TRAVELING THRU A JOURNAL OF CONTENTMENT  By Lori A Alicea

He never changes.

He is just, faithful, loving and we can count on him to be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
(Hebrews 13:6-8)

Yes, God never changes.

God is always faithful.

He is our security blanket to curl up in when the winds of change are unrelenting.

God’s unchanging promises is a place of contentment I have drawn peace from my entire life.

I discovered this contentment in my own words, a dusty old journal unearthed from a box of books taken from the storage unit we have begun to purge.david storage

Over the course of my life, I regret not keeping a journal from the joy and sadness of my sixty years. You think you’ll remember but how quickly you forget the details, the emotions, the everyday thankfulness that begs to be remembered in our written words.

So you could imagine what a joyful discovery, an old dusty journal from fifteen years ago; a thirty day time capsule I barely recall writing. Yet, in opening to the first page of my journal, I began travelling down the road of my contentment, my life’s movie replaying while I sat with a cup of coffee to re-live.

Lord, thank you for allowing me to discover these memories I took the time to remember.

Just thirty days of writing and then I stopped, but a month of memories highlighting the faithfulness and contentment of God in my heart.

A few days from April, 2009…

Thursday, April 9, 2009
I woke up at 2:30 am to catch a 4:30 am train into the city to care for my future daughter ‘n law who was having surgery.

Being away for three days was a sacrifice in itself as being away from my husband causes me great sadness. Our love for each other swells our hearts so that to be apart is like breathing without air.

The sweet blessing came later that evening after arriving to the apartment following a long day at the hospital.

My son decided I needed some Christian music to listen to while I cooked in the kitchen. This was such a reminder how God touches hearts.

Later that night, my son bought me a fancy coffee and took me out to see the sights and lights of the city.

Saturday, April 11, 2009
My favorite moment of the day came when the train rolled back into the station at 3:00 pm sharp, only to see my handsome husband waiting to pick me up.

After fifteen years of marriage, I’ve never grown tired of seeing David’s face. He gets more handsome with time.

Our reunion hug was worth the time apart.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Today is tax day and though our taxes were filed early February, this is a day to reflect on God’s faithfulness. May 30, 2008 David lost his job of thirty-one faithful years. Starting over as an older man would prove to be a mountain David faced to climb, but nothing impossible for God.

Emotionally, having David home this last year has been the honeymoon we were unable to have as a newly blended family. While immensely thankful for a full house, returning home from a three day honeymoon to four kids after getting married didn’t afford us the time alone to be newlyweds.

This year together has been an unexpected gift to our marriage. Early morning walks and sipping coffee under the tree. Afternoon bicycle rides through our country neighborhood and savoring David’s famous BBQ’s.

Financially, I am amazed at what God has done to provide. The world views provision through a man’s job. Yet, it’s God’s provision thru a man’s hardworking hands that gives us hope to rest in when your earthly provision is gone. God’s comforting reminder a good father doesn’t allow his children to beg bread.

God has used so many circumstances to show his faithfulness.

Shortly after David lost his job of 31 years, he received a small inheritance. What to do with this inheritance? While unemployed, spending this money on needs sounded logical, though investing in the Kingdom which pays the best dividends was wisdom.

This outpouring came at just the right time and David’s inheritance was sown for God’s purposes.

God is so good.

Though unemployed, our bills have been paid and on time, with enough food to eat.

We do need a new vehicle though. Our van has 390,000 miles and looks like it. The kids want us to pull the plug and get the poor thing out of hospice. But God has a beautiful truck with a big red bow waiting for my most deserving husband when the time is perfect.

We thank you God for reminding others thru our finances that you are in complete control.

Friday, April 17, 2009
Today God, the weather is breathtaking and all consuming. Who could deny your existence?

I love when I can open the windows and hear the birds singing. This is music I can listen to all day long.

Pulling the curtains back to reveal the breathtaking view of country living, we take in the quiet and crisp fresh air thru open windows; although not so fresh when the pigs are out.

