KNOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE…Before the Crisis Ever Hits! By Lori A Alicea

When you least expect, a crisis drives into your blind spot, catching you off guard with no time for a lane change.

Like a tornado touching ground, most will never hear the crisis warning in time before the freight train barrels through the path of their life.

This past December, 2021 our world turned a page and the narrative set for us a scene we never imagined or prepared for, although it was comforting to know what we believed in God before the crisis ever hit.EMERGENCY ROOM

During these four weeks of uncertainty battling a health crisis which waged war against my husband, we found ourselves free-falling into God’s arms to sustain us, wrapping up in the security blanket of what we believed about Him.

God is good.

No matter how bleak or unwelcoming these cold winter weeks in the hospital presented, David and I found strength in our Father’s enduring love and goodness, His faithfulness promised to the generations.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  Psalm 100:5 NIV

We rejoiced in the moment; we were glad for today.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 ESV

As difficult for us during this unforeseen storm, we tried our best not to worry about tomorrow, remembering tomorrow was never promised to any.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34 NIV

God is near to the brokenhearted.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 ESV

In the lonely midnight hours apart from each other, nothing sustained us more than our belief in the power of prayer.

God was ever present and in the midst of those gathering and petitioning in prayer on David’s behalf, speaking the promises of God’s Word for our encouragement.

(One of the numerous prayers I received via a text message during these four weeks from the intercessory team…)

We praise you Lord for David’s “steps forward!”

There is power in the prayer of agreement. There is power as we decree and declare God’s word, in faith believing.

There is power in the name of Jesus!

For I will do whatever you ask me to do when you ask me in my name. And that is how the Son will show what the Father is really like and bring glory to him. Ask me anything in my name, and I will do it for you!”
John 14:13-14 TPT

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:20 NIV

God is our provider.

While knowing God my entire life and receiving Him as Savior at an early age of thirteen, I’ve trusted God as my provider, demonstrating my dependence on him through “returning my tithe” and witnessing the multiplication of seed in my giving, beginning as a young teenager earning my own money.

My husband David has a similar testimony.

Tithing and giving is an act of our worship no matter the valley or mountain top we travel.

But our act of worship would stand and be tried when an earthly provision ceased during the challenges of a four week crisis.

Would our trust remain in our God as Provider?

Would we return the tithe and still give though the well of an earthly provision was temporarily dry?

Or would we hoard what little we had?

It is written about such a faith in God’s provision through a widow in the following…

God directed Elijah to a widow’s house to serve him a drink of water and feed a piece of bread, a woman who only had a handful of flour and little olive oil in a jug to make a last meal for her and her son.

Elijah asked her in faith to make a small loaf for him first; then make a portion from what remained for herself and her son. This widow woman trusted in God and didn’t hold tight the last of her earthly provision.

The Lord said, “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land; and so it happened as the Lord said.

(1 Kings 17:7-16 NIV)

From his hospital bed to me over the phone, David led in bold prayer albeit weak in physical strength, re-affirming our trust in God, our Provider.

Groceries were soon delivered to our doorstep.
Gift cards were given.
A few bills had been paid.
Unexpected visits to our door with soup, chili, and other provisions.
Our household increased.

Of all of our increase, we worshiped in giving and tithes.

These “showers of blessings” overwhelmed a grown man to tears.

God was faithful to the generations.

The page of our life has since been turned once again.

David and I reunited after a four week stay apart from each other.IMG_0891

While there are now new challenges facing David, we rest in what we know, in what we believe

The Lord is still good…
The Lord is ever near…
The Lord remains our faithful provider.

FAITH SEES FARTHER By Lori A Alicea

Faith is the substance of things hoped for,
The evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 KJV

Faith sees farther than the natural end of the road.

man walking in the forest
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Faith hopes.
Faith believes.

Faith doesn’t get discouraged when the “end of the road” is a mirage to the “bend in the path” ahead,

A traveler’s bread crumb in the forest reminder that the “substance of things they hoped for” is still a journey away; when the evidence remains to be seen.

photo of an empty dirt road between trees
Photo by sirpa jyske on Pexels.com

Faith sees farther beyond the sun’s lamppost illuminating our slow travels of “one foot in front of the other”.

green leaf tree surrounded by green grass field
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Because Faith Hopes in God’s gifts and promises.
Faith Believes in His perfect timing.

