A DANCE INTO FOREVER  By Lori A Alicea

The wedding DJ has called for all the married couples to the dance floor for the next selection of the night.

Husbands and wives of every age began leaving their seats as the music to “their song” welcomed and gestured them to center stage.

Crowded on the dance floor were couples swaying back and forth in the arms with the one they said “I Do” to, however many years ago their altar moment was.

Minutes into their wedding waltz, the DJ announced that anyone married twenty-four hours or less must leave the dance floor.

The bride and groom both smiled and laughed as they took their position on the side lines.

The wedding waltz continues and dancing resumes once again.

The second stanza of the song began when the DJ stopped the music and ushered couples married five years or less to join the bride and groom along the outer circle of the stage.

The crowd on the dance floor began thinning out and it remained to be seen which twosome still dancing has been married the longest.

Couples married ten years or less were asked to join the others on the side lines.

Fifteen years or less…
Twenty-five years or less…
Thirty-five years or less…

By this time in the lyrics only a handful of marriages remain on the dance floor.

The children of parents and grandparents still dancing celebrate the rare treasure before them…

A gift and covenant of…

For richer or poorer…
In sickness and in health…
Until death…

Will we part…

The DJ’s announcement intensifies with excitement…

Forty-five years or less…

The waltz still plays as those couples on the sidelines began circling as a wedding ring around the final marriage of fifty golden years.

USE DANCE 2

This wedding ring of marriages circling the rare commitment of fifty golden years; a symbol of infinity which has neither beginning nor end; a display of love eternal and endless, and worn on the wedding finger closest to their heart.

This ring made of precious metal; an image depicting the sacredness of marriage, given to their betrothed with deep emotion and sentiment during the most sacred event of their life.USE then and nowUSE fifty sign

Fifty golden years is a testimony to the eyes who witness this miracle of dedication, two people trusting God during the valleys and mountain tops before them, persevering the journey together with Him in marriage.

USE DANCE 3

Those words of affirmation throughout the years seal and swell their abiding hearts of true love.CARDS 2A novel of words detailing the pursuit of rare pearls and treasure hunt of each other, passing on down thru the generations living beyond them a marriage’s lasting legacy.
CARDS 1Their kisses of thankfulness for another day thru the decades together.CARDS 3

Oh, the laughter which feeds their souls as a good medicine; stoking the fire of great joy which warms as a blanket around their arms on a cold winter day.
USE newleywood game

Holding close their gift of friendship…
Celebrating their nearest and dearest confidant…
Feeling safe with the one who holds the secret keys to their heart.USE cake

USE gifts

The wedding waltz continues and serenades the anniversary couple as they

Dance into forever.

Embraced in each other’s arms they’ll waltz from anniversary to anniversary, keeping in time with their covenant of forever until the music ceases to play.USE DANCE 1

Fifty golden years marks the marathon of miles two people in love have traveled together in marriage.

They are a covenant gift and testimony to their children and grandchildren and eyes of those who have witnessed their rare love for each other…

For richer or poorer…
In sickness and in health…
Until death…

Will we part…

USE couple sitting down

FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES…By Lori A Alicea

Do you have a picture of grandma?”

Preoccupied while frying bacon and measuring flour for a batch of homemade breakfast biscuits for three of my grandchildren who spent the night previous, my curious granddaughter asks the question again,

Gaga, do you have a picture of grandma?”party 2

A quick glance at the clock whose hands stretched out to wake and announce the sleepy hour of 5:30 in the morning, quite early for a little girl to be thinking about grandma still tightly wrapped in her blankie.

But, from the innocent mouths of babes, a child was asking.clock

Looking up at Aubrey with my full attention now, though still kneading biscuit dough from memory, this Gaga handled a granddaughter’s heart with delicate hands,

Are you missing grandma?”

Secretly, I had also been missing my mother terribly these early weeks of summer; longing to share a glass of lemonade and the day’s nothings under the shade tree of our back yard together.

Now, here is a five year old, whose birthday was recently shared and celebrated with her sister Ayva turning seven, who also is missing her grandma.

Not having too many pictures framed and displayed in the house, I did remember a 5 x 7 keepsake hidden between the pages of my Bible for this sweet child to reminisce over; a moment taken at our 25th Wedding Anniversary three years ago.

I wanted my mother close whenever the waves of emotions for her rushed and reached the shore of my heart, usually during the quiet hours of my morning devotions with God.bible MOMS PICTURE

In just a few short months this September, an ocean of memories will flood the vacancy our mother left behind when she waved good-by for heaven only two years ago.mom's headstone

With Aubrey recently blowing out the candles of her fifth birthday cake,

Only highlights the impact her grandmother had made during the three short years these two shared together.halloween 1

My mother’s hand-print remains on Aubrey’s life and an entire legacy of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well.

