A TABLE SET BEFORE US! By Lori A Alicea

During the joyous season of the holidays, we all find ourselves sitting in a seat at a table set before us.

Taking our seat where every place setting represents a life in the family, friendship or meaningful relationship around the table.USE 2018 alicea xmas kids 14

While Hallmark movies present a picture perfect table for the holidays; in reality, the table of gathering is uniquely set from every heart of the home.USE xmas table

The simplicity of our father’s Christmas table served homemade cookies and cakes prepared from the hands of a widower of many years.

Missing my father and his modest traditions so terribly, I continue to drive by his house every December 24th in the evening, opening the greeting card of Christmas past from across the street, reminiscing through the kitchen window and listening for laughter still baked in the walls when we daughters shared a few hours with dad around his table.

In mother’s later years of life in the nursing home, we girls would join her and the other residents and their guests for a Christmas meal together.

The love of the host overflowed onto her decorated tables for those she served everyday throughout the years, regardless that many of the residents had lost their capacity to appreciate the thoughtfulness in her details.

But God sees the unnoticed and receives it all as if you had done it unto Him.

Somebody loved our mother as we sat with her around the table those remaining December’s of her life; a gift we will treasure for Christmas’ to come.

Some tables set in December have a few tears of sadness sprinkled with the faux snow spread around the winter centerpiece scene, when those seated next to them are thousands of miles away in thought with those they’re unable to be together with during the holidays.

One Christmas, our son ate his holiday meal on the other side of the world from us, actually a day in advance from us while serving his country in the military; although the miles were bridged when a homemade gift from our officer’s hands arrived in the mail the day after Christmas.

A mother’s heart was full during a long and lonely year she hadn’t hugged her son for months.

How do you set a table of Christmas for a mother you’re unable to reach when the doors aren’t opening to visitors?TABLE Ate Alone

Where do you find the magic of Christmas when mother’s seat at the table is void of her being; well, at least at her earthly table? Mother found her reserved place at heaven’s banquet table the moment she opened her eyes to Jesus.

Mother’s presence remains in the traditions she created for her children and grandchildren, and in her seat at the card table I now sit at when she left us for a better place.  

My husband and I are like little children waiting to wake up on Christmas morning together, believing God to redeem the season from one year ago when David ate his holiday meal from the tray of his hospital bed, while separated from me as I sat alone at my table that December evening because of sickness too.ava at xmas

Regardless of every table set before us…

Christmas will always be about a baby born in a manger, and the joy that filled the earth when our Savior cried for the very first time in His mother’s arms.

God is faithful to us during the holidays, and every day.

God is near to the brokenhearted whose covenant love will reach a thousand generations.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 NIVUSE church

For Christmas this year, I’m setting tables.

While I love the sparkle and twinkle of a beautifully set table, I won’t miss the unexpected opportunities to set a table of simplicity as my father once did for us daughters each Christmas Eve, serving cookies and love on a plate for those seated around his table.

USE xmas at dads

HAPPY IN HIS WORK! By Lori A Alicea

He seemed so happy in his work.

An unassuming window washer brightening up the view of rooms overlooking an ocean through the crystal clear panes he sparkled that day; performing a task most prefer to hire out, yet doing so with a notable smile.4CB60941-5C85-4D22-A9A2-CD616CEC1C78

Exhausted from the weeks of our packing and barely mustering a smile while deep cleaning the stove, the joy of a window washer caused me to re-think my bad attitude with a comment of curiosity, ”You seem so happy in your work.”

D9259B8C-835D-4BCE-85BF-25BA9C97753A

The son of a window washer responded as a high school sophomore beginning his career.

Charging a dollar a window back then to a business attorney, this student would pass an exam he didn’t know he was taking, and reap the rewards of a hard day’s work.

Impressed with a young man’s ethics, the honest attorney revealed a market place estimate of $800 for washing his windows; a salary he then paid to a high school sophomore.

Going forward as a regular customer, the attorney mentored this entrepreneur in the matters of business.

Now recently graduating with a degree in engineering,  I inquired of this young man’s business of washing windows.

