{ God’s Math: 1 + 1 ≠ 2 }

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 55:8-9 

I am not a math whiz.  Of all my extended family members, I am probably the least gifted with numbers.

My brain lives in the realm of pictures and approximations. Math is too exact; too detailed.

Yet, other family members seem to be fearless of numbers. My math-major sister-in-law said once in a casual setting, “I love abstract math.”  

What is that? Math with no visible symbols? Who would want to make math harder than it already is?

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So, the other day, I was visiting a church, watching a group of missionaries assemble at the front.

This caused me to think of my daughter, who is working at a refugee camp far away, going beyond her comfort zone, doing brave things in a company of global strangers.

Which caused me to consider all my children and who they are becoming.

I wondered: 

Lord, how did this happen? How can it be that you take children from a humble home, raised by imperfect parents, and grow them into amazing, beautiful souls?”

It doesn’t add up.

So, I was thinking about God’s kind of math, right there in the church service. 

God’s equations go beyond 1+1=2. God’s math goes beyond what seems logical or rational.  God’s math even seems to work backwards sometimes.

God’s kind of math says:

  • 2 small coins can sometimes mean more than a large sum of money.  (Mark 12:42)
  • Weak can be more powerful than strong. (Isaiah 40:29)
  • A few resources in God’s hands can multiply at a miraculous rate. (John 6:13)
  • Those who are last shall be first.  (Matt 20:16)
  • When you give to God, you get back way more than you gave. (Luke 6:38)

Things put into God’s hands seem to explode exponentially.

Finally, the omnipotent God is not only a master multiplier, he is a caring Creator. Which earthly number cruncher would not only count stars in the sky, but also lovingly name them?

He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147:4

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Photos:

John Moeses Bauan

Alexander Andrews

{ Have a Safe Adventure.}

As parents, we want our children to embrace courage, prudence, pluck, decisiveness, endurance, guts, comfort-zone-exiting, valor and spunk.

But, we’d like you to do all that safely here at home, please.”

Dear daughter is heading to an overseas island to work in a crowded, unstable place with strangers.

Prayers will be constant.

As parents, we are thrilled that she wants to serve like this. And, we realize that this desire comes not from us…and possibly not from her…and probably all from God.

