Nothing delights a Papa more than when his grandchildren call and ask to spend a few hours together around a fishing pole and retention pond you have no idea finds bluegill, bass, and crappies waiting for lunch, with a few turtles taking a bite from your hook when you least expect.
The tackle box is carried by our fishing girls in pink, who each will pick the prettiest lure for their Papa. Gummy worms, spinner-bait, and spoons are irrelevant to them, picking only the ones which sparkle and dazzle their eyes, the lures deemed perfect for the catch of the day. There’s a quick visit to the Country Bait Shop for minnows, night crawlers, and behemoths for whatever the fish might be biting that day.
A short stop off the road, the Country Bait Shop no larger than a glorified shed has been in business for years. Pickup trucks and boats are parked throughout the day before tournaments, camping trips, or a day spent with your Papa, where fishing stories are shared among strangers parked alongside the other before going about their adventure.
After finally finding our spot around the retention pond, it doesn’t take long before those bored faces and crocodile tears express their disapproval for those fish appearing to be taking a nap.
Class is always in session learning patience and contentment for the beautiful surroundings until the catch of the day is tugging on the fishing pole in your hand.
There are those quiet moments though when sitting next to their Papa is more than enough for them.
But it doesn’t take long before the slides and swings nearby have taken his place. Then are those serious fishermen of ours who enter into a self-organized tournament each time they are together to determine if their catch of the day earns the trophy for biggest fish, most fish caught, or unofficial ones who got away, each trying to out-match the other, especially their Papa, for the tournament win.
Papa has learned to show no mercy to those dimples and smiles and guard his pole from those thick-as-thieves grandsons trying to add to their tournament haul by reeling in Papa’s fish from his unattended rod, who’s busy fixing their rods for whatever reason they had.
Such is the patience of Papa who’s been baiting hooks and untangling lines since the days those fishing poles his grandchildren in training held were longer than they were tall; who rarely was seen with a rod in his hand back then after paying so much attention to them.
A Papa realized in those early years that the catch of the day had nothing to do with fish, but had everything to do with those moments you caught during an afternoon spent together around a fishing pole and a bucket of bait.
Yes, the catch of the day are those camping trips your daughters and niece and nephew will never forget, those memories you caught around evening campfires, swimming, bicycling trails, bacon cooked on an open stove, s’mores and yes, fishing with them.
Worms and minnows are a small price to pay in exchange for the time spent with your Papa; whose value continually compounds in the tackle box of memories you’ll carry of him throughout your life.
All those fish a Papa and grandchildren have caught return to the pond they are released to.
I remember being that inquisitive young girl with my grandmother, asking her question after question about love and courting back in her day.
What an heirloom to pass on through the generations; a love story continuing in the chapters of your children’s lives, your grand-children and the greats beyond them.
Matters of the heart are timeless through the centuries of calendars, as we’re all looking for love to share our lives with; it’s just the specifics which date the romance.
Recalling one indelible detail I held onto from those conversations with my grandmother regarding her courtship with Papa, she recounted how he flirted for her attention by riding pass the window on horseback, while shooting his rifle in the afternoon air.
What a keepsake in my hope chest of memories, if only I had taken the time to record my grandmother’s accounts in its entirety on paper.
I didn’t want to make the same mistake with our love story, as stories are those sacred pages written in the family Bible, the history of our lineage documenting the faithfulness of God for the generations beyond our life to take comfort in, to hold onto, to mine the wisdom and believe for themselves when their hearts begin their travels of looking for love.
I was twenty-eight years old and looking for love.
Newly single and a mother of two young children, I was looking for love, but didn’t want to find love in all the wrong places, as my two year old daughter and seven year old son’s future depended on me while I depended on God with the matters of my heart for their sake, as well as mine.
I wish I could have held the hand of the twenty-eight year old version of me during those lonely evenings when the children slept, and uplift her continence to remember, this too shall pass.
I would reassure her that Valentine’s Day won’t always be celebrated seated at a table for one.
I would remind her in this painful separation from love…
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart… Psalms 34:18 NKJV
I would shower her with hope for the new beginnings God has already planned for the three of them.
Although not to overwhelm, I would save the part of the five year wait ahead of her,
Instead, I’d bring a mother’s comfort in the wait she currently endures,
But those who wait on the Lord, Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings of eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NKJV
It was in the waiting where I struggled most.
With my love language being quality time, I longed to share my life with someone wanting the same.
In looking for love, a tug of war with God over the reins of my heart was a constant struggle, yet peace waited for me in my surrender to His control.
In looking for love, somehow I believed I knew what was God’s best according to me,
and wrote about it during the fourth year of my wait, on March 7, 1993.
