ANOTHER MILITARY MOVE By Lori A Alicea

It’s only been three years this time.

Three years to meet the neighbors and become a block of friends and family.
Three years for the kids to find their group of friends in

Soccer

 

Gymnastics
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Church
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Dance
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Girl Scouts
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Three years to become part of the children’s school as room mother.

 

Three years to find all the hideaway running and bicycle trails to adventure on.
2019 england fathers day adventure 7Three years to add another baby to the family portrait.

 

Three years to remodel a fixer-upper to make a house a home.
IMG_8538It’s been only three short years and it is time to pull the tent-spikes from their temporary home as the Army orders for our son and family have been served and it’s now time for another military move.

 

Home is your safe place, your place of refuge.
IMG_8537Home is where you hang your hat.
Home is where you can be yourself.
Home is that door post where you keep a record of your children’s growth chart.
Home is that table of family dinners and conversation.
Home is that bed of sweet dreams where only your pillow and blanket will do.
Home is your address where memories are made.

Home is that backyard created for children in mind.

To swing.

 

To sit by the campfire.

 

Home is a set of front steps that welcome you with open arms after being gone all day, or a seat where children eat their morning breakfast of donuts.
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But duty calls and now it’s time to say goodbye.
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It’s time to pack up the house and forward the mail. It’s a time to say goodbye to the friends, the familiar, your favorite coffee shop, the usual route to work.  It’s a time to hug that faithful babysitter you entrusted with your children.  It’s time to find a new home for the outside cat that welcomed you in the neighborhood three years ago and never left.
USE THIS CATBeing a member of the military you accept their core values, and one of them is honor.

Regarding honor, the Army states that:

Honor is the one that embodies all the others. Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do.”

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It’s that selfless service putting America first that makes serving in the military so hard. But you embrace the call and grace to serve your country well with pride and great courage.

Serving your country requires great sacrifice, especially family ties that must endure the heart’s tug of war of those frequent goodbyes. As grandparents we must be willing to let our grandchildren go with love and joy as the call to serve is a family affair.

This past weekend my husband and I spent many hours driving to bring our four babies home so we could reunite the cousins who haven’t been together for over three years. We wanted this special time together as a family before our military babies leave again for another three year journey, much farther than ever before.  They won’t be within driving reach anymore and we will rely on technology to watch them grow.

How the faces of our little loves have changed since the last sleepover three years ago. A few of our grandchildren weren’t even born yet.

 

We had to get one last bike ride in for the memory books. And so much more.
IMG_0181These four faces will be unrecognizable in three years from the smiles we see today. Letting go is bittersweet.  We can’t be selfish to hold them back, but a grandparent’s heart tells us to scoop them in our arms and never let go.
IMG_0184In times of sadness we lean on our faith in God, as he has mapped out our lives, he’s ordered our steps. God has a great big wonderful plan if we’d trust him and embrace it.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.   Psalm 37:23 (KJV)
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If our steps are ordered; and God loves us more than we could imagine, then who are we to argue with God in this military move.
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SUMMER MEMORIES WITH MOM By Lori A Alicea

Mother celebrated her 79th birthday over the 4th of July weekend.  Surrounded by her life-long friend and beloved family decorated in the trimmings of the holiday, we honored the beginning of another year with our mother.

When you get to be 79 years of age and have blown out a few more candles than you dare to count and try to recollect if all your wishes have come true, at the end of the day you are just so thankful to God for life and its abundance.

With mother seated in front of her homemade birthday cake, I remember all the years as a child I sat before the cake mother made for me.

 As those gathered around mother began to sing in unison the chorus of Happy Birthday, mother’s eyes went “to and fro” looking into those faces that sang to her. For a brief few seconds, mother’s countenance seemed to fade into the moment and I wondered where she went in her thoughts, I wondered what was she thinking?

Was she remembering birthdays past where life was different for her, where she could still walk unassisted, leave the house and drive, make her own decisions, frequent her favorite restaurant for a cup of coffee, sleep under the covers of her own bed or enjoy her life outside the four walls of the nursing home?

Watching mother during her birthday song, it’s hard not to want her birthday wish to be free from her wheel chair and oxygen. While always believing for miracles and change, the desire of God for all of us is to be thankful and content in the current chair we sit in.