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This is a mother-ish sentiment.

~~~

Downsizing so that others might upgrade is Biblical, beautiful, and nearly unheard of. — Francis Chan 

More about “What is an adventure?”

 

{ Life Lurches }

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Life Lurches

After traveling on level lands,

Like a train —

Life lurches.

Precarious and perpetual

Pressing through unknown tunnels

Hairpin turns and

Unexpected crossings.

Now the Conductor

Guides and glides into familiar flatness

So I roll along, resting

Awaiting the next corner.

 


 

photo ~ Antoine Beauvillain

lurch: make an abrupt, unsteady, uncontrolled movement or series of movements; stagger.

edited and reposted from August 2017

{ Frumpy in France }

My son is traveling overseas for the first time, and I prayed that it would be a glorious, life-changing trip for him.

Surrounded by church friends and armed with a confident, likable personality, I doubt he will be homesick and I hope he will have a grand experience. 

This morning’s happy bon voyage caused me to remember my first overseas experience, only 36 years ago….

June 1983

When I left my Midwest suburb, I thought I looked totally acceptable — even cool — in my preppy boat shoes, wide-striped rainbow polo and Kelly green chinos. My hair was freshly home-permed into a bushy, easy-care halo around my pudgy face. 

topsidersOur French teacher, Madame Fansler-Wald, headed up the trip to France, starting in Paris with a one week family stay. A series of pre-trip planning sessions told us what to pack and what to leave home: “Don’t pack too much! Leave lots of room for souvenirs.”

At that season of my life, I thought so little of makeup that I decided I would lighten my luggage by leaving makeup at home — all 3 ounces of it. 

When it was time to leave, my whole family could stand at the gate and wave goodbye, because this was the innocent, trusting 1980’s.  

Au revoir! See you in 3 weeks!

My hollow carry-on and I landed in Paris and each student was shuffled off for one week with their Parisian host family. 

Pascale DuClosel was my teen counterpart in the host family — she was short, dark and aloof. She sported a fashionable, cropped hairdo and wore mini skirts and high-heeled pumps. She lived in a stylish flat with her mother and father, who were also aloof but pleasant, and spoke less English than Pascale. 

That first night — and every night —  I sat alone in the sparse European guest bedroom and drew out my Bible.  Trying to ward off homesickness, I read big chunks of the comforting Psalms; they have been my best friend ever since.

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For breakfast we bought fresh, long loaves of French bread and ate them slathered with real butter and exquisitely lumpy marmalade. 

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Pascale showed me her neighborhood and some days we sat at the sidewalk cafe with her friends. It didn’t take long to soak in the fashionable, French atmosphere, and I recall the moment I saw my frumpy reflection in a shop window and looked down at my sensible shoes. 

Suddenly, I felt like a farm hand that had parachuted into an elegant, sophisticated party.

And, I must have missed the unit where Madame talked about French greeting customs.  Pascale’s friend Stephen said goodbye to me one afternoon with a typical double side-cheek air kiss; I cringe when I remember how I innocently turned my face at the wrong time, getting an unintended smack on the lips from Stephen and a scornful look from Pascale.

I was relieved when the host week was over, and we gathered as a group again. The rest of the trip was like a magical dream, visiting giant castles along the Loire River, touring Monet’s charming pink cottage and day-tripping into Switzerland to eat ice cream at sunset.

Before leaving France, I bought those souvenirs that were supposed to fill up my empty luggage. They included:  makeup, a light blue denim mini skirt, and one pair of pink and white leather pumps.

 

{ I’m Meant for Little Things }

I find myself wallowing in the memory of a handful of recent conversations about motherhood, watching children fly away, and stepping reluctantly into “The Afternoon of Life.”

(That’s a book, given to me by my daughter. I groaned when I saw it, but it’s actually just right for me…and funny, too.)

So, just now I scrawled out a poem — with sappy tears streaming down my face– and my 20-year old son comes in, unaware of my poignant tears, to get something from this room.

“Don’t mind me,” I say. “I’m just writing poetry that makes me cry.”

“Your OWN poetry is making you cry?”

“Yes. I’ll read it to you when I’m done.” 

(Maybe. If you’re lucky.)

I’m Meant for Little Things

Big things? No, I’m meant for little things — 

I’m the tapper of  a traveling stream of a thousand text messages and heart emojis, a hundred “are you almost homes?” and “luv yous”

I’m the tiny-Lego-helmet-finder and the “Where’s my Wallet?” wizard 

 

Big things? No, little things —

 

I’m the finger-mender of the glove that gets lost a day later at the hockey rink

An empty cupboard magician, a juggler of leftovers, and a make-do artist

I’m the queen of laundry

(my royal eyes have seen that same pair of underwear a hundred times)

 

Big things? No, little things —

 

I’m the hopefully-wise-advice-giver

The occasional hugger and everyday love-giver

The rambling-dream-listener —

A tea-maker, sick-fixer, peacemaker

And everyone’s personal spelling coach.

 

Big things? No, little things —

 

I’m piecing together my

slowly-growing-love-mosaic out of

lots of little things

While praying someday

they will all see the Big Picture.

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Photo:  Roman Kraft

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{ Amazing Peace! How Sweet the Sound!}

In the middle of listening to a Sunday sermon, I heard the phrase: GRACE & PEACE.

There’s a hymn about Amazing Grace….why not a hymn about Amazing Peace?

~~~

Amazing Peace 

[ sing to the tune of Amazing Grace ]

Amazing peace! It soothes my soul,

It guards and rules my heart,

When I am fixed on Jesus Christ,

His peace will not depart.

~~~

It’s peace that settles every fear

And binds me to His side,

A river flows within my soul

As deep as it is wide.

~~~

The Prince of Peace has overcome

This troubled world below

And peace from Jesus stays in me

Wherever I would go.

~~~

ideas for the song taken from:

John 16:33 |  Isaiah 9:6  |  Ephesians 4:3 |  Colossians 3:15 |  Philippians 4:7

~~~

(c) Lisa M. Luciano 2019

{ My Birthday Wrap-Up }

 

The girls and I got up early and snuck out to Ruby’s Roost,  a sweet little bakery with all the charm of a European sidewalk cafe. It’s run by an energetic family; I wonder how the mom / baker can be so model-skinny, even though she gets up before dawn and makes the most decadent pecan sweet rolls ever.

pecan stickies

We captured a quick photo; it was drizzling before the downpour:

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My husband and I ran out to a new local co-op for a smoothie…then I grabbed my free birthday drink at Caribou Coffee. 

