HE SEES THE ONE! By Lori A Alicea

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

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

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

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

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

While never losing sight over us, the one.

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

Heaven Rules
In every situation of our lives;

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

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

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

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

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

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

Directions to sessions taking place all over the convention center…

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

Questions spoken in languages I didn’t understand…

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

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

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

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

You laugh over the blunders.

While being encouraged and reminded by a friend over coffee,

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

I think she’s on to something.

I continued to pray for the one that weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I asked if she knew them.

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

A gesture I believed had deeper meaning than they conveyed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A DANCE INTO FOREVER  By Lori A Alicea

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

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

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

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

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

The wedding waltz continues and dancing resumes once again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A gift and covenant of…

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

Will we part…

The DJ’s announcement intensifies with excitement…

Forty-five years or less…

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

USE DANCE 2

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

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

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

USE DANCE 3

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

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

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

USE gifts

The wedding waltz continues and serenades the anniversary couple as they

Dance into forever.

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

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

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

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

Will we part…

USE couple sitting down

IS THE GRASS REALLY GREENER?  By Lori A Alicea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re living like kings!”fence mountains

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

fence animals eating out

We are encouraged to remember…

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

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

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

fence entrance

FROM THE WINDOW VIEW  By Lori A Alicea

Years ago, a set of railroad tracks ran east and west through the country acres we were living at the time, whose locomotive whistle called the little feet of boys and girls from the other end of the house down the runway of the hallway in screams of delight, dragging a kitchen chair to their window seat for the few short minutes this parade of train cars was passing through.

brodie ethan window diapers

From the window view parade a child no doubt longs and wishes for a ride of adventure to the moon and back before their nap.

Adventures these little passengers have taken from those pages and chapters of books who’ve handed them their passports to experience the magic and wonder of the world at their fingertips.

From the window view, there’s a small child in me and probably each of us, waiting and standing in lines which seem to never move at times…brystol window

For stamps on our passport to summit our hopes; summit those dreams; summit the mountains to our answered prayers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Until then, we find ourselves looking and waiting on God.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Waiting with a…

A constant look from the window view for our miracle…

A constant look from the window view for relief for our finances…

A look out the window view for our new direction…ethan looking thru window

A look out the window view for those things unspoken…sistersayva aubrey looking out window

While God is not trapped nor bound by the boundaries of time, the calendar, the clock; we are encouraged to wait as He is a good father who keeps his promises forever.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14 NIV

He keeps every promise forever.
Psalm 146:6 NLT

In our Bible we discover many also waited for the fulfillment of God’s promises in their lives.

Abraham waited twenty-five years for his son Isaac.

Abraham also waited four-hundred years for his land of inheritance.

And all those thousands of years we waited for the birth of our Lord Jesus beginning from the prophecy of Isaiah.

But yet, we wait by the window in hope as God keeps his promises forever.2019 alicea brystol brodie peeking out window

God doesn’t forget the orphan child.

God remembers the widowed woman.

He’s aware of our existing lack…

He hears our silent cries at night…

He counts every fallen tear on our pillow.

He sees His children from the window view and blows them kisses…USE older younger rosalee kizzie 2

Encouraging them to continue their adventures and experience the wonder of God’s promises through the pages of His Word at their fingertips.

book reading book 1

While waiting well for their fulfillment from the window seat of their view.brodie ethan window diapers

DADDY’S BABY IS HAVING A BABY  By Lori A Alicea

Life is full of surprises.

They arrive when you’re caught off guard by the unexpected.

They arrive as a bouquet of flowers you didn’t order.

They arrive after a lap-full of three grandsons and seven granddaughters have been calling you Papa over the last seventeen years. GRANDCHILDRENThey arrive after the baby crib set up at Papa’s house where most of his ten grandchildren have slept in, has been sadly dismantled for the last time.Ethan 2011 ethan in crib USE

They arrive after years of summer riding together on bicycles, most rescued from the side of the road on garbage day and shared among cousins, now bringing smiles to other children in need, as our grandchildren have crushed our hearts outgrowing them.USE BIKESbikes grandkids big on bikes

They arrive after a gentle rain of grandparent tears waving at their two remaining grandchildren recently graduating from Pre-k, on their first day of school.

