WHEN OPPORTUNITY COMES  By Lori A Alicea

An ordinary boy,
Prepares an ordinary lunch,
For an ordinary day,
Or so he thought.

Five loaves of bread and two fish;

A lunch he prepared as days before, but a lunch he prepared nevertheless.

The day begins as ordinary as the day before, yet God was about to do something extraordinary using the ordinary boy and his lunch.

American basketball coach and player
John Wooden once quoted:
When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.

Miracles and opportunities are a moment away if we expect them, if we look for them, if we are prepared for them.

Going about his day, this boy couldn’t have anticipated a hungry crowd of five thousand to intersect his travels, a crowd Jesus told his disciples to feed.

Offering up his lunch, Jesus broke this ordinary meal of five loaves and two fish from an ordinary boy and blessed this meal back into the disciple’s hands, where it multiplied to feed five thousand and their families, with twelve baskets remaining.
(John 6:1-14)

An opportunity came and found this boy well prepared to witness and become part of a miracle.

God used an ordinary boy in an extraordinary way.

God has opportunities waiting to intersect our travels also, but we must be prepared in season and in out, to meet them.

Because…

When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.
John Wooden

Jesus longs to use and do great things with whatever rests in our hand.

Our hearts should echo this willingness…

Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee…
Acts 3:6 KJV

Our ordinary lunches have great potential when we offer them up to Him.

Jesus wants our song, our poem, our story, our painting, our love, our compassion, our anything, even a fish, so He can take and multiply what’s in our hand for a miracle.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

God has need of thee.

He’s gifted us each on purpose for reasons which will reveal itself when we least expect.

Trusting when the opportunity comes, we find ourselves fully prepared in our gifting.

Author and speaker Lisa Bevere encourages…

Offer God whatever He has placed in your hand – whatever is in your care or control. Offer it up for heavenly purposes and see what God will do. As we release what is in our hands, He releases what is in His.

Yesterday over coffee with a dear friend, God put me to the test with the content of this blog already in progress, when I was asked to speak at a conference my friend of many years was hosting,

When Opportunity Comes…

Among the lively conversations shared around each table that morning at this local eatery, privately I was having a Moses moment with God, reluctantly responding as Moses did when God presented an opportunity to him long ago,

Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent (of speech)…”
Exodus 4:10 NIV

It’s easy to hide behind these written words of mine, a wall of personal security.

Yet, while I’m not afraid of testifying God’s Word before others, I tried to justify “my lack of eloquence” to my friend.

Interestingly, I found myself prepared to meet this opportunity with a message already outlined; my life’s message God has prompted me to author and bind into my first book.

How could I confess these truths before man in this blog, while secretly giving God my “no” to this opportunity?

God hath need of thee, to multiply my life’s message and feed a room full of hungry women, if only I’d be willing to offer my ordinary lunch to Him in my “yes”.

I might have dragged my heart a ways down the road before committing to this conference held in a few short months.

But my friend stirred up the excitement in me through a song written by Pastor Mike Jr; excitement I stir up in your opportunities as well; that
God’s getting ready to move…and it’s going to be BIG…

Song BIG
By Pastor Mike Jr.
.
You ought to declare that over your own life
That it’s my time
And I can feel it.

Breakthrough is in the room.
God’s getting ready to move.

Listen, you ought to declare this over your own life, say it
For I know my God is working miracles just for me

And it’s going to be BIG…

WE STILL DO!  By Lori A Alicea

Looking over my shoulder and into the distance of these last twenty-eight years of marriage together, I find myself stepping into the pages of a fairy-tale beyond one’s imagination, catching my breath to the unbelievable reality of a dream come true.

In slow motion, I gaze around this fairy-tale room in a soft spin as a princess atop her music box, taking in my life from the eyes of wonder and thanking God for a dream I never imagined would be mine.

Although, He’s always promised the desires and petitions of our hearts from the very beginning, if only we’d delight in Him first.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
And He will give you the desires
And petitions of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 AMP

Side by side at the altar before God and all of our witnesses, we stood together in a place of simplicity, having no earthly idea what the pages of our happily ever after would read.

david and lori listening to pastor

But yet, there were clues when the abundance and overflow of two hearts began speaking their vows of covenant and earthly commitment; their life’s map guiding them through the highways and byways of marriage (amid a few tears) if they stayed the course being led by the compass of their vows.

Two hearts become one in their “I Do.”

Then a kiss and their journey begins…kiss the bride

heading out into sunsetWhat gift of words did a “bride and groom” unwrap for each other at the altar of holy matrimony?

What hidden treasures of the heart were promised to each other before God, their parents and guests of honor?

