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


Ever wish you could be a child again and see the world through their eyes?

Ever wonder if you put on a pair of childlike glasses if their “land of make believe” really does come to life?

While we all know their “land of make believe” is just that, “make believe”.

But if I were a critic writing reviews of our grandchildren’s acting performances while playing, I’d give them all “five out of five” stars for their convincing character portrayals.

Children so easily trust.

You give them a pair of superhero glasses and they make-believe they can take out the bad guy.


Give a child a full superhero costume, a shield and their super power glasses, they make-believe they can dodge bullets and jump out the window to save the world.


Putting on their special childlike glasses,

Kids make-believe they are our furry friend.
Cute in my glasses

Kids make-believe they are a movie star.
daddies glasses

With the right make-believe glasses, kids can fix your problems.


A child’s far away world is clearer and within reach of their fingertips wearing make-believe 3D glasses.
3D glasses

Sporting make-believe shades, details are crystal clear to a child and they take attitude, snap their neck and fingers above their heads when we adults can’t “see it” through their lenses.
see through it glasses


Even if a child’s world appears “upside down”, all seems to make perfect sense to them wearing their make-believe glasses.


Children so easily trust.

But in wearing their glasses, trust through their eyes says “seeing is believing.”

Yet God reminds us all, big kids especially, to take off your childlike glasses and see through His eyes, because “believing first is seeing.”

Why is it harder to have faith and trust through God’s eyes than our own?

 Why can’t we remember God’s past faithfulness to trust for his future faithfulness?

Why do we need to wear a special pair of glasses to see what God could do for us, when if we believe first, we will see His Promises in all that he will do.

Why did Thomas doubt seeing the Risen Lord until Thomas
…..put his finger where the nails were, and put his hand into the Lord’s side.
John 20:24-29 NIV

 Why did Martha doubt that Jesus would raise her brother from the dead when Jesus had told her earlier,
“Your brother will rise again.”
John 11:23 NIV

 In both situations, Jesus wanted Thomas and Martha to believe first to see when he had said,

29  ……blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:29 NIV

Why do we ask for or need a sign from God to believe, even though his loving heart does send a sign in our unbelief at times.

Children so easily trust.
Why can’t we?

God would have us all be like little children with childlike faith, remembering though it’s not wearing a special pair of glasses that
We see to believe.

No, it’s ours hearts that believe first through God’s eyes to see His promises.

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 KJV

Oh, to have a childlike faith.
Oh, to be as a child and see Through His Eyes.

aubrey in glasses


I’VE GOT YOU By Lori A Alicea

What child doesn’t long to feel safe in their father’s arms?
What child doesn’t long to feel loved in their father’s words?
There’s just something sacred about this father / child relationship.

No matter the mountain they travel.

jake and baby cova with mountains behind
No matter the journey uphill.

jake and baby cova with mountains behind 2
No matter the moments away from his reach.

Jake throwing baby in air
A child trusts.
A child feels secure in the safe arms of their father.
Especially when falling into the gentle words of his embrace,
“I’ve Got You.”

No matter our age, no matter son or daughter.

A father’s safe arms are comforting as a child’s security blanket following a bad dream of any situation, especially when wrapped in the love of his heart,
“I’ve Got You.”

Though not my father, I remember my uncle’s saving arms following a terrifying moment attending a family gathering when as a child, I fell into a lake not knowing how to swim.  The instant panic and screams of this child had my uncle jumping into the water towards me without hesitation for my rescue, street clothes and all.  The intense scene of a child’s nightmare overcome in her sobbing was soothed in the gentle words of an uncle rocking me back and forth in his arms,
“I’ve Got You.  You’re going to be ok.  I’ve Got You.”

That near-drowning situation found me safe and comforted into the arms I’ve never experienced with my earthly father.  Little girls instinctively long to climb into her daddies lap for no reason at all if only to experience that innocent love in his arms,
“I’ve Got You.”

But we are never found alone in this world without a father, as our Heavenly Daddy is always our safe place to run to, a lap that protects us and comforts us in ways that only a good father understands.

