UNANSWERED QUESTIONS By Lori A Alicea

I’m listening Lord.

You said for your children to ask so I’ve been asking.

I know you haven’t forgotten me.

I’m confident you’re working on my behalf.

I’ve been walking this familiar stretch of road for miles heading in the same direction from the last time you spoke.

I’ve lost track of time along this silent path of my unanswered questions, bending my ear for course correction or direction with one word from you.

I’m waiting.
I’m watching while walking.

As rustling leaves from the breeze of my heart it echoes,
“I’m listening Lord.”
england journey walking on pathMany of us have lost the ability to wait, myself included on occasion.

We find ourselves stuck in the quagmire of trust what we don’t understand or see, caught up in the entanglements of our feelings instead of the safety net of God’s faithfulness.

God would have us leave the path of our unanswered questions and wade into the cool waters beside for refreshment and unearth the treasures of Him we have yet to discover.

God is enough for our lives.
He longs for us to…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding;
In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

The answers to our unanswered questions are deeply rooted in Knowing God.
england journey tree rootsHe is faithful.
He keeps his Word.
He honors his promises.

When roots go deep in God, we can trust Him beyond our understanding, anchoring a wavering faith against the gusts of unanswered questions.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes, its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

But one does grow weary on the path of unanswered questions at times.

Prolonged delays can tempt us to follow the dead-end road signs of our impatience, re-calculating the GPS coordinates of God’s best for us.
england journey walking on path 1Always remember that God hasn’t forgotten us with His silence.

Prior to the birth of Jesus, God didn’t speak for four-hundred years.

His back wasn’t turned to them.
Quite the contrary.

In this dark night of eerie silence spanning four centuries, God was preparing the perfect time and place for the arrival of His beloved son.

In his silence, God was in great preparation.
I suppose though a Save the Date would have been appropriate for this grand entrance.

For our encouragement,
Brian Simmons wrote about God’s delays in his devotional…

I Hear His Whisper; Encounter God’s Heart for You
Brian Simmons

What you call delay, I call preparation. Many times I am at work behind the scenes, yet you cannot discern it. I am preparing others so that your destiny may be fulfilled, and I am preparing you even as I prepared Joseph for his season of promotion. Never judge My works by what your eyes see but by the promises I have made to you.

 Hold tightly to those promises.

Instead of lamenting our unanswered questions, may we rest in His promise that the wait will be worth it.
May the overflow of our heart sustain us while we rejoice in the goodness of God.

Goodness of God
Written by Ed Cash, Ben Fielding, Jason Ingram,
Brian Johnson, Jenn Johnson, Bethel Music

All my life You have been faithful,
All my life you have been so so good.
With every breath that I am able
I will sing of the goodness of God.

 

A GRANDMA TOO IS BORN By Lori A Alicea

Every now and then I am taken aback with the surprise of the unexpected; especially if the unexpected are unearthed words I had forgotten I once wrote.

While I’m not one to fill up journals with my personal thoughts and prayers, I do dream through my words penned to paper on occasion.

This particular afternoon twelve years ago and prior to having grandchildren, I remember daydreaming about what it might mean to be grandmother.

That day I wondered if my heart was full of enough love to overflow into another generation, unaware then how many grandchildren would fill my lap.

I wanted to pass on memories of all kinds; holidays, special foods, traditions our grandchildren could remember their whole life, special time at their grandparent’s house and a legacy rich in Jesus.

Papa and I were overwhelmed at the thought of our children having children. We were nervous and excited all wrapped into one package of joy we hadn’t opened before.

How do you prepare to be a grandmother?

I imagined their faces taking our breath at first glance, catching us off guard with the miracle of life we held; faces already seen and watched by God as they grew in the secret place of their mother, already known to God before the beginning of time.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body, all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!

Psalm 139:15-17 NIV

One afternoon I imagined the wonders of being a grandmother.

My dreams were caught on paper, but mere words were beyond inadequate to what God was preparing in advance for this grandmother.

If I only knew then what I have experienced now.
Children are a gift from God, and it has been Christmas ever since that first little grandchild called me Gaga.

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably
More than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us.
Ephesians 3:20 NIV

My heart before becoming a grandmother.

A GRANDMA TOO IS BORN
By Lori A Alicea

A baby comes into your life,
A family, mom and dad.
Their life gives birth to all their dreams,
For nine months, that they’ve had.

Kizzie Mae Pearl

Ten fingers, toes, they count them all,
Their hearts in two, are torn.
And yet, another miracle behold,
A grandma too is born.

Aubrey Ann

A woman who had raised her kids,
And thought her job was done.
Yet God had other plans for her,
Another race to run.

