A DANCE INTO FOREVER  By Lori A Alicea

The wedding DJ has called for all the married couples to the dance floor for the next selection of the night.

Husbands and wives of every age began leaving their seats as the music to “their song” welcomed and gestured them to center stage.

Crowded on the dance floor were couples swaying back and forth in the arms with the one they said “I Do” to, however many years ago their altar moment was.

Minutes into their wedding waltz, the DJ announced that anyone married twenty-four hours or less must leave the dance floor.

The bride and groom both smiled and laughed as they took their position on the side lines.

The wedding waltz continues and dancing resumes once again.

The second stanza of the song began when the DJ stopped the music and ushered couples married five years or less to join the bride and groom along the outer circle of the stage.

The crowd on the dance floor began thinning out and it remained to be seen which twosome still dancing has been married the longest.

Couples married ten years or less were asked to join the others on the side lines.

Fifteen years or less…
Twenty-five years or less…
Thirty-five years or less…

By this time in the lyrics only a handful of marriages remain on the dance floor.

The children of parents and grandparents still dancing celebrate the rare treasure before them…

A gift and covenant of…

For richer or poorer…
In sickness and in health…
Until death…

Will we part…

The DJ’s announcement intensifies with excitement…

Forty-five years or less…

The waltz still plays as those couples on the sidelines began circling as a wedding ring around the final marriage of fifty golden years.

USE DANCE 2

This wedding ring of marriages circling the rare commitment of fifty golden years; a symbol of infinity which has neither beginning nor end; a display of love eternal and endless, and worn on the wedding finger closest to their heart.

This ring made of precious metal; an image depicting the sacredness of marriage, given to their betrothed with deep emotion and sentiment during the most sacred event of their life.USE then and nowUSE fifty sign

Fifty golden years is a testimony to the eyes who witness this miracle of dedication, two people trusting God during the valleys and mountain tops before them, persevering the journey together with Him in marriage.

USE DANCE 3

Those words of affirmation throughout the years seal and swell their abiding hearts of true love.CARDS 2A novel of words detailing the pursuit of rare pearls and treasure hunt of each other, passing on down thru the generations living beyond them a marriage’s lasting legacy.
CARDS 1Their kisses of thankfulness for another day thru the decades together.CARDS 3

Oh, the laughter which feeds their souls as a good medicine; stoking the fire of great joy which warms as a blanket around their arms on a cold winter day.
USE newleywood game

Holding close their gift of friendship…
Celebrating their nearest and dearest confidant…
Feeling safe with the one who holds the secret keys to their heart.USE cake

USE gifts

The wedding waltz continues and serenades the anniversary couple as they

Dance into forever.

Embraced in each other’s arms they’ll waltz from anniversary to anniversary, keeping in time with their covenant of forever until the music ceases to play.USE DANCE 1

Fifty golden years marks the marathon of miles two people in love have traveled together in marriage.

They are a covenant gift and testimony to their children and grandchildren and eyes of those who have witnessed their rare love for each other…

For richer or poorer…
In sickness and in health…
Until death…

Will we part…

USE couple sitting down

WELCOME HOME…By Lori A Alicea

Seasons are changing.

Maybe it’s just me, but once those July 4th finale of fireworks burst thru the air and the remaining sparklers illuminate its own show from our children’s hands, do you slightly sense the season’s changing of the guard.

While the hot days of summer remain as house guests thru August, fall is sneaking up the back steps though most are unaware, preparing to welcome itself to the neighborhood.WELCOME BUNNY

Principals everywhere are ringing the school bell for students to begin filling their backpacks full of paper, pencils and crayons, while bells of another kind are ringing down the Christmas isles of my favorite craft store; all in the summer month of July.

Ready or not, the season’s here; the changing of the guard for weather, time and calendar events.

In life, we’re also facing seasons unique to our address.

The weaving of seasons from one into the other, with winter, spring, summer or fall choreographing the dance of personal seasons we’re about to enter, experience, or exit, then weave and dance into another season before us.

While we’d all like to predict a forecast of blue skies and sunny days, the weather might report an overcast of clouds or showers for a season.

