INTENTIONAL FRIENDS  By Lori A Alicea

Her name is Betty.

My next door-neighbor of many years and twenty years my senior, and yet our relationship celebrated differing views and perspectives; not competing generations.

Across the street where whistle blowing trains rattled our windows all hours of the day, was an old country street of five houses nestled under the acreage of trees they were built on, where barns, horses, gardens and chickens running loose added to the old fashion charm of a picturesque postcard.Jake 1

Betty and I began borrowing cups of sugar from each other when she was a young grandmother and I a young mother myself.

As neighbors, we smiled and witnessed from our porches and swing sets the passing of time in the growing faces of Betty’s grandchildren and my children between the two houses.

Betty’s twin granddaughters and two grandsons always seemed to sport a glove and bat for a family baseball game of endless innings in their backyard where parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, each took their position on the field.

My two year old son watched these games from the dugout of his sandbox, waiting his turn to be big enough for the team; my baby girl and I rooted Betty’s grand-kids from the window or lawn chair nearby.

Betty and I loved being home with our children and grandchildren, both sharing the arts of sewing, canning and crafts.

More than anything, we neighbors shared the same pew at heart when our love for God overflowed those morning cups of conversation.

USE church

As time passed by, my young children and I would leave the neighborhood in tears and brokenhearted due to an unwanted divorce, but would return years later as Betty’s next-door neighbor, newly married to the man of my dreams.

Sadly, moving back to this old country neighborhood of five houses where whistle blowing trains from across the street would fascinate my future grandchildren, Betty has said good-by in sickness to the love of her life; a marriage of thirty-five glorious years.

In her husband’s honor, Betty planted a backyard tree to celebrate his life and life going on thru nature in its magnificence towards the skies and God; a widow’s place of remembrance for someone she deeply loved.

Albeit divorce, sickness or death, Betty and I continued to share sugar and heartache over tears, conversations, hugs and sometimes sitting in silence as true friends and neighbors feel comfortable to do.

For years I felt guilty for all the celebrations of open houses, baby showers and parties that took place on the front acreage of our property, where life and laughter…

IMG_6070

Could be heard and seen from Betty’s house and open windows a few steps away.IMG_6069

Through our intentional friendship though, Betty continued to be encouraged and lifted up, reminding her through scriptures that God promised to be a husband to the widow, a father to the orphan, a redeemer for another day.

Fifteen years later God redeems Betty’s vacant heart at a high school reunion with the re-introduction of an old friend. Betty’s eyes illuminated with joy and happiness unspeakable once again as a little girl, and the two were married in the fall of that year; eventually moving out of the neighborhood to begin their newly married life in another state.

Distance didn’t change our friendship as the miles were bridged with Betty’s cards sent in the mail and my telephone calls to her.

Betty and her new husband would come into town every so often to visit family or attend their favorite quartet concerts, for which they stopped into the old neighborhood for a visit with us.

Not making excuses, but life started happening in those one by one good-byes to parents, grandparents and loved ones and moving two more times for us, somehow losing touch with Betty.

Interestingly, Betty’s cards stopped coming although I didn’t question it, assuming life was happening for her.

Sadly and heartbreaking enough, it was.

I decided to look Betty up on social media after three and a half years from our last conversation, when an arrow plunged my heart in despair after realizing Betty’s account had been moved to legacy status.

Not wanting to assume the worse, I searched the internet for an obituary, yet never finding one in my quest.

Remembering in former conversations of Betty’s wishes to be buried by her husband of thirty-five years, David and I drove to the old country cemetery a short distance from where Betty and I used to be neighbors, only to find that indeed, Betty had passed away mere months after our last conversation.USE cemetery

With only one dirt road winding through this final resting place of a few hundred loved ones, it didn’t take us long to find the headstone of Betty’s last name she once shared with the love of her life.USE dirt roads

To my surprise, Betty left behind a love story of a different kind, choosing to be remembered beside both men who stole this woman’s heart in life.

Not knowing for sure, I imagine Betty’s thoughts…

God didn’t forget Betty and she wanted to thank Him by telling the world her beautiful story beyond her absence.USE headstone

I’m so sorry for the conversations we didn’t have those final months of Betty’s life.  I regret not bidding good-by to my intentional friend.

I didn’t attend Betty’s celebration of life and convey to her family how much their mother and grandmother meant to a next door neighbor; only because I didn’t know.

But may these words be the flowers I send to Betty on her life’s Graduation day to heaven, albeit three and a half years after she received her diploma.USE flowers

Thank you Betty for decades of friendship, for cards, for sharing cups of sugar as next door neighbors do.

I will never forget you.

Remembering…

One day we will once again share a front row pew with God who will tip His heart’s tea-pot and overflow our morning cups of conversation.USE church

CLOSER THAN A BROTHER  By Lori A Alicea

It is written…

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

Those friends who are brothers from different mothers, yet love the other’s family as their own.

They eat from each other’s refrigerators; they sleep on the other’s floor.

