MEMORIES OF SUMMER  By Lori A Alicea

Graduations from pre-school thru high school all set off confetti cannons to celebrate the end of another academic year.

Antsy students fidgeting at their desks on the last day of school will burst through the classroom doors as a mass exodus of summer excitement with the final ring of the bell.

From the beginning of June through the middle of August, parents have penciled in their children’s summer break on the pages of their calendars, signing them up and planning in advance for what will become in years down the road, their memories of summer.

Summer fun for me as a child rewinds a simpler life of baseball, camping, strawberry jelly and the county fair; a scrapbook of delightful memories the little girl in me loves to revisit each June.

Watching our grandchildren take their turn at the baseball plate,

Reminds me of those summers back fifty plus years ago with the smell of concession stand hot dogs and popcorn, boys trading baseball cards with a wad of bubble gum in their mouths and my brother riding his bicycle to the Little League field for baseball practice and games.

baseball marks baseball

(my brother sits in front of the baseball bats)

Spring training for Little League announces a brand new season of baseball memories, while a little girl still reminiscences when her brother, a star pitcher back then, leads his team to a first place win two years in a row.

Summer memories are also made roughing it in the squelching heat of a tent or camper, sharing the experience with mosquitoes and raccoons in the back woods or back yard of a camping trip.

In exchange for hotel air conditioning and fine dining, the smell of sizzling bacon and scrambled eggs waft among the trees at breakfast.camping cooking

Camping trips fill up a childhood album of time spent fishing with dad, swimming with siblings, and making s’mores around a crackling campfire before bed.

Making the highlight reel from my memories of summer take me back to an old fashioned tradition of strawberry picking and watching mother at her Magic Chef stove, preserving summer in a jar for those winter biscuits only months away.

Now, mother watches me from her kitchen stove in heaven, still wearing her apron, still sharing a summer memory as her recipe and an old fashioned tradition is being passed to the next generation.

Summer wouldn’t be complete without those memories of elephant ears, cotton candy, butter drenched ears of corn, cooling down with a bowl of Dippin’ Dots, being squished on the Scrambler while enjoying it all as a fun filled evening at the county fair with your dad.

fair jake little girls The county fair reminds you to thank your Aunt for the years she filled up the pages of childhood memories for two generations of nieces and nephews at the fair, giving no thought of the money she spent on tickets, food and game prizes, all because she wanted to make a summer memory with you.

Lastly, after growing up, the sweetest memories of summer is the intentional pursuit of the little things

Quality time spent with lifelong friends over coffee and breakfast.

Remembering to celebrate the generations and gifts of family around the dinner table.

Letting kids be kids at the beach, kids racing and acting crazy down the Slip ‘n Slide of your own backyard, or kids even spending a spontaneous moment in Papa’s sprinkler while only wearing their underwear.

swimming kids little

Or, for those quiet moments spent alone with God in prayer during those early morning walks around the neighborhood track.

From the beginning of June thru the middle of August, the memories of summer are filling up scrapbooks of our children and grandchildren’s childhood.

I don’t know why I’m drawn to these albums during Little League season, when strawberries are ready, or when the county fair has made its way back into town.

Maybe becoming a grandmother, I remember the good ol’ days through the lives of my grandchildren.

Maybe I miss mom more when I see a batch of homemade jelly line the shelves of my kitchen pantry.

Maybe summer reminds me that the little things really are the big things, and to be more intentional about my pursuit of them.

Maybe I’m so thankful to God for my memories of summer, my scrapbook of delightful memories the little girl in me loves to revisit each June.

 

THE GOD WHO SEES  By Lori A Alicea

As a first grader I remember it all too well.

Maybe a bit dramatic for a little girl that young, but my emotions were real and tucked away in the jewelry box of a child’s heart for years.

I’ve never looked at myself through the lens of vanity, but I noticed early on that girls with more friends than me were blonde, blue eyed with flawless skin.

I faced the mirror with red hair, green eyes and a face full of freckles; and as a student in the first grade, I also wept at the sight of a few missing teeth.
Lori little 3
Kids are cruel to each other, especially when your hair is red, or strawberry blonde as they called it back then, with green eyes and freckles to match.

As a young girl I sobbed an ocean many times before the Lord,

Why did you make me this way?”

But God is a God who sees.
(Genesis 16:13)

I didn’t understand at this early age how God made me fearfully and wonderfully, formed and created in the perfect image of God; who kept a nine month vigil while being knitted in my mother’s womb.
(Psalm 139)

Yet, God is a God who sees; whose fatherly love dried the eyes of His daughter one unlikely day around the dinner table.

With six siblings seated in their same exact seat throughout our growing up, eating and talking as we always did at the table, our brother said something out of the ordinary and to be honest, I don’t believe any of my siblings heard the conversation but me.

With five sisters seated next to each other, my brother proposed the question, “Guess who I think will be the prettiest girl when she’s all grown up?”

Lowering my head as the emotions tucked inside the jewelry box I saved were sadly stirred, believing my brother was talking about our oldest sister instead of me; yet to my astonishment, I heard my name from across the table.

I truly believe God muted this childhood scene among my other sisters, as they were created as equally fearfully and wonderfully.

But God longed to use my older brother to affirm a little girl like me, whose first grade smile now lit up her face.

Words are vessels for life or for death.

That evening at dinner, my brother’s words spoke life and volumes I’ve never forgotten; they remain hidden in my keepsake jewelry box to remind this daughter of her Father’s opinion when at times, I think otherwise.

Since that day of affirmation, I’ve grown into a woman fully aware of the love God has for me.

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

So, what about that red hair, green eyes and face full of freckles?
ALICEA David Lori
I asked the question years later in my life; and oh, how amazingly God answered.

Our good Father whispered and pointed to the mirror of my reflection:

Oh daughter, your red hair is a gift from me; only 2% of little girls are strawberry blonde; red hair with green eyes are even more uncommon.

And those freckles…God leans in close to tell me a secret…

Your mother told you those freckles were kisses
From the S U N.

Well actually, your freckles are sweet kisses
From my S O N.

I celebrate the God who sees.

All grown up when I could have changed my hair to any color in the rainbow, I kept the gift God gave me…
David and Lori together 3
Yes, God is so good to me.

God is so good to you.

I want my daughters and granddaughters, girls and women alike to rejoice in the God who made them fearfully and wonderfully…

Missing teeth and all…
Rosalee praising Jesus

He is a God who sees…

THE GOD WHO SEES
By Lori A Alicea

You knit me in my mother’s womb,
And wonderfully I’m made.
Created me so fearfully,
The days you watched, you stayed.

Not hidden in this secret place,
Your works, I praise for these.
Your eyes they saw my unformed self,
You are the God who sees.

How precious are your thoughts of me,
More than the grains of sand.
My days are written in your book,
One mind can’t understand.

You see me when I sleep at night,
You see when I’m awake.
You are the God who sees it all,
You see each breath I take.

Yes, I am yours and you are mine,
My heart, you have the keys.
You’ve drawn me Oh Beloved One,
You are the God who sees.

Psalms 139
Genesis 16:13
Solomon 6:3

IN SHOWING UP  By Lori A Alicea

We’re all showing up somewhere each day for the fulfillment of our dreams, our passions, our gifting, our destinies, our hopes, our callings…to bring God glory for His Kingdom success…

Showing up…To hit a home-run with our dreams…USE Ethan bat 2022

Showing up…To aim into the hoops of our passions…USE Free throw line

Showing up…To master the moves of our gifting…england juzitu 4

Showing up…To soar into our destinies…USE Hollis Skateboarding arms in air

Showing up…To scale the pyramids of our hopes…IMG_4428IMG_4424

Showing up…To take up our towel and serve…Brookes Cookies 004

Showing up…To conquer what stands in the way of our calling…USE THIS Brystol on mat

Showing up…to ride the waves towards a Kingdom success…Rosalee Kizzie on surfboard

Showing up requires and demands of us years of faithfulness to steward the gift God has given to bring Him glory.

Showing up faithfully when the spotlight on your years of dedication takes place when no one is sitting in the stands to applaud your efforts.

Showing up faithfully even when the confidence of others looks the other way from the inexperience they see in you.

Showing up faithfully and facing fearlessly into the waves of a dream bigger than first imagined.

Showing up faithfully as a child in their lack of training, but willing to grow and glean the excellence from their Master.

Showing up faithfully when you wonder if this is your dream after all, but showing up anyways, confident in the steps God directs; trusting that one dream might give birth to another.

Showing up faithfully year after year, fainting not in the wins, the losses, the strikeouts and home-runs of your spirit.

Showing up faithfully in the risk and dangers of those falls and failures; turning a deaf ear to the voice of quitting.

Showing up faithfully and celebrating the small wins and successes of a bigger dream.

Showing up remembering it’s never been about our gifts after all, but about the giver who bestows to us our gift.

Because there will be those days and seasons of drought when you inspect and question the fruits of your labors, the yields of your harvest, the strength of your spirit to continue sowing into the dry fields of these dreams.USE Hollis skateboarding spill

But we are reminded to call on Him and be encouraged in these thirsty seasons…

And let us not grow weary while doing good,
For in due season we shall reap
If we do not lose heart.
Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

USE Brodie prayer

As we show ourselves faithful, God will kiss back and show off even more faithful.