Faith doesn’t grow weary when the seasons change guard with the other, seasons handing over the spring months of peace and tranquility, to the fall barrenness exposed to those unexpected bumps in the road and delays.

autumn autumn colours brown countryside
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Faith doesn’t give up when our travel burdens become seemingly too much to carry.

road walking cute young
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Because Faith Sees Farther ahead to the still waters where God is waiting, to quench our thirst for another drink of His love, to refresh our souls for the miles which remain.

clear body of water between yellow and green leaved trees
Photo by Inge Wallumru00f8d on Pexels.com

Faith Sees Farther to those mountains of adversity, and travels with pockets full of mustard seeds.

When your mountain refuses to step aside, double-dog-daring you to stand up and fight,
A childlike faith clinches one small seed in his raised fist of defiance,

If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain,
“Move from here to there, and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20 NIV

Faith believes God sees us and trusts He hasn’t forgotten us.
Faith remembers God knows us each by name,
Just as He does for every bright star shinning in the midnight sky.

silhouette photo of trees during night time
Photo by Miriam Espacio on Pexels.com

Faith Sees Farther beyond what eyes can see because nothing is too hard for God.

Faith sees answered prayers even when the trails of our journey detour through the roughest terrain.  Faith hears the knock of the prodigal’s return.  Faith testifies the dry bones of a dead marriage come back to life.  Faith rejoices over sick bodies healed.

Faith sees provision for lack.
Faith sees a way out of a difficult situation.
Faith leads us to those lush green pastures of peace.

Faith hopes.
Faith believes when God doesn’t make sense.

Faith Sees Farther because:

Faith is the substance of things hoped for,
The evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 KJV

agriculture clouds country countryside
Photo by ge wang on Pexels.com

 

 

ALTAR OF REMEMBRANCE. By Lori A. Alicea

For most of us facing these unprecedented times that descended upon the world as a dark cloud when she wasn’t looking or prepared, we find ourselves leaving the onramp and navigating unsettling new territory down the interstate of I-Uncertainty for the very first time.

Just a month ago, high school seniors were anticipating senior prom, graduation and college. Summer brides were counting the days to the wedding they had dreamed about their entire life.  Family gatherings of all kinds were waiting their turn to happen; milestone birthday parties, anniversaries, retirements, etc.  Now these well planned events will remain as unfinished stories, as the calendars of our lives have been cleared and we find ourselves wondering, searching for answers, some panicking and worrying down the interstate of I-Uncertainty.

Decades ago when my country grandmother (MaMaw) was alive, every so often she’d take me down to the dark and musty cellar, her stretch of I-Uncertainty to unveil those hundreds of old and outdated preserved canned jars of every kind of food,  layered in years of dust and cobwebs remaining from the Great Depression. Her voice still echoing that deep rooted fear from those uncertain times when work, food and money was scarce, my grandmother reminded me while looking at her preserved food from a time in history I never experienced,
“At least we wouldn’t go hungry.”

My grandmother’s canned goods exceeded their shelf life months after the Great Depression became a memory, yet she kept them for reasons unbeknownst to me, yet maybe as her security blanket, a personal reminder of God’s faithfulness or quite possibly as her personal altar of remembrance that God didn’t allow his children to go hungry or beg bread.

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
Psalm 37:25 NIV

 These uncertain times find the grocery shelves scarce and in many places empty of needed food. This scarcity is a new experience and has panicked many and somewhat frightened my daughter of three children, who like all parents wants to provide food for their babies.

While it’s a first for even a grandmother my age listening to the cries of the world in panic, a similar story of emotion my grandmother used to share regarding the Great Depression.

It’s during these uncertain times that God calls us to re-visit our altars of remembrance, those altar of stones we erect to remind us of those hard places God has called us out and rescued from, just as our good daddy promised that He would, to build our faith and lift our downcast hearts when driving again down those new and unfamiliar miles of I-Uncertainty in the future.

During these uncertain times we as parents are to take our children and grandchildren to our altars of remembrances, to remind them of the faithfulness of the God they serve; that these stories of our yesterday’s remain alive in their re-telling time and again throughout the generations, to build their faith in times of uncertainty.

The living, the living – they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness.
Isaiah 38:19
promise 3 (2) keep
To my children,
to my grandchildren,
to my grandchildren beyond,
and to whomever chooses to follow,
I take you to my

Altar of Remembrance,

A place I visit often whenever I need to have my faith built up, when my heart needs to catch its breath, an altar of stones where I worship my God who was faithful to me and my small children when my personal world came to a halt.

These altars of remembrances remind us to be encouraged that the God of our yesterday is the same God of today, and we can rest that He will be our God of forever.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

(A blog I wrote a year ago.)