Regardless of the season, we’re encouraged to take our seat, stay awhile, and welcome the purpose and meaning for the season we’re in.WELCOME BENCH

On first impression when entering our doors, is a wooden sign with hooks for coats, sweaters or even purses for guests to hang their belongings and receive a heartfelt welcome into our home.

The same is true for entering a new season where we are encouraged to cast and hang our cares on Jesus, a place to feel safe, a place to call home, where the couch is comfy and ambiance speaks welcome.WELCOME HOME SIGN

The front door is a traffic jam of little boys and little girls taking off their shoes and placing them beneath the welcome sign of hanging cares and coats, where side by side their crocs, flips, sandals and gym shoes for little feet remain until they leave; a reminder that seasons are meant to be shared with others.shoes Kizzy

For twelve anguishing months beginning two years ago, our family experienced an unexpected and overwhelming winter season of ten, tearful good-byes.

At morning’s dawn, the waters slept and rested peacefully near the shores of our family’s heart.

Then, without notice or alarm, a family reaches once again for life vests as the waters wake and rise in swells and attempts to drown our hearts upon receiving another call.

We gasped and couldn’t catch our breath for long periods of time during this winter season of so many good-byes.

But God was good to us, near to us, sensing His presence, never leaving our side for a moment.CHURCH

The summer season thankfully returned as promised and wafted in the air a fragrance of peace and joy and remained a bit longer than the calendar noted its departure, hovering over as a healing balm for our family.

Running along the shores of our hearts this refreshing summer season were little feet and laughter of our ten grandchildren, who somehow without us looking, outgrew the shoes of our memory.

We grandparents celebrate the many seasons we’ve shared with these ten beautiful heirs of our legacy.

Their growing continues into the seasons and choreographed dances of their individual lives.

When fishing began and there were only six of them.

So many years ago…

Our ten grand-babies today.

The seasons are changing guard once again, handing off the summer baton to the season of fall.

It’s time to pack up the sand toys and sandals these children will sadly outgrow and walk into a new season of their own before summer next year.

FISHING 7

Seasons are changing.

While we’d all like to predict a forecast of blue skies and sunny days, the weather might report an overcast of clouds or showers for a season.

Regardless of the season, we’re encouraged to take our seat, stay awhile, and welcome the purpose and meaning for the season we’re in.

WELCOME BENCH

FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES…By Lori A Alicea

Do you have a picture of grandma?”

Preoccupied while frying bacon and measuring flour for a batch of homemade breakfast biscuits for three of my grandchildren who spent the night previous, my curious granddaughter asks the question again,

Gaga, do you have a picture of grandma?”party 2

A quick glance at the clock whose hands stretched out to wake and announce the sleepy hour of 5:30 in the morning, quite early for a little girl to be thinking about grandma still tightly wrapped in her blankie.

But, from the innocent mouths of babes, a child was asking.clock

Looking up at Aubrey with my full attention now, though still kneading biscuit dough from memory, this Gaga handled a granddaughter’s heart with delicate hands,

Are you missing grandma?”

Secretly, I had also been missing my mother terribly these early weeks of summer; longing to share a glass of lemonade and the day’s nothings under the shade tree of our back yard together.

Now, here is a five year old, whose birthday was recently shared and celebrated with her sister Ayva turning seven, who also is missing her grandma.

Not having too many pictures framed and displayed in the house, I did remember a 5 x 7 keepsake hidden between the pages of my Bible for this sweet child to reminisce over; a moment taken at our 25th Wedding Anniversary three years ago.

I wanted my mother close whenever the waves of emotions for her rushed and reached the shore of my heart, usually during the quiet hours of my morning devotions with God.bible MOMS PICTURE

In just a few short months this September, an ocean of memories will flood the vacancy our mother left behind when she waved good-by for heaven only two years ago.mom's headstone

With Aubrey recently blowing out the candles of her fifth birthday cake,

Only highlights the impact her grandmother had made during the three short years these two shared together.halloween 1

My mother’s hand-print remains on Aubrey’s life and an entire legacy of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well.

