PRETTY IN MY DADDY’S EYES?  By Lori A Alicea

Am I pretty daddy?

Her words, whether spoken or hidden under the covers of a daughter’s heart, she wonders…

Before her father, she smiles and spins as a music box dancer in her fluffiest dress, with arms stretched out and wind catching her curls as she twirls to the song of her princess ball, yet still wonders…

She wonders each morning as the windows of her deep blue eyes are opened for him to notice…

Am I pretty daddy?USE Girls together no cape

Little girls long to be noticed by their daddy.

No matter her age, whether crawling around his feet or dancing in his arms on her wedding day, a delicate rose among a hillside of splendor whispers under her breath for a father’s attention,

Oh, pick me.”USE flowers

Take me to the dance.”

Be my special date.”

Am I pretty in my daddy’s eyes?”USE Kyle girls flowers

Daddy’s are the fairy-tale in their daughters magical world. USE Decorations CarriageDaddy’s write their story she’ll remember for a lifetime, a book for which his little girl holds the key, with pages she begs him to read each night at bedtime, always starting from the beginning…

Once upon a time…USE Decorations Once Upon a Time

Tell me, tell me, tell me.” She begs him to repeat.

Tell me about our date.”

Let’s go back to the dance through the pages.”

Remind me of all the details I can’t bear to forget.”

While you read, I’ll close my eyes and we’ll be at the princess ball together again.”

There’s something about daddy’s and his intentional time with her.

One can’t buy this time.

One can’t wish this time.

One can’t put off for another day this time.

This time happens because daddy’s make it happen.

He schedules the date.

She picks out her prettiest dress.

Daddy gets fancy too.

Daddy queues the music.

Daddy twirls her.

Daddy notices her.

Daddy dances with her.

Daughter is pretty in her father’s eyes.

They dance until the clock strikes midnight.

I can’t imagine any girl not wanting to be the princess of her lifelong fairy-tale.USE Cinderella Princess Girls with princess

Girls reveal their princess desires in childhood dress up, while playing in her mother’s closet, while walking in the heels of her mother’s shoes.

While dancing in their daddies arms.

Yes dads, your princess waits every night at bedtime to hear her story, the story you have written for her by noticing her, by loving her, by being that Knight on a White horse, by picking her, by seeing her pretty in your daddy eyes.

USE Cinderella Goodnight Girls in bed

While daughter’s hold the key to her fairy-tale book, a daddy holds the key to his princess’ sweet dreams, when kissed by him and the things dreams are made of.

Because a Knight with a White Horse pursues his daughter’s heart.USE Daddy Daughter Dance photo

Because a daddy writes their story she’ll remember for a lifetime, a book for which his little girl holds the key, with pages she begs him to read each night at bedtime, always starting from the beginning…

Once upon a time…USE Decorations Once Upon a Time

COMEDY TO THE CAR LINE  By Lori A Alicea

We’ve all been there.

Overworked.
Overly exhausted.
Sleep walking thru life.

With looming questions amid the days fog,
How did I get home today?”
Did I feed my kids?”

But after a day’s rest and sanity returns,
You pull up a chair and laugh at the comedy act
Your life has been the previous shift.

Thirty-six years ago as a shift-working mother of two small children, I’d love to re-play the comedy series of getting to work before midnight in the blistering snow storms of winter, with wind gusts at my face and hair blowing in all directions, barely holding on to a crying baby wrapped in swaddling clothes (maybe a snowsuit) and a five year old up the two acre driveway in knee deep drifts to the car.ALICEA David Lori

Half asleep, I’ve signed my share of permission slips in crayon.

No doubt I’ve been reported to the Department of Transportation many December mornings back then after a midnight shift. For them to be on the lookout for a crazy woman with the window down, driving and smashing her face with handfuls of snow; when in reality, waking up a mother’s tired eyes both fast asleep.

Yes, life can be a comedy act and it does a body good to laugh.

I’m a grandmother now, reliving a once young life and humor through her adult daughter and family with small children in what could be promoted as a hilarious series, “Comedy to the Car Line.”

It’s true, I am the most unlikely critic for humor after being told over the years my “funny bone” was left behind as a child in a lost and found box, yet I still find this seriously funny.