GOD’S BEST ACCORDING TO ME By Lori A Alicea
As I sit and ponder, And search to see. What truly is God’s best, According to me.
It all comes to mind, In my quiet place. I begin to know him, And sense his face.
He’d have a beard, Kept up each week. To be ever soft, Against my cheek.
He’d stand so straight, But not too tall. And have arms of strength, To protect us all.
He’d enjoy the laughter, And enjoy the peace. And enjoy it with measure, That never would cease.
He’d be so excited, About the children I’ve known. And would treasure their being, And make them his own.
He’d be the likeness of Christ, And bear his name. And be the priest of our home, Just the same.
He’d cover me with prayer, At the start of each day. And I’d feel his compassion, By the words he’d say.
And more important than ever, More important to me. Would be his race towards Jesus, And the heavenly.
And all this is beautiful, What a dream he’d be But this is only God’s best, According to me.
My thoughts are so limited, And ideas so few. And all this together, Would not be dreams come true.
For just as the heavens, Are higher than the earth. So are His ways far greater, In value and in worth.
For it is he that knows my desires, For only he can see. What truly is His best, For me.
And even though on paper, My special needs I state. I must allow the matchmaker, To select my mate.
Another year of waitingon God and with God still remained.
In looking for love, God longed to reveal His heart of love to me before I shared my heart with another.
…God is love. 1 John 4:8 NJKV
“Why did this journey take five years?
I will have to ask God someday when we meet face to face, as the answers haven’t yet been revealed.
But I must confess this five year quest in looking for love developed in me “a strength and confidence” in God I had never known before.
This was so worth the wait.
A wait and our complete love story written in this former blog titled…
SO WORTH THE WAIT
By Lori A Alicea
TRUE LOVE WAITS.
True love “waits on God” for His perfect best, for however long it takes.
True love “trusts in God” the steps he’s planned for your journey, resisting the lead when guided thru the “wrong way appearances” of the back roads.
True love “believes in God” that He hasn’t forgotten you during the lonely hours spent by yourself.
True love “rests in God” no matter our tears as He notices and collects them all in a bottle where not one is lost, recording this in His book of remembrance. (Psalm 56:8 TPT)
True love waits.
Waiting though is easier said than done.
As a single mom of two I never imagined a five year wait for “God’s best in marriage.”
Twenty-eight years old and starting over again was never my plan, nor was it God’s plan. Nevertheless, I am a “lady in waiting” for the second time.
I must confess the countless lies I believed regarding who would want me and my ready-made family. God reminded me over and over though the double blessing His “hand-picked man” would receive bringing all three of us into his life.
For most of the time I didn’t sense the loneliness of my life surrounded by sisters, a great family, church, a few dear friends and all my time filled with the responsibilities of raising two small children.
During the summer months most days on my calendar were filled with Little League. It helped having somewhere to go at night and on weekends, at least for the summer.
School and shift work kept me exhausted but I always saved a reserve of my time, energy and love for that little girl and boy who needed me to be present in their day. We had to go on and God would want us to enjoy life and be thankful in all things.
Holidays were the hardest though, especially at Christmas. I found joy in the decorated trees trimmed with bright lights and sparkle. I loved the Christmas music played on every station. I found warmth beside the fireplaces lit for the ambiance of the season. I too shopped and baked and hid those gifts under the tree. But I wasn’t sending out Christmas cards from the “two of us”. I didn’t share a kiss with anyone under the mistletoe. When you’re not a couple at Christmas you feel like that burnt out strand of lights that went dim on the tree. People aren’t watching, but in your loneliness you just imagine that they are.
Year after year when the New Year’s Eve clock counted down to midnight, I held on to the promises of God that this year might be different.
GOD’S WORD KEPT ME HOPEFUL AS HE IS FAITHFUL
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; Psalms 130:5
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desiresofyourheart. Psalm 37:4
One day I decided to write God the “desires of my heart”. These desires surely pale in comparison to His Best, but these words longed to give a voice to my heart.
GOD’S BEST ACCORDING TO ME Written March 7, 1993, One year before God’s Big Reveal
By Lori A Alicea
As I sit and ponder,
And search to see.
What truly is God’s best,
According to me.
It all comes to mind,
In my quiet place.
I begin to know him,
And sense his face.
He’d have a beard,
Kept up each week.
To be ever soft,
Against my cheek.
He’d stand so straight,
But not too tall.
And have arms of strength,
To protect us all.
He’d enjoy the laughter,
And enjoy the peace.
And enjoy it with measure,
That never would cease.
He’d be so excited,
About the children I’ve known.
And would treasure their being,
And make them his own.
He’d be the likeness of Christ,
And bear his name.
