FROM THE WINDOW VIEW  By Lori A Alicea

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.

brodie ethan window diapers

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…brystol window

For stamps on our passport to summit our hopes; summit those dreams; summit the mountains to our answered prayers.

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Until then, we find ourselves looking and waiting on God.

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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…ethan looking thru window

A look out the window view for those things unspoken…sistersayva aubrey looking out window

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.2019 alicea brystol brodie peeking out window

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…USE older younger rosalee kizzie 2

Encouraging them to continue their adventures and experience the wonder of God’s promises through the pages of His Word at their fingertips.

book reading book 1

While waiting well for their fulfillment from the window seat of their view.brodie ethan window diapers

IN SHOWING UP  By Lori A Alicea

We’re all showing up somewhere each day for the fulfillment of our dreams, our passions, our gifting, our destinies, our hopes, our callings…to bring God glory for His Kingdom success…

Showing up…To hit a home-run with our dreams…USE Ethan bat 2022

Showing up…To aim into the hoops of our passions…USE Free throw line

Showing up…To master the moves of our gifting…england juzitu 4

Showing up…To soar into our destinies…USE Hollis Skateboarding arms in air

Showing up…To scale the pyramids of our hopes…IMG_4428IMG_4424

Showing up…To take up our towel and serve…Brookes Cookies 004

Showing up…To conquer what stands in the way of our calling…USE THIS Brystol on mat

Showing up…to ride the waves towards a Kingdom success…Rosalee Kizzie on surfboard

Showing up requires and demands of us years of faithfulness to steward the gift God has given to bring Him glory.

Showing up faithfully when the spotlight on your years of dedication takes place when no one is sitting in the stands to applaud your efforts.

Showing up faithfully even when the confidence of others looks the other way from the inexperience they see in you.

Showing up faithfully and facing fearlessly into the waves of a dream bigger than first imagined.

Showing up faithfully as a child in their lack of training, but willing to grow and glean the excellence from their Master.

Showing up faithfully when you wonder if this is your dream after all, but showing up anyways, confident in the steps God directs; trusting that one dream might give birth to another.

Showing up faithfully year after year, fainting not in the wins, the losses, the strikeouts and home-runs of your spirit.

Showing up faithfully in the risk and dangers of those falls and failures; turning a deaf ear to the voice of quitting.

Showing up faithfully and celebrating the small wins and successes of a bigger dream.

Showing up remembering it’s never been about our gifts after all, but about the giver who bestows to us our gift.

Because there will be those days and seasons of drought when you inspect and question the fruits of your labors, the yields of your harvest, the strength of your spirit to continue sowing into the dry fields of these dreams.USE Hollis skateboarding spill

But we are reminded to call on Him and be encouraged in these thirsty seasons…

And let us not grow weary while doing good,
For in due season we shall reap
If we do not lose heart.
Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

USE Brodie prayer

As we show ourselves faithful, God will kiss back and show off even more faithful.

To the faithful, you show yourself faithful…
Psalm 18:25 (NIV)

Just this past Sunday, our Pastor had a prophetic word of encouragement for those faithful laborers who show up…

SUCCESS IN THE KINGDOM
By Pastor Ron Johnson

Success in the Kingdom is about our faithfulness, it’s about showing up, it’s about making good choices, God honoring choices and repeating that over and over again…

You just keep showing up, keep being faithful, and keep improving every year.
Then you’ll step into a season of exceptional favor from the Lord.

Yes, God really rewards and hands out medals to those found faithful…

If we faint not;
If we do not lose heart.

Until our race is over…

We must remember…

Continue to show up at the plate…
Show up at the free throw line.
Show up the mat…
The park…
The gym…
The stove…

Show up…to ride the waves towards a Kingdom success…IMG_4385

Wherever God has called you to show up at, show up and jump as a fearless child into your calling.IMG_E4347

Though much is required and demanded of us during these faithful years of showing up.

We joyfully steward the gift God has given us to bring Him much deserved glory.