Every year celebrating another birthday with mother, I always stop and give thanks for that treasure trove of remembrances I’ve shared with her, especially our summer ones that still remain packed in the picnic basket of my memory.

Fourteen years ago I wrote about one of those summer memories with mom. Every now and then it’s refreshing to dig out the old picture albums and recall those life moments you remembered, though not in its detail.

Like the stories my mamaw and papaw used to repeat to me over and over yet I joyfully listened as if for the first time, this might be the same for you as some of my favorite “stories” probably have been repeated a few times over, at least in its essence.

In honor of the woman that gave me life, I dust off an old album from my summer past with mother and read in detail and childhood delight, hoping it sparks a childhood memory of your own.

SUMMER IN A JAR
By Lori A. Alicea

With family vacations, summer sports and fairs coming to town, you might not have noticed that Christmas has snuck in the back door of some stores, sounding the alarm that winter is around the corner.  By the time most of us are snuggling up in that first fall sweater, we might be asking ourselves, “Where did the summer go?”  For those who’d like to hold onto summer a little longer, did you know it’s possible to capture the essence of this season in a bottle, labeling it “summer in a jar?”

Growing up, backyard gardens, cornfields and fruit markets were common neighborhood sights.
corn field along roadWith breezes carrying them in, the smells of summer welcomed itself through open windows, evident in the slight waves of the curtains.
open windowStrawberries, peaches, apples and grapes, all waiting for someone to take them home from the fruit market down the street.  As a little girl the aroma of this seasonal shop was so delicious, fruit juices could be tasted just by breathing.
IMG_1845Mother would buy these farmer spoils by the flat, bushel and bucket, bringing them home to create jams, jellies and frozen fruit for future homemade pies.
IMG_1846The pantry off from the kitchen displayed my mother’s mid-year labors, as I fantasized over them in the winter pretending they were “summer in a jar”.
strawberry jamFrom June through August, we five sisters helped mother prepare fruit for her signature jams, giving into temptation to eat more fruit than we prepared.  Though our mouths revealed the sticky evidence of our crime, mother didn’t scold us, rather kept focused as she boiled fruit on her Magic Chef stove.  Still boiling hot, blue Mason jars were filled then sealed with melted paraffin wax.  Mother’s creations eventually lined the pantry shelves when they cooled, waiting for winter to come.

It’s hard to appreciate kitchen art when the thermostat reads above 90 degrees.  But light the fireplace one frosty December morning, and top a fresh baked biscuit smothered in butter with homemade jam, those early hours might usher in a smell of summer with fruit so fresh you’d think they were recently picked.

As an adult, I am saddened that subdivisions have taken over the neighborhood, leaving farmer fields a figment of my imagination.  Kitchen curtains don’t fly in the wind of open windows as air conditioners keep them closed.  Fruit markets are a novelty now, canning isn’t a way of life, and out of five sisters, I’m the only one that cans, bakes bread and finds pleasure in homemade anything.

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But for me, my homemade effort’s brings back time with mom and memories of yesterday, when I go the extra mile to see my shelves full of “summer in a jar”.

SUMMER DAYS OF OLD By Lori A Alicea

Flipping through the old vintage calendars of the late sixties, early seventies, I can still recall bits and pieces of those hot summer days of my childhood that lasted from June until Labor Day, a holiday signaling summers end and the first day of school.

When June 1st came though and the school bell rang for the very last time after a half-day of kids cleaning out their desks, a mass exodus of screaming and jubilant students burst through the doorways in celebration, starting the clock of their long anticipated three month vacation from studying and tests. Labor Day might as well been a year from then as it seemed so far away on the eve of summer vacation.  The calendar weeks that followed were scheduled fun around family, kids and so much more.  But first on the minds of many kids, including myself, is that tomorrow morning, we’re all sleeping in.

Remembering the summer days of old replays my 8 mm memories of a simpler life void of distractions.  Technology wasn’t common place back then.  Communication between loved ones was intimate and face to face, or sentiments handwritten in a letter to those living a distance away.  Microwaves weren’t common place either back in the day and we didn’t miss it as we weren’t in a hurry, and the meals weren’t hurried either because the dinner table was an oasis where families spent time reconnecting with one another after the hours of the day spent apart.  Most houses in our neighborhood didn’t boast of central air, but box fans in the open windows and thru the unlocked screen front door circulated a cool breeze throughout the rooms most days.