(Aubrey with her grandmother on the left and attending grandma’s funeral on the right; just three short years and yet a little girl still asks for a picture.)

Aubrey isn’t alone in her longing for pictures of grandma, as six months ago at Christmas, her cousin Gracie was yearning the same.

In the spirit of Christmas and found beneath the tree, an album filled and full of grandma’s pictures for Gracie, a gift to comfort a little girl who also missed her grandmother.

My mother would have been eighty-two years young this July 21st, yet our family is forever thankful for the final picture we gathered together outside her window for…

An 80th Princess Gala Event in mother’s honor…

A perfect afternoon for the remaining birthday we’d ever celebrate with our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother this side of heaven.
moms 80th birthday

Recently, Aubrey was watering the flowers of my tiny garden, not realizing many of the decorations of angels, wind chimes, birds and flower pots were once placed outside her grandmother’s window of her own garden;

A summer’s delight to lift a mother’s spirit during those lonely afternoons when family wasn’t visiting.

Mother’s love for the Lord is a families great inheritance she passed on down thru her legacy.

Recently, during a day I ached for my mother, God unearthed a treasure written in my mother’s handwriting, a gift of encouragement I have no idea how it was buried and hidden on my computer after all these years.MOMS WRITING

Your family loves and misses you mother.

Two years is but a blink of the eye for us, yet once you stepped into eternity with God, there was no looking back for you.

In your absence, I’ve had to take your place at the card table.

You’d be disappointed in the whiners and poor sports you used to play with, but actually be proud of the daughter who holds her own and plays in your honor for a game of Phase 10.

From the innocent mouths of babes, her heart was asking.

Gaga, do you have a picture of grandma?”party 2

Aubrey held her grandmother’s hand for only three short years, a matriarch who left her hand-print on the heart of a grandchild for a lifetime.halloween mom and aubrey 2019

Aubrey Ann, your picture of grandma remains between the family bible pages where she loved her Lord from, the great inheritance your grandmother passed on down to you and her legacy of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

bible MOMS PICTURE

 

HAND-PRINT THAT YOU LEAVE  By Lori A Alicea

Almost thirty years ago, a city that I lived in then and still do today, erected a wall of hands to remember and memorialize its children with squares of their painted hand-prints, creating the entrance to a brand new playground and summer memories for this and future generations.USE wall of hands

After years of childhood laughter, tag, birthday parties and afternoon lunches at our cities most famous park, this haven of fun has been replaced with a brand new playground for another generation of children; a weekend place of amusement our younger and sometimes older grandchildren beg us grandparents to take them to.

But what didn’t get replaced and still stands today in all its glory is that wall of hands from thirty years ago.USE handprints

A memorial where our cities children, where two brothers and two sisters (four cousins) in our family permanently scrabooked their young hand-prints, a wall which tugs this parent’s heart when remembering my son and daughter’s life so long ago.

Hand-prints left behind;

A library of lives;

Wall to wall of stories;

A portrait of children begging a reunion.USE wall of hands

I wonder how many grown children stop by and pay homage to their younger self.

I wonder about those sons or daughters who overlay their hand-print on their father or mother’s painted hand, their sacred square which bridges those years together and testifies to the family history they share.

In living life, we are leaving hand-prints behind, most of the time unknowingly.

Our innocent smiles of good morning to complete strangers…

Paying for someone’s coffee in the car behind you…

Holding the door for a patron entering the store…

Letting someone take your turn at the stop sign…

These are hand-prints that you leave.

Hand-prints are those single rose stems left behind at the front door of those lives touched by your life.

Hand-prints left behind while you are unaware of their present circumstances, sometimes in desperate want of this thoughtfulness.

Our years here on earth should reflect a wall of hands we’ve impacted in those simple acts of kindness; leaving hand-prints on the hearts of those thirsty for a drink of God’s love.

It really doesn’t take much.

Hand-prints left behind are woven and interlaced into the baskets we’ve planted small seeds in; never realizing the beauty which blooms one day in those lives we gardened.USE basket 2

Weaving her life into others thru baskets, I remember with joy our Bon Bon (Bonnie) and basket-weaver, a matriarch in our family.

Blessed to have a few of Bonnie’s baskets, I value these woven containers of love which left behind her hand-prints of time, creativity and great patience.USE basket 1

All of Bonnie’s baskets are celebrated with a personal hand-print left behind in her own signature.

Now that Bon Bon is with Jesus, seeing her name greatly increases the family sentiment of these gifts.USE bonnies name

At our matriarch’s Home-going Service, her daughter thought nothing seemed more fitting than honoring her mother with one of her baskets overflowing with Bonnie’s favorite flowers and wheat.USE Bonnies final basket

I was deeply blessed by Bonnie’s son (my brother ‘n law) who asked me to celebrate our basket weaver with a poem of my heart.