 

A YEAR FOR NEW BEGINNINGS  By Lori A Alicea

After opening my 2022 calendar and glancing over the 365 days of blank pages before me, I’m greatly encouraged as blank pages are opportunities for fresh starts, re-writes, course corrections and re-imagined visions.

While we chart our days though, there’s a continued trust in a wonderful Father, making room and leaving margin for those steps He’s already ordered before the year even approached with an awesome plan for us in mind.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Psalm 37:23 (NLT)calendar use

This time of year, hideaway places everywhere are painted and blanketed with snow glistening as undiscovered diamonds in the afternoon sun; a winter’s postcard most eyes will never see nor feet ever trod.

snow forest Yet depicts the paths waiting for those with fresh vision to forge;cumbee ethan little snow lawnmower

Leaps of faith to climb new heights;england cova between trees

Daring courage to free fall into the unknown;2018 england winter 3

Fight with tenacity against the opposition which begs to stand in your way.

Belief in yourself enough to leave an irrefutable mark in a undiscovered winter’s postcard.cova little snow angel

Entering through the door of another calendar year, we’re greeted and kissed with opportunities waiting their turn for us to finally say “yes; beckoning those willing to move from their couch of complacency and begin taking those steps of faith God’s voice has been leading into the unknown for years; a place where God’s dreams for them really do come true.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT)kizzie walking with sisters

Lassoing a year’s new beginnings and forging a path where feet have never gone before; at least not yours, is not for the faint of heart.

Contending for vision means challenging what’s difficult, resisting the couch of complacency, and standing your ground when it’d be easier as in years passed to surrender to the fear of failure.

I’m preaching to myself as I stare into the blank calendar days of 2022.

I dare not throw away another planner of missed opportunities; opportunities sadly I didn’t prepare for had they dared to cross my path.

Lord, fill my days and mind with your thoughts of me; the encouragement I need to believe in those steps you’ve asked of me, you’ve ordered for me.

Lord, let me see with clarity the secret strategies an army of ideas must possess to win the war against those oppositions of a God given vision.

Lord, you’ve reminded me my tool belt of gifts is adequate and complete for the dreams you’ve asked me to conquer; as the difference maker in all of this is not my abilities, but availability to you.

Even above these dreams you have for me, the paths you’ve asked me to walk are one step at a time.

Lord, it’s remembering to turn over the knotted and hanging strands of my dream’s tapestry, to see the big picture of those hurting, those desperate and without hope for a loving God, to bring you glory through those you’ve sent me to reach and touch with the plans you have on my life.

Lord, it’s never been about me.

It’s never been about success, money or accolades to accumulate; as this all rusts and burns in time.

Lord, keep reminding me and showing me the quick vapor my life is; the short moments I have to bring honor to your name; to make you famous throughout my life.

Lord, fill up my calendar this year with opportunities I can’t bear to miss this time.

Draw me to yourself when distractions dare to take me otherwise.

Lord, let me be a witness to those I’m unaware are watching; those wondering the source of my smile, the fountain spring of my joy.

I’m greatly encouraged for the blank pages of opportunities, fresh starts, re-writes, course corrections and re-imagined visions of my 2022 calendar before me. calendar useI continue to trust in my wonderful Father, making room and leaving margin for those steps He’s already ordered before the year even approached with an awesome plan for me in mind.

I pray for all of you reading and taking in the words an Almighty God has inspired me to write for myself, my children, grandchildren, and you.

May the year of 2022 in your life bring glory to our Lord and Savior who loves you more than you know.

I appreciate those who follow me and SHARE these words when felt led to.
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May you allow God to begin filling up your calendar and feel free to COMMENT what He has laid up your heart.

OUT FROM NOWHERE  By Lori A Alicea

God is always speaking.

God’s voice leaps off the pages from His written Word.
God’s words are echoed through the beauty of nature.
God’s thoughts are heard as an impression placed on our heart.
Our loving Father even speaks in an audible voice.

But we must be willing to listen…
In a posture of stillness…
In a state of patience…
In a intimate time to receive.

Yes, our God is always speaking.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 (KJV)

While travelling down a country road one summer morning with my husband, this cornfield caught our attention, though a familiar sight in the state we reside.