Born into a family of six children, we didn’t have much, but we didn’t know it either. We shared our hand-me-down clothes and shared three bedrooms between the six of us.  I don’t ever recall feeling crowded sleeping in a room with two other sisters.  What we lacked in material things we made up for it in love; love for God and love for one other.

Summer season always kicked off with a community little league parade of baseball players loaded up in the backs of a caravan of pickup trucks with the town fire station leading the way in a blaze of sirens. Ball players threw candy into the crowds lined along the streets while the parade made its way through town ending its route at the little league field, welcoming folks of all ages excited for opening day with the first smells of hot buttered popcorn.

For as long as I remember, my brother played baseball during our summer break. His wool-blend uniform appeared stifling in the scorching June heat but the true  love of baseball overshadowed any irritations.  I loved watching the crowded concession stands of Babe Ruth wannabes  buying and stuffing their mouths with wads of bubble gum that came wrapped with a baseball card, all hoping for that desirable rookie of their favorite team.

Mother always made sure we kids attended a week of vacation bible school. Back in the day when mothers didn’t work, scores of children lined the church steps at 9:00 am where selected boys and girls carrying the American Flag, the Christian Flag and the Bible led the way into the sanctuary for a few songs before class.

Vacation bible school was about getting kids excited to learn and watch those famous bible stories come to life on flannel graphs, following up with related crafts, and snacks. Walking single file for a brief recess outside, I loved being a kid passing the church kitchen table reaching for a Styrofoam cup of Kool-Aid and cookies stacked in twos.  Best of all, the five days of vacation bible school ended with a Friday night celebration where parents enjoyed a program presented from each class, then traveled room to room to see their child’s work from the week on display.

In addition to vacation bible school, mother diligently saved through the year so we girls could attend a week of church camp located a few hours away. Girls from all over the state enjoyed cabin living, swimming, hiking, boating, crafts, bible lessons and the best food ever served in the mess hall.  Mornings began around the flag pole where prayers welcomed the day.  In the evening seated in an outdoors theatre type setting in full view of the lake and a campfire, we enjoyed Vespers together, a time of singing and preaching.  I gave my heart to Jesus at church camp one summer, remembering the moment like it happened an hour ago.

The summer days of old is a scrapbook of many moments; planned and spontaneous.  As a child I never took for granted the lifetime memories my mother planned during our years of summer vacation.  But those spontaneous “out of the blue” summer surprises delighted me also.  Like the unexpected times when dad told mother to load up the station wagon with us kids for a short trip to town, where carhops served and perched a tray of frosty mugs of root beer on your “partially rolled down” window.  I also treasured those unplanned Sunday family nights at the outdoor Drive-In where the latest G-Rated movie for kids was being shown.  During those hot summer days, dad would every now and then spring for seven soft-serve cones from the mint green ice-cream truck travelling the neighborhood; one for each of us six kids and one for the dog.

Summer wouldn’t be complete without our July 4th celebration.  That particular day Dad was busy in the backyard grilling BBQ ribs and mother could be found in the kitchen preparing corn on the cob, watermelon and her famous sweet tea.  We always thanked God for freedom amid our family seated around the dinner table.  At night the neighborhood gathered together, setting up their blankets and lawn chairs on an open lot of our town square to enjoy the firework festivities.  We kids delighted to share a few boxes of sparklers, as many other kids that 4th of July.  Neighbors and old friends conversed from blanket to blanket catching up on summer news and plans for back-to-school shopping.  Though privately the light display saddened me as the mid-air explosions of fireworks reminded me of war and “bombs bursting in air”, I still found room to relish my siblings and firework show.

In the sixties and early seventies of my younger childhood summers, these memories remain as a sweet slice of watermelon, retaining their taste in my mouth as those simple pleasures of a simple summer, staying the times and hidden in the heart of a simple little girl as her
summer days of old.

IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH By Lori A Alicea

… I take thee,
To have and to hold from this day forward,
For better or for worse,
For richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
From this day forward,
Until….

Our wedding vows;

Our sacred promises we speak from the deepest well of our soul, vowing to one another for life and before God on our wedding day.

Our heart’s oath spoken at a holy altar, promising to love and to cherish thee thru whatever comes our way, from this day forward, until…

Weddings are an exquisite “painting of a thousand words.”

Details too many for a single sentence, fill up a bride’s journal as she displays her heart in the volumes of pages.