To the faithful, you show yourself faithful…
Psalm 18:25 (NIV)

Just this past Sunday, our Pastor had a prophetic word of encouragement for those faithful laborers who show up…

SUCCESS IN THE KINGDOM
By Pastor Ron Johnson

Success in the Kingdom is about our faithfulness, it’s about showing up, it’s about making good choices, God honoring choices and repeating that over and over again…

You just keep showing up, keep being faithful, and keep improving every year.
Then you’ll step into a season of exceptional favor from the Lord.

Yes, God really rewards and hands out medals to those found faithful…

If we faint not;
If we do not lose heart.

Until our race is over…

We must remember…

Continue to show up at the plate…
Show up at the free throw line.
Show up the mat…
The park…
The gym…
The stove…

Show up…to ride the waves towards a Kingdom success…IMG_4385

Wherever God has called you to show up at, show up and jump as a fearless child into your calling.IMG_E4347

Though much is required and demanded of us during these faithful years of showing up.

We joyfully steward the gift God has given us to bring Him much deserved glory.

 

BEHIND YOUR BACK!  By Lori A Alicea

Today was an ordinary day, no different than most yesterdays of my life.

While walking thru the parking lot of my favorite store, I always pray these same words as I do before entering any other shopping center;

Lord, if there’s a person I need to see in this store, let our paths cross.”

Most days while shopping, it’s just me, myself and I in the store.

Yet occasionally, God orchestrates those chance meetings and encounters down the aisles as we shop, a God who loves an available heart, and willingness to be used…

Ministering to…

An old friend I hadn’t seen in years, sharing her intimate details of a journey with cancer.

Lending an arm of comfort…

To a woman I recognized from high school, who sadly shared her husband had recently passed away.

Bringing joy to myself…

While hearing my granddaughters laughing one isle over, as my daughter shops for Christmas.

The people are there, pushing grocery carts of burdens or cares of this life down the aisles of Walmart or Hobby Lobby, all needing a touch from God’s heart if we are willing to notice them.

Sometimes though, we are meant to see others for our good…

That’s why I remember in all things to pray before taking one step into the store or especially when caught in a time crunch to get in and get out…

Lord, if there’s a person I need to see in this store, let our paths cross.”

She didn’t see me as I passed her browsing the seasonal isle that morning.

I could have continued to shop, unsure if this woman remembered me from thirty-nine years ago, recalling I’ve embarrassed myself (and my husband) in many instances when others couldn’t recollect.

But I remembered Marilyn and the memories we shared, both brand new mothers in the hospital after giving birth to our newborn sons.

Over the years, our lives had intersected thru church, in the fabric and canning departments, as she loved God and life the old fashioned way thru sewing and preparing food from scratch as I did.

We made a connection thirty-nine years ago; so I made a U-Turn in the seasonal aisle of Hobby Lobby to greet a familiar face.

Taking a chance, I said hello to Marilyn as dear friends do, whose bright smile remembered and took us back to those hospital rooms where we embraced motherhood for the very first time.

After almost four decades ago and both of us now in our sixties, we questioned in Hobby Lobby the years gone by since our sons entered our world.

Where did the time go?

Her John and my Jake; now grown men with families of their own.

Going backwards as two first time mothers, both now grandmothers, capturing and sharing snapshots of each other’s lives these last thirty-nine years; the secret passage of time while unaware; behind your back.IMG_4791

You don’t notice quite frankly, at least I didn’t; how time passes by so quickly when half asleep with young children and their midnight feedings, diapers, teething and caring for the demands of the others in the house.1 USE

Even when the children are growing out of their pull-ups and coming into their personalities, giving us hints of who God made them to be, time is sneaking out behind our backs and into the history books of our family.3 USE

Welcoming new days and bright beginnings, we seldom look behind our backs at the distance those paths have taken us from the maiden steps where our journey began.4 USE

You kiss each day with thankfulness for what God has entrusted into your care.5 USE

You lead those into their destinies with God as your tour guide.6 USE

When you inventory what God has given and sense the rustling of the family nest…

You look behind your back and wonder…

Where has all the time gone?”IMG_3702

You pray the family ties of love are strong and tight enough to weather the fiercest storms when they come…and they will.IMG_3700

Yet are confident as you determine…

Family is a circle of strength…
Founded on faith…IMG_3706

Joined in love…

Kept forever by God…
Together forever.

IMG_3708

Yes, time is a ship whose itinerary stops for no one and quickly passes in the night.

Grandchildren are sprouting taller than a field of corn at harvest.  Hardworking family members retire and enjoy the fruits of their labors while some are too busy to notice.

Chairs around the table which seat your favorite faces today, will find themselves empty before you had a chance to really enjoy who they were in your life.

Funerals of good-byes have been overwhelming this past year.  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day many bring.
Proverbs 27:1 NIV

Today is all we have to celebrate; to enjoy; embracing and taking nothing for granted.

Doing so as a family…

Joined in love…
Kept forever by God…

Together forever.IMG_3708

SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE  By Lori A Alicea

It’s just been the three of them for so long.

Living, loving, and smiling together even though the final page from their previous storybook ending was minus their much deserved happily ever after.

But the morning sun of God’s love is faithful to wake from a night’s sleep and rise into the eastern windows of these hearts and shine its brilliance of hope for new beginnings.2 bride kids

God is the author who redeems those pages and chapters written and scripted with a pen not His own; continuing to tell your story from a journal He’s titled, Second Chance at Love.3 bride groom kids

Love is God’s idea.

Acknowledging the loneliness of man, God fashioned a woman from man’s rib then presented this helper back to him.  (Genesis 2:18-22)

At last! The man exclaimed.
This is bone from my bone,
And flesh from my flesh.
She will be called woman,
Because she was taken from man.”
Genesis 2:23 NIV

A woman of great virtue;
A wedding gift of beauty to behold;
A daughter of her heavenly Father’s;

May the man about to receive this treasure keep the sparkle in this woman’s eyes radiant as he loves and serves her thru the pages of their happily ever after.

May those big brown eyes quietly watching you love her mother be the story she secretly longs for in her personal fairy tale in waiting.

8 emma only

A second chance of love sings from the mountain tops and shares with the world and those not close by of the joy she is unable to contain.8.5 bride calling home

A second chance at love honors those memories close at heart; a dear mother, aunt, uncle and grandparents who have taken their front row seats in heaven to witness this most splendid day.9 memory pictures

A second chance at love is a garden of roses carried down the isle to meet the one who has tended her delicate heart about to be given to him in holy matrimony.10 flowers

Who gives this woman away?”

Her mother and I.”

4Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

5It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

7Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

13These things will last forever – faith, hope, and love –
And the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13 NIV

12 court bridal family

You may now kiss your bride”

May you always remember to kiss me goodnight.”13 bride groom kissing

Introducing for the very first time!”

The New Mr. and Mrs.”14 bride groom close up

Celebrating with you are those honored guests whose role is to replay those words you vowed to each other before God; your road-map for any unforeseen moments when giving up seems more tempting than fighting thru.

Remembering always…

Love never fails…

We rejoice with you on your Wedding Day…

And many glorious anniversaries to come…18 wedding cake19 wedding cake bride groom emma

And now…

A wedding gift for the newly married couple; a keepsake we’ve packed for your journey ahead; our wisdom gleaned from our twenty-eight years of venturing the calm and treacherous waters of life together, with you just leaving the harbor.

When God gave us our second chance at love.

We were never meant to take this marriage journey alone. We were meant to inquire and take with us those seasoned tour guides who have traveled and experienced the marriage terrain well; tour guides who have tasted and desire to highlight the best of where we are going in our relationship; warning and protecting us also from the dead-ends, the pitfalls, the danger zones.

Enjoy the journey.

14 bride groom close up

A few words I shared at our 25th Wedding Vow Renewal, in hopes you both will tuck them into the pockets of your hearts and treasure the deep meaning they are meant to impart and travel with you thru the pages of your happily ever after.christmas tree

THE GIFT OF MARRIAGE
WRAPPED UP IN THE LITTLE THINGS
By Lori A Alicea

Marriage is a wonderful gift.

Under the Christmas Tree of Love, marriage is the prettiest package lying among all the others.

Marriage is that gift wrapped up in the memories of the little things.

A gift bound with a three-strand ribbon cord of commitment, complete with a legacy bow, and card signed by Two People Forever in Love.

Long standing marriages are rare and a beautiful gift in its presentation for others to witness, but also a road map for true love, a gift of heritage to give and pass on to the next generation.

Every couple, whether thinking about marriage, newly married or married for some time, would benefit in wisdom by sitting, gleaning and gathering truth under the teachings of those still professing their love after crossing those marriage milestones; their 25th Wedding Anniversary, their 50th Wedding Anniversary and anniversaries beyond.

So much to learn from that bride and groom still honeymooning, still smiling at each other, and holding hands after all these years. A couple whose favorite romantic song composed by Harry Warren and lyricist Al Dubin is,
“I only have eyes for you.”

A couple’s eyes whose sparkle hasn’t dulled for the other when the “going got tough” or when “life revealed its thorns in their bed of roses.” A couple’s eyes that still illuminate the sky when the other walks into the room, a starry night’s reflection of their deep rooted love.

The Gift of Marriage, Wrapped Up in the Little Things, unwraps the present of a twenty-five year marriage spoken by the bride on her Wedding Vow Renewal Day, her vows of honor to her Groom and praise to her God for the blessings of all their years together as man and wife, adding a small bit of wisdom for others to glean in their own relationship of marriage.