They arrive after the resistance of a grandfather closing the chapter on diapers, pacifiers, of grandchildren teething, nighttime rocking, toddlers learning to walk, play-dates and weekends at Papa’s house.

They arrive after Papa still struggles with all these new beginnings.

Yes, life is full of unsuspecting surprises.

They arrive as an explosion of joyful confetti…

When daddy’s little girl,
Who always thought she’d only be a cool aunt in her lifetime,

Has called her father to announce she’s having a baby.

A little girl who wrapped her tiny fingers around a daddy’s heart from the moment he laid eyes on her, is about to experience this same miracle in a few short months.use AUDRA baby

A little girl whose smile and curls started the world around her smiling, will witness the same through her son.

audra little

A little girl who loved to go fishing, who risked a handful of blisters for the monkey bars, will one day enjoy these afternoons of fun with her baby boy whose name we have yet to learn.

While time refused to stand still in her growing up,

She remained her daddy’s little girl.

A father affirming his beautiful daughters in song on their thirtieth birthdays while celebrating his sixtieth; a well of emotion a brand new mother is about to draw from for the rest of her child’s life.

You are so Beautiful
Song Made Famous By Joe Cocker

(lyrics excerpt)

You’re everything I hoped for…
You’re everything I need…
You are so beautiful, to me..

Click on the movie ABOVE to hear a father sing to his daughters.

She always thought she’d be the cool aunt to her nieces and nephews, never imagining holding a child of her own.audra johnny dedication

But God knew…

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…
Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)

From the beginning of time, God already knew and wrote about the days of this child’s life; a precious gift from the Lord.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
All the days ordained for me where written in your book,
Before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16 (NIV)

Children are a gift from the Lord,
They are a reward from Him.
Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

Daddy’s baby is having a baby.
audra david noah
Papa was overwhelmed with great joy when he revealed the news to me one evening after work.

While she’ll always remain daddy’s little girl;

As some things can never change.
audra flowers
But oh, what an explosion of confetti…

And a life full of surprises…

When daddy’s baby holds the baby of her own.

PREPARE YOUR FIELDS FOR SPRING  By Lori A Alicea

Growing up in the Northwest region it was delightful for a little girl as a passenger in the back row seat with her window rolled down and wind at her face, to be mesmerized by farmers at the helm of their tractors,
preparing acres of fields for spring.USE Tractor 4

Land which stretched as far as the eye could see, I remember those heroes in overalls getting lost in my view as a flurry of blowing and kicking up dust into the afternoon glare of the sun, behind tractors tilling and plowing the fields.USE Till the land

From sunrise to sunset I dare not take for granted those years their backbreaking work at family farms passed down from generation to generation, with us enjoying the fruits of their labors at dinner.USE fields 3

Written in God’s Word is a poem titled:

A Time for Everything.

(an excerpt…)

There is a time for everything,
And a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot….
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 NIV

Yes, farmers understand this season of seed time.
They celebrate this season of harvest.

Sowing and reaping for them is a journey of believing;
Walking blindly with God’s promises leading the way.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

It takes faith to believe our buried seeds will die and one day produce and yield bushels of its likeness.

A man reaps what he sows.
Galatians 6:7 NIV

Might we glean from the farmer’s fields for our own lives.

Remembering in the poem
A Time for Everything,

When it is our time to be born, our time to live,
There would be years of seed time and harvest,

Seasons of sowing our self into another man’s field, expecting a harvest in our own field when we do, because God’s promises remind us of this.

Seasons of planting God’s hope for a better day,

For healing,
For health,
For finances,
For prodigals…

In our children’s lives…
In our grandchildren’s lives…
In our neighbors and strangers alike…

In our own lives…

And during those impatient months and years when our harvest hasn’t even peaked above ground, our faith must continue believing for answered prayer; our eyes still envision the season of fall.

That in our posture of anxiously waiting at those fields appearing to be barren…
In our endless conversations and questions with God in our wondering…

Might we find rest in His promises,
Take heart when we are reminded,

The harvest of fall is coming,
If we prepared our fields at springtime.USE fields 4

Our barns would overflow as God promised if we did.

USE hay 1

BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED…By Lori Alicea

We’re all planted somewhere.