While names and images have been changed to protect these parents both sleep deprived and frazzled, I introduce to you the cast; a mom and dad of Big Sis, Lil’ Sis, and older brother Buddy.

What started out as an early morning pick up of Lil’ Sis before her two other siblings left for school, turned into a forty-five minute comedy act of laughter I kept to myself, as sleep-walking parents don’t find much funny when their pillows and covers cry out for them.CUMBEE Aubrey

Returning home from a stretch of twelve hour evenings still wearing his work clothes and coat, half-awake at the kitchen counter, dad packs lunch boxes and book bags for three young children, while mounds of unfolded laundry stare back.CUMBEE Kyle

In constant motion, I keep my eye on mom who wears the carpet thin from the miles she puts in from the living room to the bedrooms located in the back, exhausted from the weeks of packing their home for the upcoming move.

Big Sis is performing a circus of continuous cartwheels next to Lil’ Sis, who watches Monsters Inc. for the umpteenth time while eating her breakfast of cinnamon rolls.

As Buddy body slams the bedroom door while dunking basket after basket, Lil’ Sis’ with her scarry school in session insists on sharing her mother’s delicious homemade recipe of cinnamon rolls with me…first you pop it out of the can…

Big Sis lands a final cartwheel into her signature splits, arms up, eyes facing judge grandmother who watches, “Your turn Gaga”, Big Sis commands, “for the splits.”

This young girl who once did flips, back-walkovers, back handsprings and everything else gymnastics in school, dared to demonstrate to Big Sis the splits as a grandmother a year ago, still able to walk to the car after my performance; a feat Big Sis and big brother Buddy beg me to repeat against my insisted “no.”

Mom, whose messy hair half-secured in a barrette with hands gesturing dad’s slow pace of making lunches, passes the kitchen to the give Lil’ Sis a wardrobe change from her breakfast spills in the bedroom.

Body slamming the bedroom door continues as Big Sis reminds her sandwich making dad she has gym today; yet Buddy dunks another basket and corrects Big Sis simultaneously that she has library, while echoed from the back of the house mom reminds dad it’s his turn in the car line, for which he counters back with the roll of his eyes.

Forty-five minutes of constant motion, a hurried morning of sleep walking parents in desperate straits for the school bell to ring, so they can refuel under the covers of sweet dreams.

Remembering my days as an exhausted parent, I offered to drive to the car line, for which mom and dad both blurted out the hallelujah chorus, sending their kids to the van thirty minutes early.

Arriving to the elementary school for the first time, I questioned Big Buddy if I park behind the van in front of me, for which he retorted, “You mean the Cadillac?” “Well”, I huffed in silence, “the emblem says it’s an Escalade.” “Gaga!”, I hear from the backseat of my car. “No wonder Papa says he’ll never use you as a game show phone-a-friend.”

School is in session and now it’s just Gaga and Lil’ Sis for a quiet ride home for a few hours together before I drop her off at preschool.

I spent the day laughing over and over, re-telling the hilarious story to my husband, replaying the Comedy to the Car Line series to my well-rested daughter a few days later.

Yes, life is brief; it’s a vapor the Bible reminds.

The years of raising young children pass by as a fast moving train; the tracks of your heart left barely traveled in the midst of a blink of an eye.

Yes, life can be a comedy act and it does a body good to laugh.

So…

Always find a reason to laugh.
It may not add years to your life.
But will surely add life to your years.
Author Anonymous

STEPPING FROM DOLLS AND BOWS INTO HEELS By Lori A Alicea

She’s not a little girl anymore.

Brooklyn

This little girl

Has been cocooned in her father’s heart these childhood years, hidden and protected while the hand of her heavenly Father has been molding and fashioning and never taking His eyes from her as she becomes the “fearfully and wonderfully made” young woman He envisioned and imagined from before her birth.

Brooklyn and daddy 6

This little girl
Who’s been set apart from anyone or influence who dares to hasten her wings and sacred time with an earthly father who shows the way in her knowing, the trusting and hearing the voice of Christ more clearly; leading his little girl to abandon her heart to Him before those maiden flights finds her beyond an earthly father’s reach.
Brooklyn praising Jesus
A childhood of dolls and bows are now journal entries from days of yesterday.

Tear stained pages of prayers from a father laying bare his heart on the altar for his little girl.

