BE STRONG. BE COURAGEOUS. BE NOT AFRAID. 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,

 BE STRONG.
BE COURAGEOUS,
BE NOT AFRAID.
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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:

BE STRONG.
BE COURAGEOUS.
BE NOT AFRAID.
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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,

 FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU.

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,

BE STRONG.
BE COURAGEOUS.
BE NOT AFRAID.
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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,

FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU.

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.

BUT I HAD TO BE STRONG.
I HAD TO BE COURAGEOUS.
I COULDN’T BE AFRAID.

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 DIDN’T LEAVE US.
GOD DIDN’T FORSAKE US.

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

FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU.

I’VE GOT THIS By Lori A Alicea

We all have to face that day.
Not one of us is immune or safe from that day.
You can’t block the unexpected phone call from shattering your world.
You can’t hide in a closet from the pain that is coming.
There’s no road far enough to run from the news that will change everything.
No amount of pretending will shield you from the arrows of heartache.
If today is that day
and the pain is too great to wrap your arms around it,
I’VE GOT THIS.

Until we see Jesus there will be that day.
We live.  We die.  We fall down in between.
For every hello there is a goodbye on hold.
There’s no Band-Aid big enough to prevent a heart’s bleeding.
There’s no dam strong enough to hold back the flooding of tears.
There are no words to answer your pleading “Why?”
If you’ve been swept away into this ocean of sorrow,
I’VE GOT YOU.

If today is that day:
Your Heavenly Father’s GOT THIS.
Your Heavenly Father’s GOT YOU.

Take comfort this day.  The one who created the heavens and earth, the one who spoke every star into place with his voice, sees all things and knows all things.
He holds the universe in His hands.
He holds you in his hands.

In him all things hold together.  Colossians 1:17 NIV

HE’S GOT THIS.

 Your Heavenly Father’s also GOT YOU. 
God is so close to our mourning.
He grieves for all of our tears.
So much so that:

You keep track of all my sorrows,
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.”  Psalms 56:8 NIV

Your Heavenly Father’s also GOT YOU in your tomorrow.
He never leaves us nor forsakes us; especially when we’re hurting.
That day will end and tomorrow is coming.
Take comfort, He will always turn your sorrow into joy:

… weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5 NIV

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HE’S GOT YOU
By Lori A Alicea

Your life we celebrate this day,
Twelve years, although were few.
Remembering the days you lived,
And plan He had for you.

Our arms are void of your embrace,
Our hearts, you now reside.
Rejoice the Father’s GOT YOU now,
His arms you rest inside.

 

AS A MOTHER COMFORTS…. By Lori A Alicea

Surrounded by the arms of a mother.  A secret garden of butterflies and rainbows where only moms and kids allowed.  A hidden place of “their” songs and kisses to make it all feel better.  Like quieted birds nestled beneath the sheltered wings of its mother, so is a child who finds comfort near the heartbeat of the one who gave them life.

 As a grandmother peering through the lenses of our daughter’s lives, those angels whose arms are full with our ten adoring grandchildren.  I am in awe of their tangled web of “heartstrings” that tug and pull on a mother’s love to her child and back again.  Mothers hear every cry, albeit faint of her child.  Mothers know the right words at her child’s inconsolable moments.  Mothers sing that song reserved just for the two of them.

This maternal bond is a mystery.

As a mother comforts her child… Isaiah 66:13 NIV. 

Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV.

It was a recent hospital stay for our daughter where I had a front row seat to the “heart-string” tug from our granddaughter Ayva for her mother.  Out of ten grandchildren, Ayva has always favored and found contentment in my arms.  But an inconsolable moment of Ayva grieving the absence of her mother had me dialing for a Face-time call to our daughter.  Just hours post surgery and propped up by a pillow, our daughter’s face on the phone was as a window being watered from a summer rain of Ayva’s tears at first sight of her mother.  Finding solace in their secret garden for two, Ayva’s mother began to sing their special song for comfort.  For a quick second I reminisced our song, “You are My Sunshine” believing my daughter passed it on to Ayva.  Yet the tune “Happy Birthday” was the heart-string that pulled on Ayva’s heart.

As a child of God, we never get too old where our Father doesn’t stop for the cries of his children as “He is the God of all comfort…” 2 Corinthians 1:3.  The love God has for us is personal.  He will meet you at at your moment of dire despair.

I was a twenty-eight year old divorced, single mom of two, when the comfort of God found me during a night of sheer darkness.  Never being on my own before and feeling the weight of caring for a baby and a six year old, I suffered abandonment as a child afraid, wondering the streets.  I was overcome by loneliness; alone, and desperately not wanting to be.  Minute by minute the heaviness of the midnight hour tormented me.  I began sinking in the implosion of my brokenness.  In desperation I cried out for God and His comfort.  As a mother rushing to the side of her weeping child, God came to me and pulled on our heart-string as a “hush” I can’t explain, which stilled and quieted my heart.

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you….”  Isaiah 66:13

Rest in His Love Picture ethan blanket pacifier in fetal position

Moments as You Sleep  By Lori A Alicea

Find peaceful sleep my little child,
Soft blanket rest your head.
Oh hear my voice your lullaby,
And story that I read.

Stay calm and quiet in your dreams,
Your fret the angels keep.
I hover you my precious child,
These moments as you sleep.

Take comfort child when you awake,
You’ll always find me here.
For every cry though loud or faint,
My love forever near.

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you….”  Isaiah 66:13