By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me…a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalm 42:8 NIV

Dear God, I kneel before you now,
My heart is prostrate too.
I yield my thoughts, I cast my cares,
That I may hear from you.

A moment just the two of us,
A conversation share.
Reveal a Father’s love for me,
While on my knees in prayer.

lito and theia praying

In silence I will wait for you,
But yet, you beat me here.
A Daddy longs his children close,
Delights to have them near.

It’s not my eloquence of words,
Or list my tears prepare.
But heaven stops to hear a child,
Who comes to him in prayer.

Praying at altar 2

A child’s faith can tug his heart,
A father hears their need.
See mountains move with faith the size,
As small a mustard seed.

You know my words before I speak,
My needs you’re so aware.
But yet you beckon me to ask,
While on my knees in prayer.


I thank you for my daily bread,
Each meal you’ve given me.
No lack, but full my cupboards are,
Though empty I might see.

Oh stir my appetite for you,
Dear Lord, I tarry there.
That place to hunger for your love,
Please satisfy my prayer.
2019 cumbee ayva praying
Where two are gathered in your name,
You’re here for us, for me.
Oh Lord we listen for your voice,
In patience wait for Thee.

My simple words this child speaks,
For more of you I dare.
A Father runs to hear his child,
Who folds their hands in prayer.

ethan kollin praying prayer

No matter what the age we are,
A child to God are we.
Such gifts a Father wants to give,
If wait for Him to see.

Present to You a child’s heart,
Sweet hands I cast my care.
So loved I feel in your embrace,
While on my knees in prayer.

Praying at altar 2

…but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.
Psalm 66:19 NIV

love is…..By Lori A Alicea

Twenty-five years ago this October while vowing love and commitment to one another at our wedding altar, my husband and I received mined gold pieces of wisdom spoken by our Pastor, a compass he gave us to discovering love for a lifetime.

Our Pastor encouraged us as “bride and groom” embarking on a lifetime journey together to love, respect, honor, enjoy and revere the other with our eyes. To see goodness, uniqueness, virtue, value, future, beauty and wonderment in the other,

A mining for love in the noticing.

The eyes see it all; the good, the bad, the ugly.
We have a choice.

Each and every day we have a choice; to see the bad, to see the ugly.
Or notice the good hidden in the corner of your eye.
The good is always there.

Don’t look away. You’ll miss it.
Take a second look if you have to.
Don’t miss an opportunity to
mine for love in the noticing.

True love isn’t riches measured in dollars and cents.
True love is captured in the pause of a long stare, between blinks in a given moment. True love is in the eye of the beholder.

True love is mined in the noticing.

Life is full of beauty.
Notice the bumble bee,
the small child,
and the smiling faces.
Smell the rain and feel the wind.
Life your life to the fullest potential,
and fight for your dreams.
Ashley Smith

Love is in the simple.
Love is in the day to day.
Love looks for it.
Love searches for it.

Love is always there.
Love is mining in the noticing.

Love is eyes lighting up.
Love is falling in love with my husband over and over when I notice him:

Making the bed in the morning or turning the covers at night.

Deciding it is his responsibility to tackle the sink full of dishes after meals.

Ironing better than any dry cleaners in town.

Unashamed to fall to his knees in prayer.

Calling my mother or visiting her on his own without me.

Endearing my mother by referring to her as mom.

Hauling the basket of dirty laundry to the basement then bringing up the clean and folded clothes unassumingly.

Wearing cologne at all times; after showers, before bed or for no reason at all.

Lathering our little grandsons with cologne so they can smell like Papa too.

Smiling because every Facetime call from our grandchildren begins with,
“Where’s Papa?”

Always treating and referring to my children as “our children” from day one.

Full of grease after working on the car in all the weather elements regardless of having no garage.

Reaching the heavens and hearts with his voice in song.

Revealing his gorgeous smile.

Laughing for every little thing.

Revisiting a conversation when customers have inquired about his no-show whereabouts after making such a lasting impression of courtesies and promptness.

