{ Who Said Love Is Pretty?}

Who said Love is pretty?
Love is not a fragile flower
Or a delicate blossom
Love is a stubborn weed that refuses to be uprooted.

Love is not a silky, elegant fabric
It’s a stained and sturdy tarp
A rough and lowly burlap

Love is a rusty anchor
A moss-covered boulder
A weatherbeaten barn.

Love has been through
Waves
Trials and
Storms
And love will be there forever.

Love gets
Wrinkled
Burned and
Scarred

But love is too busy
Doing
Working and
Praying
To look into the mirror

~~~
© Lisa M. Luciano 2020
Image by Bernhard Stärck from Pixabay

{ 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?”

 

{ Blunders, Blossoms & More }

 

 

 

This week, I finished two things.

  • I finished a writing project– an 1800-word health article. The problem with writing about health supplements is that when I complete one, it gets me thinking, “I need some of that!” So, the jar of herbal supplement pictured above came from Amazon this week. It’s supposed to suppress my sugar cravings?
  • I finished the book The Willpower Instinct, which I added to my Winter Reading Contest list.  What I liked: The author gives lots of practical tips on how to overcome bad habits. What I didn’t like: Modern scientist authors usually present evolution as a logically accepted, scientific fact. Interesting…because macro-evolution is not science.  It does not follow the scientific method, not being observable or repeatable. That said, other than these kinds of assumptions, I really liked the book. 🙂

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On Monday, we took a rare field trip to a local ski hill, since it was Homeschool Ski & Snowboard Day.  We were the first ones that showed up, arriving 1.5 hours before the chairlifts started lifting. Mark this day down in history.

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To go skiing, I wore the LL Bean jacket that my husband gave me 20+ years ago.  One lady remarked that she liked my vintage jacket.  A little girl asked me, “How do you take that thing off?”

I’m just glad I didn’t break any bones wearing it.

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Here I am with my two beginning skiers: Gianny & Marco.  They started their beginner lesson at 10:00. The teacher shooed the parents away, so I took to the hills with my 13-year old Ava.  After 20 minutes, I thought I’d go check on the boys.  We were halfway down a hill when I heard a familiar voice yelling, “Hi, Mama!”

Words cannot describe how surprised I was to see Marco on the chairlift, seated beside two strangers.  I had left him safely gliding down the bunny hill, supervised by a team of ski instructors. But now here he was, 20 minutes later, waving and smiling confidently from high on the chairlift.  A few thoughts went through my head:

  • Did he leave the hill and follow us without permission from the teacher?  
  • What is he thinking?  
  • How can I hurry up there and help him down the hill before he tries to ski down alone?

Then, Ava and I watched him sail down the hill like an expert.  The truth was: Marco did so well with his beginner lesson that the teacher graduated him early and told him to head to the chairlift and enjoy the hills. Whaaaa?!  After I recovered from the shock, it was clear to me that he was capable and fearless. It made me giggle to see his little beginner body cruise down the hills with ease. I still smile to think about it.  He’s got good Scandinavian blood, no fear and the faith of a child. 🙂

 

 

 

So, yesterday I didn’t make dinner. (Almost as rare as a day at the ski hill.)

I ate out with my younger children. because Chik Fil A was giving free sandwiches if you wear your MN Wild hockey jersey.

Later, I came home to a few grumpy, hungry and bewildered young adults that couldn’t seem to hunt and gather food for their dinner.

(These are the same young adults that are often out and about and don’t eat the dinner that I regularly make.)

The cupboard was a bit sparse, but we had eggs, milk, bread, butter and cereal.  And a few other things.  Let’s use our imagination?

Sigh.  Mama got mad and started to bang pans around in her bothered haste to make some food. Then she walked into her room where one of said young adults had, one hour earlier, gently laid three flower bouquets on the desk with a loving note attached.

Tears. Laughter. More tears. Hugs. Repentance all around and smiles.

After this, I happened to read through Dolly Mama’s blog post and shed more tears.

So…that was a slice of my life this week.

 

{ DIY & Dubious Thanksgiving }

Our Thanksgiving was a little different this year.

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My sister and family were spending the holiday with her in-laws. My brother and family live in San Diego now.  My single cousin Clee, who usually spends holidays with us, was with her brother’s family.

So, our guest list would simply be: my mother and her friend, Marlene. Marlene is a dear widow who is legally blind.  She is a classy dresser who wears red-rimmed cat-eye glasses.

In addition to the sparse guest list, we threw another curve ball when we told the children,

“This is a Do-It-Yourself Thanksgiving.  You can all plan one dish, buy the ingredients and prepare it yourself.”