A friendship…
A marriage…
A job…
A community…
Our personal dreams…

Yes, we’re all planted somewhere, but are we blooming?USE Aubrey smell flower 1

Looking back over the last two years when my husband and I planted our lives in this small community, I question our blooming while watering our gardens at sunset.HOUSE VALPOUSE both girls looking back

Gardens grow with love and attention where breathtaking flowers of every bouquet are birthed.

Paintings of wonder are framed in the gardener’s mind at spring, imagining their strokes of color and beauty bursting off the canvas at summer’s end.USE flowers 2

I’ve asked myself…

Have our gardens of neighbors grown and flourished from those seeds of love and attention we’ve planted in them?

Are there bouquets of relationship flowers bursting in color up and down the street because we’ve imagined them at spring?

Have we bloomed in contentment from the address we are planted?USE Ayva smell flower 3

With a brand new house next door (like ours) which has been up for sale these past few months, we’ve intentionally greeted those peeking through the windows with a verbal tour of the neighborhood, occasionally hosting a tour of our home when these prospective neighbors wondered what the inside and size looked like with furniture.

David and I have enjoyed promoting our home sweet home community, sowing seeds of kindness to whom God might be sending to live one house over from us.

F4D79D00-BEBC-45FC-B0CE-1956067563E0

That neighbor finally moved in a few weeks ago, an older woman living on her own with her only daughter residing in Texas; an opportunity to love on somebody’s mother in her absence.

Do unto others

As I would have wanted done for my mother in the same situation.

We’ve made a few friends over the last two years, helping the “older than us” when we can.

David went missing for a few hours last summer when I found him fixing another man’s roof; keeping the homeowner safe in his lawn chair after my husband stopped him from wobbling up the ladder.

You wave at passerby’s in the community, rolling our window down every now and then for a few moments of conversation at the mailbox hub.

We’ve introduced ourselves to those congregating outside
during our evening walks around the park.

You never know what kind of day your neighbors are having; who’ve also reciprocated the love when the weather report on our faces reads cloudy skies.

Kindness is always the cherry on top for a smile waiting to happen.

But the question remains…

Have we bloomed in contentment these last two years we’ve planted ourselves at this address?D9DBC329-22EC-4CDD-BCB0-399F1897C8FE

While we love this charming home God gave us, we desperately long the country life we enjoyed during our early years of marriage.

Every night in the evening, David and I intentionally get lost in back-roads, driving towards the desperate longing that calls our hearts, an excerpt I once wrote about in a former blog…
________________________

THE LONG WAY HOME
By Lori A Alicea

(excerpt…)

The long way home gives you time to reacquaint yourselves with one another, as life changes from day to day as the four seasons do, and one must dress appropriately for the weather escorted in.

Are we there yet?”

Usually not, when the compass of our travels is a constant turn to the east or west down roads where the scenery isn’t familiar and stirs your curiosity for any hidden log cabins to discover.

cabin near trees
Photo by Marcus Murphy on Pexels.com

Then is the map you follow for those log cabins you long to see for the umpteenth time, stopping at the edge of their driveway and dreaming together over a few sips of our coffee, adding a childlike gift to our Christmas list once again this year.

snowy brown house near tree
Photo by Evelyn Chong on Pexels.com

The best seats in the house can be purchased for the price of a few gallons of gas and uninterrupted moments of time except to enjoy and take in the view of nature’s carefree children chasing each other around the trees and deep into the woods of their private playground.

brown deer surrounded with snow covered trees
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com


(excerpt end…)
________________________

For our young granddaughter’s delight, I’ve sown a few rocks in my garden for their discovery…

Rocks of peace, laughter, believing, friends and hope…each glittered to catch their attention.

Maybe I’ve sown these rocks of encouragement for this little girl in me unknowingly.

Sometimes we question why and where we’re planted when you’d rather be re-potted elsewhere.

But we are reminded to find contentment in all things…

…for I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in.
Philippians 4:11 NIV

I’ve also learned these last sixty-one summers, it’s best to trust and be in awe of those…

Paintings of wonder framed with us in the gardener’s mind at spring, imagining those strokes of color and beauty of our lives bursting off the canvas at summer’s end.

Because…

God has all things blooming no matter where we’re planted.

USE Ayva smell flowers 3

DESTINATION ADVENTURE By Lori A Alicea

There it was…

Catching me off guard…
Stopping me in my tracks…
So strangely out of place…

Getting my complete attention the minute
I opened the doors to this church I was visiting.