Setting the dinner table standard of eating whatever my hands have prepared; even during the early years when my attempts at Porter Rican rice resembled oatmeal to our children’s gag-reflexing dismay.

Revealing his heart through sensitive tears; especially when they fall regarding his kids and grandkids.

Holding my hand throughout our 25 years of life together;
while in the car,
while watching TV,
while drinking coffee together,
while lying in bed at night.

Love isn’t a feeling.
Love isn’t a fairy tale.
Love is a choice.
Love chooses to see the good in a bad day.

Love can be for a lifetime.

Love remembers that:

Love never fails…..
1 Corinthians 13: 8 NIV

Love is mining in the noticing.

Love just is.

Rock-A-BYE BYE the Years By Lori A Alicea

You don’t think about it during the bedtime hour while rocking your grandchild to a peaceful sleep. That gentle back-and-forth sway of the chair accompanied by a grandmother’s quiet whisper of Rock-A-Bye-Baby, together circling the moon and starry skies along the way to a child’s land of sweet dreams.
Me kissing Kizzie head USE THISYou don’t think about it while staring in the stillness of a child’s face, whose long eyelashes flutter between rest and slumber resembling butterfly wings flittering in a grassy field of wild flowers.
Kizzie no thumb USE THISYou don’t think about it when a child’s pacifier, security blanket and lullaby of a grandmother’s heartbeat calms their innocent worries.
Kizzie in chair sucking thumb USE THISYou don’t think about it when a child’s piggies and a child’s sweet toes have all been counted like sheep to be whisked away to sleep.

It’s in this moment when a grandmother stares into the innocent face of her sleeping grandchild, slightly grazing those rosy cheeks and ears with her fingertips and gently kissing the top of this precious child’s head when she realizes that all her grandbabies are no longer babies anymore.
Kizzie asleep USE THISIt happens just that fast.
It happens when you least expect it;
It happens when you close your eyes for just a second;
It happens when you look the other way momentarily;
It happens though you think that day is years from now.
Yet that bittersweet day finally comes and it has happened to us.
We bid Rock-A-BYE BYE the Years.

Our ten grandbabies are no longer babies anymore.
Kizzie by rose bush USE THIS 1Though our youngest grandchild hasn’t let go of the comforts she enjoyed as a baby just yet, her pretty pink boots tells the story of the steps she’s beginning to take into a little girl’s life.
Kizzie by rocks 10Climbing new heights and discovering her world revealed in the smallest of details, this child is growing up, no longer a baby anymore.

She’ll steal the hearts of many as she already has this grandmother.
Kizzie dressHow I wish Our Rock-A-Bye memories made together could somehow remain in pause, at least for a few extra unexpected trips around the moon.
Kizzie asleep USE THISHow I wish I wouldn’t have been caught up in the chaos of bottles, dirty diapers and sleeplessness during the midnight feedings when the other nine grandbabies had their time with me in the rocking chair. I know I cradled and adored them as they all slept in my arms.

Yet I wish my lullaby playlist would have had a few more selections.
I wish I wouldn’t have been so concerned about the kitchen sink full of dishes or the laundry billowing over to the floor.
I just wish I had believed when others told me that time with them as babies escapes as quickly as the spoken words from our mouth.

May the memo get passed around to enjoy the moments, however big or small, of every day with them.
Savor the little things with them.
Capture their world in a time capsule and bury it in your heart.
RSVP as their favorite invited guest to a child’s tea party.
Remembering it doesn’t take much to make them smile.
Another trip to the park; a walk to the ice cream store.
It won’t cost you anything but being present in their life.

Because one day, a day closer than imagined.
One day where swings and slides will no longer interest them.
One day on the other side of the park, where a new field of their life awaits them to discover.
kizzie walking with sisters USE THISA day you’ll bid Rock-A-BYE BYE the Years.


Sticks and stones
May break my bones.

But words ????
 Will never cause me pain???
Will never break my heart???
Will never break me????
Will never hurt me???

