IS THE GRASS REALLY GREENER?  By Lori A Alicea

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

BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED…By Lori Alicea

We’re all planted somewhere.

A friendship…
A marriage…
A job…
A community…
Our personal dreams…

Yes, we’re all planted somewhere, but are we blooming?USE Aubrey smell flower 1

Looking back over the last two years when my husband and I planted our lives in this small community, I question our blooming while watering our gardens at sunset.HOUSE VALPOUSE both girls looking back

Gardens grow with love and attention where breathtaking flowers of every bouquet are birthed.

Paintings of wonder are framed in the gardener’s mind at spring, imagining their strokes of color and beauty bursting off the canvas at summer’s end.USE flowers 2

I’ve asked myself…

Have our gardens of neighbors grown and flourished from those seeds of love and attention we’ve planted in them?

Are there bouquets of relationship flowers bursting in color up and down the street because we’ve imagined them at spring?

Have we bloomed in contentment from the address we are planted?USE Ayva smell flower 3

With a brand new house next door (like ours) which has been up for sale these past few months, we’ve intentionally greeted those peeking through the windows with a verbal tour of the neighborhood, occasionally hosting a tour of our home when these prospective neighbors wondered what the inside and size looked like with furniture.

David and I have enjoyed promoting our home sweet home community, sowing seeds of kindness to whom God might be sending to live one house over from us.

F4D79D00-BEBC-45FC-B0CE-1956067563E0

That neighbor finally moved in a few weeks ago, an older woman living on her own with her only daughter residing in Texas; an opportunity to love on somebody’s mother in her absence.

Do unto others

As I would have wanted done for my mother in the same situation.

We’ve made a few friends over the last two years, helping the “older than us” when we can.

David went missing for a few hours last summer when I found him fixing another man’s roof; keeping the homeowner safe in his lawn chair after my husband stopped him from wobbling up the ladder.

You wave at passerby’s in the community, rolling our window down every now and then for a few moments of conversation at the mailbox hub.

We’ve introduced ourselves to those congregating outside
during our evening walks around the park.

You never know what kind of day your neighbors are having; who’ve also reciprocated the love when the weather report on our faces reads cloudy skies.

Kindness is always the cherry on top for a smile waiting to happen.

But the question remains…

Have we bloomed in contentment these last two years we’ve planted ourselves at this address?D9DBC329-22EC-4CDD-BCB0-399F1897C8FE

While we love this charming home God gave us, we desperately long the country life we enjoyed during our early years of marriage.

Every night in the evening, David and I intentionally get lost in back-roads, driving towards the desperate longing that calls our hearts, an excerpt I once wrote about in a former blog…
________________________

THE LONG WAY HOME
By Lori A Alicea

(excerpt…)

The long way home gives you time to reacquaint yourselves with one another, as life changes from day to day as the four seasons do, and one must dress appropriately for the weather escorted in.

Are we there yet?”

Usually not, when the compass of our travels is a constant turn to the east or west down roads where the scenery isn’t familiar and stirs your curiosity for any hidden log cabins to discover.

cabin near trees
Photo by Marcus Murphy on Pexels.com

Then is the map you follow for those log cabins you long to see for the umpteenth time, stopping at the edge of their driveway and dreaming together over a few sips of our coffee, adding a childlike gift to our Christmas list once again this year.

snowy brown house near tree
Photo by Evelyn Chong on Pexels.com

The best seats in the house can be purchased for the price of a few gallons of gas and uninterrupted moments of time except to enjoy and take in the view of nature’s carefree children chasing each other around the trees and deep into the woods of their private playground.

brown deer surrounded with snow covered trees
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com


(excerpt end…)
________________________

For our young granddaughter’s delight, I’ve sown a few rocks in my garden for their discovery…

Rocks of peace, laughter, believing, friends and hope…each glittered to catch their attention.

Maybe I’ve sown these rocks of encouragement for this little girl in me unknowingly.

Sometimes we question why and where we’re planted when you’d rather be re-potted elsewhere.

But we are reminded to find contentment in all things…

…for I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in.
Philippians 4:11 NIV

I’ve also learned these last sixty-one summers, it’s best to trust and be in awe of those…

Paintings of wonder framed with us in the gardener’s mind at spring, imagining those strokes of color and beauty of our lives bursting off the canvas at summer’s end.

Because…

God has all things blooming no matter where we’re planted.

USE Ayva smell flowers 3

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