Not wanting to walk away from our promises, we kept them written for our remembrance, “to have and to hold from this day forward”.first steps together

Her Wedding Vows to Him!
By Lori A Alicea

I stand right here before you now,
So happy and so proud.
I want to offer up my thanks,
For all that He’s allowed.

I look at you and beam within,
The love that fills my heart.
I never thought I’d see this day,
A new refreshing start.

There was a time not long ago,
No joy was to be found.
A fallen sparrow I’d become,
So lonely on the ground.

Each day would come with dragging time,
No sunlight I could see.
I soon began to tell myself,
There was no life for me.

But somehow He revived my life,
My heart He did renew,
And when I least expected it,
The Father gave me you.

You fit the mold He made for me,
He found the perfect choice.
How my heart does skip a beat,
Just hearing your sweet voice.

So tender are the words you speak,
The meaning they impart.
Your eyes illuminate my soul,
And ravish through my heart.

Because of this I want to give,
To you my everything.
I want to live my life with you,
From summer though the spring.

I count it all but blessed joy,
A privilege for me.
To know and serve your every need,
Though times you may not see.

But most of all I won’t hold tight,
My grip I will let go.
You must be free to do His work,
To squeeze would quench the flow.

For you I’ll burn a lasting flame,
Its warmth will be my love.
If you would ever feel a chill,
These words remind me of.

His Wedding Vows to Her!
By David Alicea

My love, my words can’t express how much you mean to me.
From the first time I met you,
My love for you is immense.
I thank the Lord, he heard my prayers.
You are so special to me.

I promise to love you with all my heart.
And lift you up when you are down.
I’ll fill your life with happiness as much as I can.
I will never leave you.

I’ll always be by your side.
You are the joy of my life.
From the first time I met you, I will always love you.

Lori my love, take me as I am.
I give you all of me.
I thank the Lord for you.

Their vows to each other would carry them through life’s most difficult challenges.

carried into happily ever after

Their vows would be a joyful gift when they stayed the course.

Their commitment to each other would be a warm security blanket on a cold winters day.

Her words…

Would give and be to him her everything…
Would live each spring and summer together…
Would serve his needs no matter if eyes ever see…
Would burn for him an everlasting flame of love.

His words…

Would love her with all his heart…
Would lift her up when she is down…
Would fill her life with happiness and never leave…
Would promise to give her all of him.

and twenty-eight years later….

you still see these truths continuing to bloom from the seeds they planted so many years ago in their vows.

God was a witness to our covenant exchange all those years ago.

Our Heavenly Father leaned in close and committed to memory each word unwrapped on our wedding day.

During the tough times of struggle we hear Him reflecting back our hearts from twenty-eight years ago…

Our answer to Him remains the same…

We still do.

25th anniversary - corner david and lori in corner 30

BACK IN THE DAY  By Lori A Alicea

Call me old fashioned, but I love sitting with those from generations before me and hear their stories of back in the day.

Stories of life as they knew it, recreated from the keepsakes of their memory.

I capture their smiles as they step back in the day; noting the details which rewind an old fashioned movie.

I regret not inquiring more of the family history when both sets of my grandparents still took their seat around the holiday dinner table.

All those questions I regret not asking, whose answers went with them sadly unanswered to the grave.

Tell me about life as a child and teenager back in the day?”

What were your dreams and hopes back in the day?”

“What can we learn from your life back in the day?”

Did you really walk a mile to school in knee deep snow? Mom said you did.”

Tell me about your morning chores before school.”

Who milked the cow, who gathered the eggs, who helped mother in the kitchen?”

Of course, the “event decorator I am” sits on the edge of anticipation to hear about their wedding back in the day; hoping for pictures collecting dust in an old closet box.

These conversations paint a portrait of life changing from generation to generation.

The intimacy of handwritten letters sent back and forth between two hearts in love.

Grandmother’s old fashioned recipes with grease and flour still remaining from hands which once referred to them in the kitchen.

Both now a novelty replaced with technology.

The simpler life of family togetherness now stuck in the traffic jams of busyness.

During these times when you long for quiet, when you wish for a few minutes of the good old days; you reminisce the stories which take you back to life with your grandparents and great-grandparents and even your mother and father.

It’s so important to glean in the fields of their stories, to be a witness to their life and gather the fruit of history and legacy, your inheritance worth more and valued higher than earthly dollars.

Lean in close to the simplest of details from the generations of family as these pages written from their life will become those memories you save into the keepsakes of your memory, the legacy you pass to your children one day.IMG_1915

Walk a mile in their shoes, their steps back in the day. Those history lessons which hold the generations together, if we dare to protect these stories from the sun of time which dares to fade them.