An old Volkswagen towing a surfboard parked inside the foyer for reasons I was intrigued to know why.

A mystery God wouldn’t reveal until months later, but revolved around the reason I was speaking at a ladies conference that Saturday morning in the first place.

USE VW Surfboard leigh

The story began months prior and finding me minding my own business and perfectly content, serving God behind the scenes as a writer and blogger.

But then over coffee with a longtime friend, God was about rustle my comfortable nest and thrust me into the winds of the unknowing, testing my wings of faith when my trusted sister inquired if I’d be willing to speak at a conference she was hosting.

My answer is found in an excerpt of a former blog of mine…

When Opportunity Comes
By Lori A Alicea

Among the lively conversations shared around each table that morning at this local eatery, privately I was having a Moses moment with God, reluctantly responding as Moses did when God presented an opportunity long ago,

Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent (of speech)…”
Exodus 4:10 NIV

It’s easy to hide behind these written words of mine, a wall of personal security.

Though, while I’m not afraid of testifying God’s Word before others, I tried to justify “my lack of eloquence” to my friend.

In my scarcity of confidence, I questioned if I had anything worthwhile to offer, yet I am encouraged by Author and speaker Lisa Bevere’s words…

Offer God whatever He has placed in your hand – whatever is in your care or control. Offer it up for heavenly purposes and see what God will do. As we release what is in our hands, He releases what is in His.

Then I am reminded in the quiet time of my prayers…

God hath need of thee, to multiply my life’s message and feed a room full of hungry people; if only I’d be willing to offer my ordinary lunch to Him in my “yes”.

_________________________________

I SAID YES.

One Saturday morning the alabaster jar of my testimony was broke open and poured out over a room full of ladies and men; a hillside of wild flowers and fragrance wafted to the heavens as an offering of praise to our Lord.

The healing waters gently flowed through those hearts and tears of ones hurting during a conference titled, “Beloved.”

All glory to an almighty God.

Then I returned back home to my comfortable nest…

Or so I thought.

I couldn’t shake that old Volkswagen and surfboard waiting for me when I arrived at the Beloved conference.

I continuously inquired of God its meaning.

This scene was personal and gripped my emotions upon first glance.

As a child, our driveway was a parking lot full of Volkswagen’s awaiting my father’s mechanic hands to fix them.

Our military son and family living in Hawaii, all love to surf.

This personal scene is an illustration to the story God is about to unveil and read from the next chapter written for my life…

Destination Adventure.

From one who always played it safe…

Pastor and Author Richard Foth reminds…

We were meant for more than a safe ride when God placed us here. Any part of this life that offers more, requires more, or asks more of us than we are used to is an opportunity to grow more, dream more, and be more than we are now.USE VW Surfboard leigh

This personal scene was a setup from God, who knows me intimately and sees those hidden heart strings tied to His daughters emotions.

God was asking more of me.

To dream more, to risk more, to stop playing it safe.

But what would I offer Him this time?”

Pastor Erwin Lutzer said, “A faithful God does not expect you to do what you cannot. He supplies the needed strength.” As we faithfully serve God, He gives us the strength we need for the tasks He has placed in front of us.

So go in the strength you have…
Judges 6:14 NIV

God wasn’t asking me to barrel the big waves.8FE32792-4914-4AFE-BEE5-BF1FFE563235

No, He was only asking a child to take those first few steps in the shallow, finding herself in the deep waters one day in the future.

Looking close inside this Volkswagen is a silent greeting of aloha, a lei welcoming me to this adventure.

Looking even closer, you notice the Jesus license plate, our faithful Lord who goes before us, leading the way.

Life is a wilderness, but when we invite Jesus to be our Guide, all bets are off.

Any way you slice it, those things spell adventure.
Pastor and Author Richard FothJESUS license plate

It’s time to stop playing it safe and jump into the unknowing; whatever the unknowing looks like.

Destination Adventure is God’s personal book for me I recently opened, where Chapter One only instructs me to take the first step, to jump and take a risk.

If you don’t take the risk, you forfeit the miracle.
Pastor and Author Mark Batterson

USE Jump off

And to get excited for the unknowns of Chapter Two and beyond…

Another excerpt from…

When Opportunity Comes
By Lori A Alicea

My friend stirred up the excitement in me through a song written by Pastor Mike Jr; excitement I stir up in your opportunities as well; that God’s getting ready to move…and it’s going to be BIG…

Song BIG
By Pastor Mike Jr.
.