And be the priest of our home,
Just the same.
He’d cover me with prayer,
At the start of each day.
And I’d feel his compassion,
By the words he’d say.
And more important than ever,
More important than me.
Would be his race towards Jesus,
And the heavenly.
And all this is beautiful,
What a dream he’d be.
But this is only God’s best,
According to me.
My thoughts are so limited,
And ideas so few.
And all this together,
Would not be dreams come true.
For just as the heavens,
Are higher than the earth.
So are His ways far greater,
In value and in worth.
For it is he that knows my desires,
For only he can see.
What truly is his best,
And even though on paper,
My special needs I state.
I must allow the matchmaker,
To select my mate.
God is a personal God.
He cares about our thoughts and desires.
One year later
When you least expect, God shows up on the scene of our life.
In our waiting, may we wait with EXPECTANCY.
Be ever confident that God hears and answers our prayers.
And SUDDENLY God shows Himself faithful
By SHOWING up with His Best for my life.
IN A SUDDENLY MOMENT – LIFE HAS NEW MEANING
Song “Suddenly” by Billy Ocean
Video Courtesy of Brad Ebert
As wonderful as this “dream come true” appears, I’m mortified to say I almost MISSED and PASSED UP the best blessing of my life in David when I questioned God and his choice. How dare me but I did. Everyone in my life, especially my pastor, was aghast at my indecision.
God reveals His best after five years of waiting on Him yet I fought an inner battle waged on myself whether I could receive this amazing man into my life as well as my children’s.
Faith required me to believe what eyes couldn’t see.
My trust in God required blind eyes walking.
Another song of my heart is written.
The War of My Own Will
By Lori A. Alicea
I toss and turn and try to sleep,
The night it seems so long.
I try and figure out myself,
To see what might be wrong.
But harder that I make it seem,
This mountain or this hill.
I know I’m fighting deep inside,
A war of my own will.
I see things as I know I should,
I hear His guiding voice.
But oh the path I’d rather take,
The trails of my own choice.
It all just seems so right to me,
The pieces I make fit.
But why can’t I rest peaceably,
And sleep a little bit.
The answers that He has for me,
No doubt will be all right.
But war of my own will goes on,
I can’t give up the fight.
My fight with Him will have to stop,
But who will have to die.
Though all along this fight is with,
One, Me, Myself and I.
He never makes me eat His will,
The restaurant is free.
This gentleman just holds the door,
And only waits for me.
I feel this way as others have,
I know I’m not alone.
For His own Son did feel the same,
His will He did make known.
For in Gethsemane He prayed,
In sorrow He did spake.
If it is possible for me,
This cup I plea you take.
The troubled Son was overwhelmed,
His face fell to the ground.
But in the midst of darkest times,
No chains would make Him bound.
For He did yield His life to Him,
To save the life of mine.
When with His lips He spoke these words,
“Yet not My will but Thine”.
To be like Him, the war would end,
The peace that would be still.
The only words my Father wants,
From me is, “Yes I will”.
After much prayer and repentance, I’m at peace to embrace a new chapter in our life.
Two months after our first date on Valentine’s Day, David and I became engaged and married eight months later on October 15, 1994.
Becoming a family of six, blending lives and hearts meant years of God touching and healing our brokenness in discovery of a new beginning for all of us.
God is so good and faithful.
You can trust Him.
During the lonely five years of my wait and wonder,
God was writing our love story.
I couldn’t see it.
I couldn’t imagine it.
But in the silence God was singing a song on our behalf.
He was preparing our new beginning.
We just had to wait for it with great expectancy.
9 “What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV
David my love,
YOU WERE SO WORTH THE WAIT
28 YEARS LATER
We are still Living Happily Ever After
SOME WEDDING FUN
Twenty-eight years ago bride and grooms couldn’t afford the high cost of videographers; our wedding included. David and I just wanted to get married. All the extras came as love gifts from the hearts of family and friends.
Our sweet nephew Adam, all of twelve at the time, blessed us greatly when on his own initiative visited guest after guest at the reception to record wedding wishes from them to us with a hand-held recording device called a Talkboy.
Listening to these well wishes the “old fashioned” way, I captured a few of them for our delight as parents cherish hearing their children’s voices from twenty-four years ago. Included are a few family members as well.
Have grace for the misgivings of old technology.
Our nephew Adam / Well Wishing Recorder
Daughter Candace’s Well Wishes
Son Jake’s Well Wishes
Daughter Audra’s Well Wishes
(I guess I’m an aunt now…lol)
Son Nathan (No Well Wish Recorded)
Nephew Adam / Well Wish Recorder
Nephew Adam / Recorder stopped any Well Wish that wasn’t PG rating with this:
Nephew Adam / Recorder even got comments from the little ones
You can’t help yourself but feel the love when Diva enters the room, as her littlegirl on the inside lights up and takes center stage as well as your heart.