IMG_1919

We have so much to learn from each other.

We need not be stuck in our own ways, unteachable to learn “what’s already been” from the past or “what is possible” in the present; or hope for the future.

Be willing to take your basket and start gathering.IMG_1920IMG_1921

Reach for the abundance of wisdom, their Godly influence, and hidden fruit of their lives which still waits to be picked.

You must be intentional to do your part and gather.

The next generation depends on you entering the fields of back in their day.IMG_1923

IMG_1922

Yes, call me old fashioned, but I love sitting with those from generations before me and hear their stories of back in the day, especially when they’re stories about my mother.

Talking about her, reminiscing and re-living these stories keep her alive in my heart, even though she left her earthly home a year and a half ago.

Now that I am the living grandmother, I get the privilege of repeating my stories you’ve heard once or twice before as my grandparents once did.

Stories which journey back when all my siblings still lived at the same address on Fox River Rd.

Stories which refresh my life while stuck in the traffic jam of busyness.
A story about my mother.

2018 mothers day brunch

SUMMER IN A JAR
By Lori A. Alicea

With family vacations, summer sports and fairs coming to town, you might not have noticed that Christmas has snuck in the back door of some stores, sounding the alarm that winter is around the corner.  By the time most of us are snuggling up in that first sweater, we might be asking ourselves, “Where did the summer go?”  For those who’d like to hold onto summer a little longer, did you know it’s possible to capture the essence of this season in a bottle, labeling it “summer in a jar?”

Growing up, backyard gardens, cornfields and fruit markets were common neighborhood sights. corn field along road

With breezes carrying them in, the smells of summer welcomed itself through open windows, evident in the slight waves of the curtains.open window

Strawberries, peaches, apples and grapes, all waiting for someone to take them home from the fruit market down the street.  As a little girl the aroma of this seasonal shop was so delicious, fruit juices could be tasted just by breathing.IMG_1845

Mother would buy these farmer spoils by the flat, bushel and bucket, bringing them home to create jams, jellies and frozen fruit for future homemade pies. IMG_1846

The pantry off from the kitchen displayed my mother’s mid-year labors, as I fantasized over them in the winter pretending they were “summer in a jar”.strawberry jam

From June through August, we five sisters helped mother prepare fruit for her signature jams, giving into temptation to eat more fruit than we prepared.  Though our mouths revealed the sticky evidence of our crime, mother didn’t scold us, rather kept focused as she boiled fruit on her Magic Chef stove.  Still boiling hot, blue Mason jars were filled then sealed with melted paraffin wax.  Mother’s creations eventually lined the pantry shelves when they cooled, waiting for winter to come.

It’s hard to appreciate kitchen art when the thermostat reads above 90 degrees.  But light the fireplace one frosty December morning, and top a fresh baked biscuit smothered in butter with homemade jam, those early hours might usher in a smell of summer with fruit so fresh you’d think they were recently picked.

As an adult, I am saddened that subdivisions have taken over the neighborhood, leaving farmer fields a figment of my imagination.  Kitchen curtains don’t fly in the wind of open windows as air conditioners keep them closed.  Fruit markets are a novelty now, canning isn’t a way of life, and out of five sisters, I’m the only one that cans, bakes bread and finds pleasure in homemade anything.

But as for me, my homemade effort’s brings back time with mom and memories of yesterday, when I go the extra mile to see my shelves full of “summer in a jar”.

A GRANDPARENT’S MILESTONE!  By Lori A Alicea

“Where have twelve wonderful years gone?”

In the blink of an eye and ten grandchildren later, a milestone is months away from the intersection of “Letting Go” and “What’s Next Lord?” for this grandmother.

I do this to myself regarding most upcoming milestones in my life; reminiscing, savoring the memories, and rehearsing my approach to the milestone which waits for me this fall.

My kids might roll their eyes to my sentiment, and maybe consider this overly dramatic.

But that’s fine by me.

They haven’t walked this stretch of years in the shoes of a grandparent yet.

They haven’t witnessed the births of the next generation from the other side of the delivery door.

They haven’t soothed and rocked their grandchildren in the wee hours of the night, whose bond with them follows as they crawl, run, scrape their knees, participate in sports and sit with us during Grandparent’s Day at school.

They haven’t sewed a Godly heritage and family traditions into the fabric of those lives who call you Gaga and Papa.

So, when this grandmother is a bit sad approaching the intersection of “Letting Go” and “What’s Next Lord”, the milestone this fall where her two remaining grandchildren catch the bus for kindergarten, our adult children might want to take notes for their future reference.

Yes, I can barely comprehend how the pages of these past twelve years of school days have been the quick read they’ve been.

