LIFE’S AMAZING RACE By Lori A Alicea

Sometimes life takes you back a few years and it’s always worth looking over your shoulder to remember the overflow of one’s heart.

On February 24, 2017
A few pages from the diary of my heart for our son on his birthday….

Your Life’s Amazing Race began on
February 24, 1983 at 5:55 PM
When you became our son;

Jacob James C. England

jake as a baby at xmas

God has had a great plan on your life before you were ever born.
That plan has been unfolding with every mile you complete in your race; a race that has been charted from the very beginning.

There are those who have greatly influenced you along the way.
Now, it’s your turn to lead the next generation of runners in their race;
Those adorable children of yours.

2015 hollis jake cova at race

I am forever thankful for those lives that have loved you greatly for so many years, but sadly were last seen at the fork in the road called “Heaven Bound.”

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Jake and Cova

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barbara

Gloria Gloria

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David and I love you son.

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May God continue to reveal amazing surprises for you around every lap of the race you take.

Your Life’s Amazing Race
By Lori A Alicea

A charted course, your race is set,
Specific map assign.

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A plan prepared before your birth,
To reach the finish line.

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Your map it details every step,
Your path God charts them all.

IMG_7433He guides your way and sets the pace,
The prize, fulfill your call.

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A marathon of hills to climb,
Yet miles where watchers cheer.

The Climb of Your Life - Do not Fear picture or Conquer 2Encouragement when loss of strength,
Demands you persevere.

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Beware the turns that lead astray,
The detours that seem right.

IMG_7439Keep firm your faith and feet before,
The prize that’s in your sight.

jake running your raceYou’ve journeyed far, we’re proud of you,
Yet many miles you face.

IMG_7437Faint not, your God he runs beside,
Your life’s amazing race.

IMG_7434Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easy entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

Blessings on another year older son.
IMG_7405You are all grown up; but that little boy still holds a special place in my heart.

mother son USESpoken from the pages of David’s heart …

Dear Son,

You may not be my blood.
You may not share my name.
But love goes deeper than any human understanding.
If I never told you,
I’ve always believed it.
I’m proud of you as any dad would be.
You are my Beloved Son.
Love David

jakes cross stitch

Thirty-eight years ago
You left the starting line to begin your
Life’s Amazing Race.

As the laps in your life begin to take their grueling toll; Don’t give up or give into the pain.  Stay in your lane. Persevere and complete your race.  As a prize awaits your finish.  Love Mom. 25040237-B6C2-4839-B6C7-053054DD4669

LOVE FOR A LIFETIME  By Lori A Alicea

Consider it simply amazing.

Consider it an unearthed treasure.

Consider it a lighthouse to guide the generations beyond their life.

Consider it another Wonder of the World.

Consider love for a lifetime.

That’s what Bill and Gloria considered their first day of marriage throughout their sixty-six wonderful years together;

Love for a lifetime.

bill and gloria on valentines

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 do part,

According to God’s holy matrimony,
In the presence of God we make this vow.

And that they did, for sixty-six years.

Never wavering their commitment when times were lean.
Never considering giving up in worse.
Holding tight to each other in sickness.

Bill and Gloria,
According to God’s holy matrimony,
Cherished one another before their children.
Cleaved to each other in the eyes of their grandchildren.
They preferred one another in the presence of God.

They embraced a love for a lifetime.

A legacy to leave;

Something God would have us all to consider.

Bill and Gloria

Gloria Ann left her Bill for heaven on November 30, 2015;
a sad day for us; a glorious day for Christ and Gloria.

The first time I ever saw them apart.

Even though a vacant seat remains at the breakfast table where Bill and Gloria once shared a few pieces of toast and coffee prepared by Bill each morning;

I never see one without the other,
As the love Bill still carries for Gloria illuminates his eyes.

bill and gloria by river

The love this couple shared together has been passed down four generations thus far; a love story to be told and recounted over and over during bedtime stories to the grandchildren present and beyond.

jill and kids

Gloria’s love spilled over as a teapot being poured into the cups of her daughter’s and granddaughter’s life.

bill and gloria's girls

bill and gloria tea setThere is always enough love and room at the table in Bill’s heart for his special girls also.

neese wedding

Bill and Gloria passed their legacy of love for a lifetime to their children, their grandchildren and those beyond their natural eyes to see.