We pulled off to the side of the road and realized God was delivering a small sermon from the fields of this outdoor church.

Facing the first few rows from where God spoke, we sat in
Stillness from the church pews of nature’s sanctuary, to catch a message from the canvas’ He taught from.

Listen in on God’s sermon already in progress…

Out from nowhere there it is.

Attitudes we believed we had buried…
Fears we thought we could hide…
Disappointments kept to our self…
Worries we wrestle with in the dark…

And yet…

The fields of our lives are an open field
To those seeds we have yet to surrender to God.

Seeds which germinate and reproduce each planting season until our Father is granted permission to plow up the ground of our heart and cultivate a new thing.

Behold, I will do a new thing;
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall ye not know it?
….
Isaiah 43:19 (KJV)FIELDS OF ATTITUDE

Out from nowhere there it is.

Those dreams you sowed in seasons of yesterday…
Dreams you dared to have dreamed…
Dreams between you and God that seemed to bear no fruit…
Dreams still waiting their turn for a harvest…

And yet…

God says, “Look out at the fields for which you’ve planted.”

The roots of your faith have watered those dreams and kept them alive even when the seeds of your dreams appear to lay dormant.”

Yet are springing forth…

Be confident in me…

Behold, I will do a new thing;
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall ye not know it?

Isaiah 43:19 (KJV)

For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Luke 1:37 (KJV)FIELDS OF DREAMS

Out from nowhere there it is.

In the distance you barely recognize the crops your garden grows…

From far away, unknown hands have been cultivating and preparing fertile soil for you to receive, to be fruitful in the things of God, planting this heritage from generation to generation on their knees and watering in tears those…

Fervent prayers from your parents…
Prayers of God’s promises from your grandparents…

Don’t you see the answered petitions of the generations springing forth?

Behold, I will do a new thing;
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall ye not know it?

Isaiah 43:19 (KJV)

One generation commends your works to another;
They tell of your mighty acts.
Psalms 145:4 (NIV)FIELDS OF THE GENERATION

Out from nowhere there it is.

Don’t you see it?

A picture of fruitfulness…

When we die to ourselves daily…
Death to our attitudes…
Death to our fears…
Death to disappointments and worries.
Dying to self that Christ can live and be fruitful in us…

Through our dreams He has dreamed for us…

Through the seeds of promise we plant and water for the next generation…

unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone;
But if it dies, it bears much fruit…
John 12:24 (ESV)

Behold, I will do a new thing;
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall ye not know it?

Isaiah 43:19 (KJV)

FIELDS WHO YOU ARE TO BECOME

SMALL BEGINNINGS  By Lori A Alicea

Dreams have to start somewhere.

You enter the race at the starting line like every other runner,
with no fast track to the finish.

Books are written and read one page at a time.

The corporate ladder is climbed one step at a time.

We see ourselves at the mountain peak, yet a “dream come true” takes their first steps at the base.

All leaders share a common story of small beginnings.

Don’t despise your small beginning at the lemonade stand level,
because dreams have to start somewhere,
so why not start with excitement at the beginning.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”Zechariah 4:10

ayvas lemonade stand

Your dream’s beginning is a perfect place to write and establish your vision as a road sign of encouragement for those to see who are running this race with you.

Small beginnings remind us that dreams are slow in “coming true.”

Runners grow weary when the finish line is further than they prepared for, a mile marker where some contemplate giving up on their dream.

But your vision’s road sign of encouragement will be that needed drink to quench their thirst of weariness along the way.

ayva lemonade party 14

Write the vision; make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end – it will not lie.

If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:2-3 ESV

Small beginnings require confidence.

Small beginnings require a belief that we are qualified in the first place, a belief that God picked the right person for this dream job when the resumes of others scream more qualified.

When God hand selected Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt’s bondage into the Promised Land, Moses drowning in all of his self-doubt responded,

I have never been eloquent….I am slow of speech and tongue.”
Exodus 4:10 NIV

O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”
Exodus 4:13 NIV

Our God, who knows us more intimately than anyone else when He fashioned us in the womb, should raise a confidence from within that we are perfectly called.