Diva’s live to the full for which we might want to take notes from her effervescent personality.
Divas are confident and self-assured in her lane, with “Minnie Me” watching and keeping score.
Diva’s stand out among the crowds who notice her on and off the field as a cheerleader in the stands of this game called life.
She loves to laugh and for whatever reason, others embrace the fun no matter their age.
Wherever Diva goes, the little girl who refuses to grow up is following along as well.
Adults, who left behind their wonder and fascination in a child’s toy chest, can reacquaint themselves with their inner child again by hanging out with a Diva.
Diva’s love the spotlight and why not?
Where there are dark clouds and gloomy skies in a person’s day, why not be a bright star to cheer to them up.
Oh risk the fun and take a ride with a Diva.
You’ll discover your happy place the moment you take your seat.
Class is always in session with a Diva.
Their cuteness is contagious and these little Diva Darlin’s graduate in the Sciences of Smiles.
There’s a Diva hidden in all of us.
You’ll find her crowned in “bows and sparkle”, even among our furry friends;
Celebrating each other on Diva Day.
Look no further than your own back yard for a Diva.
A lamppost of love that never dims…
A fountain of joy which never runs dry…
A smile for days…
A ride for a lifetime…
Someone who brings out the best in all of us…
A song was even written with a Diva in mind…
Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.
Well it’s you girl, and you should know it,
With each glance and every little movement you show it…
Love is All Around By Sonny Curtis
Intro song to Mary Tyler Moore show (Made famous when I was a teenager)
I must confess, this blog is a request by my Diva daughter for her birthday we recently celebrated a few days ago on January 18, yet Diva birthdays last for days.
Divas are confident in what they want.
Quite opposite of her mother, I laughed when she blurted her request without blush. But how could I refuse? My daughter blessed me in the asking.
While I could write a book about the amazing mother my daughter is to her three children, living in color with them through the traditions she’s created throughout the year, the illustrations of memories they’ll keep for a lifetime.
This childlike gift about my daughter is one of the characteristics I most hold dear about her. She opens my eyes to see the world from a little girl’s point of view, always at play, enjoying her life.
If my Diva daughter bottled this recipe which holds the world captive in her hands; she’d be rich.
Although, we’re all rich aren’t we when we celebrate the love, the laughter, the joy and the smile in each of us.
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.
In my walk with the Lord, I’m always asking for directions, waiting for the red light to change green across the street of my journey; standing still for the next instruction of my destiny travels.
Because God has a plan for our lives.
A great plan of prosperity, of hope and a future already determined for us. (Jeremiah 29:11)
But we dare not get ahead of Him.
We dare not take matters into our own hands.
We must trust Him in the waiting.
We must not succumb to discouragement in the silence?
For His sheep hear his voice and they know Him and follow when He speaks. (John 10:27)
Because God will speak again, and may this moment find our lamps filled with oil in anticipation and ready to move in our next instruction.
Until then, we must stand still in the timing, be confident in the strategy, be excited in big picture God has already prepared and planned out for us.
When my mother was still with us and comfortable in her Lazy Boy recliner, I recall like yesterday her enjoying a reality TV show called “Amazing Race.”
This show was a race full of teams following one instruction leading to another instruction, taking them all around the world and awarding a million dollar prize to the first successful team who crossed over the finish line.
The instructions were complex.
The instructions had to be followed exactly.
One instruction was a precursor to the next instruction.
There were no shortcuts.
There was no possible way to hurdle the finish line without every instruction completed.
The million dollar prize was waiting to see who would finish their
AMAZING RACE. The Bible re-tells amazing races of instructions, keeping us gripped in the narration to see if these characters would follow the “next steps” which God had given them towards their destiny.
Abraham’s instruction went like this:
1The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2I will make you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those you bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:3 NIV
Abraham’s instruction required him to leave everything behind without knowing where God was sending him. But if Abraham trusted the instruction, God would make him a great nation where his name would be great and be a blessing.
Abraham followed the instruction.
David’s instruction went like this:
17Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 16Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines. 1 Samuel 17:17-19 NIV
All David’s instruction required him to do was take a lunch to his brothers. How many times do we become annoyed by meaningless tasks, not realizing they are actually setups by God to test our obedience.
Little did David know the next step of his destiny was waiting in the slaying of Goliath.
So interesting how God had already prepared David’s confidence to meet the challenge with Goliath, when David had previously slain the lion and bear behind the scenes of his life. (1 Samuel 17:36)
David followed God’s instruction.