One afternoon my husband and I were out riding our bicycles together when we stopped to look at this rock garden school children had personally grown. Hand painted stones with word-messages from a child’s imagination and decorated in their own colorful flair, a spring concert of sorts, where the music and song is played to your own interpretation.

Observing this garden of rocks, I was sadly reminded of the stones we all have thrown on occasion in a heated moment of hurt, hurling our words of opinions, words in defense against accusation or words to protect ourselves from pain. Our “volley of words” resembles a bully’s way of taking control by casting stones.

Sassy kids have all said it. Myself as a child included.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

How far from the truth this is.

At our child’s middle school graduation, I remember the commencement message like it was yesterday as it left an indelible mark. The speaker spoke on the power of words and the handprint they leave on a child’s heart.  Reminding us that words are “containers for life or death” and their lifetime impact over our children could be
“measured in smiles.”

The Commencement Speaker rewinds the movie of this graduation class to their first day of kindergarten when smiles were bright and endless. A simple world of cartoons and playgrounds, their joy was written all over their face in smiles.  Happiness abounds in their land of balloons and fireflies.  But sadly, it doesn’t take long when a child’s garden clutters from the sticks and stones of another’s negative words, crowding out their innocence and smiles.  Over the years of neglect and not weeding out the clutter, sticks and stones can overtake the garden of a middle school graduate and possibly an adult.
IMG_3159But hope is not lost.
hopeGardens grow and blossom with seeds sown in joy and kindness.
hope joy love be kindLove can thrive and brighten smiles in any garden, especially a garden of hurt and overgrown in sticks and stones.
We are reminded that our words be gracious and sweet as honeycomb and pleasing in our Lord’s sight.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Proverbs 16:24

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.  Psalm 19:24

Just the other day I received a text message, words sweetened in a child’s love causing a bright smile on this grandmother’s face. My seven year old granddaughter spelled out her itinerary for our weeks visit together, a list of ways she wanted to spend time with me.

This is my itinerary when you are here. I want us to make pancakes, biscuits and gravy, roast, chicken noodle soup.  I want to go to the park and on walks.  I want to cuddle with you.  Make books and read books.  I want to sleep with you and do make up together.  I love you.  Also, there’s one more thing.  I want to stay up with you and make cookies.
 Next time you see a child whose smile is dimmed; his smile might be measured from the sticks and stones of his garden.

Come along side this child and speak words of peace, joy and kindness to him.
bee kindGenerously water his garden in love.

This child’s smile will shine bright again.
His garden will surely grow.

The season of spring has come upon us.
It’s time to weed out our garden’s clutter.

It’s time to clear our land of sticks and stones, those words that have kept our gardens from blooming.

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heaven…

    a time to scatter stones… Ecclesiastes 3

It’s time to prepare our heart’s soil to receive good seeds, those words full of love, peace, joy and kindness to help our garden grow.
hope joy love be kindOh, that our joy be evident from the overflow of our heart.

Oh, that our peace, love and joy be
measured in smiles.



Just in case you’ve second guessed your princess worth.
Just in case you’ve forgotten your princess place.
Just in case you see your princess crown a bit tarnished.
Just in case your princess wings appear to be broken.
Just in case the princess truth you were born into doesn’t feel like the truth anymore.

Allow me to remind you.
2014 cova jake guitar cova princess

From the beginning of time you were destined to be a princess.
You were born into royalty.
You were born for royal purposes.
You were born for greatness.
You were born with destiny, born to stand before the kings and queens of your day to make a difference, to be a difference.
aubrey 2There’s no denying your beauty while eyes behold how perfectly you blend in the delicate garden you grow among. As a mist of light perfume from flowers dancing in the air on a spring morning, the aroma of your presence leaves a sweet fragrence on those that you touch.
kizzy 3It doesn’t take long in a young life where your royal blooms begin to open up under the wooing of the sun’s kisses, revealing your princess smile and personality.