A Heavenly Father wants a childlike trust that in our weaknesses,
He will be our strength.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT

Dreams are a series of small beginnings.

One small beginning crosses paths with another small beginning, with God at times asking you to reach for more, to swim out into the deep, going beyond what feels comfortable.

Author and Motivational Speaker John Maxwell quotes:
To succeed in life, we must stay within our strength zone, but continually move outside our comfort zone.

When you least expect it, your lemonade stand adds a beautifully decorated table for the thirsty,

And additional yummies to the menu.

Small beginnings require faith and obedience for every step of the way that God has called us to take.

God speaks.
We listen.
We obey.
God speaks the next step.

Sometimes in the dream journey though, it seems as if
God has stopped speaking and gone silent, causing us to question the next step.

Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church
Asks the same question in his “Frequency Series” on hearing God:

Have you ever been in a place where you felt you weren’t hearing God?
Then go back to the last place God spoke to you, and ask yourself, did you obey?”

This happened to Jonah as recorded in Jonah 1-3.

The Lord instructed Jonah to go to Nineva and preach to the people regarding their wicked ways, yet disobeyed and went to Tarshish instead.

A huge storm arose in the boat he traveled and Jonah found himself thrown overboard, swallowed into the belly of a huge fish and deafened by the silence of God.

When Jonah repented, the Lord caused the fish to release him then spoke again the same request that Jonah disobeyed the first time silencing the voice of God, “Go to Nineva.” This time Jonah obeyed.

Dreams can come true but we must remember:
Small beginnings
can’t go any faster than “one step at a time”.

Welcome small beginnings, and not despise them.

Write and establish the dream’s vision as a road sign of encouragement for those that have chosen to run this race with us.

Be confident in our belief that God has called us to this dream fully and perfectly qualified.

Be expecting our small beginnings to cross paths with other small beginnings.

Be faithful and obedient to God’s voice and direction in every step.

Be in great anticipation beyond what you could have ever imagined.

ayva lemonade party 30

Rejoice, because wild dreams from God do come true,
when we faint “not” in our steps of
small beginnings.

RENEWAL VOWS AND HONOR TO MY BELOVED HUSBAND By Lori A Alicea

On a beautiful crisp October afternoon and surrounded by our close friends and family, my husband David and I recently celebrated 25 years together in a Wedding Vow Renewal. While we could have taken a lavish vacation instead, or bought a diamond ring or anything else spent on just the two of us, we chose to celebrate our 25 years together honoring all that God has blessed us with.

In my wedding vows to David, I opened up our album of life together and played a montage of 25 years of love and happiness with him portrayed through my words. Words are containers for encouragement, inspiration, edification, and life.  For anyone who was listening, especially our children and grandchildren, it was a deep desire that my vows and words honor David, to also be a testament to God for the marriage he has so richly blessed us with, and also be a takeaway for anyone secretly needing a special word of encouragement for themselves.

RENEWAL VOWS AND HONOR TO MY BELOVED HUSBAND
(Complete version from the condensed version spoken at our
Wedding Vow Renewal)
By Lori A Alicea

Twenty five years ago, I married the man of my dreams. Little did I know how my dreams would unfold, spending every minute, hour, day and year of these twenty five years with you.
wedding married DAVID AND LORIIf I could say anything, at least for us, marriage is wrapped up in the little things. We aren’t rich, live in a fancy house or drive a fancy car.  In fact, the two biggest rust buckets are parked outside as we speak.

But our rust buckets, or Johnny Junks as our kids called them back in the day, embarrassed them when we picked them up for school, or loaded them full of bikes and camping equipment for vacation.

The reason our twenty five years together have been so magical, is because we have embraced and mined the love and gold in the little things. Here are just a few of the highlights.

When our girls were little, you’d blow dry their hair after baths on Saturday before church on Sunday. I can still see them in your long white tea shirts.  Written on the backs of both shirts with a marker was a big “A” standing for Audra, one with a “C” standing for Candace.  I guess the girls were worried we’d mix up their jammies.

