I’VE GOT YOU By Lori A Alicea

What child doesn’t long to feel safe in their father’s arms?
What child doesn’t long to feel loved in their father’s words?
There’s just something sacred about this father / child relationship.

No matter the mountain they travel.

jake and baby cova with mountains behind
No matter the journey uphill.

jake and baby cova with mountains behind 2
No matter the moments away from his reach.

Jake throwing baby in air
A child trusts.
A child feels secure in the safe arms of their father.
Especially when falling into the gentle words of his embrace,
“I’ve Got You.”

No matter our age, no matter son or daughter.

A father’s safe arms are comforting as a child’s security blanket following a bad dream of any situation, especially when wrapped in the love of his heart,
“I’ve Got You.”

Though not my father, I remember my uncle’s saving arms following a terrifying moment attending a family gathering when as a child, I fell into a lake not knowing how to swim.  The instant panic and screams of this child had my uncle jumping into the water towards me without hesitation for my rescue, street clothes and all.  The intense scene of a child’s nightmare overcome in her sobbing was soothed in the gentle words of an uncle rocking me back and forth in his arms,
“I’ve Got You.  You’re going to be ok.  I’ve Got You.”

That near-drowning situation found me safe and comforted into the arms I’ve never experienced with my earthly father.  Little girls instinctively long to climb into her daddies lap for no reason at all if only to experience that innocent love in his arms,
“I’ve Got You.”

But we are never found alone in this world without a father, as our Heavenly Daddy is always our safe place to run to, a lap that protects us and comforts us in ways that only a good father understands.

For he alone is my safeplace. His wrap-around presence always protects me as my champion defender…. Psalm 62:6 TPT

 In His presence we are calmed and quieted just as we are in a sweet-sleep resting in our mother’s arms.

I am humbled and quieted in your presence.
Like a contented child who rests on its mother’s lap,
I’m your resting child and my soul is content in you.
Psalm 131:2 (TPT)

Cova sleeping
Though never truly knowing the love intended for me with the man who gave me life called my father, I rest at night comforted in the assurance of whose hands and words hold me close in his love,
“I’ve Got You.”

His left hand cradles my head while his right hand holds me close.
I am at rest in this love.
Song of Songs 2:6 TPT

2018 cova in snowsuit between trees

I’ve got you sweet child.
I’ve got your back.
I’ve got your feet from every fall.
I’ve got your lack.

 No matter the situation,
No matter what seems true.
Remember whose arms you fall into,
Remember forever,

“I’ve Got You.”

Jake throwing baby in air

AN OLD FASHIONED BLANKET OF CONTENTMENT By Lori A Alicea

Ever just feel like you were born in the wrong era?

Ever feel like you identify more with life “back in the day” than you do with life in the present?

I’ve often thought I could have been one of those women; you know that woman in the kitchen called Maw who is married to a man named Paw.

Maw and Paw live on a farm with cows, chickens and goats.

Paw tends the animals and fields with his hardworking boys and little ones “in training” underfoot.
Old Fashioned Pa and the boysMaw and her girls (big and small) share life together in the kitchen, raising babies and making everything from scratch; homemade bread, pies, and all the meal’s fixens.

The vegetables grown by Paw and the boys are canned and stored for winter and all the youngin’s clothes are sewn by hand.
Old Fashioned KidsMaw loves the cool summer breeze dancing through the kitchen curtains of windows that stay open all summer long, not minding the waft up yonder from the cow barn and chicken coop as the aroma of homemade apple pie cooling on the counter soothes the senses. Laundry is hung out to dry on hot summer days, giving that crisp fresh feel on a newly made bed and dinner after a hard day’s work is worth it all with your loved ones seated around the table together.

Maw and Paw live on a farm with their grown children and families keeping house nearby.  Life as it appears in Maw’s mind is painted perfect, albeit “back in the day”, yet that is not Maw’s life she was created to live.

Maw and Paw are really Papa and Gaga who have a wonderful life together, with grown children and grandchildren living amazing lives on their own, just not on a farm with us.

The grand-kids clothes are store bought and for sure not sewn by Maw, for which they all say Amen.

Two of my girls enjoy cooking homemade and one would rather not as a day’s work for her is sanding, painting and refinishing the house.  All three are wonderful mothers creating havens of love for their families, for which Papa and Gaga couldn’t ask for anything more for our grandchildren.

But there are days living in a crowded subdivision that we long for home on acreage room enough for the houses of our children and grandchildren running back and forth to play with their cousins.