For he alone is my safeplace. His wrap-around presence always protects me as my champion defender…. Psalm 62:6 TPT

 In His presence we are calmed and quieted just as we are in a sweet-sleep resting in our mother’s arms.

I am humbled and quieted in your presence.
Like a contented child who rests on its mother’s lap,
I’m your resting child and my soul is content in you.
Psalm 131:2 (TPT)

Cova sleeping
Though never truly knowing the love intended for me with the man who gave me life called my father, I rest at night comforted in the assurance of whose hands and words hold me close in his love,
“I’ve Got You.”

His left hand cradles my head while his right hand holds me close.
I am at rest in this love.
Song of Songs 2:6 TPT

2018 cova in snowsuit between trees

I’ve got you sweet child.
I’ve got your back.
I’ve got your feet from every fall.
I’ve got your lack.

 No matter the situation,
No matter what seems true.
Remember whose arms you fall into,
Remember forever,

“I’ve Got You.”

Jake throwing baby in air


Ever just feel like you were born in the wrong era?

Ever feel like you identify more with life “back in the day” than you do with life in the present?

I’ve often thought I could have been one of those women; you know that woman in the kitchen called Maw who is married to a man named Paw.

Maw and Paw live on a farm with cows, chickens and goats.

Paw tends the animals and fields with his hardworking boys and little ones “in training” underfoot.
Old Fashioned Pa and the boysMaw and her girls (big and small) share life together in the kitchen, raising babies and making everything from scratch; homemade bread, pies, and all the meal’s fixens.

The vegetables grown by Paw and the boys are canned and stored for winter and all the youngin’s clothes are sewn by hand.
Old Fashioned KidsMaw loves the cool summer breeze dancing through the kitchen curtains of windows that stay open all summer long, not minding the waft up yonder from the cow barn and chicken coop as the aroma of homemade apple pie cooling on the counter soothes the senses. Laundry is hung out to dry on hot summer days, giving that crisp fresh feel on a newly made bed and dinner after a hard day’s work is worth it all with your loved ones seated around the table together.

Maw and Paw live on a farm with their grown children and families keeping house nearby.  Life as it appears in Maw’s mind is painted perfect, albeit “back in the day”, yet that is not Maw’s life she was created to live.

Maw and Paw are really Papa and Gaga who have a wonderful life together, with grown children and grandchildren living amazing lives on their own, just not on a farm with us.

The grand-kids clothes are store bought and for sure not sewn by Maw, for which they all say Amen.

Two of my girls enjoy cooking homemade and one would rather not as a day’s work for her is sanding, painting and refinishing the house.  All three are wonderful mothers creating havens of love for their families, for which Papa and Gaga couldn’t ask for anything more for our grandchildren.

But there are days living in a crowded subdivision that we long for home on acreage room enough for the houses of our children and grandchildren running back and forth to play with their cousins.

But in these moments I have to stop and wrap myself in an old fashioned blanket of contentment, and be thankful for what God has blessed us with in the “here and now”.  Yes, I wish for a slower life where families shared bread and life together more often, preferably in the same state.  Yes, I wish that store bought cookies were against the law and everyone loved food from scratch like I do.  Life would be easier and probably cheaper if I didn’t want to make everything by hand.  As I said, I think I was supposed to be born in another era, well, at least my ways.

But I cherish the life I’ve been blessed with and never want to miss what God has for me even if I could have never imagined it for myself.  God is good and good all the time, in every detail and square of our patchwork quilt of life.

We must all keep that old fashioned blanket of contentment handy whenever we feel a chill of dissatisfaction with life as

… godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6 NIV















Dearest to my heart, dearest to everything I hold true is the joy of sharing a lifetime with that special someone created and chosen especially for you.

The thought of two people walking together side by side and cleaving to one another for life is a love story captured in a

Painting of a thousand words”,

A portrait passed and hung on the walls of the generations for their reminder of the heart of God depicted on canvas,

18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
roverbs 5:18 NIV
looking out of water 1
We’ve all been alone some time in our life.

