SO WORTH THE WAIT By Lori A Alicea

True love waits.

True love “waits on God” for His perfect best, for however long it takes.

True love “trusts in God” the steps he’s planned for your journey, resisting the lead when guided thru the “wrong way appearances” of the back roads.

True love “believes in God” that He hasn’t forgotten you during the lonely hours spent by yourself.

True love “rests in God” no matter our tears as He notices and collects them all in a bottle where not one is lost, recording this in His book of remembrance. (Psalm 56:8 TPT)

True love waits.

Waiting though is easier said than done.

As a single mom of two I never imagined a five year wait for “God’s best in marriage.”

Twenty-eight years old and starting over again was never my plan, nor was it God’s plan.  Nevertheless, I am a “lady in waiting” for the second time.

I must confess the countless lies I believed regarding who would want me and my ready-made family.  God reminded me over and over though the double blessing His “hand-picked man” would receive bringing all three of us into his life.

For most of the time I didn’t sense the loneliness of my life surrounded by sisters, a great family, church, a few dear friends and all my time filled with the responsibilities of raising two small children.

During the summer months most days on my calendar were filled with Little League.  It helped having somewhere to go at night and on weekends, at least for the summer.

School and shift work kept me exhausted but I always saved a reserve of my time, energy and love for that little girl and boy who needed me to be present in their day.  We had to go on and God would want us to enjoy life and be thankful in all things.

Holidays were the hardest though, especially at Christmas.  I found joy in the decorated trees trimmed with bright lights and sparkle.  I loved the Christmas music played on every station.  I found warmth beside the fireplaces lit for the ambience of the season.   I too shopped and baked and hid those gifts under the tree.  But I wasn’t sending out Christmas cards from the “two of us”.  I didn’t share a kiss with anyone under the mistletoe.  When you’re not a couple at Christmas you feel like that burnt out strand of lights that went dim on the tree.  People aren’t watching, but in your loneliness you just imagine that they are.

Year after year when the New Year’s Eve clock counted down to midnight, I held on to the promises of God that this year might be different.

GOD’S WORD KEPT ME HOPEFUL AS HE IS FAITHFUL

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6        

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; Psalms 130:5

 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

 One day I decided to write God the “desires of my heart”.  These desires surely pale in comparison to His Best, but these words longed to give a voice to my heart.

GOD’S BEST ACCORDING TO ME
Written March 7, 1993, One year before God’s Big Reveal
By Lori A Alicea

As I sit and ponder,
And search to see.
What truly is God’s best,
According to me.

It all comes to mind,
In my quiet place.
I begin to know him,
And sense his face.

He’d have a beard,
Kept up each week.
To be ever soft,
Against my cheek.

He’d stand so straight,
But not too tall.
And have arms of strength,
To protect us all.

He’d enjoy the laughter,
And enjoy the peace.
And enjoy it with measure,
That never would cease.

He’d be so excited,
About the children I’ve known.
And would treasure their being,
And make them his own.

He’d be the likeness of Christ,
And bear his name.
And be the priest of our home,
Just the same.

He’d cover me with prayer,
At the start of each day.
And I’d feel his compassion,
By the words he’d say.

And more important than ever,
More important than me.
Would be his race towards Jesus,
And the heavenly.

And all this is beautiful,
What a dream he’d be.
But this is only God’s best,
According to me.

My thoughts are so limited,
And ideas so few.
And all this together,
Would not be dreams come true.

For just as the heavens,
Are higher than the earth.
So are His ways far greater,
In value and in worth.

For it is he that knows my desires,
For only he can see.
What truly is his best,
For me.

And even though on paper,
My special needs I state.
I must allow the matchmaker,
To select my mate.

God is a personal God.

He cares about our thoughts and desires.

One year later

SUDDENLY ….

In a
SUDDENLY MOMENT

When you least expect, God shows up on the scene of our life.

In our waiting, may we wait with EXPECTANCY.
Be ever confident that God hears and answers our prayers.

And SUDDENLY God shows Himself faithful
By SHOWING up with His Best for my life.

David and Lori dating 1
IN A SUDDENLY MOMENT – LIFE HAS NEW MEANING

Song “Suddenly” by Billy Ocean
Video Courtesy of Brad Ebert

As wonderful as this “dream come true” appears, I’m mortified to say I almost MISSED and PASSED UP the best blessing of my life in David when I questioned God and his choice.  How dare me but I did.  Everyone in my life, especially my pastor, was aghast at my indecision.

God reveals His best after five years of waiting on Him yet I fought an inner battle waged on myself whether I could receive this amazing man into my life as well as my children’s.

Faith required me to believe what eyes couldn’t see.
My trust in God required blind eyes walking.

 Another song of my heart is written.

The War of My Own Will
By Lori A. Alicea

I toss and turn and try to sleep,
The night it seems so long.
I try and figure out myself,
To see what might be wrong.

But harder that I make it seem,
This mountain or this hill.
I know I’m fighting deep inside,
A war of my own will.

I see things as I know I should,
I hear His guiding voice.
But oh the path I’d rather take,
The trails of my own choice.

It all just seems so right to me,
The pieces I make fit.
But why can’t I rest peaceably,
And sleep a little bit.

The answers that He has for me,
No doubt will be all right.
But war of my own will goes on,
I can’t give up the fight.

My fight with Him will have to stop,
But who will have to die.
Though all along this fight is with,
One, Me, Myself and I.

He never makes me eat His will,
The restaurant is free.
This gentleman just holds the door,
And only waits for me.

I feel this way as others have,
I know I’m not alone.
For His own Son did feel the same,
His will He did make known.

For in Gethsemane He prayed,
In sorrow He did spake.
If it is possible for me,
This cup I plea you take.