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BE STRONG.  BE COURAGEOUS.  BE NOT AFRAID.
By Lori A. Alicea

Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified …..
for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

For so many of us, this song plays from the radio of our heart while driving the interstate of I-Uncertainty, not able to see the miles of road and what waits ahead of us, with blind spots from every angle.

While tempted to change the station and take the first off-ramp of a detour, our God, our navigator, soothes our fears to keep on traveling and singing,

 BE STRONG.
BE COURAGEOUS,
BE NOT AFRAID.
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We’ve all traveled that road of I-Uncertainty at least once in our lives.  Chances are the longer we live, the scenery this “stretch of miles” might begin to look familiar.  You remember that billboard passing the first mile-marker to greet you in bold neon letters:

BE STRONG.
BE COURAGEOUS.
BE NOT AFRAID.
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You questioned the bold statement so quickly after crossing state lines onto I-Uncertainty.  But it doesn’t take long when you begin to question your surroundings, the unfamiliar you didn’t see on the map or remember last time you were passing through.  But another billboard stands in the distance from the winding roads of bareness you just passed to ease your fears of feeling alone,

 FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU.

I remember driving down the interstate of I-Uncertainty almost twenty-nine years ago.  I never thought the map of my life would have me driving down this “neck of the woods”, a single mom with two small children in the back seat of the car, yet here we were, passing that first mile-marker greeted by a bright billboard of neon letters,

BE STRONG.
BE COURAGEOUS.
BE NOT AFRAID.
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I’ve never driven this far away from home before, alone.
I’ve never been on my own before, alone.
What if the car breaks down while I’m alone?

Alone is that “winding stretch of bareness” I saw on the map, though didn’t think much of it until it was me behind the wheel.

Yet to ease that unsettled ache of being alone the many miles ahead was the second billboard with its bright message no one could miss,

FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU.

While packing up the car for our new life down I-Uncertainty, so much of what we loved would have to stay behind with the limited room in the trunk.

The most difficult to leave behind was that beautiful two acre lot of heaven we as a family treasured making memories celebrating all our events.  Such peace and tranquility of so many mornings sitting outside basking in the beauty of our land while drinking that first cup of coffee.  So many afternoons the imaginations that ran wild with the children’s feet up and down the acres they called home.
wheeler houseNow, their back yard is just a bench that two siblings share and a back yard seat where I drink my morning coffee alone on the weekends.candy jake 007Gone was our peace and tranquility as a looming cloud of suffocation hovered as neighbors crowded our personal space, deafened by the noise of city life with emergency vehicles blaring their sirens at all hours of the day and night.

Feeling terribly alone and abandoned yet that song from the radio of my heart continues to comfort in its quiet hum,

God will never leave you nor forsake you.

Those words rang loudly true once as our car broke down during a dark night when money was scarce because of a job loss and lunch and dinner for the next few days was a pan of leftovers from dinner the night before.  After those leftovers were eaten, our next meal was an agonizing question mark.  My worst fears of being alone came true with the horrible thought of my children going hungry alongside of the byway, with no sight of roadside assistance.

For a mother to look at her children’s face then be reminded of the barren cupboards and refrigerator was beyond painful.

BUT I HAD TO BE STRONG.
I HAD TO BE COURAGEOUS.
I COULDN’T BE AFRAID.

Another billboard caught my attention when that fretful night became morning,

…I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.  Psalm 37:25 NIV

GOD DIDN’T LEAVE US.
GOD DIDN’T FORSAKE US.

God showed up unannounced and just in time alongside of the road through my grandparents bringing grocery money worth a two weeks supply.
grandma and grandpa houle

I never gave my grandparents my new address; nor did anyone else.
I never revealed to anyone my empty refrigerator.
I never cried to anyone but God my fears.

Yet God got kept his promise to go with me down that lonely interstate of I-Uncertainty.  God kept his promise to never leave me broken down or forsake me as I traveled I-Uncertainty.  God kept his promise that my children would never beg bread the miles of I-Uncertainty.

God kept his promise through a grandfather who months later was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Since that five year journey down the lonely road of I-Uncertainty, I found that in my weakness of being alone and being without, I could be secure and strong in the faithful shoulders of God.  I didn’t need to carry the weights of my burdens for he would do the heavy lifting for me.

I could be STRONG in Him.
I could be COURAGEOUS in Him.
I didn’t have to be AFRAID because of Him.
I wouldn’t travel the streets ALONE because of Him.

My UNCERTAIN days were safe in the hands of a CERTAIN God,
As he is the faithful same yesterday, today and forever.

If the map of my itinerary found me again journeying the interstate of I-Uncertainty, I’d be at peace in my traveling companion who erected a billboard for my confidence,

FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD GOES WITH YOU.