May whoever attends this Wedding Vow Renewal Day as our secret guest in these pages find gold in the little things that are spoken here. That these secret guests receive each word as our wedding renewal present, our personal encouragement to begin mining the gold in your own marriage, a gift that God has also abundantly given.

With Much Love,

The Bride and Groom
David and Lori A Alicea, Married October 15, 1994
Renewed their Wedding Vows Twenty-five Years Later

Our Wedding Vow Renewal Begins…

On a beautiful crisp October afternoon and surrounded by our close friends and family, my husband David and I recently celebrated twenty-five years together in a Wedding Vow Renewal. While we could have taken a lavish vacation instead, or bought a diamond ring or anything else spent on just the two of us, we chose to celebrate our twenty-five years together honoring all that God has blessed us with.

In my wedding vows to David, I opened up our album of life together and played a montage of twenty-five years of love and happiness with him through my words. Words are containers for encouragement, inspiration, edification, and for life. For anyone who was listening, especially our children and grandchildren, may my vows and words of honor to David, be also a testament to God and his faithfulness to us, and a takeaway for someone needing a special word for themselves.

Following are the complete vows and words of honor written from my heart to my groom David for our Wedding Vow Renewal, although condensed in length when speaking to my beloved at the altar.

This “album of my words” will come packaged as a variety of gifts wrapped for my groom on our wedding day, gifts presented to him and opened with much excitement as a little child on Christmas morning; our gift also presented back to you, our secret guest.

My Vows and Words of Honor from a Bride of Twenty-Five Years

Twenty five years ago, I married the man of my dreams. Little did I know how my dreams would unfold, spending every minute, hour, day and year of these twenty five years with you.

If I could say anything, at least for us, marriage is wrapped up in the little things.

The reason our twenty five years together have been so magical, is because we have embraced and mined the love and gold in the little things. Here are just a few of the highlights.

GIFT OF CONTENTMENT

We aren’t rich, live in a fancy house or drive a fancy car. In fact, the two biggest rust buckets are parked in this parking lot. But our rust buckets, or Johnny Junks as our kids called them, embarrassed our kids when we picked them up for school, or loaded them full of bikes and camping equipment for vacation.

Contentment is the best gift you could ever give yourself and your marriage.

The celebrations of Christmas will ring its bells every morning in a heart that is thankful for the provisions of God, for what you can afford, even driving a rust bucket called Johnny Junk.

Contentment doesn’t overspend, guarding those margins of peace in your budget and life.

Contentment is happiness with the “fixer-upper” you call home, not daydreaming for the house beyond your means in the gated-community across town. As home will always be the permanent address of your loved ones, not a structure of bricks and mortar that will one day rot and burn.

Our teenagers would learn a valuable lesson in contentment while growing up in a community where the railroad tracks doubled as an invisible division line between the rich and well-to-do with the average and blue-collar families like ours.

With their friend’s parent’s working in the demanding medical, law and other high profile professions, and whose houses could easily be featured in a Homes and Garden magazine, our teenage children embarrassed of their own home and me a “stay at home mother”, didn’t bring their friends over for dinner the first couple of years we lived this side of the tracks.

Interestingly though, our house would be invaded by the hungry friends of our kids years later, who looked for their new homemade favorites in my freezer: chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins and meat pockets to name a few, as their busy parents didn’t always have time to cook. Sadly, a few of these families who lived a life of extravagance, faced divorce and emptiness as many of us, an eye-opener for our teenagers that things can always fill a room, but never fill a heart with happiness and joy.

GIFT OF SMALL MOMENTS

When our girls were little, you would blow dry their hair after baths on Saturday before church on Sunday. I can still see them in your long white tea shirts. One with a big A written on the back with a marker standing for Audra, one for C standing for Candace.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
But by the moments that take our breath away.
Anonymous

They were so cute, adorable and innocent in their six years of life. They were daddy’s girls who fought for his lap, to be the first to hug his neck, to proudly show off their papers at school. Two sweet angels who share their daddies love and heart, though one not his name, a reality that never occurred to either of them.

It was just a Saturday evening ritual of blow drying the hair of two little girls, a father and daughter moment spent together after baths, an event that didn’t cost a dad anything but his time, yet would be remembered as a beautiful gift of small moments.

At the end of one’s life you won’t be thankful for the over-commitments at work or whatever constricted the breath of your available time. What will bring a smile to one’s face at life’s end is going through the scrapbook pages of the “sweet nothings”, recalling and recounting the memories made being present in the lives of your loved ones.

Like those Saturday’s when dad made his famous pancakes, giving mom a break in the kitchen.

When dad packed the tackle box, the fishing rods, his kids, including the girls, their cousins, and took them all fishing.

When dad made those annual summer dates to the amusement park with his kids and their cousins, upset that his sweet little girls showed up bigger every year against his wishes.

Small moments made today become those gifts your kids remember tomorrow. These gifts barely cost much but an available you. Make sure Christmas is every day for them.

GIFT OF HELP

Two months after marriage, you began bailing me out of my craft jams and learned to use a glue gun, sew, or help me engineer any craft problem I was having. You were even helping me fix these homemade centerpieces just yesterday.

When I used to clean houses, you never batted an eye to go with me and help on your days off. All my lady clients wanted to hire you and fire me as you noticed and fixed all their broken “whatever’s”, though you were never asked.

When the kids got older, you’d fix their cars, help paint their houses; whatever they needed. Only payment required was that they fed you lunch so you wouldn’t throw up as you have such a sensitive stomach.

Kindness

One of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon another.

If someone is in need, lend them a helping hand. Do not wait for a thank you.

True kindness lies within the act of giving without the expectation of something in return.

Anonymous

In marriage, “teamwork makes the dream work” when two people lend a helping hand to another in need; a wife helping her husband bleed the brakes; a husband assisting in his wife’s crafts, a father fixing his kid’s car for the hundredth time and still counting.

As an event decorator, there is always one component I need help with; every time, every event. I need rescuing in engineering, woodworking, cutting, painting, ironing, staining, gluing, the list is endless, and without complaining, my husband helps by lending a hand.

Love grows when love helps.

He “chooses me” when I need him to plug in the power tools, stand for hours at the ironing board, or paint and stain for days. I have loved my husband more these twenty-five years because of it. Nothing says I love you more than when true love helps.

GIFT OF FUN

Fun could always be found in your back pocket. You were never too tired to take the girls to the park when they were little, and now we live at the park with the grandchildren.

Once, I turned my back only to find Audra and Candace in a water fountain splashing around. Hello people, do you want to get arrested. I was always the Debbie downer. But you, kept the fun alive and hence, all our memories.

You and Candace thought you were funny when you dropped me off for one of Jake’s track meets only to go to the movies instead. Not realizing the race would get over before your movie, leaving me stranded in the dead of winter in a corn field.

You would secretly take the boys to the movies when you were supposed to be going to men’s class.

They say couples balance themselves.

In our marriage, that might not be necessarily true.

If it wasn’t for David, we would never laugh. If it wasn’t for me, we’d never have a serious moment. Couples balance themselves, but for us, David tips the scales with his hilarious look on life, for which I am eternally thankful. Life is too short, so why not live it smiling and laughing.

He sees the funny; he’s a man of a million Disney voices. David should have been in theater. The grand-kids love his pretending, his natural ability to stir up giggles in these little ones by bringing cartoon characters to life in their play together.

Find the “funny” in marriage. Do some “heavy lifting” of the mundane by lifting ones spirits using the Gift of Fun, the gift in laughter.

GIFT OF HONOR

Though my kids have a dad and we will always honor that, you have been the best version of a dad that any mother could have wanted for her kids. You have been the Best dad to your son. You call him every day while you both are driving. You are dad to our son ‘n love Kyle and daughter’s ‘n love Kristy and Crystal.

Though we are a blended marriage, there are no “steps” in our family. The only “steps” in our house are those that lead to the heart.

Nothing speaks more of honor than loving someone else’s children as your own; loving your son ‘n law as your son, or loving your daughter ‘n laws as your daughters. With blended families more common than ever, it’s more important than ever, that love not require a blood test to be genuine, but test the genuineness of a heart instead.

In our twenty-five years as a bi-racial couple, love has been blind to our color.

Eight of our ten grandchildren have never questioned why their papa’s skin is brown while theirs is white.

Our love has crossed genealogy lines to create new family ties that bind, ties that don’t require DNA to say we are related, because love just says we are. Love says not “who” you are, but “whose” you are; as a son, a daughter, a grandson or granddaughter.

Love says you are family when the boundaries of one’s heart expand its borders to include those you have chosen to adopt into your life, those you have chosen to add to the family tree.

GIFT OF TRADITION

When we first got married, you told the kids we would all eat whatever I served at the table, even if the rice in my earlier days looked like oatmeal.

Combining ethnic backgrounds, you learned to like biscuits and gravy. I learned to like rice that wasn’t Uncle Ben’s style. You’d even eat bologna if I served it.

Mark 10:8 NIV
And two will become one flesh…

In marriage, two become one in spirit, in soul and in body.

Two also become one in family, in backgrounds, in traditions.

Ruth 1:16 NIV
… your people will be my people..

Marriage reveals the true love of family relationships or lack-there-of.

Marriage magnifies the love of food both tied to family memories and family members.

