WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE…By Lori A Alicea

The heart of one true friend for the other,
…he loved him as he loved himself.
1 Samuel 20:16 NIV

For every life there is a ledger.
A book of columns tallying the additions and subtractions,
Reconciling the sum total of our years here on earth,
And upon inspection of my life’s ledger,
I’d consider it an accounting of true riches
For those who call me friend, albeit even one.

 “If you have one true friend in the world,
You are very rich.”
Alistair Begg        

We were not born for isolation.

God himself said before blessing man with his wife:
It is not good for man to be alone…
Genesis 2:18 NIV

While telling them next to
“Be fruitful and multiply…”
Genesis 1:28

Birthed from the increase of families came
Community, the village,
Our deep and abiding friendships.

What a friend we have….
…to be loved by one as he loves himself.

As beauty rests in the eye of the beholder,
So are the many portraits of friendship;
Painted and seen from the beholders lens.

The portrait of loyalty as seen through the eyes of small children and their furry best friends, expressed through their inseparable time together, side by side throughout the day, never seeing one without the other, with the loyal friend keeping vigil and watch over his best friend at night.

Friendships paint a classroom of learning whose brushstrokes articulate the lending and sharing of talent, while hidden in the shadows of color are those dreams and secrets that friends both share together, creating a heart connection for life.

True friendships are those paintings of hill climbs thru hard times, journeys thru deep valleys of sadness and miles of desolate roads with no bright intersection in sight, yet depicting relationships still locking arms to get through it all together, never entertaining the thought of leaving the other behind.

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
Maya Angelou

There are those nightstand 5 x 7’s reserved for friendships remembering their worst and best day, those good Samaritan moments caught on camera rescuing a fallen friend in need.

If one falls down, his friend can help him up… Ecclesiastes 4:10
hands ethan and ayva park 2
Friendships are for life; a picture riding off into the sunset, showcasing a bond birthed as cousins, yet grew with them through the years into brothers and inseparable friends.

There are those friendships beautifully framed in love and influence, portraits that hang over the fireplace of those who have touched and impacted our hearts for the first time, yet leave a handprint on our life forever.
father grandfather ayva and daddy walkingThen are those generational wall groupings, our inheritance frozen under glass for our reminder, our journey back to our roots, our heritage and friendships that can’t be explained on canvas, only told through the stories of those faces caught in time.

Friendships are snapshots of sisters, or friends who become sisters and family, snapshots where the naked eye is unable to distinguish the difference because love goes deeper and hides itself in these pixel moments of time.

There are friends,
there is family,
and then there are friends
that become family.
Unknown

Friendship on canvas is..
A friend who
overlooks your broken fence
and admires the flowers in your garden.
Unknown
flowers ayva smelling flowers

Sweet friendships refresh the soul…they awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence. Proverbs 27:9 TPT

What a friend we have…
The heart of one true friend for the other,
…he loved him as he loved himself.
1 Samuel 20:16 NIV

 

SEPARATIONS OF LOVE By Lori A Alicea

Have you stopped and smelled the roses today?

Have you opened the gate to the “little things of your life”, to gaze around and take in the bounty of beauty before you?

Have you stood on that secret hillside moments after sunrise to soak in a vast view that fades into the horizon beyond what eyes can see, a scene bursting with roses of every color in the rainbow, whose perfumed fragrance will overwhelm with just one breath?

Your “rose garden of thankfulness” remains open for visitors all hours of the day and night.

A garden hidden in your heart, whose passage only requires a moment of reflection, a moment of silence to stop and smell your roses of blessing.
Roses 1The world was caught off guard weeks ago when she was unexpectedly “put on notice” to take shelter at home, temporarily closing the doors of life as she knew it.

No one saw this coming.

A “perfect storm” which vacated streets, shuttered businesses and took people everywhere “off the clock”, clearing their “to-do-lists” until further instruction.

Our busy lives turned into ghost towns.