When once you blended among the garden flowers to keep your royal birth concealed, your beauty can no longer be kept a secret and the announcement of its newest princess is declared in the castle.


Princess training begins to help you find your wings.

An older princess comes along side and teaches you to spread your wings to the big destiny assigned for a little princess. Though at times you might be frustrated and believe there must be a mistake, the older princess whispers for your remembrance, “you were born for greatness.”
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSometimes in a princess’ life she senses her wings have broken.

Being born a princess with a royal assignment may bear too much weight on her wings, a load too heavy to carry.  But be not dismayed. The royal king picked you perfectly and is patient for you to find your wings again.

Continue to believe in the princess you were called to be until then.
IMG_5218Your royal day has come.

The Princess Coronation invitations have all left the hands of the royal castle.

The tables announce “a princess is coming” in its decorations of pinks and purples, glitter and sparkle at every glance, befitting the kings finest royals.
2018 ayva princess 10Every princess has a seat reserved in her glorious honor.
2018 ayva princess 22All the little princesses waiting to take her place in the kings court have picked out a special dress accentuating her beauty, a gown she wears before the king to receive her crown.
2018 ayva princess 6
Princesses are seated next to their mommies, a royal in her own right as “queen in waiting.” A seat she once sat in attending her own princess crowning.
2018 ayva princess 20Moms and daughters, queens and princesses all share the royal journey of destiny and greatness. Though not always in understanding, they are mini versions of the royal other, a portrait hung in the king’s palace portraying his special girls.
kristy brooke brystolRECEIVE YOUR CROWN.
IMG_6866Receive your crown Oh Special Princess.

Wear your crown with pride and high honor as the royal daughter of the king that you are.
There is no other princess like you, before you or after you.
You are one of a kind.
Take your place at the king’s table.
You deserve to sit with him.
Your seat will forever stay reserved with your name on it.
Spread your wings and soar to your destiny.

Your wings sometimes might appear to be broken but nobody can break a king’s daughter. They’d have to stand between you and the king and the king will never allow that to happen.

Take your place before the kings and queens of your day.
Make the difference you were created to make.
You are beautiful.
You are a royal.
You were born for a purpose.

You are a princess.

In case you have forgotten,
Allow me to remind you.
2014 cova jake guitar cova princess
 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  Isaiah 62:3 ESV

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 ESV


Hello Toby and Phin.

My name is Top Dog Noah, and I will be your mentor in this class of Life Lessons to help you become the best dogs you ever dreamed you could be.

Our class together will leave you with much kibble for thought.

EMBRACE WHERE YOU CAME FROM. IT EXPLAINS SO MUCH.  We as Man’s Best Friends are all adopted.  We were born, loved (sometimes), weaned and given to another family to live in their forever home.

Knowing your birth place, birth parents and initial upbringing reveals so much to your new parents when they try to understand you in your early days of growing up. Your baby pictures are deceiving as you are so cute and cuddly and don’t appear to have a care in the world.  But it doesn’t take long for your fears and apprehensions to surface, causing your parents to wonder and worry about you.  Your parents love you and want the very best for you.  They want you feeling secure when they leave the house for the day.  Your parents want to believe you are playing a game when you hide under the bed, not hiding because you are scared. But it’s ok to be scared at times.  That’s why you are blessed to have parents.  But your parents don’t want you to be scared of them associating an experience from your birth place.  Let me explain.

I was adopted at six months of age, an older puppy for most and I was worried no family would want me as I had hip issues. I also had other issues because I lived alone in a kennel located in a dark barn those six months.  Storms were the worst as I had no parents to hold me and comfort me through the loud and scary noise.

Thankfully, God sent me parents who didn’t recognize hip issues and adopted me because they said I was so cute. I reminded them of their favorite TV dog “Lassie” who were actually looking for their own little “Lassie” for their daughter.  “I was perfect” I heard them saying when we first met.