Marriage requires embracing both families as your own, but in most cases, easier said than done. Families rarely like change to tradition, change to the holiday menu, change that requires sharing with other families, “a give and take” that many times results in a “tug of war” of emotions instead.

In marriage, couples need to find room for new traditions of their own, still keeping alive old traditions without allowing the “tug of war” of one’s heartstrings from families. Holidays will have to be shared or alternated. New foods and new traditions will need to find a new place in a couple’s life.

Marriage initiates a dance of “leaving and cleaving”; a leaving of family so the cleaving of two can become one. Families are a close second, but lost their place to first. Protect the boundaries of your marriage with Godly love; keeping in step with the marriage dance.

GIFT OF TIME

You learned to speak my love language of quality time by sitting for long periods of time over coffee.

In marriage, we both communicate in what author Gary Chapman calls a “love language”.

In marriage, we both give and receive love, hoping to communicate in the love language our partner understands.

In our marriage, my husband is bi-lingual, speaking and understanding both English and Spanish, while I only understand and speak just English. If David spoke only Spanish to me, there would be a communication failure in our relationship, leaving me feeling left out, feeling unloved, as speaking my language of English could have prevented this breakdown.

Author Gary Chapman writes in his book, The Five Love Languages, that relationships could thrive if we recognize the love language of our partner, and speak it to them fluently, filling their “love tanks” to the full line. Chapman writes there are five ways to express and experience love, in five ways called love languages.

Love language of Receiving gifts – as a way to say he was thinking of me.

Love language of Quality time – in giving of our undivided attention.

Love Language in our Words of affirmation – using our words to build the other up.

Love language in our Acts of service (devotion) – in doing something our spouse would like.

Love language in our Physical touch – our physical expressions of love.

Chapman encourages us to observe the way our partner expresses love to others, and analyze what they complain about most often, both indicators of what their receiving love language might be. He says people tend to give love in the way they prefer to receive love. We are to communicate in the way they understand.

To truly love someone, we must be willing to discover our partner’s love language and speak it regularly to keep your love alive. We must care for them enough to fill their “love tank” to the full line on a daily basis.

GIFT OF IDEAS

You opened a small store at work when Jake was going to college so you could take your spare change and fill up his tank with gas and ashtray full of quarters before he left each time for school. Your spare change helped pay a small portion of his college.

Marriage thrives in creativity, the intentional, the thinking of new ways and new ideas to keep your love alive.

If not careful, marriage can become a nine-to-five, a mundane day of coming and going, getting stuck in the rut of the predictable.

But it doesn’t take much.

A small idea bursting in a big love of fireworks will set the heart aflame.

You’d surprise yourself by opening that art box of creativity to inspire exciting ways to remain honeymooner’s decades after you said “I do.”

Years ago, it was more than a father’s spare change he saved for his son.

Years ago, it was more than a blue-collar worker thinking of a way to send his son to college.

Just because you don’t come from much, or have much, doesn’t mean you’re running on empty with nothing to give.

This father’s heart was full, brimmed with an overflowing theme of giving all he had, even if it amounted to and accounted for as spare change made from the store idea he had as a small way of helping his son go to college.

A prosthodontist son looking back now at the investment made from his” blue-collar” father, will pay back in dividends of appreciation and impact the hearts for future generations.

Don’t discount the spare change of your intentions, when your spare change equates to giving all you have. Your spare change might be worth your “happily ever after.”

GIFT OF REALIZATION

It was hard when our kids began to grow up feeling the nest wrestle as they left one after the other, and it became just you and me. We drowned in the silence and loneliness as we missed them so much; funny though, in time we learned to love just being the two of us.

But then the grand-kids started coming. And there we were again, going crazy over these babies that God entrusted us to love and tell them about him.

Now life started having real meaning.

Enjoy the little things in life…
For one day you’ll look back
And realize they were the big things..
Author Kurt Vonnegut

Life changes in an instant. You blink and your kids are grown.

You turn your back and your grand-babies aren’t babies anymore.

Savor the moments of every day…
…. waking up to the one that you love.
… taking in another deep breath.
… savoring the smell of your first cup of coffee.
… inhaling the fragrance of your loved one’s cologne.

Don’t be in such a rush…Soak in the morning sunrises. Stop for the evening sunsets.

Don’t wait for a special occasion to set out the china.

Eat by candlelight; every night.

Live in the minute you have right now.

Don’t waste today by setting it aside for tomorrow.

Wrap up the “gift of life” you hold in your hand and treasure it. Realizing and remembering:

…you do not know what tomorrow will bring.

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a

little time and then vanishes.

James 4:14

GIFT OF “YES”

Nothing was ever a “no” with you when it came to our children.

When the military moved our son Jake to Washington State and he needed his car driven to him requiring a three day journey, you said, “Let’s go.”

When our heartbroken daughter Candace living in Georgia needed her father to scoop her and her baby in his arms and tuck her back into her childhood bed so that God could restore and heal her heart, you and your brother said, “Let’s go.”

When the military moved Jake again to Washington DC and many times over the next three years…

Leaving Crystal beyond stressed with Jake working day and night at the hospital…

With the grass out of control…

With the boxes of Jake’s to-do-list not getting checked off…

When Crystal needs a break from the household chores and your lonely grandchildren say that all they want for Christmas is their grandparents…

You say, at least for Thanksgiving that year, “Let’s go.”

Your “yes’ could impact someone’s world.

Live to be the change agent in someone’s life.

Say “yes” to being inconvenienced.

Say “yes’ to brightening someone’s dark day.

Say “yes”, and be willing to get out of your comfort zone, your comfy chair or favorite slippers.

Roll up your sleeves. Get your hands dirty.

Come along side someone who needs you to throw them a rope, a lifeline to rescue them from their mess.

Sowing into another man’s field will always reap a harvest into your own field, but you must first say “yes” to the sowing.

You can’t out give yourself.

Sow your time, your talents, and your resources.

Sow yourself. Give of yourself; to others, to your family, to your mate.

You must sow seed to reap a harvest of a bountiful marriage.

Your barns will always be full with your “yes”.

GIFT OF BEING THEIR HERO

In the grand-kids eyes, you are famous.

The grand-kids favorite drink is named after you called Papa’s juice,
also known as Crystal light.

The Grand-kids favorite store that you take them to is called Papa’s store,
also known as Dollar General.

At the end of the day,
It won’t be the money you’ve spent on them that they will remember;
But the moments you’ve spent with them instead.

Papa’s allowance has never been spent on himself.

Every Friday night during Cousin Camp, Papa divvies out $2.00 to each grandchild and a bike ride shopping trip “to and from” the Dollar General. The grand-kids come home with their own shopping bag of goodies and a memory in their bike basket. Papa comes home with a bag of moments in his, costing him “next to nothing” but his time.

Memories make you a hero.

I have never forgotten when my uncle took us nieces and nephews to the dime store back in my day as a little girl. When these grandchildren grow up they will never be able to look at a Dollar General without remembering their Papa.

Be the hero in your marriage.

Come home from work every now and then with their favorite “something” bagged in your bike basket. You don’t have to look any further than the Dollar General to make a memory.

Every so often my husband brings me a small box of Junior Mints, which always stirs a smile and reminder of the candy I ate as a child while going to the movies with my parents.

It’s never much; a thought, a gesture, still a thought of them nevertheless. Don’t miss the opportunities available to us all. You might be their hero and not even know it.

GIFT OF ADVENTURE

Years ago, we bought two bikes for ourselves, one with a car seat in the back.

Our Journey of a million miles with our grand-kids began. Living in the country, we rode our bikes everywhere. We’d find bikes set out for trash and brought them home for each of them.

All the grand-kids have a bike and pass them down to their cousins when they outgrow them.

You don’t have to drive far to reach the town of “adventure”.

Look no further than your own back yard for a camping trip of tent sleeping, campfires and s’mores. A few streets over is a winter morning of thrills and screams down a snow packed sledding hill. “Trick or Treating” can be enjoyed as a family in the living room and bicycle rides can be taken in your jammies anytime you want.

Don’t let that little boy or girl in you ever grow up. Always want to be a “Toys R Us Kid”. You don’t have to take a plane ride to Disney to experience Magic Kingdom. Find adventure in the nooks and crannies of your back yard, your neighborhood, or down the street. Adventure is read from the Tom Sawyer books of your mind. Live out the pages with your children, your grandchildren, and your spouse. People watching will want to know the secret to your happiness, the recipe of your joy. Tell them look no further than their own back yard.

GIFT OF MEMORIES

We host Cousin Camp every Friday where our grown kids have date night over night without their children. I am in charge of cooking and taking care of the little ones. You are in charge of the fun. There is no minimum age requirement for Cousin Camp, usually getting them at six weeks. Hardest part is when they won’t want to come to cousin camp anymore.

Saturday mornings, you could always hear the giggles and little feet of babies scurrying to get to papa’s side of the bed to wake you up. Sure made you sad when they stopped. Now Ayva and Aubrey look for you under the covers.

Whenever we Face-time the grand-kids, they always want to talk to their papa. Hello, what about Gaga. Where’s my papa? Papa, Papa, Papa.

After twenty five years of marriage, now the grandchildren tell us, Papa and Gaga, “Your feet are old.” I guess I have earned that title after wearing flip flops year round.