(Aubrey with her grandmother on the left and attending grandma’s funeral on the right; just three short years and yet a little girl still asks for a picture.)

Aubrey isn’t alone in her longing for pictures of grandma, as six months ago at Christmas, her cousin Gracie was yearning the same.

In the spirit of Christmas and found beneath the tree, an album filled and full of grandma’s pictures for Gracie, a gift to comfort a little girl who also missed her grandmother.

My mother would have been eighty-two years young this July 21st, yet our family is forever thankful for the final picture we gathered together outside her window for…

An 80th Princess Gala Event in mother’s honor…

A perfect afternoon for the remaining birthday we’d ever celebrate with our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother this side of heaven.
moms 80th birthday

Recently, Aubrey was watering the flowers of my tiny garden, not realizing many of the decorations of angels, wind chimes, birds and flower pots were once placed outside her grandmother’s window of her own garden;

A summer’s delight to lift a mother’s spirit during those lonely afternoons when family wasn’t visiting.

Mother’s love for the Lord is a families great inheritance she passed on down thru her legacy.

Recently, during a day I ached for my mother, God unearthed a treasure written in my mother’s handwriting, a gift of encouragement I have no idea how it was buried and hidden on my computer after all these years.MOMS WRITING

Your family loves and misses you mother.

Two years is but a blink of the eye for us, yet once you stepped into eternity with God, there was no looking back for you.

In your absence, I’ve had to take your place at the card table.

You’d be disappointed in the whiners and poor sports you used to play with, but actually be proud of the daughter who holds her own and plays in your honor for a game of Phase 10.

From the innocent mouths of babes, her heart was asking.

Gaga, do you have a picture of grandma?”party 2

Aubrey held her grandmother’s hand for only three short years, a matriarch who left her hand-print on the heart of a grandchild for a lifetime.halloween mom and aubrey 2019

Aubrey Ann, your picture of grandma remains between the family bible pages where she loved her Lord from, the great inheritance your grandmother passed on down to you and her legacy of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

bible MOMS PICTURE

 

MEMORIES OF SUMMER  By Lori A Alicea

Graduations from pre-school thru high school all set off confetti cannons to celebrate the end of another academic year.

Antsy students fidgeting at their desks on the last day of school will burst through the classroom doors as a mass exodus of summer excitement with the final ring of the bell.

From the beginning of June through the middle of August, parents have penciled in their children’s summer break on the pages of their calendars, signing them up and planning in advance for what will become in years down the road, their memories of summer.

Summer fun for me as a child rewinds a simpler life of baseball, camping, strawberry jelly and the county fair; a scrapbook of delightful memories the little girl in me loves to revisit each June.

Watching our grandchildren take their turn at the baseball plate,

Reminds me of those summers back fifty plus years ago with the smell of concession stand hot dogs and popcorn, boys trading baseball cards with a wad of bubble gum in their mouths and my brother riding his bicycle to the Little League field for baseball practice and games.

baseball marks baseball

(my brother sits in front of the baseball bats)

Spring training for Little League announces a brand new season of baseball memories, while a little girl still reminiscences when her brother, a star pitcher back then, leads his team to a first place win two years in a row.

Summer memories are also made roughing it in the squelching heat of a tent or camper, sharing the experience with mosquitoes and raccoons in the back woods or back yard of a camping trip.

In exchange for hotel air conditioning and fine dining, the smell of sizzling bacon and scrambled eggs waft among the trees at breakfast.camping cooking

Camping trips fill up a childhood album of time spent fishing with dad, swimming with siblings, and making s’mores around a crackling campfire before bed.

Making the highlight reel from my memories of summer take me back to an old fashioned tradition of strawberry picking and watching mother at her Magic Chef stove, preserving summer in a jar for those winter biscuits only months away.

Now, mother watches me from her kitchen stove in heaven, still wearing her apron, still sharing a summer memory as her recipe and an old fashioned tradition is being passed to the next generation.