When that first thunderstorm happened while living in my new home, my parents witnessed me trying to hide in my fretfulness during that evening of loud lightening strikes, yet to my surprise, my parents came to my rescue immediately holding and assuring me I wouldn’t have to experience storms alone anymore. During that initial storm my parents realized that me sleeping alone in a dark barn as a baby caused me to act in my frightened way.

Parents and puppies learn each other’s language quickly so don’t be shy or afraid that they will send you back if you appear to have come to them with problems.

Be confident and secure in the love of your parents as they went to great lengths to bring you into their lives.

You have a place in their heart now. You have a place in the family.  My parents loved me through storms my entire life.  Your parents will love you through yours.


candace baby noah

Baby Top Dog Noah and His Mommy

I was loved from the very beginning. I was given my name by my nanny Gloria who insisted on doing the honors; so Noah it was even if my name doesn’t sound cool.

I was a Christmas present to my mommy Candace who loved and cared for me for those first few weeks in my new home. I slept with her, she took me out for walks.  But soon, her mommy Lori became my forever mommy as I was a bit much for a teenager.  I now slept on the floor next to my mommy who reached for me in the night to let me know she was there.  She taught me to wake up daddy David when I needed to go out in the middle of the night.  I was hugged tight from that first Christmas night throughout my fourteen years of life.


We all have doubts at times about being loved. I understand that.  But look around yourself.  You have a warm bed to sleep in.  There’s food in your bowl.  I am sure you get snacks from the table or take them anyways when somebody’s not looking.  You have warm arms to scoop you up throughout the day.  You have a special name and a special spot on the couch when watching TV together as a family.  You’re allowed to bite your parent’s toes in fun and instigate playtime when they would rather enjoy a quiet evening of reading books instead.   Your make your parents laugh.  They are forever taking your picture.  They fight over you.


It’s important to return the love for your parents as they need a sense of belonging also. Wag your tail when you hear those keys in the door.  Jump up and down for a kiss.  Bark to tell your parents how happy you are to see them.  Make sure you don’t have a mess for them to clean up.  Most of all, tell your parents in your best dog voice ever there’s no other place you’d rather be than home here with them.

toby in tote


Being a puppy is alot of work. Finding your place in the family takes time and work also.  There are boundaries to learn.  Learn the rules of what you can chew as a toy and leave the furniture and pillows alone.  You have to learn to share with your brother and stop eating his food when you’re still hungry.  You have to share your parents and learn when it’s your brother’s turn and not yours.


You’ll realize you will get away with more than you think. You’ll find that being a brother and having a brother to play and sleep with is better than being an only child.  Enjoy the journey as many dogs are without homes and will never be adopted.  You both were two of the lucky ones.

So what if your brother hogs the bed; he is bigger you know.

So you have self-image issues because your brother’s a blond and believe the girls like him more. You are just as cute.  You are just as loved.


Go for the ride. Look out the window and let the breeze kiss your face if allowed (or can reach).  You’re a special dog Toby.  Phin is special too.

noah with face on steps

All puppies need a nap even though you would rather chase your brother another lap around the house and chew one more toy to smithereens.

Naps are a puppies best friend. Your parents need a nap and break from the high energy of two little ones.  Puppies need a nap so they can grow into the dogs they were born to be.  I know you’d rather play and believe sleeping is only for babies, but take it from an old dog who needs his beauty sleep more than ever, REST WHEN YOU CAN.  They’ll come a day you’ll fight for your sleeping spot in the middle of the day.

Toby cute
SWEET DREAMS LITTLE ONE. Parent’s love to watch their babies sleep.  They can tell when you’re in the middle of a dream, albeit sweet or sour.  I remember my mommy brushing my face and fur with her hands when she thought I was sleeping, when actually just laying there thinking of dinner.  lol.  Even still, her quiet gesture reminded me how blessed I was to have her, my home and those adorable grandchildren whom I looked forward to chasing up and down the hall.  Their screams of delight affirmed their love for me.  REST WHEN YOU CAN.  The grand-kids might be there when you get up.