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Flowers from my dear husband, who has joined me now for 30 birthdays ❤️

The best thing about my birthday this year was that it fell on a Saturday, and all of our working young adults were home…a rare day to cherish!

In the afternoon, we held Family Debates #1.

This new game was inspired by a raucously loud discussion 

 last week in the back of the van.

Everyone had a chance to debate a topic with a partner, and my husband and I picked a winner.

The one-minute debate topics included:

Which is more fun, snowboarding or longboarding? 

Which store is better, Aldi or Trader Joe’s?

Which is better, camping or watching sports? 

Which one is more fun, downhill skiing or swimming?

Which is better, almond milk or cow’s milk? 

(These topics are hotly debated at various times and with varying intensity throughout the year…)

Edible prizes were doled out to the winners.

And, everyone got a bonus prize at the end, just for participating, even though my husband thought that was a wimpy move…

…but, it was MY birthday.

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Thank you, God, for another year to live and love and serve my family!

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

 

 

{ God’s Gym }

muscles

Can I look at life trials like an athlete looks at barbells? She can’t weight to lift those heavy chunks of metal…because she knows they build muscle.

Here are 3 bodybuilding terms, tweaked for daily Christian living:

Gains

Gains = progress made. As an athlete builds endurance through hard work in the gym, a Christian builds endurance and patience by being exposed to difficult circumstances and responding in a spiritual way.  It’s not just being exposed to difficult times and people that achieves growth. Gains are made by exercising faith and obedience muscles –especially when it’s tough.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Weekend Warrior

There are people that hit the gym all week long, and there are people that only come a few hours on a weekend. Likewise, there are people sporadically go to church or read their Bibles and perhaps feel stirred…but never really change.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1: 22-25

Spotter

If you lift heavy weights in a gym, you may need a spotter. The spotter is there to prevent the weights from falling down and crushing you. Spotters may also boost the lifter’s morale by shouting encouraging phrases.

We need spiritual spotters — encouragers in life — to stand beside us as we lift emotional and spiritual weights. Spotters don’t do it for us, and they don’t tempt us to escape the gym. They are friends who stand alongside and encourage us to succeed. Their presence is comforting, helps us follow through, and prevents us from feeling crushed.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1Thessalonians 5:11

Finishing Well

Lord, by your grace and power, may I make consistent gains as I press on in the Christian life.
May I actively look for ways to encourage others.
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

 

Trials need not deplete me, they are used by God to complete me.

 

 

 

{ Happy Mother’s Day }

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God gave Minnesota moms a beautiful day on Mother’s Day 2019. Just because it was my day, I got to bring everyone along on a double trail walk. Then we came home and ate turtle tracks ice cream. Watch my son cringe as I say, “Noice…very noice.”

Mother’s Day is kind of like the Superbowl or Academy Awards for moms. And, the week before Mother’s Day can resemble an extended pre-game show — at our house, at least.

This predictable, annual phenomenon may include:

  • Family members choosing sporadic sociability over phone use. By this I mean that when I come into a room, they look up and smile. They pause a moment and cheerfully answer my “What was the highlight of your day?” and perhaps two other questions before glancing down at their phones again. They may look up again at me and smile yet again if I loiter.
  • My older daughters peppering me with questions the Sunday before Mother’s Day:
    • Mama, what do you want to do for Mother’s Day?
    • What do you want to eat?
    • If it rains and we can’t go for a walk, then what do you want to do?
    • What’s your favorite store?
  • My youngest boys showering me with gushing, matriarchal flattery. Their compliments and gift-giving escalate in intensity throughout the week:
    • Monday: Here’s a picture I made for you — You’re the best mom ever.
    • Tuesday: I’ll open the door for you, most excellent mother!
    • Wednesday: You’re the best mom that anyone in the whole world ever had.
    • Thursday: You’re the greatest person ever. Except for God.

When asked, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?”  there’s a teeny, tiny, selfish part of me that wants to spend *my day*  alone on a remote, sunny beach inhaling an entire bag of salt and vinegar ripple chips all by myself, choosing drinks from a cooler packed with my favorite kombuchas, and soaking in the sun where no will talk to me for 24 hours.

But that would feel empty, and it would be as silly as Superbowl athletes hiding from the crowds inside the locker room, or movie stars heading to the Oscars, makeup-less in their sweats.

This is Mother’s Day — a day to shine; embrace my precious, living gifts; receive a million hugs; and absorb the fleeting moments that God has given!

 

 

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord…
 Psalm 127:3

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My sister and I with our dear mother!