Rosalee Ann

An early morning feeding time,
Reserved for us to share.
The trips we take up to the stars,
While rocking in our chair.

Ayva Presley

The lullabies I’ll sing to you,
Lay kisses on your head.
You’ll snuggle back in peaceful rest,
My arms become your bed.

Hollis Blake C.

I think about you night and day,
Your life, my heart adorn.
How unprepared and overwhelmed,
When grandmas too are born.

Cova Grace Marie

The Friday nights we’ll spend with you,
When mom and dad go out.
Where rules stay in the diaper bag,
We’ll laugh, and scream no doubt.

Bristol Nicole

The play dates that we’ll get to take,
Can’t wait, a shear delight.
And stories that your gramps will tell,
He’ll rock you in the night.

Leon Ethan 

My prayers each day, the will of God,
His perfect plan for you.
Your steps already figured out,
His voice will speak to you.

Brodie Allen

But you must learn to listen close,
His Word will guide your way.
And grandmas here to share with you,
The things of God each day.

Brooklyn Nicole

Rich blessings for you little one,
My heart in two is torn.
It can’t contain the love I feel,
This grandma has been born.

Ethan candace pregnant with mom USE

WHERE TO NEXT LORD? By Lori A Alicea

Where to next Lord?

The tent stakes of our life have been pulled up and packed with all our earthly possessions, waiting on God with an answer to our question,

 Where to next Lord?

 When God asked Abraham to pull up the tent stakes of his family, Abraham asked the same question, and by faith, left without knowing, yet confident that God would show him along the way.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home… He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. Hebrews 11:8-9

I read once by Oswald Chambers that we should:

Let the attitude of life be a continual “going out” in dependence upon God and your life will have a charm about it satisfactory to Jesus. You have to learn to “go out” of convictions, out of experiences, until so far as your faith is concerned, there is nothing between you and God.

Looking back over the last seven years, God has had David and I on this Abraham journey, calling us out three times over to
leave without knowing
the where to which we were going.

Life has been a storybook adventure for us.
We follow a map without coordinates to guide us.
Yet the voice of our God says “go” and we trust Him for direction.

Echoing from the church pews of my childhood, this young girl sings the words to which by faith and dependence on God we walk:

WHERE HE LEADS ME
By Ernest W. Blandy

 Where He leads me I will follow.
Where He leads me I will follow.
Where He leads me I will follow.
I’ll go with Him, with Him,
All the way.

God has been abundantly faithful to David and me these twenty-five years together, highlighting the last seven years and three moves most noteworthy.

We haven’t lacked.
Our cup overflows.
Our cup is brimming of memories and grandchildren.

But sadly, moving is especially difficult on grandchildren, as young ones don’t understand the “going out” when God calls.

Children are tied to their memories as much as we grownups.

Leaving our country home of two acres was probably the most painful as our grown children bid good-by to their childhood home, and grandchildren walked away from all that room for parties, to run, play, get dirty and tractor rides with Papa.

This move was unexpected and tore the heartstrings of many to say the least.

You ask the questions “why”, but trust that wherever God is sending you, somebody needs the God companion you’re traveling with.

For three long summer months that year, David lived separately from me while I packed up and sold the house, as his allergies to our surroundings forced him away.

The emptiness of life without your soulmate was almost more than we could handle, adding the heavy burden to shoulder a wait for closure with one house and new beginnings with another.

But God is never late for an appointment even while we stare at the clock, tapping our foot in our impatience of His seemingly untimeliness.

Late that summer God welcomes us through the front door to our new address, handing the keys to an unsuspecting place called home.

Then you bloom again wherever you are planted.

Though, not the perfect place to pitch our tent according to our adult children, yet God said “go” to honoring and serving your ailing parents one street over from where we now live.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe all hold tight and carry our dreams wherever we go.

But trust that God’s dreams for us are bigger and greater than we could ever imagine.

And yes, bloom wherever you’re planted until then.

You sprout by figuring out the main things as grandparents; parks and fishing ponds, bubbles and breakfast, bike rides and snack shacks.

You bloom when you celebrate God’s gifts in family, in birthdays, in new births, in the “no reasons”, making it work wherever you’re planted, because that’s how garden’s grow.

You bloom when
HOME IS WHEREVER I’M WITH YOU.
wanatah goodyby 9Three years later, your parents no longer live one street over from yours.
Three years later God says “It’s time to go”.
Three years later we ask, “Where to next Lord?

The Abraham journey continues following the map without coordinates.

“We trust you Lord with our lives.”

Use us.
Mold us.
Make us.
Send us wherever you will.

We trust the path we were walking.