They argue as brothers yet remain and love as true friends,

as friends stick closer than a brother.

college buds

Friendships elevate one another with their belief in the other’s success;

Going low that they be lifted high.sand dune buds 2006 Jake and Rob on sand dunes jake jumping

Friendships rev the throttle of encouragement to push their brother further and faster down the pathway of life.

They are a ride for help when friends find themselves stranded along a dark and lonely road.

Friends are runners in each other’s races.

They train together for those triathlons which test the limits of a brother’s endurance of spirit when he’s forced to…

Swim against the tide of struggles…

Bicycle though the wind of adversity blows in your face…

And run a full marathon while you are weak.

Friends keep pace beside their brother’s race especially when the runner’s wall is before them,

as friends stick closer than a brother.

Friendships are those speeches of love and truth at your wedding, those crumbs in the forest to help you find your way when your compass has failed.

A brotherhood of words to remind you…

I’ve got your back…

I’m here for you…

You’ve got a friend in me.wedding - best man speech

True friends talk and think like the other; albeit to a grandmother’s anxiety.

Friends stroll thru and share the sights of fatherhood together; they are those fun uncles to their brother’s children.vacation dads together 2019 england hattabaughs in town hollis eli holding hands

Friends see the good, the beautiful, the noteworthy attributes of his brother, overlooking the imperfect weeds of his brother’s garden.

A friend is one who overlooks your broken fence,
And admires the flowers in your garden.
Author Unknown

The sun sets in the eyes of friends who share the other’s dreams, successes, failures and hope thru the lens of their God who loved them first as friend.vacation together

Friends stand at attention to the priorities and values of true success, holding the line to fight and protect their richest blessings …

God…
Family…
Country…
Flag…

Friends go to the ends of the world for the other, following them and risking it all up those treacherous mountains where it’s most difficult to breathe if need be.

Because friends don’t allow friends to climb thru life alone,

as friends stick closer than a brother.

A friend loves at all times.

A friend is always loyal,
A brother is born to help in time of need.
Proverbs 17:17 NLTmt ranier 1

A brotherhood of words to remind you…

I’ve got your back…
I’m here for you…

You’ve got a friend in me.

TOGETHER…and always…By Lori Alicea

You know her…

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

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

KIZZIE ROSALEE same seat

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

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

That Together…and always

You both…

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

KIZZIE ROSALEE holding hands walking

You know her…

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

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

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

A relationship written and framed around these words…

Friends are kisses blown to us by angels.
Anonymous

Eleanor Roosevelt
Said it even better…

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

Together…and always…

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

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

Together…and always…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who…

Together…and always

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

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

 

A NEW BEGINNING By Lori A Alicea

As a faithful friend who keeps his solemn promises, morning greets us each and every day with a kiss of new beginnings.

 New beginnings that promise a “blank page” if you dare to write the next chapter.
New beginnings that promise another “chance” if you dare to try.
New beginnings that promise “hope” if you dare to dream.
New beginnings that promise “life” if you dare to breathe.
New beginnings that promise “friendship” if you dare to be a friend.
New beginnings that promise another “race” if you dare to lace up your shoes.
New beginnings that promise a “song” if you dare to sing.
New beginnings that promise “relationship” if you dare to forgive.
New beginnings that promise “love” if you dare to open your heart.
New beginnings that promise “the moon” if you dare to shoot for the stars.

New beginnings that promise a “kiss”
If you dare to kiss back.

New beginnings are birthed with new promises, all yours for the taking.
Do you see them?
Do you look for them?
Do you want them?
girls looking out windowThe author of our yesterday, today and forever;
our beginning, and our end (Revelation 22:13 NIV)
is the author of our new beginnings,
the author of another day.

Might we be encouraged to take the dare of a new beginning?
Might we take our blank page and write the words we wanted our life to say yesterday?
What do you have to lose?

Our faithful God is a “God of Second Chances; everyday”.
His mercies and compassion’s are new every morning;
a clean slate for us to try again.

22  …for his compassion’s never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

Might we dare to walk the “high wire” of a new beginning risking the fall for the promise, relying on the “safety net of your father’s arms to fall into” if something does go wrong.
Aubrey touching papa's face

For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
Psalm 26:3 NIV       

Be confident in taking the next step of your new beginning without the security of yesterday’s training wheels.
Your Father’s got you.
Kyle teaching Ethan to ride a bike

You’re not alone in this world of new beginnings, your Father sees you.
Ayva in car seat
Allow your Father to sing over you,
To remind you:
“You’re everything he hoped for.”
“You’re everything he dreamed.”
Joe Cocker

 

 

 

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Song YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL
by Joe Cocker

“Today” is that faithful friend who keeps his solemn promises, like morning who greets us each and every day with a kiss of new beginnings.

But new beginnings come with a dare.

YOU MUST

Dare to try.
Dare to dream.
Dare to breathe.
Dare to be a friend.
Dare to run your race.
Dare to sing your song.
Dare to forgive.
Dare to love.

Dare to kiss back.

New beginnings are birthed with new promises.
You must see them.
You must look for them.
You must want them.
You must reach for them to take them.

You must Dare to kiss back.