But in these moments I have to stop and wrap myself in an old fashioned blanket of contentment, and be thankful for what God has blessed us with in the “here and now”.  Yes, I wish for a slower life where families shared bread and life together more often, preferably in the same state.  Yes, I wish that store bought cookies were against the law and everyone loved food from scratch like I do.  Life would be easier and probably cheaper if I didn’t want to make everything by hand.  As I said, I think I was supposed to be born in another era, well, at least my ways.

But I cherish the life I’ve been blessed with and never want to miss what God has for me even if I could have never imagined it for myself.  God is good and good all the time, in every detail and square of our patchwork quilt of life.

We must all keep that old fashioned blanket of contentment handy whenever we feel a chill of dissatisfaction with life as

… godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WIFE OF YOUR YOUTH By Lori A Alicea

Dearest to my heart, dearest to everything I hold true is the joy of sharing a lifetime with that special someone created and chosen especially for you.

The thought of two people walking together side by side and cleaving to one another for life is a love story captured in a

Painting of a thousand words”,

A portrait passed and hung on the walls of the generations for their reminder of the heart of God depicted on canvas,

18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
P
roverbs 5:18 NIV
looking out of water 1
We’ve all been alone some time in our life.

In our “aloneness”, surely there’s been that longing for someone to share our hopes with, someone to share our dreams.

In our “aloneness”, surely there’s been that longing for a shoulder to cry on, someone to dry our tears.

In our “aloneness”, surely we didn’t want to be alone forever.
looking-out-of-window.jpgEven God himself said,
18 “It is not good for the man to be alone.
I
will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18 NIV

 The first love story ever written,

God took the man’s rib and formed his soul mate for which the man called her “bone of his bone”.  (Genesis 2:23 NIV)

22Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  Genesis 2:22 NIV
first looks
In whose purpose is to protect one’s delicate heart, a beautiful love story written in the smallest of details when God chose a rib to complete the “aloneness” of a man.

Walking together side by side “for whatever comes their way”,
first walkCarrying with them their

Painting of a thousand words”,

Cleaving to one another and unearthing the hidden treasure of God’s heart revealed from their life together “one step at a time”,

18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Proverbs 5:18 NIV

Love stories are inspired words authored and written on paper.

Love stories are the overflow of one’s heart, spilling onto the pages of that soulmate we cling to.
writing letterLove stories come to life and can be read “between the lines” of a smile.swingLove stories can be witnessed in the carefree spirit of the
“Wife of Your Youth.”
swing 1
Love stories face each other as they face their future together,
are you readyFor whatever comes their way,
For better or worse.
Remembering that nothing can stand between,
nor tear apart,
or come against,
two people united in love.
signing licenseEspecially when your love story is depicted in a
“Portrait of a thousand words”,
looking out of water 1
A love story inspired and written by God.

 

YOU’RE YOUNGER THAN YOU LOOK By Lori A Alicea

“Papa, your toes are old.”

Those are fight’n words from our eight year old grandsons inciting a wrestling match on the floor with their Papa.

“I’M NOT OLD you pterodactyls!”, screams Papa as he takes his grandson-foes down and gives them what they’ve been begging for, some friendly fire and laughter between three kids on the floor; well two kids with one big kid at heart.

While it’s true that every day we add another twenty-four hours to our age, on the inside, you’re younger than you look,
2018 ethan 100 years old 1
WHEN YOU REMEMBER

“If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old.” – James A. Garfield

The biggest kid of all time said it best,

“Laughter is timeless.  Imagination has no age.  And dreams are forever.” – Walt Disney

With ten grandchildren full of energy, giggles, laughter and smiles for days, I can’t tell you the gift of “fun” in my husband who stirs up the inner “party” of these children to play and enjoy the simplest of moments where the only requirement on the playground is an imagination.

Being grandparents for the last ten years and regardless of his day at work, Papa’s imagination and willingness to pour into our grandchildren’s lives and memories are endless.

Papa always says yes for a trip to the park.

Papa is always willing to splash with all his little ducks in the pool.

Papa always has a hidden bag of marshmallows for a campfire and an overnight sleep in the tent.

Papa’s legs are never too tired for a bike ride around the block.

The fish are always biting according to Papa.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Papa is never too cold for the snow.

There’s always enough room on Papa’s lap.

Papa loves to be together with all his babies.

But Papa loves his one-on-one time with his babies too.

