slick roads

Stocking up for the Big Snow

I can hibernate awhile

With coffee

Cream

Eggs

Milk

Bread

Cream

And coffee.

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Swadddled in a snow blanket—

Waiting for Christmas,

Birthdays,

And Valentine chocolates to

Usher me to the edge of winter

Where I stand

Toes on edge

Ready to jump

Into an early Spring…

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(I had the idea to write this as I labored with dirt-encrusted toes in a 90 degree garden yesterday.  In retrospect, the scene was so unlike who I am in the winter. If you ever write a seasonal look at yourself — please let me know.  I’d like to read it! )

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/one-way/

Photo credits:
Winter Cabin:  Jonathan Mast
Pool: Jay Wennington
Apple tree:Kelly Sikkema
Coffee: Nathan Dumlao
Frostbitten Garden: Nick Cooper
Lady on cliff: Samuel Scrimshaw
Early Spring? Photo from Groundhog Day movie

{ Martha With Her Hair on Fire }

This blog post is re-posted from my 22 year-old daughter’s blog: Ordinary Stardust. 

It made me laugh — and think.  I hope you will like it, too.

I had a headache.  The snow was falling.  Again.  The battery on my phone was dead.  I was exceedingly parched.  It was Sunday and the week stretched on before me.  I sat in the old white van; bouncing along with 500 tabs open in my mind.  There was the phone to charge, the water to find, the clothes to change into; room to clean, books to read, people to text, dishes to wash, and at least a hundred more things.  Along with all the “to dos” there was all the “want to’s” or all the “should do’s”.  I really should reach out to that friend; I really need to write a letter to that girl; I really need to pray for him; I really should visit her; I really ought to start doing that.  And on and on and on and on….

So, as soon as the tires reached the snow-covered cement, I was off.  I was like Martha in the Bible, but times 10.  “Martha-with-her-hair-on-fire” as it were.  The snow leaked into my black heels as I ran,  narrowly missing an icy patch on our driveway, but the coldness didn’t bother me. I was Martha on a mission;  the mission to conquer my “to do”, “must do”, “need to” and “ought to” list.  So, down the stairs I raced.  Up again. Past the kids and dad on the couch.  I waved, yes.  But then it was off again to the next mission   It wasn’t until 10:00 that night, when all the texts were sent, all the water was drunk, the clothes were neatly stacked and put away and the wild hair had been tamed (for the moment at least) that I sat and thought; really thought as to what I had just accomplished.  Wait, what HAD I accomplished even?

Two days later I was talking with someone who mentioned my busyness.  Haha, I laughed.  Yes, I know I relate to Martha.  Poor Martha.  The slave in the kitchen.  The poor servant making lunch while her lazy sister Mary just sat.  And listened.

“Well, maybe it’s time for you to become less like Martha and more like Mary.   Maybe you need to cut out the to do, must do, and should do lists.  Maybe you ought to stop flying hither and thither and be still.  Maybe you need to stop doing so much.  Maybe you need to focus on the quality of your work, over the quantity of your work. “

 

Those thoughts promptly terrified me.  Why did they terrify me? Perhaps because the thought of sitting and being still seems so incredulously unproductive.  Perhaps, like Martha, my worth is tied to my productivity.

I wonder if Martha ever laid in bed at night, re-hashing her day and thinking how “good” she did, and thinking that her Lord was pleased with her based on how many things she checked off her list.  Maybe she said, quietly in her heart, “Look, Lord.  Aren’t you pleased with me?  Look at all my labor and work and sacrifice service.  Did you see how, when everyone else was sitting around, I was the one on my hands and in the kitchen, scrubbing the muddied floor while praying feverishly for the 47 people I said I’d pray for….?  Do you see the dishes I scrubbed, and the bread I baked, the fish I caught, the person I encouraged, and the clothes I folded? ”   Sometimes, I say things along those lines.

And perhaps the voice of the Lord would say to me just what He said to Martha: “Ah, Sophia.  Sophia.  You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion  which will not be taken away from her.”  I could imagine Jesus saying that in his kind, gentle way.  I could imagine Martha’s face flaming, her eyes bugging out, while the hot pan of fried turnips in her hand became suddenly very heavy.  I know it was a rebuke that went to her very core. Because it goes to mine.

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There is something in me that gages value by busyness   As if that was what Jesus wanted.  What did He say?  “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”. And so this Martha asks herself, “what is truly important? Does Jesus truly care how many boxes you checked off today?

I love how Elyse Fitzpatrick put it: “Jesus chided Martha for failing to do the one important thing: Listen to His heart of love for her.  Lunch could wait.  His love and her need couldn’t.”

Maybe what would please Jesus more would be for me to become more like Mary – to be able to sit and listen to Him and accept His love for me, instead of trying and striving to prove my worthiness.

Maybe one day in heaven, Martha and Fia will meet.  Maybe we won’t even have to say a word to each other.  We’ll just smile and nod.

Two restless women who finally found rest in their Savior.

