{ 7 Questions }

I received a list of thoughtful questions from a dear one.

Answering these questions might be an excellent end-of-year exercise to rouse my sluggish brain cells out of their post-Christmas sugar stupor!

So…here goes.

(If you also would like some brain exercise, feel free to answer one of the questions ~ post your answer in the comment area below!)

Happy 2019.

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  1. If the last year could be summed up in one word, what would it be? Doors. Doors are pathways to growth, discovery and change. There were subtle but real changes in our family; new job opportunities, new friendships, and new “life tributaries” that occurred in our growing young adult children.   They are blossoming into their own persons.  This is hard sometimes for a mother.  I must bite my tongue when older children don’t automatically mimic our parental ideals. God is molding them uniquely; they have brains, prayers and dreams of their own.
  2. What are two or three major themes that kept occurring? Change. Reality. Release.
  3. What did I accomplish this year that I am most proud of? Small internal victories, like: Holding my tongue at the exact right time. Deciding to wait and listen before reacting. Asking another question instead of responding emotionally.  Ignoring a perceived offense rather than retaliate with a sarcastic / witty comeback. Choosing faith instead of worry.  (These might seem like itsy bitsy successes hardly worthy of mentioning, and they might have only happened once or twice in all of the 365 days of 2018. But to me, they seemed to be larger accomplishments than completing an Ironman triathlon….)
  4. What do I feel I should have been acknowledged for, but wasn’t? Hmmm….I will think about this one…or maybe I shouldn’t dig around to find something?
  5. What disappointments or regrets did I experience this year? Spending time doing unimportant, useless, time-wasting things.
  6. What was missing from my year as I look back? Nothing that I can think of. 
  7. What were some major life lessons I learned this year? Time passes faster than I think it can or want it to.  

So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Photo credit:Josh Riemer

Questions adapted from Lore Wilbert ~  http://www.sayable.net/about/ 

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{ Closed Doors and Open Windows }

Life is a series of closed doors and open windows. And open doors and closed windows.
Then, there are doors that you thought were open that shut abruptly in your face.

On the other hand, doors you thought were locked can be surprisingly easy to kick open.
And occasionally, a tightly closed window will fall open, unhinged, enrapturing your soul.


Why write this?
In a desire to avoid a traditional Christmas letter, I still want to look over the year thoughtfully and learn the lessons I’ve been given. That’s what you do when you are fifty-plus. You learn that it’s worthwhile to spend 30 minutes reflecting, so that you can avoid months of making the same mistakes.

Or to be more honest, if I don’t write it down, I will forget.

January 2018 began with some confusion and a closed door. It brought the opportunity for us, as imperfect parents, to seek wisdom from the Wisdom Giver and use it to give sage advice. It’s a humbling tightrope to tiptoe upon, but asking, seeking, knocking and walking in faith will always get you to the destination God has for you.

When a door slams, the breeze it creates can heal and cause growth.

June brought another graduation, which means pasta and purple-frosted sheet cake. I leafed through old photos, amazed at how God closes precious doors at the same time He offers those looming, open windows. They lead to who-knows-where and it’s a little scary. But He is holding our hand as we slide our way through them.
Summer 2018 days were traditional and new at the same time:

  • Swimming lessons in a different pool.
  • Beach trips to new local shores.
  • New project ideas at the same old county fair.

The garden was stingy with tomatoes, but generous in zinnias, bees and butterflies.

Then came a wide open window, a chance to see an old friend after many years. That meeting was unexpected & sweet.
Summer ushered us gently into fall, so we basked in apple-bounty and we crafted on a shoestring. New doors opened for my husband and his job shook up our schedule, but it also gifted us with new stories and opportunities.
In November we celebrated Turkey Bowl #19. My husband is almost 60 and runs around a football field with such agility that his fellow amateur athletes think he’s 35. I will continue to thank God for my husband’s good health, even as I get out the Tiger Balm and Epsom salts.
And shortly after we hosted new friends for Thanksgiving, I looked at my kitchen with fresh eyes:

We have lived here for 20 years. It’s time to give this place a face lift.

  • I am shutting the proverbial door on those faded chicken curtains and poultry art in general.
  • I am ready to toss threadbare towels and lose that bright yellow bathroom.

(These are the types of Home Decorating Mission Statements that I hope will propel me through 2019.)
So, paint chips have been secured, walls stripped bare of rooster paraphernalia and Pinterest has been feverishly scanned. I hope next year’s recap will include some home decor success stories.