But today God, it was all about you. You stopped me with this beautiful day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009
I’ve never boasted a green thumb in my life and with two acres of land; one might imagine a flower or two blooming around the trees or fence line. So last fall I decided to plant pink tulips in honor of my two sisters living in heaven and much to my amazement, beautiful tulips opened up in full bloom today.

What a miracle to me. You plant a seed from which new life comes. How dare we ever think our efforts go in vain?

My sisters would be proud of their tulips.
IMG_7836
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Today, I stayed home from church with a bad cold. Something I don’t do often.

Having a personal worship service at home with God, I was taken back to the pews of my Southern Baptist roots when gospel greats were sung from the old fashioned hymnals.

The days of my youth when mom and her six kids sat together worshiping God. Though I wonder how much worship took place in the passing of notes back and forth.

But surely God moved on our pew row of kids as mother raised us six to serve Him. A few of mother’s kids have deeper testimonies than others as they took the road more traveled than less. But a road we all met again down the journeys of our lives.use Church directory picture

Saturday, April 25, 2009
Been home all day alone and while this isn’t my favorite plan for a Saturday, I’ve been left behind with my coffee and thoughts and a time of reflection of how blessed I am for the “noises of the house” and for those that make them.

I’m reminded when the house is quiet, how life could change in an instant, leaving the house forever in silence. This gives me pause to appreciate those who make my life complete.house wheeler

Monday, April 27, 2009
There are a few jars to fill; a few bags of frozen strawberries from the summer before. Together they will be a jelly gift from my hands to the table of those who have blessed me.

I’m giving a jar of my childhood memories when mother and her five daughters gathered in the kitchen to put away fruit for a cold winter’s day.

While kitchen art might be a thing of the past, it’s the best part of my summer and couldn’t imagine skipping this mid-year tradition I’ve enjoyed my whole life.

Great is Thy Faithfulness
By Thomas Obadiah Chisolm

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Closing the journal I am reminded from its cover,

It is never too late to be what you might have been.
George EliotIMG_7832

Thank you Mr. Eliot for your encouragement, your words of inspiration for me to begin keeping a journal, even in this autumn season of my life;

To keep in pursuit of my writer’s dream while keeping in perspective of time,

Day one or one day.
Michelle Parlos

 

ROSES EACH DAY, AND EVERY DAY!  By Lori A Alicea

There’s a local florist near home who absolutely has the corner market on love.

Accompanied with every bouquet of roses is his smile and a few words to add to the card; words you recognize from the pages of a heart who knows true love himself and wants to share this love with others.

White roses for innocence and everlasting love;
Yellow roses for friendship and joy;
Pink roses for elegance and sweetness;
Red roses for true love and romance;

A garden of roses colored in every beautiful shade and hue paints the portrait of this local florist nearby, whose life as my husband expresses himself in friendship, joy, sweetness and true love as a bouquet of flowers, as a special delivery of
roses each day, and every day
to me and others.

david and lori 1

For some, it might take a special pair of glasses to see long stem roses wrapped in the ribbon of everyday tasks my husband blesses me with. For others, the fog might never clear.

But a heart of deep contentment and gratitude can smell the roses my husband gives while cleaning the dishes or braving the winter cold so I don’t have too.

serve doing dishes

serve de-icing car

A morning delivery of roses await an opportunity to appreciate the loving hands that serve me; to smile at the efforts of an amazing man regardless if his laundry folds ever pass a Martha Stewart inspection.

serve doing laundryI’m not the only one receiving roses each day, and every day.

A papa of ten grandchildren makes sure they each get their special deliveries too.