You ought to declare that over your own life

That it’s my time
And I can feel it.
Breakthrough is in the room.

God’s getting ready to move.

Listen, you ought to declare this over your own life, say it
For I know my God is working miracles just for me

And it’s going to be BIG…

INTENTIONAL FRIENDS  By Lori A Alicea

Her name is Betty.

My next door-neighbor of many years and twenty years my senior, and yet our relationship celebrated differing views and perspectives; not competing generations.

Across the street where whistle blowing trains rattled our windows all hours of the day, was an old country street of five houses nestled under the acreage of trees they were built on, where barns, horses, gardens and chickens running loose added to the old fashion charm of a picturesque postcard.Jake 1

Betty and I began borrowing cups of sugar from each other when she was a young grandmother and I a young mother myself.

As neighbors, we smiled and witnessed from our porches and swing sets the passing of time in the growing faces of Betty’s grandchildren and my children between the two houses.

Betty’s twin granddaughters and two grandsons always seemed to sport a glove and bat for a family baseball game of endless innings in their backyard where parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, each took their position on the field.

My two year old son watched these games from the dugout of his sandbox, waiting his turn to be big enough for the team; my baby girl and I rooted Betty’s grand-kids from the window or lawn chair nearby.

Betty and I loved being home with our children and grandchildren, both sharing the arts of sewing, canning and crafts.

More than anything, we neighbors shared the same pew at heart when our love for God overflowed those morning cups of conversation.

USE church

As time passed by, my young children and I would leave the neighborhood in tears and brokenhearted due to an unwanted divorce, but would return years later as Betty’s next-door neighbor, newly married to the man of my dreams.

Sadly, moving back to this old country neighborhood of five houses where whistle blowing trains from across the street would fascinate my future grandchildren, Betty has said good-by in sickness to the love of her life; a marriage of thirty-five glorious years.

In her husband’s honor, Betty planted a backyard tree to celebrate his life and life going on thru nature in its magnificence towards the skies and God; a widow’s place of remembrance for someone she deeply loved.

Albeit divorce, sickness or death, Betty and I continued to share sugar and heartache over tears, conversations, hugs and sometimes sitting in silence as true friends and neighbors feel comfortable to do.

For years I felt guilty for all the celebrations of open houses, baby showers and parties that took place on the front acreage of our property, where life and laughter…

IMG_6070

Could be heard and seen from Betty’s house and open windows a few steps away.IMG_6069

Through our intentional friendship though, Betty continued to be encouraged and lifted up, reminding her through scriptures that God promised to be a husband to the widow, a father to the orphan, a redeemer for another day.

Fifteen years later God redeems Betty’s vacant heart at a high school reunion with the re-introduction of an old friend. Betty’s eyes illuminated with joy and happiness unspeakable once again as a little girl, and the two were married in the fall of that year; eventually moving out of the neighborhood to begin their newly married life in another state.

Distance didn’t change our friendship as the miles were bridged with Betty’s cards sent in the mail and my telephone calls to her.

Betty and her new husband would come into town every so often to visit family or attend their favorite quartet concerts, for which they stopped into the old neighborhood for a visit with us.

Not making excuses, but life started happening in those one by one good-byes to parents, grandparents and loved ones and moving two more times for us, somehow losing touch with Betty.

Interestingly, Betty’s cards stopped coming although I didn’t question it, assuming life was happening for her.

Sadly and heartbreaking enough, it was.

I decided to look Betty up on social media after three and a half years from our last conversation, when an arrow plunged my heart in despair after realizing Betty’s account had been moved to legacy status.

Not wanting to assume the worse, I searched the internet for an obituary, yet never finding one in my quest.

Remembering in former conversations of Betty’s wishes to be buried by her husband of thirty-five years, David and I drove to the old country cemetery a short distance from where Betty and I used to be neighbors, only to find that indeed, Betty had passed away mere months after our last conversation.USE cemetery

With only one dirt road winding through this final resting place of a few hundred loved ones, it didn’t take us long to find the headstone of Betty’s last name she once shared with the love of her life.USE dirt roads

To my surprise, Betty left behind a love story of a different kind, choosing to be remembered beside both men who stole this woman’s heart in life.