Their love for a lifetime,
A love only known in Christ,
Stands as a lighthouse to guide through the darkest days,
The roughest and uncharted waters,
Reaching and safely continuing another day as man and wife.

bill and gloria family

Adopted into our hearts, Gloria held the honor of matriarch alongside the other pillars in our family. We only knew her as nanny, as love will do that.

bill and gloria mom bonnie

bill and gloria and david
Bill carries the torch of patriarch and is only known to us as papa; whose family added new branches to reach our family tree, by sharing themselves with those not sharing their DNA;

bill and brad

Being nanny and papa to so many not related by blood, but knitted together in true love.

bill and gloria picnic all our family

The sun is going down in papa’s eyes as his longing for that one he
Loved for a lifetime is winning.

Sitting side by side along the water’s edge will forever be “their place”.

The cool and calm of the river still ripples between two hearts, whose devotion to the other never parted them, even unto death.

bill and gloria by river

Bill and Gloria’s sixty-six years together is an unearthed treasure, a treasure map, an adventure to discover true love in your wedding vows.

Consider it simply amazing.

Consider sixty-six years together another Wonder of the World.

Consider love for a lifetime.

Bill and Gloria did.

ROSES EACH DAY, AND EVERY DAY!  By Lori A Alicea

There’s a local florist near home who absolutely has the corner market on love.

Accompanied with every bouquet of roses is his smile and a few words to add to the card; words you recognize from the pages of a heart who knows true love himself and wants to share this love with others.

White roses for innocence and everlasting love;
Yellow roses for friendship and joy;
Pink roses for elegance and sweetness;
Red roses for true love and romance;

A garden of roses colored in every beautiful shade and hue paints the portrait of this local florist nearby, whose life as my husband expresses himself in friendship, joy, sweetness and true love as a bouquet of flowers, as a special delivery of
roses each day, and every day
to me and others.

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For some, it might take a special pair of glasses to see long stem roses wrapped in the ribbon of everyday tasks my husband blesses me with. For others, the fog might never clear.

But a heart of deep contentment and gratitude can smell the roses my husband gives while cleaning the dishes or braving the winter cold so I don’t have too.

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A morning delivery of roses await an opportunity to appreciate the loving hands that serve me; to smile at the efforts of an amazing man regardless if his laundry folds ever pass a Martha Stewart inspection.

serve doing laundryI’m not the only one receiving roses each day, and every day.

A papa of ten grandchildren makes sure they each get their special deliveries too.

Papa hands out roses reaching for their hand, allowing the innocence of children to take him wherever they wish.

walk 1walkIt’s coming up roses during story time and car time with just the two of you.

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Long stem roses are car rides with papa to wherever your heart desires.

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Roses from papa take adventures in the deep; adventures down the hill or adventures around the track.

playing swimingplaying sledingplaying riding go-cartA personal tour of papa’s rose garden is enjoyed during birthday celebrations and family hour around the dinner table with him.

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jake david's birthdaytable 2Papa’s girls are vases of pretty pink buds that bloom in their special time together.

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time 5play riding bike 2Sometimes you don’t see or smell the roses rolling out play-dough, waging a war of Nerf-guns, swatting the bat in baseball or working together with papa. But looking back at the pictures you realize papa’s rose petals where scattered everywhere.

play with play doughplay with gunsplaying baseballdeck david and jakeTo his prettiest girls, papa gives the dearest wedding bouquets in song and dance.
singing at Nate and Kristy's weddingCumbee-806Papa even commissions Elvis to personally deliver the finest and most exquisite roses in song to his anniversary girl.
singing at our anniversaryPapa hands out roses when he BBQ’s.
Papa hands out roses when he laughs.
Papa especially delivers red roses when he never says “no” to crafts.
bbqlaughcraftingMy Valentine and me with twenty-seven years together has been a lifetime delivery of
Roses each day, and every day.

Accompanied with every bouquet of roses is his smile and a few words to add to the card; words you recognize from the pages of a heart who knows true love in Christ himself and wants to share this love with others.