Petitions mirroring back God’s promises of hope and prosperity for his daughter’s future.

Tied together with a little girl’s surrendered will to God’s plans before her.

Be the wind beneath her wings which lift her soaring high as eagles.

A butterfly emerges her cocoon into this beautiful woman standing before me.

The faces of my little girl are now a gallery of framed pictures in the secret place I retreat to when I long to remember those eyes that once looked up and followed me everywhere I went.

My little girl walks past the closed door of her childhood, taking those first few steps thru an entryway as a young woman, a butterfly seeing the beauty of her life for the first time through new lens.
Brooklyn and daddy 3
Her mother and I we celebrate the sweet life and sixteen years of a child and gift God loaned to us parents, recalling His charge we raise our daughter in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Decorations 1

Today we celebrate what God had given to us sixteen years ago.

But are reminded of the giving back to God’s arms and plans the day we dedicated our little girl to the Lord.

This day our butterfly is seen for the first time dressed and crowned in all her glory; a banquet opening its doors to a place of grandeur for its guests to celebrate and behold her.

Bouquets of roses billow from the arms of a father presenting to her the love he’s expressed on many occasions prior.

A father sharing a first dance with this young woman he’s shared the evening before at daddy-daughter dances, holding back his tears of that dance yet to come on her wedding day.

Our little girl kisses good-bye her childhood of dolls and bows.

brooklyn and brodie 1

Stepping into the heels of a young woman crowned befitting her beauty.

She may not be little anymore, but forever etched in my sight is daddies little girl.
Brooklyn and daddy
A father’s heart hasn’t changed and still overwhelmed for his little girl as when he spoke on her 13th birthday.

What can I say! I am a proud father of two beautiful girls that I love so much.

Brooklyn, my first. What a great opportunity for me to learn what it was to be a dad and how to love unconditionally. Since the first time I met you at three years old until now, has been an amazing journey. You have been through a lot, but I am glad that I was there to help you get through those difficult times.

I want you to know that you have given me a gift that no one could ever take from me, and that was adopting you as my daughter. The crazy thing is, nothing has changed for me because you have always been my girl from the moment I met you.

I’m proud to see God working in your life, and I hope your mom and I are doing a good job showing you how to live a Christ centered life. I’m proud of who you are and most of all, I’m proud to be your dad!

I love you!
Love Daddy”

A butterfly emerges her cocoon into this beautiful woman standing before me.

Presenting for the very first time,

A woman dressed and crowned in all her glory,
Fearfully and wonderfully made,

Our daughter,

Brooklyn Nicole Alicea.

Presentation of Brookln

TOGETHER…and always…By Lori Alicea

You know her…

That girl you grew up with and led inseparable lives from morning ‘till night, until the dinner bell rang her home.

That girl whose shadow followed you from the swings to the monkey bars of the playground, where one was never seen without the other.

KIZZIE ROSALEE same seat

That girl who shared a pea in your pod; and everything glitter from your imaginations.

That fun loving girl whose zest was that added ingredient from the spice rack of your friendship.

That Together…and always

You both…

Lived well,
Laughed often,
and loved much;
By Bessie Anderson Stanley

KIZZIE ROSALEE holding hands walking

You know her…

That sister…
That daughter…
That neighbor…
That confidant…
That co-worker…
That neighbor…
That pen-pal…
That cousin…

That one person completely opposite and day-and-night from you;

Yet that one person who filled in the chapter blanks of your once in a lifetime friendship.

A relationship written and framed around these words…

Friends are kisses blown to us by angels.
Anonymous

Eleanor Roosevelt
Said it even better…

Many people will walk in and out of your life,
But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.

Together…and always…

Friends are a treasure trove of unopened surprises.
Rosalee Kizzie on boat 1
Friends see the world through each others eyes…
Rosalee Kizzie on boat 2
Friends hear their song played in a different key.
Friends interpret life in a dance all their own.