Chaos of calendars is quieted.

The unknown of tomorrow is on everyone’s mind.

The world in their homes wakes up to a posture of stillness, a forgotten atmosphere of silence, yet a gift for those who wake up smelling their roses.

You don’t realize what you have until you can’t have it for now, confronting a new emotion from our

“Isolations of love.”

A month ago our house was a flurry of activity. A month ago our house was a revolving door of grandkids, friends, neighbors, and loved ones.  A month ago I could visit my mother at her nursing home facility anytime I wanted.
A month ago we found ourselves stopping and smelling our “roses of blessings” quite frequently, never giving a thought though how unreachable our garden would be a month and a day later.

Now, we grieve from the “social distance” we must keep from these ten grandchildren we are so crazy about, unable to explain to them why overnight visits to Papa and Gaga’s house have been postponed.  We grandparents want to break all rules that bar us from reaching into these windows and cyberspace for hugs and kisses that have left our arms and hearts terribly empty.

Harder yet, how does a grown child bring comfort and peace to their lonely mother separated and isolated from the other side of her screened view, whose arms they embraced and hands frequently held in conversation only a month ago.

During these Isolations of love the world is experiencing together, what an appropriate time for all of us to stop and smell the roses that never go out of season.
Roses 1Though as grandparents we long the noise of running feet of our grandchildren racing up and down the halls, we are immensely grateful as they enjoy this much needed family time with their parents through homeschooling, play and meals together.

Though as adult children we long to freely walk into the nursing home facility where our mother calls home, and while my mother and her resident friends are now socially distancing taking meals in their rooms and playing hallway bingo.
IMG_7174We haven’t forgotten how spoiled and well-loved our mother is at this facility. The staff here takes every opportunity to create special events during the holidays for their residents.

Don’t get me started on the great honor bestowed to these residents during Mother’s day one year.

Just ask the community and family members invited to come Trick-or-treating at their grandparent’s residence and hear their boasts about the detailed thoughtfulness of food, games and candy waiting for them during Halloween.

How included and special our mother and residents are made to feel during Valentine’s Day and Christmas, especially from the local police officers handing out gifts and wheelchair speeding tickets to our loved ones.

When you stop,
when you take a moment to smell the roses,
the blessings of God emerge,
come forth,
become magnified and overwhelm one’s heart
when you take inventory of what God has done
and means in your life.

All this uncertainty shall pass.

Normalcy will return with hopes that we have been changed to a simpler life, a more appreciative view of our blessings.

Papa and I can’t wait for the doors of cousin camp to reopen.

I can’t wait for the day when the doors of my mother’s nursing home are open again for visitors.

May we as a family view our time with her differently by not putting off visiting her tomorrow when we might only have today.

Might we as a family celebrate her even more, as she has been a wonderful blessing especially to those who call her great-grandma.

A true blessing to those who call her grandma.

And an eternal blessing to those who call her mom.

I treasure and am forever grateful in my heart for our 25th Wedding Anniversary that was shared with family and our mother, an evening scrapbooked of memories and highlights that would not have taken place a few months later.

Mother even was caught on camera doing the limbo.
25th anniversary - limbo momWhile mother doesn’t understand Facetime or the fancy trends of technology, mother is still a phone call away during these isolations of love.
Screen 2
Mother has missed us as much as we do her, and the wonderful people of her nursing home have allowed her to tell us so through their pictures posted on social media, a gift that we as a family and all the resident families are truly appreciative of.
Screen 6During our day when we find ourselves especially lonely and void during these
Isolations of love.

 Might we be drawn to the hillside of our blessings, to that secret place whose gate is open whenever we need a lifting of our countenance,

When we need to be reminded of our bountiful blessings,

As we stop and smell the beautiful roses that God has planted in the garden of our hearts.
Roses 1

CHOOSE TO SEE By Lori A Alicea

Choose to see His blessings flow,
God’s promises to keep.
blessing 3Still see His tidal wave of love,
When waves are ankle deep.
blessings 1Choose to see from where they sit,
Advantage of their views.
To understand them, take and walk,
A mile in their shoes.
walk in their shoesChoose to see a father’s love,
In hugs and kisses gives.