Outgrowing pull-ups and pacifiers for lunch boxes and backpacks, these world changers of ours have been overly excited to take their assigned seat on the school bus and in the classroom, where they’ll learn to write their name and absorb whatever the world opens up to them.

As our little students graduate from preschool, kindergarten and beyond, so must a grandparent graduate to the next step in God’s plan for her, where those Friday mornings spent at the park and Gaga’s house with her grandchildren not attending school yet are no longer needed.

Letting go of those smiles showing up for biscuits and gravy and sharing a cup of coffee with their parents after the school bus left already with the older children earlier is difficult.

Letting go of the idea of working so I might enjoy this small window of time as a stay-at-home grandparent was well worth the moments and memories never to be retrieved after all these boys and girls have taken their seat in the classroom.

So many firsts await our grandchildren when they’re old enough for school.

Parents and grandparents document these firsts as best they can through pictures and scrapbooks, hoping these milestones are seared into the memories of this next generation, reliving the details captured in time through stories and pictures.

Letting Go of the hands which used to hold on tight while walking across the street, now run without looking back as they once did before.

Though enjoying their grandchildren from the sidelines while parents take their rightful place on center stage, this “letting go so kids can grow” must happen.

Gone are the naps they begged to share with you, while watching Peppa Pig from the phone as they clutched their favorite blanket until we both fell fast asleep.

Nap time at one o’clock pm took place a bit longer than your mother approved, as I wasn’t ready to let go of our afternoon time together, even if you were.

But sadly, kindergarten signups came and off to school you went.

This stay-at-home grandmother even spent weeks away from home each year to share afternoons with her Hawaiian babies before they turned five, taking our special trips to the park and walks around the neighborhood.

Naps weren’t your thing but our afternoon time rocking to the moon and stars were the best.

Yes, this grandmother is a bit sad as she approaches the intersection of “Letting Go” and “What’s Next Lord”, the milestone this fall where her two remaining grandchildren pack their lunchboxes for school.

These two adorable faces that have grown up just as fast as the other eight, yet I savor the minutes and seconds I have left with them before the alarm clock rings for school.

“What’s next Lord?”

“How can anything be more fulfilling than time spent with your grandchildren?”

BENCH SCHOOLL 1 cousins on benchBut these gifts of ours are growing up.

BENCH SCHOOLL 2 bench of all grandchildren

They don’t need us like before, though this is God’s plan.

In letting go, they now have room to test their wings to fly.

BENCH SCHOOLL 3 All kids bikeriding

Papa and Gaga celebrate these treasured ten called our grandchildren.

They walked down the aisle and stood with us at the altar as we celebrated twenty-five years together in our Wedding Anniversary Renewal. The little ones thought we were getting married.

The best day ever spent with them.BENCH SCHOOLL Aniversary England kidsBENCH SCHOOLL Anniversary Cumbee Alicea kids

The weight of fall is heavy on this grandmother’s heart.

Kindergarten is coming for our two youngest granddaughters.

One will take her assigned seat on the yellow bus as well as the class room; the other will ride her bike with her siblings; and we couldn’t be more excited for them both.

The intersection of Letting Go and What’s Next Lord will be crossed with great joy as God’s plan continues to unfold in these children’s lives.

What’s next for this grandmother?

I’ll see the sign when I approach the intersection in a few short months.

God has a great plan for me too as I graduate from this season of stay-at-home grandmother.

Until then, I’ll savor every minute and second with these remaining two until the alarm clocks rings for school.

PRETTY IN MY DADDY’S EYES?  By Lori A Alicea

Am I pretty daddy?

Her words, whether spoken or hidden under the covers of a daughter’s heart, she wonders…

Before her father, she smiles and spins as a music box dancer in her fluffiest dress, with arms stretched out and wind catching her curls as she twirls to the song of her princess ball, yet still wonders…

She wonders each morning as the windows of her deep blue eyes are opened for him to notice…

Am I pretty daddy?USE Girls together no cape

Little girls long to be noticed by their daddy.

No matter her age, whether crawling around his feet or dancing in his arms on her wedding day, a delicate rose among a hillside of splendor whispers under her breath for a father’s attention,

Oh, pick me.”USE flowers

Take me to the dance.”

Be my special date.”

Am I pretty in my daddy’s eyes?”USE Kyle girls flowers

Daddy’s are the fairy-tale in their daughters magical world. USE Decorations CarriageDaddy’s write their story she’ll remember for a lifetime, a book for which his little girl holds the key, with pages she begs him to read each night at bedtime, always starting from the beginning…

Once upon a time…USE Decorations Once Upon a Time

Tell me, tell me, tell me.” She begs him to repeat.