Two months after marriage, you began bailing me out of my craft jams and learned to use a glue gun, sew, or help me engineer any craft problem I was having. You were even helping me fix these centerpieces just yesterday.

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You would secretly take the boys to the movies when you were supposed to be going to men’s class.

Fun could always be found in your back pocket.

You were never too tired to take the girls to the park when they were little.

Now we live at the park with the grandchildren.

Once, I turned my back only to find Audra and Candace in a water fountain splashing around. Hello people, do you want to get arrested?  I was always the Debbie downer.  But you kept the fun alive and hence, all our memories.

Though my kids have a dad and we will always honor that, you have been the best version of a dad that any mother could have ever wanted for her kids.

When I used to clean houses, you never batted an eye to go with me and help on your days off. All my lady clients wanted to hire you and fire me as you noticed and fixed all their broken “whatever’s”, though you were never asked.

When we first got married, you told the kids we would all eat whatever I served at the table, even if the rice in my earlier days looked like oatmeal.

Combining ethnic backgrounds, you learned to like biscuits and gravy. I learned to like rice that wasn’t Uncle Ben’s style.  You’d even eat bologna if I served it.

You learned to speak my love language of quality time by sitting for long periods of time over coffee.

You opened a small store at work when Jake was going to college so you could take your spare change and fill up his tank with gas and ashtray full of quarters before he left each time for school. Your spare change helped pay a small portion of his college.

You and Candace thought you were funny when you dropped me off for one of Jake’s track meets only to go to the movies instead. Not realizing the race would get over before your movie, leaving me stranded in the dead of winter in a corn field.  That was some ride home.

When the kids got older, you’d fix their cars, help paint their houses; whatever they needed. Only payment required was that they fed you lunch so you wouldn’t throw up as you have such a sensitive stomach.
nate and david fixing carYou have been the Best dad to your son. You call him every day while you both are driving among many other things.

You are a wonderful and loving dad to our “son ‘n love” Kyle and “daughters ‘n love” Kristy and Crystal.

Though we are a blended marriage, there have never been any “steps” in our family. The only “steps” in our house are those that lead to the heart.
wedding married DAVID AND LORI AND FAMILYIt was so hard when our kids began to grow up feeling the nest wrestle as they left one after the other, and it became just you and me. We drowned in the silence and loneliness as we missed them so much; funny though, in time we learned to love just being the two of us.

But then the grandkids started coming. And there we were again, going crazy over these babies that God entrusted us to love and tell them about him.

Now life started having real meaning.

Nothing was ever a “no” with you when it came to our children.

When the military moved Jake and his family to Washington State and he needed his car driven to him requiring a three day journey through the crazy mountains that freaked me out, you said, “Let’s go.”

When our broken hearted daughter Candace living in Georgia needed her father to scoop her and her baby in his arms and tuck her back into her childhood bed so that God could restore and heal her heart, you and your brother said, “Let’s go.”

candace ethan bigger

When the military moved Jake and the family again to Washington DC and many times over the next three years, when Crystal was beyond stressed with Jake working day and night at the hospital, with the grass out of control, when the boxes of Jake’s to-do-list aren’t getting checked off, and Crystal needs a break from the household chores, you always said, “Let’s go.”

When your lonely DC grandbabies say that the only thing they want for Christmas is their grandparents, and though we couldn’t make it for Christmas, you did say “Let’s go” for an early Thanksgiving.

In the eyes of our grandkids, you are famous – the grandkids favorite drink is named after you called Papa’s juice, also known as Crystal light. The Grandkid’s favorite store that you take them to is called Papa’s store, also known as Dollar General.

Years ago, we bought two bikes for ourselves, one with a car seat in the back. Our journey of a million miles with our grandkids began.  Living in the country, we rode our bikes everywhere.  We’d find bikes set out for trash and brought them home for each of them.  All the grandkids have a bike and pass them down to their cousins when they outgrow them.

We host Cousin Camp every Friday while our grown kids have an overnight date night without their children. I am in charge of cooking and taking care of the little ones.  You are in charge of the fun.  There is no minimum age requirement for Cousin Camp, usually getting them at six weeks.  The hardest part will be when these babies won’t want to come to cousin camp anymore, closing our infamous cousin camp doors for good.