The troubled Son was overwhelmed,
His face fell to the ground.
But in the midst of darkest times,
No chains would make Him bound.

For He did yield His life to Him,
To save the life of mine.
When with His lips He spoke these words,
“Yet not My will but Thine”.

To be like Him, the war would end,
The peace that would be still.
The only words my Father wants,
From me is, “Yes I will”.

After much prayer and repentance, I’m at peace to embrace a new chapter in our life.

David and kids little

Two months after our first date on Valentine’s Day, David and I became engaged and married eight months later on October 15, 1994.

David and Lori Married

Becoming a family of six, blending lives and hearts meant years of God touching and healing our brokenness in discovery of a new beginning for all of us.

Family at Wedding

God is so good and faithful.
You can trust Him.

During the lonely five years of my wait and wonder,

God was writing our love story.

I couldn’t see it.

I couldn’t imagine it.

But in the silence God was singing a song on our behalf.

He was preparing our new beginning.

We just had to wait for it with great expectancy.

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

David my love,

YOU WERE SO WORTH THE WAIT

David Lori Wedding Pics 001

24 YEARS LATER

We are still
Living Happily Ever After
David and kids grown

Family Grown Up

SOME WEDDING FUN

Twenty-four years ago bride and grooms couldn’t afford the high cost of videoographers; our wedding included.  David and I just wanted to get married.  All the extras came as love gifts from the hearts of family and friends.

Our sweet nephew Adam, all of twelve at the time, blessed us greatly when on his own initiative visited guest after guest at the reception to record wedding wishes from them to us with a hand-held recording device called a Talkboy.

Listening to these well wishes the “old fashioned” way, I captured a few of them for our delight as parents cherish hearing their children’s voices from twenty-four years ago.  Included are a few family members as well.

Have grace for the misgivings of old technology.

wedding 001

Our nephew Adam / Well Wishing Recorder

wedding 004
Daughter Candace’s Well Wishes

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Son Jake’s Well Wishes

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Daughter Audra’s Well Wishes
(I guess I’m an aunt now…lol)

wedding 007

Son Nathan (No Well Wish Recorded)

Nephew Adam / Well Wish Recorder

Nephew Adam / Recorder stopped any Well Wish that wasn’t PG rating with this:


Nephew Adam / Recorder even got comments from the little ones

wedding 005
Brother Joe’s Well Wishes

STARTS WITH A DREAM By Lori A Alicea

You were born with a gift.

A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before the great.
Proverbs 18:16 ESV

You were born with a dream.

You were born to do what only you can do.

Your audience anxiously waits for you to take your stage and give them the “performance of a lifetime.”

Olympians began with a dream.
Pulitzer Prize winners began with a dream.
Presidents began with a dream.

Famous chefs, dancers, athletes, climbers, singers, writers, etc. all began by believing in themselves that God has great purpose for the talent he blessed them with.

Those with dreams don’t step on their stage in a day.

Hard work, sweat and sacrifice are dreamer’s heavy weights they bench-press for years.

Dreamers push away “easy” clutching “for dear life”
The difficult;
The “what could be”;
The impossible;
The belief God created them for greatness.

What’s your dream?

YOUR DREAM COUNTS!
Pastor Victoria Raftery
Founder of Dream Chic at Laurel Church

No dream too small to impact the world.

Dreams aren’t measured in size.  Dreams are measured by heart, passion and vision, ingredients of a tried and true Recipe for Success.

Brookie’s Cookies
A Bakery coming soon to your neighborhood!

Dreamers aren’t measured in age either.

Young dreamers are inspirational with their willingness to try.
Young dreamers have seeds of greatness waiting their time to bloom.
Cultivation unearths a young dreamers talent.
May grown up eyes notice the dreams of the young and pave the way for them as…

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…James 1:17

Cova Grace,
A Heart Full of Music and Dance Expression

Dreams aren’t for the weak, the faint of heart.
Dreams require your grueling hours of training and practice.

Dreams require muscles of strength to “hold on” when dream naysayers taunt you unmercifully to “let your dream go”.

 Bristol,
An Award Winner of Dedication and Discipline to her Dream

Dreams require you to kick around ideas whose answers might require a grueling mountain climb.

Author John Maxwell says it best, “Everything worth doing is uphill.”

To reach the top requires a climb to the top, yet remind yourself along the agonizing way to your dream, you were born for this.

Hollis and Rosalee
A Picture Painted in Tenacity and Spirit of Adventure

Dreamers are risk takers.
Dreamers shoot the ball risk missing the shot, yet confidently take their shot anyway.
Dreamers stay in the game, they are aggressive not fearing a foul.

Brodie Allen
Our Determined Dreamer

Dreamers keep taking their swing at the plate. 

Dreamers are keenly aware that in their persistent swinging, one day contact is made with their dream. It’s inevitable and the stats are in your favor if you just keep on swinging.

You might even surprise yourself and hit your dream out of the park.

Ethan
A Dream Slugger to Reckon With

Young dreamers eventually grow up.
Young dreamers realize in time that not all storybook dreams end with:
“They lived happily ever after”.

Some dreams die.
For the first few years of our marriage my husband grieved during the spring training season of professional baseball.
Reliving his glory days as a varsity baseball catcher in his freshman year each spring training season, unable to let go of his dashed dreams of becoming a professional baseball player until my husband made finally made peace with his failed dream.

Facing the fence of failure some dreamers stop dreaming for fear of failure again.

But we are reminded:

Failure is not fatal.
Only failure to get back up is.
Author / Motivational Speaker John Maxwell

David baseball 001
Father and Son Dreamers
Both Singers, Our Son a Tower of Strength

Every day is a good reason to line up for a new race.
Every day is a fresh start to believe for a new dream.