Tell me about our date.”

Let’s go back to the dance through the pages.”

Remind me of all the details I can’t bear to forget.”

While you read, I’ll close my eyes and we’ll be at the princess ball together again.”

There’s something about daddy’s and his intentional time with her.

One can’t buy this time.

One can’t wish this time.

One can’t put off for another day this time.

This time happens because daddy’s make it happen.

He schedules the date.

She picks out her prettiest dress.

Daddy gets fancy too.

Daddy queues the music.

Daddy twirls her.

Daddy notices her.

Daddy dances with her.

Daughter is pretty in her father’s eyes.

They dance until the clock strikes midnight.

I can’t imagine any girl not wanting to be the princess of her lifelong fairy-tale.USE Cinderella Princess Girls with princess

Girls reveal their princess desires in childhood dress up, while playing in her mother’s closet, while walking in the heels of her mother’s shoes.

While dancing in their daddies arms.

Yes dads, your princess waits every night at bedtime to hear her story, the story you have written for her by noticing her, by loving her, by being that Knight on a White horse, by picking her, by seeing her pretty in your daddy eyes.

USE Cinderella Goodnight Girls in bed

While daughter’s hold the key to her fairy-tale book, a daddy holds the key to his princess’ sweet dreams, when kissed by him and the things dreams are made of.

Because a Knight with a White Horse pursues his daughter’s heart.USE Daddy Daughter Dance photo

Because a daddy writes their story she’ll remember for a lifetime, a book for which his little girl holds the key, with pages she begs him to read each night at bedtime, always starting from the beginning…

Once upon a time…USE Decorations Once Upon a Time

BEYOND THE UNEXPECTED  By Lori A Alicea

The day comes for all of us.

Escape or delay won’t prevent the inevitable.

The mat in front of the door of our life reminds us to welcome this day.

No more reliving what we couldn’t control.

No more turning back to the trail of debris left behind from the eye of the storm.

We must move on.

Like giving birth, the pain will cease and be remembered no more over time.

Yes, the struggle was real but God promises to turn around for good, what the enemy meant for evil.

(Genesis 50:20 NIV)

So embrace this day.

Welcome this day beyond the unexpected.

Might we gather God’s love and compassion He makes new each morning from his garden of faithfulness.

because His tender compassion’s never fail.
They are new every morning.
Great and beyond measure is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 AMP

This day came two months and two weeks for my husband David when he finally returned to work, taking those first few steps beyond the unexpected.USE back to work

Moving on is a cup of God’s cool water which refreshes the dry and thirsty soul from the bitter cup of worry and unanswered questions in the unexpected.

Moving beyond the unexpected is a hand of hope for someone else to reach out to; God’s promise for them that this too shall pass.

(2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV)

There’s no denying though the pain of rebuilding your inner strength the unexpected attempted to steal.

But you must fight back for what is rightfully yours.USE workout 2

Resist the temptation to escape or delay the going forward.

Allow God to do your heavy lifting as you do your lifting in praise while moving forward.USE workout 1

Moving forward is an uphill climb of small steps of faith, pushing back and resisting the lies of the enemy while God cheers you from on high at the summit.USE workout 3

Four heartbreaking weeks which separated us over the Christmas holidays, then six grueling weeks to find his way back to the front door beyond the unexpected, yet here he is, ready to begin walking into the good God has prepared for my husband and I.USE back to work

God continues to write our story beyond the unexpected.

Every twist and turn of the plot is unique to the love story God is writing for our personal life with Him.

There’s a happily ever after for every book on the shelf in heaven’s library.

Each may read differently, feel differently and always end differently, as God’s plan for his children are as unique as their fingerprints.

But don’t stop reading.

Don’t stop living and walking out the chapters He has written for your life; a secret best seller if we are willing to trust Him as we turn the page beyond the unexpected.

What is the unexpected you need to move beyond?

Health crisis…
Natural disaster…
Loss of a job…
Loss of finances…

Loss of a loved one…

Lost your way…

Be of good cheer.

Find comfort in your traveling companion who has detailed maps for every valley and mountain climb to follow.

He knows the way as He is the Way.

You’ll never lose direction when you carry the compass of God’s Word which leads you back to the doorstep of His heart.

Beyond the unexpected is a brand new day, a fresh start mapped out already from the beginning of time.

We can trust our good Father in moving forward beyond the unexpected.

Our good Father has amazing plans for us beyond the pages we have yet to turn in our life.

So embrace this day.

Welcome this day beyond the unexpected.

We thank you God for the love and compassion you make new each morning for us to gather from your garden of faithfulness.