Referring to the two apprentices he brought along that day, the window washer warmed my heart when he stated the business was being gifted to them; a husband and wife team he’d been mentoring in the matters of business; yes, sowing in another man’s field as an attorney once did for him.121F4CE7-1713-4723-974D-F0C2053AFE61

The seeds of a generous business attorney was now reaping a harvest into a third generation of window washers; all happy in their work.

I once read:

”If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Words I believe must have been inspired by a high school sophomore washing windows.13B564DF-A1FF-490C-9AFD-4571EA96F134

LEAVING THE ISLAND By Lori A Alicea

All I had was twenty-one days to unpack those stowaway hugs and kisses with not a moment to spare.  The pendulum of a grandmother’s clock would sway and tick in perfect harmony with the seconds I had remaining with those four precious grandchildren I flew ten hours over the ocean to see.

B45D70B3-11B0-4489-B961-4939CFF0188B

Such has been the the life while visiting my military children and grandchildren, where an hourglass of sifting sands measures our borrowed time together; a constant vigil in plain sight from the mantle of a grandmother’s heart.

The mirror of our portraits taken reflects the passage of more than a decade, yet fails to reveal the months we’ve sadly missed and spent apart due to the long and winding miles which separate.

growing up dc kids

7CAA05CD-0A2B-4F87-A44A-82BF525E163C

But following your military family from “move to move” has given me a Tom Sawyer adventure I wouldn’t have sought out on my own.  The orders of our officer son has taken him from the mountains to the islands, with the nation’s capital in between; and this grandmother has been blessed to go along for the ride.world jake and baby cova with mountains behind 1

england jake surfingThe islands have been a page torn and written from a place so different than my own.  Most kids ride their bicycles to school; or walk the twenty minute stretch each way as I did with my grandchildren.  Shoes are optional (seriously); at church, at school, even at Starbucks and chickens run freely and are an unassuming part of the landscape as squirrels are where I live.

The breathtaking view of our son’s back yard is the once-in-a-lifetime sandbox for our grandchildren.  The memories they’ve made with a pail, a shovel and an afternoon in the sun.

286134FD-D3C2-4432-8572-B71AA939D559

The islands haven’t been my favorite place to visit, but now as the moving boxes are being packed once again, I’m almost sad for myself that I failed to see the beauty of this tropical place.

My private moments along the sandy shores of the ocean will be terribly missed as the music of the waves comforted my lonely soul when I longed for those missing me on the mainland.  This song will forever play in my mind.The final sands of the hourglass have all sifted into a mound of borrowed time and the pendulum of this grandmother’s clock has struck midnight for the final evening with my military babies.
D6A069C7-96F9-44DD-80BA-E24D8DAF9DCF

In a few short hours they will walk far from my view and even further from the reach of my hugs.  The thought is almost unbearable at times.
C29C4BDB-FA2E-47B1-AA79-F994C1B43437

I went to each of my babies rooms to have one final moment before kissing them good-night. 

How do you keep it together when your little boy begs you to stay for five more weeks? 

My oldest granddaughter had no words but her moistened eyes spoke volumes.

Then there’s those little girls who didn’t really understand I was leaving until they woke up crying when they couldn’t find me that following morning.

The dam of my heart almost burst at the airport when my son inquired how the kids did during our final good-by.  But the floods overtook me as I gazed out the window during an early morning phone call with my husband, wishing for a return flight into my grandchildren’s arms.
C954AA48-5F6E-4126-A3CF-6ABDF5C33477

With layovers and connecting flights, I arrived back home on the mainland almost a complete day later (at least it seemed), with a bit of my husband’s heart waiting for me upon my return.  I wouldn’t see him until later that afternoon when our reunion took place in the parking lot of his work.
C1373715-C0B4-4604-BA94-0283609F473C

The void of my heavy heart will linger for days until I reacquaint myself with the daily steps of my routine. 

I long though for the island where my Hawaiian babies continue to live at their new address until next summer.  The thoughts of my grandchildren will consume me until I release them back to God and reach for His peace until we are back together once again for an hourglass of borrowed time.

My son’s new orders will relocate his family in a few short months and the Tom Sawyer adventure of this grandmother continues, wherever the military ride will take me.7CAA05CD-0A2B-4F87-A44A-82BF525E163C

HE IS FAITHFUL TO HIS PROMISES! By Lori A Alicea

God is everywhere.