In the midnight hour of Cousin Camp, I always find myself making rounds, counting the faces of our sleeping beauties, making sure they are safe in their dreams, only to silently laugh at what looks like the aftermath of a JR Frat party.

Every now and then I find that the three little ones have raided the closet¸ nestled and swallowed up in their papa’s winter coats. Maybe it’s the soothing, lingering smell of papa’s cologne on the collar. Maybe it’s the comfort of sleeping in papa’s arms, even if it’s in the sleeves of your winter coat.

No amount of money could ever afford to buy a memory.
Being too busy or working too hard will bankrupt a marriage of its scrapbook of memories.

Memories have a small price tag of time, of heart, of availability. A currency every marriage can afford and must be willing to pay to see their wedding albums full of moments captured on the pages of their years together.

Memories are our quilt squares of stories, our blanket of “warm fuzzies” we snuggle with in our remembering, our history passed and sometimes relived thru the generations.

GIFT OF AWARENESS

It’s funny how we can sense the slight wrestling of the nest again. Grand-kids are growing up. Brooke is in high school. Aubrey will be losing her papal, aka pacifier and don’t know when Kizzey will lose her thumb. Even though it is still a few years away, we sense the wrestling of the nest nevertheless.

Then it will be back to you and me again. But God has great plans for the gray hairs of our world. He never wants us to get comfortable, because he will be unfolding dreams for our lives to the very end.

Wise is the man who recognizes the seasons of life.
Seasons he must prepare his heart in advance for.
So you’re not taken off guard when the seasons change guard.

The season of time is on the move and gives no regard to whoever is in its lane.

Kids grow up. We grow old. This season happens so fast. You want to slow down time, but remember, time doesn’t slow down for those wanting to go under the speed limit.

Grandparents lament watching their grandchildren not need their “blankies” anymore.

Grandchildren are saddened when their Grandparents hair turns grey.

Kids turn into teenagers who then become adults. Parents and Grandparents must let them go so they can grow. Aware though in this season of time, we ourselves must continue to grow.

An empty nest should never find an empty heart, but discover a heart wanting more.

The end of one season bumps into the beginning of another. A season we should have been anticipating for, preparing for and dreaming for, even in our old age.

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit…your old men will dream dreams.”
Acts 2:17 NIV

GIFT OF A SON

You are the best son. Your mother taught her five sons how to love their wives. She taught her boys how to cook, clean and iron. You get A’s in all those areas.

You are a wonderful son to my mother. When mother lived a street over, you’d stop by her house after work to raid her refrigerator and spend a few minutes with her. You even learned to enjoy her game shows.

Whenever our teenage kids were entering the dating stage, we always told them to observe how their potential date treated their mother and father. This potential date was a keeper if they honored, revered, respected and loved their parents, a possible indicator how they would be treated. Someone who honors their parents are rewarded by God with a long and blessed life, blessings to share if those dating ever married.

Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right.

“Honor your father and mother” is the first
commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have along life.”Ephesians 6:1-3 (MSG)

My husband’s dearest quality is framed in his love for his mother and mother ‘n law, although he calls her mother too. His gentleness in speaking with them, kindness in serving them, and heart in loving them overflows into the river of our relationship in even greater waves of gentleness, kindness and love.

Marriages experience the fullness of God’s blessing when we deeply honor those that have given us life. This is God’s first Commandment of Promise.

When my mother became a widow, my husband became that extra pair of hands around my mother’s house to mow her grass, fix her car, take care of any household repairs, and be her coffee companion on a lonely day. What wife couldn’t fall even more in love with a man who serves her mother as my husband does?

Now that my mother resides in a nursing home facility, mom is still loved by her son ‘n law with his phone calls and visits, enriching our marriage because of a son’s generous heart.

GIFT OF NOTICING

One of the five love languages my husband speaks so well and fluently is “meaningful touch. There’s a calming in his hands, his embrace, his touch. Grand-babies fall asleep in his arms. Grandchildren melt in his embrace. Senior ladies in the nursing home blow him kisses after he has held their hand, telling them how beautiful they look.

Walking the halls of my mother’s nursing home and passing the wheelchairs that line the isles; my husband touches shoulders of those representing someone’s mother, grandmother, father, grandfather, friend or spouse, stirring life in them even if for a spontaneous moment. He notices them when some have been that unnoticed wallpaper most of the day.

My husband and I hold hands everywhere we are, everywhere we go; in the car, side by side watching TV, walking through the store, drinking coffee together. With my love language of quality time, my husband notices this need and speaks to my love language of time with his meaningful touch.

In marriage, noticing the seemingly insignificant as important, noticing what others fail to see, breathes oxygen into the life of your relationship. Noticing and tending to the tiniest of details in the fields of marriage keeps out those unwanted weeds from choking its fruitfulness.

Be an arm of comfort. Be a hand to hold. Be everything in your embrace.

Notice the loneliness.
Notice the need.
Keep watch over your marriage.
Keep a vigil over the one that you love.

Notice and speak in the love language your spouse understands and responds to.

Be to them whatever gives them life.
You’ll find that special someone blowing you kisses because you took the time to notice.

GIFT OF DOING

When I think of doing, I think of serving. When I think of serving, I think of towels.

My husband David throws a towel over his shoulder each time he serves me at a sink full of dishes. Maybe his shoulder is a convenient place for towels when dishes are ready to be dried. Maybe it’s my reminder that great leaders are servant leaders; that no task is beneath them.

I could write a book filling the pages of dedication that have earned my husband his stripes for a lifetime service to our family. He proudly wears the uniform reserved only for servants, a high position for those willing to answer the call to go low.

Laundry, cooking, housework, yard work and car repairs make the short list. My husband delighted in shining patent leather shoes to a sparkle for his little girls before church. Neighbors could hear the laughter of “catch” in the backyard between a father and his sons. Little league games stole the base of a father’s heart in the summer, yet gave away his heart through date nights and time over coffee with his wife.

Throughout the decades the pages of our marriage boasts a best seller because one man understood the power of the towel; an attitude of his heart. To lead you must serve. In going low you will go high. To answer the call of a servant, you take up your towel.

(Excerpt from my blog, It’s More Than A Towel)

“Out-serve” your spouse.

There is nothing that screams “I love you” louder than one who lays down his life for another in serving them and their needs. Without ever asking, David washes the dishes whenever the sink is full; many times after arriving home from work. No task too big, too menial or inconvenient for my husband. Albeit toilets, floors, cleaning the aftermath of a child up at night with the flu; no matter the task, David and his towel expresses love for me and our family in the “doing”.doing

GIFT OF A NEIGHBOR

You are the best neighbor, especially when that neighbor is our landlord and brother n law. Always serving and doing though never asked, just mowing and plowing for him when he is working or especially this past year suffering with cancer.

There’s always that one neighbor on the block who wished you’d move. There’s always that one neighbor who has declares himself the town mayor. There’s always that one neighbor who you believe wakes up every day to make your life miserable.

The house God blesses us with is never an accident. We are his chess pieces, strategically placed near those neighbors who need a touch of God thru us. You don’t get to choose your neighbors, but you can choose to love them. 

“Hurting people hurt people”, Author Joyce Meyers says.

But we as “representatives for Christ” are called to love those hurting neighbors God has chosen for us to live by.

In loving your neighbor, you have loved yourself. Love your neighbor as yourself. 1 John 4:21

In loving your neighbor, you are following Christ’s example.

Love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

Three years was all we could take living next to a self-appointed town major; a neighbor who shouted his disapproval of every detail of our lives from the rooftop.

Our lifestyle of frequent family gatherings and celebrations were complained about in his sharp-edged tongue. Sadly, he taught his adult children and young grandchildren to disrespect to us from across the street.

The night before our moving van pulled away for good, this neighbor and family of adults and grandchildren hosted a good-bye party in our honor with fireworks and hand clapping from their front lawn, rejoicing in our leaving. Their unfounded disdain for us, my family and grandchildren, stabbed a dagger of sadness and tears into my heart.

From three years on our side of the street though, we tried to reach this man with our love. Our innocent grandchildren waved at him who reciprocated by running over their toys that lay in the street while they played. My husband knocked on this neighbor’s door each December with Christmas cookies, a man who never answered the door. For three years we waved, we smiled, we prayed for our neighbor in God’s love, and then we moved.

Choose to be an ambassador for Christ by loving those unlovely.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 1 Peter 4:8neighbor

GIFT OF LOVE

You have loved me by loving our kids.

You have loved me by loving our parents.

You have loved me by being the hero of our grandchildren.

You have loved me by loving God.

You love so well. You forgive so well.

Love is not a feeling. Feelings are fickle, feelings can change based on circumstances.

Love is a verb.

Love is action.

Love says I’m committed no matter what.

Love is not a feel good Hallmark movie.

Love is real life, overlooking the difficult, the excruciating, the painful.

Love digs deep and celebrates the highs, the lows and vows unto death with our vows:

I take you, To have and to hold, From this day forward, For better, for worse,
For richer, for poorer, In sickness and in health, To love and to cherish,
Till death us to part.

Marriage doesn’t have a back door.
Marriage locks arms, an outward message of an inner truth: we will get thru this.

Marriage is committed in sickness and in health.

Marriage is committed for richer or poorer

Love is a choice. Love is a heart in action.

True love is unconditional. True love love’s regardless, no matter what.

