THE FACE OF MOTHERHOOD By Lori A Alicea

Dear Mom,

For Mother’s Day this year I thought I’d give you something money can’t buy; a letter of words, a page of my heart, a tribute to the mother God blessed me with.

They say it’s always good to start at the beginning, our beginning.

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THE FACE OF A LIFE GIVER

Our story began nine months prior to ever meeting face to face.  Before my existence revealed itself in your radiance and glow, I was your hidden little secret.  You thought of me and pondered me, embracing me with a mother’s touch of your belly.  The hours spent wondering whose eyes and nose I’d take after, praying you’d count ten fingers and ten toes upon my birth.

I know I was there but can’t recall the agony of you giving me life.  The night of endless pain you swore would never end, but it did when I finally made my debut appearance.

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It was love at first sight for both of us.

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THE FACE OF A WARRIOR

Then there were all my firsts.  My first car ride home from the hospital, my first bath, my first night spent in the crib, first steps, first birthday.  All those Hallmark firsts you celebrated in pictures and jotted memories; a recording of my life to remember.

What doesn’t make the scrapbook should make the evening news.  You fought fatigue and sleeplessness from my midnight feedings and every other reason I woke you up.  When we both should have been napping, you stayed up to make sense of the house, cook dinner, maybe fit in a bath for yourself; only to do it all over again the very next day.

As I began to grow you fought my fevers, bandaged by scrapes and kissed whatever hurt as somehow that made if all feel better.  Your day’s work included mounds of laundry, toys finding their way back to the toy box, the fight to keep the scattered messes from taking over the house.

You do all this without awards or accolades, you do it for me.

When eyes fail to notice the hard work of a mother, be sure it’s seen by the eyes of God.

cova school (2)   ethan first day of school (2) brooke brodie brystol first day of school

THE FACE OF LETTING GO

 All you have to do is blink and realize how fast motherhood goes by.  I am sure you didn’t believe it in the beginning when you hadn’t slept in days and thought you never would again.  But when the kindergarten bell rang for the first day of school with me carrying my backpack and lunch box and found my assigned seat, mere sadness begged the question “Where did the time go?”  The walk back to the car without me surely stirred a few tears, as I am certain you left behind a crying child.

Kindergarten, whether she is ready or not, starts a mother’s heart-clock of “letting go”.  With every milestone from that day at the classroom, echoes of that ticking clock ring in your ear; a reminder that a final “letting go” is nearing when I take those first steps without you or your hand into my destiny.

It’s supposed to be this way.  Life is a series of letting go.  Like baby birds gradually being forced from the nest to test their wings, it’s a loving mother who prepares their young to fly solo.

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All grown up now with kids and grand-kids of my own, it’s my turn to wear the FACE OF LETTING GO.  Like that mother you were at my first day of school I ask the same question, “Where did the time go?”   Clocks are always ticking.  Time never stands still.  The years have weathered your face.  Hard work has depleted your strength.  The investment of your life has paid dividends in mine and all the others that came before and after me.  You are mother, grandmother and great-mother.  You took us to church, introduced us to Jesus, taught us to be mothers and did your job well.

You are LIFE GIVER, WARRIOR, and in many instances, LET GO so we could have.

Your children rise and call you blessed.  Proverbs 31:28

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WHERE DID THE TIME GO?
By Lori A Alicea

Like yesterday the doctor cheered,
A girl! Or it’s a boy!
So worth it all to have you both,
This mother’s greatest joy.

But all grown up the both of you,
My daughter and my son.
So proud of whom you have become,
A mother’s love undone.

BEST BUDS FOR LIFE By Lori A Alicea

Ever had a best bud?
Ever been two peas in a pod?
Ever been stuck together like glue?

First they were cousins, now more like brothers.
Yes that’s Ethan and Brodie, Best Buds for Life.

It all began years ago at “cousin camp”; a weekly Friday night tradition where all the grandkids spend the night with Papa and Gaga.  When David and I became grandparents we wanted to create a library full of scrapbook memories during that small window of opportunity where the grandchildren still wanted to hang out with us.  When friends and sports become a part of their life, it will be our turn to pursue them for available time.