Preacher and Author Dr. John Tetsola once quoted:
The instructions you are willing to obey
will determine the destiny God brings into your life.
In my own walk with the Lord, His instruction and Word for 2023 in my life is this:
BEHOLD, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19 KJV
Towards the end of the year 2022 this “new thing” has become more evident and confirmed; but will I obey?
I confess “kicking and screaming”, and “digging my heals in the sand” to this next instruction, complaining in my inadequacies, “Not me!” But I know the amazing race of my life with come to a standstill and my destiny and His instructions waiting ahead hinges on my obedience.
Dr. John Tetsola’s words push me forward as I know they are from God,
The instructions you are willing to obey
will determine the destiny God brings into your life.
The Christmas of 1989 it was just the three of us.
Our first December holiday without the trimmings we were accustomed to and the relocation from the peaceful acreage of our country life to a noisy city apartment in a subsidized housing community would be quite the adjustment; yet we were thankful for the blessings of family and for Jesus, a baby born to us at Christmas.
A newly single woman and unemployed a few months prior could have dashed my hopes for a season merry and bright, but when you celebrate the gifts beneath the Christmas tree of your life, you recognize it’s been a joyous Christmas every day since they were born.
Christmas is a season of giving and the packages exchanged come wrapped as different as the sentiments from which they came.
Raising small children, I wanted them to catch the spirit of giving by putting a new song in their hearts for others, where the lyrics reminds them that as Jesus is God’s gift to us at Christmas, might our bountiful hearts overflow beneath the Christmas tree of neighbors or strangers; even if your mother is unemployed.
With the curtains drawn from the sliding glass doors of our living room, one could see into their neighbor’s home (and vice versa) when their curtains are opened for the day as ours.
Just a few steps between the back doors of our apartments, it was just the three of them also during this Christmas of 1989; a mother, a son and her baby girl.
Sadly on my part, our families hadn’t been introduced to each other and their story, those unread pages of a mother raising children on her own.
But living in a subsidized housing community is a giveaway that money might be tight at Christmas, so I encouraged my little elf’s to find their song of giving to this neighborhood family, and what we might be able to secretly place beneath their tree come Christmas morning.
There’s always something to give at Christmas; whether baked, made, sung, written or bought; even for a few dollars at the local discount store.
Down the road from our humble apartment and within a short distance on foot, we three took a holiday journey together through the snow covered walkways to Christmas town, pretending Santa had picked us up for a ride on his sleigh.
Christmas shopping that afternoon was a bigger gift to us as we left our hopes beneath the Christmas tree to renew the hopes beneath theirs; as my daughter picked out a doll for a little girl, and my son a truck for the boy his age next door, remembering the single mom with a pink sweater for a cold winter’s day.
It was almost midnight that Christmas of 1989 when the lights finally went out from across the yard a few steps away.
Wanting my young son to experience the joy of giving, he stayed awake during the midnight hours with me, filled to the rim of our hearts with excitement, much like the Christmas bag of our wrapped gifts we were about to secretly leave at their back door while the family lay fast asleep.
Waking up that first Christmas morning as a family of three brought a deeper meaning for giving when we terribly longed the memories of Christmas’ past the beginning of December.
We could only imagine a little girl’s smile captured as her eyes noticed a doll beneath the Christmas tree waiting to be held and loved by her; the same joyous smile for the neighborhood boy and his mom.
Nobody knew but us when Christmas came next door as a song from my children’s heart echoing one winter night in December.
God multiplied much from the little we had, when we three were willing to give it away.
One Christmas memory from 1989 is a greeting card I love to mail to our loved ones from time to time; as its inscription and message is timeless for every December 25th of our life.
During the joyous season of the holidays, we all find ourselves sitting in a seat at a table set before us.
Taking our seat where every place setting represents a life in the family, friendship or meaningful relationship around the table.
While Hallmark movies present a picture perfect table for the holidays; in reality, the table of gathering is uniquely set from every heart of the home.
The simplicity of our father’s Christmas table served homemade cookies and cakes prepared from the hands of a widower of many years.
Missing my father and his modest traditions so terribly, I continue to drive by his house every December 24th in the evening, opening the greeting card of Christmas past from across the street, reminiscing through the kitchen window and listening for laughter still baked in the walls when we daughters shared a few hours with dad around his table.
In mother’s later years of life in the nursing home, we girls would join her and the other residents and their guests for a Christmas meal together.
The love of the host overflowed onto her decorated tables for those she served everyday throughout the years, regardless that many of the residents had lost their capacity to appreciate the thoughtfulness in her details.
But God sees the unnoticed and receives it all as if you had done it unto Him.