The same God I encounter on the mainland has followed me to this tropical island so many miles away from home.

He carries my luggage of innermost thoughts wherever I travel, encouraging me thru His promises to trust and travel light.

I don’t have to share my innermost thoughts to anyone, as God is always reminding me through others, through circumstances, or even a simple rainbow, that He hears my heart and will be faithful to His Word. C91006D8-92CC-4A9E-AB9B-CC6BE36A680A

In the Bible days of Noah after God had destroyed the sinful world of people through a flood, He entered into a covenant with Noah never to destroy all life again with water, hanging a beautiful rainbow in the sky of this promise for our reminder.

I’ve never seen it rain without a rainbow; even after the mist of a tiny cloudburst in the afternoon.

And God said, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between you and me and the earth…never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” Genesis 9:13-15 NIV

Our hearts are safe in the hands of a faithful God; even those secret cares most mothers keep hidden in the pockets of her apron.

I remember not too long ago I was quietly having a conversation with God on my way to church concerning the secret cares in my pocket; reaching deep and lifting them up and asking Him once again regarding my prayers, “How long must I wait?”

I found this encouragement just today on social media regarding our “wait”.

“The length of time we wait for answered prayers is not a waste, it’s a building process. We can build faith or we can build discouragement, doubt and unbelief. Use your “wait” wisely and allow it to count for the benefits and blessings associated with faith and patience.”
Pastor Lawrence Raftery

That morning along the country road to church, I asked God for a Word concerning my cares.

While driving I noticed this beautiful rainbow following me as a traveled.

God is faithful to answer when we ask.

God was reminding me through these “crayons of color” in the sky, His promises follow wherever I go.

And follow me they did.

Here on the island after the mist of a midday cloudburst, another rainbow, another promise.

An answer to a mother’s care in her apron pocket so many miles from home yet God is everywhere, the same God who heard my prayers while driving to church. 4F031444-565A-40FB-9104-B9F0A1A66CA7

We all wish we knew the (who, what, where, why and how) answers to our prayers.

But God is full of surprises. He sees the big picture.
He knows the full story.

God says it best…”Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 NIVC051D05F-9DBA-4AB4-A969-04519B74B7C8

God is faithful. We can trust Him because He is this faithful God.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 NIV

I doubt I’ll be back to this island as our military family is preparing for their forthcoming duty station in the next six months; wherever that may be.

Closer to mom and dad would be nice.

My luggage is a bit lighter going home in a few days.

Not carefree, but a few less cares in my apron pocket.

Yes, God is everywhere.

His promises really followed me all the way to a tropical island from the mainland.

We serve a wonderful God.

MAYBE NOT A PERFECT LIFE…By Lori A Alicea

Seems like a lifetime ago when you consider all the growing, the milestones and memories I’ve missed.

Such is the heart of this long distance grandmother who yearns for more than summer visits with those heartstrings; her military grandchildren who each share something special with her; a middle name, green eyes, writing giftedness, or even a sassy attitude to laugh about.

I’m beyond thrilled to be back on this island after a year away from my military son, daughter, and four grandchildren, hoping to fill up as many photo albums as possible in the short three weeks I’m here.

Upon my arrival, I’ll pull out the bookmark from the last chapter of time we shared together as a family. But it almost makes more sense to start fresh from the blank pages of a brand new book, as my grandchildren continued to write their story chapter after chapter beyond the paragraph I boarded the plane for home one year ago, while a grandmother kept her place in the book with those four sweet faces she sadly kissed goodbye to.E23DB298-C57F-4A9A-9A98-C6A6FFF05DA4There are rules when Gaga comes to visit.

My daughter is off the clock from cooking, laundry, driving to practices, only to fill her schedule with hair and nail appointments, coffee dates and whatever else she desires.

For three weeks, every question my grandchildren ask ends with a yes.

“Gaga, can you make homemade chocolate chip cookies for my soccer team’s snack day?”  “Of course I can!”

“Can you watch me practice for soccer even though it’s raining?”  “I wouldn’t miss it.”

”Gaga, Watch me climb this tree.”  “Just long enough until I get a picture.” D6D6CD0C-0FDB-4DC1-884C-CFD3F1B1A4DE

The two little girls would rather me pick them up from school and us three walk together all the way home in Hawaii heat, with me trusting a five-year-old and seven-year-old to lead the way, including short cuts through a shady alley…. It’s comedy hour every afternoon on our walks home together. Oh, the stories they tell.