Then, our oldest daughter mentioned that a Facebook acquaintance was in the area for Thanksgiving weekend: Nathan, a seminary grad student from Sri Lanka.

When my daughter asked if he could join us for Thanksgiving dinner, some of the other children seemed dubious…even shocked.

I regret to admit they said things like:

  • We don’t even know him.
  • He could be a weirdo.
  • Why would we invite someone we’ve never met?

So much for the Christian spirit of hospitality.

In the end, we all had a marvelous time:

  • Marlene and mom were excellent company and formidable game-players. We learned new things about both of them.
  • Everyone stepped up with the DIY dishes; we had abundant leftovers, as usual.
  • Nathan was friendly, intelligent and a definite non-weirdo. (If he’s writing a blog, I wonder what his prediction and assessment of us would be?)

So, I am thankful for uncertain opportunities, new friends, and rich experiences that help us grow!

I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.  I wonder how you spent it?

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. ~ 1 Peter 4:8-9

(c) Lisa M. Luciano

Photo Credit:  Zbysiu Rodak

{ Substitute Babysitter }

The Hillstroms from church needed a babysitter and my daughter couldn’t do it after all. She wouldn’t export her runny nose and annoying cough into the already stressed Hillstrom home.

Linzy was going to meet her husband Matt for marriage counseling, and their six active kiddos needed energetic supervision.

So I approached their country home, not knowing what to expect. I had never been there; never helped out. I was a little sketchy on all their names and I was out of my comfort zone.

First, we plunged into backyard hide-and-seek. Between games, we paused for show-and-tell breaks, like when Riley showed me his recent bow-and-arrow injury and Jojo pointed out the onions poking up in the garden. Then we returned to our crouched positions under the pine tree or behind the bikes in the shed. I huddled with the little ones, who squirmed and rustled and ruined the hiding places. Then we started all over again.

Suddenly, everyone grabbed their bikes, trikes and scooters and soared freely along the dusty, rural road. I strolled the baby, ready to redirect the parade if a car came along.

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I employed my former public school teacher’s voice and relied on 20+ years of motherhood to cope with minor scuffles and occasional sibling rivalry.

“Linzy is a good mom,” I thought as I served the meal on the stove to her happy, helpful kids. The able dish-doers scaled a wooden bench to reach the sink and finish the cleanup.

Next, Annie informed me of the house bedtime rules with a serious, spaghetti-stained face:

“You read us stories. And we can snuggle with our blankets. And then we brush our teeth.”

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As we wrapped up the bedtime routine, I thought:

“When was the last time I just played and read stories with my own children for 3 hours?”

It had been a busy, but pleasant evening.

When Linzy arrived home, I thought it was over.

But the next Sunday, I was assaulted with warm embraces and surrounded with sparkly smiles.

I was suddenly the famous, beloved babysitter of just one evening.

I had run around barefoot in the backyard.

I had read books and given hugs.

I had learned their names and the house rules.

And for these small things, I would be paid with loving looks for the rest of my life.

That’s a pretty good deal for a substitute babysitter.

(c) Lisa M. Luciano

Photo Credits:

Country Scene — Julian Schöll

Books — Robyn Budlender

{ No-Complain Campaign}

complain2My son is looking forward to winter ( 😲 ) and he wanted to find out when the nearest ski hill opens.  He scrolled and browsed, and started laughing out loud. Turns out he was reading customer reviews from last year.  One said:

“…lines were too long and too many reserved spots at chalet tables.  Mentioned this to staff but they didn’t care; they already had our money.”

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It’s never funny when we are the ones complaining.  And, there is definitely a time to speak up and bring grievances effectively to the right people.

But if we could take a step back and see ourselves, our knee-jerk complaints can sound rather whiny.

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In our griping, we often:

  • Assign wicked and evil motives to those who have wronged us in some way
  • Build up small slights into mountain-sized offenses

Looking inward, I see at least one thing about which I have complained over the weekend.

I complained in thought and I complained twice to friends yesterday at church.

(But…I had a smile on my face and did it somewhat creatively so that perhaps it didn’t seem like I was grumbling?)

But I was.

People complain collectively about everything, from the weather to politics to jobs to  whatever. When we make a habit of griping at home, our children catch the wave and join in.

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Fussing, grumbling, and complaining are things we are trying to discourage here at home.