During the midnight hour of Cousin Camp, I always find myself making rounds, counting the faces of our sleeping beauties, making sure they are safe in their dreams, only to silently laugh at what looks like the aftermath of a JR Frat party. Every now and then I find that the three little ones have raided the closet¸ nestled and swallowed up in their papa’s winter coats.  Maybe it’s the soothing, lingering smell of papa’s cologne on the collar.  Maybe it’s the comfort of sleeping in papa’s arms, even if it’s in the sleeves of your winter coat.
papas coatSaturday mornings, you could always hear the giggles and little feet of babies scurrying to get to papa’s side of the bed to wake you up. Sure made you sad when they stopped.  Now Ayva and Aubrey look for you under the covers.

Whenever we facetime the grandkids, they always want to talk to their papa. Hello, what about Gaga.  Where’s my papa?  Papa, Papa, Papa.

After twenty five years, now the grandchildren tell us, Papa and Gaga, “Your feet are old.” I guess I at least have earned that title after wearing flip flops year round.

It’s funny how we can sense the slight wrestling of the nest again. Grandkids are growing up.  Brooke is in high school.  Aubrey will be losing her “papal” (pacifier) soon and I don’t know when Kizzy will lose her thumb sucking.

Even though it is still a few years away, we sense the wrestling of the nest nevertheless.  Then it will be back to you and me again.  But God has great plans for the gray hairs of our world.  He never wants us to get comfortable, because he will be unfolding dreams for our lives to the very end.

You Love so well. You forgive so well.

You are the best son. Your mother taught her sons how to love their wives.  She taught her boys how to cook, clean and iron.  You five get A’s in all these areas.

You are a wonderful son to my mother. When mother lived a street over, you would stop by her house after work to raid her refrigerator and spend a few minutes with her.  You even learned to enjoy her game shows.
mom kitchenThe senior ladies at mom’s nursing home are crazy about you. They are always blowing you kisses.  This is after you have held their hand and told them how beautiful they look.

Every night you put toothpaste on my toothbrush and pull back my side of the covers before bed.

You are the best neighbor, especially when he is our landlord and brother n law. Always serving and doing though never asked, just mowing and plowing for him when he is working or especially this past year suffering with cancer.
IMG_3099You have loved me by loving our kids.
You have loved me by loving our parents.
You have loved me by being the hero of our grandchildren.
You have loved me by loving God.

And to think that 25 years ago I almost missed all of this when I had the arrogance and audacity to contemplating on saying no to God’s best in you, believing his best didn’t fit or conform to what I had envisioned for myself. Thankfully, our Pastor at the time, the man who had shepherded and fathered my heart for the last five years imparted wisdom in my confusion, “Just believe with your heart, and God will allow you to see with your eyes.”
Pastor preaching at weddingWhen you knocked on my door that very first time to pick me up for a Valentine’s Dance, still nervous about surrendering my will to God, how Pastor’s words still whispered to me, “Just believe and God will allow you to see.” When I opened the door, darkness became day and finally saw God’s best in you with my own eyes.  God just wanted first my surrendered heart, my trust, my yes.

I haven’t taken my eyes off of you ever since.
valentines dayI thank God every day that I headed Pastor’s counsel and said yes to God and said yes to you.

From the bedroom window, I always seem to wake up at two in the morning, when you are leaving the driveway for work. You faithfully get up every day and work 12-14 hours.  I always pray for you when you leave.  I thank God for you and ask him to bring you home safely as I can’t fathom life being me without you.

A man sets the temperature of the house. It is always toasty warm by the fire of our love.

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You hit a homerun every time you step up to the plate in our marriage and everyday life.
Baseball familyYou say you wish you could have given me the fancy house, the fancy car and diamond ring. I say it’s been like Christmas every day for the last 25 years.  You have given me gifts wrapped in glittered paper topped with sparkled bows.  You have given me gifts that money could never afford to buy.  Gifts that have made me feel loved from the moon and back, gifts that are wrapped in the little things.
xmas tree presentsI will love you forever.
wedding, video kissingI will dream with you forever.