May we never lose sight or great hope of the unbelievable things God wants to do through the dreams he gave us.

20 Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.
Ephesians 3:20 TPT

For those who’ve stopped dreaming, close your eyes and begin dreaming again.
Don’t believe the lie you’ve convinced yourself of that you’re too old.
Life hasn’t passed you by.
You can be fruitful even in the second half of life.

14 ….. Even in their old age they will stay fresh,
bearing luscious fruit and abiding faithfully.  Psalm 92:14 TPT

God wants to show off through you to the next generation.

18 God, now that I’m old and gray, don’t walk away.
Give me grace to demonstrate to the next generation
all your mighty miracles and your excitement,
to show them your magnificent power!  Psalm 71:18 TPT

IT STARTS WITH A DREAM.

YOUR STAGE IS WAITING.
DON’T BE AN ONLOOKER.
TAKE YOUR STAGE.

YOU WERE BORN FOR THIS.

Ayva tap

Sweet Ayva
Born for her Stage

YOUR DREAM COUNTS!
Pastor Victoria Raftery
Founder of Dream Chic at Laurel Church

PAPA’S ROBE By Lori A Alicea

Safe in the arms of a grandfather.

Safe and peaceful as Papa’s Robe is soothing as a grandchild’s security blanket for the time spent in his arms.

Calming is the lingering smell of Papa’s cologne on his collar or the lullaby of his heartbeat gently playing beneath his fleecy robe that a child resting their face on Papa’s chest is quieted.

Enveloped in Papa’s Robe our grandchildren lay eyes on their grandfather for the very first time.

Papa’s Robe is Papa’s Place where it’s just you and him making a memory.Papa and cova first time 1You don’t realize until you look back through the pictures how some things stay the same for years.

I know it’s just a robe.

Yet reminiscing, our grandchildren will one day close their eyes and still catch a mist of Papa’s cologne in the air, connecting that memory and moments shared with their Papa wearing his robe.

Papa sharing pancakes and juice filled sippy cups with them at the morning breakfast table.  Papa holding little boys hands and guiding their feet while learning to walk.

 

Grandchildren every now and then need their one-on-one time with Papa.  Nothing needs to be said, yet their “robe-to-blankie” snuggle speaks sentences to a sweet toddler who just wants to sit next to Papa before bed.

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Sometimes Papa has to share his cuddles before bed, but Papa’s Robe has enough room for all of his babies.

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Papa shared his lap during night time stories with two grandchildren and their daddy millions of miles away during deployment.  While Papa never took their daddy’s place, Papa’s arms in his soft puffy robe comforted when a sad little boy and girl needed a hug from their daddy.

 

 

Papa and his cast of animated voices brings storybook characters to life.  There’s no doubt these simple minutes spent traveling the world through the pages of “make believe” with Papa will never be forgotten.
Papa reading book to ethanPapa always reserves palace time for his princess’.  Wearing royal robes together, Papa reminds his princess’ how pretty and smart they are.  They share secrets and promises and pinky-swear their confidences.

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But one Christmas not too long ago, Papa and Gaga decided to give their grand-babies “gifts of the heart” as money was a bit scarce that Christmas season.

Pondering what gifts to give, Gaga decided to create a memory from Papa’s Robe for each grandchild to remember their special time with Papa.  Papa agreed deciding after all the years spent wearing his robe, he loved the idea of passing a memory on to his babies.

 

 

Cova months old and Cova five years old with Papa wearing his robe

Papa’s Robe became Papa Bears.

Cut and designed from Papa’s Robe were a vest and bow-tie to clothe and create a child’s personal Papa Bear.  Hidden on each bear was a special message Papa recorded in his own voice.

 

 

Not revealing reasons for the photo shoot at the time, a picture of Papa and each grandchild was taken together, giving them a permanent reminder of time spent with their Papa wearing his robe.

 

 

 

 

On a fun note, a box of “Papa’s Juice” was also included for each child.
Papa’s Juice was a phrase our two year old Hollis adopted at the time when he saw us grandparents adding this to our water and liked it himself.
Papa’s Juice became a common drink in the house; a phrase still used today.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt’s been a few years and two babies born since Papa could be seen wearing his robe.

Papa’s babies are getting big now.  They are pulling away from “time alone” with Papa, but Papa knows that’s how it’s supposed to be in this season of life called “growing up”.

But you find new memories to make, new traditions to enjoy.

Life gets away from you when you’re not looking.

Make those memories count.

Pass on your “Papa Bears” to the next generation.

A FATHER’S BLESSING By Lori A Alicea

“Bless me father.”
“Oh, that you would bless me.”
dad and dogMy heart’s silent prayer that summer of 2016 as my father lay helpless from the ravages of cancer, our families imminent sign that dad was weeks from passing away.

I longed a Father’s Blessing.

I couldn’t wrap my expectation in a box or articulate into words what I needed when asking God for a blessing through my earthly father before he departed for eternity.

Affirmation?  Love?  Acceptance?

Only God, the one who knows the intimate details of my life could answer a little girl’s deep desire for a Father’s Blessing, when all grown up now, I hadn’t a clue.

What I needed was something to hold onto, a moment that left an exclamation point on our relationship, when all my life was defined by so many question marks.

This longing of my mine is best portrayed in a beautiful scene in the bible where (dad) Jacob on his deathbed, gathers twelve sons around him to impart a Father’s Blessing.  I imagine dad making his way around the circle of sons, tears flowing in the moment with each anxiously waiting their turn while holding out their cup to receive a blessing poured from a father’s heart.