MORE THAN A COOKBOOK OF RECIPES  By Lori A Alicea

It was once quoted:

Most of us will be remembered, in work and in life, for just a few words or deeds that made a difference to others. The way we choose to say good-by is likely to be one of the ways we are remembered.
Frances Hesselbein

How true this was for my grandmother.

Who knew a large, table size crystal plate of homemade holiday cookies served on Christmas Eve each year of my childhood would be the memory I treasured most of my grandmother.

A small deed gaining no fame or recognition on the evening news; nor article in a Good Housekeeping magazine either.

But congregating around a basement table draped with a holiday scene of felt and sequins each December 24th, were her grandchildren ruining their dinner appetites gobbling their grandmother’s famous peanut butter balls, fudge and an assortment of decorated cookies; all full of homemade love.

Carrying this memory with me my whole life kept this little girl inside smiling around a table of cookies; so much so that all I wanted when my grandmother passed away was her cookbook of holiday recipes, her crystal plate and felt tablecloth of sequins.

Grandma’s memory was kept alive through the years when I’d set out her crystal cookie plate and fill it full of confections I remembered and loved as a child.

Recently, her cookbook found its way back into my cupboard after re-discovering this treasure while emptying a storage-unit full of boxes.

Never opening my grandmother’s heirloom after all these years until today, did I realize her valuable gift was more than a cookbook of recipes but also a time capsule of family mementos she saved.

Wedding invitations of my sister’s and mine from year 1978 and 1980.Belinda's wedding invite

Lori Wedding invite to Mike

A Christmas poem I authored and sent in the year 2004, only to be converted to my grandmother’s Christmas card list on the back. So many names I smiled to see on my grandmother’s circle of influence, though sad to remember a few good-byes since her Christmas list was written.2004 xmas poem

Bertie 2004 xmas list

A wedding anniversary card from my grandfather to his sweetheart, signing it ever so sweetly,

From Little Old Me,
DanGrandpa Houle anniversary card front

Grandpa Houle anniversary card inside

But what caught my attention most were a few prayers written by my grandmother, hidden between the pages of her cookbook of recipes.

Randomly written on the backs of other pages as was her Christmas list, my grandmother poured out her heart before God, unknowingly blessing her adult granddaughter decades later.

I never knew Grandma Bertie in this private and intimate way, so to unearth the overflow of my grandmother’s heart framed in two small prayers are the few words I’ll also remember and cherish her by as Frances Hesselbein once quoted:

Most of us will be remembered, in work and in life, for just a few words or deeds that made a difference to others. The way we choose to say good-by is likely to be one of the ways we are remembered.
Frances Hesselbein

Prayer By My Grandmother
Alberta (Bertie) Houle

Heavenly Father, as we begin each day, let our thoughts turn to you and ask your help in guiding us in everything we do and trust that you will see we receive what we need daily.

Give us courage to face life’s trials and let us keep in mind, “Your will”, not “mine” be done, and help us understand you know what’s best for us.
Amen

Grandma Bertie prayer 1

Another Prayer By My Grandmother
Alberta (Bertie) Houle

Heavenly Father, we thank thee for all the love that has been given us.

For the love of family and friends and above all for your own love poured out upon us every moment of our lives.

Forgive our unworthiness.
Forgive the many times we have disappointed those who love us.

Teach us your own consistency in love, your humility, selflessness, and generosity in everything we do.

In your name we pray.
AmenGrandma Bertie prayer 2

My grandmother took with her to heaven the reasons she memorialized these prayers instead of secretly lifting them to God’s ears only.

But finding my grandmother’s hidden words between the pages of a cookbook and sealed with a kiss for a granddaughter decades after they were written is one priceless gift.

For some reason I was supposed to discover them today when all I aspired to do was hold a grandmother’s cookbook of my childhood memories.

God is full of surprises when you least expect, when you’re not even looking.

Today, was one of those days.

WHEN GOD STEPS IN!  By Lori A Alicea

If it matters to us, it matters to God.

Whether it’s a child’s sick goldfish, a health challenge, financial crisis, business deal in jeopardy, a wayward child or a heart’s desire in waiting;

If it matters to us, it matters to God.

The surround sound of Heaven amplifies the cries of its people.

Our Daddy hears and answers before his children finish their sentences.

Before they call I will answer, while they are still speaking, I will hear.
Isaiah 65:24 NIV

This God who never sleeps nor naps can be reached at any time, day or night.

Our calls to Him are never dropped, screened, or sent to voice-mail.

God’s children have speed dial access to a good Father who steps in when we least expect and in ways never imagined.2018 ayva on phone

God loves to hear his children ask of Him; and so we did.