We hold the lamp to our feet that illuminates that “one step at a time” of our journey.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:105

Three weeks of walking when we pitch our tent again, next to neighbors God already knows will need us.
backyard wanatahFunny that God always knows.
Yet our peace tends to wrestle with the opponent of unanswered questions.

Home looks different once again.
Not the home of our dreams.
But dreams are what you make them.
house Bonnie's houseYou discover the silver linings and pots of gold hiding behind the curtain of contentment.

Contentment in our continual satisfaction of being together, wherever home happens to be today.
wanatah goodyby 9

Page after page of our story keeps changing in narrative.

The face of home has changed.

The faces of our grandchildren have changed in their growing up.

But gardens grow whenever you choose to plant new memories, new traditions and still reap from the “oldies but goldies.”

There are new country roads to discover peddling our fleet of bicycles that have grown from two bikes to twelve, with a place for every child no matter the age.

This is one tradition that writes the best stories of our grand-parenting history together, especially when Papa and Gaga take their spills.

There are those baseball tournaments where every child and adult must take their turn at bat. No couch potatoes in this family garden.

A new snack shack and park to ride our bikes during those open doors of cousin camp.

Yes, our cup overflows, brimming of memories and grandchildren.

Through the years we see the changes and rejoice as this next generation thrives, sprouts, blooms and flourishes in the garden they’ve been planted in.

So hard to believe that three years have gone by so quickly.

Our storybook adventure has added a few more exciting chapters to our family novel.

Three years and God is now calling us “out” again.

The tent stakes have been pulled up and all our possessions have found their temporary home in storage.

We ask the question again, “Where to next Lord?”

In two and a half weeks our Abraham journey continues unless God answers the question before we start venturing out.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home… He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. Hebrews 11:8-9

In “going out” God wants more than anything from his children their deep dependence on Him as Father.

These Abraham journeys over the last seven years have caused David and I to lean into God more, trust in Him and take Him at every word, bringing forth such growth in our garden.

Adventures don’t come without risk though.

Those last looks back, good-byes and hugs of fond farewells run the risk of heartache you try to protect yourself from, but almost unavoidable after sharing life with those who call you neighbor.

Sitting outside together most evenings, the border of your life enlarges from the investment of being neighborly.

You discover in conversation how small the world is to find one neighbor works in the same department as you did years ago.

You appreciate the simple gesture of those secret painted rocks hidden for your grandchildren placed by the neighbor across the street.

You’ll miss those conversations one neighbor was always willing to share with you, putting her walk around the block on pause to do so.

How do you say good-by to the pool people who give you the combination code to access their backyard waterpark?

You know that next door neighbor whose doorbell your grandchildren want to ring whenever that red truck is parked in the driveway, to see if they want to come out and play.

That aunt and uncle our grandchildren are crazy about, whose house they ran back and forth to from ours.  Those neighbors who you also call family, and landlord.

Good-by with these neighbors finds a WARNING sign posted in both yards; enter at your own risk.

The Town of Wanatah has rolled out the red carpet for us out-of-towners these last three years.
wanatah goodby 4Wanatah and its country charm could be the 21st century of Mayberry.

This small town is famous for its Wanatah Wave.
Whether on foot, seated in your lawn chair or driving behind the wheel, everybody waves to the other while passing by.

They don’t know you. You certainly don’t know them.  No introductions needed though as it’s the love of this community to welcome you with their Wanatah Wave.

In a few short weeks David and I bid good-by to the Wanatah corn who has proven to be “knee-high” each year in July.
wanatah goodbyWe will shut down the weekly Friday night block parties of cousin camp and give you back your peaceful Saturday mornings to sleep in.

Be praying for the neighbors unaware of our bicycle club invasion coming to their town real soon.

One final Wanatah Wave as this town bids us good-by.
wanatah goodby 3David and I have no idea where our next address will be.

We wonder about the house God has already picked out for us, confidently trust for our heart’s desire.
wanatah goodby 10

The welcome committee is ready for us.
sign 2We’ve planned.
We’ve prepared.
We’ve prayed.

We open up our map without coordinates to guide us.
We listen for God’s voice who says “go” and we trust Him for direction.

The music is queued and we sing the words to which by faith and dependence on God we walk:

Where He leads me I will follow.
I’ll go with Him, with Him,
All the way.

Where to next Lord?

We ask the questions “why”, but trust that wherever God is sending us, somebody might need the God companion we’re traveling with.