Yes, it just doesn’t take much to leave your hand-print behind.

For Bonnie, it was baskets.

For you, it might be a song, a story, a building, a painting, a garden, a kind word or small act of kindness.

Whatever it is, do it hardheartedly and do it for the Glory of God.USE Bonnies flowersBONNIE’S BASKETS
By Lori A Alicea

The endless lengths of naked reed,
Dyed color choice and shade.
In weaver’s hands, a masterpiece,
Behold a basket made.

Her basket filled with books or quilts,
Or plants the weaver’s choice.
The weaver’s heart displayed amid,
The humming of her voice.

Her friends, her kids, her special grands,
All woven in her heart.
Behold a basket made in love,
A gift she dare not part.

But soon the basket maker gives,
Into their open hands.
The basket of her heart receive,
Her friends, her kids and grands.

Rejoice in song, and hum as she,
Rejoice the love she leaves.
And interwoven in our lives,
Remains her basket weaves.

USE basket 2

LEGACY MEMORIALIZED By Lori A Alicea

Make today your masterpiece.

Count it all joy.

Oh, that the well-spring of your heart overflow with praise and thanksgiving.

May our cups brim and cascade onto its companion saucer with great contentment for the bounty of God’s generosity, filling our laps.

May we live this day as if the second hand of our clock is winding down the hours and minutes of our life’s conclusion.

The wisdom of God reminds us to number our days for this very reason, as He alone holds our personal itinerary, which was written in His book from the very beginning.

For this reason…

As an event decorator, I thought it most loving to somewhat prepare for the last remaining event of our lives.

While most would rather change the subject and save the inevitable conversation for when it’s demanded,

I followed the first few steps of our mother and father who gave us children their final gift of selfless love, by pre-arranging those final needs so come their Celebration Day, all we as a family had to do was take our seat.

Through this gift our parent’s taught their final lesson in life;

To remember how God has numbered our days so count them…
To remember how fleeting our time on earth really is …a vapor…
To remember and live life to the full as today could be our last;

So prepare for it…and they did.

Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days;
Let me know how fleeting my life is.”
Psalm 39:4 (NIV)

You have made my days a mere hand-breadth;
The span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
Even those who seem secure.
Psalm 39:5 (NIV)

The well-spring of our hearts has spilled over into the words we leave behind as a lasting testament for our grandchildren etched onto our memorial…

Children are the crowning glory of the aged.
Parents are the pride of their children.
Proverbs 17:6

It is because of an overflowing love for our ten beautiful grandchildren:

Hollis, Cova, Kizzie Mae, Rosalee,
Brooklyn, Brodie, Ethan, Bristol, Ayva and Aubrey

We leave you a legacy rich and full of Godly principles.

That you might know and experience for yourself the marvelous works and heavenly truths of your Creator,
That as arrows, you desire to be launched for a Kingdom pursuit,
To pierce the hearts of others for Jesus.

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The second generation of our life is before us.

David and I hold tightly the “baton of God’s truths” and run our race so the exchange of these truths, are successfully passed into the hands of those ten runners forging onward in their race.

This memorial is our legacy framed in the reasons I write…

A former blog which tells the story of our heart.
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LEGACY; It is for Them That I Write.
By Lori A Alicea

The benevolent man leaves an inheritance
That endures to his children’s children…
Proverbs 13:22 TPT

What parent doesn’t want to leave an inheritance to his children and children’s children?

I imagine most do.

My husband and I have considered for years the inheritance of our heirs.

At the end of life this side of heaven, two hearts long to bless their family with monetary gifts.

But money pales in significance to the true inheritance of legacy David and I endeavor to leave behind in generous portions for our children and children’s children.

Unless money is sowed into fields of eternal value, once it’s spent, it’s gone.

But a legacy rich and full of Godly principles can remain alive for future generations.

Regarding legacy,
David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby wrote in his book
A Generous Life
10 Steps to Living a Life Money Can’t Buy:

A legacy of true value is a legacy made of more than money.

.

To invest in eternal things is the most important thing we can do with our lives, our energies, and our resources.

Becoming a grandparent changed everything for us.

When our second generation came forth, we took notice the hour glass and its sands of seconds gathering into the mounds of hours, months and years more quickly than before in our youth.

Time revealed its true identity as mere moments of breaths.

The weight of passing on to our grandchildren a lasting heritage weighed heavy on our heart.

We risked the next generation growing up without God if our lives didn’t reflect His image; if we failed to tell the generation in front of us the marvelous works and heavenly truths about their Creator.