My husband David and I found ourselves in a quandary, when after committing financially to hosting, decorating and catering a benefit event months earlier for our dear Pastor, David without notice found himself unemployed.

Overwhelmed… anxious… deeply concerned.

What to do?

Taking on such a leadership role in itself was an act of faith on our part as we are followers by nature; giving and serving behind the scenes.

Yet, when our Pastor running for office inquired of those willing to host a benefit in his honor; God quietly nudged a husband and wife to trust Him with our “yes”.

Invitations were ordered.

The venue was secured.USE banquet hall

Our guest list determined.

Table decorations envisioned.USE table decorations

Speakers selected.IMG_1300

IMG_1301

Entertainment secured.IMG_1273

USE songs

Excitement is building.USE cake

USE MARION STARS

The word had already gone out to save the date.

Now here we are…unemployed.

Our Guest of Honor would have easily understood our financial plight with compassion.USE PASTOR RON PIC

We could have walked away from this commitment without any questions asked.

But the nagging tug of our hearts reminded we had heard from God to trust Him with our “yes”… and so we did.

Only God knew the words written in our diary of uncertainty; those pages hidden under lock and key to our Guest of Honor.

Yet our Daddy hears and answers before his children finish their sentences.

Trust me with your yes.”

We continued to trust Our Faithful God with the impossible.USE DAVID SIGN'

God loves to hear his children ask of Him; and so we did.

Then, the amazing happens when God steps in while we least expect, and in ways we never imagined.

Keeping a close eye on our checking account balance which was dwindling by the day during this unforeseen unemployment, I realized an error had occurred after noticing a large deposit not our own was posted.

Immediately calling the bank regarding these misappropriated funds, my heart skipped a few beats to learn that monies owed to me years ago had been intercepted and deposited into our account.

More exciting, monies in the same amount would be deposited every other week for the next six months; enough in total to fully fund our benefit with enough left over to deliver our candidate / Pastor and family to his event in honor.

God had made a way when there seemed to be no way in our finances.

God steps in at just the right time with the exact monies needed; restitution I had long given up hope to receive.

Interestingly, these deposits ceased once the event had taken place.

David also started a new job that following Monday.

Sure sounds like God stepped in for us.

Yes, if it matters to us, it matters to God.

Give Him a call.2018 ayva on phone

MORE THAN A PIECE OF THE PUZZLE  By Lori A Alicea

Peering into an opened puzzle box of a thousand pieces, one looks with astonishment the beautiful picture which waits an unveiling by the simple interlocking, the coming together of a thousand pieces.

blue puzzle piece on white jigsaw puzzle
Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

Not for the impatient.

Not for those blind to the bigger picture.

Designed to pass on the awareness where every counted member in the box is more than a piece of the puzzle.

person placing a puzzle on heart shaped puzzle pieces
Photo by DS stories on Pexels.com

Created with eyes to reveal each piece their significance in the picture; rendering the vision incomplete in those unwilling to assume their appointed place in the Master’s design.

Yes, we are all more than a piece of the puzzle in God’s plan.

Our likeness and way we interlock with one another is on purpose, yet has us questioning God at times the pieces He’s put together not seeming to fit.

In these times the Master Designer reminds us to trust Him in the finished painting, as the aerial view we see is just our one of a thousand pieces.

In the beginning, God meticulously fashioned our talents and determined in the beginning those needing the impact of these gifts by our placement in His big picture, those other pieces we’d interlock and connect with.

In His still small voice, God’s instruction of how and when He dares to use us, spurs a child-like faith when the big picture isn’t in sight to see.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 KJV

Not understanding and unaware of God’s “why”, our quick obedience prevents those delays what God wants to do today thru us for another piece of the puzzle.

I will quickly obey your commands…
Psalm 119:32 NCV

Without delay, I hurry to obey your commands.
Psalm 119:60 GNT

God is a personal God.

His Masterpiece is beyond beautiful and awe-inspiring because His heart is intimately thinking and longing about each piece of the puzzle, the one” whether the piece He holds in His hand is about you or a complete stranger He plans to introduce.

The following is an excerpt from a previous blog when the big picture comes into full view as our reminder; we are more than a piece of the puzzle.

STOP COUNTING
By Lori A Alicea

Excerpt…

God goes to great lengths to show his love for you, the “one”.

God sent His Son to die for you, the “one”.

God will work through complete strangers to reach you, the “one”.

This message of the “one” came to light a few hot summer years ago at this glorious historical mansion located nearby where I hosted a table for six of dear family and friends for a Victorian Tea and Luncheon.Daisy lady gloria marge linda at tableDaisy lady candy lori at table

With one seat unspoken for to be filled by the Victorian Tea organizers and believing God wanted to use five tea ladies to bless a complete stranger, we prepared a gift bag full of thoughtfulness with her in mind; a present for the “one”.