We keep a heavenly perspective as one Facebook post once quoted because:

Our lives this side of eternity are meant to be lived in “tents.”
So travel lightly and enjoy the ride.
You’re not home yet.
backyard wanatah

 

CONSIDER HOW… By Lori A Alicea

A Greeting Card for Faith…

 Consider how the wild flowers grow.
They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you,
Not even Solomon
In all his splendor
Was dressed like one of these.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field,
Which is here today,
And tomorrow is thrown into the fire,
How much more will he clothe you—
You of little faith!
Luke 12:27-28 NIV

Consider How…

 Consider how the flowers grow,
Among these meadow fields.
Consider that they labor not,
Or toil their fragrant yields.

USE Wildflowers 1

Consider how and where they came,
Each wild bloom bouquet.

USE Wildflowers 2

As Heaven’s Gardener paints for us,
A masterpiece display.

USE Wildflowers 4

Consider how the eyes they please,
This secret garden place.

USE Wildflowers 3
All burst forth from the heart of God,
No earthly hands replace.

USE cova jake flowers

Consider how the grassy fields,
God clothes with blooms born wild.

USE ayva smelling flowers

Much more desires to do for you,
With faith, a little child.

ayva at flower park (2)

They toil nor spin beneath the sun,
The splendor of this view.

USE Wildflowers 5

Though God He tends these garden fields,
Much more He cares for you.

USE audra smelling flowers

Consider how we doubt His heart,
No song of faith or choir.
Consider how the flowers grow,
A child’s faith require.

USE flower pictures with kids (2)

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 3Those 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 pictureMy 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 Mae
USEWe 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.

A YEAR TO REMEMBER By Lori A Alicea

Senior Year is a milestone year to remember.

A student’s final lap around the track, prepared to cross the finish line and begin a brand new race outside of high school in nine memorable months.

A senior’s calendar should be managed by an event coordinator, as one event will kick off another, an ongoing firework display of moments, milestones and lifelong memories until Graduation Day.

Senior pictures, Homecoming, College visits, Winter Break;
Spring Break, Prom, Sports, Finals, Senior Ditch Day;
Graduation Day, and all those open houses to name a few.

The Class of 2020 would begin their Senior Year with full exciting calendar events just as classes of previous years.

That first semester of 2020 fall sports, homecoming, classes, finals and winter break were all checked off the calendar as planned.

But come the second semester for the Class of 2020, an unforeseen pandemic cold-front would freeze all school events for the remainder of the calendar year.

The numbing effect was chilling.

When the reality of the senior year milestone cancellations began to unthaw in minds of the Class of 2020, hearts sank for what was supposed to be
Their year to remember.

Eighteen years ago my son was entering his senior year of high school, the same year when parents had given birth to the Class of 2020.

The milestone calendar for my son burst of checklists ’till graduation as all the other students of his senior Class of 2002.

The final year of cross country for my son began.
The books were now opened for the first semester classes.
Fall weather that year was beautiful.

That fall my senior high school son began to test his wings to fly.
This final year of school for me was a painful countdown of letting go.

The Class of 2020 was unaware; so was the Class of 2002.
The pandemic affects the Class of 2020;
The Twin Tower attacks the fall year 2001; affects the Class of 2002.

Each was a year to remember.

The ominous clouds of fear, loss, hopelessness, and all the unknowns paralyzed the country and Class of 2002 for months to come.

Unlike the Class of 2020, the Class of 2002 was able to continue with their senior year festivities, albeit with sadness and guilt of going on.

As a mother, I grieve for every student of the Class of 2020
Who were robbed of their
Year to remember.

You’ve waited eighteen years for your final lap around the track of high school memories.

You deserved your Cinderella evening at prom.
You earned your right to compete at state.
You know you could have been valedictorian or salutatorian.

Your mother’s heart is ripped in her inability to witness your walk across the graduation stage.

The “what if’s” and “if only” events of your senior calendar will forever remain unchecked;

Except the
CELEBRATION OF YOU!

Celebrate your accomplishments.
Celebrate your milestones.
CELEBRATE YOU!

The year 2020 wasn’t the end, but the beginning of a brand new race for your senior class.

You are celebrated, Class of 2020.

When my son graduated high school in 2002, I celebrated him that year and his sister five years later with a video montage of their life as a graduation gift to them.

At the end of the video, I, their mother, narrated this mother-to-graduate poem,
Honoring their life and Year to Remember.

I pray that every life, every graduated student of the Class of 2020 walks away just as honored.

THOSE HANDS
By Lori A Alicea

The moment that I saw you first,
I marveled at your hand.
So small you were, God’s miracle,
Too great to understand.

Amazing that your little hand,
It knew just what to do.
Your tiny finger wrapped itself,
Around my finger too.

And as the days began to pass,
You held your building blocks.
Your hands would grab onto my hair,
Your hands would pull your socks.

And oh the games that babies love,
The best was peek a boo.
You’d hide behind your little hands,
And laugh the way you do.