Papa’s roses of the ordinary and mundane might be mistaken for another flower.

But in the eye of the beholder,

david and lori

I’ll always see

Roses each day, and every day.
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THE GENERATIONS  By Lori A Alicea

The generations are only together for a season.

The calendar is reminiscent of the decades between their birthda
ys.

An ocean divides the era they each grew up in.

The wallpaper of home it captures a story of life in “their day”, a movie told as reruns in dinner conversations.

The simple moments are still the big moments regardless of age.

You don’t have to walk far to realize whose hand you hold is a gift and worth the travel down memory lane or new adventures ahead; rather than choosing to miss the sightseeing together and go it alone.
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The generations are only together for a season.

Each generation leaves the starting lineup from a different era, another team, keeping pace from their individual lane in the race.
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In their lane one generation is always pursuing a personal best; that their time in the race might be recorded as God had planned, whose story is one to remember and passed on down in the family Bible as inspiration to those who continue the race.

In their lane the heart of one generation is beating fast as the pace picks up from the lap before it, making sure to exhale the gifts and memories received along the way onto the next generation about to take their position at the starting lineup.
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While each generation has a lane and individual race to run from, each generation perseveres to finish the race God set before them; with cheerleaders of encouragement along every step of the way, whose voices are trumpeted thru the final stretch and over the finish line.
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In time, the next generation will leave the starting line-up and take their place into the same lane behind the generation previous, and run the race together for just a short distance, where the hand-off of the baton of their life, the baton of their love and wisdom to a run their race and victory dance is complete.
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Sadly, the running shoes of the generation previous eventually hang as a trophy of their glory days, whose highlight reels re-play in their memories and stories re-told for those audiences eager enough to listen.
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The generations are only together for a season.

The generation previous will run in the same lane and in front of the upcoming generation for only a few meters of their life’s race, where the baton of their legacy is blindly handed off and entrusted into the hands of those whose race continues beyond them.

There is no looking back from the runner in front during this crucial baton exchange of one’s legacy.

Races are won and lost in this exchange.

The race continues from one generation to the next, each taking their lane and attempts to run a personal best that pleases God.

Legs will grow weary.

The wind of adversity will push against one’s limits.

The insurmountable odds of the pursuit might dash one’s faith.

But every runner must keep the pace, must hold tight onto the baton they’ve been given.

As the next generation is waiting for sights of you at the starting line-up;

Anxious for two generations to follow each other, to love and learn from each other, to receive the prize of the hand-off that God promises in our finish.

To keep in step and treasure together the few meters each race of the generations is granted.

HIDE AND SEEK OF THE HEART  By Lori A Alicea

Ready or not, here I come.”

The count to thirty is over.

The scrambling of little feet down the halls of Papa and Gaga’s house has stilled.

The laughs of sweet children who hurry for a new place to hide have quieted.

In a two bedroom house we grandparents are amazed at the new creative places these cousins discover from one game of hide and seek to the other;

Among the pots and pans inside the kitchen cabinets;
cabinet aubrey ethan avya
Inside the bathroom shower;
Under the piled clothes of the laundry basket;
Behind the pillows propped on our bed;
In every conceivable place in the one closet of two allowed;
Behind the garbage can beneath the sink;
Behind the doors and living room couch;
Under the kitchen table;

We even caught someone sneaking in the dryer once but stopped that in a hurry.

Oh, the creative play when children find simple pleasures in hiding.
cabinet Jake
Each taking turns camouflaging themselves in the same places their cousins found cover during the last game, but hide nevertheless.

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Whoever is found first and after the whereabouts of every hidden child has been revealed, will start counting, initiating the next round of hide and seek.

A game that goes on for hours;

Child’s play that turns upside down the closets, cabinets and every imaginable place our grandchildren take cover from.

But memories Papa and Gaga wouldn’t stop for a second, knowing one day soon these little feet will stop scrambling down the halls to hide, whose shoe size sadly to us will outgrow this simple game of hide and seek.

As precious children in God’s eyes,

We never outgrow this relationship of hide and seek with Him.

Though God is never hidden from us,
He loves when we seek Him;
He loves to be found.