But more than ever, Papa has the greatest sense of humor.
papa funnyWhich is the “much deserved reason” why whenever the grandchildren call or stop by, the very first words they say are,
“Where’s Papa?”

While the reality of a grandparent’s age shows in their aches and pains after a bike ride around the block or trip to the park with grandchildren of boundless energy, the “little kid” on the inside who keeps a child’s party going is the real reason why,

You’ll always be younger than you look.
2018 ethan 100 years old
Sadly, you begin to look your age when,

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”― George Bernard Shaw

In our culture that celebrates being flawless, skinny and young, the “gray hairs” of society have been known to become the forgotten; the unnoticed; the wallpaper in the room.

All their experience, their gifting, their knowledge can be taken for granted and discounted as “outdated” or “out of touch.”

But oh how God our Creator celebrates the “gray hairs” of our lives and has new purpose for them in their latter days.

17 ‘This is what I will do in the last days—I will pour out my Spirit on everybody and cause your sons and daughters to prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will experience dreams from God.
Acts 2:17 TPT

God honors long life when He reminds us:

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
Proverbs 16:31 NIV

The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.
Proverbs 20:29 NIV

 C.S. Lewis tells us, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

My Pastor’s mother recently widowed and just celebrating her eightieth birthday is leaving for a mission’s trip overseas in a month.  What a gift to herself in embracing a new lease in her continued walk with God.

New beginnings, new dreams, new purposes are not limited by age.

These blank pages of our journey are God’s reminder that He’s not finished with us yet.  The finish line of our calling is miles and a marathon away and we must keep running and pursuing the dreams God has dreamed for our life.

We will never be “too old” or have reason to retire from God’s ultimate plan.  We won’t give out.  Our earthly bodies can withstand all that is required to reach the end because it is written:

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4 NIV

 We must be found faithful to the end.

Our “gray hairs” must not excuse us from completing our race.

For when our last day on earth becomes our first day in Heaven, may we all long to hear from the Father,

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
Matthew 25:21 NIV

 

SECURITY FOR OUR INSECURITY By Lori A Alicea

“Wherever we go, whatever we do,
we’re gonna go through it together.
We may not go far, but sure as a star,
wherever we are,
it’s together.”

Lyrics to an old song capturing the relationship of a few of my grandchildren and their security blankets,

“Together, Wherever We Go.”

There’s been Greeny, Pinky, Glanket, and Blankie;
all names for those inseparable best friends
who’ve been dragged behind,
img_6219
Gone for the ride,

Has a soothing smell,

Is a shoulder to cry on,
ayva crying with blanket

Is their TV buddy,
2018 aubrey blankie

A soft pillow to lie on,

Safe arms to comfort while they sleep,

Together, Wherever They Go,
Security for her insecurity of being a baby in a big girl world.
holding on to insecurity 3

We all carry a blanket of security for our insecurity some time in our life.

It may not be a soft, fuzzy Glanket to find sweet dreams beneath, or a special Pinky to share a fretful moment with.

But we all carry security for our insecurity, finding it hard at times to go it alone without our Blankie of choice.

Little girls and little boys outgrow their fuzzy best friends, yet sometimes struggle to make new friends with the face they meet in the mirror of growing up.

Changes can be awkward, sometimes painful and school kids have no problem pointing them out.  Rich kids and poor kids have insecurities.  Overweight and skinny kids have theirs too.  Hard to imagine for the rich or skinny kids, but insecurities do not discriminate.  Kids find security in the library of studying books, or hours spent behind closed doors of their room.  Kids find security in food or lack thereof, all securities that keep their insecurities hidden in public.

No matter the age, we all carry security for our insecurity.

Some find security in friendships to mask their insecurity of being alone.  Some find security in sleep unable to cope with the insecurity of being awake without that loved one.

Some live life in the security of the fast lane unable to face the painful train wreck in the rear view mirror they suffered relationally a few miles back.

Some burn the “midnight oil” in their jobs as security for all the years of insecurity when forced to go without.

Some find comfort in the security of being immobilized in their lack of confidence after experiencing the insecurity from the fall of “taking a risk”.

Young or old, or middle aged, we all carry security for our insecurity.

As a young girl not affirmed from her father, I struggled with insecurities of facing the mirror.  Wanting to be his princess and sharing daddy-daughter moments together, I was never told by him I was pretty or beautiful, therefore I believed the other must be true.

Looking back at old report cards, I recall the security behind getting good grades; and there were a lot of them.  I loved books, the library and my room, all friends that accepted me just as I was.