You’d smile for joy with patty cake,
Your happiness it shows.
And better when Miss Piggy counts,
Your fingers and your toes.

Your hands would spill your glass of milk,
What handprints on the wall.
Your hands could not resist the mud,
The trails I cleaned them all.
18 Jake 1You’d hold my hand for everything,
When walking down the street.
You’d hold my hand while in the car,
I’d reach back to your seat.

But as the days began to pass,
You grew into yourself.
I’d try to help, your hand would say,
Oh mom, I do myself.

You soon would want to dress and change,
You struggled with your sleeve.
Though mixed and matched I saw you were,
The door I’d let you leave.

Instead of holding mother’s hand,
You carried your backpack.
Adventure in those books you held,
And lunch inside your sack.

And as the days began to pass,
You’d want to write your name.
You’d want to hold your bike alone,
And sleep alone the same.
CANDY bike

From catching fire flies at night,
From swinging your first bat.
Your hands behold this mother’s love,
Where memories are at.

And as the days began to pass,
What trials then and now.
Your hands, together in a prayer,
Those times would pass somehow.

I wish this day would never pass,
It has to be, won’t cry.
Those hands I hardly recognize,
Are waving me good-by.
31 IMG_20200520_0045The plan, the journey, all prepared,
One season we would share.
The path has forked, you have to take,
One brand new road out there.

Though empty might this mother’s hand,
She truly knows no fear.
While on that path, you’re not alone,
The Father’s hand is near.

30 Graduation Jake Candy

JUST ONE SWING OF THE BAT By Lori A Alicea

Batter Up!!

We’ve all been summoned to the plate of our calling.

In this game called life we’ve been preparing for opportunites of our calling as long as we can remember; or maybe the opportunity has been waiting for us to prepare just as long.

Either way, you’re on deck and the umpire is kicking up a dust storm in his loud and obnoxious impatience,

Batter Up!!
2017yes 2019 cumbee ethan baseball 1
Your fans have been filling up the stands in their support of you for years during the spring chill and summer heat, cheering and encouraging the truth that
you were truly born for this.”

From the dugout watching the other players you doubt yourself until it’s your time at bat.

You question what God has called you to do.

“Have I prepared enough for my inning?
Have I prepared at all?
Am I ready to face the fast pitch?

I have to be ready because”

When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.
John Wooden
2017yes 2018 ethan baseball 22
Your inning has finally arrived.

It’s now or never.
Nervous or not.

Batter Up!
2017yes ethan baseball 4The crowds cheer you on to hit the ball out of the park.

ethan baseball game 2

God just wants you brave enough to take your place at the plate, to swing;
And keep on swinging.

Because in our lack, (albeit confidence, skill or ability),
Remembering when we are called,

God makes up the difference with
Just one swing of the bat.
2017yes1 ethan first day of tball
We’ve all been called for great things.

The roster of greatness doesn’t find your name in the minors, the majors, or the big leagues though.

Roll call finds you in the perfect will of God for your life, where His plans of prosperity, hope and a future abounds.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

For the love of the game and team you have been chosen and called to,
2017yes IMG_7654Your eyes must be focused on the ball of your opportunities,

You must be diligent in the small plays,

Be a team player, be teachable; be coached in God’s wisdom,

Be willing to leave your base of comfort,
Or steel the next base if need be,
2016yes 2017 baseball 1 2018 ethan baseball 5
To round home and score a big win for the Kingdom,
ethan baseball 22
That you might receive the game ball and prize God has prepared for you;
2017yes 2019 cumbee ethan baseball game ball
Receive the championship ring of His reward.

We’ve all been summoned to the plate of our calling.

In this unpredictable game there are the wins, the defeats.
Assuredly, we will be hit by the fast pitch of our losses, the strike outs.
Yet we will celebrate sliding into home for the winning run if we faithfully remain in the game for God.

We must be brave enough to take our place at the plate, to swing;
And keep on swinging.

To face our fears, our lack, (albeit confidence, skill or ability),
Remembering when we are called,

God makes up all the difference with
Just one swing of the bat.
2017yes 2018 ethan baseball 15

ME AND MOTHER’S BOXES By Lori A Alicea

It was just a small question I needed answers to, although I hadn’t a clue how God would reply.

Was I searching for a “needle in a haystack?”
Did I even know what I was looking for?

I kept my question secret between God and me.

The diary of my longings under “lock and key” and for His eyes only, as He alone understood more than any the personal matters of the heart.

Using mother’s spare key, I entered her house that spring morning without my usual knocking or calling out her name. I didn’t come toting a cup of coffee to join her for breakfast as I usually did.

In the early hours, a light show burst thru the living room windows, warming me and bidding me “good morning”.