I love those who love me,
And those who seek me, find me.
Proverbs 8:17 NIV

God loves when we seek Him to do the right thing.

I seek you with all my heart,
Do not let me stray from your commands.
Psalm 119:10 NIV

God delights when His children take cover
And hide in Him from their enemies.

Rescue me from my enemies,
Lord, for I hide myself in you.
Psalm 143:9 NIV

There are those times though we children
Don’t seek God to do the right thing and the game of

Hide and seek of the heart

Begins when we hear God calling for us
From our hiding place as He did with Adam and Eve,

Where are you?”
Genesis 3:9 NIV
cabinet Ethan

Knowing all too well God is never blind to our whereabouts.”

Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?”
Declares the Lord….
Jeremiah 23:24 NIV
cabinet Aubrey Jake
Yet, it is in His asking,
“Where are you?”
God questions if we are aware
Of the hiding place our choices
Have caused us to take cover from.

There are no secrets from God.

This game of
hide and seek of the heart
Is meant for our seeking, our finding;

Our hiding in Him; not hiding from Him.

In spite of our choices,
Regardless of our whereabouts,

No matter how deep the well we have dug for ourselves,

There is great hope and joy from God
for His children to come out of hiding because,

Nothing,
I mean nothing,
Can ever separate us from the love of God.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
Neither angels nor demons,
Neither the present nor the future,
Nor any powers,
Neither height nor depth,
Nor anything else in all creation,

Will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in
Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 37:39 NIV

A PEN, YOUR STORY WROTE By Lori A Alicea

… Sometimes we need to be reminded
about the love story God has written
about our life before our days were even one.

Before I ever breathed my first,
Before I knew my name.
You knit me in my mother’s womb,
You formed my tiny frame.

You marveled in my secret place,
A poem of words could quote.
The pages of your thoughts of me,
A pen, your story wrote.

antique book close up handwriting
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 The details of my life you penned,
Page one unto The End.
You wrote before my days were one,
So much to comprehend.

I marvel at this book you write,
Such dreams you have for me.
And touchable the moon and stars,
If I would reach for Thee.

unrecognizable young father with little child walking on beach
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Your pen which captures every word,
Your heart, each page conceal.
A Father bid’s me to Himself,
With secrets to reveal.

The many chapters of this book,
You write that others see.
That through the windows of my days,
Your love reflects through me.

baby looking through car window
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Forgive me when I take your pen,
Your perfect words despite.
And choose to change the narrative,
And pages dare re-write.

black and white typewriter on black table
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But yet the story does remain,
A Father’s love through me.
Who waits until I turn the page,
And take the hand of Thee.

boys brother children country
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To live the life He wrote for me,
With dreams among the moon.
Which wait their turn to be revealed,
In chapters coming soon.

sephia photography of desk lamp lightened the gray typewriter on wooden table
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A diary you kept for me,
Inspired words, devote.
This love you want to live through me,
A pen, your story wrote.

diary with flowers between pages on crumpled fabric
Photo by Olha Ruskykh on Pexels.com

15My 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.

16Your eyes saw my unformed body;
the days ordained for me were written
your book before one of them came to be.

17How precious to me are your thoughts,
Oh, How vast is the sum of them!
Psalm 139:15-17 (NIV)

WHAT WE HAVE ON HAND  By Lori A Alicea

Back in the old days when I was a kid growing up, neighbors borrowing sugar from one another was quite the norm; as I was one of those neighbors.

Neighbors didn’t think twice about asking for milk, eggs, flour or anything else missing from the grocery list either, as cooking from scratch was as common as a Betty Crocker cookbook, a staple in most households back then; the old days as my grandchildren remind me.

With measuring utensils in tote for a “cup of this” and a “cup of that”, those persons living next door or across the street shared from what they had on hand with pleasure, always beckoning you inside if you had a moment to spare.

Around the kitchen table these simple ingredients from the cupboard would find themselves stirred into a bowl of conversation, sending next door neighbors back home with leftovers of friendship packed to the full line in Tupperware containers.

ingredients USE

While borrowing a “cup of sugar” from your next door neighbor is a memory from the old days, God is still doing ministry around the kitchen table, using what we have on hand to touch the hearts of those seated before us.

