{ 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

 

{ If I Planned the World }

If I planned the world, I wouldn’t have left Adam and Eve to themselves in the garden.

(I might have started the world over — from scratch.)

I wouldn’t have sent the Rescuer to earth as a mild & helpless baby — born in an animal barn.

I would have sent Him as a prince, born in a palace.

I would have sent bodyguards to make sure the Son of God would never get lost, overtired, tempted or hurt.

I would have planned His itinerary; insisting that He sleep in approved hotels, fed with the finest food.

I would have screened His followers with thorough background checks.

I would have demanded justice: a fair trial with plenty of evidence to display His innocence.

He never would have died at all.

But Jesus Christ came into the world to die — to save sinners.

It was God’s perfect plan.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

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If I ever think I can figure God out, or get what he’s doing, or ask “why did God allow….”

I can remember this:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord…” Isaiah 55:8

So, this is the season to celebrate His humble birth, perfectly planned by God.

And this is the time to get ready for His glorious return.

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31)

 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
     call upon him while he is near;
 let the wicked forsake his way,
     and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
 let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
     and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
 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 55:6-9

© Lisa M. Luciano

Photo credit:

Cross: Joshua Earle

{ Facing Fears}

I walked into the kitchen this morning at 5:50 a.m. Adrenaline spiked my groggy self when a mouse scurried out from under a bench.

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Have you ever heard a muted scream?  It takes energy to suppress yelps of disgust while shivers are making their way up your spine.

He ran into the back hall bathroom — smart guy. There is a convenient hole inside the bathroom cupboard. It’s like a rodent’s Grand Central Station; a place for making swift exits, smooth transfers and safe journeys.

Ugh.

I was getting ready to leave for early morning shopping, so I left a message for the family:

Gird up your loins. Refresh the mousetraps. Search & destroy all invaders.

xoxo — Mama

I did have a brief, brave moment.  I grabbed a broom, thinking he might come out the same way he entered.  I thought to myself: FACE YOUR FEARS.

It seems to be the theme this week.

  • The Sunday sermon was centered on Barak, who had to be coaxed by Deborah to “Get up and face your enemies!  God will surely give you the victory!” (from Judges 4)

 

  • My son showed me a TED talk given by Jia Jiang.  He had a recurring fear of rejection, so he decided to get out there and look for rejection on purpose every day for 100 days.  He learned a lot about himself and became less fearful about rejection in the process.

 

  • Even the book we have been reading this week,  Treasures of the Snow, reminded me that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18)

 

I’m still working on facing fears, whether they come from situations, people, or unwelcome rodents.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt 

“There will always be someone willing to hurt you, put you down, gossip about you, belittle your accomplishments and judge your soul. It is a fact that we all must face. However, if you realize that God is a best friend that stands beside you when others cast stones you will never be afraid, never feel worthless and never feel alone.” –Shannon L. Adler

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{ Out of My Circles }

A compass sits in my desk drawer and I don’t know why.

It has a sharp point for anchoring itself to paper. On the opposite side sits a metal clip gripping a blunt pencil.

It’s a tool for drawing circles. Once every five years I need that.

The other 1,824 days the compass is just there to poke me in the finger as I rummage for pens, stamps or white-out.

compass

Perfect circles are pretty on paper. But when it comes to life, getting into a circular pattern seems stagnant and dull.

  • I develop a bad eating habit (snitching whilst cooking!) that needs to be broken.
  • I realize after 30 days that I have forgotten to get outside and take a walk, even if it’s cold outside.
  • My children alert me when we are in an oatmeal-for-breakfast rut.

Overall, we are supposed to look back over this un-repeatable journey and see progress, maturity and growth. Life is more like a path than a circle.

When things rouse me out of my circles, sometimes I fight it!

But scripture reminds me to move along, with phrases like:

  • Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? (Joshua 7:10)
  • Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along! (Song of Solomon 2:10)
  • Arise and go, for this is no place of rest… (Micah 2:10)
  • I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home. (Mark 2:11)
  • Up! (Judges 4:14)
  • Let us throw off everything that hinders…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us! (Hebrews 12:1)

Here’s to getting up, pressing on, and making progress!

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“It is always hard to see the purpose in wilderness wanderings until after they are over.” — John Bunyan

“To go back is nothing but death; to go forward is fear of death, and life everlasting beyond it. I will yet go forward.” — John Bunyan

“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend; the difficulty will not me offend.  For I perceive the way to life lies here. Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.” — John Bunyan

 

(c) Lisa M. Luciano

Photo credits:unsplash-logochuttersnap

unsplash-logoJohannes Plenio

{ Chicken Pox Christmas }

Fourteen years ago, we were starting to get ready for Christmas…and then six of my children got the chicken pox.

We have photos of everyone reclining on sofas, trying not to scratch.

We didn’t go shopping, didn’t play outside and didn’t visit friends.

Instead, we listened to audiobooks, like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Treasures of the Snow.

That was a quiet and special December. I was present with my children, listening to the stories, offering liquids and resting while they napped.

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Maybe that’s the quiet, restful spirit I was yearning for when I broke out The Best Christmas Pageant Ever on Monday. I listened with my two youngest — and of course, cried at the end of this hilarious, touching story.

Now we’re listening to Treasures of the Snow – another one of those stories that adults can learn from, too.

Sketch (2)
Armed with cranberries, we made a cheerful chicken pox snowman that year.

First Photo credit: Josh Boot

{ No Worry Curry }

I liked the theory of the Instant Pot, but had my doubts about throwing everything in for a one-pot meal.

I tried it tonight…and it worked!

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The brown rice looks like curly noodles in this photo.  But, it’s brown basmati rice, which cooked to perfection.  Nothing was overcooked; the scallions are even still green.
No Worry Curry

[curried chicken and brown rice in the Instant Pot]

Serves 6-8

7 cups chicken stock

2-3 cups cooked chicken, chopped

3 ½ cups brown rice

4-6 finely sliced scallions (green onions)

1 cup carrot matchsticks

1-2 Tablespoons curry powder

1 T garlic granules

2 Tablespoons coconut oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all in Instant Pot and stir.
  2. Cook on high pressure cooker set for 6 minutes.
  3. Allow 20 + minutes for the entire pressurizing, cooking and venting process.

© Lisa M. Luciano