Not knowing the island, my nine-year-old navigates the way home from soccer practice, in the dark.

There are swim lessons.

There is Sunday service at church sitting side-by-side with my children.

There’s jujitsu practice for all four kids, multiple nights a week. FC0F402B-0269-4205-B480-D0D212426E75

There is quality time around the table eating dinner; the hour I treasure most, especially conversations with my son whom I miss so much throughout the year. 8E2FA8AB-98C1-44B0-99EB-5681BEC91011And all those favorite homemade meals I pack the freezer with, so my daughter continues her staycation for at least a week after I depart.

Something I do for myself and by myself, are those quiet moments with God, sitting along the shoreline, listening and relaxing to the soothing music of waves that crash and wash against my feet. 954EC818-7517-48D6-8575-F329306523E5My mind wanders back to the mainland where my handsome love is patiently waiting my return; missing me as much as I am missing him. We are so thankful for technology during these separations, as FaceTime bridges the lonely miles. 36945941-3F3D-4A67-811E-1192E2F91CD0Long distance grandparenting has a steep cost, and this is one of them.

You don’t get to pick and choose a perfect life; yet we are given the opportunity to mine the gold of blessings God has hidden for each of us to find.

A journey of contentment leads to the blessed life, not necessarily the best life the world says you deserve.

My military grandchildren don’t have access to my cookie jar of homemade treats, but I sure load up the suitcase each time I visit.

I wish my military family sat around the kitchen table for Sunday dinner with their siblings and cousins, but I can leave the freezer full of homemade love before the airplane takes me “home away from their home” once again.

While it’s true, you don’t get to pick and choose a perfect life, but I choose to find the peace, love and joy in a long distance life I have as a grandmother.E23DB298-C57F-4A9A-9A98-C6A6FFF05DA4

HAND IN HAND Thru the Years!  By Lori A Alicea

In two short days we’ll celebrate twenty-eight years of wedded love between us.

We married on Sweetest Day one crisp afternoon in October when our lives and the seasons were changing harmoniously together with the brushstrokes of fall color as our portrait background.

Ever since our wedding day on October 15, 1994, each day as husband and wife has tasted sweeter than the day before.USE 1 a wedding 3

HAND IN HAND thru the years, we’ve faced whatever came our way while holding onto each other; as two are better than one.

Locking arms with God, we’ve completed our three stranded cord not easily broken against the fiercest winds life can hurl across your bare face.

Two are better than one…
Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIV

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIVUSE holding hands 1

HAND IN HAND as we cross the threshold of marriage milestones, we look to our left and once again to our right and give thanks for the cloud of witnesses who’ve walked alongside, cheering and encouraging us in the Lord thru the years, while the third strand of our three-stranded cord has been faithfully holding us close to Himself.USE 1 walk

HAND IN HAND thru the years at the altar, we’ve stood in agreement for the power of God in our lives; clinging to desperate prayers that the curious eyes of our grandchildren are watching and grabbing hold of the marriage example their Papa and Gaga are setting before them, however imperfect we are.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew 18:30 NIV

USE 2 altar

HAND IN HAND in marriage we laugh and enjoy the lightheartedness of those unexpected moments one didn’t see coming.

God gave us the ability to smile, to grin, to find humor in the “nothings” and enjoy an abundance of laughter which takes your breath away ‘till it hurts.USE 3 laughter

HAND IN HAND thru the years you’ll find yourself dancing to the silent music played from the phonograph of your love story, swaying back and forth to the heartbeat of two people crazy about the other.

The teacup of what we share together spills over and splashes into the cups and saucers of others close enough and wanting what you have.

HAND IN HAND with family, we pray our children and grandchildren hold onto each other and continue the traditions we’ve built with them beyond the presence of our lives.USE 6 family dance

May each and every one of our grandchildren hold tight to the love we’ve poured into them…USE 7 england kids

May they be the biggest cheerleaders for each other as we have sitting in the grandstands of their lives…USE 8 girls

May they walk HAND IN HAND along the pathways to their God-given purpose, because…

Two are better than one…
Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIVUSE 9 girls 1

Thru the years, may the bridge between those miles which separate addresses always be a two-way street, leaving the light on in the window as a welcome mat for every unsuspecting knock on the door.USE 10 kids in Hawaii Twenty-eight years ago we walked down a wedding isle into a dream come true.