Yet while this sunshine tried its best to cheer me up, I couldn’t push past that seared memory of mother taken away days prior by ambulance, forcing a family to reconcile their mother wasn’t ever coming home; at least not to this address.

Clumsily under both arms I clutched boxes, both big and small, with a van parked in the driveway full to the roof of more boxes, scads of bubble wrap, shipping tape and sheets of wrapping paper by the hundreds.

Living one street over, my hands were empty, not carrying those homemade meals prepared and delivered to mother’s kitchen table I had been known to do these last few years.

No, this visit was a first for me, a hard reality. I showed up unannounced on mother’s vacant doorstep to pack, to take and empty from her shelves, drawers, closets and cupboards, and place into boxes the wrapped treasures and belongings of mother’s home now headed for storage.

As siblings we shared in the great responsibilities of mother’s care.

As a stay-at-home-wife I took on the task of closing up this haven we as children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, extended friends and family all called home.

Packing during this difficult time was a gift.

Packing was my quiet way of saying good-by, to reminisce and remember home for the last time in “my way”, comforted in the company of mother’s things, even if this farewell was a first farewell of many yet to come.

Overwhelmed before the first box was ever filled, I paused in silence and reached for mother’s Bible found in its usual place beside her chair. Opening the pages at random I read:

The Lord our God is near whenever we pray to him.
Deuteronomy 4:7 NIV
grandma in chair
Yes, the Lord is near, especially near to the brokenhearted.
He was as close as I allowed Him to be,
Ready to listen; ready to answer.

Surrounded by the memories of mom, that question surfaced again, a question impatiently waiting its turn to be asked.

We all have questions, don’t we?

Questions tied to our past; questions that need to step forward and be heard.

But you have to be bold, find your inner strength, muster the courage and blurt out the question.

“Lord, is there anything in this house you want me to have?”

It wasn’t a question of inheritance.
I wasn’t interested in things or earthly treasures.

What I was interested in though was God’s heart filling in a few blanks of my heart, Him finishing a few sentences from the script of my life I had no idea might be incomplete.

I had no clue how God would reply.

I was searching for a “needle in a haystack”; an answer that could possibly be found among mother’s things.

What I was looking for?
I honestly had no idea.

As the middle child of five girls with an older brother, there were no lingering questions of love and acceptance. Yes, together we were a big family and we had to find and sometimes fight for our individual voice and place.  We didn’t grow up with riches, but we were rich in ways money could never afford.  Any loose ends from the fray of my memory have been tied in a bow, leaving only good thoughts under the cloak of my childhood.

Maybe what I wanted though but didn’t realize growing up, was God needing to complete the sentence relationship of mother and me with not a “period”, but possibly a heart emoji, a kiss of the heart, or a gift of affection.
25th anniversary me mom and davidA gift I wanted to believe could be found hidden among mother’s boxes.

The week long packing began.

Room after room my silent farewells to mother and who she was in this home.

Mother was the heart of our holidays and her kitchen.

Mother was one of a table full of honored pillars seated at the royal place we named the “senior table.”

Family to mom was remembering there was always room for one more person.

Mother’s fervent prayers, throughout the day and midnight hour, kept our family together.

Mother’s things and treasures filled a total of sixty-five boxes. I held the accumulation of mother’s life in my hands piece by piece and released them each with a personal good-bye to the bottom of another box.

Now these boxes would find a new home in storage until mother was able to let them go herself; boxes hiding a piece of our mother’s heart in these closed and stored chapters of her life.

All of mother’s rooms; in all of mother’s belongings and I never found that “needle in the haystack”; what didn’t I see among mother’s boxes, what did I miss?

That “knowing” in me kept pressing and pulling those heartstrings of mine as a prompting to keep looking, keep asking the questions.

Two years later with mother’s blessing, her sixty-five boxes found their way out of storage and into my house to be emptied, contents individually pictured and itemized on a spreadsheet for these belongings to be chosen and disbursed to family.
boxes of moms stuffHere we go again; the hello’s and good-byes of mother’s things.

Once again I pray,

“Lord, is there anything in these boxes you want me to have?”

Two years hadn’t faded my memory of mother’s boxes.
Like old friends I knew them well, by name, by history.

“Lord, is there anything?”

 One by one, box after box, finding their way to the front of the line to be emptied.

Bittersweet as the last remaining chapter of mother’s life in box sixty-five is about to become a new book on somebody else’s shelf.

 “Lord, open my eyes to see.”
 “Is there anything here for me?”

 Held in my hands was the last remaining treasure among mother’s boxes.