Coming from someone who lived their first six months alone in a scary barn with not a single soul to love or love me, count your blessings to be in a family. My home used to be bursting with little people with little hands who hugged me tighter than I could breathe, tugged on my fur when I’d rather them not, and sometimes rode me like a horse.


I could see them pulling in the driveway from the kitchen window. My tail wagged at the first sight of their smiles and waves at me while still buckled in their car seats.

I can’t stress it enough that love gives you life, and a long happy one at that.

Give love as you receive love. Love your brother and his friends.  Love your parents even if you had to spend a few minutes in your room.


As time aged the children and myself included, I slowed down and they got busier, but still was included in their play. FOR THIS, I AM TRULY THANKFUL.

toby with glasses
JUST BE YOURSELF. It’s ok to want to be cool.  It’s ok to want to fit in with the crowd.  I’ve been there myself.  Never forget though there is only one YOU.  You don’t have a twin to compete with or be replaced with.  There is only one you.

Be comfortable in your own fur. There is a purpose for your size, color, bark and name.  God created you perfect and you don’t need to hide behind glasses or opinions.  Your parents loved you from day one just as you were.  Today is no different.  You can wear the glasses, I still do.  You can wear yours to be cool.  I wear mine because it keeps the glare from my tired old eyes.

noah with glasses
DARE TO BE DIFFERENT.. Sometimes it’s easier to just blend in with the crowd than stand out in it.  But those who DARE TO BE DIFFERENT live a life beyond expectations for themselves.  Enter the Cutest Dog contest.  Go to Obedience School and train for a trophy.  Get free from your leash and prove to your parents you won’t run off.  Stand down when the ham bone is in front of you.  Show your restraint.  DARE TO BE DIFFERENT when the neighbor pack barks up and down the fence.  Wear those cool dark glasses proudly and you keep the peace.  Show the others who’s in charge.  Be a leader.  Make a difference.  BE THE DIFFERENCE.  DARE TO BE DIFFERENT.

Celebrate the inner champion in you. Celebrate the first place blue ribbon family member your parents are crazy about.  Celebrate being different because you are different.  Being different is cool.

brystol hugging noah

One of the perks about being cute Is all the ladies love you. They love to snuggle and kiss you on a moment’s notice.  The ladies will tie their bows in your hair and play dress up and beauty shop.  You have to go along with their fuss to keep them coming.

The little ladies are the candy in your food bowl even if the doctor says to stay away from sweets. Their sugar and spice will bring out the best in you.  Just sit back and LEARN TO LOVE THE LADIES.

I know you’d rather fetch the stick or play catch like tough boy dogs do. But balance your life with a dish of candy from the sweet little ladies.

Wear your dark glasses if you must to not be recognized in public with that fancy bling in your hair.

LEARN TO LOVE THE LADIES as they will always love you back. They are so easy to please.  They nurture babies and you are their fur baby when they want you to be.  Give up arguing and go with the flow.  They’ll put bows in brother’s hair before you blink and you’ll be free to go and hang with the guys.  Until it’s brother’s turn, LEARN TO LOVE THE LADIES

toby and phinn 1

In families you don’t get a choice whether to love or not. You love because you are blessed to have family.  Learning to love each other requires a blind eye to their misgivings.  Whether they drool on you or shed their fur.  You don’t criticize when they leave crumbs all around their food bowl during dinner.  You don’t point out their limitations when your size allows you to jump higher or run further than your smaller brother.  Remember you both have strengths and weaknesses, and love doesn’t notice when the other does it wrong.  Even if you feel like your parents favor one over the other, I promise you it’s not true.


Life is short in canine years. Life goes fast when you’re a dog.  Appreciate having someone just like you to enjoy the back yard with.  It’s more fun to share a ball as a team than to move it around the fence by yourself.

Yes, home can be crowded with both of you barking and playing and wanting to be top dog with your parents. But take it from a old Top Dog myself, there’s enough love for everyone.  Enough love to give.  Enough love to share.  Enough of everything to go around.  You could be alone.  But you’re not.  LEARN TO LOVE EACH OTHER.