Summer wouldn’t be complete without those memories of elephant ears, cotton candy, butter drenched ears of corn, cooling down with a bowl of Dippin’ Dots, being squished on the Scrambler while enjoying it all as a fun filled evening at the county fair with your dad.

fair jake little girls The county fair reminds you to thank your Aunt for the years she filled up the pages of childhood memories for two generations of nieces and nephews at the fair, giving no thought of the money she spent on tickets, food and game prizes, all because she wanted to make a summer memory with you.

Lastly, after growing up, the sweetest memories of summer is the intentional pursuit of the little things

Quality time spent with lifelong friends over coffee and breakfast.

Remembering to celebrate the generations and gifts of family around the dinner table.

Letting kids be kids at the beach, kids racing and acting crazy down the Slip ‘n Slide of your own backyard, or kids even spending a spontaneous moment in Papa’s sprinkler while only wearing their underwear.

swimming kids little

Or, for those quiet moments spent alone with God in prayer during those early morning walks around the neighborhood track.

From the beginning of June thru the middle of August, the memories of summer are filling up scrapbooks of our children and grandchildren’s childhood.

I don’t know why I’m drawn to these albums during Little League season, when strawberries are ready, or when the county fair has made its way back into town.

Maybe becoming a grandmother, I remember the good ol’ days through the lives of my grandchildren.

Maybe I miss mom more when I see a batch of homemade jelly line the shelves of my kitchen pantry.

Maybe summer reminds me that the little things really are the big things, and to be more intentional about my pursuit of them.

Maybe I’m so thankful to God for my memories of summer, my scrapbook of delightful memories the little girl in me loves to revisit each June.

 

BEHIND YOUR BACK!  By Lori A Alicea

Today was an ordinary day, no different than most yesterdays of my life.

While walking thru the parking lot of my favorite store, I always pray these same words as I do before entering any other shopping center;

Lord, if there’s a person I need to see in this store, let our paths cross.”

Most days while shopping, it’s just me, myself and I in the store.

Yet occasionally, God orchestrates those chance meetings and encounters down the aisles as we shop, a God who loves an available heart, and willingness to be used…

Ministering to…

An old friend I hadn’t seen in years, sharing her intimate details of a journey with cancer.

Lending an arm of comfort…

To a woman I recognized from high school, who sadly shared her husband had recently passed away.

Bringing joy to myself…

While hearing my granddaughters laughing one isle over, as my daughter shops for Christmas.

The people are there, pushing grocery carts of burdens or cares of this life down the aisles of Walmart or Hobby Lobby, all needing a touch from God’s heart if we are willing to notice them.

Sometimes though, we are meant to see others for our good…

That’s why I remember in all things to pray before taking one step into the store or especially when caught in a time crunch to get in and get out…

Lord, if there’s a person I need to see in this store, let our paths cross.”

She didn’t see me as I passed her browsing the seasonal isle that morning.

I could have continued to shop, unsure if this woman remembered me from thirty-nine years ago, recalling I’ve embarrassed myself (and my husband) in many instances when others couldn’t recollect.

But I remembered Marilyn and the memories we shared, both brand new mothers in the hospital after giving birth to our newborn sons.

Over the years, our lives had intersected thru church, in the fabric and canning departments, as she loved God and life the old fashioned way thru sewing and preparing food from scratch as I did.

We made a connection thirty-nine years ago; so I made a U-Turn in the seasonal aisle of Hobby Lobby to greet a familiar face.

Taking a chance, I said hello to Marilyn as dear friends do, whose bright smile remembered and took us back to those hospital rooms where we embraced motherhood for the very first time.

After almost four decades ago and both of us now in our sixties, we questioned in Hobby Lobby the years gone by since our sons entered our world.

Where did the time go?

Her John and my Jake; now grown men with families of their own.