A fairy-tale we didn’t expect to be ours, yet still thanking God for the sleeping one we smile and gaze upon in the middle of the night after all these years.

Marriage will always be for keeps when you refuse to let go of the hand you promised to hold for a lifetime.

In looking behind us, I thank you David for twenty-eight glorious wedding anniversaries we’ve shared together.

With the world before us, there’s still much to be discovered as husband and wife.

I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather share my life with,

Than HAND IN HAND thru the years

With You…

USE holding hands

LOOKING BACK  By Lori A Alicea

There’s a new season upon us; can you see it?

The announcement is heard without a single word ever spoken as the leaves have changed into their fall clothes.USE fall leaves

Mums are in full bloom, radiating a bouquet of every color.

Little kids and big kids honoring their inner child are picking out those pumpkins to decorate.

Or being tempted by the warm smell of cloves and cinnamon escaping the pumpkin pie from where it bakes in the kitchen oven.

Chilly mornings beg a knitted sweater and the air is as crisp as the apples waiting their turn to be picked.USE apple ayva (2)

Yes, the fall season has welcomed itself into the neighborhood, with summer waving good-by from the rear view mirror.

As I flip to the October calendar for the 61st time, I’m consistently reminded of the beauty of change God created the seasons of life to be, when He left behind this wisdom thru the effervescent splashes of fall.USE fall leaves

Author John Maxwell reminds us…

Change is inevitable.
Growth is optional.

How do we handle change?

Are we growing in fall beauty with change?

Every day is a continual going forward…USE train all looking forward

While the eyes of our heart tempt a look back every so often, longing for the days of old.

Looking back you notice your age through the ever changing faces of children who call you mom, and grandchildren pulling my heartstrings with Gaga.

Looking back, you hold on tight to the scrapbooks of those traditions your adult children have invited you to share with your grandchildren.

You keep telling yourself the first day of school will get easier next year, but the yellow bus where those sparkling eyes and smiles peer at you from the window keeps taking them further from home in their growing up.

Looking back you’re thankful for the overflowing bushel of fruitfulness and faithfulness of God, evident in another generation of your legacy.

Looking back you celebrate the mother – daughter relationship and reflections of the other mirrored in her daily life…

Passing on down the nurturing ways of a mother to her daughter; from generation to generation.

Yes, life is a continual going forward…

With no going back however many times the beating heart longs for yesterday.

Though wanted back are those years of babies and toddlers you rocked in the night and snuggled on your lap during the day; grandchildren who have grown at such a pace I can barely keep up with them.

Looking back you’re thankful for love which radiates from your children’s eyes; an evening sunset glaring through the windows of their soul.

Because the generation before them and after is filling up a family library of stories the legacy beyond them will read.

Looking back will always cause you to remember then and now …

God was the same yesterday, today and forever.

So we can trust Him with our today’s and tomorrows yet to come.

We can’t forget and must tell our children and grandchildren the wonderful deeds He has done.

God is our faithful companion for the journey.

He knows the way and leads the way for us to follow.

Yes, we can look back from the rear view mirror of our life but for a moment…

We can remember the days of yesterday and hold them close in our hand for a moment, but loosely…

As the train is always moving forward, bringing us new joys to capture if we’re faced in the right direction of life to see them.

USE train allNever forgetting…
Yesterday’s currency of our life has already been spent.
Tomorrows resources have yet to be placed into our account.

But today’s bank account of living is ready for memories.

No turning back.

USE looking back train ethan

HE SEES THE ONE! By Lori A Alicea

Lord, if there’s anyone I need to meet today,
I trust you will arrange it.”

I pray these simple words every time I enter the grocery store, craft store, gym, or wherever I’m at during my day.

People masquerade their pain with fake smiles and one might never know which person is hurting, in need of an encouraging word, a timely prayer, a simple hug or smile; but God does.

Shoulder to shoulder” among the crowds
He sees the one.