Papa hands out roses reaching for their hand, allowing the innocence of children to take him wherever they wish.

walk 1walkIt’s coming up roses during story time and car time with just the two of you.

play readingplaying with cars

Long stem roses are car rides with papa to wherever your heart desires.

play train ride

play snow plough

Roses from papa take adventures in the deep; adventures down the hill or adventures around the track.

playing swimingplaying sledingplaying riding go-cartA personal tour of papa’s rose garden is enjoyed during birthday celebrations and family hour around the dinner table with him.

table 1

jake david's birthdaytable 2Papa’s girls are vases of pretty pink buds that bloom in their special time together.

time 4

time 5play riding bike 2Sometimes you don’t see or smell the roses rolling out play-dough, waging a war of Nerf-guns, swatting the bat in baseball or working together with papa. But looking back at the pictures you realize papa’s rose petals where scattered everywhere.

play with play doughplay with gunsplaying baseballdeck david and jakeTo his prettiest girls, papa gives the dearest wedding bouquets in song and dance.
singing at Nate and Kristy's weddingCumbee-806Papa even commissions Elvis to personally deliver the finest and most exquisite roses in song to his anniversary girl.
singing at our anniversaryPapa hands out roses when he BBQ’s.
Papa hands out roses when he laughs.
Papa especially delivers red roses when he never says “no” to crafts.
bbqlaughcraftingMy Valentine and me with twenty-seven years together has been a lifetime delivery of
Roses each day, and every day.

Accompanied with every bouquet of roses is his smile and a few words to add to the card; words you recognize from the pages of a heart who knows true love in Christ himself and wants to share this love with others.

Papa’s roses of the ordinary and mundane might be mistaken for another flower.

But in the eye of the beholder,

david and lori

I’ll always see

Roses each day, and every day.
flowers

Discovering More in the “Less Than.” By Lori A Alicea

It’s all about perspective…

Cup half-empty…
Cup half-full…

It’s a choice we each make when measuring
The abundance or lack in our lives
By the full line of our cup.

Photo by NIKOLAY OSMACHKO on Pexels.com

A conversation we’ve engaged in,
Or at a minimum, harbored the thoughts where…

More money, bigger house, fancier car,
Designer clothes, high profile career…
Speaks to a cup half-full…

Where less than speaks to a cup half-empty.

I confess those difficult seasons where I’ve viewed my cup half-empty.
My clouded cup held up to God for clarity becomes clear
When I allow Him to lead me to the place of…

Discovering More in the “Less than.”

…remember, it’s all about perspective.

The last three years have been quite the journey for my husband David and I.

Traveling the road of uncertainty while following God’s direction one step at a time for our next address, we found ourselves earnestly praying these words together at night…

Fill our cup Lord,
With wisdom and understanding,
That we might be overcome by it all.

book opened on top of white table beside closed red book and round blue foliage ceramic cup on top of saucer
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Fill our cup Lord
With faith,

Because…

Faith Sees Farther beyond what eyes can see.

Faith hopes.
Faith believes.

Faith Sees Farther because:

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

(words from my blog… Faith Sees Farther)

man walking in the forest
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Fill our cup Lord,
With complete contentment,
As our cup overflows with
Your love and abundance.

white and pink ceramic floral teacup with saucer
Photo by samer daboul on Pexels.com

Fill our cup Lord.
Amen.

 I write after three years of us on the road of looking and seeking, we announce our new address with much excitement and with equal parts of reservation.

Seated and dining with God as He lovingly serves us our cups of answered prayer,
I’m embarrassed to admit we both faked a smile at first glance of a cup half-empty…
Or so it appeared.

Not at all the house we waited for, imagined for or had faith for.

A house we’d have to appreciate looking through the lens of His eyes to
Discover the more in the “less than”.

photo of teacup on top of books
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Sometimes the less than is the cup half-full.

Less debt, less time driving to work, less maintenance,
Less years of employment until retirement,
Less distance from our kids and grandkids,
Less health problems for David because the home is brand new.

Lord, help us all to see our cup as you fill it.

May we notice the extravagance, your generosity, and be overwhelmed by the splashes of your love because your pouring never stops.

Cup half-empty???
Cup half-full???

Photo by NIKOLAY OSMACHKO on Pexels.com

With God…

…My cup runneth over.
Psalms 23:5 KJV

Because….

 …I have come to give you everything in abundance,
more than you expect,
life in its fullness until you overflow.
John 10:10 (TPT)

teapot and teacups with tea and honey on tray
Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

 

AN OLD FASHIONED BLANKET OF CONTENTMENT By Lori A Alicea

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