Then Jacob sent for his sons. He said, “Gather around me….  Genesis 49:1

28….That’s what their father said to them when he blessed them. He gave each one the blessing that was just right for him.  Genesis 49:28 NIV

Jacob’s blessing to his son Joseph is my ultimate favorite:

25 Joseph, your father’s God helps you.
The Mighty God blesses you.
He gives you blessings from the sky above.
He gives you blessings from the deep springs below.
He blesses you with children and with a mother’s milk.
26 Your father’s blessings are great.
They are greater than the blessings from the age-old mountains.
They are greater than the gifts from the ancient hills.
Let all those blessings rest on the head of Joseph.
Let them rest on the head of the one who is prince among his brothers.  Genesis 49:25-26 NIV

To understand my relationship with dad, it means going back years when we both worked at the same manufacturing plant; Dad for thirty-plus years, me, a consultant employed for special projects as an application software developer.
dads-work1.jpgDressed in steel-toe shoes, hard hats and protective eye-ware, dad and I ran into each other inside the steel-making plant from time to time.  Dad usually driving a cart would allow me to hitchhike wherever I needed to go.  Every so often I’d surprise dad and have lunch with him at his office.  Dad made me laugh with his old fashioned pail version of a lunchbox.
IMG_3716Dad, who never graduated high school, forever impressed me with his “work ethics of excellence”.  Dad was known for this standard and maintained a reputation because of it.

One afternoon a production unit operator and I spent a few hours together for a time study I was conducting.  Caught off guard, the door of the office opened and in walked my father; although I didn’t address him as such.  Dad just wanted to say hello to both of us and left as quickly as he came.

During our conversation the production unit operator revealed that dad was his locker neighbor of over thirty years.  The operator raved over dad as if they were brothers and I joined in on his praises.

As I opened the door to leave the operator’s office that afternoon, he stopped me in my tracks with a question.  The locker neighbor of my dad’s for thirty years asked me, “And how do you know Jimmy?”  For which I answered with excitement, “Jimmy’s my father!”

The man’s dumbfounded reply slashed my heart on contact with his dagger-edged words,
“Jimmy’s got kids?”

34 For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34 NKJV

Or emptiness thereof.

Dad never mentioned me or the others.
Dad never pulled out his wallet of pictures and share our childhood days, graduations, weddings, babies and achievements for thirty plus years.
His emptiness for words said a lot.

Dad never abandoned his six kids though and that does say a lot.  Dad worked hard and provided well with his two jobs; one at the mill and the other a mechanic at home.  Our cupboards were full and we as a family never lacked.
Dad lived out only what he knew; to work hard.
What dad didn’t know though that while appreciative of his hand, I desperately wanted his time and his heart instead.

Growing up, I never knew if I was pretty to dad.
Maybe I was his princess or little girl but was unaware as he never referred to me by those endearments.

Dad drew from a dry well and couldn’t quench my thirst for love and affirmation.  I had enough grace for dad though and his “lack to see me” when I questioned in secret, “What affirmations were stolen from a little boy’s life who one day grew up and became my father?”

Hence, the reason for my silent prayer of 2016 to the Lord while keeping vigil at my father’s bedside,

“Bless me father.”
“Oh, that you would bless me.”
dads house 4Visiting dad at home for what would be my last day to see him alive and heartbroken over dad’s visible frailty and protruding bones evident from the sagging T-shirt two sizes too big now, I began to lose hope of a Father’s Blessing.  But unbeknownst to me, a blessing gift is about to be unwrapped.

There’s one fact I’m certain about God my heavenly father, he loves his little girls.  No matter her age, weight, social status, marital status, degrees or lack thereof, etc.,
God is smitten with his girls.

God smitten with “this little girl” heard my prayer that summer and answered me days before my father’s death in a small but impactful way; not at my father’s bedside, but his kitchen table instead.

God’s choice of dad’s kitchen table for a Father’s Blessing replayed years of my fondest memories as at this table dad handed out our Christmas gifts each holiday season.  I loved that my heavenly father chose this memory backdrop and used the same chair dad sat in for years during our Christmas exchanges to bless me.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  Isaiah 55:8 NKJV
xmas at dads
Seated around the table were me and my dad, my step-sister and dad’s caregiver.  Just having small talk, dad interrupted and asked his caregiver to help him up and assist dad to his room.  Back in his seat, dad handed me a framed letter and asked,
“Would you please read this to me?”

Not a crier by nature, I fought to compose myself when dad asked me to read a Father’s Day letter I wrote a year ago to those seated at the table.  Always drawing a blank when buying dad’s gifts, that Father’s Day I felt moved from God to honor my dad’s military service; a conversation I’m sad to say we never had; but I never asked either.

Accompanied with a flag that Father’s Day, I never seen dad so emotional.

We are told by God to give Honor to whom honor is due.  (Romans 13:7)
Honor was due my father; an accumulation of years due.

These same framed words dad handed them back and asked me to read their inscription at his funeral.
IMG_3713Happy Father’s Day

Dear Dad,

For 54 years I have celebrated you as my dad and all that you have sacrificed and contributed to my life.  You have been a great provider.  You have protected me when I have needed you to.  You are always a phone call away.  And you have been a friend throughout the years.

 But the one attribute of my father that I have not celebrated until today is your service in the military.  Until I became a mom with a son serving in the military, did I fully appreciate the sacrifices of a member in the military.

 I am sad to say I know nothing about your time in the navy, but that’s because I never asked.  But I do know you actively served, and for that, I salute you today and thank you for

SERVING YOUR COUNTRY FOR OUR FREEDOM.

I am giving you this gift as my way of saying thank you for your service.

 Love, Lori and David

 You may be wondering, “Is that it!  Is that your Father’s Blessing?”

The true Father’s Blessing revealed itself during the packing up of dad’s house following his death.