Somebody loved our mother as we sat with her around the table those remaining December’s of her life; a gift we will treasure for Christmas’ to come.
Some tables set in December have a few tears of sadness sprinkled with the faux snow spread around the winter centerpiece scene, when those seated next to them are thousands of miles away in thought with those they’re unable to be together with during the holidays.
One Christmas, our son ate his holiday meal on the other side of the world from us, actually a day in advance from us while serving his country in the military; although the miles were bridged when a homemade gift from our officer’s hands arrived in the mail the day after Christmas.
A mother’s heart was full during a long and lonely year she hadn’t hugged her son for months.
How do you set a table of Christmas for a mother you’re unable to reach when the doors aren’t opening to visitors?
Where do you find the magic of Christmas when mother’s seat at the table is void of her being; well, at least at her earthly table? Mother found her reserved place at heaven’s banquet table the moment she opened her eyes to Jesus.
Mother’s presence remains in the traditions she created for her children and grandchildren, and in her seat at the card table I now sit at when she left us for a better place.
My husband and I are like little children waiting to wake up on Christmas morning together, believing God to redeem the season from one year ago when David ate his holiday meal from the tray of his hospital bed, while separated from me as I sat alone at my table that December evening because of sickness too.
Regardless of every table set before us…
Christmas will always be about a baby born in a manger, and the joy that filled the earth when our Savior cried for the very first time in His mother’s arms.
God is faithful to us during the holidays, and every day.
God is near to the brokenhearted whose covenant love will reach a thousand generations.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 NIV
For Christmas this year, I’m setting tables.
While I love the sparkle and twinkle of a beautifully set table, I won’t miss the unexpected opportunities to set a table of simplicity as my father once did for us daughters each Christmas Eve, serving cookies and love on a plate for those seated around his table.
All I had was twenty-one days to unpack those stowaway hugs and kisses with not a moment to spare. The pendulum of a grandmother’s clock would sway and tick in perfect harmony with the seconds I had remaining with those four precious grandchildren I flew ten hours over the ocean to see.
Such has been the the life while visiting my military children and grandchildren, where an hourglass of sifting sands measures our borrowed time together; a constant vigil in plain sight from the mantle of a grandmother’s heart.
The mirror of our portraits taken reflects the passage of more than a decade, yet fails to reveal the months we’ve sadly missed and spent apart due to the long and winding miles which separate.
But following your military family from “move to move” has given me a Tom Sawyer adventure I wouldn’t have sought out on my own. The orders of our officer son has taken him from the mountains to the islands, with the nation’s capital in between; and this grandmother has been blessed to go along for the ride.
The islands have been a page torn and written from a place so different than my own. Most kids ride their bicycles to school; or walk the twenty minute stretch each way as I did with my grandchildren. Shoes are optional (seriously); at church, at school, even at Starbucks and chickens run freely and are an unassuming part of the landscape as squirrels are where I live.
The breathtaking view of our son’s back yard is the once-in-a-lifetime sandbox for our grandchildren. The memories they’ve made with a pail, a shovel and an afternoon in the sun.
The islands haven’t been my favorite place to visit, but now as the moving boxes are being packed once again, I’m almost sad for myself that I failed to see the beauty of this tropical place.
My private moments along the sandy shores of the ocean will be terribly missed as the music of the waves comforted my lonely soul when I longed for those missing me on the mainland. This song will forever play in my mind.The final sands of the hourglass have all sifted into a mound of borrowed time and the pendulum of this grandmother’s clock has struck midnight for the final evening with my military babies.
In a few short hours they will walk far from my view and even further from the reach of my hugs. The thought is almost unbearable at times.
I went to each of my babies rooms to have one final moment before kissing them good-night.
How do you keep it together when your little boy begs you to stay for five more weeks?
My oldest granddaughter had no words but her moistened eyes spoke volumes.
Then there’s those little girls who didn’t really understand I was leaving until they woke up crying when they couldn’t find me that following morning.
The dam of my heart almost burst at the airport when my son inquired how the kids did during our final good-by. But the floods overtook me as I gazed out the window during an early morning phone call with my husband, wishing for a return flight into my grandchildren’s arms.
With layovers and connecting flights, I arrived back home on the mainland almost a complete day later (at least it seemed), with a bit of my husband’s heart waiting for me upon my return. I wouldn’t see him until later that afternoon when our reunion took place in the parking lot of his work.
The void of my heavy heart will linger for days until I reacquaint myself with the daily steps of my routine.
I long though for the island where my Hawaiian babies continue to live at their new address until next summer. The thoughts of my grandchildren will consume me until I release them back to God and reach for His peace until we are back together once again for an hourglass of borrowed time.