Life is too short not to celebrate the little things. Celebrate that bone you get to enjoy after dinner from time to time.  Celebrate the walks in the park or fun in your own backyard.

Celebrate when you get that one on one time in the car ride to the store leaving your brother behind for his turn next time. Remembering you won’t pout when it is “next time”.

Celebrate that you are taken to the vet doctor when you are sick or administered that shot to keep you from getting sick.

Celebrate those special chew toys as they are only given to special boys like you.

Celebrate the strangers who want to pet you because of your cuteness. Celebrate that you brighten up their day when you allow them to make over you, while keeping your growls and attitudes to yourself.

Celebrate that you are wanted and missed during the day. Celebrate that your parents make sure you’re not left alone too long.  They do care about your feelings.

Celebrate that you have a brother to fight with, to chase with, to bother with, to love with, to sleep with. Celebrate your size as being the bigger brother so you can protect your smaller brother.  Celebrate being small as you can fit in tight spaces to hide when you need some alone time.

Celebrate being you as there is only one you.

toby and phinn
NEVER LEAVE THEIR SIDE. Loyalty will always be your greatest attribute in being “Man’s Best Friend.”

noah by bed


Will come and go. At times will let them down.  Their word isn’t always their bond.  Their handshake isn’t a binding contract like it used to be.  Man’s friends don’t understand loyalty like you do.


Lays at the foot of the bed to watch over them when they sleep. They hear those noises outside to alarm the parents.  Man’s Best Friend never leaves your side; you can count on them for life.  God assigns and put families together and Man’s Best Friend fits in like he was always meant to be there; He Was.

NEVER WANT TO LEAVE. While I know there’s a free spirit within like a wind behind you pushing you to run; sometimes far away from home.  We were born to run.  But never allow that free spirit talk you into running away from home.  Leaving home and all that is left behind will break many hearts, especially every time the family sees your empty spot on the couch.

I ran away from home once, not by choice though. I was running from the thunderstorm that scared me as my parents left me outside that day with no place to hide.  I was found but placed in a shelter where my parents were frantic and clueless of my whereabouts.  (Mug shot above).  Because of the internet I was reunited with my family.  Hugs brought me back to life when I thought I was lost forever.


There’s a hero inside all of us. But I don’t have to tell you that.  We have it in us to be TOP DOG.  We aspire to Champion Status.  We want that blue ribbon.  We want to take our place on the stage of recognition.


Champion Status does require obedience and self control to know your place. No worries though, your time will come; your stage awaits when all eyes will be on you.

It’s alright when you want to play and be Silly Dog instead of Top Dog.   You were born to enjoy your life.  But there are moments when you must rise to the occasion to show off the inner you, the Hero inside, the Champion, the Top Dog.

Remember a Champion isn’t judged on size but on character. Champions have control to stand at attention like a statue.  But Champions don’t hold back their feelings when their parents are in need of some love.

BE WHO YOU WERE CREATED TO BE. Don’t pretend to be someone your not.  Don’t choose to be someone else.  You are perfect just as you are.

IT’S OK TO BE ONE.   BUT TWO IS SO MUCH FUN.  Remembering my puppy days alone in the barn, I longed for someone to share my life with during those first six months when it was just me.  While we’d rather not share our food or special treats.  I urge you to realize that being TWO is more than fun, when you’ve experienced the loneliness of being ONE.  Yes your brother will test your last nerve at times, but TWO is still better than ONE.

hollis noah
BE THEIR TV PILLOW. Being fluffy and soft does have the little ones believing you are their safe place to lay.  Your fur is their security blanket and gives them comfort and rest for their weary eyes.  The little ones fall asleep with the lullaby of your heartbeat, just like you did with your mother.

toby pillow
IT’S OK TO FIND SECURITY IN THEIR PILLOW. After all, their pillow is soft and fluffy also.  Their smell left behind brings you comfort and close to them when they are away.  You can get lost under the covers and feel safe as you once did in the womb.  Being their pillow or sharing their pillow is part of being a family.  It’s just what you do


My hope throughout these Life Lessons is that you grab hold of the truth that FAMILY IS EVERYTHING. Appreciating your place, realizing who you are, feeling loved and giving love.  Celebrate with fireworks as you are blessed to have a family.