Still in 2018, we have a son who is following an idea, a dream, a possibility. It’s progressing; it’s full of many little steps. And if — after all the steps — this son finds a closed door, it will be okay. The hallway he walked down has been worth it.

Sometimes a closed door gives you the oomph to scale a ladder and pry open a window, where you find something better.

And sometimes, you just pivot, re-trace your steps, turn the corner and look for another inviting door to try.

Oh, I forgot the books.

Books and audiobooks (new & old favorites) inspired and entertained us in 2018:

In 2018, we saw new babies born and sick marriages die. People entered our lives and our church, and people exited. A dear family moved miles away and started a new chapter and we are happy for their open window…but it looks a little like a closed door on our side.

And still in 2018, our peers became in-laws and grandparents and we were reminded that we are all getting older. This happens slowly–and never in our hearts — but always in the mirror.
Well, I’ll end here for now — unless I God opens a window in my brain and reminds me of something important I forgot.
© Lisa M. Luciano

Photo credits:

white infinity doors:Filip Kominik

colored locker doors:moren hsu

blue windows:Paul Fleury

{ Down into Up}

 

paul-gilmore-145802-unsplash
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

{ Dear Me as a New Bride }

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~~ Celebrating our 28th Anniversary~ 06/23/1990 ~~(We don’t look like this anymore.)

 

Dear Me as a New Bride,

You look really happy and content.

Stay that way.

Right now, your new husband seems as kindred as one of your female friends.

But, he’s a man.  Don’t forget that.

On the surface, you two speak the same language.

But your heart language is different.

When you love him in FemaleHeartSpeak,

he won’t understand.

Speak LOVE in his own language:

Respect

Loyalty

And Intimacy

(The physical kind.)

If you ever get discouraged,

Always, always consult your User’s Manual first.

You will have bad days…

…but don’t wallow in self-pity.

A Christian marriage is not about YOU,

any more than The Christian Life is all about YOU.

Marriage is one big school to make you more like Jesus.

Someday, you will look back and see

the big picture

and the footprints of God

who effortlessly carried you through every joy and trial.

Keep that fresh, dewy, idealistic smile on your face.

With God,

You got this.

Love, Me

 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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6/23/2018

 

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/possibility/

 

© Lisa M. Luciano

{ Change }

 

 

There are dozens of songs containing the word change somewhere in the title:

Change of Heart

Seasons Change

She Changes the Weather

We Can Change the World

I Don’t Want to Change the World

Can’t Change Me

A Change Would Do You Good

Everything Changes

Nuthin’ Changes

We change our minds, our décor, and our favorite frothy drink at the coffee shop.

It’s amazing – and comforting—to ponder the fact that God never changes. 

  • “For I the Lord do not change…”—Malachi 3:6
  • “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” –Hebrews 13:8
  • “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.” –Numbers 23:19

But people change. We age. We grow. We are different now than we were ten years ago.

We experience a changed life when we surrender to Jesus Christ.

And then, we keep changing:

  • Growing— in grace and in the knowledge of God. (2 Peter 3:18)
  • Decreasing—so He can increase in us. (John 3:30)
  • Filling up – with the knowledge of His will. (Colossians 1:9)

A solid Christian should grow like a healthy tree: producing mature fruit, sheltering branches, and a constant reach for heaven.

Keep changing.  Keep growing.  Keep softening the rigid ways that are just tradition or denomination.  Keep learning how to love like Jesus did.

Don’t change your convictions if they are based on God’s word.

Don’t change because of your whims, or because the current culture screams at you to do so.

“…You and I cannot change or control the world around us, but we can change and control the world within us.”– Warren Wiersbe

“When you live in the light of eternity, your values change.”– Rick Warren

 

Photo Credits:

Marina Khrapova

Gary Bendig

{ Hello 2018 }

Right now, It’s 5 below zero F. / -20.6 C.

One feels layered, puffy and fat.

One is fat, because I ate too many goodies between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Thankful Things:

  • Lots of winter sunshine lately.
  • A good heating system and a cozy new down comforter.
  • No mosquitoes.

Frozen Mosquito 2

Hopeful Things:

  • In 2018, I want to….
  • Look into my children’s eyes more when I talk to them.
  • Spend less time checking my phone.
  • Renew and redecorate [in non-extravagant, budget style.]

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How Cold Is It? 

-10 degrees - You need jumper cables to get the car going.

-25 degrees - You need jumper cables to get the driver going.