One generation commends your works to another, they tell of your mighty acts.. Psalm 145:4 NIV

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done….
Judges 2:10 NIV

Ten beautiful children created in the image of God.USE baby ENGLAND BABY 1

Those kissed and smothered with love inside the womb and out.

Hands already gifted.
Feet with steps already ordained.
Their life already planned and prepared to serve Him.

To know the way they must be shown the way, but who will tell them?

Along with their parents, we grandparents want to do our part in living and leaving a life of legacy before them.

Their legacy began when we were once children ourselves.

As a child with five other siblings, our mother introduced us to Jesus; she faithfully took us to church. Her prayers to keep Jesus alive at home found six children growing up to serve Him the same.use Church directory picture

My husband and four other brothers are also God fearing men because of a praying mother.

Parents recognize that children, the “fruit of their womb”, are a gift from God.

Children that are dedicated back to Him, to be raised, loved, nurtured in the way that they should go.

I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for.
And now I have dedicated him to God.
He’s dedicated to God for life.”
1 Samuel 1:26

BABY DEDICATIONS OF OUR CHILDREN – GENERATION ONE

BABY DEDICATIONS OF OUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN – GENERATION TWO

Children and grandchildren are our arrows; arrows that leave the bow of a praying parent and launched for a Kingdom pursuit that they might pierce the hearts of others for Jesus.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Psalm 127:3-5 NIV

Hence, we grandparents are intent to do our part in living and leaving a life of legacy before them.

It is for inheritance;
It is for legacy.
It is for them that I write.

Part of their legacy are stories, their stories, memorializing the past; their history of a faithful God. That they not forget and lean on these truths when facing familiar mountains of hard times again.

It is for them that I write.

The other day I had a long distance Face-time conversation with my six year old grandson who asks about my blogs most times when we talk; blessing this grandmother with his inquiries. Such big questions for a little boy who has no idea he is mining his own inheritance, his legacy.

It is for him that I write.

USE screen hollis

On October of 2019, David and I invited our ten grandchildren to be our witnesses at our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Their young minds thought we were getting married, which delighted us both.

Written as a true love story that it was, I documented the faithfulness and goodness of God in our twenty-five years together, words shouted and celebrated from every detail of our special day.

So that in years and decades to come, our children’s children will be reminded of God’s reflection of marriage as an encouragement for their own.

Yes, David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby, you said it perfectly regarding legacy:

A legacy of true value is a legacy made of more than money.

.

To invest in eternal things is the most important thing we can do with our lives, our energies, and our resources.

It is because of an overflowing love for our ten beautiful grandchildren:

Brooke, Brodie, Ethan, Bristol, Cova, Hollis, Ayva, Rosalee, Aubrey and Kizzy MaeUSE

We leave you a legacy, rich and full of Godly principles, that you might know and experience for yourself the marvelous works and heavenly truths of your Creator; that as arrows, you desire to be launched for a Kingdom pursuit, to pierce the hearts of others for Jesus.

All because of Inheritance;
All because of LEGACY;
All because of you I write.

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.

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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”.

SHALL WE DANCE  By Lori A Alicea

Marriage is a beautiful dance.

Marriage is two people lost in the moment whose inseparable hearts beat to the rhythm of life while dancing cheek-to-cheek.

Marriage is an invitation to journey together, a hand reaching from across the table for the other as music plays their song to say, “Shall we dance?”valentines dayOUr first date

Young love says nothing about age, as the awakening of one’s heart is a miracle from God whose hand can touch you at any stage of your life.

Young married love, a play-list and series of songs, a dance card which keeps you close during those new beginnings as man and wife.david and lori wedding dance

Twenty-seven years ago on our wedding day, I never realized we’d unwrap a jute-box of albums I had never heard before, yet music we’d need to learn the words and attempt to line-dance to during our early years of marriage.married DAVID AND LORI AND FAMILY

That unfamiliar genre and play-list for blended marriages, blended love, parenting, siblings, culture, finances, and all those contemporary songs we’d learn along the way when driving, dating, college, and then their marriages were the in music for our family.

Year after year following our first day of marriage, the family dance moves became more complex to choreograph.

Yet echoing from the “surround sound” of two hearts head-over-heels in love after twenty-seven years together, are the lyrics to our song still playing as when his hand first reached across the table for mine to ask, “Shall we dance?”david singing25th anniversary - dance david and lori dancing

Young married love says nothing about age as the awakening of one’s heart is a miracle from God whose hand can touch you and keep you deeply in love for every stage of your life.

The old songs that rewind the music video of our love story never go out of style.