Going backwards as two first time mothers, both now grandmothers, capturing and sharing snapshots of each other’s lives these last thirty-nine years; the secret passage of time while unaware; behind your back.IMG_4791

You don’t notice quite frankly, at least I didn’t; how time passes by so quickly when half asleep with young children and their midnight feedings, diapers, teething and caring for the demands of the others in the house.1 USE

Even when the children are growing out of their pull-ups and coming into their personalities, giving us hints of who God made them to be, time is sneaking out behind our backs and into the history books of our family.3 USE

Welcoming new days and bright beginnings, we seldom look behind our backs at the distance those paths have taken us from the maiden steps where our journey began.4 USE

You kiss each day with thankfulness for what God has entrusted into your care.5 USE

You lead those into their destinies with God as your tour guide.6 USE

When you inventory what God has given and sense the rustling of the family nest…

You look behind your back and wonder…

Where has all the time gone?”IMG_3702

You pray the family ties of love are strong and tight enough to weather the fiercest storms when they come…and they will.IMG_3700

Yet are confident as you determine…

Family is a circle of strength…
Founded on faith…IMG_3706

Joined in love…

Kept forever by God…
Together forever.

IMG_3708

Yes, time is a ship whose itinerary stops for no one and quickly passes in the night.

Grandchildren are sprouting taller than a field of corn at harvest.  Hardworking family members retire and enjoy the fruits of their labors while some are too busy to notice.

Chairs around the table which seat your favorite faces today, will find themselves empty before you had a chance to really enjoy who they were in your life.

Funerals of good-byes have been overwhelming this past year.  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

Do not boast about tomorrow,
For you do not know what a day many bring.
Proverbs 27:1 NIV

Today is all we have to celebrate; to enjoy; embracing and taking nothing for granted.

Doing so as a family…

Joined in love…
Kept forever by God…

Together forever.IMG_3708

BEHOLD…A Melody of Heart  By Lori Alicea

Every now and then my heart is overflowing with music, a melody for God.

With the new year just beginning a few weeks ago…
Behold…a melody of my heart…

Behold the early rising sun,
Awakes without delay.
Good morning” thru your window speaks,
A faithful kiss each day.

brown and green grass field during sunset
Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

Behold your eyes which open up,
As roses after sleep.
Behold and see your garden grows,
God’s beauty gift to keep.

photo of white and pink roses behind a glass with water droplets
Photo by Anna Nekrashevich on Pexels.com

Behold the fragrance of perfume,
From flowers which bloom for you.
Run barefoot thru the morning fields,
Between your toes its dew.

a woman walking barefoot on the grass
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Behold the air you cannot see,
Yet feel its presence there.
Through dance recitals of the waves,
In wind which blows your hair.

sea waves under sunset
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Behold the simple touch of warm,
Filled coffee cup to hold.
Escape in thoughts to warm the heart,
Before the day unfolds.

roses and coffee cup on wooden chair
Photo by Nida on Pexels.com

Behold the busyness of life,
Yet for yourself, make time.
Find poetry in everyday,
Walk slow; make moments rhyme.

Behold the love you share with those,
Find gold in every name.
Oh treasure friends and family,
They keep your heart aflame.

selective focus photography of heart pendant chain link necklace
Photo by u4e09 u70b9sky on Pexels.com

Behold the life God gave to you,
Find joy His thought-out plan.
The pages of your book He wrote,
Before your life began.

opened book on tree root
Photo by rikka ameboshi on Pexels.com

Behold the secrets of your heart,
Desires, He knows each one.
Delight and solely love Him first,
These things, He’ll hold back none.

beige sand with hear engrave
Photo by Ashley Williams on Pexels.com

Behold the seasons which you live,
Spring, summer, winter, fall.
Those seasons you don’t understand,
Fear not, God’s in them all.

snowy pathway surrounded by bare tree
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Behold your calendar of days,
Take note and number each.
A vapor is the sum of them,
Your generations reach.

love winter luck calendar
Photo by Nadezhda Moryak on Pexels.com

Behold what eyes they cannot see,
Your stories yet untold.
Though God would say, “Prepare for them”,
Reach out your hand, behold.

selective focus photography of hand
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

OUR CUP RUNNETH OVER By Lori A Alicea

Can you hear it?