In our “aloneness”, surely there’s been that longing for someone to share our hopes with, someone to share our dreams.

In our “aloneness”, surely there’s been that longing for a shoulder to cry on, someone to dry our tears.

In our “aloneness”, surely we didn’t want to be alone forever.
looking-out-of-window.jpgEven God himself said,
18 “It is not good for the man to be alone.
will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18 NIV

 The first love story ever written,

God took the man’s rib and formed his soul mate for which the man called her “bone of his bone”.  (Genesis 2:23 NIV)

22Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  Genesis 2:22 NIV
first looks
In whose purpose is to protect one’s delicate heart, a beautiful love story written in the smallest of details when God chose a rib to complete the “aloneness” of a man.

Walking together side by side “for whatever comes their way”,
first walkCarrying with them their

Painting of a thousand words”,

Cleaving to one another and unearthing the hidden treasure of God’s heart revealed from their life together “one step at a time”,

18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Proverbs 5:18 NIV

Love stories are inspired words authored and written on paper.

Love stories are the overflow of one’s heart, spilling onto the pages of that soulmate we cling to.
writing letterLove stories come to life and can be read “between the lines” of a smile.swingLove stories can be witnessed in the carefree spirit of the
“Wife of Your Youth.”
swing 1
Love stories face each other as they face their future together,
are you readyFor whatever comes their way,
For better or worse.
Remembering that nothing can stand between,
nor tear apart,
or come against,
two people united in love.
signing licenseEspecially when your love story is depicted in a
“Portrait of a thousand words”,
looking out of water 1
A love story inspired and written by God.



“Papa, your toes are old.”

Those are fight’n words from our eight year old grandsons inciting a wrestling match on the floor with their Papa.

“I’M NOT OLD you pterodactyls!”, screams Papa as he takes his grandson-foes down and gives them what they’ve been begging for, some friendly fire and laughter between three kids on the floor; well two kids with one big kid at heart.

While it’s true that every day we add another twenty-four hours to our age, on the inside, you’re younger than you look,
2018 ethan 100 years old 1

“If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old.” – James A. Garfield

The biggest kid of all time said it best,

“Laughter is timeless.  Imagination has no age.  And dreams are forever.” – Walt Disney

With ten grandchildren full of energy, giggles, laughter and smiles for days, I can’t tell you the gift of “fun” in my husband who stirs up the inner “party” of these children to play and enjoy the simplest of moments where the only requirement on the playground is an imagination.

Being grandparents for the last ten years and regardless of his day at work, Papa’s imagination and willingness to pour into our grandchildren’s lives and memories are endless.

Papa always says yes for a trip to the park.

Papa is always willing to splash with all his little ducks in the pool.

Papa always has a hidden bag of marshmallows for a campfire and an overnight sleep in the tent.

Papa’s legs are never too tired for a bike ride around the block.

The fish are always biting according to Papa.


Papa is never too cold for the snow.

There’s always enough room on Papa’s lap.

Papa loves to be together with all his babies.

But Papa loves his one-on-one time with his babies too.

But more than ever, Papa has the greatest sense of humor.
papa funnyWhich is the “much deserved reason” why whenever the grandchildren call or stop by, the very first words they say are,
“Where’s Papa?”

While the reality of a grandparent’s age shows in their aches and pains after a bike ride around the block or trip to the park with grandchildren of boundless energy, the “little kid” on the inside who keeps a child’s party going is the real reason why,

You’ll always be younger than you look.
2018 ethan 100 years old
Sadly, you begin to look your age when,

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”― George Bernard Shaw

In our culture that celebrates being flawless, skinny and young, the “gray hairs” of society have been known to become the forgotten; the unnoticed; the wallpaper in the room.

All their experience, their gifting, their knowledge can be taken for granted and discounted as “outdated” or “out of touch.”

But oh how God our Creator celebrates the “gray hairs” of our lives and has new purpose for them in their latter days.