The sparrows fill the skies and yet
He sees the one which falls…
(Matthew 10)

While never losing sight over us, the one.

The conference I attended recently hosted over five thousand women who traveled from all corners of the world, gathering around a central theme that

Heaven Rules
In every situation of our lives;

A ministry I began listening to for encouragement during my lunch hour as a young, single mother raising two small children.USE nancy

In the midst of a vast multitude, I believed for divine appointments with the one.USE CROWD 1

Lord, if there’s anyone I need to meet today,
I trust you will arrange it.”USE linda

An hour before each session that weekend, I volunteered to be a greeter among the crowds.USE greeter

Believing my job description was smiling, welcoming and taking group pictures of others by the photo walls…USE TEAM 1

I was caught off guard when women began asking questions of all kinds, for which I had no answers…

Directions to sessions taking place all over the convention center…

Directions to restaurants and coffee houses located in the surrounding city…

Questions spoken in languages I didn’t understand…

It would have been more accurate if my GREETER button actually said,
DON’T ASK”…

After I sent a woman looking for a Spanish speaking prayer room to the nursing mother’s room instead…

When all I could do was smile and aimlessly point a group of hungry women to the food courts outside the front doors…

When I walked an elderly woman already out of breath down the long corridors to her next session, only to find us both in front of a dead-end section of the convention center…

You laugh over the blunders.

While being encouraged and reminded by a friend over coffee,

Sometimes our wrong ways lead us the right way to a divine appointment.”

I think she’s on to something.

I continued to pray for the one that weekend.

It was a scavenger hunt for a needle in a haystack among five thousand women; but God knew the one.

He was about to introduce the three of us and reveal how intimately He knows us as the one.

Seated beside two sisters during a breakout session, I introduced myself and inquired of their “highlight moment” thus far.IMG_7002

One sister turned to the other sister smiling and rejoicing over their time spent together after a year’s lapse since they last saw each other.

During the course of our short conversation, we realized the younger sister and I lived thirty minutes apart; with the churches we attended down the road from the other.

Only to discover the younger sister was a bus driver at the same school my husband’s brother Joe and sister ‘n law worked.

I asked if she knew them.

A moment of silence as the older sister looked into the eyes of her sibling;

A gesture I believed had deeper meaning than they conveyed.

The face of the younger sister turned my way as she quietly spoke,

I sat in awe during Joe’s three hour funeral, one year ago last summer.”

How timely our meeting; on Joe’s birthday, now celebrating in heaven.

Only God knew why three women were destined to meet from the five thousand among us.USE CROWD 1

I shared my prayer with two siblings sitting next to me three hours from home, so they could sense the divine appointment God orchestrated for us, the one,

Lord, if there’s anyone I need to meet today,
I trust you will arrange it.”

Yes, God does hear our prayers; written, spoken or hidden inside our hearts.USE prayer requests

I left a convention with question marks in my journal regarding this divine appointment with two sisters.

While being satisfied with the “need to know basis” we have with God.

I left a convention re-playing over and over my highlight reel…

Among the crowds and multitudes,
God keeps an intimate watch over me,
The one.

A DANCE INTO FOREVER  By Lori A Alicea

The wedding DJ has called for all the married couples to the dance floor for the next selection of the night.

Husbands and wives of every age began leaving their seats as the music to “their song” welcomed and gestured them to center stage.

Crowded on the dance floor were couples swaying back and forth in the arms with the one they said “I Do” to, however many years ago their altar moment was.

Minutes into their wedding waltz, the DJ announced that anyone married twenty-four hours or less must leave the dance floor.

The bride and groom both smiled and laughed as they took their position on the side lines.

The wedding waltz continues and dancing resumes once again.

The second stanza of the song began when the DJ stopped the music and ushered couples married five years or less to join the bride and groom along the outer circle of the stage.

The crowd on the dance floor began thinning out and it remained to be seen which twosome still dancing has been married the longest.

Couples married ten years or less were asked to join the others on the side lines.

Fifteen years or less…
Twenty-five years or less…
Thirty-five years or less…

By this time in the lyrics only a handful of marriages remain on the dance floor.

The children of parents and grandparents still dancing celebrate the rare treasure before them…

A gift and covenant of…

For richer or poorer…
In sickness and in health…
Until death…

Will we part…

The DJ’s announcement intensifies with excitement…

Forty-five years or less…

The waltz still plays as those couples on the sidelines began circling as a wedding ring around the final marriage of fifty golden years.