God longs to take the ordinary and perform the extraordinary with what we have on hand.

God called Moses to lead the children of Israel into the Land of Promise.

Doubting his inadequacies Moses questioned the Lord’s call as many do today, yet God proposes the same question to us as He did to Moses,

What is that in your hand?”…
Exodus 4:2 NIV

The staff in Moses’ hand was transformed into a snake then back into a staff as a sign to others that Moses indeed was called to lead the Israelite’s from their bondage’s.
(Exodus 4:3-5)

Jesus multiplied a little boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish to feed the multitude of five thousand.
(Matthew 14:13-21)

A woman’s jar of oil was multiplied into many containers and sold to settle her debt.
(2 Kings 4:1-7)

This same God wants to perform miracles with…

What is that in your hand?”…

Exodus 4:2 NIV

A simple cup of coffee might minister to a lonely person through
Available time you have on hand.

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A cup of sugar might be a spoken word in due season that is…

Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24 NIV

Soothing and comforting…

As a mother comforts her child…
Isaiah 66:13 NIV

mother son USEA measure of flour might serve those dying inside,

A meal of sustenance and great hope that Jesus,

He is “… the bread of life.”…
John 6:48 NIV

Day 15 Bread

What do you have on hand that God longs to multiply for the hurting?

What do you have on hand that can be shared with someone else in need?

Our pantries have plenty enough for those neighbors who unexpectedly knock on our heart for “a cup full”.

Forgetting not the lost, those desperate for Christ’s life-giving love, whose measure for them overflows at the cross.

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God wants to take the ordinary we have on hand and do the extraordinary.

God wants to use our weak inadequacies to demonstrate how strong He is.

When He simply asks the question…

What is that in your hand?”… Exodus 4:2 NIV

TRAVEL LIGHT  By Lori A Alicea

The final pages of December, 2020 are being written as we speak, concluding the chapter and volume of another year of my life, as well as yours.

In two short days, accounting will close out the books of these last twelve months we’ve lived, tallying the debits and credits, the giving and taking we have experienced from January thru December of 2020.

Regardless if your annual report shows you in the negative financially, emotionally, relationally or spiritually, you’ll always find a faithful word of encouragement from our Lord in the questions,

You can trust Me.”

Returning to the table of contents from this particular volume of my family library, I recall and remember, revisit and remind myself, rekindle and reminiscence the goodness of God in the pages of joy, the pages of laughter; still trusting His goodness in the chapters of trial and yes, the chapters of tears.

But you can trust Me”, says the Lord.

Regardless of the findings from the most recent three hundred and sixty-five days of your life, God entreats you to follow and trace a father’s heart with His sight, as eyes in the natural might miss those holy hand-prints left behind as evidence of Him

Never leaving us nor forsaking us

In the sentences of good and not-so good;

Whatever is true,
Whatever is noble,
Whatever is right,
Whatever is pure,
Whatever is lovely,
Whatever is admirable—
If anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
Think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV

God has been a faithful God to David and I and our family this year.

God has celebrated with us at the summit of our magnificent mountaintop experiences.

That same God was found as a tender father comforting and resting with us in the valley.

From whatever posture we found ourselves reaching for God this past year, whether looking down from the glorious view of the mountain or eyes gazing up from the valley below, God has been a faithful God wherever our circumstances plotted our foot’s position.

In leaving this year of 2020, I inquired the Lord for anything learned of our journey these past twelve months; a word of wisdom for 2021.

God’s word and lesson was rooted from our address change four months ago:

Travel Light.

After three long years of praying and seeking God’s perfect will for our next address, dreams and expectations were caught off guard with God’s reveal, a 960 sq. ft. single wide manufactured home.

IMG_5896 IMG_5900We sought Him and found Him.
We trusted God with His eyes until we could see with our own.
Finally, David and I were home.

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Interestingly, this home checked off every box on our wish list:

A brand new place to accommodate David’s allergies; ability to pay off quickly as retirement is approaching; close to David’s work; close to the kids; and closer to church.