Instead, we are hoping that words like “thank you” become an almost involuntary response.  We would like to foster a daily regimen of gratefulness and promote an anti-moan-&-groan manifesto.

But how can that happen if Mama is (overtly or covertly) whining or moping about circumstances?

Some clear reminders for me today in God’s Word:

  • Do all things without grumbling or disputing. Philippians 2:14
  • Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. James 5:9
  • Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Trying this week to advance a “no complain” campaign. Starting with the Mama in the mirror.

 

 

 

{ Parallel Pain }

A friend asked me to listen to a radio conversation about this….

Should a parent share her pain with her own children?

Would it help?

Would it wound?

Would it open walls?

Would it cleanse?

Would it explain?

Should a parent share his pain?

 

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

–Psalm 32:3

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad. –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

https://www.moodyradio.org/programs/chris-fabry-live/2018/04-2018/2018.04.16-sharing-a-parents-pain/

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

What do you think?

{ Children & Grownups }

children

Children cry, laugh, and rage;

Grownups stifle feelings.

Children express thoughts.

Grownups suppress them.

Children dance.

Grownups sit.

Children hug their best friends.

Grownups sip coffee across tables, asking polite questions.

Children love without fear and believe what seems impossible.

Grownups love guardedly, and believe only what they see.

Children embrace life,

And grownups fear death.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 18:3-4

{ Marriage Is Like Football? }

The Vikings won yesterday!

  • Will they make it all the way to Super Bowl LII –here in Minneapolis?
  • Will the Vikings break our hearts OR
  • Will they conquer as VIKINGS should do?

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On an entirely different note, some family friends are getting married next weekend.

Some of us are involved in the wedding as usher, best man, food server, etc.

Wedding talk and football discussions are mixing it all up around the house.  So, I thought it was time to put them together…

4 Ways a Christian Marriage is Like Football:

You wear your gear.

Ephesians 6:13-17

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

You play your position.

Every team needs players.  Is the offensive lineman better than the kicker?  They both have their important roles to play.

In our marriage, my husband acts as the general manager / head coach. He makes the final calls. But we both give our input.  I have a different perspective on things. He welcomes my input (and wants to make me happy.)  But, I allow him the right to make decisions and remind myself not to pout even if it all doesn’t go my way.

Ephesians 5:33

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Note: Does this sound strange to you?  Do I sound like a doormat?  I am a (fairly) normal, college educated, suburban raised, coffee consuming female.  I am not superwoman. I claim Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”

You follow the rules.

It would be easier to study and practice a list of stringent rules than to obey rules of love, given in I Corinthians 13.

It takes nothing less than the Spirit of Christ living in me to be patient, kind and humble when it would be more natural to respond selfishly.

This passage is a perfect marriage playbook:

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

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. 

 It’s great to have lots of people on your team.

Neither my husband nor I grew up in a large family.  But when we got married, we decided we would take as many children as God would give us.

Eleven children later, we are grateful.

They are gifts.  They are tools God uses to refine our character.  We have our good days and bad days.  We are a one income family and work hasn’t always been steady. But we have never regretted this decision.

Psalm 127:3 “Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.”

 © Lisa M. Luciano

 

 

 

{ Experiments & Eternal Eyes }

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Note in code to my son.

Little boys and their dreams.

His face lights up, telling me about drones, magic tricks, or how he wants to begin a new business fixing things.

This won’t go on forever; someday he will be doing instead of dreaming. So instead of zoning out, tonight I prefer to embrace his experiments and enthusiastic chatter.

My little boy said, “Can I borrow some liquid soap?”

“What for?”

“I want to isolate some DNA.”

Pretty impressive, and found on page 62 of Show Off: How to Do Absolutely Everything. One Step at a Time.

It’s the perfect book for little boys to “amaze, investigate, create, explore, cook, and move.”

Now, they need a mama with plenty of patience and applause as they try, discover, build and do…

Oh Lord, please give me eternal eyes, patient eyes, to remember that my little guy will be little for a very short time.  Help me to nurture his dreams and encourage the gifts You have given him.

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