USE DANCE 2

This wedding ring of marriages circling the rare commitment of fifty golden years; a symbol of infinity which has neither beginning nor end; a display of love eternal and endless, and worn on the wedding finger closest to their heart.

This ring made of precious metal; an image depicting the sacredness of marriage, given to their betrothed with deep emotion and sentiment during the most sacred event of their life.USE then and nowUSE fifty sign

Fifty golden years is a testimony to the eyes who witness this miracle of dedication, two people trusting God during the valleys and mountain tops before them, persevering the journey together with Him in marriage.

USE DANCE 3

Those words of affirmation throughout the years seal and swell their abiding hearts of true love.CARDS 2A novel of words detailing the pursuit of rare pearls and treasure hunt of each other, passing on down thru the generations living beyond them a marriage’s lasting legacy.
CARDS 1Their kisses of thankfulness for another day thru the decades together.CARDS 3

Oh, the laughter which feeds their souls as a good medicine; stoking the fire of great joy which warms as a blanket around their arms on a cold winter day.
USE newleywood game

Holding close their gift of friendship…
Celebrating their nearest and dearest confidant…
Feeling safe with the one who holds the secret keys to their heart.USE cake

USE gifts

The wedding waltz continues and serenades the anniversary couple as they

Dance into forever.

Embraced in each other’s arms they’ll waltz from anniversary to anniversary, keeping in time with their covenant of forever until the music ceases to play.USE DANCE 1

Fifty golden years marks the marathon of miles two people in love have traveled together in marriage.

They are a covenant gift and testimony to their children and grandchildren and eyes of those who have witnessed their rare love for each other…

For richer or poorer…
In sickness and in health…
Until death…

Will we part…

USE couple sitting down

IS THE GRASS REALLY GREENER?  By Lori A Alicea

Growing up in the Northwest I have postcard memories of farms and acreage framed with miles of an old country fence along their boundary lines,sun house fence

A road of nostalgia which gets lost into the sunset from the mesmerizing eye that follows.fence animals

With grass as a green lush carpet and dew between my toes while walking barefoot at sunrise of my own property, I often wondered with curiosity why farm animals “down yonder” appeared discontented from their reach for what seemed was greener grass on the other side of the fence.fence animals 2 sheep eating beyond the fence

If truth be told, I’m sure we’ve all spent time in quiet thoughts over the years at our fence, reaching beyond the boundaries of blessings, wishing and wanting the mirage of greener grass on the other side of the fence.fence dog child

As God has given each of us the keys as gatekeepers to our personal lives…fence entrance 1

Charging us to be thankful for the abundance which pours from the open windows of heaven…fence xmas trees

While also warning us the danger of leaving our post at our gate for the lure of greener grass beyond the fence…

In my childhood favorite “Wizard of Oz” by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Dorothy ran away from home for a life and greener grass she thought she didn’t have.

After facing the hard reality beyond the other side of the fence, teenage Dorothy Gale turned her heart back around towards the Kansas farm she shared with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em and those farm hands she dearly loved, vowing to never leave again when Dorothy realized her blessings,

There’s no place like home.”ayva dorothy wizard of oz

One summer day about a year ago, my husband David reminded me of our blessings inside our fence and home of 956 sq feet, with two bedrooms and one bath, still needing a storage unit for lack of space.HOUSE VALPO

Discontented and missing our life in the hidden back roads of the country, God opened my husband’s eyes to the abundance He poured from the open windows of heaven for us, with the revelation after helping a neighbor down the street fix the roof of his older home of fifty years,

We’re living like kings!”fence mountains

While the grass may give the illusion of being
Greener on the other side of the fence.

fence animals eating out

We are encouraged to remember…

You may think the grass is greener on the other side.
But if you take the time to water your own grass, it would be just as green.
Author Anonymous

Remembering also to heed the warnings given to us as gatekeeper…

Whoever always looks for greener grass on the other side will never be able to appreciate the green grass that was right under their feet the entire time. One who is always looking for the next best thing will never be happy or satisfied with what or who they have.
Doe Zantamata

fence entrance