-30 degrees - You plan a two week hot bath. 

-40 degrees - Californians disappear. Minnesotans button top button. Canadians put on sweater. 

-50 degrees - Congressional hot air freezes. Alaskans close the bathroom window.

-90 degrees - Lawyers put their hands in their own pockets.

taken from homeutah.edu

Photo credits:

snow — Les Anderson

frozen mosquito — Lens & Life

coins — Pixabay / Padrinan

 

{ Honking for God }

I was cruising along the open highway after a gentle summer rain, and I was enjoying the journey. Suddenly, I saw a masterpiece in the sky — a rare triple rainbow. The huge, spectacular arc was flanked by another adjacent band of color. With tears in my eyes and hands on the steering wheel, I honked the horn repeatedly to celebrate God’s amazing creation!

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Rainbows turn my heart to the Creator in a unique way.  They remind me of His goodness and His promises.  They remind me that He is still the unchanged, faithful God. Faithful is not a common word these days.  It’s more typical to hear stories of the unfaithful. Definitions of faithful include:

  • Devotion to duty
  • Loyalty to vows
  • Constant, not fickle

 

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

This Bible verse reminds me that –unlike people– God is ever faithful. I see His unchanging love as recorded in the Bible. His faithful words and actions woo me to love Him and keep His commandments.  May they also summon me to reflect my Creator as I grow in faithfulness towards God and others.

 

 “The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of his promises.” -- A.W. Pink
 

© Lisa M. Luciano 😊

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

Word prompt of the day:  HONK

Photo credit:Richard Horne

 

{ Fraud }

      bookshelf

airytales, anyone? Here are a few:

eal Science: The Big Bang

rrogant Love

nderstanding God’s Ways

oing Good: The Way to Heaven

 

Truth:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. —Genesis 1:1

For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world…—Romans 1:20

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…—I Corinthians 13:4,5

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! —Romans 11:33

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. —Ephesians 2:8,9

 

Word prompt of the day: Fraud

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

Fraud“>

{ Lavish Loops }

priscilla-du-preez-101759 (1)Loop: a structure, series or process, the end of which is connected to the beginning.

This is the word prompt of the day, and I read a fitting verse in my Bible today.

It’s a verse that makes me think of a loop; a reward given that is connected to action that came first:

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honor.

Proverbs 21:21

This is a common principle in the Bible —and in the natural world.

  • What we sow, we will reap.
  • What we plant, we will harvest.

It’s a worldwide idea found in folktales, fables and culture.

But I love how God’s Word takes it to a new level.

Take the above scripture. When we pursue righteousness and kindness (two things), we will find life, righteousness and honor (three things.)

We gain interest– a bonus.

Another amazing Bible promise:

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

Here’s one more looping verse:

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed.

Proverbs 19:17

Our God is a generous God. He makes our cup run over. (Psalm 23)

He doesn’t ration His love, His forgiveness or His blessings.

Walking in obedience with the Lord is one lavish loop after another.

 

©  Lisa M. Luciano 😊

Loop“>

{ For Ketchup & For King }

bkhatLike other lucky 1980’s Burger King employees, I sported a brown polyester, two-pieced uniform with red and yellow accents.  The accents were a true ketchup red and a confirmed mustard yellow. One can only assume that the brown fabric was supposed to represent the charbroiled all-beef patty.

Later that decade, I made a career move to Bridgeman’s Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant. They upscaled me to a print, pinafore-like dress. It was feminine and kinda pretty. But the required hairnet and sensible white nurse’s shoes made me look seriously frumpy.

Oh, well. The tips (and the malts) were good.

Fast-forward to now.  What’s my current occupation? What costume am I wearing? I’m a wife-mom-cook-teacher-laundress-gardener.

I am also a princess.

Looking at me, you’d never guess. But, as a princess, I wear special clothing.

My Dad, the King, made sure from day one (I was adopted) that I was lovingly covered with sufficient garments. I try to seek and wear modest apparel that reflects the holy kingdom of my royal Father.

I want to look unique.

Mysteriously simple, yet humbly regal.

Beautifully odd.

Modestly gentle and boldly meek.

Like a special uniform, everything I wear should clearly proclaim my heritage: I’m a member of the Kingdom.

©  Lisa M. Luciano 😊

 “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. – 1 Timothy 2:9-10

“May His beauty rest upon me, as I seek the lost to win, and may they forget the channel, seeing only him.”— from the hymn: May the Mind of Christ, My Savior

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