Friendship is an adventure willing to take an uncharted journey to an unknown destination; as the travels of friendship finds you…

Together…and always…

That girl who smiles in the calm and still found by your side when the swells overtake is a friend…

who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 NIV

As seasons take their turn to keep watch during winter…spring…summer and fall…

Friendships must keep watch during those seasons which hand over the baton and changing of the guard.
Mountain view
The unexpected visitor of good-bye shows up unannounced and without warning sometimes…

Summer camp is over…
Leaving for college…
A job change…
Moving…
Marriage…

Death…of a friendship…
Death…of one of us…
Rosalee Kizzie hugging
The sun may go down on the friendship between you and that girl, but friendships are never forgotten in the night…as morning always remembers.

The distance of miles may separate but the longing for one another keeps you close at heart.

Friends are worth the adventure, worth the risk of the swell.
KIZZIE ROSALEE waves
While the picture of my friendships might not resemble a class reunion.

I have been blessed with a few snapshots handpicked by God for me to share life and death with, marriage and divorce with, kids and college with, and so much more.

These Godly friendships pour into the cups of each other’s lives while sitting across the table from one another over coffee.

These God-like friendships are sometimes infrequent calls, yet pick up right where we left off from the last conversation.

Friendships that remember me every Monday evening after dinner for years just to say hello and end with an “I love you.”

Million dollar friendships I can’t wait to re-kindle when we cross paths again on the golden streets of heaven.

Friendships that know when my refrigerator and finances are unexpectedly low, and unload their overflowing trunks to restock me once again.

True friends whose hands refuse to let me go in my pain and emptiness.

true friends that leave their footprints in your heart.
Eleanor Roosevelt
KIZZIE ROSALEE holding hands water keep
God continues to fill my basket with friends who need me and they in return.

Who…

Together…and always

Lived well,
Laughed often,
and loved much;
By Bessie Anderson Stanley

ME AND MOTHER’S BOXES By Lori A Alicea

It was just a small question I needed answers to, although I hadn’t a clue how God would reply.

Was I searching for a “needle in a haystack?”
Did I even know what I was looking for?

I kept my question secret between God and me.

The diary of my longings under “lock and key” and for His eyes only, as He alone understood more than any the personal matters of the heart.

Using mother’s spare key, I entered her house that spring morning without my usual knocking or calling out her name. I didn’t come toting a cup of coffee to join her for breakfast as I usually did.

In the early hours, a light show burst thru the living room windows, warming me and bidding me “good morning”.

Yet while this sunshine tried its best to cheer me up, I couldn’t push past that seared memory of mother taken away days prior by ambulance, forcing a family to reconcile their mother wasn’t ever coming home; at least not to this address.

Clumsily under both arms I clutched boxes, both big and small, with a van parked in the driveway full to the roof of more boxes, scads of bubble wrap, shipping tape and sheets of wrapping paper by the hundreds.

Living one street over, my hands were empty, not carrying those homemade meals prepared and delivered to mother’s kitchen table I had been known to do these last few years.

No, this visit was a first for me, a hard reality. I showed up unannounced on mother’s vacant doorstep to pack, to take and empty from her shelves, drawers, closets and cupboards, and place into boxes the wrapped treasures and belongings of mother’s home now headed for storage.

As siblings we shared in the great responsibilities of mother’s care.

As a stay-at-home-wife I took on the task of closing up this haven we as children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, extended friends and family all called home.

Packing during this difficult time was a gift.

Packing was my quiet way of saying good-by, to reminisce and remember home for the last time in “my way”, comforted in the company of mother’s things, even if this farewell was a first farewell of many yet to come.

Overwhelmed before the first box was ever filled, I paused in silence and reached for mother’s Bible found in its usual place beside her chair. Opening the pages at random I read:

The Lord our God is near whenever we pray to him.
Deuteronomy 4:7 NIV
grandma in chair
Yes, the Lord is near, especially near to the brokenhearted.
He was as close as I allowed Him to be,
Ready to listen; ready to answer.

Surrounded by the memories of mom, that question surfaced again, a question impatiently waiting its turn to be asked.

We all have questions, don’t we?

Questions tied to our past; questions that need to step forward and be heard.

But you have to be bold, find your inner strength, muster the courage and blurt out the question.

“Lord, is there anything in this house you want me to have?”

It wasn’t a question of inheritance.
I wasn’t interested in things or earthly treasures.

What I was interested in though was God’s heart filling in a few blanks of my heart, Him finishing a few sentences from the script of my life I had no idea might be incomplete.

I had no clue how God would reply.