Prayer that God’s perfect will in a house for us would stay hidden in the hot housing market until we stumbled upon it.  That He did, as this address we now call home, was up for sale four longs months before we ever purchased it.

Moving in though, you realize quickly with only two small closets for storage, and neither being the walk-in version,

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That everything we own will remain in our two storage units, except the bare essentials.

david storage

Travel light”, God says.

It’s amazing to realize the peace in living this truth,

Travel light

As

Less is so much more.

Less to maintain.
Less to store.
Less to look at.

Getting rid of all these boxes is a completely different story; another blog and episode to share.

Beyond boxes, I believe God wants us to

Travel light financially, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

Travel light financially.

Keep finances from the entanglements of debt.
Embrace generosity; be a giver.
Find the poor and feed them, clothe them, and love them as Jesus did.

Travel light emotionally.

Love yourself.
See yourself as God created you; fearfully and wonderfully.
Hand out mirrors for those who see their reflection “less than” wonderful.

Travel light relationally.

Forgive others quickly.
Fight for restoration.
Be a peacemaker.
Love to the moon and back.

Travel light spiritually.

You’re never lost; the Good Shepherd leaves the ninety-and-nine to find the one who strayed.
There is room at the cross for you.
God’s heart weeps for the broken.
Look for the light in the window; the Father waits for your return.

Travel light in 2021.

Give your burdens to the Lord
And He will take care of you.
Psalm 55:22 NIV

Cast all your anxiety on Him
Because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Let God do all of the heavy lifting.

“Travel light”, thus saith the Lord.
As less is so much more.

GOD WITH US  By Lori A Alicea

Two thousand years ago a prophecy fulfills in a humble stable at Christmas:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
And they will call him Immanuel.
(“God with us”)
Matthew 1:23 NIV

An angel proclaimed this birth announcement of good news and great joy to shepherds tending their flocks nearby:

“Today in the town of David
A Savior has been born to you;
He is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in
Cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:11-12 NIV

Just as the angel said, these shepherds found the Christ child sleeping on a bed of straw with his parents Mary and Joseph in wonder and awe beside.

The shepherd and all who heard of this miraculous birth were in amazement.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19 NIV

Mary gave birth to her son named Immanuel, “God with us.”

I’m wondering in the still and quiet moments of December do we find these gifts that Mary treasured. Do we ponder the joy from the simple song of a mother’s heart,
“God with us.”

A baby who was born
To die for us;
To save us;
To live in our hearts and yes;
Be with us.

In the busy throws of shopping, celebrating and preoccupation with the holidays, is the “great joy of our Savior’s birth” being treasured and pondered? Are we in amazement as the shepherds were and spreading this good news?

This Christ child born at Christmas is the same to us yesterday, today and forever, He is always with us. (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)

Looking back at the most unpredictable year of 2020, a year that caught the world off guard and stripped so much, I’m questioning in the nakedness of the year leading to December, were we reminded of the treasures hidden in our hearts? Were we comforted in the pondering, “God is with us.”

Queuing up the video of my own life these past twelve months, inquiries into the emptiness and loss question did I open and hold onto the gift of “God is with us?”

Did I embrace these gifts that God was enough when church doors closed and saints they gathered online?

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church at homeDid I allow you God to be enough during those painful weeks of lock down which didn’t allow us lonely grandparents to embrace our grandchildren?

screen Alicea

screen CumbeeDid we sense you “with us” and did we bloom when the reality of our next “address” caught our expectations off guard?
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Did we sense you enough when children’s smiles were hidden beneath these coverings?
mask school - Ayva first day of kindergartenmaskLord, I had a difficult time watching our beloved mother celebrate her 80th birthday from her bedroom window. Did I sense you “with us then?”
party window - momparty guests - moms familyLord, our family had more of a difficult time saying good-by from the cold window panes peering into our mother and grandmother’s room, unable to express our love when heaven’s angels came for her.

goodby a goodby david and lori looking a mom in window

goodby cova saying goodbygoodby grandkids saying goodby from windowOur final good-by remains a chapter unable to articulate, but yes God,
you were with us.
Yet, still a painful “letting go” for three generations beyond our mother’s life.

funeral a goodby ayva looking at grandma (2)funeral a goodby neese jake david looking at casketI sensed you enough God, though still wanting my mother to fill her empty chair this first Thanksgiving without her.