Close your eyes and quietly listen for the pitter-patter of tiny rain drops dancing in the puddles with one another.

rain puddle

Imagine a small child abandoned in the kisses of a delicate spring shower against her face.

rain girl running in field

Can you hear it?

Bask in the soothing song of a gentle waterfall which flows into a peaceful stream below.

waterfall

Rain drops dancing in puddles.
A small child kissed from the spring shower against her face.
The music of a waterfall cascading over the river banks into the stream below.

With eyes still closed, imagine your cup full of God’s blessings, cascading over the rim into the puddles and quiet stream of your cup’s saucer.

It is written…

…my cup overflows with blessings.
Psalms 23:5 (NLT)

Our life is a cup.
Oh, that our eyes see the overflow of our cups as God’s abundance, His “more than enough” for us, heaven’s wealth in our life.

Looking back in the rear-view mirror of the past 365 days, it’d be easy to believe we’ve been drinking from the bitter cup throughout this year of 2021.

Navigating the “firsts” of our maiden year without mother would have been a cup full for our family these last twelve months.

goodby mom

But then the calm cascade over the rim of our cup caught us gasping for breath when the peaceful stream became a rip-current of ten more good-byes.

A Final Call for our military brother Joe.

One final lap for our Indy 500 enthusiast brother Mark.

Another brother Ruben.

goodby ruben

Two Papa’s.

Three cousins.

Two friends.

Yes, so many good-byes;
So many home-going celebrations;
So many tears;

Yet, a cup of rejoicing as all our loved ones took their seat around the Father’s Banqueting Table in heaven.

Sometimes we need to trace God’s hand to understand his heart.

God is a good Father, even when our eyes are blinded to his ways.

Regardless of so many good-byes, God was ever present in the joys of all our hellos in each new day.

Life presses forward with or without our consent. The sun continues to shine amid a cloudy day. You must be intentional to witness God’s hand upon our days, the mini miracles of a cup overflowing.

2021 has been a cup of mini miracles in the Alicea family.

Papa and I have enjoyed our ten grandchildren embrace their gifting and special places in our lives.

We’ve smiled and thanked God for sons who watered their daughter’s hearts at a Daddy Daughter Dance.

We’ve rejoiced over our oldest granddaughter’s Sweet Sixteen, taking her first steps into womanhood.

A husband and wife thanked God for another glorious year of marriage celebrated at their honeymoon cottage.

We are forever grateful for our furry family.

We give God all the glory for the wonderful parents our children have become.

This father is overwhelmed by his daughter who has blossomed into her own.

papa david audra xmas 2021

We’ve cherished the quality time spent with our grandchildren; especially when it meant travelling to Hawaii to hug them.

With eyes still closed, our cup is full of God’s blessings, cascading over the rim into the puddles and quiet stream of our cup’s saucer.

Yes it is written…

…my cup overflows with blessings.
Psalms 23:5 (NLT)

We see our cup running over even though a husband and wife spent the 2021 Christmas and New Year’s holidays alone, from each other and from family.  Although, we were never truly alone.
As another name for Jesus is Immanuel,
God with us.

Christmas was never about us, but about a baby born in a manger, a Savior who would one day grow up and bear the cross for our salvation; a Christmas gift of eternity if we’d receive Him.
manger scene

For this alone,
Our Cup Runneth Over!

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

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS…Name them one by one! By Lori A Alicea

I can close my eyes and still remember as if it was yesterday.

A lighthouse known for its glorious steeple lifting its countenance upwards towards the heavens in praise, whose doors swing open into a haven of peace and refuge, an old fashioned church of my childhood.

DREAMS church home
Christmas through the eyes of this little girl is back at rehearsal for the Children’s play, whose classes all crowd together on the front row pews and wait their turn for the stage.

Nervous of performing before a church full of smiling parents, blinded by the camera flashes of these proud paparazzi, hoping the words of the songs she rehearsed won’t escape a child’s remembrance.

Dancing and sparkling through the stain glass windows is a private light show of its own, whose brilliance takes this child by her innocent hand to an evening where a star of wonder guides three wise men to a little town of Bethlehem to greet their Savior, our baby Jesus who lay in a manger.