My son’s new orders will relocate his family in a few short months and the Tom Sawyer adventure of this grandmother continues, wherever the military ride will take me.
The wedding DJ has called for all the married couples to the dance floor for the next selection of the night.
Husbands and wives of every age began leaving their seats as the music to “their song” welcomed and gestured them to center stage.
Crowded on the dance floor were couples swaying back and forth in the arms with the one they said “I Do” to, however many years ago their altar moment was.
Minutes into their wedding waltz, the DJ announced that anyone married twenty-four hours or less must leave the dance floor.
The bride and groom both smiled and laughed as they took their position on the side lines.
The wedding waltz continues and dancing resumes once again.
The second stanza of the song began when the DJ stopped the music and ushered couples married five years or less to join the bride and groom along the outer circle of the stage.
The crowd on the dance floor began thinning out and it remained to be seen which twosome still dancing has been married the longest.
Couples married ten years or less were asked to join the others on the side lines.
Fifteen years or less… Twenty-five years or less… Thirty-five years or less…
By this time in the lyrics only a handful of marriages remain on the dance floor.
The children of parents and grandparents still dancing celebrate the rare treasure before them…
A gift and covenant of…
For richer or poorer… In sickness and in health… Until death…
Will we part…
The DJ’s announcement intensifies with excitement…
Forty-five years or less…
The waltz still plays as those couples on the sidelines began circling as a wedding ring around the final marriage of fifty golden years.
This wedding ring of marriages circling the rare commitment of fifty golden years; a symbol of infinity which has neither beginning nor end; a display of love eternal and endless, and worn on the wedding finger closest to their heart.
This ring made of precious metal; an image depicting the sacredness of marriage, given to their betrothed with deep emotion and sentiment during the most sacred event of their life.
Fifty golden years is a testimony to the eyes who witness this miracle of dedication, two people trusting God during the valleys and mountain tops before them, persevering the journey together with Him in marriage.
Those words of affirmation throughout the years seal and swell their abiding hearts of true love.A novel of words detailing the pursuit of rare pearls and treasure hunt of each other, passing on down thru the generations living beyond them a marriage’s lasting legacy. Their kisses of thankfulness for another day thru the decades together.
Oh, the laughter which feeds their souls as a good medicine; stoking the fire of great joy which warms as a blanket around their arms on a cold winter day.
Holding close their gift of friendship…
Celebrating their nearest and dearest confidant…
Feeling safe with the one who holds the secret keys to their heart.
The wedding waltz continues and serenades the anniversary couple as they
Dance into forever.
Embraced in each other’s arms they’ll waltz from anniversary to anniversary, keeping in time with their covenant of forever until the music ceases to play.
Fifty golden years marks the marathon of miles two people in love have traveled together in marriage.
They are a covenant gift and testimony to their children and grandchildren and eyes of those who have witnessed their rare love for each other…
For richer or poorer… In sickness and in health… Until death…
Years ago, a set of railroad tracks ran east and west through the country acres we were living at the time, whose locomotive whistle called the little feet of boys and girls from the other end of the house down the runway of the hallway in screams of delight, dragging a kitchen chair to their window seat for the few short minutes this parade of train cars was passing through.
From the window view parade a child no doubt longs and wishes for a ride of adventure to the moon and back before their nap.
Adventures these little passengers have taken from those pages and chapters of books who’ve handed them their passports to experience the magic and wonder of the world at their fingertips.
From the window view, there’s a small child in me and probably each of us, waiting and standing in lines which seem to never move at times…
For stamps on our passport to summit our hopes; summit those dreams; summit the mountains to our answered prayers.
Until then, we find ourselves looking and waiting on God.
Waiting with a…
A constant look from the window view for our miracle…
A constant look from the window view for relief for our finances…
A look out the window view for our new direction…
A look out the window view for those things unspoken…
While God is not trapped nor bound by the boundaries of time, the calendar, the clock; we are encouraged to wait as He is a good father who keeps his promises forever.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 NIV
…He keeps every promise forever. Psalm 146:6 NLT
In our Bible we discover many also waited for the fulfillment of God’s promises in their lives.
Abraham waited twenty-five years for his son Isaac.
Abraham also waited four-hundred years for his land of inheritance.
And all those thousands of years we waited for the birth of our Lord Jesus beginning from the prophecy of Isaiah.
But yet, we wait by the window in hope as God keeps his promises forever.
God doesn’t forget the orphan child.
God remembers the widowed woman.
He’s aware of our existing lack…
He hears our silent cries at night…
He counts every fallen tear on our pillow.