Sadly dad “said a lot” again when we kids realized there wasn’t a single picture, card or memento saved and left behind of dad’s six children, living room full of grand-children and great-grand-children.  Not one.

Except the Father’s Day letter of mine that dad framed with his hands and hung in the entrance of his room.

I won’t add to dad’s heart as his heart was a locked door for most of our relationship.  But a Father’s Day present became a Father’s Day Blessing that summer of 2016.

An added bonus discovered deep in my father’s attic was his old fashioned lunch pail, a true treasure I kept to remind myself of what a “standard of excellence” really looks like.
IMG_3716Dad was buried with Military Honors.
military 3

 

 

 

“Taps” riveted from the bugle piercing each soul and echoing in full glory for those in attendance.
military 9I sensed the emotion and recollection of the Gun Salute through the tears of military veterans jolted from each pull of the trigger.
military-111.jpg

A moment to remember when my brother received his father’s flag; our father’s wish to pass his torch to the next generation.
military 13In death our father received the military honor due him in life.
military 15I realize now and am more intimately aware of a heavenly Father’s Blessing when I sleep and when I slumber.
During the years that an earthly father “didn’t see” his little girl;
a heavenly father couldn’t take His eyes off of her.

28If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?  Luke 12:28 Message

You’re Always In His View
By Lori A. Alicea
yellow flowersWith all the flowers in full bloom,
Amid a warm spring day.
You might believe the Father’s eyes,
Would never look your way.

But take delight Oh lovely one,
You’re always in His view.
You take away His very breath,
He kneels to look at you.

THE HEART BEHIND THE MESSAGE By Lori A Alicea

Nothing speaks louder than the written word.
Nothing speaks more clearly than hidden thoughts revealed.
So few words required to impact a life,
Because a “heart behind the message”
Does all of the talking.

“Daddy loves Mommy and Cova.”

Going through old photographs, I stumbled across this sidewalk message my son had left behind written with his own hands in chalk.

A complete stranger walking by would probably miss the message as the “heart behind the message” was meant for a wife and daughter.  Our son of “few words” spoke volumes with a five word sentence to two tender hearts who need to be reminded from time to time of his affections.
sidewalk love 1Ironic that years later during a lonely nine month deployment, our son’s daughter and now young son leave their “heart’s message” to be sent overseas in a Father’s Day card scribbled in words only a daddy could understand.

Maybe my opinion is biased as I am a woman of “many words”.
Maybe because “gifts” is not one of my primary love languages where I prefer to unwrap a present of thoughts instead.
Maybe Author/Speaker Florence Littauer says it best, “Our words should be like a little silver box with a bow on top.”

Silver Box

One year for his birthday, that’s exactly what papa asked for his special day, a “gift of words” presented in a life size card written and decorated with a “hearts message” from his grand-kids.  Papa’s heart is a container that collects and keeps the spoken love of these precious grandchildren close that he might return to their thoughts when missing them.

Just last night I uncovered the “hearts message” of my mother while going through her life’s boxes of memories for our family to divide.

As long as I can remember, mother took us to church, whether we walked, hitched a ride or drove when mother finally earned her driver’s license late in life.  I am who I am because mother introduced six children to Jesus.
Church directory pictureA picture from the church’s directory

Box after box, mining the treasures of all sixty of them, I came across my mother’s New Year’s Resolution written one year on the first day of a new devotional / journal.  Mother also a woman of a “few words”, I felt like an intruder reading her personal thoughts, yet excited to hold an unlikely treasure, my mother’s words in her own writing.

In her New Year’s Resolution, my mother wrote what she walked out before us, that we might know Jesus through the pages of her example, “our love letter for life”:

Spend more time in the Word.
More time in prayer.
Seeking God’s will.

And the impact of her resolution:
To live right before the Lord.
Grandma's Words
When thinking about my own life, God’s love overwhelms me when I ponder the “heart behind the message” that God already saw my unborn face and chronicled in His journal every day of my life before I was ever born.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139:16  NIV

To be loved by another is every little girl’s dream; well, at least this girl.

Marrying my husband David after walking a five year journey alone, my version of a “real life dream come true” was a faded imitation and paled to the life God planned ahead of my broken heart and tears.

If I could rewind that October clock 24 years ago and give a wedding card to that 33 year old bride of my former self, the inscription would let her in on a secret that “life, love and joy” ahead will be indescribable to wrap one’s mind or arms around.

A Valentine Card I received from David set the stage for our future years together:

When I think about our future,
I just have to smile because I know
We still have so much more to look forward to
In our real life dream come true.

 David’s handwritten sentiment:
To love you is to live.
I love you forever.

Words may be few, words may be more than few.
But it’s the “heart behind the message” that are our gifts to each other, those
“silver boxes with a bow on top”.

October 15, 1994 David and I handed each other a
“silver box with a bow on top”
while exchanging wedding vows at the altar.

Words were prepared with our “forever together” in mind.
Some words rehearsed, some words a heart’s overflow.
But the “heart behind our message” declared to the world
“I’ll love you with every breath that God allows me to take.”

The “heart behind our message” these glorious twenty four years is the sum of three small words; a heart’s message that David every so often leaves behind for me on a snow covered windshield.

sand msg i love you

Three words we say.
Three words we live.
Three words we don’t take for granted.
Three words we covet.

The “heart behind our message”

“I can’t help falling in love with you”

EACH AND EVERY DAY!

Song: Can’t Help Falling in Love, Written by George Weiss

A SUMMER RIDE TO FALL By Lori A Alicea

Labor Day has passed causing most of us to look back wondering,
“Where has the summer gone?”