(c) Sophia Luciano 2018

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/juxtapose/

{ Dying Muscles}

People who love to exercise (and I’m guessing here) often start the day:

  • Running or Working Out
  • Hydrating
  • Eating protein for growth and power.
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I am a Christian.
I’m fueling up and getting ready to exercise —
I’m going to exercise my “dying muscles.”
Today, I’m going to do what is harder than a marathon and more challenging than an Iron Woman race.
By the grace and power of God, I’m planning to die to myself.
This feat requires a morning run in prayer.
It takes Growth Food to give me power.
It takes starting every day reminding myself with the basics: “I am a Christian. This is what Christians do.”
It takes gumption and a whole lot of grace to exercise the dying muscles.
It’s easier to sit, veg, and morph into what is around me.
It requires supernatural strength to:
  • Die to myself and put others first.
  • Train my tongue muscles to obey me.
  • Keep running the Christian race.
  • Press on in my marriage.
  • Shun selfishness.
  • Look around and do unto others.
  • Love, love and love til it hurts.
I’m getting ready to die today to self-wishes and sin-centered choices.
Perhaps –like exercise– it gets easier the more I do it.
It won’t make me famous — only God will know.
Today, I’m going to do what is harder than a marathon and more challenging than an Iron Woman race.
In the grace and power of God, I’m going to exercise my dying muscles.
 
“I die every day!  What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus?  if the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning…”
I Corinthians 15:31-34
 
Photo credit:  Bradley Wentzel

{ Little Bouquets & Victories }

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! – Psalm 118:24

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Today was a day unlike any other day.

  • My daughter bought her first car.
  • Another daughter finished her last day on the job.
  • Two sons started a new job — working together and sharing the same lunch cooler.
  • My youngest child told me he didn’t need his toenails clipped, because “we already clipped them a few months ago.”
  • Lilacs are in full bloom, and little bouquets are popping up all over the house.
  • 2 – 50 cent thrift store water guns kept two boys busy outside for six hours.  Way worth the price.
  • I won a wrestling match with my tongue.
  • There was enough rhubarb crisp to go around — for seconds.

Photo credit: Jessica Fadel

{ Graduation Open House. Done. }

 

 

 

I woke up feeling LIGHT.

Am I on vacation?

Or on the moon?

No — it’s just that the big hoopla is over

And the weight of 200 guests

30 pounds of pasta

And 2 full sheet cakes

Is off my shoulders now

And I’m so light

I just might fly away

today with

20 star balloons

~~~

“It goes so fast,” said a friend at our son’s graduation open house.

I sighed, “I know.  You work so hard, make all this food, dig up photos…and the party’s over like that.”

“No, I meant that boys grow up so fast.”

“Oh.  That too.”

~~~

One slab of marble cake

On a purple-smeared platter,

A deflated tent

And a

Tangled web of lonely balloons

Remind me

That he won’t be asking me algebra questions anymore.

~~~

Graduate’s Wisdom: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

 

 

 

Word Prompt: Narcissism.  How does this relate to a graduation party?  Graduation open houses are tiny bits of self-focus (not in a bad way).  

{ Undeserved & Basking In It}

On Mother’s Day–

My son got up in church (as other sons and daughters did)

He grabbed the microphone to speak of me, his mother.

There were so many things he could have said, like:

  • She doesn’t share her water bottle
  • She closes her door and tapes on a note on it that says, “Come back in 30 minutes.”
  • She’s got a mending basket full of clothes that have been there so long I’ve outgrown them
  • Her patience runs thin when she’s trying to get out the door to go somewhere
  • She makes oatmeal every day for breakfast

But he didn’t. 😊

I am still basking in the overflow of Mother’s Day love and chocolates and undeserved adoration.

And, I’m basking in the mystery that God entrusts living souls to imperfect Mothers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ Tribute to the Homeschooling Mother }

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The homeschooling mother has no paycheck, union, or prep hour

     She wears a comfortable uniform and decorates with toddler art

She doesn’t weave her way through crowded hallways

     She treads a path littered with laundry and Legos

She doesn’t eat her lunch in the Teacher’s Lounge

    She nibbles between dish-doing and question-answering

When a stranger asks her daughter,

     “What’s 3 x 4?”

And her daughter looks at the ceiling

     And her son doesn’t seem to know his countries from his states

The homeschooling mother never says,

“What are they teaching you at school?”

     She just blushes

and vows to get out the flashcards.

But the homeschooling mother’s students:

Can divide the last cookie into perfect thirds

Know how to survive in the Arctic

Translate Latin phrases

Play Bach on a violin

Have stepped into the Middle Ages — in costume

Know where to find the beginning of wisdom

Have looked at the Civil War from the eyes of South, North and the Native American

(And can tell you what else was going on in the world at the same time)

Perform chemistry magic using home ingredients

Talk to nursing home residents without flinching

And, they can tell you in which episode Eugene went missing from the town of Odyssey.

And when her children finally graduate

     Strong, able and kind

Generous and grateful

They know how to work hard

And they know where to find what they don’t know

Fueled by faith,

They stand on conviction

The homeschooling mother

Senses that her gain is good

And she truly is…A REAL TEACHER.

(c) Lisa M. Luciano

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week & Mother’s Day 2018

Daily Writing Prompt:  Laughter