Not knowing for sure, I imagine Betty’s thoughts…

God didn’t forget Betty and she wanted to thank Him by telling the world her beautiful story beyond her absence.USE headstone

I’m so sorry for the conversations we didn’t have those final months of Betty’s life.  I regret not bidding good-by to my intentional friend.

I didn’t attend Betty’s celebration of life and convey to her family how much their mother and grandmother meant to a next door neighbor; only because I didn’t know.

But may these words be the flowers I send to Betty on her life’s Graduation day to heaven, albeit three and a half years after she received her diploma.USE flowers

Thank you Betty for decades of friendship, for cards, for sharing cups of sugar as next door neighbors do.

I will never forget you.

Remembering…

One day we will once again share a front row pew with God who will tip His heart’s tea-pot and overflow our morning cups of conversation.USE church

WELCOME HOME…By Lori A Alicea

Seasons are changing.

Maybe it’s just me, but once those July 4th finale of fireworks burst thru the air and the remaining sparklers illuminate its own show from our children’s hands, do you slightly sense the season’s changing of the guard.

While the hot days of summer remain as house guests thru August, fall is sneaking up the back steps though most are unaware, preparing to welcome itself to the neighborhood.WELCOME BUNNY

Principals everywhere are ringing the school bell for students to begin filling their backpacks full of paper, pencils and crayons, while bells of another kind are ringing down the Christmas isles of my favorite craft store; all in the summer month of July.

Ready or not, the season’s here; the changing of the guard for weather, time and calendar events.

In life, we’re also facing seasons unique to our address.

The weaving of seasons from one into the other, with winter, spring, summer or fall choreographing the dance of personal seasons we’re about to enter, experience, or exit, then weave and dance into another season before us.

While we’d all like to predict a forecast of blue skies and sunny days, the weather might report an overcast of clouds or showers for a season.

Regardless of the season, we’re encouraged to take our seat, stay awhile, and welcome the purpose and meaning for the season we’re in.WELCOME BENCH

On first impression when entering our doors, is a wooden sign with hooks for coats, sweaters or even purses for guests to hang their belongings and receive a heartfelt welcome into our home.

The same is true for entering a new season where we are encouraged to cast and hang our cares on Jesus, a place to feel safe, a place to call home, where the couch is comfy and ambiance speaks welcome.WELCOME HOME SIGN

The front door is a traffic jam of little boys and little girls taking off their shoes and placing them beneath the welcome sign of hanging cares and coats, where side by side their crocs, flips, sandals and gym shoes for little feet remain until they leave; a reminder that seasons are meant to be shared with others.shoes Kizzy

For twelve anguishing months beginning two years ago, our family experienced an unexpected and overwhelming winter season of ten, tearful good-byes.

At morning’s dawn, the waters slept and rested peacefully near the shores of our family’s heart.

Then, without notice or alarm, a family reaches once again for life vests as the waters wake and rise in swells and attempts to drown our hearts upon receiving another call.

We gasped and couldn’t catch our breath for long periods of time during this winter season of so many good-byes.

But God was good to us, near to us, sensing His presence, never leaving our side for a moment.CHURCH

The summer season thankfully returned as promised and wafted in the air a fragrance of peace and joy and remained a bit longer than the calendar noted its departure, hovering over as a healing balm for our family.

Running along the shores of our hearts this refreshing summer season were little feet and laughter of our ten grandchildren, who somehow without us looking, outgrew the shoes of our memory.

We grandparents celebrate the many seasons we’ve shared with these ten beautiful heirs of our legacy.

Their growing continues into the seasons and choreographed dances of their individual lives.

When fishing began and there were only six of them.

So many years ago…

Our ten grand-babies today.

The seasons are changing guard once again, handing off the summer baton to the season of fall.

It’s time to pack up the sand toys and sandals these children will sadly outgrow and walk into a new season of their own before summer next year.

FISHING 7

Seasons are changing.

While we’d all like to predict a forecast of blue skies and sunny days, the weather might report an overcast of clouds or showers for a season.

Regardless of the season, we’re encouraged to take our seat, stay awhile, and welcome the purpose and meaning for the season we’re in.

WELCOME BENCH