They are the anthems we’ve been singing and dancing to for years with our children and now grandchildren as part of their inheritance to sear into their remembrance what true love looks like and sounds like long after their parents and grandparent’s lives become a memory.25th anniversary - dance family dance 5

When our hearts awakened over the births of our ten grandchildren, the genre of music we danced to repeated once again from the play-list of our young love, renewed and head-over-heels with these angelic faces that call us Papa and Gaga.IMG_4264england kids sitting down

Marriage is a beautiful dance and every grandchild of ours has grown up to know they have a special place in our circle of love.

These ten lives are part of our song; they are the lyrics that give us joy to sing to; to dance to.

The music never stops whenever they are with us.25th anniversary - dance first dance with ayva 40

Our grown sons are now fathers reaching for the innocent hands of their daughters to dance.

Both cheek to cheek, they sway to the music of their song, while writing new lyrics and memories to call their own, the inheritance they’ll pass on to their future generation.25th anniversary - dance kyle ayva

The years, they come and go so quickly.

A revolving door of days and weeks you beg the pace to slow, yet music whose turntable only plays at one speed.

Our marriage, we never weary of our song.

We never tire of our dance.25th anniversary - david singing truly 4dance David and Lori

Our young love is still the same age these twenty-seven years after we said, “I do.”

A dance for the history books, a hit song for the generations beyond our lives.

This journey of marriage he invited me on all those years ago is a once in a lifetime adventure I’d say “yes” to all over again.

The gleam in his eye that sparkled like a shooting star from across the table so many years ago still catches my attention today.

I look for him from around the room whenever the band is playing our song, waiting restlessly as a little girl until he reaches for my hand to say,

Shall we dance?”

25th anniversary - dance david and lori dancing

TAKE TIME TO TELL YOUR STORY  By Lori A Alicea

We all have stories to tell, don’t we?

Whether you have lived a day or a hundred years, there’s a story about your life worth telling.

Your dreams…
Your successes…
Your failures…
Your heartaches…
Days you wish you could get back and do over…
Days you longed for but never happened…
School days…
College days…
Work days…
Marriage…
Divorce…
Friendships…
Death…

At our birth, a diary of blank pages awaits the journaling, chronicling, scrap-booking and jotting down for our remembrance those events when we rejoiced in the successes, gathered our tears in the losses, and traced God’s heart though it all while traveling the valleys up to the mountain tops of our lives; a library of hope passed on down to the next generation.

We must remember the goodness and faithfulness of God in all things; as He is a husband to the widow.  A father to the fatherless.  Our defense in the face of injustice.  He is freedom in our surrender.  He is provision in our lack.  He is an open door in a neighborhood of closed.  He is a light in the darkness.  He is the answer to our questions.  He is a stream in the dry desert.  He is our way when there seems to be no way.  GOD IS!  HE JUST IS!

Yes, document the days that had you dancing, laughing and smiling.

But difficult stories are also worth mining beneath the surface to discover the treasure buried in those hard times we’d rather forget. As those gold nuggets of God “bringing us through” what we thought would bring us death is wealth we must share among our heirs;

When we take the time to tell our story.

We must tell our stories to the world, as well as to the generations of our legacy, because all it takes is one generation to forget about God, and there goes their hope here on earth and a future with Him in eternity.

We must take time to tell our story.

Parents have been charged by God to obey His commandments; to love Him and serve Him with all their heart and soul so their days are multiplied and their land is blessed.

Parents have also been charged to teach these same truths to their children, reminding them day and night, that they might receive the same inheritance of blessing promised to their parents.

13”And if you will indeed obey my commandments
That I command you today,
To love the Lord your God,
And to serve Him
With all your heart
And with all your soul,
.

19You shall teach them to your children,

20You shall write them on them
On the doorposts of your house
And on your gates…

21That your days and days of your children
May be multiplied in the land
That the Lord swore to your fathers
To give them,
As long as the heavens
Are above the earth.”
Deuteronomy 11:13, 19, 20, 21 (ESV)

Such is this hidden wealth to bequeath our children and children’s children, our life lived for God through our stories.

Everything changed for my husband David and I when grandchildren began filling our laps and stealing our hearts.

Overcome by their sweet faces and our love that overflowed an ocean for all ten of these gifts, we grandparents longed to give them each the moon, but knew giving them God meant riches beyond counting.

Hearing the amplified voice of God speak in a grandparent’s ear to leave an inheritance we listened, we followed.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…
Proverbs 13:22 (ESV)

Though still living these truths before our grandchildren, we began telling about the goodness and faithfulness of God through our stories, transferring the baton of our legacy and inheritance into the grips of the next generation, that they might run their race loving and serving God with all their heart, soul and mind.

Going through the journals of our own lives as young and adult children, we recall and remember the Godly inheritance passed down to us from the generation previous through their stories, albeit just as imperfect as ours, yet the rich legacy we received in their saying “yes” to Jesus.