Ethan and Brodie became partners in crime the minute cousin camp opened its doors.  You never saw one without the other and quite the tears when half the duo couldn’t attend our Friday night sleepover.

brodie and ethan in window in pullup

At cousin camp there is no minimum age requirement to join the club.  These boys have had their diapers and pull ups changed together.  They’ve learned to crawl and walk as a team.  From tricycles to training wheels to full freedom on two tires , they have shared so much life together on Friday night.  Brodie and Ethan lay their sleeping bags side by side so they can wrestle and laugh and whatever boys do when nobody is looking.  Oh the times Papa would have to end the midnight crazies so everyone else could sleep.

Little boys don’t require much.  Give them a ball and bat and the movie Sandlot comes to life where an old fashioned neighborhood of kids get together for the love of baseball.  The laughs and cheers as these two swat the ball and round the bases like miniature Babe Ruth’s.

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The boys are sprouting faster than a field of weeds.  They’ve outgrown their bikes again and Papa will have to hit the garage sales for summer replacements.  The parents can’t keep them in shoes and Papa and Gaga sense the Friday night window with them closing ever so slightly.

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To date, cousin camp takes in six of our ten grandchildren, as four live out of town.  Our DC babies join our Friday night traditions whenever they come for a visit.  Our oldest grandchild is thirteen soon so our first cousin-camp graduation might be this year.  Just don’t tell Papa.

When cousin-camp closes its doors for good, it is our prayer as grandparents that our grandchildren enjoy turning the pages of their cousin camp scrapbooks every now and then.  That the intentional time we’ve sowed into these “gifts from God” reap relationships with each other into their adult lives.

May their cell phones always have cousin camp members on speed-dial.

May all ten of them be Best of Buds For Life.

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OFF YOU GO
By Lori A Alicea

And off you go a cousin pair,
The miles in your car.
Remember where your Papa lives,
He’ll wonder where you are.

Don’t get too far or dare forget,
He’s crazy for you two.
So pick him up when think of it,
He’d love a car ride too.

THE CLIMB OF YOUR LIFE By Lori A Alicea

Ever been thrown a curve ball you didn’t see coming?
Ever knocked down from a kick in the gut of your blind side?
Life’s punches come out of nowhere when you least expect it.
A job loss!  Divorce!  Financial ruin!  The diagnosis!
You turn your back for a second and there it is, Mount Unforeseen,
forcing the climb of your life.

Nothing prepares you for the ascent.  There are no guarantees you will summit Unforeseen.  It doesn’t matter.  Recovery and healing depends on you walking, even if it’s up the side of a mountain.

Every long journey begins with a first step.  That foot placed in front of the other, mustering strength as you ignore the weight of your backpack, heavy from the loss of heart and hope.  The map of your climb measures a walk around the world; it’s just too much.  But it doesn’t matter.  You have to care.  Your loved ones care.  Be encouraged that others have climbed before you and kissed the moon from Unforeseen’s highest peak.  Heart and hope are worth that first step.  You’re worth it.
Start climbing.

BE NOT AFRAID.
A guide will lead you every step of the way.  You can trust Him.
He knows the way because “He is the Way…” John 14:6.
“The valleys are dark but there you will be comforted.”  Psalms 23:4
DO NOT FEAR.

BE ENCOURAGED.
While conquering mountains seem IMPOSSIBLE in man’s eyes,
With God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.”  Matthew 19:26

 “BE STRONG.
BE BRAVE.
BE FEARLESS.

You are never alone.”  Joshua 1:9

The Climb of Your Life Jake and Marathon 1

RUN THE RACE
By Lori A Alicea

The miles, the distance that you run,
The finish nowhere near.
From every bend and stretch of road,
For you, your loved ones cheer.

You’re not alone, these miles of steps,
Find strength to run the race.
Your crowd remains the finish line,
Until we see your face.

