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.

 

BACK IN THE DAY  By Lori A Alicea

Call me old fashioned, but I love sitting with those from generations before me and hear their stories of back in the day.

Stories of life as they knew it, recreated from the keepsakes of their memory.

I capture their smiles as they step back in the day; noting the details which rewind an old fashioned movie.

I regret not inquiring more of the family history when both sets of my grandparents still took their seat around the holiday dinner table.

All those questions I regret not asking, whose answers went with them sadly unanswered to the grave.

Tell me about life as a child and teenager back in the day?”

What were your dreams and hopes back in the day?”

“What can we learn from your life back in the day?”

Did you really walk a mile to school in knee deep snow? Mom said you did.”

Tell me about your morning chores before school.”

Who milked the cow, who gathered the eggs, who helped mother in the kitchen?”

Of course, the “event decorator I am” sits on the edge of anticipation to hear about their wedding back in the day; hoping for pictures collecting dust in an old closet box.

These conversations paint a portrait of life changing from generation to generation.

The intimacy of handwritten letters sent back and forth between two hearts in love.

Grandmother’s old fashioned recipes with grease and flour still remaining from hands which once referred to them in the kitchen.

Both now a novelty replaced with technology.

The simpler life of family togetherness now stuck in the traffic jams of busyness.

During these times when you long for quiet, when you wish for a few minutes of the good old days; you reminisce the stories which take you back to life with your grandparents and great-grandparents and even your mother and father.

It’s so important to glean in the fields of their stories, to be a witness to their life and gather the fruit of history and legacy, your inheritance worth more and valued higher than earthly dollars.

Lean in close to the simplest of details from the generations of family as these pages written from their life will become those memories you save into the keepsakes of your memory, the legacy you pass to your children one day.IMG_1915

Walk a mile in their shoes, their steps back in the day. Those history lessons which hold the generations together, if we dare to protect these stories from the sun of time which dares to fade them.

IMG_1919

We have so much to learn from each other.

We need not be stuck in our own ways, unteachable to learn “what’s already been” from the past or “what is possible” in the present; or hope for the future.

Be willing to take your basket and start gathering.IMG_1920IMG_1921

Reach for the abundance of wisdom, their Godly influence, and hidden fruit of their lives which still waits to be picked.

You must be intentional to do your part and gather.

The next generation depends on you entering the fields of back in their day.IMG_1923

IMG_1922

Yes, call me old fashioned, but I love sitting with those from generations before me and hear their stories of back in the day, especially when they’re stories about my mother.

Talking about her, reminiscing and re-living these stories keep her alive in my heart, even though she left her earthly home a year and a half ago.

Now that I am the living grandmother, I get the privilege of repeating my stories you’ve heard once or twice before as my grandparents once did.

Stories which journey back when all my siblings still lived at the same address on Fox River Rd.

Stories which refresh my life while stuck in the traffic jam of busyness.
A story about my mother.

2018 mothers day brunch

SUMMER IN A JAR
By Lori A. Alicea

With family vacations, summer sports and fairs coming to town, you might not have noticed that Christmas has snuck in the back door of some stores, sounding the alarm that winter is around the corner.  By the time most of us are snuggling up in that first sweater, we might be asking ourselves, “Where did the summer go?”  For those who’d like to hold onto summer a little longer, did you know it’s possible to capture the essence of this season in a bottle, labeling it “summer in a jar?”

Growing up, backyard gardens, cornfields and fruit markets were common neighborhood sights. corn field along road

With breezes carrying them in, the smells of summer welcomed itself through open windows, evident in the slight waves of the curtains.open window

Strawberries, peaches, apples and grapes, all waiting for someone to take them home from the fruit market down the street.  As a little girl the aroma of this seasonal shop was so delicious, fruit juices could be tasted just by breathing.IMG_1845

Mother would buy these farmer spoils by the flat, bushel and bucket, bringing them home to create jams, jellies and frozen fruit for future homemade pies. IMG_1846

The pantry off from the kitchen displayed my mother’s mid-year labors, as I fantasized over them in the winter pretending they were “summer in a jar”.strawberry jam

From June through August, we five sisters helped mother prepare fruit for her signature jams, giving into temptation to eat more fruit than we prepared.  Though our mouths revealed the sticky evidence of our crime, mother didn’t scold us, rather kept focused as she boiled fruit on her Magic Chef stove.  Still boiling hot, blue Mason jars were filled then sealed with melted paraffin wax.  Mother’s creations eventually lined the pantry shelves when they cooled, waiting for winter to come.

It’s hard to appreciate kitchen art when the thermostat reads above 90 degrees.  But light the fireplace one frosty December morning, and top a fresh baked biscuit smothered in butter with homemade jam, those early hours might usher in a smell of summer with fruit so fresh you’d think they were recently picked.

As an adult, I am saddened that subdivisions have taken over the neighborhood, leaving farmer fields a figment of my imagination.  Kitchen curtains don’t fly in the wind of open windows as air conditioners keep them closed.  Fruit markets are a novelty now, canning isn’t a way of life, and out of five sisters, I’m the only one that cans, bakes bread and finds pleasure in homemade anything.

But as for me, my homemade effort’s brings back time with mom and memories of yesterday, when I go the extra mile to see my shelves full of “summer in a jar”.

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

SO LIKE YOUR FATHER By Lori A Alicea

Looking through the mirror of the generations, its reflection reminds us that the years of our grandfathers, fathers, children and grandchildren pass onto each other the similarities of their faces, their subtle mannerisms, what brings them delight and joy.

While many generations try to deny what the mirror reveals as truth, may the eye of the beholder embrace the family history in their smile, the way they stand, and all the answers to who they are in these reflections.