17 ‘This is what I will do in the last days—I will pour out my Spirit on everybody and cause your sons and daughters to prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will experience dreams from God.
Acts 2:17 TPT

God honors long life when He reminds us:

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
Proverbs 16:31 NIV

The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.
Proverbs 20:29 NIV

 C.S. Lewis tells us, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

My Pastor’s mother recently widowed and just celebrating her eightieth birthday is leaving for a mission’s trip overseas in a month.  What a gift to herself in embracing a new lease in her continued walk with God.

New beginnings, new dreams, new purposes are not limited by age.

These blank pages of our journey are God’s reminder that He’s not finished with us yet.  The finish line of our calling is miles and a marathon away and we must keep running and pursuing the dreams God has dreamed for our life.

We will never be “too old” or have reason to retire from God’s ultimate plan.  We won’t give out.  Our earthly bodies can withstand all that is required to reach the end because it is written:

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4 NIV

 We must be found faithful to the end.

Our “gray hairs” must not excuse us from completing our race.

For when our last day on earth becomes our first day in Heaven, may we all long to hear from the Father,

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
Matthew 25:21 NIV



“Wherever we go, whatever we do,
we’re gonna go through it together.
We may not go far, but sure as a star,
wherever we are,
it’s together.”

Lyrics to an old song capturing the relationship of a few of my grandchildren and their security blankets,

“Together, Wherever We Go.”

There’s been Greeny, Pinky, Glanket, and Blankie;
all names for those inseparable best friends
who’ve been dragged behind,
Gone for the ride,

Has a soothing smell,

Is a shoulder to cry on,
ayva crying with blanket

Is their TV buddy,
2018 aubrey blankie

A soft pillow to lie on,

Safe arms to comfort while they sleep,

Together, Wherever They Go,
Security for her insecurity of being a baby in a big girl world.
holding on to insecurity 3

We all carry a blanket of security for our insecurity some time in our life.

It may not be a soft, fuzzy Glanket to find sweet dreams beneath, or a special Pinky to share a fretful moment with.

But we all carry security for our insecurity, finding it hard at times to go it alone without our Blankie of choice.

Little girls and little boys outgrow their fuzzy best friends, yet sometimes struggle to make new friends with the face they meet in the mirror of growing up.

Changes can be awkward, sometimes painful and school kids have no problem pointing them out.  Rich kids and poor kids have insecurities.  Overweight and skinny kids have theirs too.  Hard to imagine for the rich or skinny kids, but insecurities do not discriminate.  Kids find security in the library of studying books, or hours spent behind closed doors of their room.  Kids find security in food or lack thereof, all securities that keep their insecurities hidden in public.

No matter the age, we all carry security for our insecurity.

Some find security in friendships to mask their insecurity of being alone.  Some find security in sleep unable to cope with the insecurity of being awake without that loved one.

Some live life in the security of the fast lane unable to face the painful train wreck in the rear view mirror they suffered relationally a few miles back.

Some burn the “midnight oil” in their jobs as security for all the years of insecurity when forced to go without.

Some find comfort in the security of being immobilized in their lack of confidence after experiencing the insecurity from the fall of “taking a risk”.

Young or old, or middle aged, we all carry security for our insecurity.

As a young girl not affirmed from her father, I struggled with insecurities of facing the mirror.  Wanting to be his princess and sharing daddy-daughter moments together, I was never told by him I was pretty or beautiful, therefore I believed the other must be true.

Looking back at old report cards, I recall the security behind getting good grades; and there were a lot of them.  I loved books, the library and my room, all friends that accepted me just as I was.

But I was forced to face life at school, at church and at home while still hiding behind my insecurity of the mirror.

Thankfully though we have a Heavenly Father who created
…and made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

Thankfully I serve a loving Father who saw me beautiful and wanted me to know so at the family dinner table one night years ago.

Sitting in the same exact seats as we six kids did at every meal around the table, I remember feeling isolated in my thoughts that particular night.  Multiple conversations were occurring between siblings while I continued to eat my dinner.  Nothing unusual about that evening until the room went silent when my older brother for some unprovoked reason pointed at me and spoke up to me with these life altering words,

“Lori, when you grow up, you are going to be so beautiful.”