An old jewelry box filled with mother’s mismatched pieces of costume necklaces, earrings, rings and broaches, jewelry I remember mother wearing vividly when I was growing up. A jewelry box displayed on her bedroom dresser, a familiar piece I cleaned for decades as mother’s housekeeper.  I knew it well.

The hidden finds inside this jewelry box rewind the 8mm collections of me as a child playing dress up with mother’s baubles and beads.

For the final time I prayed,

“Lord, is there anything here you want me to have?”
 “If so, open my eyes to see.”

 I sigh…I take a breath…There it was.

Like an old photograph buried in the dust of time prompting a double-take and closer view, I stopped in the moment to remember.

Held in my hands a gift from God, bewildered I hadn’t noticed it during my years as mother’s housekeeper, even more bewildered this gift was in plain sight during the packing.

A sweet sixteen present from her mother and father,
A birthday celebration for my mother,
A beautiful watch with the inscription and sentiment I had never read before,

“To Our Loving Daughter”.

Beholding this gift up close I knew without question,
God didn’t want to give me treasures,
God wanted to give me words,
God longed to breathe these words of affirmation upon my life,

“To Our Loving Daughter.”

Most endearing of all was the phrase,

 “To Our”.

Our, received as two people, my mother and father; my heavenly Father.

To be loved, to be known and referred as daughter.
To celebrate her life.
Lori little Birthday cakeAfter talking with mother about the watch I discovered and its significance in her life, she expressed a desire to share its sentiment and pass this gift onto me.

“Lord, I am forever grateful you knew what I needed even while I was unaware.”

“You completed this “mother-daughter” sentence with a heart emoji, a kiss of the heart, a gift of affection, an inscription and sentiment, a love letter simply written for which I cherish more than you know,”

“To Our Loving Daughter”.
25th anniversary me mom and david

A BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HEART By Lori A Alicea

  We all have a story to tell.
Your story, my story, they need to be told.

Buried deep in yesterday is our history, our milestones, our wisdom gained and learned from our wins, our losses.  These truths of our lives must be unearthed, brought to the surface and passed on down into the hands of our children, our grandchildren and generations beyond.

What’s your story?
Might you be willing to open up the pages and tell your story?

blur book candle close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Oh that we would dip our quills into the inkwell of our heart and form onto paper those sentences and chapters that define our past, so our stories can give understanding, fill in the blanks and answer the questions our family in the present are asking, and questions of future family in generations to come.

We must find courage to remember, to fill our passports with stamps that take us places we swore we’d never return to. We must go back and reclaim what was left behind; because it’s your story, it’s a second chance to redeem your memories and realize there are gold nuggets to be mined, but you must be willing to dig and sift and pan out the beauty you never thought was there.             

A loyal traveling companion down the streets of our past, our present and has already walked into our future, God has been a lamppost along our way, lighting our path and writing our story through those peaks, those valleys and every high and low in the journey.

God has been faithful. He alone is a story worth retelling.  Might we be willing to unfold the map of yesterday, re-trace the steps of an almighty Father and give him glory in our story?

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you… Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

“Your Story Matters”, a book poured out from the heart of Leslie Leyland Fields, words I have devoured, or possibly devoured me, from the very first page.

Leslie Leyland Fields tells her story that we would tell our story.

You don’t have to be a writer to tell your story, because your “words are your story”.

Your story matters.
My story matters.

Take my hand and follow me back into my beginning, the introduction and first few pages of my writing story.

I tell my story that you might be encouraged to tell yours.

rewrite edit text on a typewriter
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

 A BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HEART
By Lori A Alicea

In my “thirties” living in a generation where women found great fulfilment in the workplace, many leaned though into the belief “you can have it all at the same time”; where one could “fry up the bacon inside the home while earning it from outside your white picket fence.”  I was one of those women.

As a computer programmer analyst consultant for fifteen years, there’s no denying that gleaned from plowing into projects and sowing opportunity after opportunity into my professional fields, I yielded bushels full of a bountiful increase.

But in my arduous climb up that Mt. Everest of success, I found it difficult to breathe from the demands of higher elevations. Closer to the summit its view didn’t render the majestic glamour I imagined.

Prior to one step up that mountain I should have considered the price; I should have counted the cost of my earthly pursuits.

I wish the wisdom of our Women’s Ministry Pastor would have whispered in my ear years earlier, “You can have it all, just not all at the same time.”

Worldly gains came at a great price, it cost me big:

Cost me time and memories at home.

Cost those treasured “firsts” with my young children; first steps, first words, first day of school, that first day of baseball, and sadly, the scrapbooks are empty from so many more.

Cost my strength in exchange for weariness.

Costs my family and I paid dearly for.

These missed moments are now fallen leaves caught up in the updrafts of those autumn winds, forever lost and unable to be reclaimed or retrieved.

