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

 

MY CHRISTMAS GIFT OF OLD By Lori A Alicea

Christmas as a grandmother of ten changed everything for me.

Remembering how my grandparents put so much thought and festivity into Christmas Eve for us six kids and our cousins, an evening we looked forward to every year, stirs me to be a memory maker as my grandfather and grandmother were, to intentionally leave behind indelible Christmas card moments in the minds of our grandchildren.

Maybe our grandchildren watching a Hallmark movie might remind them of the lovely decoration creations that Gaga breathed holiday life into her house with.
USE as main pictureMaybe the old fashioned Christmas tree and specially wrapped gifts all stacked by the warm fireplace, waiting for anxious good little boys and girls to open might re-create a Norman Rockwell painting in their memories.
USE xmas tree presentsMaybe the Christmas table’s wintery themed centerpieces and place settings for everyone might remind them to always give thanks for those family members and friends sitting beside them for dinner.
2018 alicea xmas 2For me as a grandparent, it’s my inner child’s delight to unwrap the gift of our grandchildren’s excitement through every planned and unplanned moment of our Christmas gathering. I pray the next generation of grandparent’s experience the same holiday joy with their grandchildren as that last two generations have.  I pray I am honoring my grandparent’s legacy as I pass onto my grandchildren those Christmas memories they so generously gave to me.

Christmas Eve at my grandparents wasn’t the themed Christmas’ of today, yet holidays with them was every bit as memorable.

My grandparent’s tree was simple with its homemade ornaments and star, yet lacking in luster minus the sparkle of twinkling lights we use today, as the heavier miniature bulbs were popular in their day. I lavish though the ornaments that were passed to me from my grandmother’s tree, thinking of her just the other day when I decorated my own tree with a few of her treasures.

My grandparent’s cardboard fireplace set up in the basement corner looked authentic to a young girl as the plastic Santa sleigh and his reindeer did. I never told grandma, but I looked forward to seeing that fireplace every year, as we didn’t have one at home.

Grandma’s tables were accentuated and lit with holiday candles, which permeated the air with a Christmas fragrance of evergreen.
USE AS MAIN PICTURE 1Stacked by the fake fireplace were all of grandma’s gifts, each wrapped and topped with a pretty bow. Every grandchild snooped and found the package that bore their name in the stack.  With “ants in their pants” they counted the seconds until present time.
USE bowChristmas at my grandparent’s house was not the extravaganza of Christmas’ today. But Christmas at my grandparents nevertheless etched in my heart these framed moments I can see with clarity and enjoy today.

I remember all those rounds of pool with my cousins using the “kiddy pool table” that grandpa let us destroy over the years, while keeping the adult one hidden and covered.

Grandpa wowed and impressed us every year with the unveiling of his newest inventions awaiting a patent. Grandpa was super ingenious and had an infectious laugh.

Grandma kept our appetites satisfied before dinner with appetizers of meatballs and assortments of cheeses and crackers.

Once the dinner bell rang, I can still see Grandma Bertie going up and down the stairs to set the table with her famous roast and side items that completed our dinner. I sure missed her meals when Christmas Eve dinner became too much for grandma to prepare.

But my sweetest memory of Christmas at my grandmothers, was finding the table of her homemade Christmas cookies and peanut butter balls. I stuffed my mouth all night long full of her confections. The plate of cookies was as round as the table.  Grandma had to have baked for days to fill that plate.

When my grandparents passed away, we adult kids were allowed to go through their house and take whatever items remained of their life. I was blessed to inherit my grandmother’s cookbook full of holiday cookie recipes.  That sad day I secretly asked my aunt if anyone had taken grandma’s beaded two-layered table cloth sewn by my great aunt and crystal plate, both which decorated my grandmother’s cookie table every Christmas Eve.

Aunt Bonnie took me to a closet where this “Christmas Gift of Old” hung in quiet silence, hidden probably for years from that final Christmas Eve my grandmother hosted. My aunt was more than proud to say I could have this coveted memory.