But I was forced to face life at school, at church and at home while still hiding behind my insecurity of the mirror.

Thankfully though we have a Heavenly Father who created
…and made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

Thankfully I serve a loving Father who saw me beautiful and wanted me to know so at the family dinner table one night years ago.

Sitting in the same exact seats as we six kids did at every meal around the table, I remember feeling isolated in my thoughts that particular night.  Multiple conversations were occurring between siblings while I continued to eat my dinner.  Nothing unusual about that evening until the room went silent when my older brother for some unprovoked reason pointed at me and spoke up to me with these life altering words,

“Lori, when you grow up, you are going to be so beautiful.”

Why a brother would call me out from my wall of insecurity can only be the move of God.  Brothers just don’t do those things.  But God’s words through him changed my life.

That night for the first time while facing the mirror, I could see myself through the eyes that created me.  I could see the inner loveliness that penetrated the outward.  I finally felt like a daddies girl with these words,

He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

Young or old, or middle aged, we all carry security for our insecurity.

Yet God would have us lay at the altar before Him with only the security of His Presence.

In His Presence we don’t need our security blankets anymore,
as He is security enough.

In His presence we can find comfort.

In His presence, He’s a safe shoulder to cry on.

In His presence, we can follow Him anywhere.

In His presence, we can find peaceful sleep.

In His presence,

My heart and soul explode with joy—full of glory!
Even my body will rest confident and secure.
Psalm 16:9  (TPT)

 God, you are our security for our insecurity.

“Wherever we go, whatever we do,
we’re gonna go through it together.
We may not go far, but sure as a star,
wherever we are,
it’s together.”

“Together, Wherever We Go.”

BE STRONG. BE COURAGEOUS. BE NOT AFRAID. By Lori A Alicea

Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified …..
for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

For so many of us, this song plays from the radio of our heart while driving the interstate of I-Uncertainty, not able to see the miles of road and what waits ahead of us, with blind spots from every angle.

While tempted to change the station and take the first off-ramp of a detour, our God, our navigator, soothes our fears to keep on traveling and singing,

 BE STRONG.
BE COURAGEOUS,
BE NOT AFRAID.
workout 5
We’ve all traveled that road of I-Uncertainty at least once in our lives.  Chances are the longer we live, the scenery this “stretch of miles” might begin to look familiar.  You remember that billboard passing the first mile-marker to greet you in bold neon letters:

BE STRONG.
BE COURAGEOUS.
BE NOT AFRAID.
workout 6

You questioned the bold statement so quickly after crossing state lines onto I-Uncertainty.  But it doesn’t take long when you begin to question your surroundings, the unfamiliar you didn’t see on the map or remember last time you were passing through.  But another billboard stands in the distance from the winding roads of bareness you just passed to ease your fears of feeling alone,

 FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU.

I remember driving down the interstate of I-Uncertainty almost twenty-nine years ago.  I never thought the map of my life would have me driving down this “neck of the woods”, a single mom with two small children in the back seat of the car, yet here we were, passing that first mile-marker greeted by a bright billboard of neon letters,

BE STRONG.
BE COURAGEOUS.
BE NOT AFRAID.
work out 5

I’ve never driven this far away from home before, alone.
I’ve never been on my own before, alone.
What if the car breaks down while I’m alone?

Alone is that “winding stretch of bareness” I saw on the map, though didn’t think much of it until it was me behind the wheel.

Yet to ease that unsettled ache of being alone the many miles ahead was the second billboard with its bright message no one could miss,

FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU.

While packing up the car for our new life down I-Uncertainty, so much of what we loved would have to stay behind with the limited room in the trunk.

The most difficult to leave behind was that beautiful two acre lot of heaven we as a family treasured making memories celebrating all our events.  Such peace and tranquility of so many mornings sitting outside basking in the beauty of our land while drinking that first cup of coffee.  So many afternoons the imaginations that ran wild with the children’s feet up and down the acres they called home.
wheeler houseNow, their back yard is just a bench that two siblings share and a back yard seat where I drink my morning coffee alone on the weekends.candy jake 007Gone was our peace and tranquility as a looming cloud of suffocation hovered as neighbors crowded our personal space, deafened by the noise of city life with emergency vehicles blaring their sirens at all hours of the day and night.

Feeling terribly alone and abandoned yet that song from the radio of my heart continues to comfort in its quiet hum,

God will never leave you nor forsake you.