Summer is a time of baseball, swimming, vacations and leisure.
Summer is a time to celebrate the “little kid” in all of us, albeit at the ice cream stand, the “put-put” place or the county fair.
Summer doesn’t require you to break the bank to put a smile on your child’s face.
But summer does require an intentional heart to fill up those scrapbooks with memories.

As an older adult I’m more aware of my summers lived and want to be more present and make the hot summer days count with my grandchildren, as time with them is getting away from us as we grandparents are a witness to how fast these precious babies are growing up.

Summer has been good to us this year.
While we have no fancy vacation pictures to share with you, we did take a
“Summer Ride to Fall”,
adding another volume of intentional memories to add to our scrapbook collection.

Some of our best summer memories with our grandchildren are spent at the baseball field taking our seat on the bleachers as they play.
Maybe it’s the smell of popcorn and hot dogs or the taste for victory that makes sweating on a sweltering day of nine innings bearable.
Maybe watching our grandchildren cheer their cousin on while having a bad day at the plate is worth the slew of pictures taken.
Maybe your little slugger in uniform just puts a smile on your face that keeps you coming back for more at the field each year.

Baseball this summer had our grandson cheering on his grown up slugger at his games.  I loved that Ethan wanted to be there.

Baseball this summer didn’t disappoint.
The only disappointment was not being able to cheer our DC soccer players on during their summer meets.  But pictures have a tendency to fill a few voids.

After a hot day of baseball, nothing cools off a family of cousins than a splash in Uncle Bradly’s pool.  It doesn’t hurt that Uncle Bradly lives next door and has given us a free pass to swim all summer long.  All he asks is for everyone to exercise safety and have a pool full of fun.

Every now and then the kids have to be satisfied with Papa and Gaga’s mini version of water fun.  Bribe them with a few freeze pops and set up the tent for an overnight sleepover though and they go to bed with a smile.

Though our DC kids didn’t swim in Uncle Bradly’s pool this year, they were able to get away for some much needed time as a family.

Summer is also a time when the grill stays lit from one BBQ celebration after the other.

When gathering around the table it means so much to decorate the place settings.  Little effort is required and the memories in the details speak for themselves.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day came, the tables were set and we celebrated.  Our children who call us mom or dad honored the years of love and sacrifice spent on them.  Not going unnoticed was the heart behind each simple card and gift.

Summer is one birthday party after the other and we can’t get enough of them and cake.

We had three milestone birthdays this year.

Our oldest granddaughter became a teenager and our two youngest granddaughters blew out their first birthday candles and had their cake all to themselves.

We had birthday themes of all kinds:  American Girl party, swim party, Star Wars party, Mickey Mouse party and a Unicorn party.

We celebrated my mother’s birthday, my birthday, and even thanked God for life as we celebrated Uncle Bradly’s birthday while taking his chemo treatment.

As I said, this summer the grills were always lit for a party.

July 4th was no different.  Papa’s BBQ is like none other and he looks a bit dapper sporting his new grilling duds and utensils he received from his DC kids for his birthday in February. fourth of july david cooking
This July 4th holiday had my daughter dressing her girls in red-white-and-blue which delights a grandmother.  Facebook memories also tug my heart seeing the red-white-and-blue of my babies from July 4th’s in years past.

As a military mom I’ve become more appreciative of our country and the great sacrifices of our servicemen and their families during our July 4th time together.  July 4th brings out the sparklers, the fireworks and an evening when skies are lit up to celebrate our freedom.

Summer spurs on those bike rides around town to greet the cows or take your grandchildren to the Dollar General where they spend $2 each for candy and chips.  I always feel sorry for the cashier with our bustle of six children invading their domain each Friday, with five kids under eight, one being a baby.   The cashier never looks annoyed to bag each child’s treats individually.  But hey, a grandparent has to make those memories count.

Summer is a great time for trying new adventures.
That skydive you’ve been begging to take since your high school graduation.
Or that painting class you finally took with your sisters, daughters and nieces.

Summer is a reminder to keep your love alive by taking a train ride to the city for an extravagant lunch on your kids.

Summer is a spontaneous trip to your honeymoon town for the day; a place that never gets old and deepens your time together surrounded by memories of where your marriage first began.
south haven 2
What would summer be without canning homemade strawberry / rhubarb jelly for those future hot winter biscuits?

Summer is also a time to say good-by to your grandson who leaves for a month’s visit to his dads.  Of course we are happy for him to see his family, especially his little brother, but his voice and presence is noted and terribly missed at cousin camp when he’s gone.

Then there is that unexpected summer good-by to your Pastor of 28 years or your pseudo-mother from your childhood past that catches you off guard and unprepared emotionally.

Summer sometimes resurfaces that sad good-by to the ones you’ve shared summer weekends together at their river front cottage.  What I wouldn’t give for a quiet cup of coffee with my nanny seated next to her by the water’s edge.

swimming bill and gloria

Summer this year was bittersweet as the “growing up” of our grandchildren is as glaring as the morning sun.

Our youngest two granddaughters Kizzey Mae and Aubrey Ann are walking now.

Our three year old granddaughters Rosalee and Ayva have ditched their high chairs and now sit in big girl chairs at a big girl table and do big girl things.

Our seven year old granddaughter Cova is allowed to video chat with me and her other aunts, uncles and grandparents on her private account.

video chat cova ears

We still have Friday night cousin camp but our grandchildren are big enough now to want a cup of coffee with papa in the morning.

We look at these ten gifts from God and wonder, “How did they grow up so fast?”

Summer in the park takes me back to the wonderful season 25 years ago when my children were small.  A wall of their hand-prints taken then along with hand-prints of many children in the community memorializing their childhood still stands after all these years.

Labor Day has finally come marking the end of our “Summer Ride to Fall”.