Eventually a tug-of-war ensued, a duel from both sides of my heart challenging each other to the death, career vs. my love for home.

The voice of my career screamed, “Keep climbing.”
The voice of my love for family begged louder, “Come home.”

In search for answers, a Heavenly Father reminded me:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

…A time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecclesiastes 3:2

I could have it all, just not all at the same time.

Encouraged and blessed by my husband, I uprooted myself from the acres of career and plowed up and re-planted my life into a brand new field called home.

Home felt so right.
Home fit like my favorite slippers on a cold day.
Home was the warmth of an angora sweater in a cool breeze.
Home was an afternoon smell of cookies baking in the oven.
Home was sharing pancakes over breakfast with my children before school.
Home was kneading bread dough on my kitchen counter.
Home was those walls that kept my family safe at night.

I was home and living the dream.

It didn’t take long before a gentle pursuit of me occurred in the still and quiet mornings; “words of home” began silently whispering.

The pitter, patter feet of (the simple thoughts, the little phrases, the innocent images of children and love…), began sneaking up on me from around the corner hallway, at the breakfast table as I sipped on my morning coffee, while gazing at the outside beauty from my kitchen window, all pulling on my apron strings and vying for my attention to be written.

There was no denying the stirring. I couldn’t push them away if I tried; words, those beautiful words.

Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.  Psalms 45:1 NLT

Born from this sacred place of my heart called home,

A birth announcement,

A debut column from years ago, the birthplace and baby’s first steps of a writing career,

Written to draw attention to the roses, our garden of the simple, the seemingly insignificant, yet the wonderment to discover if you allow its beauty to entice your curiosity to stop and smell them.

A Column is born,
Little Things.”
Column pictures

WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE…By Lori A Alicea

The heart of one true friend for the other,
…he loved him as he loved himself.
1 Samuel 20:16 NIV

For every life there is a ledger.
A book of columns tallying the additions and subtractions,
Reconciling the sum total of our years here on earth,
And upon inspection of my life’s ledger,
I’d consider it an accounting of true riches
For those who call me friend, albeit even one.

 “If you have one true friend in the world,
You are very rich.”
Alistair Begg        

We were not born for isolation.

God himself said before blessing man with his wife:
It is not good for man to be alone…
Genesis 2:18 NIV

While telling them next to
“Be fruitful and multiply…”
Genesis 1:28

Birthed from the increase of families came
Community, the village,
Our deep and abiding friendships.

What a friend we have….
…to be loved by one as he loves himself.

As beauty rests in the eye of the beholder,
So are the many portraits of friendship;
Painted and seen from the beholders lens.

The portrait of loyalty as seen through the eyes of small children and their furry best friends, expressed through their inseparable time together, side by side throughout the day, never seeing one without the other, with the loyal friend keeping vigil and watch over his best friend at night.

Friendships paint a classroom of learning whose brushstrokes articulate the lending and sharing of talent, while hidden in the shadows of color are those dreams and secrets that friends both share together, creating a heart connection for life.

True friendships are those paintings of hill climbs thru hard times, journeys thru deep valleys of sadness and miles of desolate roads with no bright intersection in sight, yet depicting relationships still locking arms to get through it all together, never entertaining the thought of leaving the other behind.

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
Maya Angelou

There are those nightstand 5 x 7’s reserved for friendships remembering their worst and best day, those good Samaritan moments caught on camera rescuing a fallen friend in need.

If one falls down, his friend can help him up… Ecclesiastes 4:10
hands ethan and ayva park 2
Friendships are for life; a picture riding off into the sunset, showcasing a bond birthed as cousins, yet grew with them through the years into brothers and inseparable friends.

There are those friendships beautifully framed in love and influence, portraits that hang over the fireplace of those who have touched and impacted our hearts for the first time, yet leave a handprint on our life forever.
father grandfather ayva and daddy walkingThen are those generational wall groupings, our inheritance frozen under glass for our reminder, our journey back to our roots, our heritage and friendships that can’t be explained on canvas, only told through the stories of those faces caught in time.

Friendships are snapshots of sisters, or friends who become sisters and family, snapshots where the naked eye is unable to distinguish the difference because love goes deeper and hides itself in these pixel moments of time.

There are friends,
there is family,
and then there are friends
that become family.
Unknown

Friendship on canvas is..
A friend who
overlooks your broken fence
and admires the flowers in your garden.
Unknown
flowers ayva smelling flowers

Sweet friendships refresh the soul…they awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence. Proverbs 27:9 TPT

What a friend we have…
The heart of one true friend for the other,
…he loved him as he loved himself.
1 Samuel 20:16 NIV