Remembering a time when my great-grandfather, both sets of grandparents and father were still alive and me as a grown daughter with children of my own, I regret terribly not taking those small moments with them to record the details of my lineage through their memories and follow these woven threads that piece together the fabric of my life.

I would have loved to know how my grandparents and father celebrated Christmas as a child.  What where their dreams, disappointments, regrets?  To my great-grandfather, tell me about the Depression Era or going off to war?  Of course it would behoove me not to ask about love, weddings and marriage back in the day, or uncover my grandmother’s wedding dress hidden in her hope chest.  Being known as a book of a million questions, I could cry for the history I didn’t discover while these matriarch and patriarch pillars were still living for me to ask.

As a mother and grandmother with four children and ten grandchildren, I can’t tell you the times when an act, movement or just a glance from one of them stops me with a thought,

“That was so like your father.”

I see that silly smile worn by my son and grandson; both who could easily pass for carbon copies of each other in their antics.
Their grins tell a hilarious story all by itself.

 

I’ve realized the way I stand has been inherited by my son and granddaughter.  So many occasions while growing up my son would casually be browsing for a snack at the refrigerator and I’d see myself in his mannerisms.  Now I catch my granddaughter from those surprise glances of my eye and pause,
“You are so like your father.”

 

I find it amazing that a child’s love for their father’s pick-up truck is passed on down like a family heirloom.

 

Even the thrill seeking adventure of my teenage son jumping curbs and rails stirring the pot of a mother’s hysteria,
Thrill Seeker Jake 1

has revealed itself in my grandchildren when in a child’s delight screams to their daddy while holding for life to their rope swing, GO HIGHER.
Don’t listen to Gaga.  GO HIGHER DADDY!!
Yes, they are so like their father.

 

Lord, help me prepare as the real adventure is yet to come for my grandchildren as my son and “son of a different mother” I claim knows no limits to the life of a thrill-seeker.

 

Turning back the pages of the family bible, I wonder about the grandfather who passed on his trait for wearing suspenders to the young child in my husband.  Being raised in his grandfather’s home, I’m sure their affection for each other was expressed in sharing this iconic fashion statement.
Legs Out David

Through the generations, it’s fascinating that a father’s love for something is embraced in the bloodline of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Baseball can be traced in four generations of my husband’s family.  Many dreams of being discovered into the big leagues were dashed by reality, yet the innings still continue each summer when the umpire yells into the dugout, “Batter up!”

 

Even hobbies can be shared from generation to generation.  My son’s great uncle passed on his square of the family quilt to his nephew and great-nephew through beekeeping.  Imagine raising bees becoming part of your heritage.

 

Generations pass on those coveted traditions that fill in the memories of our childhood.  We remember the joyful moments; the faces we long to see again; the days of old and relive them again through the lives of our children and grandchildren.  Like a father witnessing that coveted milestone in his son’s first birthday, or a son sharing the same milestone when his father celebrates his sixtieth.

 

More than anything, you can’t savor the albums of the generations, reliving history captured through the faces stopped in time and witness with your own eyes without saying,
“You are so like your father.”

A father and son thirty years apart.

 

Dads being dads then sons growing up to be dads.

 

Dads taking on a new role as grandfather and great grandfather, and simply loving it.

 

  Completing the picture framed and titled:
Family through the eyes of four generations
Generations All 4

I can’t close the family bible without retelling the story whose image and likeness we were created, the reason we look like Him in our words, deeds and actions of heart and able to say,

“We are so like our Father.”

In the beginning,

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness….”
Genesis 1:26 NIV

We were created in His image that his character in our love, patience, kindness and faithfulness be seen and embraced by others.

Oh that we be found acting like our Father in a secret act of kindness.
Oh that our patience in a hard situation make our Father proud.
Oh that our Father finds us faithful to the “plough” when others have left their fields and fallen asleep.
Oh that the fullness of our heart overflow onto others that they might be drawn to the Father who loves them best.

May it be sincerely said by the circle of influence that God has encamped around us,

“You are so like your father.”

A RACE FOR THE GENERATIONS By Lori A Alicea

We all have a race to run.  A race to answer the high calling placed on our life.  A race to fulfill the great purpose we were born with.  A race we must run with endurance to receive the prize.  A race we must finish with future generations in mind.

As a middle aged couple with ten grandchildren to brag about, my husband and I are more aware than ever the race we run before them.  The stats and results of our race will be studied and talked about for generations to come; albeit a win or great defeat.  Knowing this, we run to finish strong our “leg” of this relay event, handing off to the next generation that baton of great inheritance.

As in life, as in a 4 x 400 meter relay, you only get one lap around the track.  That’s 400 meters, a mere sprint to complete the mission you were assigned.  A mission mandating you to stay in your lane and not detour; focus forward and not look back, lest you trip.  This is a relay where success or disqualification occurs in the baton exchange zone to the next “leg” waiting their turn to begin running;
a race for the generations.

As our Children’s children are a crown to the aged… Proverbs 17:6 (NIV), our reward as “silver hairs” nearing that exchange zone of the baton, it is our great desire that an inheritance, a treasure chest of our love, memories and wisdom for a Godly pursuit be passed into the hands of our second, third and generations to come.  We want to leave a legacy written in the blank pages of our family Bible that cheer them on from the stands of their race:

…. RUN and not grow weary…Isaiah 40:31

 …RUN with perseverance the race marked for you,
fixing your eyes on Jesus…
Hebrews 12:1-2

A Race for the Generations Portrait of Legacy picture

OUR GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES
By Lori A Alicea

May all the words you hear us speak,
May what your eyes can see.
The love we give remind you of,
No other one but Thee.

  Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith….
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)