I sometimes think we go through life believing we’ll live forever, with dreams on our “to-do-lists” continuing to be put off for another day, as if Father Time has guaranteed us tomorrow.
You know what I am talking about; those dreams God conceived in your belly years ago that have long surpassed its nine month gestational period and is desperate for you to give birth. Those dreams that are your marching orders from the Commander in Chief in Heaven, whose Kingdom army will be forced to recruit other willing soldiers if we fail to fulfill the dream He has dared us to dream.
Somehow we count the price to pay as minimal to leave our post and go AWOL. But I believe if the Commander turned up the volume to the cries of the lost and hurting, we would sit heartbroken in our idle condition.
I’ve often heard that the saddest place to visit are the grounds where all our loved ones lay, a cemetery littered with markers from one headstone to the other: “Here lies another dream, once bursting with unimaginable promise, now dead to eternity, never realizing what could have been.”
Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
We all have a song to sing.
We know the words.
We hear the music.
Someone in pain waits for our song of comfort.
We long to sing.
We want to sing.
Yet we remain silent.
Romans 7:16 reminds us of this heart condition,
“For what I want to do, I do not do…”
Sadly, if we don’t wake up to our dreams, we will:
“Die with the music still in us.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Remembering the years, my sister Belinda and I loved to write. Our affection for words and the impact they have on others led to many conversations about the books we wanted to write.
Belinda being sick most of her life, her biggest dream was to write of her Lupus journey, detailing the highways and byways, dead-ends and disappointments, and signs and wonders during her time in the trenches, battling the disease.
Without question, Belinda knew God wanted to use her story to encourage others whose hourglass of hope seemed to be running out of sand. Belinda had a story to write; she had a song to sing. Yet she put it off for tomorrow, though sadly, tomorrow didn’t come when God called her home on August 3, 2004; she was only 44 years old.
Her untimely departure is our wake up call to “Number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 90:12
None of us is guaranteed tomorrow.
“You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes.” James 4:13-14
Months after her death, I honored our promise to each other to write with a bi-monthly column in the local newspaper titled “Little Things”. The hope of my opportunity would be to encourage others to look at the Little Things before them; God’s reminder how full the baskets of our lives truly are.
Sadly, that opportunity ended after eight short months and the newspapers rejection letter had me questioning if I really had anything to say after all.
Fourteen years later and the pages of my book remain blank. I immersed myself in event decorating to detour my creativity from the pen. I avoided conversations that might question my writing status, yet God’s voice and whispers can’t be silenced and his “pricks of my heart” for those waiting for my words keeps me uncomfortable.
This past year we moved to a town with its own country cemetery. Day after day passing this small plot of buried loved ones, I thought of my sister often and her unfinished book as well as mine. Becoming more evident as I near retirement age, I would also die with the “music still in me” if I refuse to answer the call on my life.
I had to come to the end of myself and wave the white flag of surrender to God. No more idling. I put my car of writing into gear and engaged the GPS wherever my call would lead.
I desperately prayed the cry of my heart:
“Lord, forgive me for the years I have squandered and redeem what has been lost. Breathe new life into the dream you dreamed for me before I was ever born.”
No one is ever too young; no one ever too old to be used by God.
There isn’t a dream too dusty to be taken off the shelf and watch it explode in “fireworks finale fashion” before your eyes.
It just takes a burning desire to want what God wants for us, which is our passion and surrendered heart to enlist back into His army to win the Kingdom war using our dreams. In the end when our tour of duty is finished, we can proudly stand before our General and say,
“I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” John 17:4
Lord, burn a flame in me. I’m saying YES TO MY CALL.
Hence, the birth of this weekly blog.
Reflecting back in 2004 as I arrived in Tennessee a few days before my sister’s funeral, I inquired my niece if her mother left anything behind she would want me to see. My niece remembering her mother and our love for words gave me the Acknowledgements and only page of the book my sister began to give birth to.
My sister kept her promise to write.
Being asked to speak at my sister’s Home Going Celebration, I thought it fitting and proved to be powerful, to read the Acknowledgements, those loved ones she gave thanks to while journeying those grueling miles battling Lupus.
A paragraph of her Acknowledgements:
Thank you Mom, my sisters and brother, for always being with me in your deepest support of prayers, your love and for all the times you soothed that breaking heart of mine with the Word of God. You all have been a leaning post for me. All of you should be commended for every effort that you have sacrificed in me, when you needed to do other things. I will always cherish and remember every moment of truth that all of you thought would help me. I love you all. Thank you.
After all these years, the title of my former column Little Things reminded me just that: the biggest splash in the ocean is caused by Little Things.
My sister couldn’t have known fourteen years later her one page book would impact her own family; a brother and brother ‘n law battling their own diseases. Her words from long ago stir encouragement to keep on going. Imagine had she written the complete book.
A portion of the only page she wrote:
…When certain life’s tragedy’s come to us, sometimes it’s out of our control. But what we can change is how we respond to it. You can be bitter or angry or turn your thinking around to the point where you can help other people with what happened to you. It gives them hope and it also gives to them an expectation of seeds of faith that you have left them.
It’s so important that you choose to live.
“Long life will I satisfy Him.”Psalm 91:16
“I shall live and not die.”Psalms 118:17
Your trials may be a physical situation or a mental situation. But whatever the case, choose to live and not die from it. Fight the good fight of faith.
“I have set before you life and death. Therefore, choose life that thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19
In her own words she couldn’t say it enough:
Continue to Hope.
Continue to Believe.
Continue to be Encouraged.
Continue to Remember that no matter what,
You’ll always have God.
In my column Little Things after her first anniversary in Heaven I wrote,
“At her graveside service as Heaven comforted us with a sunny day and serenading birds, its own recipe of chicken soup for the sick at heart. I couldn’t have comprehended that first year without her, as we fought to get through our first week.”
After all these years, I still miss my sister.
John Maxwell would ask of us all:
“What do you sing about?
What do you cry about?
What do you dream about?”
Dust off those old dreams. They are still there waiting on you. As long as there is breath in your body, it’s never too late.
My last column during that journey of words I wrote:
“Look around. Never take your eyes off of the next opportunity that comes your way. Remember it’s not about you, but about making a difference in the lives of others.”
Sing your song today.
“Don’t die with the music still in you.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
I end this tribute with a song for my sister I wrote during that first year of my sister’s home going when God hovered extra close to our grieving hearts. Inspired by a little butterfly that circled my sister during her graveside service, as if to tell us a secret. Fluttering free as a child, its interpretative dance reminded us my sister was free from the body that held her hostage. “Cry no more she’s free.” Since then, I’ve attended a few dance recitals held outside my kitchen window. A gift from Heaven who enjoys her now, I draw joy again from the well of my soul.
Butterfly’s Are Free to Fly
By Lori A Alicea
It’s just a little butterfly,
Outside that I can see.
Performing solo with new wings,
A special dance for me.
No music plays that I can hear,
A song there has to be.
A ballerina on her stage,
The audience, just me.
This butterfly is free to fly,
Wherever it may go.
But chose outside my window pane,
That I would somehow know.
Each dance this butterfly performs,
Within my simple view.
To celebrate your freedom wings,
Each time I think of you.