God, our author of Love, tells us how to love by following his example.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV

GIFT OF WISDOM

And to think that twenty-five years ago I almost missed all of this when I almost had the arrogance and audacity to say no to God’s best in you, believing His best didn’t fit to what I had envisioned for myself.

Thankfully, our Pastor at the time, the man who had shepherded and fathered my heart for the last five years before we began dating, imparted wisdom in my confusion, “Just believe with your heart, and God will allow you to see with your eyes.”

When you knocked on my door that very first time to pick me up for a Valentine’s Dance, still nervous about surrendering my will to God, how Pastor’s words still whispered to me, “Just believe and God will allow you to see.”

When I opened the door, darkness became day and finally saw God’s best in you with my own eyes. God just wanted first my surrendered heart, my trust, my yes. I haven’t taken my eyes off of you ever since.

Love isn’t always going to make sense. Love trusts the author, the one who knows all things.

Love trusts the one whose ways are higher than our ways, whose thoughts are not our thoughts.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

It’s great wisdom when you allow those long-standing marriages; those couples who bear a bright light for God’s love in their relationship, speak love and wisdom into yours.

We were never meant to take this marriage journey alone. We were meant to inquire and take with us those seasoned tour guides who have traveled and experienced the marriage terrain well; tour guides who have tasted and desire to highlight the best of where we are going in our relationship; warning and protecting us also from the dead-ends, the pitfalls, the danger zones.

Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the Lord…Proverbs 3:7 AKJV

Allow God to speak to you through those veterans who have fought the battle, bear the scars and bear up one another in love. You will never win the war that is waged against your marriage unless you are led by those who have earned the stripes of a general.

GIFT OF THANKFULNESS

I thank God every day that I headed Pastor’s counsel and said yes to God and said yes to you.

From the bedroom window, I always seem to wake up at two in the morning, when you are leaving the driveway for work. You faithfully get up every day and work 12-14 hours. I always pray for you when you leave. I thank God for you and ask him to bring you home safely as I can’t fathom life being me without you.

Marriage requires us to be:

Thankful for the good times.

Thankful for the bad.

Thankful for the rain as it waters the flowers.

Thankful for the night as we need rest, the earth must slumber.

Being thankful is sometimes thankful for the “Hello of our Good-by”

Good-by to our babies entering the classroom on the first day of school.

Good-by to our twenties, our thirties, good-by to our youth.

Good-by to our hair color and hello to the grey hairs of wisdom.

Good-by is our bookend to hello.

A shelf of memories stacked between each bookend, keeping each scrapbook firmly placed between so many years of good-byes and hellos.

While our good-byes can stir up a whirlwind of joy as does its partner of hello, it’s just embracing the vision of the hello when “letting go” in our good-bye causes so much emotion.

One sad good-bye is a glorious hello to someone else.
We were never meant to hold on to anything;
The moments, life as we know it, each other.

Life is a daily letting go so that in our letting go we can “Let God”
Have His way in us.
Good-by might not be the hello we want to embrace.
But be willing to stay in your lane.
Get in position for the hand-off of the good-bye baton for God’s glorious Hello.

Continue to run the race set before you.
As good-bye is always our hello to the next step, the new beginning of something wonderful God wants to do thru us.

(Excerpt from my Blog, “The Hello of Our Good-by”)

GIFT OF WARMTH

A man sets the temperature of the house. It is always toasty warm by the fire of our love.

It’s just the simple truth.

The success of our twenty-five years of marriage is because the temperature my husband sets in our house is never a cold shoulder to the needs of his wife, his children, extended family and friends.

My husband stokes the fire of our love when he senses a chill in the air to my sadness, to me wanting more or needing more.

Something simple as “dialing” up the thermostat of one’s love could be your spouse’s “winter coat” of protection from a heart’s slow death of frostbite.

A few logs on the fire keeps a room toasty warm.
The “flames of one’s heart” for the other requires just a few logs, minimal stoking and blowing life on the embers to keep their fire from going out.

Love requires small efforts, though constant attention to keep the “flames of one’s heart” aglow. Love realizes that when winter blasts a marriage with the deep drifts of problems, warm hearts will always keep them alive until spring.

Wives respond to the temperature their man sets in the house; a warm smile, their cozy words, a “blanket of love” to snuggle together with.

Be vigilant to the temperature of your spouse’s heart.
Love “going cold” is a slow death; a death nevertheless. Being too busy, too stressed, financially overwhelmed, or falling under the weight of exhaustion dials down the temperature of one’s heart and marriage.

Beware of old man winter. Stockpile the logs of your love so those unexpected seasons of marital winter finds you prepared to face whatever tries to douse the flames of your heart.warmth

GIFT OF CHRISTMAS

You say you wish you could have given me the fancy house, the fancy car and diamond ring. I say it’s been like Christmas every day for the last twenty-five years.

You have given me gifts wrapped in glittered paper topped with sparkled bows. You have given me gifts that money could never afford to buy. Gifts that have made me feel loved from the moon and back.  Gifts that are wrapped up in the little things.

For twenty-five glorious years, our marriage has been those gifts wrapped up in the memories of the little things. Gifts bound with a three-strand ribbon cord of commitment, complete with a legacy bow, and card signed by Two People Forever in Love.

As wonderful and magical as these gifts in our marriage have been, it’s been that three-strand ribbon cord of commitment that has bound us together in love all these years.

I read once that a three-strand ribbon cord is:
“God’s Knot symbolizing the joining of two people, and God himself into a marriage relationship. By keeping God at the center of your marriage, His love will continue to bind you together throughout your marriage.”

A cord of three strands is not easily broken. A lasting marriage finds two people holding onto one another, while both holding onto God for dear life.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Marriage isn’t easy. Marriage is effort. Marriage requires something from you every day.
But marriage is beautiful. Marriage is worth it.

Marriage is a gift.christmas tree

GIFT OF VOWS

I will love you forever.

I will dream with you forever.

I will be by your side forever.

Thank you for the most amazing twenty-five years.

I can only imagine and can’t wait for the next 25. I love you.

Vows are solemn promises before God, meant to be serious and sacred. Vowing and promising to love forever.  Means loving: For all time, at all times, from this moment on.

Vowing to love forever: Is promising your heart until death doth part their ways.

From that beautiful day at our wedding altar to another beautiful anniversary altar twenty-five years later, our forever has been tried and tested as the forever in all marriages. But I stand here before the man of my dreams and God that we share, fully in love, unwavering and convinced that forever will follow us unto death.

Our twenty-fifth anniversary event was a gift to ourselves birthed in our desire to glorify and celebrate who God has been through us, the lives of two people sharing their hearts and love in marriage. But deeper still, in celebrating our anniversary, we longed to deposit a legacy gift in the hearts of our grandchildren and generations beyond, reminding them that marriage can last and thrive for a lifetime if God is allowed to be the center of and third person in a three-strand ribbon cord of commitment.

Thank you for attending our 25th Wedding Vow Renewal as our secret guests.

We joyfully pray that while rejoicing with us during our milestone anniversary, you have mined a basket full of gold and gifts wrapped up in the little things of your own relationship.

May something we have said or done be of encouragement to you through our:

Gift of Marriage, Wrapped Up in the Little Things
A gift bound with a three-strand ribbon cord of commitment,
Complete with a legacy bow and card signed by:
Two People Forever in Love

HAND-PRINT THAT YOU LEAVE  By Lori A Alicea

Almost thirty years ago, a city that I lived in then and still do today, erected a wall of hands to remember and memorialize its children with squares of their painted hand-prints, creating the entrance to a brand new playground and summer memories for this and future generations.USE wall of hands

After years of childhood laughter, tag, birthday parties and afternoon lunches at our cities most famous park, this haven of fun has been replaced with a brand new playground for another generation of children; a weekend place of amusement our younger and sometimes older grandchildren beg us grandparents to take them to.

But what didn’t get replaced and still stands today in all its glory is that wall of hands from thirty years ago.USE handprints

A memorial where our cities children, where two brothers and two sisters (four cousins) in our family permanently scrabooked their young hand-prints, a wall which tugs this parent’s heart when remembering my son and daughter’s life so long ago.

Hand-prints left behind;

A library of lives;

Wall to wall of stories;

A portrait of children begging a reunion.USE wall of hands

I wonder how many grown children stop by and pay homage to their younger self.

I wonder about those sons or daughters who overlay their hand-print on their father or mother’s painted hand, their sacred square which bridges those years together and testifies to the family history they share.

In living life, we are leaving hand-prints behind, most of the time unknowingly.

Our innocent smiles of good morning to complete strangers…

Paying for someone’s coffee in the car behind you…

Holding the door for a patron entering the store…

Letting someone take your turn at the stop sign…

These are hand-prints that you leave.

Hand-prints are those single rose stems left behind at the front door of those lives touched by your life.

Hand-prints left behind while you are unaware of their present circumstances, sometimes in desperate want of this thoughtfulness.

Our years here on earth should reflect a wall of hands we’ve impacted in those simple acts of kindness; leaving hand-prints on the hearts of those thirsty for a drink of God’s love.

It really doesn’t take much.

Hand-prints left behind are woven and interlaced into the baskets we’ve planted small seeds in; never realizing the beauty which blooms one day in those lives we gardened.USE basket 2

Weaving her life into others thru baskets, I remember with joy our Bon Bon (Bonnie) and basket-weaver, a matriarch in our family.