Hollis in truck

I am so thankful to the generous aunt and uncle our DC kids have that share their river front cottage with them over many holiday weekends; this Labor Day included, so our children have family to make memories together with.

I am thankful for the reminder while watching my granddaughter Ayva make music with her papa, we all have a song to sing and somebody is waiting for us to lift up our voice.

labor day drums

I am thankful for the reminder when looking at our great niece this holiday weekend that God’s biggest miracles come in the smallest of packages.

labor day celeste

I am thankful for the conversation I had with our seven year old grandson Ethan as we closed out the summer on the way home from our Labor Day celebration.  For no reason, Ethan inquisitively asked when we were buying our dream home log cabin.  Interesting as David and I rarely talk about this dream out loud much these days, so for a seven year old to ask a grown up question caught my attention and heart off guard, especially when he offered those millions stashed in his piggy bank for us to borrow.

labor day log cabin

I am thankful for our kids that call and face-time through the week who want to hear about our day.

I am thankful for grand-kids that recognize our voice over the speaker phone and engage in conversation.

I am thankful for the kids who sit next to us in church as we worship together the one who is responsible for and the author of everything amazing in our lives.

church with kids

Fall is here and so another season begins.
God is always on the move.

Let’s continue to live our life with intent.
Memories don’t get made by accident.
Memories are made on purpose.

Yes people, Fall is here and so another season begins.

Fall brings out the kid in me as my favorite season is around the corner and
I am celebrating already!

end of summer xmas

LEAVING A LEGACY By Lori A Alicea

Legacy is never understood until a true legacy has lived before you and passes on their godly heritage for the generations that continue.

True legacy is what lives on beyond your life.
Legacy is those seeds you’ve sown into others that reproduce a harvest of life.

Legacy is your life’s open book that:

We will not hide from our descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
Psalm 78:4 NIV

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…..
Proverbs 13:22 NKJV

Our family received a great inheritance like none other, bequeathed from the legacy of our matriarch, our beloved mother, our grandmother, great grandmother, wife, aunt, sister, friend and child of God.

It was this woman who bestowed to a generation of heirs a rich treasure from her life’s
Will and Testament:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV

 HER LEGACY
As seen through the eyes of her family.

Barbara’s legacy story began long before she left us on May 16, 2012.  Our mother lived a simple life with her husband Flor and five handsome sons.  Barbara loved God more than life itself and His reflection mirrored in her humming, music and “toil on her knees in prayer” that her sons grew up to serve Jesus.

Barbara’s mission field was her humble home and kitchen.  Her tireless message of service was preached from the pulpit of her stove.  Barbara’s affection for God and family was baked in the walls of every room she called home.  You never left empty handed after a meal at Barbara’s table, as every guest went home carrying a take-out container full of peace, love and joy.

Barbara always shined a bright light on the faithfulness of God in His pursuit of those five boys that called her mom.  Barbara introduced five boys to a loving God, but five boys had to make their own decision to serve Him individually with a surrendered heart.

Attributed most to Barbara’s legacy were her calloused knees caused from those long suffering hours spent in fervent prayer for her sons.

Today, Barbara’s five sons faithfully serve Jesus and are now married to wives with the same passion for God.

TODAY

Her children rise up and call her blessed…Proverbs 31:28

While every mother smiles at the mere mention of her children’s name, nothing brings out the delight of a woman than being in the presence of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Barbara broke every rule when it came to those little feet running around her house, and she loved it.

She brought out her hidden cookies when parents weren’t looking.
She kept a bottle handy just in case your toddler still wanted to be a baby.
Overfeeding began at your child’s birth.
A mystery Kool-Aid concoction was a favorite among the grandchildren.  A red ring around their mouths was evidence that grandma brought out her sugary drink again.

Going to grandma Barbara’s meant going home with a tummy ache, but every Sunday after church the families were back for more.

Barbara’s Grandchildren and their families

Barbara’s Great-Grandchildren

Though not catching us off guard due to our mother’s illness, May 16, 2012 buckled a family to their knees in heartache when Jesus called his daughter home to Himself.

While rejoicing as our mother takes residence in her new heavenly home, we grieve that the door of our mother’s earthly casa goes unanswered when we knock on Sunday afternoons for lunch.

funeral service barbara bulletin

Love from many who called her mom like Aaron Washington, “God’s grace be with our family at this trying hour…we will miss our beloved ….and we look to the Lord and his ever abiding presence to comfort our hearts as we celebrate your home going.”  I will always love you…”mom”.

graveside aaron

Barbara’s Home Going Celebration was attended by Pastor’s from multitudes of neighboring churches and the pews for the service were occupied to full capacity.  Barbara’s life impacted a community beyond her knowledge or understanding.

gavin christian jeweliz steven

Barbara’s legacy continues from those that she touched in her simple service to God.

Barbara would have been thrilled and in charge of the kitchen to cook her own celebration dinner.

Being a woman whose “fountain of worship” quenched those parched and thirsty for Jesus, Barbara would have loved to assume her seat at the drums during the music service of her celebration.

funeral service musicians

In Barbara’s honor, a drum roll played to commemorate the life that simply loved Jesus, whose love for a Savior spilled onto the laps of so many seated at her kitchen table.

cousins drummer

Nothing stirred the hearts of those in celebration attendance than during the song your son and granddaughter sang imagining your intimate time postured before Jesus, laying your crown at his lovely feet as written about:

….They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things…..”
Revelation 4:10-11 NIV

 

 Video Courtesy of Brad Ebert
Song:  The King of Who I Am by Lulu Roman and Russ Taff

Taking a silent seat in the service and listening to her children and grandchildren speak, Barbara would have been so proud.