Be thankful for your address. Be thankful for the family photograph that includes your face.  Be thankful that somebody cares if you’re hungry or cold.  Be thankful that you’re not chained in the backyard and left alone in the storms that I once was.  Be thankful for the eyes that light up when you prance into the room.

FAMILY IS EVERYTHING and jump up and down as you are a member.

Be thankful for those who share your same last name.


Noah by himself

This is the last picture taken of me in my forever home. I look healthy and still handsome as a Top Dog, but I am fourteen years old now and in a bit of pain.  But I never showed my hurt so my parents wouldn’t worry.

My life with my family has been a gift. I have been a gift.  You be that gift also.  Enjoy today as it is a gift.  Unwrap every moment as the gift it is meant to be.

Don’t take for granted what you have been given in your family, as there will be a day, one day, someday of Good By.

You’re never guaranteed a moment from the one you are currently holding in your hand. So savor the small things.  Be present for the big things.  Don’t run away from the hard things.  Don’t worry about the sad things.  God will always be there to help you sort out the cares of your life.

CELEBRATE TODAY. CELEBRATE THE TOP DOG you were born to be.  Embrace these Life Lessons and allow them to mold you into the better YOU.

Love Forever, Noah

Don't dart in front of cars


This past Valentine’s Day my adoring husband surprised me with a dozen roses and a heartbox of chocolates. While most Valentines come bearing an arm full of flowers for their special someone, my husband’s gesture surprised and caught me unaware as I don’t require gifts to feel loved with my love language being quality time.

Nevertheless, roses and chocolates from a man who wanted to say “I love you” in this thoughtful way put an unexpected smile on his wife’s face.

I sure do love the smell of roses.

Bending over a bouquet of flowers like my sweet granddaughter who also enjoys the simple pleasure of drinking in its fragrance too beautiful for words, I’m convinced roses came to us as heaven’s perfume.


Placed in a vase of water with a small kiss from the afternoon sun,
Roses wake in a gentle yawn and slowly stretch as a newborn baby,
revealing its hidden loveliness for our eyes to see.
like this one 2As beautiful as a bouquet of roses are,
The lifespan of cut flowers taken from the vine is measured in breaths.

To frame and capture a vase of loveliness where every bloom retains its perfect softness, vibrant color and perfumed fragrance as a lifetime keepsake is a wonderful sentiment, but the passing of a few sunrises will reveal a roses destiny.

As beautiful as these roses were when they left their garden home,
A few days away from the vine that sustained its life, finds these blooms weeping slightly over, letting go and saying that first good-by to leaves that once provided it shade.
second day

Such is the life we live.

Born into a mother’s arms perfect in every way, soft whose petals of life haven’t opened yet, until morning after morning a mother’s kiss stirs a yawn and a child’s stretch, opening and revealing a hidden destiny before our eyes.

Just as the lifespan of cut flowers taken from the vine is measured in breaths,
So are the days accounted to us; a mere breath.

Life is short.

14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
James 4:14 (NIV)

Life is sweet.

In life we’re given a “heartbox of chocolates” filled with family to enjoy.
candle heart this oneGod our Valentine says “I love you” with those special someone’s given as our Valentine gift, a present of our favorites to satisfy the longings of our heart.

Life is sweet, but the thought remains that life is short,

Both measured in breaths.

May everyday find us bending over a garden like that small child captured by the lure of a flower’s smell; drinking in the moment of every moment she’s blessed with.
ayva smelling flowersBecause
Life is too sweet not to smell the roses.
Life is too short to be taking anything for granted.

Remembering the lifespan of cut flowers taken from the vine is measured in mere breaths.
the end