Oh the years as I child I admired the intricate time consuming detail of this table cloth while eating my grandmother’s cookies. Now, as an adult, I still admire the time my great aunt gave to making this tablecloth, the inheritance that now covers a table during my holidays. I even serve my Christmas cookies on the same plate my grandmother did, taking me back to the days when Christmas was simpler, yet whose wonderful memories have stood the test of time.

I miss my grandparents and times spent with them as a child at their house on Christmas Eve.

It’s funny how so much energy and money is spent on Christmas gifts that most, including myself, can’t remember what we give or get from year to year.

But I’ve never forgotten my grandmother’s ornaments or cookie table cloth
USE TABLECLOTH FINAL
and plate inherited all those years ago,
USE cookie platter
invaluable gifts from a woman who has no idea how much I appreciate, the holiday gifts given in her honor,

My Christmas Gift of Old.

 

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.”

PAPA’S ROBE By Lori A Alicea

Safe in the arms of a grandfather.

Safe and peaceful as Papa’s Robe is soothing as a grandchild’s security blanket for the time spent in his arms.

Calming is the lingering smell of Papa’s cologne on his collar or the lullaby of his heartbeat gently playing beneath his fleecy robe that a child resting their face on Papa’s chest is quieted.

Enveloped in Papa’s Robe our grandchildren lay eyes on their grandfather for the very first time.

Papa’s Robe is Papa’s Place where it’s just you and him making a memory.Papa and cova first time 1You don’t realize until you look back through the pictures how some things stay the same for years.

I know it’s just a robe.

Yet reminiscing, our grandchildren will one day close their eyes and still catch a mist of Papa’s cologne in the air, connecting that memory and moments shared with their Papa wearing his robe.

Papa sharing pancakes and juice filled sippy cups with them at the morning breakfast table.  Papa holding little boys hands and guiding their feet while learning to walk.

 

Grandchildren every now and then need their one-on-one time with Papa.  Nothing needs to be said, yet their “robe-to-blankie” snuggle speaks sentences to a sweet toddler who just wants to sit next to Papa before bed.

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Sometimes Papa has to share his cuddles before bed, but Papa’s Robe has enough room for all of his babies.

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Papa shared his lap during night time stories with two grandchildren and their daddy millions of miles away during deployment.  While Papa never took their daddy’s place, Papa’s arms in his soft puffy robe comforted when a sad little boy and girl needed a hug from their daddy.

 

 

Papa and his cast of animated voices brings storybook characters to life.  There’s no doubt these simple minutes spent traveling the world through the pages of “make believe” with Papa will never be forgotten.
Papa reading book to ethanPapa always reserves palace time for his princess’.  Wearing royal robes together, Papa reminds his princess’ how pretty and smart they are.  They share secrets and promises and pinky-swear their confidences.

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But one Christmas not too long ago, Papa and Gaga decided to give their grand-babies “gifts of the heart” as money was a bit scarce that Christmas season.

Pondering what gifts to give, Gaga decided to create a memory from Papa’s Robe for each grandchild to remember their special time with Papa.  Papa agreed deciding after all the years spent wearing his robe, he loved the idea of passing a memory on to his babies.

 

 

Cova months old and Cova five years old with Papa wearing his robe

Papa’s Robe became Papa Bears.

Cut and designed from Papa’s Robe were a vest and bow-tie to clothe and create a child’s personal Papa Bear.  Hidden on each bear was a special message Papa recorded in his own voice.

 

 

Not revealing reasons for the photo shoot at the time, a picture of Papa and each grandchild was taken together, giving them a permanent reminder of time spent with their Papa wearing his robe.

 

 

 

 

On a fun note, a box of “Papa’s Juice” was also included for each child.
Papa’s Juice was a phrase our two year old Hollis adopted at the time when he saw us grandparents adding this to our water and liked it himself.
Papa’s Juice became a common drink in the house; a phrase still used today.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt’s been a few years and two babies born since Papa could be seen wearing his robe.

Papa’s babies are getting big now.  They are pulling away from “time alone” with Papa, but Papa knows that’s how it’s supposed to be in this season of life called “growing up”.

But you find new memories to make, new traditions to enjoy.

Life gets away from you when you’re not looking.

Make those memories count.

Pass on your “Papa Bears” to the next generation.