God’s “more than enough” provision through our hard working fathers.

God’s unrelenting hope through our mother’s who never gave up on us when “giving up” seemed to be our only option.

God’s amazing love through grandparents to our children and their great grandchildren, an example we watched and learned from along the sidelines, whose footsteps we’d follow when becoming grandparents ourselves.

I lament the questions I never asked the generation previous.

I wished I would have sat at the feet of our legacy more often and allowed them to impart the wisdom they gleaned from the fields they sown and reaped from; possibly avoiding a few of their mistakes instead of repeating them.

In the busyness of my younger self,
I didn’t take the time to hear their stories
While they were still with us to hear.

One by one we buried stories when we buried them, journals never to be opened or read again; for that, I am deeply saddened.

But yet, we are still a rich family for the Godly inheritance and legacy they left in our hands and the hands of their “children’s children.”

Reminding us of God’s charge to tell the next generation of His goodness and faithfulness through our lives and through our stories;

In keeping His commandments; to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind.

I AM A LIFE, THAT WAS CHANGED By Lori A Alicea

I once read:

Never underestimate the valuable and
Important difference you make in every life you touch.
For the impact you make today
Has a powerful rippling effect on every tomorrow.
Anonymous

This rippling effect of one man’s life would touch me down stream years after he and his wife jumped head first into those deep waters on search and rescue missions for those marriages drowning in the rip currents of their choices.

A Godly couple living the example

“‘till death do we part”.

Two ordinary people who taught on marriages every Sunday afternoon for decades; who spent the remainder of the week throwing out life preservers and life-lines for those willing and not willing to grab hold for another chance to live.

The cries of those hurting kept these two up at night searching the desperate waters for marriages about to be lost at sea; with some marriages ditching the radar altogether of being found.

Such was the man in this marriage.

A man who wanted to charter his own boat, navigate life his own way, regardless of the distress flares and signals from his drowning wife.

JOE AND DIANE Wedding Picture

But an ordinary man with an extraordinary call for marriages kept throwing out life-lines for this husband to stop swimming against the current of God and jump into His boat of surrender and freedom.

Life-line after life-line the search and rescue continues, never losing sight of this couple at sea.

When one day a worn out man takes hold of the one unwilling to give up the rescue.

A surrendered heart and a marriage restored.

Joe and Diane 1

His legacy continues.

Never underestimate the valuable and
Important difference you make in every life you touch.
For the impact you make today
Has a powerful rippling effect on every tomorrow.
Anonymous

Yes, never underestimate the difference you make in the lives of those you touch.

Two ordinary people intersecting the path of two others needing life preservers, now jump head first into those deep waters on search and rescue missions of their own, for those needing resuscitation of a new beginning.

This impact of one man’s life now touches me down stream years later through my future brother ‘n law with an introduction to his brother, who later became my husband.

One man’s life changed my heartache and single life of raising two young children without a male influence into joy forever.

THANK YOU
By Ray Boltz

…….
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave.

Surrendering and saying “yes” to God changes everything.

The love between my brother ‘n law and wife re-ignited the flames of their heart which could only be attributed to the Author of Love Himself.

Their passion for one another is evident in his wife’s smile and smiles of their grandchildren.

Their commitment
‘till death do they part
Is celebrated on their 40th wedding anniversary renewal, a day almost lost at sea had it not been for a search and rescue mission of two called by God to marriages.

My husband and I for years sent an anniversary card to our brother and wife who kept in covenant to their wedding vows, because we wouldn’t be celebrating anniversaries of our own had they not grabbed hold of that life preserver.

Remembering that love is patient, kind, not envious or boastful or proud, never dishonoring, not self-seeking or easily angered, keeping no record of wrongs, rejoicing in truth, protecting, trusting, hoping and persevering.

Holding on to the life preserver of love which never fails.

A love my husband and I shared with others at our 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration, all because two people decided to stay married, who officiated our renewal, whose rippling effect on our lives is now splashing down stream to our legacy.

I am a life, that’s been changed,

My brother ‘n law Joe has affected many other lives as well; I would greatly underestimate the impact that flowed down stream from his life.

A devoted marine and love for his country, Joe honors the veterans who sacrificed everything to serve.

Joe alongside his daughter serves during the holidays, preparing a banquet before our soldiers, our country’s finest.

Joe ministers in the trenches of the hurting, the forgotten, the addicted; a band of brothers leaving no man behind.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Joe is a dreamer; a diligent servant and provider for his family.

JOE MILITARY Truck

Joe’s love for laughter and heart for God ministers in huge waves to his family.

More than anything else, Joe’s ability to connect with children is his biggest splash.

A marine to the core, Joe passes on his military passion to rise up in young soldiers a heart for Christ.