THE PRINCESS WITHIN By Lori A Alicea

Little girls sure love to play “dress up”.

A full length mirror reflects her show of heels, beads, purses and gloves, all compliments of mommies closet.  To catch a glimpse in every angle, hips sway from side to side as a private dance for one.  Practiced lines to her mirrored audience carry to a mother secretly listening outside the actress’ door.

A Star is Born.
But a Princess She’s Always Been.

Little girls of every age love to play “dress up”.  Though all grown up, that little girl stays behind for future productions of turnabouts, dances, proms and weddings, still addressing her mirrored audience for dress rehearsal.  Fairy tales and its fanciful glitter must be sewn into the dress, as Cinderella comes to life upon her runway reveal.

A Star is Born.
But a Princess She’s Always Been.

As a mother you always want your daughter to believe how beautiful she is.  These words are showered upon her newborn face and echo in the years that follow.  “Dress up” continues in her fashion show of bonnets, bows and patent leather shoes for every occasion; with the photo shoot to remember it all.

“Isn’t she lovely!”
The sentiment of parents, grandparents and family alike.
Of course she is; more lovely than hearts convey.

Sometimes though, lovely is clouded in the mirror of Cinderella’s eyes, when lovely is defined by the dress or what fairy tales we believe or told should look like.

A Star Might be Born.
But A Princess She’s Always Been.

From the beginning she was fashioned “fearfully and wonderfully” in her mothers womb.  Psalm 139:14.  In the hands of her Creator, the Most High King, she was formed in “the image and likeness of God.”  Genesis 1:27.  She wasn’t born in a dress.  She wasn’t conceived in a fairy tale.  “All the days ordained for (her) were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  Psalm 139:16.

A Princess She’s Always Been.

The Princess Within Rosalee with shoes

That Princess Within
By Lori A Alicea

Don’t ever run from who you are,
Our Princess in Disguise.
More beautiful you see yourself,
When seen from Father’s eyes.

 

 

 

IN THE STILLNESS By Lori A Alicea

As the sun slumbers giving the moon and stars their turn to keep watch, stillness hushes the night, putting to sleep the day we just lived.   The twenty-four hours present is now a page written in the past.  Those waters turbulent hours ago are now calm and the quiet of the night is whispering, “Be still.”

We all need rest.
Rest from our weariness.
Rest from our circumstances.
Rest for strength for another day.
Rest to hope again.

Night pulls back the curtains to the skies undeniable brilliance, reflecting its face from the mirrors of the waters below.

In the midnight hour, calm and quiet wrap their arms around you and peace settles as dew on the morning grass.

The One who set creation’s stage gently taps your shoulder and speaks,

“Be still, and know that I am God…”
Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

He is God, the one who separated night from day, spoke the sun and moon into place and named every star in the sky.

He is God as far as eyes can see.  We are witnesses to His signature left behind in nature’s intricate details.

He is God and ever present among us.  We’re never alone in the rough waters of day.  We have company in the stillness of night.

He is God.

No matter the storms,

…He’ll calm you with his love…Zephaniah 3:17 (MSG)

As quickly as day kissed the cheek of evening goodnight, the break of dawn will give birth to morning.  You’ll hear the cry of another twenty-four hours being born at sunrise, another opportunity to see God in the face of a new day, to experience Him in the Stillness, no matter the hour.

In the Stillness yellow flowers

A NEW DAY RISING
Lori A Alicea

A new day rises with the sun,
In Stillness might I see?
Attention paid to unseen blooms,
Much more He cares for me.

He clothes the grass and flowers all,
He tends my garden too.
His hand is near, he tends my heart,
Like spring, each day is new.

 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you…  Matthew 6:30 MSG

 

ARROWS OF WORDS By Lori A Alicea

How do you escape their arrows of words?  Where can you hide from the fiery darts launched specifically at you?  Those arrows whose flight mission is ordered by everything else but love.  Arrows whose flight pattern is aimed for the heart and rarely miss.  How do you escape?