His thoughtfulness revealed in gifts,
His life for you he lives.

Choose to see and stand with strength,
Your hero lives within.
hereo 1
You’re capable, you are enough,
Your story waits, begin.
hereoChoose to see and learn from those,
Your generation past.
Their wisdom gained, experience,
This sea of wealth is vast.

Choose to see a child’s joy,
Their laugh, a medicine.
LAUGHTERChoose to see you’re beautiful,
The outward and within.
cova 3Choose to see the little things,
The ties that bind love tight.

A walk, a talk or sweet embrace,
Or close beside at night.

Choose to see their will “I can”,
Though that their size is small.
kizzie 7Release them to the tallest wave,
Or scale the mountain tall.
kizzie 9Choose to see and celebrate,
Uniqueness’s inside.

For those who choose a different course,
Another wave to ride.

Choose to see your confidence,
You’re born for this you know.

So step out in your destiny,
Set free your dreams to grow.
cova 9Choose to see how fast time flees,
Like wind, her curls blow.
bride 5 keepFrom morning rise to evening set,
Your little girl will grow.
bride 1Choose to see the house you live,
Four walls for where you sleep.
home 7As home, a special place reserved,
For all the hearts you keep.
family 2Choose to see how big God is,
He longs to hear His name.
big God is 4Our restlessness His waters calm,
His beauty doth the same.
big God is 1Choose to see His promises.
Fulfilled though wonder why.
Yet wait in hope His promises,
Are written in the sky.
promise 3 (2) keepChoose to see that love is strong,
As ocean waves that flow.
Aloha bids a sad good-by,
Yet greets a sweet hello.

Choose to see the love you share,
Who set your heart aflame.
keep 16

And cherish every smile of theirs,
Who call you each by name.
aloha 10Choose to see when difficult,
When eyes are blind to thee.
Find hope and confidence in faith,
As this is how you see.
choose to see 1

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for,
and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV
aloha keep

A FATHER’S DAY GIFT of Family By Lori A Alicea

Have you ever had one of those nostalgic days, reminiscing thru a box of old photographs, reliving and getting lost in the “good-old days”?

We’ve all taken those unexpected trips down memory lane. Those private family reunions that trigger pieces and fragments of memories you thought were forgotten though discovered while sifting through the stacks of 4” x 6” snapshots cluttered in your lap.

Handfuls after handfuls of years shuffled through your fingers like a deck of cards, laughing at the old hair and clothes styles worn “back in the day”, and drooling over those vintage cars parked in the driveway.

Where did the time go?

You don’t want to live in the past, but sometimes revisiting former addresses of your life will turn back the clock of wonderful reminders, especially when you stumble on that one picture which catches you off guard and stirs an unexpected pause and thought, “Take me back.”

“Now this was a perfect day”, you mumble under your breath while holding a moment “frozen in time” thru an old photograph.   With a sigh you stare into the details, the people, the faces, the surroundings, savoring and longing to return to what you remember so clearly as a perfect day.

Pictures can do this. They are time capsules that help you remember what we so easily forget, our treasures in relationships, traditions and celebrations unearthed thru the pixels of a family photograph.

I have one of those pictures. A family gathering of a summer BBQ, an unassuming day I didn’t truly appreciate until I stumbled upon it years later, yet in my opinion could be remembered as one of those perfect days.

Gosh, if old photographs could come back to life, I’d love it to be this one. Though our portrait doesn’t paint a complete family gathering as some members couldn’t attend or live out of state, a few marriages hadn’t made their trip to the altar and a few children still waited their turn to be born or adopted.  Yet a day enjoyed on the lush green acreage of our home where every smile has a story written in the book of our family history, smiles that warm our hearts as eyes peruse each face posing for the camera.