I will be by your side forever.
wedding, david and loriThank you for the most amazing 25 years.

I can only imagine and can’t wait for the next 25.  I love you.
Your wife, Lori
wedding funny faces

TAKE YOUR PLACE AT THE TABLE By Lori A Alicea

Reserved at the “table of opportunity” is a seat specifically set aside with your name assigned, waiting for you to take your place at the table.

“Tables of opportunity” are set up everywhere.

Board rooms, war rooms, living rooms.

Tables set where conversations of like-minded others are casting vision, forming strategies or dreaming big dreams together.

You’ve been invited.
The invitations have all been mailed.
The guest list has you in attendance.
You’ve been seated with others on purpose and for a reason.

All that waits now is for you to take your place at the table.
England wedding table

As an event decorator for over a decade, I’ve set and decorated tables for a multitude of events.

WEDDINGS.

 

SHOWERS.

 

BIRTHDAYS.

 

HOLIDAYS.

 

Regardless the gathering, tables are set and prepared with guests seated together on purpose, for reasons only the Host would know.

From the beginning of time, God, the Host of our life had a plan.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

God’s plan for us includes prosperity, hope and a future.

God’s plan involves a lifetime of events, setting tables and pouring over guest lists, putting people together at “tables of opportunity” that they might discover another piece of their life’s puzzle.

We must keep watch with constant awareness of where we’re seated, and whom we’re seated by as they might hold in their pocket the keys for those locked doors of your future.

For every guest list baring our name, be willing to take your place at the table.

Sometimes God asks you to set the table for someone else’s dream.Hall pic
A dream bigger than himself.

A dream of tsunami proportion that had the potential to impact a great population as a statesman.

Years ago, my pastor said yes to run for office; my husband and I said yes to setting the table for a fundraiser in his honor.

 

Dreams were never meant to be dreamt alone.
The vision was cast before us.
The strategies were laid ahead of us.

God’s plan at this “table of opportunity” would give everyone the honor to lock arms with the call on our Pastor’s life.

Understanding that what you make happen for someone else, God will make happen for you.  Apostle Tetsola

 

Seated at the table were many eager to hear a statesman’s message.
pastor picSeated also at the table were his wife, children and parents who supported him unconditionally and had his back when the campaign arrows of lies and deceit were launched.

 

A statesman fully aware of the consequence of saying “yes” to the call, yet empowered and encouraged by the Founding Father’s bravery when they signed the Declaration of Independence:

Written in the Declaration of Independence and DECLARED by our Founding Father’s with their signatures…”And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

 It is written in “The Americans Who Risked Everything”, not one defected or went back on his pledged word.  Their honor and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

Of all the tables I’ve set over the past decade, this “table of opportunity” inspired me to dream bigger, risk more, and want more of what God has for me.

As a military mom, I loved my country more because of this opportunity.

 

I know my pastor’s wife saw stars too in her statesman also.
Marion STars pic

Pull your chair up to the table seated in the honor of an invited guest.

You don’t belong at the kid’s table.

Take your assigned seat at the “table of opportunity” as that is where God’s plan in you belongs.
place cardsEmbrace the call on your life.

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Philippians 3:14

Believe that God is laying out his finest linens, priceless china and exquisite meal before you.
Keep vigil of those you dine with.

You will be seated at many “tables of opportunity” until you dine with Jesus at his banquet table in heaven.

While you dine this side of heaven, never doubt God’s plan for your life.

“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.”  -John Bingham, running speaker and writer

Whatever the event set before you,

BE BOLD AND TAKE YOUR PLACE AT THE TABLE.

STARTS WITH A DREAM By Lori A Alicea

You were born with a gift.

A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before the great.
Proverbs 18:16 ESV

You were born with a dream.

You were born to do what only you can do.

Your audience anxiously waits for you to take your stage and give them the “performance of a lifetime.”

Olympians began with a dream.
Pulitzer Prize winners began with a dream.
Presidents began with a dream.