Wedding couples experience a whirl wind of excitement in the months prior of  planning and preparation. They are overcome by euphoria when a fairy tale comes to life on their wedding day.  Sometimes though the wedding hype overshadows the sacredness and life-long commitment they are making during their marriage ceremony that a couple’s wedding vows might be glossed over as mere words mirrored back when the minister states, “Repeat after me”.

Long after the wedding dress is dry-cleaned and the thank-you cards have all been mailed, reality returns and life begins for two people who promised to

Have and to hold each other, from this day forward,
Until….

Life begins and life happens.

Real life isn’t the picture perfect moments posed and portrayed in your wedding album. Yes, married life is beautiful, wonderful and worth it all.  Speaking from a marriage kissed by God, we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this October.

But in real life you can’t photo shop the disagreements, the misunderstandings, the unexpected bills, the attitudes and the mundane weeks.

The hardships of real life tests your heart’s commitment to those wedding vows
For better or for worse,
Until…

It’s easy to stay married
In the better,
In the richer,
In the health,
And in the love.

Baring the extreme and justifiable circumstances, many couples give up on marriage because they have created a back door called “Until…”

They stay until
The better becomes worse,
The rich becomes poor,
The health becomes sickness,
The love becomes unlovely.

 Yet marriages surviving a lifetime are committed in the “until…”

Lasting marriages dig their heels in the tough times until
They lock arms in the “drought seasons of not enough” until
They wage war and fight thru battles of sickness, loving and holding on to each other until…
They love without condition no matter how unlovely until…
A man and woman committed in the until…
Stand as one
until….
death they do part.

Forty-plus years ago my brother married his high school sweetheart. They met and fell in love at a youth sponsored roller skating event and have been together ever since.

Forty-plus years ago my brother and his high school sweetheart stood at an old fashioned altar and vowed:

To have and to hold each other from this day forward,
For better or for worse,
For richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish,
From this day forward,
Until….

 My brother and his wife have enjoyed true love in marriage, though encountering their share of ups and downs.
They have rejoiced in the good times as well as the bad.
They have known plenty. They have known lack.
But through it all, I’ve never seen them more committed.

The back door of escape called until doesn’t exist in their house.
Especially when you witness them honoring their vows of

 In sickness and in health.

 Both have known serious sickness.
Sadly, sickness still wages war on their health yet they remain standing firm on the front lines, fighting for life today.
Both rejoice and hold tight to their unshakeable faith that God still heals and keeps his promises.
2019 houle mark and connie rainbowTo speak with them by telephone or by text, you leave the conversation more uplifted as they are the ones encouraging you.
2019 houle mark and connieA true testimony of love and courage in the until…

The hardships of real life tests your heart’s commitment to those wedding vows
For better or for worse.

 That bride and groom who remain in the trenches and fight those battles which wage war for their marriage,

Together will always see the better in the worse,
Will feel richer in the poor,
Will experience health in the sickness,
Will know true love to cherish,
From this day forward,
While staying committed in the
until….

THE CHAMPION WITHIN By Lori A Alicea

In all of us is a Champion Within.

A champion aspiring gold, setting their sights to receive the prize.

We are all born a champion.
No matter our age;
the young, the old,
and middle age,
we are born a champion and retain champion status for a lifetime.
USE Brystol baby on barsYour champion is in there.

You know what I’m talking about. That gnawing on the inside keeping you up at night, nagging and bothering you to unveil those gifts and talents you were given upon your birth announcement.

A quiet confidence that dares to tell the world from the highest mountain,

“I was born for this!”

And you were.

We are all born for greatness, born to do great things for a big God who has a great big plan for our life.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
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While talents are a gift from God, God does demand a response from our talents.

Leo Buscaglia is quoted as saying:

“Your talent is God’s gift to you.
What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

 Along the highways and byways of our life’s tour, God is booking opportunities and preparing stages for our performances. We must diligently study and practice over and over to show ourselves approved during rehearsal.  But when that curtain rises and the audience applause begs for our appearance, we must be ready when God calls us to take our stage.

As John Wooden warns us:
“When opportunity comes, it is too late to prepare.”

As an athlete trains, we too must work the muscles of our talents, submitting our bodies to discipline and self-control, toiling in the gym for hours so the athlete emerges a Champion Within.

Day in and day out, wherever we are, we enlist our talents to the bootcamps of training.