Her son Michael preached about his mother’s trust in Jesus, as she always thanked Him for the mountains and the valleys, for the problems only God could solve as revealed in her favorite song:

Through it All
Sang by Andrae Crouch

I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms
He brought me through;
For if I’d never had a problem
I wouldn’t know that He could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.

Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God;
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

funeral service michael speaking

 Granddaughter Angie celebrated the last conversation Barbara ever shared on this earth, putting her grandmother’s legacy on display through her last moments this side of heaven.

As I stand here before you, grandpa, sons, daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and friends.  All I see is the legacy and inheritance my grandmother left behind.  For without her obedience to serve the Lord, none of us would be here today.  Look to your right.  Look to your left.  Know that right now, there is a glimpse of grandma in each one of us.

In your sadness, we are truly blessed.  For God blessed us with a “woman of God” that knew how to be a servant.  Don’t get me wrong, grandma was from Brooklyn, NY, so if she really wanted to, she could take you out!!  But thank God he gave her wisdom in knowing how to keep the servant’s heart front and center.

“Grandma, are you thirsty?  Can I get you a drink of water?”  She replied, “Yes”, as she nodded her head.  As she began to drink, something began to take place in her spirit that brought her a breath and a sigh of peace.

That night, I went to the Word of God for comfort and found, Revelation 21:6-7 AMP..And He [further] said to me, “It is finished!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To the thirsty, I [Myself] will give water without price from the fountain (springs) of the Water of Life.  He who is victorious, shall inherit all of these things, and I will be God to her and she shall be My daughter.”

 My heart was so grieved when I came to realize this was my last conversation with my grandma.

funeral service angie speaking

 Barbara’s earthly body was honored with reverence and carried to her final resting place by sons and grandsons that were once carried by her.

Saying one final good-by until we all meet again in the presence of Jesus, hearts still gush from the overflow of loss from such a beautiful woman we all knew as mother in our own way.

Many tributes were left on Facebook to re-tell the life of one who left this life for one better in heaven.  These are just a few:

…My 4 year old Christian saw me and said, “Mommy why are you so sad? (with a concern look in his eyes)”  I replied, ” I miss my grandma.”   He shook his head, “Yes” and said, “But we will see her again.”  Smiled, gave me a kiss and said, “You’re the best mommy in the world!” Thank you Jesus for comforting me through this time even through my little boy.  Raquel Alicea

 Truly she left a legacy in her walk with God. She truly mirrored what it means to look like a Child of God. A true servant’s heart, wonderful mother, grandmother, and friend. We lost someone great today but Heaven gained a wonderful person today. How do we honor her?  We honor her by knowing that this will not be the last time that we see her and if we do not have a relationship with God and don’t walk in that assurance of having God as our personal Lord and Savior then Family, Friends, WAKE UP make that choice to follow in her footsteps and carry on her legacy and know that you will see her one day in Heaven. Buela thank you for adopting me into your family and looking past all of my mistakes and showing me unconditional love.  Raquel Alicea

The legacy that you have left behind was AMAZING. Now it is our job to keep that continuing. We are at peace because we know you are in a much better place but most importantly you’re with our Father – The Lord. I hope that you are proud of us as you look down. We have some big shoes to fill. The drum-line will continue in your Honor. We love you so much! Until we meet again….Nathan/Kristie Alicea

ALICEA CELEBRATION…Nothing brings God more delight than receiving His Honor thru the honor of those that call Him Lord.  Mother n Law, we honor you today for the being that WITNESS of Christ in our family. Your knees were hardened for the hours you spent prostrate before God, lifting your praise and needs of your children before Him…We honor you this day and consider it great pain to say good-by, yet pure joy knowing you have already seen Jesus.  Lori A. Alicea

The Mother’s Rose
By Lori A. Alicea

When God created all the earth,
And all the flowers he chose.
I wonder if a mother’s love,
Inspired a perfect rose.

The beauty of its royal red,
It’s color, meaning love.
The thought expressing God’s intent,
What mother’s are made of.

The friendship of the yellow rose,
When shared between just two.
The bond created when her love,
Is recognized by you.

Though beauty comes with thistle thorns,
A price of mother’s call.
The times that hurt a mother’s heart,
She says it’s worth it all.

When crushed a rose it will not die,
Forget what eyes might see.
A mother’s fragrance still remains,
A rose of potpourri.

But sad the day when mother leaves,
Without, your garden grows.
Yet God delights to welcome in,
His newest, sweetest rose.

A message Barbara preached with her life:

funeral service live happily ever after sign

Barbara, if you could see us now.

Life goes on, and we think of you daily.
We rejoice where you are, but just in case you were wondering about us:

Hold onto your halo mom.  Your Cubbies finally won the World Series.
We all cheered in the stands to honor your lifetime commitment and belief in your favorite baseball team the Cubs.

world series pennant cropped

There have been two weddings since May 16, 2012, one being your beloved son who waited a lifetime for his beautiful bride.

And just look at all your new heirs, your great-grandchildren that have been born and share in your legacy.

Wishing even more,
IF WE COULD SEE YOU NOW

WALKING THE STREETS OF GOLD WITH JESUS!

SEE ME KNOW feet gold glitter

Barbara, your legacy lives on in your family.

You left your hand-print behind,
And we sense your impact in the lives who
CALL YOU MOM

In whatever manner that is.
We love and miss you dearly.

WORD HANDPRINT THAT YOU LEAVE PICTURE

THE HAND-PRINT THAT YOU LEAVE
by Lori A. Alicea

We live our lives from year to year,
The moments that we share.
Yet give no thought to what we leave,
We most, are unaware.

We touch each other with our love,
And time, though can’t conceive.
There is a lasting memory,
That hand-print that you leave.