GOD WITH US!  By Lori A Alicea

The double doors of 2022 are soon to be drawn and the lights will dim to darkness on the past twelve months of our lives.

green christmas tree with string lights
Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Standing still in the doorway while looking over my shoulder one final time as the past three-hundred and sixty-five days of the calendar bid their good-by, I find it a gift to close my eyes and seal into memory the joys and the sorrows, the victories and the trials, the wins and the defeats, the highlights and the lowlights; remembering after retracing the steps of another year, I traveled not alone, but with Immanuel, God with us.

When the clock strikes midnight to a brand new year, and celebrations all around the world transform into snow globes of confetti and balloons; yes, there’ll be cheers, hugs and kisses around the room to those which we love in great hopes of new beginnings; and after those years which proved to be difficult, we all can believe and hope, can’t we?

Which is why when the unknowns of our itineraries are handed out for the year with the mountains still standing before us, as do the valleys, the road blocks, the detours and finish lines; we fear not because we forget not, we travel with Immanuel, God with us.mountains

Peering thru the Christmas windows of my life in 2021, and continuing into the hallways of the New Year’s festivities of 2022, I had to fight feeling alone when I was sick and by myself during the holiday month of December and into January, with my husband fighting for his life in the hospital alone.

The calendar reminded me about dinner during Christmas that year of 2021, where our children and grandchildren should have been seated around the table with us. Yet God was with us still and took his seat around each of our tables, regardless of the miles which separated them.2018 alicea xmas 5

God was with us during those weeks of telephone calls, midnight text messages, groceries left at the doorstep and grandchildren peering thru my Christmas windows with their smiles of cheer.62A6A18C-43F3-4214-81D3-15E8290A974E

Yes, we celebrate God in the good times because our memories dare not forget, and bring to our remembrance His nearness against our tears in the difficult ones.

There were tidings of great joy this Christmas of 2022 when David and I found our seat at the holiday dinner table once again. While our December season together has been a winter wonderland of ornaments and white lights in every room of our house, there have been moments when we’d shake the snow globe blizzard from a year ago in our conversations, though counting and naming our blessings thru the valley with Immanuel, God with us.

My calendar of 2023 is a blank slate where God will begin to pencil in divine appointments, opportunities for reaching neighbors, reminders to call that someone you’ve been putting off.

coffee notebook pen writing
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

There’ll be fishing and sledding dates with our grandchildren regardless of Papa’s hip, craft time with my glue gun and glitter, coffee dates, cousin camp for those who still want to come, gym time with my circle of friends, and Friday night dates with my love.

Let’s not forget those hours set aside to dream new dreams and dust off old ones still vying for my attention, remembering also to reserve time with myself for pampering, resting and window shopping my goals.

Most of all, might my mornings be blocked and penciled in with appointments of prayer and reading his Word as God awaits us in the early hours of our tossing and turning and inability to sleep; His way of starting the coffee and setting an early table for two, where His presence is near, and sensed in the seat close beside…God with us.

photo of flower vase near coffee cups
Photo by NastyaSensei on Pexels.com


Growing up in the Northwest I have postcard memories of farms and acreage framed with miles of an old country fence along their boundary lines,sun house fence

A road of nostalgia which gets lost into the sunset from the mesmerizing eye that follows.fence animals

With grass as a green lush carpet and dew between my toes while walking barefoot at sunrise of my own property, I often wondered with curiosity why farm animals “down yonder” appeared discontented from their reach for what seemed was greener grass on the other side of the fence.fence animals 2 sheep eating beyond the fence

If truth be told, I’m sure we’ve all spent time in quiet thoughts over the years at our fence, reaching beyond the boundaries of blessings, wishing and wanting the mirage of greener grass on the other side of the fence.fence dog child

As God has given each of us the keys as gatekeepers to our personal lives…fence entrance 1

Charging us to be thankful for the abundance which pours from the open windows of heaven…fence xmas trees

While also warning us the danger of leaving our post at our gate for the lure of greener grass beyond the fence…

In my childhood favorite “Wizard of Oz” by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Dorothy ran away from home for a life and greener grass she thought she didn’t have.