God looks and watches for those esteemed as His faithful in secret.

God rewards and increases those talents we display and frame in our excellence.

When the day finally comes and God calls us to take our stage for His glory,
USE THIS Brystol on matAll of those hours of discipline and diligence will reward a prize
to the
Champion Within.

Our talents and gifts are given to us by God, to be used for God in the plan he has prepared for our lives.

As parents teaching their children, we are to:

Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6 AMP

A word of wisdom for ourselves and our children using their abilities and talents for God’s Kingdom Stage,

 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:14 NIV

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A FATHER’S DAY GIFT of Family By Lori A Alicea

Have you ever had one of those nostalgic days, reminiscing thru a box of old photographs, reliving and getting lost in the “good-old days”?

We’ve all taken those unexpected trips down memory lane. Those private family reunions that trigger pieces and fragments of memories you thought were forgotten though discovered while sifting through the stacks of 4” x 6” snapshots cluttered in your lap.

Handfuls after handfuls of years shuffled through your fingers like a deck of cards, laughing at the old hair and clothes styles worn “back in the day”, and drooling over those vintage cars parked in the driveway.

Where did the time go?

You don’t want to live in the past, but sometimes revisiting former addresses of your life will turn back the clock of wonderful reminders, especially when you stumble on that one picture which catches you off guard and stirs an unexpected pause and thought, “Take me back.”

“Now this was a perfect day”, you mumble under your breath while holding a moment “frozen in time” thru an old photograph.   With a sigh you stare into the details, the people, the faces, the surroundings, savoring and longing to return to what you remember so clearly as a perfect day.

Pictures can do this. They are time capsules that help you remember what we so easily forget, our treasures in relationships, traditions and celebrations unearthed thru the pixels of a family photograph.

I have one of those pictures. A family gathering of a summer BBQ, an unassuming day I didn’t truly appreciate until I stumbled upon it years later, yet in my opinion could be remembered as one of those perfect days.

Gosh, if old photographs could come back to life, I’d love it to be this one. Though our portrait doesn’t paint a complete family gathering as some members couldn’t attend or live out of state, a few marriages hadn’t made their trip to the altar and a few children still waited their turn to be born or adopted.  Yet a day enjoyed on the lush green acreage of our home where every smile has a story written in the book of our family history, smiles that warm our hearts as eyes peruse each face posing for the camera.

Our snapshot of mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, grandchildren and canine friends; though not all blood related, family nevertheless, doing life and sharing life together on a beautiful summer afternoon.

Family is a priceless gift to open and be thankful for this Father’s Day.

Gazing this sunny day picture, I am thankful that our parent’s didn’t stop having children until there were six of us, even though the expenses and responsibilities piled up quickly with each child taking their place in the family.

I cherish those four sisters I grew up with, sisters I fought with, shared clothes, bedrooms and secrets with. As adults we shared our hopes and dreams and passed our children around to be spoiled.

Not pictured but I can’t forget about our big brother who cried every time mother brought home another baby sister, but learned to love us, scam us out of our allowance and protect all five of us when a big brother needed to.

Seated in this picture I celebrate the extended borders of our family that include our nanny and papa, their children and grandchildren we adopted as our own, to share holidays, birthdays and everyday moments with, even seeing a “family resemblance” as that’s what love can do when you open your hearts to others not rooted in your family tree. My heart swells hearing both families honoring each other as aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandma, nanny, papa, or cousin though not a drop of blood connects us.

Standing in the back row holding our sweet granddaughter I find my handsome husband whom I love beyond words. A man I have chosen to do “life with” as long as I have breath.  A man who has loved me in ways I never imagined possible, someone who holds the key to my heart forever and someone I am growing old together with.

Seated are three of our adorable grandchildren. I delight the thought of those grandchildren not pictured just yet as their births are still a well-kept secret with God.  I love that pictures keep your grandchildren small, yet a sad reminder of how fast they grow right out of your arms and lap.

My beautiful daughter holding her first born son sits right up front where she loves to be center of attention; a young woman and Toys R Us Kid whose little girl inside refuses to grow up, a gift for which I love her most for.

Don’t think you can hide from me son. Your gorgeous smile stands out like your “big guns”.  You’re as handsome as your father and have become like him in the sweetest of ways.  Thank you for marrying and adding your wife to the family portrait.  She is a gift wrapped as a daughter, our daughter.