So much to be thankful for during this holiday season.
Scripture reminds and instructs us how to be a little child of thanksgiving:

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Psalms 100:4 (KJV)

Counting our blessings…
naming them one by one.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS sheet music
There are certain snapshots of my childhood recalled from the albums of my memory which take me back to the potter’s wheel, a place of molding, making and fashioning a little girl who would one day surrender her heart to Jesus.

An old fashioned church with an old fashioned pastor, a congregation of sheep who God sent to lead, to preach and sing often his signature song I still hear today in my memory, when Jesus left the ninety-and-nine for the one who strayed away.

PASTOR reverend nickel

This little girl grew up and continues to count her blessings for the pastors whom God sent her way after moving forward from those steps of an old fashioned church.

Pastors who fathered and loved a little girl back to life, whose marriage demonstrated true love “in sickness and in health.”

Pastors who led the way and took us with him to the mission field to pour into the orphans and widows; to also fight from the front porch steps of our country, whose precious jewel in his wife he shares with us as the first lady of our hearts.

Pastors whose love extends to sheep not from the flock of his own, who shepherds our children, our mother and family, who also performed the dedication of three of our grandchildren and remains a Pastor’s Pastor to us.

I count my blessings in the decades of quality time with friends who gather over breakfast once a month, who flood my cell phone with text messages of encouragement, who meet me at the gym while dawn still sleeps, and friends who take my call every Monday evening for an hour of “our time” together.

I name my blessings one by one through friends who met, worked, got into trouble together and are infamous as partners in crime. Friends who walked with each other up the mountain tops of love, glitter and marriage and held on tight through the valleys of divorce and death. True friends ringing my doorbell no matter the time of day.

I count my blessings in church friends who are more like sisters and gifts under my Christmas tree. They celebrate and grieve with you, my warriors in prayer who petition before God on my behalf. Love for them overflows from the cup of my heart.

How do I write that thank you card for this friend of over three decades. A former boss who remained my friend throughout life. A writing companion whose completed books have inspired my efforts to persevere for my first on the book shelf.

A true friend who lives states and hours away, yet attends your daughter’s wedding because I asked.

FRIENDS Mary Ellen

This little girl could stay in prayer for hours counting blessings, thanking God for a basket full of friendships in her sisters, daughters and Best Friend in Jesus.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS praying

Growing older and sadly watching the leaves of our life change and fall to the ground from traditions that used to be when mother was still with us.  Yet, I count my blessings for those new traditions which clothe my barren tree with new life and memories, celebrating with three generations of family.

A grandmother’s knees are worn from the hours of praise for those ten Christmas grandchildren who call her Gaga.

Never forgetting those children now grown, those born of my womb or born of my heart.

Remembering where it all began in God’s plan, gathered around the Christmas tree among my five sisters, brother and parents.

Sometimes being thankful isn’t wrapped around a lap full of gifts you can open.

This holiday season I am a child of great thanksgiving…

Counting my blessings…naming them one by one…

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS sheet music
As I…

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Psalms 100:4 (KJV)

As Christmas came early at the Alicea house, when I unwrapped the gift of another day with David, my soulmate of 27 years, when God intervened in a life threatening situation.ANOTHER DAY use

I don’t have enough hands to count my blessings this Christmas.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS praying

I would be re-miss not mentioning the summits this family stood together on many times over this year, facing the bitter cold, barrenness and eerie silence of life without the loved ones left behind on those frozen mountains of memories we’ll visit from time to time.

But yet, we still continue to count our blessings and name them one by one, celebrating the overflow of their lives spilled onto ours.

The holidays will never be the same without Joe’s homemade sweet potato pies, Reuben’s Christmas cards filled with a brother’s gush of handwritten sentiment, and me sharing mother’s homemade coffee cake with my brother thru the US Mail.

If nothing else this holiday season though, I am thankful for life, I am thankful for home.