Joe is our Toys ‘R Us kid at Christmas.

Well, maybe not.

S

Joe’s house has been a house of hospitality, a hospital for hurting these past twenty seven years, open for anyone who knocks or needs a soft pillow to lie on.

JOE MILITARY Home

Joe who is no stranger to the mission field,
Recently graduating from a program in missions, believing one day to hand out life preservers on the other side of the world again.

Joe’s life has been poured out on many with others still waiting their turn down stream.

Sadly for us, a celebration and graduation of a different kind has taken place for our dear Joe as he stands before the sea of lives he’s touched, those waiting for him as he enters the gates of heaven.

Flags fly at half-mast in the hearts who loved him dearly.
JOE MILITARY Flag half mastA country says good-by to one of its finest soldiers; a void visibly seen.

JOE MILITARY flag empty chair

A choir of angels sing as our brother takes his first steps on those golden streets of heaven.

THANK YOU
By Ray Boltz

….
As Jesus took your hand
As you stood before the Lord
He said, my child look around you
For great is your reward.

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave.
…..

Bishop used to remind us that good seeds sown in death always produce an abundance of fruit.

JOE MILITARY Fruit of your life

A basket overflows at harvest because Joe lived to give his life away.

Just days ago our Joe walked thru the front door of heaven when we earnestly prayed for this door to open.

JOE MILITARY Home

But God had a different plan.

Our hearts grieve yet rejoice as Joe has already seen Jesus.

This family couldn’t be any happier.
We stand and salute a soldier for his life well lived.

Welcome Home Papa Joe.

JOE MILITARY Welcome Home Sign

Welcome Home.

JOE MILITARY Welcome Home

THE RACE MUST CONTINUE!  By Lori A Alicea

My brother has loved the races all his life; in particular,
The Indianapolis 500.

Maybe the raceway takes him back
To the driveway playing with Matchbox cars as a young boy.

Maybe my brother never outgrew the need for speed.

Maybe the thrill for fast and furious was in his blood.

Maybe he kept those engines running in his model car collection.

Maybe the Indianapolis 500 replays those old 8 millimeter movies of Dad taking his son to the Indy Time Trials, and then sharing race day together come Memorial Weekend.

The Indy Time Trials was an annual getaway for dad and my brother.

Mother would always send a cooler full of food, making sure a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken accompanied the trip.

Packed air mattresses were a mystery since dad drove a Volkswagen Beetle, but they were packed nevertheless.

We five sisters never felt slighted when dad left us behind for a man’s weekend with our brother. Maybe all it took was dad loading up the station wagon one Saturday night with us young girls carrying packed lunch boxes to the noisy drag strip to scar us for the races.

But the Indianapolis 500 was always their day, and we celebrated that memory for them.

Even after the passage of time when dad and my brother watched the race from the comfort of their own state and La-Z-Boy, the telephone kept their annual getaway alive for 500 miles each Memorial Day, until dad passed away a few years ago, and my brother, a few days ago, as a kiss from God, on race day.

mark connie at indy 500

This past Memorial Day, the crowds were on their feet cheering in a deafening decibel as the checkered flag is waved with great enthusiasm as my brother crosses his own finish line with this announcement blaring in the stands,

I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7 NIV19CAA216-6F52-4490-99DB-185DA7EA55D9

Sporting a giant flowered wreath after the win and keeping with tradition a swallow of ice-cold milk, our brother holds the milk bottle to that great cloud of witnesses of his life in declaration,

THE RACE MUST CONTINUE!

My brother was never a quitter.

He fought with every lap around the racetrack.

He honored those fans that fought for him in prayer
During the most difficult race of his life in a personal text message to me,

It’s all because of the prayer warriors
I have like you.
So Christ-like.
I love you.
Mark Houle

My brother’s memory is now waving the flags to encourage us
As we continue our race.

The green flag is waved for the start or restart of our individual races.
Start your engines.”
Start your race with prayer.”

My brother was never shy about prayer.

Brother’s prayers were War and Peace in length which meant our holiday meal was blessed but also cold as ice when mother without question, called on him to pray over dinner.

While pregnant with my first child and attending a tent revival complete with straw beneath our feet in 1983. My brother led me to an old fashioned altar to pray over his sister before she journeyed this new race of motherhood, speaking the sweetest blessings over me and my unborn son.

Stay in your lane.”
Stay in prayer.”

As the yellow flag of caution and hazardous conditions
Will eventually be waved and find you leaving the race for a pit-stop.

Six years later after my brother’s tent revival prayers,

The yellow flag goes up as the engine of my heart overheats during a car failure of my life. In the pit-stop with no place to go and having never been on my own before, I remember lamenting with my brother among the pit crew asking if my small children and I could live with him in Texas.