Two sisters and their families have a special place in this picture and we can’t imagine life and family events without them.

Marley, our daughter’s annoying yappy dog stands in the photograph’s center. I promise you Marley I had nothing to do with your lost whereabouts.  Papa swears he doesn’t know how you wound up missing and we hope you found a loving new family since we last seen you barking in the busy road of cars.

Yes, if old photographs could come back to life, I’d love it to be this one on Father’s Day.

Marley would still be barking in the road and driving Papa crazy.

Bon Bon would still be here humming and working her word puzzles (our sister’s mother ‘n law Bonnie).

Papa would still have his beloved wife nanny.
Mother would still have her hilarious husband Roger.
We kids would still have you dad.

But life doesn’t stand still; it was never meant to stand still.

An Australian Proverb is quoted:
We are all visitors to this time, this place.
We are just passing through.
Our purpose here is
to observe,
to learn,
to grow,
to love…
And then we return home.

But while we are here living on this earth, in the moment, for the only moment we have in the now. May cameras be always flashing, recording pictures for a permanent remembrance of those faces called family, those loved ones seated next to us around the dinner table breaking bread.

Keep your family ties knotted tight.
Capture your family doing life together; in the planned and spontaneous.
As:
Pictures can capture celebrations.
Pictures can capture a day in great detail.
Pictures can capture our moments in time.
But pictures can’t hold back time from passing through.

This Father’s Day and every day, I honor and open the gift of family God has blessed me with.  I pray you share the same sentiment.

I reminisce and will always be grateful for life depicted in pictures taken of my family past.
I will enjoy today and not take for granted life depicted in pictures taken of my family present.
And will always be willing to extend my borders to include my family future.

Count your blessings and notice them all in your todays,
as tomorrow your “todays” will take its place in a time capsule buried as an old photograph.

ON WHOSE SHOULDERS WE STAND By Lori A Alicea

A tap on the shoulder changed everything.

Our son was struggling in middle school. But all it took was a tap on the shoulder and a few encouraging words by his running coach to chart a new course for his life’s direction. “Find a new group of friends and watch your running career take off.”

That same son, who was failing in his grades as a freshman, graduated high-school with a GPA this mother could smile about. All because a friend patiently tutored him to success.

jake high school

Fast forward seventeen years as Walter Reed Hospital is about to graduate another class of Army prosthodontists. It’s with a parent’s humility that we applaud not only the dedication and perseverance of our son to achieve such accolades, but we stand in humble appreciation and gratitude at the tower of shoulders upon which he stands– those friends, family, coaches, mentors and pastors who poured into our son’s life along the way.
Article Jake and MajorSir Isaac Newton was once quoted as saying, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

Remembering a parent’s apprehension as our high-school graduate left home for college with a partial running scholarship then the military to climb this Mt. Everest dream of changing smiles as a dentist, a parent always wonders–while never saying it out loud–, “Did our nineteen-year-old dream too big?”

Yet we continued to cheer him on from the sidelines with our ongoing support for our dreamer, while he ran another race and climbed the next difficult mountain of his ambitions.

We can all look over our shoulders and realize the destinies we have arrived at are because of those who ran alongside us, sacrificing their time, patience, finances, wisdom, and the belief that they could make a difference in our life.

May we never stand on graduation day and think we stand alone. In deep humility, may we step aside so that the many shoulders we stand on come into full view and receive the applause and honor so due them.

Before our son adds a new credential to his name, I have reminded him to never forget those that sent care packages, guided, prayed or mentored him through those arduous years in college or deployment.  That their seeds sown into his field become the driving force of his Life’s Mission Statement to forever pay it forward as a seed sower, so that others might be blessed as he has been blessed.
Article Jake and KuwaitAnd to sear into his memory the years of sacrifice his wife and kids have paid to serve with him in the military.  That the medals he received serving on foreign soil be shared as their medals for serving on the front lines of home without him, keeping a light burning in the window until his safe return.

To never take for granted when “country came first” the lonely stretches of time his platoon “holding down the fort” gave while serving with smiles and support, yet with the cost of many nights crying themselves to sleep missing their daddy and husband so terribly.

To never forget and be indebted for a lifetime, to that tower of shoulders upon which he stands, with a bit of wisdom to guide him,

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”-Albert Einstein
cova and Daddy