Famous chefs, dancers, athletes, climbers, singers, writers, etc. all began by believing in themselves that God has great purpose for the talent he blessed them with.

Those with dreams don’t step on their stage in a day.

Hard work, sweat and sacrifice are dreamer’s heavy weights they bench-press for years.

Dreamers push away “easy” clutching “for dear life”
The difficult;
The “what could be”;
The impossible;
The belief God created them for greatness.

What’s your dream?

YOUR DREAM COUNTS!
Pastor Victoria Raftery
Founder of Dream Chic at Laurel Church

No dream too small to impact the world.

Dreams aren’t measured in size.  Dreams are measured by heart, passion and vision, ingredients of a tried and true Recipe for Success.

Brookie’s Cookies
A Bakery coming soon to your neighborhood!

Dreamers aren’t measured in age either.

Young dreamers are inspirational with their willingness to try.
Young dreamers have seeds of greatness waiting their time to bloom.
Cultivation unearths a young dreamers talent.
May grown up eyes notice the dreams of the young and pave the way for them as…

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…James 1:17

Cova Grace,
A Heart Full of Music and Dance Expression

Dreams aren’t for the weak, the faint of heart.
Dreams require your grueling hours of training and practice.

Dreams require muscles of strength to “hold on” when dream naysayers taunt you unmercifully to “let your dream go”.

 Bristol,
An Award Winner of Dedication and Discipline to her Dream

Dreams require you to kick around ideas whose answers might require a grueling mountain climb.

Author John Maxwell says it best, “Everything worth doing is uphill.”

To reach the top requires a climb to the top, yet remind yourself along the agonizing way to your dream, you were born for this.

Hollis and Rosalee
A Picture Painted in Tenacity and Spirit of Adventure

Dreamers are risk takers.
Dreamers shoot the ball risk missing the shot, yet confidently take their shot anyway.
Dreamers stay in the game, they are aggressive not fearing a foul.

Brodie Allen
Our Determined Dreamer

Dreamers keep taking their swing at the plate. 

Dreamers are keenly aware that in their persistent swinging, one day contact is made with their dream. It’s inevitable and the stats are in your favor if you just keep on swinging.

You might even surprise yourself and hit your dream out of the park.

Ethan
A Dream Slugger to Reckon With

Young dreamers eventually grow up.
Young dreamers realize in time that not all storybook dreams end with:
“They lived happily ever after”.

Some dreams die.
For the first few years of our marriage my husband grieved during the spring training season of professional baseball.
Reliving his glory days as a varsity baseball catcher in his freshman year each spring training season, unable to let go of his dashed dreams of becoming a professional baseball player until my husband made finally made peace with his failed dream.

Facing the fence of failure some dreamers stop dreaming for fear of failure again.

But we are reminded:

Failure is not fatal.
Only failure to get back up is.
Author / Motivational Speaker John Maxwell

David baseball 001
Father and Son Dreamers
Both Singers, Our Son a Tower of Strength

Every day is a good reason to line up for a new race.
Every day is a fresh start to believe for a new dream.

May we never lose sight or great hope of the unbelievable things God wants to do through the dreams he gave us.

20 Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.
Ephesians 3:20 TPT

For those who’ve stopped dreaming, close your eyes and begin dreaming again.
Don’t believe the lie you’ve convinced yourself of that you’re too old.
Life hasn’t passed you by.
You can be fruitful even in the second half of life.

14 ….. Even in their old age they will stay fresh,
bearing luscious fruit and abiding faithfully.  Psalm 92:14 TPT

God wants to show off through you to the next generation.

18 God, now that I’m old and gray, don’t walk away.
Give me grace to demonstrate to the next generation
all your mighty miracles and your excitement,
to show them your magnificent power!  Psalm 71:18 TPT

IT STARTS WITH A DREAM.

YOUR STAGE IS WAITING.
DON’T BE AN ONLOOKER.
TAKE YOUR STAGE.

YOU WERE BORN FOR THIS.

Ayva tap

Sweet Ayva
Born for her Stage

YOUR DREAM COUNTS!
Pastor Victoria Raftery
Founder of Dream Chic at Laurel Church