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I admit I’m asking for a cup of contentment during a smaller Christmas gathering this year; the first time in my life that extra tables won’t be set up to accommodate our family guests.
“God be with us.”

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I’m asking for an ocean full of contentment God to mask the loneliness without our Hawaiian grand-babies these last ten months.

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Lord, do we need a special pair of glasses to see that you are enough?
Do we need to bring into clarity your presence in spite of what our natural eyes can or cannot see?

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Forgive us God when we didn’t see you “enough” or “with us” in 2020.

Regardless of empty arms, empty hearts or empty anything, God you will always be enough.

All that’s needed in the still and quiet moments of December is for us to find those gifts that Mary treasured. To ponder and celebrate the simple song of a mother’s heart, “God with us.”

A baby who was born
To die for us;
To save us;
To live in our hearts and yes;
Be with us.
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Merry Christmas and Peace Be to Everyone!

A TEN YEAR BELATED SURPRISE AT CHRISTMAS  By Lori A Alicea

Surprises are hidden in boxes of every size.
Surprises are one’s heart on display for the affections of another.

Surprises might be planned or impromptu.
Surprises are wrapped and tied with a bow in the unexpected.

Surprises are a kiss from God to say “I’m thinking of you.”
Surprises take the breath away of one fully unaware.

Surprises might appear late though arriving on time decades later delivered as a soldier’s love letter to his bride during the war.

True surprises are marked in time, never to be forgotten.

Turning back the pages of my life, I can only recall a few complete surprises that waited for me on the other side of the door; surprises I truly had no idea were planned.

Not liking to be the center of attention, this is probably a good thing.

But God delights in giving to us through others.
It is in our receiving where God and those He partners with is honored back.

With eyes always noticing the details, it’s difficult to catch me off guard. Although, one winter morning thirty-one years ago and eight months pregnant, a dear friend did just that with an unexpected celebration waiting for me and my baby girl as I entered the workspace. I couldn’t have been more surprised.

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I love the reveal of the “not knowing”; our post-it-note from God to expect the unexpected.

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God loves us immensely through others. I have never forgotten this endearing surprise.

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Surprises are often late, years in the making for some.

This particular surprise came ten years after the fact, a surprise some would question its unusual timing.

It was Christmas the year of 2004 when we as a family gathered for the holidays.

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These pictures frozen in time from ten years ago warm my heart as our parents and grandparents were still with us. To have them seated at our Christmas table again would be the best gift ever.

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IMG_5468Nothing was out of place this particular Christmas except that our Texas family came and our son was home from college.

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We honored our Lord and Savior’s birth in song as we always did in years prior.

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One detail blatantly off though that Christmas was David wearing a suit in my mother’s apartment, a small place known to be unusually hot with a large family gathering together.  He never wore a suit before at our holiday events.

But celebrating our ten year anniversary two months prior that year of 2004 and still crazy in love with one another as we still are today, I really didn’t question it much.

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Yes, surprises are often late in their arrival, even ten years after your wedding day.

You see, ten years prior I received a telephone call from my Pastor while working, asking the question if I wanted to marry a handsome man named David seated in his office during our conversation.

I screamed on my end of the telephone, “Please tell David I said yes!!!”

Interestingly, being clouded by love, David failed to bend a knee and ask me himself; a gesture of honor every girl dreams about, even the second time down the isle.

Taken back by a Christmas surprise and ten years after the fact, David redeemed a holy moment and asked me on one knee to marry him in his own words.

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I never saw this coming.
If I did, I would have worn something better than those “bad mom jeans.”

That Christmas of 2004 was a year to remember.
My husband blessed me with a gift I have hidden and treasured in my heart since.

It’s never too late for a surprise.
You can never go wrong with the unexpected.

Life needs to be full of giving and receiving.
May our arms be full of surprises, planned and impromptu.

Might we take the breath of those unaware often.
May we remember to expect things from God in the unexpected.

May the kisses of God be expressed in our surprises,
whether timely or belated years after the fact.