XMAS HOME

While sugarplums still dance in my dreams for a long cabin or an old fashioned renovated church to live in…

I’ll keep saying it for the rest of my days,

Wherever David is, I’ll always be home.XMAS DAVID AUBREY

May this be a season of thankfulness for all of you…

Many thanks for your faithfulness to share in these weekly words of my heart.

I appreciate you more than you know.  A tree of ornaments in my heart has your names written all over them.xmas ornament

 

GROWING OLD TOGETHER  By Lori A Alicea

When head-over-heels in love with wedding bells anxious to toll, you’ve most likely dreamed of sharing life bordered by a white picket fence, with a fairy tale story waiting to be told of two people growing old together.

Little girls keep their happily-ever-after secrets locked under key in the diaries of their innocent hearts, these starry eyed dreamers living life to THE END with her handsome prince on a white horse.

In reality though, when you’re thirty-three and thirty-six years of age and wake up to your long awaited wedding day dream, newly married minds aren’t imagining life and age in their parent’s shoes, much less growing old together, as growing old is a chapter found at the back of your fairy-tale storybook.

Fairy-tale pages which never reveal though how quickly time passes when you blink.

wedding parents

Then we blinked.

A bride and her groom have been turning the pages of their fairy-tale love story for twenty-seven years, and the unread volumes have found these two on the mountain edge of suspense, holding their breath as giddy children at Christmas for the next chapter to unfold.

Here we are,

Growing old together,

Though not a reflection of getting old together and sharing a rocking chair into the sunset.

No, a beautiful reflection of growing closer together while we age, a celebration of all the years and chapters God has breathed and written with his own hands into our one-of-a-kind love story.

Growing old together

Is a place a gratitude not longing for the “big things” of your neighbors, but realizing the “little things” are the “big things” in the one who holds the key to the front door of your heart.

Growing old together

Sees and enjoys the simple pleasures as a front row seat to the best life, not bought but lovingly prepared and given with the other in mind.

Growing old together

Mines for hidden treasures of wisdom, the rubies and diamonds of legacy and love to live by example, a trail of breadcrumbs in the forest for their children and grandchildren to follow and receive as their direction and inheritance from parents and grandparents who discovered these truths while growing old together.

Growing old together

Has learned to embrace and appreciate the color changes of winter, spring, summer or fall of their life, as every curtain call from one season to the next introduces a new landscape, a new day and opportunity to begin again.

Growing old together

Is being fully present, fully aware that we stand in the presence of a Holy God through every faithful sunset kissing goodnight our evening, in the unfathomable number of grains He alone has counted on our sandy dunes, to taking comfort in our Creator who knows the galaxy of stars each by name, and how much more intimately aware and present he is in the lives of us.

Growing old together

Remembers the time and place, the church, the isle and altar a bride and groom received each other through vows and rings of committed love, opening their wedding album of pictures to rekindle the magic of their storybook marriage every anniversary spent among the memories of their honeymoon cottage.

Growing old together

Is blind to the outward beauty which fades in the afternoon sun of time, yet has eyes to enjoy the inner loveliness which satisfies every longing of the heart.

Growing old together

Holds onto one another, never letting go, giving not a thought to giving up.
Because with God,
Love never fails.

…love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:7-8 (NIV)

Growing old together

Buries in the past those trespasses we’ve forgiven each other for, a final good-by of yesterday’s hurts as we open the gate of freedom as Jesus does, where our trespasses are remembered no more.

Growing old together

Remembers in our saying “I Do” at the wedding altar,
yours and mine became ours,
a miracle called oneness of spirit, soul, and body occurred;
a three stranded cord not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Your family became my family.
My people became your people.

We broke bread together among each other’s tables,
Giving birth to memories at celebrations of all kinds; birthdays, graduations, weddings and yes, even funerals.

Families still celebrate and live life together, while some of its members now live in eternity.

This, the most difficult of growing old together lies in those family ships set sailing for the harbor shores of heaven, leaving those left behind comforted of a great reunion already planned.family ship sail

Growing old together
Is at its best, when surrounded by family, 
Those with us and those with us, inside…

Thank you for the best twenty-seven years of my life.
I’d grow old all over again with you.

wedding kiss 27 years later