Our snapshot of mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, grandchildren and canine friends; though not all blood related, family nevertheless, doing life and sharing life together on a beautiful summer afternoon.

Family is a priceless gift to open and be thankful for this Father’s Day.

Gazing this sunny day picture, I am thankful that our parent’s didn’t stop having children until there were six of us, even though the expenses and responsibilities piled up quickly with each child taking their place in the family.

I cherish those four sisters I grew up with, sisters I fought with, shared clothes, bedrooms and secrets with. As adults we shared our hopes and dreams and passed our children around to be spoiled.

Not pictured but I can’t forget about our big brother who cried every time mother brought home another baby sister, but learned to love us, scam us out of our allowance and protect all five of us when a big brother needed to.

Seated in this picture I celebrate the extended borders of our family that include our nanny and papa, their children and grandchildren we adopted as our own, to share holidays, birthdays and everyday moments with, even seeing a “family resemblance” as that’s what love can do when you open your hearts to others not rooted in your family tree. My heart swells hearing both families honoring each other as aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandma, nanny, papa, or cousin though not a drop of blood connects us.

Standing in the back row holding our sweet granddaughter I find my handsome husband whom I love beyond words. A man I have chosen to do “life with” as long as I have breath.  A man who has loved me in ways I never imagined possible, someone who holds the key to my heart forever and someone I am growing old together with.

Seated are three of our adorable grandchildren. I delight the thought of those grandchildren not pictured just yet as their births are still a well-kept secret with God.  I love that pictures keep your grandchildren small, yet a sad reminder of how fast they grow right out of your arms and lap.

My beautiful daughter holding her first born son sits right up front where she loves to be center of attention; a young woman and Toys R Us Kid whose little girl inside refuses to grow up, a gift for which I love her most for.

Don’t think you can hide from me son. Your gorgeous smile stands out like your “big guns”.  You’re as handsome as your father and have become like him in the sweetest of ways.  Thank you for marrying and adding your wife to the family portrait.  She is a gift wrapped as a daughter, our daughter.

Two sisters and their families have a special place in this picture and we can’t imagine life and family events without them.

Marley, our daughter’s annoying yappy dog stands in the photograph’s center. I promise you Marley I had nothing to do with your lost whereabouts.  Papa swears he doesn’t know how you wound up missing and we hope you found a loving new family since we last seen you barking in the busy road of cars.

Yes, if old photographs could come back to life, I’d love it to be this one on Father’s Day.

Marley would still be barking in the road and driving Papa crazy.

Bon Bon would still be here humming and working her word puzzles (our sister’s mother ‘n law Bonnie).

Papa would still have his beloved wife nanny.
Mother would still have her hilarious husband Roger.
We kids would still have you dad.

But life doesn’t stand still; it was never meant to stand still.

An Australian Proverb is quoted:
We are all visitors to this time, this place.
We are just passing through.
Our purpose here is
to observe,
to learn,
to grow,
to love…
And then we return home.

But while we are here living on this earth, in the moment, for the only moment we have in the now. May cameras be always flashing, recording pictures for a permanent remembrance of those faces called family, those loved ones seated next to us around the dinner table breaking bread.

Keep your family ties knotted tight.
Capture your family doing life together; in the planned and spontaneous.
As:
Pictures can capture celebrations.
Pictures can capture a day in great detail.
Pictures can capture our moments in time.
But pictures can’t hold back time from passing through.

This Father’s Day and every day, I honor and open the gift of family God has blessed me with.  I pray you share the same sentiment.

I reminisce and will always be grateful for life depicted in pictures taken of my family past.
I will enjoy today and not take for granted life depicted in pictures taken of my family present.
And will always be willing to extend my borders to include my family future.

Count your blessings and notice them all in your todays,
as tomorrow your “todays” will take its place in a time capsule buried as an old photograph.