After facing the hard reality beyond the other side of the fence, teenage Dorothy Gale turned her heart back around towards the Kansas farm she shared with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em and those farm hands she dearly loved, vowing to never leave again when Dorothy realized her blessings,

There’s no place like home.”ayva dorothy wizard of oz

One summer day about a year ago, my husband David reminded me of our blessings inside our fence and home of 956 sq feet, with two bedrooms and one bath, still needing a storage unit for lack of space.HOUSE VALPO

Discontented and missing our life in the hidden back roads of the country, God opened my husband’s eyes to the abundance He poured from the open windows of heaven for us, with the revelation after helping a neighbor down the street fix the roof of his older home of fifty years,

We’re living like kings!”fence mountains

While the grass may give the illusion of being
Greener on the other side of the fence.

fence animals eating out

We are encouraged to remember…

You may think the grass is greener on the other side.
But if you take the time to water your own grass, it would be just as green.
Author Anonymous

Remembering also to heed the warnings given to us as gatekeeper…

Whoever always looks for greener grass on the other side will never be able to appreciate the green grass that was right under their feet the entire time. One who is always looking for the next best thing will never be happy or satisfied with what or who they have.
Doe Zantamata

fence entrance


Call me an old fashioned girl.
USE - picture of flowers
Call me a keeper of memories,
Fondly looking back to remember my blessings.

USE - picture blessed

Call me someone cherishing life back in the day, my day;
holding tight to the treasures and things of old.
USE - old car
Call me a morning person, retreating to the porch of my dreams to savor that first cup of hot coffee.
USE - porch
Call me out for my love of the simple,
The wild heart of God displayed through his creations.

USE - flowersCall me a Front Porch Neighbor,
Watching from the lawn chair outside my house,
Longing for you to leave your yard and enjoy a cup of coffee beside me.

USE - Dog

Call me back from my memories of neighborhoods gone by.

I recalled such a neighborhood in a former piece of mine titled
PORCH - welcome

By Lori A Alicea

As the curtains of summer begin to draw to a close, it’s been a lifelong comfort when the scattering of summer draws the neighbors back home by fall.

Maybe the piling up of newspapers next door or overgrown grass at the house down the road reminds me that someone in my life is missing, even if it’s a neighbor I’ve probably never met.

Neighbors are a part of your everyday routine, whether you choose them to be or not.  You begin to notice their “comings and goings” by the coincidence of sharing a street.

Once upon a town in places just like Mayberry, neighbors knew their neighbors well.  So well that wives borrowed sugar and milk and watched each other’s kids, while men lent their tools and a hand.

Neighbors introduced themselves to new comers before the U-Haul ever got unloaded, with welcome mats rolled out and homemade soup delivered before nightfall.

Houses back then were never locked and neighbors spontaneously gathered at the loudest porch.

Driving to grandmas in the hills of Kentucky, you’d bet money to catch her shelling peas in her everyday apron, singing hymns on her favorite porch.

Passerby’s” would honk at grandma as she gestured back with a wave, some stopping for conversation and a piece of pie to go with.

House’s today though have pristine landscaping in front with lawns meticulously manicured, no friend would dare walk on his neighbor’s grass, much less invite himself to the deck secluded in back.

Long gone is morning coffee on the porch joined by “cup-toting-neighbors” needing a refill; now it’s coffee served for a few behind the lonely walls of a privacy fence.

Thinking back to a block party a few summers ago, I’m embarrassed to admit meeting some of my neighbors after living there twenty years.  Oh, I’d wave when driving by, but to know the ticking of my neighbor’s clock, I’d need to leave my own yard to hear their alarms; but I didn’t.

That summer afternoon the breeze of winter day chilled my bones for the opportunities I missed to be a good neighbor.

Meals I could have made, lawns we could have cut and snow we should have shoveled when I learned one neighbor became a widow.

Then another family I met that would have benefited from long distance encouragement, while they risked their lives on the mission field overseas.

Stories told.  Details revealed.  Information I should have known and acted on, had I been neighborly.

Addresses are not an accident.  Neither are our neighbors.  As big as the earth is, it’s really a small world of neighborhoods, people needing to get mixed up in each other’s lives, as the mail does in their mailboxes.