After an inspection under the hood, my brother and pit crew sent me back into the race, knowing Jesus had taken the wheel long ago when I said “yes” to him as a teenager, who would never steer me into the wall as long as I continued to stay in the race, stay in my lane.

Regardless if our race has unnumbered miles ahead, my brother waves the white flag to remind every driver to brace the wheel as if your race’s final lap is before you, as no one knows when the angel of death will come.

Lord, teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 NIV

The reality of eternity weighed heavy on my brother for lost souls and his deep compassion for their eternal destination presented itself in a play at the church he attended,

Heaven’s Gates & Hell’s Flames
By Reality Outreach Ministries.

In this play the ache of my brother’s heart cried out to those he desperately wanted to share heaven with.

Do you have a relationship with Jesus?”
Where will you spend eternity?”
The fiery flames of Hell are real!”
Is your name written in Book of Life?”
Being a good person won’t save you.”
Don’t worry about what your friends will say.”
You are only guaranteed this moment in front of you.”

Choose you this day whom you will serve…
Joshua 24:15 KJV

My brother finished his race.

My brother kept his faith.

Just a week ago my brother was waved the white flag signifying the final lap of his race.

But his life’s message lives on in our races when he,

Sported a giant flowered wreath after his win and kept with tradition a swallow of ice-cold milk, and held the milk bottle to that great cloud of witnesses of his life in declaration,

THE RACE MUST CONTINUE!
IMG_0411
Your memory will forever hang from the rear view mirror of my life
As I continue the race before me.

Your sister,
Lori A Alicea

LOVE FOR A LIFETIME  By Lori A Alicea

Consider it simply amazing.

Consider it an unearthed treasure.

Consider it a lighthouse to guide the generations beyond their life.

Consider it another Wonder of the World.

Consider love for a lifetime.

That’s what Bill and Gloria considered their first day of marriage throughout their sixty-six wonderful years together;

Love for a lifetime.

bill and gloria on valentines

To have and to hold,
From this day forward.
For better, for worse.
For richer, for poorer.
In sickness and in health.
To love and to cherish.
Till death us do part,

According to God’s holy matrimony,
In the presence of God we make this vow.

And that they did, for sixty-six years.

Never wavering their commitment when times were lean.
Never considering giving up in worse.
Holding tight to each other in sickness.

Bill and Gloria,
According to God’s holy matrimony,
Cherished one another before their children.
Cleaved to each other in the eyes of their grandchildren.
They preferred one another in the presence of God.

They embraced a love for a lifetime.

A legacy to leave;

Something God would have us all to consider.

Bill and Gloria

Gloria Ann left her Bill for heaven on November 30, 2015;
a sad day for us; a glorious day for Christ and Gloria.

The first time I ever saw them apart.

Even though a vacant seat remains at the breakfast table where Bill and Gloria once shared a few pieces of toast and coffee prepared by Bill each morning;

I never see one without the other,
As the love Bill still carries for Gloria illuminates his eyes.

bill and gloria by river

The love this couple shared together has been passed down four generations thus far; a love story to be told and recounted over and over during bedtime stories to the grandchildren present and beyond.

jill and kids

Gloria’s love spilled over as a teapot being poured into the cups of her daughter’s and granddaughter’s life.

bill and gloria's girls

bill and gloria tea setThere is always enough love and room at the table in Bill’s heart for his special girls also.

neese wedding

Bill and Gloria passed their legacy of love for a lifetime to their children, their grandchildren and those beyond their natural eyes to see.

Their love for a lifetime,
A love only known in Christ,
Stands as a lighthouse to guide through the darkest days,
The roughest and uncharted waters,
Reaching and safely continuing another day as man and wife.

bill and gloria family

Adopted into our hearts, Gloria held the honor of matriarch alongside the other pillars in our family. We only knew her as nanny, as love will do that.

bill and gloria mom bonnie

bill and gloria and david
Bill carries the torch of patriarch and is only known to us as papa; whose family added new branches to reach our family tree, by sharing themselves with those not sharing their DNA;

bill and brad

Being nanny and papa to so many not related by blood, but knitted together in true love.

bill and gloria picnic all our family

The sun is going down in papa’s eyes as his longing for that one he
Loved for a lifetime is winning.

Sitting side by side along the water’s edge will forever be “their place”.

The cool and calm of the river still ripples between two hearts, whose devotion to the other never parted them, even unto death.

bill and gloria by river

Bill and Gloria’s sixty-six years together is an unearthed treasure, a treasure map, an adventure to discover true love in your wedding vows.

Consider it simply amazing.

Consider sixty-six years together another Wonder of the World.

Consider love for a lifetime.

Bill and Gloria did.