Blessed to have a few of Bonnie’s baskets, I value these woven containers of love which left behind her hand-prints of time, creativity and great patience.USE basket 1

All of Bonnie’s baskets are celebrated with a personal hand-print left behind in her own signature.

Now that Bon Bon is with Jesus, seeing her name greatly increases the family sentiment of these gifts.USE bonnies name

At our matriarch’s Home-going Service, her daughter thought nothing seemed more fitting than honoring her mother with one of her baskets overflowing with Bonnie’s favorite flowers and wheat.USE Bonnies final basket

I was deeply blessed by Bonnie’s son (my brother ‘n law) who asked me to celebrate our basket weaver with a poem of my heart.

Yes, it just doesn’t take much to leave your hand-print behind.

For Bonnie, it was baskets.

For you, it might be a song, a story, a building, a painting, a garden, a kind word or small act of kindness.

Whatever it is, do it hardheartedly and do it for the Glory of God.USE Bonnies flowersBONNIE’S BASKETS
By Lori A Alicea

The endless lengths of naked reed,
Dyed color choice and shade.
In weaver’s hands, a masterpiece,
Behold a basket made.

Her basket filled with books or quilts,
Or plants the weaver’s choice.
The weaver’s heart displayed amid,
The humming of her voice.

Her friends, her kids, her special grands,
All woven in her heart.
Behold a basket made in love,
A gift she dare not part.

But soon the basket maker gives,
Into their open hands.
The basket of her heart receive,
Her friends, her kids and grands.

Rejoice in song, and hum as she,
Rejoice the love she leaves.
And interwoven in our lives,
Remains her basket weaves.

USE basket 2

PASSED ON DOWN THRU THE APRON  By Lori A Alicea

Their Kentucky kitchens are only a short walk across the neighborhood yard from the front door of my memory, and every now and then I show up unannounced in the early morning for a plate of homemade love from their oven.

Back in the day during a long weekend when we visited Horse Cave, Ma-maw started breakfast before the roosters were barely awake, and the smells of her kitchen labors wafted where I slept, as a silent alarm to find my place at the breakfast table.

Dressed in her ruffled apron which wrapped around her grandmotherly self and tied into a beautiful bow in the back, I always smiled when I noticed her flour dusted pinafore because that meant recently rolled out biscuits were baking in a cured skillet.

Kentucky jake papa and mama

A Kentucky visit wouldn’t be complete without spending the night at Aunt Alley and Uncle Condie’s Cave City home, a place capturing the character and ambiance of a bed and breakfast.

Mistaken as a few birds singing outside an opened kitchen window, was humming heard from my aunt dressed in an apron, frying up a skillet of country ham and eggs at her cast iron stove, and serving breakfast at a table already set and clothed in red gingham.

Homemade biscuits were a staple in the south, and Aunt Alleys by far, were the best. Maybe dipping both sides in hot bacon grease and baking them to a golden brown had something to do with it.

Although Uncle Condie, a carpet layer by day and bee-keeper at night, enhanced the flavor by teaching us to whip a small bowl of soft butter and his signature honey together and lather up a plate of Aunt Alley’s southern love.

Our uncles affection for bees was passed on down thru the generations.

It’s quite possible most modern kitchens don’t have a hidden drawer of aprons to pull out and wear while preparing meals.

Maybe the apron has lost its relevance as many busy lives now feed their families on-the-go.

Maybe I’m showing my age or love for crafts and matching hand sewn aprons worn in the kitchen.

Or maybe I still treasure what was passed on down thru the apron to me, the generations teaching the younger the art of cooking, and the bonds of community women find they desperately need by serving side by side.

There’s something about those handwritten recipes still retaining the greased fingerprints of our mothers, who found true joy making her families favorites while clothed in her apron.

One by one when our mother’s passed, we shared their recipes and choked at times our attempts to re-create her kitchen love, although somehow coming up short.

Nobody has ever made my mother ‘n laws potato salad like she did.

Our Nanny’s broccoli salad never tasted the same when we tried.

I’d give anything to have Bonnie’s Raspberry Pretzel dessert prepared from her hands.

My sisters and I have our personal version of mother’s holiday sweet potatoes, but none like moms.

But what we do have is what they passed on down thru their apron, those family memories from the stove to the table, with our mother’s as the centerpiece of it all.

Dads and brothers have also left their indelible hand-print around the BBQ grill and an apron. Father’s Day and summer events are picture perfect when the smell of ribs, chicken or burgers is barbecuing in the backyard, celebrating those wearing an apron.

Savor these moments while we have our grillers, and passed on down thru their apron is the reminder to intentionally find a reason to keep the charcoals hot.

My daughters have filled their scrapbooks full of memories and moments around the apron with the next generation in her children.

Passing onto their daughters and sons, they keep the spirit of Christmas alive through homemade cookies, and yes, wearing an apron.

As a grandmother I’ve stood and taught along side my grandchildren the art of making homemade biscuits and cookies also. Maybe not wearing an apron, but still passing on down thru the spirit of the apron, the love of being together in the kitchen, hoping they are retaining the smells of breakfast and all their favorites for future comfort and reminiscing.

Probably, the most profound memory passed on down thru the apron is that of a praying mother or grandmother.

There are those days I’m sure we all fall short, but God hovers close to hear the prayers of a mother or grandmother.

I find myself stirring up the heart of God as I stir the ingredients for dinner. I’m guilty of finding a corner for stillness in the presence of Jesus, but I pray for my family often while standing at my kitchen stove.

Susanna Wesley, a mother of ten and mother of evangelists John and Charles Wesley, also struggled to find a secret place with God among the busy life of so many children under foot.

But desperate for a time of prayer, Susanna Wesley found a quiet place by lifting the skirt of her apron over her head, a sacred time Susanna’s children knew not to bother their mother.

Hidden in the pockets of family aprons are encouragement, wisdom, God’s truth and a mother’s love left behind for the next generation.

Whether it’s an apron, Bible, or anything unique from a mother to her daughters, sons and grandchildren, might it be passed on down so the families traditions continue.debbie candy apron 2013 debbie and candy in aprons

SERVING UNTO HIM  By Lori A Alicea

In serving others through hospitality,

Our kindness is as if we’ve done it unto the Lord.

Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me.”
Matthew 25:40 NIV

It is written how a wealthy woman of great influence prepared and set aside a small room in her house for a “holy man of God” to rest and be refreshed whenever he visited town.

Her kindness was greatly rewarded.

Her offering was as service unto Him.

8One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do-woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. 9She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. 10Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”
2 Kings 4:8-10 NIV

USE small table flowers

Might we show kindness in ways and to those God sends along our path.

We are serving unto Him in these displays of selfless generosity.

SERVING UNTO HIM
By Lori A Alicea

Dear Lord, you came to save our soul,
But first, You washed our feet.
On bended knee with towel in hand,
Your servant’s eye we’d meet.

Example that we do the same,
For those, the least of Mine.
A cup of water in My Name,
You’ve done it unto Thine.USE THIS PINK VASE 2

To serve those neighbors next to us,
And love them as thyself.
In homes where kindness can be felt,
Displayed on every shelf.

Hung from the doorposts of our home,
With open arms receive.
A neighbor’s welcome gathering,
Until it’s time to leave.USE Welcome sign

A table set before these friends,
Our bountiful we share.
No matter if a cup we serve,
See Jesus sitting there.USE Kitchen table

A place of refuge when they come,
Where home is always sweet.
We serve because He served us first,
When Jesus washed our feet.USE table setting

Our gift of hospitality,
A song He hears, a hymn.
When tea is poured and cake is served,
We’re serving unto Him.USE Serving stuff

Refrain to see an empty plate,
When God, a neighbors sent.
Prepare a banquet meal for them,
Of words, encouragement.USE Serving tray

Or give them what’s most valuable,
Which doesn’t cost a dime.
You’re sitting at the Savior’s feet,
When giving of your time.USE Clock

The church walls of the home we live,
Baked in, our memories stay.
Where in the midst of fellowship,
Is God to hear us pray.USE Church

Dear Lord, I’ve saved a room for you,
A lamp, a table, chair.
My Holy God I welcome you,
I long your presence there.USE Welcome signUSE small table flowers

Our gift of hospitality,
A song He hears, a hymn.
When loving neighbors as thyself,
We’re serving unto Him.

USE fireplace

LEGACY MEMORIALIZED By Lori A Alicea

Make today your masterpiece.

Count it all joy.

Oh, that the well-spring of your heart overflow with praise and thanksgiving.

May our cups brim and cascade onto its companion saucer with great contentment for the bounty of God’s generosity, filling our laps.

May we live this day as if the second hand of our clock is winding down the hours and minutes of our life’s conclusion.

The wisdom of God reminds us to number our days for this very reason, as He alone holds our personal itinerary, which was written in His book from the very beginning.

For this reason…

As an event decorator, I thought it most loving to somewhat prepare for the last remaining event of our lives.

While most would rather change the subject and save the inevitable conversation for when it’s demanded,

I followed the first few steps of our mother and father who gave us children their final gift of selfless love, by pre-arranging those final needs so come their Celebration Day, all we as a family had to do was take our seat.

Through this gift our parent’s taught their final lesson in life;

To remember how God has numbered our days so count them…
To remember how fleeting our time on earth really is …a vapor…
To remember and live life to the full as today could be our last;

So prepare for it…and they did.

Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days;
Let me know how fleeting my life is.”
Psalm 39:4 (NIV)

You have made my days a mere hand-breadth;
The span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
Even those who seem secure.
Psalm 39:5 (NIV)

The well-spring of our hearts has spilled over into the words we leave behind as a lasting testament for our grandchildren etched onto our memorial…

Children are the crowning glory of the aged.
Parents are the pride of their children.
Proverbs 17:6

It is because of an overflowing love for our ten beautiful grandchildren:

Hollis, Cova, Kizzie Mae, Rosalee,
Brooklyn, Brodie, Ethan, Bristol, Ayva and Aubrey

We leave you a legacy rich and full of Godly principles.

That you might know and experience for yourself the marvelous works and heavenly truths of your Creator,
That as arrows, you desire to be launched for a Kingdom pursuit,
To pierce the hearts of others for Jesus.

IMG_2905

The second generation of our life is before us.

David and I hold tightly the “baton of God’s truths” and run our race so the exchange of these truths, are successfully passed into the hands of those ten runners forging onward in their race.

This memorial is our legacy framed in the reasons I write…

A former blog which tells the story of our heart.
USE
LEGACY; It is for Them That I Write.
By Lori A Alicea

The benevolent man leaves an inheritance
That endures to his children’s children…
Proverbs 13:22 TPT

What parent doesn’t want to leave an inheritance to his children and children’s children?

I imagine most do.

My husband and I have considered for years the inheritance of our heirs.

At the end of life this side of heaven, two hearts long to bless their family with monetary gifts.

But money pales in significance to the true inheritance of legacy David and I endeavor to leave behind in generous portions for our children and children’s children.

Unless money is sowed into fields of eternal value, once it’s spent, it’s gone.

But a legacy rich and full of Godly principles can remain alive for future generations.

Regarding legacy,
David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby wrote in his book
A Generous Life
10 Steps to Living a Life Money Can’t Buy:

A legacy of true value is a legacy made of more than money.

.

To invest in eternal things is the most important thing we can do with our lives, our energies, and our resources.

Becoming a grandparent changed everything for us.

When our second generation came forth, we took notice the hour glass and its sands of seconds gathering into the mounds of hours, months and years more quickly than before in our youth.

Time revealed its true identity as mere moments of breaths.

The weight of passing on to our grandchildren a lasting heritage weighed heavy on our heart.

We risked the next generation growing up without God if our lives didn’t reflect His image; if we failed to tell the generation in front of us the marvelous works and heavenly truths about their Creator.

One generation commends your works to another, they tell of your mighty acts.. Psalm 145:4 NIV

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done….
Judges 2:10 NIV

Ten beautiful children created in the image of God.USE baby ENGLAND BABY 1

Those kissed and smothered with love inside the womb and out.

Hands already gifted.
Feet with steps already ordained.
Their life already planned and prepared to serve Him.

To know the way they must be shown the way, but who will tell them?

Along with their parents, we grandparents want to do our part in living and leaving a life of legacy before them.

Their legacy began when we were once children ourselves.

As a child with five other siblings, our mother introduced us to Jesus; she faithfully took us to church. Her prayers to keep Jesus alive at home found six children growing up to serve Him the same.use Church directory picture

My husband and four other brothers are also God fearing men because of a praying mother.

Parents recognize that children, the “fruit of their womb”, are a gift from God.

Children that are dedicated back to Him, to be raised, loved, nurtured in the way that they should go.

I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for.
And now I have dedicated him to God.
He’s dedicated to God for life.”
1 Samuel 1:26

BABY DEDICATIONS OF OUR CHILDREN – GENERATION ONE

BABY DEDICATIONS OF OUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN – GENERATION TWO

Children and grandchildren are our arrows; arrows that leave the bow of a praying parent and launched for a Kingdom pursuit that they might pierce the hearts of others for Jesus.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Psalm 127:3-5 NIV

Hence, we grandparents are intent to do our part in living and leaving a life of legacy before them.

It is for inheritance;
It is for legacy.
It is for them that I write.

Part of their legacy are stories, their stories, memorializing the past; their history of a faithful God. That they not forget and lean on these truths when facing familiar mountains of hard times again.

It is for them that I write.

The other day I had a long distance Face-time conversation with my six year old grandson who asks about my blogs most times when we talk; blessing this grandmother with his inquiries. Such big questions for a little boy who has no idea he is mining his own inheritance, his legacy.

It is for him that I write.

USE screen hollis

On October of 2019, David and I invited our ten grandchildren to be our witnesses at our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Their young minds thought we were getting married, which delighted us both.

Written as a true love story that it was, I documented the faithfulness and goodness of God in our twenty-five years together, words shouted and celebrated from every detail of our special day.

So that in years and decades to come, our children’s children will be reminded of God’s reflection of marriage as an encouragement for their own.

Yes, David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby, you said it perfectly regarding legacy:

A legacy of true value is a legacy made of more than money.

.

To invest in eternal things is the most important thing we can do with our lives, our energies, and our resources.

It is because of an overflowing love for our ten beautiful grandchildren:

Brooke, Brodie, Ethan, Bristol, Cova, Hollis, Ayva, Rosalee, Aubrey and Kizzy MaeUSE

We leave you a legacy, rich and full of Godly principles, that you might know and experience for yourself the marvelous works and heavenly truths of your Creator; that as arrows, you desire to be launched for a Kingdom pursuit, to pierce the hearts of others for Jesus.

All because of Inheritance;
All because of LEGACY;
All because of you I write.

OUR SUNDAY BEST  By Lori A Alicea

Mother always made sure her six children attended church.

Mother didn’t drive in those days and we got to church the old fashioned way, on foot.

No matter the weather, we ducks marched single file behind mother (who pushed the youngest in a stroller) in a direction towards a stately steeple, our neighborhood lighthouse to guide the way.

A sanctuary of stained glass windows illuminated God’s love on a bright morning.

With only a piano, an organ and Brother Bob Allen leading our congregation into song and into prayer, mother and her six children took up an entire pew as we worshiped together dressed in our Sunday best.Easter with siblings and outfits

Back in the old days you entered the sanctuary wearing your Sunday best befitting a Holy God, as He is worthy of our best.

Dresses and suits were the norm and come Easter,

Mother stretched an already tight budget for lace, bonnets and patent leather shoes;Lori sibling 5

Siblings easter outfits

An Easter tradition I passed onto my children…

A tradition my children passed onto theirs…

Becoming an adult years after my siblings and I followed mother on foot to church, did I begin to understand what Sunday best meant; which had nothing to do with clothes.

While it’s still honoring to worship a Holy God in our best of dresses and suits,

Our Sunday best is a reverent remembrance when Jesus gave his eternal best on an Old Rugged Cross one Easter weekend.

Our Sunday best is never forgetting the bitter cup of the cross which Jesus agonized over in the Garden of Gethsemane, who sweat drops of blood in his sorrow, though still surrendered in prayer to His Father on our behalf,

“Not my will, but yours be done.”

Our Sunday best is standing up in defense and defiance to an angry crowd who raised their fists against our innocent Lord to be crucified.

Our Sunday best can’t hardly stand the sight of soldiers scourging and flogging our Lord’s naked back, whose vile hearts spit on him while twisting a crown of thorns on his lovely head as they mocked,

Hail, King of the Jews.”

Our Sunday best weeps and wails with arms stretched out towards a hill called Golgotha, as Jesus shoulders the weight of a sinful world on his scourged back while a man named Simon was forced to help him carry the cross which bore the criminal charges; Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

Our Sunday best fights to drown out the anguish though futile, the pounding of nails being driven into the hands and feet of our Lord to the cross, yet hears the Son cry out to His Father in love for those who crucify Him,

Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Our Sunday best sees themselves on the crosses of those two criminals on either side of Jesus, justly serving sentences for their sins, yet one whose crimes would be forgiven, granting him eternity with Christ through the exchanges between these three,

One criminal rebuked to the other as he was mocking Christ,

Don’t you fear God?

We are punished justly, but this is an innocent man.”

The same criminal looked over to Jesus,

Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you will be with me paradise.”

Our Sunday best drops to their knees as Jesus, in shear anguish, laments to His Father in brokenness, a Father who couldn’t look upon His Son while bearing our sin in these hours of darkness, His Son paying the price with His life in our place,

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Then Jesus breathed His last…

Our Sunday best prostrates in this Holy moment when Jesus gave up His spirit, while at the same moment the earth shook and rocks split, the temple curtain rips in two from top to bottom and those guarding Jesus recognized,

Surely, this is the Son of God.”

Our Sunday best remembers the heart of Joseph from Arimathea, a rich man petitioning the body of Christ from Pilate, to wrap his Lord in linen cloth and lay in the tomb for which Joseph purchased, sealing the entrance with an impenetrable stone.

Our Sunday best rejoices because three days later…

Three glorious days later…

Just as Jesus had told his disciples…

The tomb is empty…

Jesus rose from the dead on the Third Day.

The grave couldn’t hold our Risen Savior…

HE’S ALIVE.

(Matthew 26-28)
(Mark 14-16)
(Luke 22-24)
(John 18-20)

It should have been me, but Jesus bore the cross in my place.  Our best rejoices every day of the week including Sunday, always remembering and never withholding

THE GOOD NEWS…

That Jesus lives today in the hearts of those who repent of their sins as the thief on the cross once did, being received into eternity when Christ says to the believer,

You will be with me paradise.”