I was searching for a “needle in a haystack”; an answer that could possibly be found among mother’s things.

What I was looking for?
I honestly had no idea.

As the middle child of five girls with an older brother, there were no lingering questions of love and acceptance. Yes, together we were a big family and we had to find and sometimes fight for our individual voice and place.  We didn’t grow up with riches, but we were rich in ways money could never afford.  Any loose ends from the fray of my memory have been tied in a bow, leaving only good thoughts under the cloak of my childhood.

Maybe what I wanted though but didn’t realize growing up, was God needing to complete the sentence relationship of mother and me with not a “period”, but possibly a heart emoji, a kiss of the heart, or a gift of affection.
25th anniversary me mom and davidA gift I wanted to believe could be found hidden among mother’s boxes.

The week long packing began.

Room after room my silent farewells to mother and who she was in this home.

Mother was the heart of our holidays and her kitchen.

Mother was one of a table full of honored pillars seated at the royal place we named the “senior table.”

Family to mom was remembering there was always room for one more person.

Mother’s fervent prayers, throughout the day and midnight hour, kept our family together.

Mother’s things and treasures filled a total of sixty-five boxes. I held the accumulation of mother’s life in my hands piece by piece and released them each with a personal good-bye to the bottom of another box.

Now these boxes would find a new home in storage until mother was able to let them go herself; boxes hiding a piece of our mother’s heart in these closed and stored chapters of her life.

All of mother’s rooms; in all of mother’s belongings and I never found that “needle in the haystack”; what didn’t I see among mother’s boxes, what did I miss?

That “knowing” in me kept pressing and pulling those heartstrings of mine as a prompting to keep looking, keep asking the questions.

Two years later with mother’s blessing, her sixty-five boxes found their way out of storage and into my house to be emptied, contents individually pictured and itemized on a spreadsheet for these belongings to be chosen and disbursed to family.
boxes of moms stuffHere we go again; the hello’s and good-byes of mother’s things.

Once again I pray,

“Lord, is there anything in these boxes you want me to have?”

Two years hadn’t faded my memory of mother’s boxes.
Like old friends I knew them well, by name, by history.

“Lord, is there anything?”

 One by one, box after box, finding their way to the front of the line to be emptied.

Bittersweet as the last remaining chapter of mother’s life in box sixty-five is about to become a new book on somebody else’s shelf.

 “Lord, open my eyes to see.”
 “Is there anything here for me?”

 Held in my hands was the last remaining treasure among mother’s boxes.

An old jewelry box filled with mother’s mismatched pieces of costume necklaces, earrings, rings and broaches, jewelry I remember mother wearing vividly when I was growing up. A jewelry box displayed on her bedroom dresser, a familiar piece I cleaned for decades as mother’s housekeeper.  I knew it well.

The hidden finds inside this jewelry box rewind the 8mm collections of me as a child playing dress up with mother’s baubles and beads.

For the final time I prayed,

“Lord, is there anything here you want me to have?”
 “If so, open my eyes to see.”

 I sigh…I take a breath…There it was.

Like an old photograph buried in the dust of time prompting a double-take and closer view, I stopped in the moment to remember.

Held in my hands a gift from God, bewildered I hadn’t noticed it during my years as mother’s housekeeper, even more bewildered this gift was in plain sight during the packing.

A sweet sixteen present from her mother and father,
A birthday celebration for my mother,
A beautiful watch with the inscription and sentiment I had never read before,

“To Our Loving Daughter”.

Beholding this gift up close I knew without question,
God didn’t want to give me treasures,
God wanted to give me words,
God longed to breathe these words of affirmation upon my life,

“To Our Loving Daughter.”

Most endearing of all was the phrase,

 “To Our”.

Our, received as two people, my mother and father; my heavenly Father.

To be loved, to be known and referred as daughter.
To celebrate her life.
Lori little Birthday cakeAfter talking with mother about the watch I discovered and its significance in her life, she expressed a desire to share its sentiment and pass this gift onto me.

“Lord, I am forever grateful you knew what I needed even while I was unaware.”

“You completed this “mother-daughter” sentence with a heart emoji, a kiss of the heart, a gift of affection, an inscription and sentiment, a love letter simply written for which I cherish more than you know,”

“To Our Loving Daughter”.
25th anniversary me mom and david