Why a brother would call me out from my wall of insecurity can only be the move of God.  Brothers just don’t do those things.  But God’s words through him changed my life.

That night for the first time while facing the mirror, I could see myself through the eyes that created me.  I could see the inner loveliness that penetrated the outward.  I finally felt like a daddies girl with these words,

He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

Young or old, or middle aged, we all carry security for our insecurity.

Yet God would have us lay at the altar before Him with only the security of His Presence.

In His Presence we don’t need our security blankets anymore,
as He is security enough.

In His presence we can find comfort.

In His presence, He’s a safe shoulder to cry on.

In His presence, we can follow Him anywhere.

In His presence, we can find peaceful sleep.

In His presence,

My heart and soul explode with joy—full of glory!
Even my body will rest confident and secure.
Psalm 16:9  (TPT)

 God, you are our security for our insecurity.

“Wherever we go, whatever we do,
we’re gonna go through it together.
We may not go far, but sure as a star,
wherever we are,
it’s together.”

“Together, Wherever We Go.”


For most of us facing these unprecedented pandemic times that descended upon the world as a dark cloud when she wasn’t looking or prepared, we find ourselves leaving the onramp and navigating unsettling new territory down the interstate of I-Uncertainty for the very first time.

Just a month ago, high school seniors were anticipating senior prom, graduation and college. Summer brides were counting the days to the wedding they had dreamed about their entire life.  Family gatherings of all kinds were waiting their turn to happen; milestone birthday parties, anniversaries, retirements, etc.  Now these well planned events will remain as unfinished stories, as the calendars of our lives have been cleared and we find ourselves wondering, searching for answers, some panicking and worrying down the interstate of I-Uncertainty.

Decades ago when my country grandmother (MaMaw) was alive, ever so often she’d take me down to the dark and musty cellar, her stretch of I-Uncertainty to unveil those hundreds of old and outdated preserved canned goods of every kind, layered in years of dust and cobwebs remaining from the Great Depression. Her voice still echoing that deep rooted fear from those uncertain times when work, food and money was scarce, my grandmother reminded me while looking at her preserved food from a time in history I never experienced,
“At least we wouldn’t go hungry.”

My grandmother’s canned goods exceed their shelf life months after the Great Depression became a memory, yet she kept them for reasons unbeknownst to me, yet maybe as her security blanket, a personal reminder of God’s faithfulness or quite possibly as her personal altar of remembrance that God didn’t allow his children to go hungry or beg bread.

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
Psalm 37:25 NIV

 These uncertain times find the grocery shelves scarce and in many places empty of needed food. This scarcity is a new experience and has panicked many and somewhat frightened my daughter of three children, who like all parents wants to provide food for their babies.

While it’s a first for even a grandmother my age listening to the cries of the world in panic, a similar story of emotion my grandmother used to share regarding the Great Depression.

It’s during these uncertain times that God calls us to re-visit our altars of remembrance, those altar of stones we erect to remind us of those hard places God has called us out and rescued from, just as our good daddy promised that He would, to build our faith and lift our downcast hearts when driving again down those new and unfamiliar miles of I-Uncertainty in the future.

During these uncertain times we as parents are to take our children and grandchildren to our altars of remembrances, to remind them of the faithfulness of the God they serve; that these stories of our yesterday’s remain alive in their re-telling time and again throughout the generations, to build their faith in times of uncertainty.

The living, the living – they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness.
Isaiah 38:19

To my children,
to my grandchildren,
to my grandchildren beyond,
and to whomever chooses to follow,
I take you to my

Altar of Remembrance,

A place I visit often whenever I need to have my faith built up, when my heart needs to catch its breath, an altar of stones where I worship my God who was faithful to me and my small children when my personal world came to a halt.

These altars of remembrances remind us to be encouraged that the God of our yesterday is the same God of today, and we can rest that He will be our God of forever.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

(A blog I wrote a year ago.)

workout 5
By Lori A. Alicea

Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified …..
for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

For so many of us, this song plays from the radio of our heart while driving the interstate of I-Uncertainty, not able to see the miles of road and what waits ahead of us, with blind spots from every angle.