Those words rang loudly true once as our car broke down during a dark night when money was scarce because of a job loss and lunch and dinner for the next few days was a pan of leftovers from dinner the night before.  After those leftovers were eaten, our next meal was an agonizing question mark.  My worst fears of being alone came true with the horrible thought of my children going hungry alongside of the byway, with no sight of roadside assistance.

For a mother to look at her children’s face then be reminded of the barren cupboards and refrigerator was beyond painful.

BUT I HAD TO BE STRONG.
I HAD TO BE COURAGEOUS.
I COULDN’T BE AFRAID.

Another billboard caught my attention when that fretful night became morning,

…I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.  Psalm 37:25 NIV

GOD DIDN’T LEAVE US.
GOD DIDN’T FORSAKE US.

God showed up unannounced and just in time alongside of the road through my grandparents bringing grocery money worth a two weeks supply.
grandma and grandpa houle

I never gave my grandparents my new address; nor did anyone else.
I never revealed to anyone my empty refrigerator.
I never cried to anyone but God my fears.

Yet God got kept his promise to go with me down that lonely interstate of I-Uncertainty.  God kept his promise to never leave me broken down or forsake me as I traveled I-Uncertainty.  God kept his promise that my children would never beg bread the miles of I-Uncertainty.

God kept his promise through a grandfather who months later was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Since that five year journey down the lonely road of I-Uncertainty, I found that in my weakness of being alone and being without, I could be secure and strong in the faithful shoulders of God.  I didn’t need to carry the weights of my burdens for he would do the heavy lifting for me.

I could be STRONG in Him.
I could be COURAGEOUS in Him.
I didn’t have to be AFRAID because of Him.
I wouldn’t travel the streets ALONE because of Him.

My UNCERTAIN days were safe in the hands of a CERTAIN God,
As he is the faithful same yesterday, today and forever.

If the map of my itinerary found me again journeying the interstate of I-Uncertainty, I’d be at peace in my traveling companion who erected a billboard for my confidence,

FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU.

A NEW BEGINNING By Lori A Alicea

As a faithful friend who keeps his solemn promises, morning greets us each and every day with a kiss of new beginnings.

 New beginnings that promise a “blank page” if you dare to write the next chapter.
New beginnings that promise another “chance” if you dare to try.
New beginnings that promise “hope” if you dare to dream.
New beginnings that promise “life” if you dare to breathe.
New beginnings that promise “friendship” if you dare to be a friend.
New beginnings that promise another “race” if you dare to lace up your shoes.
New beginnings that promise a “song” if you dare to sing.
New beginnings that promise “relationship” if you dare to forgive.
New beginnings that promise “love” if you dare to open your heart.
New beginnings that promise “the moon” if you dare to shoot for the stars.

New beginnings that promise a “kiss”
If you dare to kiss back.

New beginnings are birthed with new promises, all yours for the taking.
Do you see them?
Do you look for them?
Do you want them?
girls looking out windowThe author of our yesterday, today and forever;
our beginning, and our end (Revelation 22:13 NIV)
is the author of our new beginnings,
the author of another day.

Might we be encouraged to take the dare of a new beginning?
Might we take our blank page and write the words we wanted our life to say yesterday?
What do you have to lose?

Our faithful God is a “God of Second Chances; everyday”.
His mercies and compassion’s are new every morning;
a clean slate for us to try again.

22  …for his compassion’s never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

Might we dare to walk the “high wire” of a new beginning risking the fall for the promise, relying on the “safety net of your father’s arms to fall into” if something does go wrong.
Aubrey touching papa's face

For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
Psalm 26:3 NIV       

Be confident in taking the next step of your new beginning without the security of yesterday’s training wheels.
Your Father’s got you.
Kyle teaching Ethan to ride a bike

You’re not alone in this world of new beginnings, your Father sees you.
Ayva in car seat
Allow your Father to sing over you,
To remind you:
“You’re everything he hoped for.”
“You’re everything he dreamed.”
Joe Cocker

 

 

 

Song YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL
by Joe Cocker

“Today” is that faithful friend who keeps his solemn promises, like morning who greets us each and every day with a kiss of new beginnings.

But new beginnings come with a dare.

YOU MUST

Dare to try.
Dare to dream.
Dare to breathe.
Dare to be a friend.
Dare to run your race.
Dare to sing your song.
Dare to forgive.
Dare to love.

Dare to kiss back.

New beginnings are birthed with new promises.
You must see them.
You must look for them.
You must want them.
You must reach for them to take them.

You must Dare to kiss back.