A week prior to the Tea, God impressed a vision of this “one”, letting our eyes know in advance to be looking for a woman “dressed in daisies”.

That afternoon when the Victorian Gala began, hand-painted cups for each Victorian dressed lady were filled with their chosen flavored tea. Vintage dressed waiters and waitresses placed silver trays of crumpets, delicately filled croissants and other luncheon foods on our table of china place settings and white linen.

Though the details of this elegant day were breathtaking, we five tea ladies couldn’t take our eyes off the chair still unspoken for.

Had we heard from God correctly?

Were we supposed to meet a lady “dressed in daisies?”

Though sad, we still savored our time together, enjoying a bright and sunny afternoon over tea, seated side by side next to those that we loved.

Caught off guard when the weather filled the skies with a torrential rain, the Victorian crowd made a dash towards the open doors of the mansion for the remainder of the event.

With the mansion unprepared to receive our Victorian ladies, we sat or stood in whatever corner we could find.Daisy lady candy by herself

We refined ladies now soaking wet, you couldn’t help but laugh.

The itinerary resumed itself making the best of the unforeseen chaos.

It’s in these moments when you least expect that God’s plan comes into full view; our lady “dressed in daisies.”

We tea ladies gasped when we saw her.

Head to toe in daisies.

We five weren’t so refined when we surrounded our daisy lady following the Tea, presenting God’s heart and a gift bag prepared with her, the “one” in mind.

Overwhelmed by it all, our daisy lady shared she almost didn’t attend the event as her husband was hospitalized in a health crisis. But decided to divert her troubled heart and attention for a few hours over tea, throwing on whatever she could find, not Victorian clothes, but an outfit donned of daisies.

The impact God made when He loved the “one” through five strangers.

With God, it isn’t about the crowd, the masses, the ninety-nine, but the “one”.

Excerpt end…

Yes, we are all more than a piece of the puzzle in God’s plan.

Our likeness and way we interlock with one another is on purpose.

There’s no need to question God when the pieces He’s put together don’t seem to fit.

In these times the Master Designer reminds us to trust Him in the finished painting, as the aerial view we see is just our one of a thousand pieces.

blue puzzle piece on white jigsaw puzzle
Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

BEHOLD…A Melody of Heart  By Lori Alicea

Every now and then my heart is overflowing with music, a melody for God.

With the new year just beginning a few weeks ago…
Behold…a melody of my heart…

Behold the early rising sun,
Awakes without delay.
Good morning” thru your window speaks,
A faithful kiss each day.

brown and green grass field during sunset
Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

Behold your eyes which open up,
As roses after sleep.
Behold and see your garden grows,
God’s beauty gift to keep.

photo of white and pink roses behind a glass with water droplets
Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on Pexels.com

Behold the fragrance of perfume,
From flowers which bloom for you.
Run barefoot thru the morning fields,
Between your toes its dew.

a woman walking barefoot on the grass
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Behold the air you cannot see,
Yet feel its presence there.
Through dance recitals of the waves,
In wind which blows your hair.

sea waves under sunset
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Behold the simple touch of warm,
Filled coffee cup to hold.
Escape in thoughts to warm the heart,
Before the day unfolds.

roses and coffee cup on wooden chair
Photo by Nida on Pexels.com

Behold the busyness of life,
Yet for yourself, make time.
Find poetry in everyday,
Walk slow; make moments rhyme.

Behold the love you share with those,
Find gold in every name.
Oh treasure friends and family,
They keep your heart aflame.

selective focus photography of heart pendant chain link necklace
Photo by u4e09 u70b9sky on Pexels.com

Behold the life God gave to you,
Find joy His thought-out plan.
The pages of your book He wrote,
Before your life began.

opened book on tree root
Photo by rikka ameboshi on Pexels.com

Behold the secrets of your heart,
Desires, He knows each one.
Delight and solely love Him first,
These things, He’ll hold back none.

beige sand with hear engrave
Photo by Ashley Williams on Pexels.com

Behold the seasons which you live,
Spring, summer, winter, fall.
Those seasons you don’t understand,
Fear not, God’s in them all.

snowy pathway surrounded by bare tree
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Behold your calendar of days,
Take note and number each.
A vapor is the sum of them,
Your generations reach.

love winter luck calendar
Photo by Nadezhda Moryak on Pexels.com

Behold what eyes they cannot see,
Your stories yet untold.
Though God would say, “Prepare for them”,
Reach out your hand, behold.

selective focus photography of hand
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com