While tempted to change the station and take the first off-ramp of a detour, our God, our navigator, soothes our fears to keep on traveling and singing,

workout 5
We’ve all traveled that road of I-Uncertainty at least once in our lives.  Chances are the longer we live, the scenery this “stretch of miles” might begin to look familiar.  You remember that billboard passing the first mile-marker to greet you in bold neon letters:

workout 6

You questioned the bold statement so quickly after crossing state lines onto I-Uncertainty.  But it doesn’t take long when you begin to question your surroundings, the unfamiliar you didn’t see on the map or remember last time you were passing through.  But another billboard stands in the distance from the winding roads of bareness you just passed to ease your fears of feeling alone,


I remember driving down the interstate of I-Uncertainty almost twenty-nine years ago.  I never thought the map of my life would have me driving down this “neck of the woods”, a single mom with two small children in the back seat of the car, yet here we were, passing that first mile-marker greeted by a bright billboard of neon letters,

work out 5

I’ve never driven this far away from home before, alone.
I’ve never been on my own before, alone.
What if the car breaks down while I’m alone?

Alone is that “winding stretch of bareness” I saw on the map, though didn’t think much of it until it was me behind the wheel.

Yet to ease that unsettled ache of being alone the many miles ahead was the second billboard with its bright message no one could miss,


While packing up the car for our new life down I-Uncertainty, so much of what we loved would have to stay behind with the limited room in the trunk.

The most difficult to leave behind was that beautiful two acre lot of heaven we as a family treasured making memories celebrating all our events.  Such peace and tranquility of so many mornings sitting outside basking in the beauty of our land while drinking that first cup of coffee.  So many afternoons the imaginations that ran wild with the children’s feet up and down the acres they called home.
wheeler houseNow, their back yard is just a bench that two siblings share and a back yard seat where I drink my morning coffee alone on the weekends.candy jake 007Gone was our peace and tranquility as a looming cloud of suffocation hovered as neighbors crowded our personal space, deafened by the noise of city life with emergency vehicles blaring their sirens at all hours of the day and night.

Feeling terribly alone and abandoned yet that song from the radio of my heart continues to comfort in its quiet hum,

God will never leave you nor forsake you.

Those words rang loudly true once as our car broke down during a dark night when money was scarce because of a job loss and lunch and dinner for the next few days was a pan of leftovers from dinner the night before.  After those leftovers were eaten, our next meal was an agonizing question mark.  My worst fears of being alone came true with the horrible thought of my children going hungry alongside of the byway, with no sight of roadside assistance.

For a mother to look at her children’s face then be reminded of the barren cupboards and refrigerator was beyond painful.


Another billboard caught my attention when that fretful night became morning,

…I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.  Psalm 37:25 NIV


God showed up unannounced and just in time alongside of the road through my grandparents bringing grocery money worth a two weeks supply.
grandma and grandpa houle

I never gave my grandparents my new address; nor did anyone else.
I never revealed to anyone my empty refrigerator.
I never cried to anyone but God my fears.

Yet God got kept his promise to go with me down that lonely interstate of I-Uncertainty.  God kept his promise to never leave me broken down or forsake me as I traveled I-Uncertainty.  God kept his promise that my children would never beg bread the miles of I-Uncertainty.

God kept his promise through a grandfather who months later was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Since that five year journey down the lonely road of I-Uncertainty, I found that in my weakness of being alone and being without, I could be secure and strong in the faithful shoulders of God.  I didn’t need to carry the weights of my burdens for he would do the heavy lifting for me.

I could be STRONG in Him.
I could be COURAGEOUS in Him.
I didn’t have to be AFRAID because of Him.
I wouldn’t travel the streets ALONE because of Him.

My UNCERTAIN days were safe in the hands of a CERTAIN God,
As he is the faithful same yesterday, today and forever.

If the map of my itinerary found me again journeying the interstate of I-Uncertainty, I’d be at peace in my traveling companion who erected a billboard for my confidence,