You never think it will happen to you.  Growing up sheltered among the love of five other siblings, you can’t imagine a world any different; that is, until the class bell rings for school.

Cruelty is packed in many lunch boxes where everything is fair game.  My long red hair didn’t fit in with the blond haired girls.  Seat kicking and hair pulling was common.  Jokes about my overbite and non-fashionista clothes didn’t relent.  Freckles never came in style.  I couldn’t escape humiliation of “wolves singing” during attendance when my last name was frequently mispronounced as “Howl”.  Walking the halls incited others to grab my books and litter the floors.  Although with nobody to share lunch there was one hour of escape to the library; my sanctuary of friends among the isle of books, with hitchhikers allowed to come for the ride of reading.

You never think it will happen to you but it did.  Their arrows of words targeted me for years.  I was able to fight back and knock them down with my grades, yet their fiery darts left an indelible sting in my confidence and self-worth for years.

Being alone in school didn’t keep me from having a true friend though; an author of one of those books in my secret place at lunch; one whose love for me is in the details of its pages:

Psalm 139

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways…
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because
I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

17 How precious to me are your thoughts!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

 When I began to understand and receive the love of my Creator, I soon felt sorry for the archers of the arrows when I realized hurting people hurt people.  Matthew 12:34 NKJV says it best, …for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  Compassion for those launching their arrows grieved me as I imagined the missions of arrows that still may be painfully lodged in them.

In this lonely world we live in, hug your kids tighter today.  Then hug them again.  Give somebody else’s kid a hug.  Give yourself a hug.

Tell them that Jesus DIED that they might LIVE.

Don’t let an opportunity pass you by because you never know who might be dying a slow death from the arrows of words.

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Ashleigh’s Arrows
By Great Aunt Lori Alicea

I wish I could have seen your eyes,
The emptiness display.
I wish I could have heard that cry,
For help to come your way.

I wish I could have touched your heart,
Remove the arrows there.
Remind you that you weren’t alone,
Your Father God did care.

I grieve the clock I can’t turn back,
The past I can’t undo.
In honor I keep vigil watch,
For Ashleigh’s just like you.

 

I’VE GOT THIS By Lori A Alicea

We all have to face that day.
Not one of us is immune or safe from that day.
You can’t block the unexpected phone call from shattering your world.
You can’t hide in a closet from the pain that is coming.
There’s no road far enough to run from the news that will change everything.
No amount of pretending will shield you from the arrows of heartache.
If today is that day
and the pain is too great to wrap your arms around it,
I’VE GOT THIS.

Until we see Jesus there will be that day.
We live.  We die.  We fall down in between.
For every hello there is a goodbye on hold.
There’s no Band-Aid big enough to prevent a heart’s bleeding.
There’s no dam strong enough to hold back the flooding of tears.
There are no words to answer your pleading “Why?”
If you’ve been swept away into this ocean of sorrow,
I’VE GOT YOU.

If today is that day:
Your Heavenly Father’s GOT THIS.
Your Heavenly Father’s GOT YOU.

Take comfort this day.  The one who created the heavens and earth, the one who spoke every star into place with his voice, sees all things and knows all things.
He holds the universe in His hands.
He holds you in his hands.

In him all things hold together.  Colossians 1:17 NIV

HE’S GOT THIS.

 Your Heavenly Father’s also GOT YOU. 
God is so close to our mourning.
He grieves for all of our tears.
So much so that:

You keep track of all my sorrows,
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.”  Psalms 56:8 NIV

Your Heavenly Father’s also GOT YOU in your tomorrow.
He never leaves us nor forsakes us; especially when we’re hurting.
That day will end and tomorrow is coming.
Take comfort, He will always turn your sorrow into joy:

… weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5 NIV

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HE’S GOT YOU
By Lori A Alicea

Your life we celebrate this day,
Twelve years, although were few.
Remembering the days you lived,
And plan He had for you.

Our arms are void of your embrace,
Our hearts, you now reside.
Rejoice the Father’s GOT YOU now,
His arms you rest inside.