He sees His children from the window view and blows them kisses…
Encouraging them to continue their adventures and experience the wonder of God’s promises through the pages of His Word at their fingertips.
While waiting well for their fulfillment from the window seat of their view.
My next door-neighbor of many years and twenty years my senior, and yet our relationship celebrated differing views and perspectives; not competing generations.
Across the street where whistle blowing trains rattled our windows all hours of the day, was an old country street of five houses nestled under the acreage of trees they were built on, where barns, horses, gardens and chickens running loose added to the old fashion charm of a picturesque postcard.
Betty and I began borrowing cups of sugar from each other when she was a young grandmother and I a young mother myself.
As neighbors, we smiled and witnessed from our porches and swing sets the passing of time in the growing faces of Betty’s grandchildren and my children between the two houses.
Betty’s twin granddaughters and two grandsons always seemed to sport a glove and bat for a family baseball game of endless innings in their backyard where parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, each took their position on the field.
My two year old son watched these games from the dugout of his sandbox, waiting his turn to be big enough for the team; my baby girl and I rooted Betty’s grand-kids from the window or lawn chair nearby.
Betty and I loved being home with our children and grandchildren, both sharing the arts of sewing, canning and crafts.
More than anything, we neighbors shared the same pew at heart when our love for God overflowed those morning cups of conversation.
As time passed by, my young children and I would leave the neighborhood in tears and brokenhearted due to an unwanted divorce, but would return years later as Betty’s next-door neighbor, newly married to the man of my dreams.
Sadly, moving back to this old country neighborhood of five houses where whistle blowing trains from across the street would fascinate my future grandchildren, Betty has said good-by in sickness to the love of her life; a marriage of thirty-five glorious years.
In her husband’s honor, Betty planted a backyard tree to celebrate his life and life going on thru nature in its magnificence towards the skies and God; a widow’s place of remembrance for someone she deeply loved.
Albeit divorce, sickness or death, Betty and I continued to share sugar and heartache over tears, conversations, hugs and sometimes sitting in silence as true friends and neighbors feel comfortable to do.
For years I felt guilty for all the celebrations of open houses, baby showers and parties that took place on the front acreage of our property, where life and laughter…
Could be heard and seen from Betty’s house and open windows a few steps away.
Through our intentional friendship though, Betty continued to be encouraged and lifted up, reminding her through scriptures that God promised to be a husband to the widow, a father to the orphan, a redeemer for another day.
Fifteen years later God redeems Betty’s vacant heart at a high school reunion with the re-introduction of an old friend. Betty’s eyes illuminated with joy and happiness unspeakable once again as a little girl, and the two were married in the fall of that year; eventually moving out of the neighborhood to begin their newly married life in another state.
Distance didn’t change our friendship as the miles were bridged with Betty’s cards sent in the mail and my telephone calls to her.
Betty and her new husband would come into town every so often to visit family or attend their favorite quartet concerts, for which they stopped into the old neighborhood for a visit with us.
Not making excuses, but life started happening in those one by one good-byes to parents, grandparents and loved ones and moving two more times for us, somehow losing touch with Betty.
Interestingly, Betty’s cards stopped coming although I didn’t question it, assuming life was happening for her.
Sadly and heartbreaking enough, it was.
I decided to look Betty up on social media after three and a half years from our last conversation, when an arrow plunged my heart in despair after realizing Betty’s account had been moved to legacy status.
Not wanting to assume the worse, I searched the internet for an obituary, yet never finding one in my quest.
Remembering in former conversations of Betty’s wishes to be buried by her husband of thirty-five years, David and I drove to the old country cemetery a short distance from where Betty and I used to be neighbors, only to find that indeed, Betty had passed away mere months after our last conversation.
With only one dirt road winding through this final resting place of a few hundred loved ones, it didn’t take us long to find the headstone of Betty’s last name she once shared with the love of her life.
To my surprise, Betty left behind a love story of a different kind, choosing to be remembered beside both men who stole this woman’s heart in life.
Not knowing for sure, I imagine Betty’s thoughts…
God didn’t forget Betty and she wanted to thank Him by telling the world her beautiful story beyond her absence.
I’m so sorry for the conversations we didn’t have those final months of Betty’s life. I regret not bidding good-by to my intentional friend.
I didn’t attend Betty’s celebration of life and convey to her family how much their mother and grandmother meant to a next door neighbor; only because I didn’t know.
But may these words be the flowers I send to Betty on her life’s Graduation day to heaven, albeit three and a half years after she received her diploma.
Thank you Betty for decades of friendship, for cards, for sharing cups of sugar as next door neighbors do.
I will never forget you.
One day we will once again share a front row pew with God who will tip His heart’s tea-pot and overflow our morning cups of conversation.